Sunday, August 26, 2012

All Wrapped Up in One!

Awhile back I posted that there was much to write, but not enough time to write it. I listed a few things that I wanted to record here on these pages. I intended on writing separate posts for each thought. This afternoon as I have spent some quiet moments at home while the boys are all out movie-going, I have discovered that really.... All of these things are all wrapped up in one thought.

The provision, grace, goodness and love of a Mighty God!

In the midst of the summer heat we moved. It was a quick and what I would even consider easy move because of the help of many. Our family was gifted with much help. Several of our junior and senior high youth "groupsters" came and carried box after box. They lifted heavy furniture up a very steep and long driveway. They were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I have loved them all dearly for a long time, and now that love goes deeper.

Six days after our move we left for our Northwestern vacation. We traveled almost 2000 miles in six days. We made it all the way up to Canada and we saw some beautiful things! This vacation wasn't one of relaxation, but we knew that it really wouldn't be. There was much to see and do. We visited friends and family, we went crabbing with Uncle B out near the San Juan Islands, we drove into new countries, and we even managed to attend a Yankees game in Seattle! It was quite the trip...

Back home to what I affectionately call our "Sweet Home on a Big Hill." I have spent the past few weeks simply amazed every morning that I wake up in such a place. I travel to our bay window in the living room every morning and look out. I look out at the tops of every kind of native tree and beyond that I see the big blue lake. The canyon wraps around all of it and I believe it could possibly be the most beautiful sight to look at... And I have the privilege of seeing it every day! It's the view that I see outwardly that reminds me to look at the view within my own heart. Am I expressing my gratitude? Am I reminding others of God's faithfulness and the fact that He DOES NOT leave us? Am I careful not to forget that He could still lead us somewhere else and leave this beautiful view behind as only a sweet memory? Yes, I want the view on the inside to be just as lovely and breathtaking as the view I never take for granted from my living room window. Lord, continue to work in this heart of mine.

School started recently too. Boys and I are all getting back into our routines. Routine is good. As we enter into routine though, I strive to not let the moments pass by too quickly. I jot down my gratitude. I drink everything in. Last night the boys slept on the deck. All five of us cozied up under the stars before saying our good-nights and we gazed up at such a sky! It's hard to look into the night sky without feeling and KNOWING just how BIG our God is... Without knowing what HE is capable of! We chatted and laughed and as we did all of it, I lied there literally soaking it all in. Moments like those are fewer these days with everything going on (especially in the life of a sophomore). I knew it might be awhile before we had another one like it.

Finally, my best friend from high school gave birth to her firstborn this weekend. I received a picture of her and the baby and I stared at it for the longest time. I stared because God is SO good! The desires of my friend's heart were not left unfulfilled. Did it all happen exactly how she (or I.... we were "supposed" to do this child birth thing together) had planned it? No. It did, however happen in God's perfect timing, and she and her husband couldn't have asked for a more perfect gift! He's beautiful!!

As I sit in my perfectly quiet home tonight, with nut breads in the oven and a cool breeze floating in through my windows I can't help but feel God's provision, grace, goodness, and mighty works. He never stops amazing me. He always keeps me counting these gifts. He constantly reminds me of all the ways He is working within the depths of this soul.

Grateful. Always.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Sweetest 11 Year Old!

Today my baby turned 11. Can I just say that although birthdays are a HUGE reason to celebrate, they can also be brutal??

I mean... ELEVEN?? What happened here????

My sweet Caleb is another year older. He's another year wiser... He's accomplished yet another year of perfecting his contagious spirit. When thinking about all of the things I could write here tonight to capture who he is and what he is all about, I realize that none of it has really changed over the years. His character remains the same... Just more perfected.

Caleb lights up a room. His smile and laughter can turn any sour mood or thought in the opposite direction immediately! He's thoughtful in every way. He simply loves to make people happy! He is known in this home to be the snuggler... Always a hug to be given. I absolutely LOVE that about him.

He continues to be my little "Mr. Fix It", I recently did a REALLY stupid thing... I jumped in the pool with my iPhone in my pocket. Ugh... Well, my little man insisted that he could fix my what used to be iPhone (now referred to as an expensive paper weight). He begged to take the thing apart and work his magic. He's pretty magical, but not magical enough for this task. I SO appreciate his confidence and willingness though. It's inspiring! In his head, there really is NOTHING that cannot be fixed. I know that is a quality that will be used in multiple ways throughout his life time.

Happy birthday my sweet boy! You are a precious gift from heaven. You remind me daily what it means to be genuine and content in every circumstance. I learn a lot from you, and I am confident that others around you learn from you too. I am so proud of the fact that you are such a beautiful reflection of Jesus. I know you make Him smile daily. I pray that this next year will be one of more growth, new experiences and even more perfecting.

I love you...


Monday, August 13, 2012

A Beautiful Challenge

If someone would have told me that a little over a year ago I would completely act out of character by answering my front door with dripping wet, straight out of the shower hair only to find a woman asking me to participate in a foreign exchange student program.... I would have laughed. Hard.

We had done this before. It had been a very long time, but it had been horrible! Both J and I agreed that it would take a serious miracle for us to EVER say "yes" to another stranger coming into our house and lives for an extended period of time.

On a typical summer day last year, God saw fit to perform that miracle as I told this woman at my door that I would talk to my husband and that "Yes, we would like to consider hosting this young man from France." Our lives have been forever changed since that day.

Clement left our home for the second time yesterday. This time he took his mother, father and younger brother with him. We had an incredible time! Clement was here for almost two weeks before his family came to join him. Everyone here picked up exactly where we left off last year. A true sign that we are much more than friends... We are family. After he had been here for a couple of days, he mentioned to us that he would like to bring his family to church while they were here. He wasn't sure they would be open to this idea though. I immediately started to pray about that, and asked that a few others pray about it also. When his family arrived, I just knew that they would be sitting in church with us on Sunday.... And that they did.

After they left yesterday, J and I sat and talked through my tears once again. This boy from France feels like one of my own. It is always hard to see him go, but this time it was easier because I know he will be back. The idea that I will someday get to go see him in his home is something to get excited about also! J told me that unusual circumstances led him to us and us to him.... For very specific reasons. A seed was planted in Clement's heart last summer, and that very same seed I believe was planted in the hearts of his family yesterday. Clement's mother sat at my dining room table Saturday night and explained that they don't attend church in France. Not only do they find their "inherited catholic religion" boring, but the church in France is dying. She told me that more and more churches are closing due to lack of priests and ministers. She shared with me how Clement has talked about "American church" ever since he was here last summer. It was such a sweet and encouraging conversation. I knew that between my prayers and Clement's testimony, the Lord had already began His work in laying the foundation for this family as they attended church the next day. Today I continue to pray that they are taking many thoughts, prayers and words back with them to France as Clement did last year.

Unusual circumstances led us to being gifted with this extended family in France. What would have happened if we would have said "No"? We would have stayed within our comfort zone and missed out on something so extraordinary!! I have witnessed myself, my husband and my children all want to stay within our own comfort zones and push away anything that looks different, hard or intimidating. It's easy to do! There must be balance, because we cannot say yes to everything, but saying yes to something big and unfamiliar, I have learned is something to experience. We will be blessed and others will be blessed too!

As we start another school year this week, I am praying for my family. I am praying that we will all have not only the ability, but the boldness in saying "YES" to something we might not expect ourselves to this year. I am praying that we will be prayerful about what that something is, and then that the blessings will flow... Just as they do between my home and a special home in France.