Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Rachel was glad to have her best little friend along....sometimes a little too glad. She wanted to be wherever W. was no matter what. But he doesn't seem to mind.
Me trying to read my Bible before the day got going. Not sure why I was standing, but Drew thought it was interesting enough for a picture. Also the very last moment I needed a sweater. We had beautiful weather all weekend. After all the rain we've had recently, we really couldn't have asked for a nicer camping weekend, though the lake was closed to swimming due to flooding, and it did heat up A LOT Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
Our family went off for our own little nature walk on Saturday. I'm so thankful for the people in this picture!
Because the boys got to do some things she wasn't old enough to do, Drew took Rachel horseback riding. She wasn't too sure about it at first, but then she loved it. Drew said the boy helping her was really good with her - talked to her the whole time and she got more comfortable and really LOVED "Shorty" the horse. I'm glad she got some bonding time with her daddy, too.
Rachel with "Shorty."
I just love this picture! Rachel and Daddy.
Of course, we had to have bacon one morning - Michael's favorite thing.
The older kids got to do some archery one day. Being at a state park was cool because they had all kinds of neat, free things for the kids to take advantage of throughout the weekend. This is Joshua in the yellow shirt.
Michael in the middle.
S'mores on the last evening.
The kids really all had a great time playing together. Lots of fun!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Hmm. I just realized as I went to post this that it's been a whole week since I last posted here. Time just flies. Blogging may continue on the lighter side this week as well.
This is, I think, the third post in which I’ve mentioned the ladies’ retreat we had a few weeks ago, but I have to say something about it again in this Thankful Thursday post. I have been concerned for a while now that I’m not very focused in my praying. One thing I’ve made it a habit to do is that when I say I’ll pray for someone I try to pray right then because I don’t want to forget. I tend to say little conversational kinds of prayers throughout the day, but, when I sit down to pray in a focused way, I tend to be a bit ADD in that I no sooner start to pray then I’m thinking about the 1 million chores I need to be doing or my mind is wandering all over the place.
One thing I’m thankful for is that on the ladies’ retreat, our speaker gave us a little outline that has worked for her in organizing her thoughts as she prays. Basically it begins with bowing to worship, taking cares to the Lord and laying them at His feet, confessing and asking Him to search your heart, praying through Eph. 6:10-18, thinking on an attribute of God from the Scripture and thanking Him, praying for others, reading the Bible and praying about how you need to respond to and obey His word that you’ve just read. Taking the basic format, I’ve been making myself a prayer notebook with an outline that works for me and helps me focus during my quiet time in the morning which I’ve typed up and put in page protectors in a little notebook, along with a list of people I pray for every day, and then I’ve broken up other prayer concerns and assigned them a day of the week when I will be praying over them - things like my family and church (those are on the every day list), my country and leaders, neighbors, friends, extended family, and some other things (certain days of the week). I’ve also started listing out scriptures as I’m reading the Bible that I find I can pray for people on my list.
One thing that I thought of today is to print out a list of my Facebook friends and blog friends for one of the weekdays. Each week I’ll take a few friends from those lists and pray specifically for them, and when I actually know of specific needs I’ll remember them, too. I got to thinking what a special way that could be to take a hobby and make something meaningful of it. As to the blog friends list, if you’ve interacted with me in a somewhat regular way, you are probably on that list. If you want to be on that list, please leave me a comment or send an e-mail and I’ll be happy to add you. I’ve also added to my list the bloggers I read regularly, whether I have actually interacted with them or not.
So, I’m thankful for the encouragement and practical organizational tips the speaker at our retreat gave me to help me to become more organized and diligent in praying. For all the talk about prayer these days that tries to make prayer out to be some contemplative, wispy, unmindful thing, I don’t want to be caught up in seeking after some elusive, hyper-romanticized experience. I want to pray and love God with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength. I want to be grounded in God’s word and fellowshipping with Him in a way that truly honors Him and is biblical and will teach me to grow in Christ as I submit to Him and love Him more and be living for His glory throughout the day.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I’m thankful for the ladies’ retreat we had last weekend. I already wrote about it, but I received some very needed and practical encouragement about daily prayer that has stuck with me this week. I noticed something, too, and I must thank God and give Him glory and praise for the work He is doing in me. I have written before about how I struggle with my temper and impatience. I noticed this week after thinking and praying purposefully through Ephesians 6:10-18 each morning that though my circumstances haven’t changed at all, looking back over the past several days I’ve been much more even keel in how I responded to frustration this week. Friends, that is all God’s amazing grace, and to God be the glory, great things He is doing as He is working in me to conform me to His image. God is so very kind to us!
I’m thankful for a sweet time of prayer together with my fellow choir members last night. Rather than practice, we spent the entire rehearsal time praying for our church.
I’m thankful for a sunny afternoon walk with my daughter today, and I’m thankful that she is coming around about my hair. She still doesn’t like it, but she is dealing better with it today. I said on Facebook that you don’t take a walk with a 5-year-old if you’re looking for a heart-pumping workout. But if you want to look at weeds and see them to be beautiful yellow flowers and enjoy the magic of dandelions and remember that S-T-O-P spells stop at every single stop sign and enjoy amiable chatter, then a walk with a 5-year-old is just the thing for the first sunny afternoon in ages.
Did I mention sunny afternoon? Yes, I was thankful to see the sun again. It’s been a gray spring so far.
I’m thankful for my parents. They taught me, and continue to teach, much about loving Jesus and His word, and I am so grateful. I’m thankful I got to Skype my dad yesterday and tell him happy birthday.
I’m thankful for music. I ordered the soundtracks from Tangled and Enchanted because I just really like those movies and the music. Had a great time listening to them in the car with my oldest son and youngest daughter today as we drove to son’s trumpet lesson. Son tolerated it and read his book, daughter laughed out loud as song after song that she recognized from her favorite movies came on.
I’m thankful for my husband and his love for me. He says he likes the hair. I’m quite sure he doesn’t love it, but he does love me, and I love him, too.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I got my hair cut today. I was thinking I needed a change, but I didn’t actually go in today meaning to make a radical one. However, the more I thought about it and talked to my hairdresser, the more we thought maybe it was time to try something different, something shorter. I have this really coarse, really thick, really difficult hair. So we’re thinking try it short.
I think I like it, but it will definitely take some getting used to. Ask my daughter.
I had to go straight from the hairdresser’s to Rachel’s preschool, so I didn’t get to go home and mess around with the hair and make it look less....severe. I usually like my styling better, you know. Anyway, she almost wouldn’t come home with me. Her teacher said, “Rachel, your mom’s here,” and Rachel looked at me, eyes immediately filled with tears, and said, “You cut your hair.” Teacher looked up and said, “Oh, wow! You did! It looks cute!” Rachel said, “I don’t like it.” And proceeded to cry. Loudly. All. The. Way. Home. In the car, into the house, “Please put it back, grow it back, Mommy.” She wouldn’t even look at me. This is the child who, when her then-favorite toy, Pink Bear, lost its nose wouldn’t look at it and covered it up in a blanket for MONTHS, even after I glued the nose back on and you couldn’t tell it had ever come off. We have issues.
So. My hair is short. I think I like it. I think I’ll get used to it. I think my daughter will too. She’ll have to. It grows fast, but not that fast. Good thing I don't get all my self-esteem from the 5-year-old's opinion.
I think I’ll e-mail my husband and suggest he look at my blog before he comes home and tell him if he loves me at all, to please lie if he hates the hair. I can handle the rejection from the 5-year-old...I think. Honey, just lie.
Rachel did come in here to find out what I was doing and wanted to take a picture with me...so there's hope, right?
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I’ve been slowly reading my way through Soul Depths and Soul Heights by Octavius Winslow. The following quote from chapter 7, “Hoping in the Lord,” is one of the reasons I have really appreciated this book. It is not a quick read, but it is good and worth thinking through. In light of the fact that we need to be discerning as we read and listen to any writers or speakers but especially those who claim to be Christian, I so much appreciate Winslow’s exhortation to have the Word of God as our ground and proof for truth.
“A few practical deductions will close this chapter. It follows from the preceding exposition that it is of the utmost importance, of vital moment, that we make sure of the nature and foundation of our hope. There are false hopes of heaven, as there are false hopes of earth. It was a most holy prayer of the Psalmist, which every believer should, in a daily examination of his real state before God, breathe - ‘Let me not be ashamed of my hope’ (Psa. 119:116). Oh, what multitudes are cherishing a spurious hope of heaven! building their hope, not upon the Rock Christ Jesus, but upon the quicksand of their own righteousness! Look well, my reader, to the nature and foundation of your hope for the future! In settling the question of its reality, assume nothing as true which has not God’s Word for its ground and its proof.
It is written: ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ It is written: ‘If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature.’ It is written: ‘Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.’ It is written: ‘He that believeth not shall be damned.’ Heaven and earth shall pass away, with all their greatness and grandeur, but God’s Word shall never pass away! Look well, then, to your hope after death. See that it is built upon Christ alone - a divine Redeemer, a personal Christ, a sin-atoning Saviour-Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, yes, the all and in all of your hope of glory.”
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Friday, May 06, 2011
My husband and I were talking today about how long it looks like we may get to stay here if the Army decides the way we think it will regarding his career path. Yeah, that sentence is clear as mud....I don’t know how else to express it.
Anywho...he was saying a certain time frame looked likely (no promises just thinking out loud, this is the Army you know), and I started doing the math on how old the kids will be, because that’s basically how I measure time these days. Then I choked up and started to cry while we were on the phone together, because it doesn’t really seem all that long, but when you start putting the kids’ faces on it, it makes you realize how fast time flies, and my little girl is turning 5 on Wednesday, and she’s the baby. That means the older ones are not babies, either. In fact, the oldest boy is almost as tall as me and entering that awkward stage boys do when their voices get all crackly and they still are kids but....not so much anymore. He really, really doesn’t want Mom to hug him anymore, and that makes me cry, too. He still likes Legos, though, and our read-aloud-together time in the evenings. The middle son still likes hugs, but don’t tell his friends, okay? I’m hugging our youngest girl every chance I get, because, well, did I mention she’s turning 5? It’s really been five years already?
I have much joy over the people they are growing to be, and I find that I enjoy them with every stage they grow through, and I find joy as I pray for them that the Lord will continue to draw them to Himself and teach them to have a heart for Him. I pray, too, that my husband and I are teaching them well and using the time we have well. I don’t want to waste the short time we have, but I also know that one thing I grieve deep down in my quiet heart is that too often in the busyness of the everyday we don’t always remember how short those everydays really are, and I know we've missed some things we should have been more on top of, and I know we've been impatient over things that really aren't all that important, and we've made mistakes along the way, and we've been, in short, sinners who have had to confess such to each other and to our children at times. In those moments, I pray for mercy and grace and wisdom, and I pray for the wisdom to use well the time we do have. And our God is so kind, so good, so very, very kind to us. And I am grateful.
So, math makes me cry. Anybody have a tissue?
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Working with a couple of sweet two-year-olds this morning while their mommas went to their MOPS meeting, when one of my little friends looked up from the paper he was coloring, grinned right into my face.....and sneezed. Not just a little sneeze, either. I do not think I’ve ever had so much sneeze sprayed all over my face and right into my eyes before. My inner germophobe began silently freaking out. I looked at my co-worker and said, “I’m sure it’s just allergies, right?” She smiled sickly and said, “Uh-huh.....” And then we looked at my little friend’s gunky nose, and my coworker and friend said, so reassuringly, “That doesn’t look like allergies to me.” And then we both laughed, because, what else are ya gonna do at that point?
We spent the rest of the morning assuring ourselves it’s just allergies. ‘Tis the season, after all. Meanwhile I contemplated whether dousing my face and eyes in Purell would blind me or not, and whether it might be worth it. Kidding. Sort of.
Yeah. Hand me a nice big bottle of vitamin C and the orange juice. I’ll be guzzling it straight from the jug....
Don’t you just love that sense of baited anticipation that follows such an event? Wonder what the incubation period is for this particular strain of Kentucky crud....
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16
A group of us at our church had a conversation recently where the question was asked, “Why is it that we find it so hard to be real with each other?” We walk through the halls at church, “Hi, how are you?” “Fine, how are you?” You may have had a horrible morning, screamed at the kids, everyone fuming on the way to church after the hustle of getting out the door, but you pull into the parking lot, put on your smile and mask over the hurt inside. We talked about how you don’t want to just dump everything onto everyone who asks, “How are you?” and you probably shouldn’t air all your dirty laundry for just anyone to see. But the question we discussed was, why is it so hard to find anyone with whom you can take off the mask and be honest? In the church, shouldn’t we be a family who bears with one another and helps each with burdens? Why are we so often not able to do that? Is it the fault of the one with the burden, too afraid to let anyone know they don’t, in fact, have it all together? Is it the fault of the one whom someone would want to ask for help - are we not being the kind of person someone can trust with that? Or is it a combination of both? How do we move beyond superficial ‘how-do-you-do’s’ to finding the kind of community that can be real?
I don’t have a complete answer for the how part, yet. I do have a little bit of thought on the why, though.
As I said during that conversation, part of the reason I don’t often open up and share is because when I do, someone either jumps all over my ‘wrong thinking’ or tries to ‘fix’ my problem. In my experience, most people are uncomfortable with honesty. When asking, “How are you,” we really don’t mean, “How are you,” we mean, “Good morning” or “Hello.” If someone, in a moment of desperation, begins to answer our implied, “Good morning,” by answering our spoken, “How are you,” and begins to tell us how they are, we get uncomfortable. TMI.
I am not saying we need to be the energy-draining person who is always down, always complaining, always sharing too much information with people we don’t know well. But we do, each of us, need the kind of friendship where we can open up and share one another’s burdens - and joys - honestly with people we have come to know well. And we, each of us, need to learn to be the kind of people who can be that kind of friend and genuinely ask, “How are you,” and mean it.
I’ve been thinking about something, and I hope I can say this without being offensive, but it’s on my heart today. One thing I’ve noticed is that we in the church do not really understand how to hear confessions of sin from each other or how to respond to them in a gospel-understanding way. One thing I’ve noticed repeatedly over the years is that if you ever do share a failing, people are really quick to reassure you and let you know that you are a really good person, you are really okay, stop being so hard on yourself, etc. You know something? As well-meaning as those attempts to boost my self-esteem are, they aren’t what I need. For example, whenever I say anything about failing in a test of patience with my kids or about messing up in an area of mothering, I get people telling me I’m a great mom, it makes them sad when I say I’ve failed as a mom, etc. I know that is well meant, but I wasn’t expressing a lack of self-esteem. I was expressing an area of sin in my life that I regret deeply and want to change. I wasn’t beating myself up unnecessarily. I wasn’t saying I thought I was an abject failure as a mom in all areas generally and woe-is-me. I was honestly admitting my fault. I know that God is in control and I am not. I am extremely grateful that He can take my faults and forgive my sin and capture my children’s hearts in spite of me.
But you know what? I am not a great mother inherently. I am not even a very nice person. I can play a pretty nice person outwardly, but you have no idea the sinful struggles I have in my mind and heart as I seek to daily die to myself and live for Christ. By God’s grace, I am a better mother than I could ever have been if I were not in the process of being sanctified by God’s grace, and I am daily learning to trust Him for the strength to parent well. But I don’t really need the guilt trip laid on me that by admitting my fault that I’m somehow being too hard on myself. Because the lectures telling me that I’m a great mom really only make me feel like now, not only did I blow it in losing my patience with my child, now I’m blowing it for admitting I have struggles, too. Saying I blew it doesn’t mean I’m despairing over my general mothering skills. It means I’m being honest and saying I sinned, today, in this very specific incident, and I know that this is an area where I tend to fall to temptation and I would welcome someone to come alongside me and pray for me and even to share that they, too, struggle with this issue. I know my heart better than people from the outside looking in do. By God’s grace, He is sanctifying me so that, by His grace He is growing His fruit in my life and overcoming the sinful me and pruning me and growing me in His grace to be the mother my kids need me to be and to be the person He would have me be. I know, desperately, my daily need for His grace, and my daily need to be preaching the gospel to myself and my children.
So, when we confess our sins to each other, we need to learn how to hear that from each other, and rather than seeing it as a self-esteem issue, which it isn’t - trust me, a big part of my problem is that I already think too much of myself - let’s learn to see it is a grace issue. Let’s learn to, instead of bolstering up self-esteem, let’s learn to come alongside with something like, “Wow. I’ve been there, too. May I pray for you? And will you pray for me?” And wouldn’t it be wonderful if then you and your friend could even search the scripture together and see what God says about this thing you’re dealing with and seek to hide God’s word in your hearts together so that you might not sin against God and so that you can spur each other on to good works. And as a sister in Christ, wouldn’t it be awesome if we would learn to preach the gospel to each other, rather than try to shore up a lagging self-esteem?
Monday, May 02, 2011
Sitting.....in the kitchen, smelling the ham and bean soup that is simmering for dinner. Mouth is watering. Corn bread will complement it nicely.
Sipping....Earl Grey tea, hot. A delightful afternoon treat.
Thinking....how strange it is that right when I’d decided to take a blogging break for a while, I all of a sudden felt like blogging again.
Resigned.....to the thought that I will probably never get the hang of short blog posts. I must learn that less is more. Somehow.
Pondering....how wrong it is that I get most of my news from Facebook lately. I may need to take something of a break from that time distraction. Social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but time wasting sure is.
Wondering....how it is possible that my baby is going to be five next week. Also wondering if I have the energy to survive the birthday party that will be at our house on Saturday.
Excited.....that The Lady and the Tramp DVD I ordered from Amazon was shipped today. I think I’m more excited to see my little girl open it than she will be to receive it. Lady Dog is her special toy - goes with her everywhere. Finally she’ll get to see the movie. I find it irritating that Disney locks away certain movies in the vault. Marketing genius, but I wanted Boo to get to see it before she doesn’t care anymore.
Thankful....for my church family. I’m constantly at a loss for words to describe how full my heart is on Sundays and after. I love how the gathering together on Sunday spurs us on to worship and serve throughout the week. May I have ears to hear and eyes to see!
Praying...for those who have been so drastically affected by the tornadoes. My heart is heavy as I hear of the damage and loss. May God have mercy, and may those who can help have strength and wisdom and compassion and resources.
Glad...there are only five weeks left of the school year. Looking forward to summer with the kids.
Realizing...that working with preschoolers on a weekly basis isn’t really my gift. I like kids, but didn’t so much love the job. Now to find where I am supposed to be serving.
Once again, I’m thankful for Lisa’s status report format.