Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas!

So I have started this letter no less than a half dozen times. Should I go traditional? What about trying something a bit more creative? People receive SO many of these letters each year around Christmas time.... Do they REALLY read them? Last year we sent our cards without a letter, and boy did we hear about that! I guess people really DO read them. Chances are, if YOU are here, you are one of the ones who gets really serious about these letters since you actually had to make your fingers take you here.

So... Get comfortable.

Grab a cup of coffee and one of those homemade cookies out of the tin that the neighbor left at your door step.... Read on about the Gray family and our highlights (and some low) of 2013.

Luke played JV baseball for his high school team this past spring. He had a great season, with lots of great plays and hits that earned him the position of one of their top performers. The coaches came up with some great nicknames for him, and even some names for the plays he would make at third base. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to his hand getting broken at one of their practices. He impressed his team, his coaches, and most of all his parents with his remarkable ability to pick up the pieces and keep going. He attended every practice and game, even with a cast up to his elbow. At the end of the season, Luke walked away a better person, and he even earned himself the coaches award.
Lucas turned 16 this year. You know what that means. Car keys... Insurance rates going up... Mama's nerves being shot more than usual. Ugh. He has been quite busy saving money for a long time, and it paid off. He bought his first car (actually, a truck) just two short weeks before he acquired his license. Our little boy has become a man.

Colby started high school this last fall. We were so proud of him as he went out for the high school soccer team, up against a record high amount of other young men. He made it onto the team and had a great season. It was quite a huge deal to begin playing high school sports and start high school all at the same time. He did remarkably well! This spring, he will be playing golf for the high school team. For the first week or so, he followed close behind big brother, but it wasn't long before he spread his wings and found his own"people" to hang out with. Colby continues to do well in his academics. He studies hard and earns the respect of his teachers. We have also witnessed Colby becoming stronger in his faith as we started attending a new church that has a fantastic youth program that Colby has really sunk his teeth into. We learned just today that a friend at school who is not a believer texted Colby to ask him to pray for him as he is going through some tough things. God is using this boy of ours... Just like I always knew He would.

Caleb is in the sixth grade this year. He is actually one of my students. Before I took the full time position, I made sure to ask him how he felt about having me as his full time teacher outside of home. He welcomed the idea, and he tells me almost daily that he's so glad that I'm his teacher. Mmmm... my heart purrs. Caleb played baseball too this year. It had been many years since he had played this sport, but he made the decision to come back to it, and he did GREAT! He played the regular little league season, and he also played during the fall season. We were glad for the opportunity for him to "catch up" a little before heading into another spring season. The highlight of Caleb's year was becoming the proud owner of a new puppy. "Chief" joined our family in June. Caleb saved his money, searched Craigslist and ultimately "reserved" his new dog all on his own.  Chief and Caleb are inseparable. It's true what they say.... There really is nothing else like the vision of a boy with his very own dog. Very sweet...

Jason and I are doing well too. We celebrated 21 years of marriage in September. Actually, due to busier lives, we REALLY celebrated in November since that was the first weekend we had to get away. We went to one of our favorite spots at the beach and just spent time being together. You know that you're married to your best friend when you truly enjoy just sitting in the car alone together through bay area traffic! In September we lost a very close friend due to medical complications. It was an unexpected death, and it was extremely hard on all five of us. God uses these times though to strengthen our love for each other, and to remind us of what is important, and what is not. Being parents to three young men presents many occasions to speak into their lives about just that... Especially in these days of social media and areas that used to be black and white becoming more grey. Since there is no manual, I am happy to have this man by my side to make decisions with and offer support. God willing, we will be buying our next home this spring. This will begin a new chapter in "us", and we are both excited to read it's pages.

All in all, we are blessed. We are blessed by relationship with each other, and we are blessed by the love and friendships of YOU! We hope that during this special season of celebrating the birth of Christ, you are also feeling genuinely blessed. There is always much to be thankful for....

Warm wishes
and hugs,

Jason, Tami, Lucas, Colby and Caleb

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Piece of Me

I have been reminded lately that I don't write here anymore. At least... Not very much.

Yesterday I took a few moments and went back to read a couple of old posts. I told J the other night that I need a "billboard" regarding some hard issues right now. I remembered that I had thought that very same thing in the past, and I wrote about it here. I searched and found the post. In the midst of doing that, I read through a few other old posts. As I read, I felt like pieces of me were finding their way back to me. I don't write much anymore, but not because that instinct in me has changed. I just haven't made the time to.

God has blessed me with the opportunity to teach a whole class of 5th and 6th graders this year. In addition to that, I am continuing to teach 7th and 8th grade Language Arts. I am enjoying what I'm doing, and finding the rewards almost every day. I won't lie though. It's been difficult to learn the art of balancing it all. Recently, I have felt like I found that balance. Until I read those posts yesterday.

Writing is important to me. It has been a big part of me since I was 13 years old. I still have every handwritten journal that I ever wrote in before I started to type here six years ago. Writing helps me focus my thoughts and process what's going on in my mind and heart. Without putting all of my thoughts into paragraphs, the thoughts stay inside my head and float around all messy like. They clutter me until they spill. Sometimes they don't spill in a way that I {or anyone else} find a positive way. I guess you could say that writing has been cheap therapy for a long time. That is why I must make my fingers familiar here again. The piece of me that wandered off found it's way back yesterday, and I feel the words coming to my fingers faster than I can possible type.

We are just a few short months away from buying our next home. The thought stays close to the front of my brain, but I am not obsessed with it the way that I thought I would be by this time. That surprises me, and yet it does not. We moved down the hill almost three years ago, and God has taken me places that I remember asking Him not to take me, but He did anyhow. Why? Well, as I read the story of Ruth and Naomi this morning to my class of 5/6th grade children, I was reminded of why. The Lord wanted to show me that I was capable of walking into my new home three years later not as a bitter person, but as a woman of great faith. He knows what this new home will be like. He knows where it will be, and He knows the day that I will open it's doors with my own key for the very first time. I know none of this. When I began this journey three years ago, I began it with faith, but if I'm going to be honest, I will tell you that a great deal of bitterness crept in along the way. There were days when I was screaming {wailing} inside because it hurt so much. The fear of the unknowns have at times crippled me. God is good though. He has always provided. He has always been faithful to show me the gifts along this road. He has grown me in areas that were needing Him to come in and do a complete renovation job!

This next gift of a home will be so sweet. I cannot wait to record here all of the thoughts and emotions that our family will experience as we take this next step. For today though, I am glad that God has brought me back to these pages. I am grateful for the growth that I have felt from the beginning of this journey until THIS day. I am overjoyed that God wiped my heart clean of bitterness and filled it instead with a sense of anticipation of what He will do next with my life.

My heart has always been one that longs for home, but over these past three years, my heart has found it's "Forever home" in Christ and Christ Alone.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Furious Love

I am just simply watching as they gather what they have proclaimed "essentials" and head out the door...

They are 16, 14 and 12 now, these boys of mine. Time seems to steal most of their moments of creativity away anymore. They have places to be, people to "hang" with, jobs to be at, and homework that calls their names. The days of watching them explore together as brothers are distant and sweet to recall.

Today is different though. This October day has beckoned them, and they have listened and chased after it. All three brothers ran out the door with big rubber boots, hats to cover their heads and shade their faces, and a back pack full of drinks, cookies and nuts to sustain them while they are out. When I asked them where they were headed off to and what their plan was, the answer was different from each one. One said something about salamander hunting, while the other replied with a "Not sure. Just going out to see what's out there."

I love that...

They are growing still. They are growing into men so quickly before my eyes. It is such a bittersweet emotion that holds it's grasp so strongly to my heart strings. I love to think of the days gone past, but I equally love to linger in these present hours and days. It is ALL so good.

My love for them has always been a furious love. There is no other love anything like it. From the moment I laid my eyes on their sweet, tiny bodies, I knew my heart would never be the same.... And it hasn't.

As they grow and change, my love for them only becomes more furious. It has evolved from a love that protects over their bodies, to a love that desires to protect their hearts and a love that protects their time. There are things here that want to steal our time! These things are GOOD things, but if we let them, they will rob us of moments like I have witnessed today. Moments of togetherness and creativity. This furious love is that of only a mother. This furious love doesn't want to miss a SINGLE moment.... From the tiniest of moments {such as salamander hunting} to the largest of them, I try my best to catch them all.

If you are reading this and you have little ones OR big ones, soak in the moments. Don't let a single one slip away without notice. This moment you're experiencing right now? It won't be back. The moment you lift that clean baby out of a bath tub and smell that bubble scented skin... It only lasts a moment. The day that you listen to them read their very first Cat In The Hat book will never come again. That minute that you watch them anxiously get behind the wheel with a set of keys for the very first time? Their face will never appear exactly the same as in that moment.

Love furiously... EVERYday.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sometimes It's Just Hard!

Life is back into full speed. School is back in... It has been for weeks now. The days are slow, but fast. They are good, and they are sweet... But...

Sometimes it's just hard.

I leave the house each morning with loads of laundry still to be done. The kitchen sink is almost always left with an assortment of dirty dishes too. I leave knowing that all of this will be waiting for me when I get home at the end of the day. I remind myself of the change of "seasons"... But...

Sometimes it's just hard.

I see the inner struggle of my boys as they get out of my car each morning. They are "jumping through the hoops" of public education. They seem happy, but frustrated and sad too. I know that there is importance in the decisions that we have made for our family for this time... But...

Sometimes it's just hard.

The man I love expresses such discontent with his work. He feels there aren't enough hours in the day to complete the tasks before him. The demands are too much. People (including me) pull him in too many directions. He is an incredible man with such incredible integrity. He always keeps going... But...

Sometimes it's just hard.

~ Phillipians 4:6-9

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sister, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned of received or heard from me, or seen in me- put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Practice makes perfect is an old saying that comes to mind. Sometimes it IS just hard, but the Lord asks me to not dwell in this attitude, but to rise above it and be FULL of thanksgiving for the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and PRAISEWORTHY things in my life!

When my attitude is turned in this direction, then I can be an encouragement to my husband and my boys. I can pray for them... That they too will rise above and conquer the hard things... That they would also be FULL of thanksgiving... And PEACE!

What a promise! I am overcome.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Here I am again.

It is the eve of Colby's first day of high school.

Wasn't I just here with Luke?

I remember dropping Luke off on the first day of his freshman year and being teary all the way home. The ONLY thing that made me feel better was the thought that there would still be four more years before graduation, and THANK GOD I still had my younger two who were still years away from this momentous occasion!

Time does what it is so good at doing... And here we are again.

This time it feels different. It is still hard, but there is a familiarity about it. My gut tells me two things:

1. Everything is going to be okay. ( Colby is a strong young man. He will shine like a bright, beautiful star on this campus.)

2. Enjoy the ride! ( This ride is one of it's own. It is not that of Luke's, but one of Colby's. This ride will soon be over too, as we move on to the next ride.)

Okay, maybe my gut is telling me three things... The third being, PRAY!

Two years ago I knew I would be praying for my son as he started this chapter of life. I knew that, yet I did not know yet exactly WHAT I would be praying about.

Now I do.

Now I know the specific things to pray about and against.

It's a battle out there. My oldest has been fighting it since that day I drove away with tears in my eyes. He's fighting it well. Colby will fight well too. I know that.

As I spend these last hours tonight before going to bed, I am reflecting on things of the past that have brought us to this hour. Reflecting makes it so easy to see the path that the Lord has this family on.

Please pray for my sons as they start another school year tomorrow. Some are starting a new chapter, and some are continuing on... Heading straight toward the finish line.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yesterday and Today... Boys!

Sometimes having all boys is very difficult. Hard. Even borderline torture.

Like when I'm standing at my kitchen sink trying to scrub worms out of my Ninja's blades. OR like when I'm trying to rid my house of the nasty aroma of SIX stinky teenagers mixed with sardines, worms, ranch dressing, hot sauce and hamster food all mixed together in my Ninja for the sake of a dare.

I read back a bit on this blog early this morning when I woke up. I went back to the year 2008 when my boys were 7,9 and 11. They were less stinky then, and their inventiveness was much different than it is today. In fact, their "creations" were quite edible and found in cute little cookbooks found at Barnes & Noble.

I guess someday I will read back to this post too. I will smile. I will probably giggle a bit too at the memories of watching (and listening) them chase each other down the street with a frightening concoction made of things that should NEVER be mixed together, let alone ingested.

Today, all I have is this...

I don't have Facebook, but if I did, my status would go something like this:

"Exhausted by teen-aged boys. Desperately seeking quiet time out with my man."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


"Let patience have it's perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. "

~ James 1:4


It's a word that I have heard about since the time I was old enough to understand words themselves. When I was small (okay, insert short people joke here), I heard about being patient when waiting at a doctor's office, or in line for my favorite ride at Disneyland. As I became older, it became a word that I was often reminded of when I was waiting to hear if I got a part in a play, or the solo that I wanted in a performance. Sometimes the word would resonate through me as I waited to see what direction relationships would go in. In any of these cases, patience was NOT my forte. Patience was something that I knew a LONG time ago needed to be refined in me.

Sometimes it can take some pretty extreme circumstances to teach character in a person. The Lord has known even longer than I have that patience is a trait that I somehow needed to learn more about. There have been a few life circumstances that I believe He has used to draw me in and teach me about patience. Without going into each one of them, I will just say that most of these circumstances have included loss. Loss of life, loss of relationship, loss of monetary things. Loss can and I believe WILL teach us much about being patient. In the process of waiting each of these times, I have felt that God has changed me, and therefore my relationship with Him has changed.

Perfection and completion.

Am I perfect? Am I complete?

Hmmm... No.

I don't get to acquire either of these until I come face to face with Jesus. Am I MORE perfect and complete though?

I believe I am. I believe that through these life circumstances I have grown. A lot. I see things much differently now. I see being patient as an opportunity for more refinement. I see it as a time for more connection with the Lord, and the people here that I love so much.

The reward has always come too. There is always a big pot of gold at the end of the long waiting spell. Not that I need the reward. I really don't. I see enough reward in the fulfillment of my personal relationship with Jesus. BUT... He rewards me with fulfilling the desires of my heart.

Always. In His perfect time.

As I continue to travel through this life, I am confident that I will continue being challenged in the area of patience. It's my area. I am thankful for the growth that I am seeing within, but I know I am not finished yet.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beautiful, Majestic Mountains!

Last week we took a family trip. We loaded up the van... Three boys, three dogs, and two adults (it was one VERY packed van) ... And headed up into the mountains for the week.

We took more books, games and fishing gear than we did clothing. We "roughed it" in a gorgeous cabin at the base of Mt. Lassen. The start of every day was coffee and fruit. Then, we quietly made our way to the van and crept out of the driveway at the wee hours of the morning to go out and catch "The Big One".

Oh, and did we EVER! All three of the boys caught their limit every day. We ate Rainbow Trout for dinner every night last week, and we brought plenty home to share with loved ones and stock our freezer. I'm really excited about trying some recipes that include smoked trout. YUM!

The best part about it was just the togetherness though. I prayed for weeks leading up to this trip that we would just have a sweet time of connection before starting yet another school year. The Lord heard my requests, and He provided more than what I could have even imagined!!

I witnessed a new bond taking place between Lucas and Colby. The kind of bond shared between brothers, but this time brothers who will now share the high school experience together. Lucas is so good at being just the right amount of goofy and wise to pull a younger brother under his wing. Colby has grown so much himself this year that I can sometimes even see him pull Lucas under his own little wing. Hard to put into words, but so very neat.

Caleb and his daddy have always shared a unique bond, and this week that bond was further strengthened by Caleb's obsession with fishing! Caleb prayed FOR WEEKS..... EVERY day that he would catch fish. It almost became something to be concerned about. The boy couldn't get enough information in his mind about the sport and all there is to know about it. He was web searching, library hunting, and bait and tackle shopping until we just couldn't take it anymore. His daddy was right beside him the whole time, sharing in his excitement the whole way.

Finally, his time came.

Oh, if I could just even TRY to explain to you the smile on that boy's face upon pulling that first fish up out of the water!! He went on to catch the rest of his limit in a matter of only an hour! The joy that flooded his heart (and then mine) is indescribable. His brothers tried to share in his joy, but their faces were more clearly that of envy. I quickly had to remind him that it was Caleb that did all that praying... And God just kept leading those fish straight to Caleb's bait. In the end, Lucas and Colby caught theirs too, and life was good.

I received daily reminders of how GREAT our GOD is from that beautiful mountain. From the creeks that flowed abundantly to the brightest green expanse of gorgeous meadows, the MAJESTY of our Creator was around every bend. At times, I found a lump in my throat as I became overwhelmed with everything around me. Not just the tangible things.... More importantly, the things not tangible.

It was a blessed week. One that was prayed for, prayed about and prayed upon. The bounty that came home with us will stay with us and be a part of who this family is for a lifetime.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Routine.... And other things.

Summer is not supposed to be about routine. It is supposed to be about the opposite of routine. And yet, for me...... Routine is what makes my heart beat so steadily. Routinely.

Why is routine so important to me anyhow? What is so life giving a out knowing what to expect next? I've given a lot of thought to this lately, but I haven't come up with any concrete answers.... Just theories.

The important thing here is that routine is important to me, and yet this summer my ship is is getting totally rocked by a small-ish, soft and cuddly, perfect in almost every way little thing named 'Chief'. He is the new addition to our family. Yes, the zoo has expanded AGAIN! J has this idea that if a boy wants his own dog, then he should have his own dog. He should be well informed of every new responsibility that is coming his way, but he should be given the reigns of accepting full responsibility for another life. I agree with my hubby, but it comes at a much greater cost to me.

I am here every day. I do not leave. I am the supervisor over the supervisor of the new pup. I am the one that goes out and hunts for the miracle product that is going to make housebreaking a puppy an overnight process (no such product..... Don't believe anything that anyone tells you). I am also the one that gets up with the head CEO in the wee hours of the morning to make sure the pup is let out of his crate to relieve himself in the back yard. It seems that Caleb is developing his "daddy ears" during bedtime hours just fine.

BUT..... I am also the one that gets to witness this young boy of mine become the nurturer he was made to be. He is the youngest. He hasn't had anyone to nurture until now. I must say.... It is the sweetest thing to watch. I tell him everyday that he is the best "puppy daddy" I have ever known. This boy LOVES his "child"..... Deeply.

Routine is what a puppy's life is all about too. His routine doesn't match mine at the current moment, but I have to respect the fact that he has one that he feels needs to be followed. I also find pleasure in educating my son on the importance of it all. I wouldn't consider myself to be OCD about it, and I certainly wouldn't want to instill thoughts so strongly on the subject to my son that it sends him in that direction, but I do think a healthy dose of routine is just one of the things that makes life so grand.

I will find my routine again. Chief and I will soon meet in the middle. The chaos of this present day will be behind us, and it will become another memory to add to the vault.

Today I am trying to have a "go with it" kind of attitude. I guess y could say I am adding this new attitude to my daily routine.... For now.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wide Awake!

At the early hour of 6:30am this morning it was just me.... And David (Crowder, that is) pounding the pavement. With the recent heat wave making it's way through our area, the temperature outside was already 84 degrees at 6:30am!

Gonna be a warm one today... Again.

It's funny how your senses come alive when you seem to be all alone. With the exception of a few cars here and there leaving for their work day, and the big garbage truck traveling through the neighborhood, there is nobody around.

The birds are all busy though. Their voices are loud and full of cheer. I haven't heard or seen them much during these hot days. I wonder where birds go when it gets so hot? Makes me think I should get a bird bath for the back yard... Poor birds.

The hum of air conditioners buzz throughout. There aren't many open windows today. Just a lot of tightly closed homes with dollar signs adding up behind their doors as the artificial cool breezes flow from their vents inside. Yes, the bank account will be happy when this heat wave leaves us.

The air is thick and heavy this morning. We aren't used to that here, but it immediately takes me back to another time in my life. My mind starts to wander back to childhood in the Midwest. Damp days is what summer is all about back there. You take a shower only to step outside and feel like you've just stepped back into the shower! Yuck!! As I continue on my trek, I realize that my clothes are soaked. It feels good though... There's something about sweating it out that feels SO DARN GOOD!

I gaze down the street and think to myself, "Will anyone see me if I run through those sprinklers?" They look so inviting! I decide not to run through them, but I walk close enough to the edge of their lawn to hopefully catch a little bit of the misting.

It will be another scorcher today, but my day has started beautifully. It has started with a feeling of my spirit being awake in every possible way.

I couldn't ask for more.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Under Construction!

The summer "to do" bug has hit me hard this morning. On my list is a complete overhaul of this site.

Construction has started.... Let's see where my knowledge of technology (or better, lack of) can get me!

Stay tuned...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sixteen Candles!!

It doesn't seem possible.

How did this happen?

When did my baby grow up almost overnight?

I commented on a "bloggy friend's" blog the other day that I really do believe that watching our children grow is the most rewarding, fun, but PAINFUL thing that a mother has to endure!

I believe this because I look at my now sixteen year old and I can still smell what he smelled like on that first day. His scent was sweet and intoxicating, not that of a locker room or Axe men's body spray.

I can feel his velvety soft new skin against my cheek. His tiny fingers curled around mine. His face is a man's now... All rough and prickly. My hands get lost in the enormity of his now.

Everywhere we went, I was responsible for getting him safely there and home again. Maybe in a car, or a stroller. Sometimes in a sling or backpack. He was attached to me. Last night, after we finished our meal at Mel's Diner (his birthday choice), we piled into the family mini van and he drove all of us home.

It all happened SO fast!

Lucas has grown into an amazing young man though. One that I could not be more proud of. He is an old soul in many ways. He talks of days gone by, simpler days, and wishes he would have lived in more those times. I remember feeling that way too. Little did I know how much MORE complicated times would become for my children! He dreams of classic cars (trucks) in his someday driveway and he tells us in detail what they look like. I do not doubt that he will own at least one.

This young man loves Jesus. He is not afraid to stand up to any crowd and be exactly who he is. No compromises! Now that his younger brother is starting high school in the fall, we hear Lucas sharing many words of encouragement with Colby about what to expect, and how to be strong in character always. When I hear the words being spoken, I find a lump in my throat. Again, it's just so hard to believe we are at this stage of life already. My oldest sounding so adult-like and full of wisdom. My second born listening with intention and confidence that he can do this too.

Happy birthday, Luke! Yesterday, at the end of the day I asked you if you knew what I was doing at that moment sixteen years ago. You took some guesses. All were wrong. I told you I was staring at you. I know it might sound weird to you now, but I know that someday you will know exactly what I mean... What I felt. I stared at you then because everything was new to me. Your cute little button nose. Those perfect lips, and that beautiful olive skin..... All of it was new. I found myself in dis-belief! The Lord had fulfilled so many promises to me on that day. The truth is, He still does.... Everyday. Everyday as I witness you growing in stature, character, and spirit I am blessed. I am reminded of God's faithfulness and goodness to us.

I still stare at you, you know that? You are precious to me.... I love you SO much!



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Coming Full Circle

Have you ever thought about what coming full circle means? I have heard this phrase spoken so many times in my life. It's one of those phrases that I have never really stopped to consider what it really means.

Today though, this phrase has been playing over and over like a broken record in my own head.

Years ago, I was at the top of my circle. Life was good. It was predictable and it was safe. I knew what to expect in my days. I knew who loved me, and I knew who saw my worth. I was young. I was a different person than I am today.

After traveling the circumference of this circle over these years, I have found myself once again at the top. This time, it looks much different.

Life is still very good, but it is not predictable. That's okay though. I have learned that. Predictability makes life boring. Getting up in the morning, reading my bible and having my everyday sweet conversations with Jesus about what the day holds for me is my preference now. He brings surprises sometimes... Surprises that shift life in all sorts of ways. At the end of the day though, He is the same. He is still holding me and guiding my feet and ways.

When compared to many others, my life has always been safe. I don't see that part changing. My opinion on what makes life safe has changed though. It's not the everyday things that make it safe. Life's safety does not depend on where I live, how much money I have, or who thinks I am a good person with worth in whatever area. I have safety in knowing Jesus and putting Him first. I have safety in following Him. I find safety in living my days out with my husband and my three precious gifts... My boys. Someday I may not witness their contagious smiles everyday like I do now. Someday they may choose to make their lives somewhere not close to me. I will rejoice with them! I will rejoice with them as they follow the path that the Lord has set before them. If they choose to travel far, it will not be easy, but I will still feel safe because my worth does not lie in them, and theirs does not lie in me. As we all grow up, we understand more about finding our worth in God alone. That is the safest place to be. The most beautiful place to be.

A little over a month ago, Lucas broke his hand at baseball practice. He was mid-season and he was doing fabulous! He had the highest batting average on the team and he consistently made good, solid outs at third base. His injury was a real shocker! His team's last game was last week. The night before the last game of the season he was visibly upset. I sat by his bed and we had a talk. He was disappointed because he really saw himself finishing up the season with his team. The finality of it all hit him hard. I shared that I was sad for him as well, BUT.... I witnessed things about him that I never would have otherwise.

I saw him come full circle.

Over the years, he has struggled to prove himself and his skills in the game of baseball. It seems that it's harder for the good guy to look like the winner. That title is often times mistakenly given to someone who really doesn't deserve it. Politics are usually to blame. This year though, Luke came out on top. His high school coach texted J late on the evening after Luke broke his hand. The text said that he was really disappointed about Luke's injury. He went on to say that not only was Luke on top as far as productivity in the game, but more than that, he was "good company". Judging by the text, J and I both thought the coach must have thought that Luke would just disappear into the sunset. He didn't. He went to EVERY practice and EVERY game after his break. He couldn't produce runs or outs, but he continued to produce a sense of team work through the use of his voice and his heart. Nobody (including Luke himself) would have seen this part of him without the injury. Luke was back on top of his game during this very last game of the season... And I believe he will continue to stay on top because of what he has learned in this process. He learned that his worth was not just in hitting and catching baseballs. His worth was SO much more!

For me, the top of the circle appears to be so much different than it ever has before. There are still so many uncertainties in my life. Really, there are more than there ever have been. God has shown me that the uncertainties don't matter.... Because the one thing that IS certain is my relationship with Jesus. It is stronger than it ever has been before! It is finally that house built upon the "Rock".

... And the view is amazing from up here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Two Years

On Monday it will be two years since we made our journey down that big hill.

If someone would have told me what this journey would look like, I most likely would not have believed them.

Three moves in two years, making the transition from homeschooling mom to having children in both private and public schools, taking on a part time job that actually seems to be more like full time... These are just morsels of the ride we have been on.

There have been days of extreme beauty and also days of discouraging ugliness. Two years later though, I can see that all of these days have just been part of the mosaic. The Lord's mosaic.

My devotional today was titled ' The Lord's Surprise Visits'. How appropriate for the thoughts that are on my mind. I would like to share a part of this devotional.

"Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical situations. The only way a servant can remain true to God is to be ready for the Lord's surprise visits."

WOW! I have seen many of these surprise visits over the past two years. Some I was ready for, but sadly, some I was not.

Then it goes on to say...

" This readiness will not be brought about by service, but through intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This sense of expectation will give our life the attitude of childlike wonder He wants it to have."

How many of us are getting this part wrong? Readiness doesn't mean doing, it means being. Being WITH Him... Expecting Him to be WITH us!

This is, perhaps the largest piece of the mosaic for me. Understanding this has been a journey all in itself, but feeling it and living it have been new just recently.

I spend my first moments of each new day with Him. Before I even put my feet on the floor I am in conversation with my Jesus. This is not an act of service, it is my intense spiritual reality. I have always done daily devotions, but I have done them without routine. I have squeezed time with the Lord in my day wherever I thought it would fit. I am SO grateful that I have come to a new understanding of what kind of relationship I am to have with Jesus. I am not to "squeeze Him in".... I am to to squeeze everything else out until after I have started my day WITH Him and He WITH me!

I guess I could say that it took many days of discouragement, frustration and hurt to get to this new place. I could also say that I have had just as many days of joy, gratitude and smiles to get to this new place. I think that's the way the Lord planned this two year journey for me.

It has all been part of this very long unexpected, yet expected visit from The One who created me.

** Devotional quotations taken from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Living Water

He hands me a mug with Pooh Bear gracing it's front.

"It's not Tigger, we don't have one of those, but they are related, right? Have a good day."

He leans in for a kiss, and I am immediately reminded why I married this man. He is more than my husband, he is my friend... And a friend of God's.

John 4:11

"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?"

How deep is the well within me? If I were to draw from it, would the result be living water, or would it be water so stagnant that it had become filthy with rust and grime.

I have been asking myself this question a lot lately, and I have come to many answers. Most of them I do not like. Most of them point to a reflection in the water of someone who is not me.

If I were to allow God to do what He has set out to do, without complaining about it, without dreading everything about it, then the living water would flow again. It's sounds so simple, it's true.

But is it?

The thing about joy is... Sometimes you have to literally hunt for it. When you find that little sparkle of joy in something, then it can usually spread quickly into other things. Before we know it, the Eeyore in us has been banished and Tigger reigns!

When I struggle with current happenings, I can easily get caught up in my daily complaints. God isn't able to work through me during these times. I limit His capabilities when I complain and refuse to see what He is actually doing. Every ministry that I am a part of suffers during these times, but the one that saddens me the most is my lack of ministry to children. I am with them all day every day... And they're not just my own children anymore. These young people count on me to point them to the Lord. They need me to show them where and how to draw the living water.

I am praying myself through some times right now. Through his simple acts of kindness I am reminded that my husband prays for me too. I am praying that the Lord would help me to draw living water from the deepest depths. I am praying that if there is any muck down there, He will cleanse me of it and make the water pure and clean.

I love you, Jesus. I want to be your vessel. I want to be obedient to your call on my life without getting caught up in the complaints of what sometimes makes the calling so difficult. Please continue to speak to me and show me exactly what You want for me to see.... And nothing else.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sounds of Home

Home is full of sounds again...

Rain pounds on the windows.

The laundry machines hum gently and consistently.

Worship music flows through the rooms, coming from the docking station upstairs.

Two boys are downstairs playing games.

The other boy sits next to me while I type. Any guess which boy? You are probably wrong.

It's been a long time...

A long time since we have all just "been here". Our days used to look much like this one. There were books piled on top of the dining room table, fresh coffee in the pot almost any hour of the day, crayons scattered about on the coffee table in the living room... Noises pouring from every nook and cranny of home.

Today is much more intentional though. It is not the "norm" anymore. I had to "create" this day. Luke is out of school for the entire week (what the school district calls ski week.... Weird), so I took the next two days off and took Colby and Caleb out of school too. We are here together to refresh.

There is much to be refreshed, but mostly my spirit. I have been grumpy, both at home and at the school. Grumpy is not who I am, so I figured it was time to take some time. I plan to spend much of this time talking to the Lord about balancing life. I want ME to re-surface again. I desire this grumpy, short (not in stature) and irritable person residing in me to completely disappear!

Admittedly so, my time with the Lord hasn't been what it should be lately. There have been a few projects at school that have required more effort, time and planning from me. Baseball season has started.  Three boys... All playing baseball this year = WOW! Enough said about that. My idea of time with the Lord has been rolling over at zero dark thirty, picking up my copy of 'My Utmost for his Highest' from my night stand and reading the days page. I quickly end it with prayer and move on to the shower. Sad, isn't it?

I have received my rude awakening. I have been reminded that I cannot make it through this life without Him. He is life. Simple as that. When I don't start my day WITH Him, little by little, I start to feel suffocated by this life. When I felt up to my neck in pain last week, I decided that I needed this time to re-unite... I guess a retreat of sorts.

I have spent the sweetest time during the past few days reuniting with my Father... My Daddy. He has accepted me firmly back into His grip. He never let go in the first place. I did. It is my prayer that I stay here. I pray that I remember where wandering gets me. I pray that I will be transformed after this time of retreat.

The sounds inside of my home bring joy to me. These sounds remind me of a sweet and simpler time. The sounds also remind me that there is purpose for new sounds now.... Or more commonly, a completely quiet and still house. The Lord has us where He wants us. It is my job to be where He wants me to be with the right attitude, the right spirit.

Thank you Lord, for this time of refreshment. Thank you for the sounds inside of my home... The sounds of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Constant, Sovereign and Good

For some reason, Blogger won't let me write under the video that I just posted. So.... In order to view the video, you will need to scroll down a bit and push play. You will also need to pause the music at the bottom of the page. After all of this confusion... I write.

I heard this song on the radio as I drove my boys to school today. I am not at the school teaching because I have one home sick with the flu. I immediately knew upon hearing it that I wanted to write about it when I got home. The song is such an awesome reminder of so many things!

For me, the song spoke to my heart about being an average 42 year old woman. I am married, I have three children. I live in a small town just outside of suburbia. On most days, life is pretty predictable. However, some days feel much different.

Most days, being a wife feels very sweet. I feel like it is what God made me to be. On other days, it feels a bit lonely and dry. It seems desert like.

Most days, being a mom is an absolute blessing. Again, I feel like it what God made me to be. Then... On other days, it feels like I am out in a deep wide ocean, bearing the waves that come at me while they threaten to drown me.

Every day though HE is constant. HE is sovereign. HE is GOOD!

He knows about those desert places. He knows each wave by name. Not for ANY moment does He forsake me, His precious child. He desires to hold my hand as I travel through each and every spot here on this earth. He wants to hold my hand through the average and predictable days just as much as the days that present themselves as much harder. Sometimes we lose glimpse of that fact.

I woke up this morning to a very average day, yet it doesn't feel average at all. From the start, I knew it would be more. As I drew my bath water and sat in a tub of hot water to warm me to the insides, I saw the most beautiful bright morning moon from between the slats of wooden blinds above the bathtub. I knew then that God wanted to show me things today. He got my attention with that very simple moment.

My eyes are on Him. I FEEL his constance. I am aware of His Sovereignty. I see His goodness.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Well Remembered Day

I remember it like it was yesterday.

As a little girl, I was told by my father to let him handle something with the adults. He instructed me to keep quiet... Not lie, just keep quiet. You see, we were attending a church camp for the week. After getting there, my father decided that we could not stay. There were reasons, but that I won't include in this story. In any case, Dad told my brother and I that IF we let him do the talking to the camp director, and we kept quiet, then we would leave the camp and he would take us to the zoo the next day since he felt badly about leaving camp early. What child doesn't want to stay at church camp? I wasn't happy about not staying.

We went to breakfast at the dining hall that morning, and then after breakfast our family stepped outside  with the Camp Director to break the news that we wouldn't stay. I stood there trying with all of my might not to open my big mouth and blurt out the reason why we were leaving.

Ugh.... It was too much for my little 10-ish year old brain to handle. I spilled the beans. Right there in front of my whole family, I stood there and let it all fly.

After my parents' initial shock, they escorted my brother and I to our family station wagon. We piled in, and started our two plus hour trek home... In utter silence. Not a word was spoken that whole way home. I REALLY do remember it all. It is my most vivid child hood memory. Perhaps because I really learned something that day.

We arrived home, and as we pulled into our driveway, the silence was broken. Dad said there would be no trip to the zoo after all. All of a sudden, not only did I have my own anger issues to deal with, but I was also faced with a VERY angry brother who blamed me for the whole thing. I guess I was the only one to blame though.

I sat in my room the entire day. I never came out. I kept expecting that at some time during the day, my father would come to my door and say something like, "Okay, I can see you have learned your lesson. We will go to the zoo now."

Problem was, the lesson could only be learned if my father kept his word, and that he did. There was no trip to the zoo.

We had a very similar experience in our house this past weekend. We were supposed to go skiing, but due to some behavioral issues from all three of the boys, we had to inform them that we would not be going. They were pretty upset to say the least. They all three went straight to their rooms where they wound up camping out and eventually fell asleep at a very early hour (like 6pm early). The scenario immediately reminded me of my own child hood story. I thought back, and I gained new perspective.

As much as it hurt me that day to have my trip to the zoo taken away... As much as it angered me and made me feel that life "just isn't fair"... It hurt my parents more. They were probably disappointed in me greatly and they more than likely wondered why I chose to make the wrong decision. Why did I choose disobedience? What had they done wrong that hadn't encouraged me to make to right decision?

I went to bed the other night with all of these questions racing through my mind. After much thought and prayer... I came to one realization. The Lord asks Himself these things constantly, and I am one of those who prompts these questions. I run off stomping my feet, thinking that things aren't fair, and He wonders, "Child, are you learning anything in this? Are you stopping and quieting yourself long enough to see where you made your mistakes?"

I learned a lesson that day thirty some odd years ago. It is a lesson that has stuck with me and remained strong in my mind. Strong enough for me to use even this past weekend with my own three children. It really stunk not being able to go skiing this weekend. It was a beautiful day, and I'm sure the conditions were near perfect, but were they?

The conditions needed some guidance and room for improvement. When we DO go (hopefully soon), we will go with a much deeper understanding of the purpose of discipline. We will ALL go with a much different mind set than what we would have had if we would have given in to bad behavior. Stories from the present, and stories of the past have a way of making me see clearer... With better perspective and understanding of who Jesus is and what He wants for me and for my family.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

From One Year to the Next

Here we are at the beginning of yet another year that will probably pass quicker than the last.

That seems to happen a lot.

I'm not sure what has happened, but I have been stricken with a HUGE case of writer's block for the past several months. There is still so much on my mind and heart, but putting it all to words has become difficult. Perhaps you noticed if you were so fortunate to receive one of out Christmas cards this year. Sorry...

I could blame the writer's block on the fact that I grade horrible writing all day now that I'm teaching language arts to 5th-8th graders. Is horrible writing contagious? They try, but most fail. Can you guess what one of my goals for 2013 is?

I could blame it on the fact that I just see more opportunity for living life in full swing, which means less time spent at the computer. Our family is growing faster, and I just cannot seem to stop them. I'm afraid to look down for fear that I will miss something. My eyes are focused upward and onward right along with all of them.

Or... I could just stop trying to place blame and get on with it. That is, welcoming another year full of wondering. Isn't it sweet when you get to a new place in life when wondering isn't a bad thing, but a magical thing? That is exactly how I feel at the beginning of this new year. I am excited about all that God is going to do through our lives and in our lives this year! There are many changes on the horizon.

At the top of the list is the fact that in a few short months we will have our first driving child birthed out of this home. Hmmm... I wonder what that will be like?

Second from the top of the list is that we will see another one of ours graduate from 8th grade and move into high school. As parents, there is much to wonder about when sending children into high school. I wonder what it will be like to have TWO of our boys going to high school together?

Over the past couple of years, home has been redefined in this home. We are home now, but where will home be on this day next year? We do not know, but God does. I can only wonder....

So we begin another year of wondering. At the end of 2013, I will no longer wonder about the things I wonder about today. Those questions will be answered for me, and I will move on to another whole new set of things to occupy my thoughts. I think that is what makes it magical... Not in a mystical way, but in a spiritual way. God is FULL of wonder. He wants to surprise us! Accepting that idea has been key to a changed heart in me. A changed heart, and a heart definitely more at peace.

Here's to looking upward and onward together... Continuing to be contently full of wonder.