Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for funnies

"Laughter is the brush that sweeps away the cobwebs of your heart."
::Mort Walker ::

My girl eats the top off of her cinnamon rolls. She snuck five this morning, the little stinker.

When Mommy is more excited about matching outfits than my three year old.

Their thankful list is always touching and hilarious. This year "winged meat" made the list. Chicken wings??

Evangelism 101: Lydie lets her princesses read her Bible.

Cursive writing in her "jo-nal". You should hear her narrate.

Rice in the dishwasher shouldn't be funny. But, what were they thinking??

Five people painting a tiny bathroom. This was laughable.

My discipleship group. I forgot how fun 15 year olds can be!! Love them!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

But He did...

It all started when...the kids and I took a long walk around the neighborhood and collected leaves. Then we dipped them in wax to preserve them. We decided after dinner to write a list of the things for which we feel thankful this year. What a precious list! I hope to somehow write the items on the leaves and hang a garland in the kitchen to enjoy for the next week or two.

We got so swept away, that I had to rush the kids into the bath and we left the house a wreck. I had an hour while I was cleaning to think about our time together. I kept coming back to the phrase, "But He did! He did!" This phrase marks the significant events in my life as I look back and see God's gracious work time and time again.

I was a rebel in high school. I drank, had awful language, a sassy attitude, and basically held only two cares in the world: what I looked like, and what people thought of me. Even worse, I hid behind a neat, sweet, seemingly happy little package. I had wonderful manners, good grades, and joined all the right clubs and teams. I was a fraud and hated myself. Sometime between my senior trip and settling into summer God melted my heart of stone and I fell completely in love with Him, almost over night. He used a simple testimony to change my life just before my parents sent me to college. And, despite my rebelliousness he preserved me in so many ways in regards to safety, purity, and innocence- even in my selfishness all those years. I can't imagine why...but He did!

I look at my marriage to my husband. For the first time in my life, I had no desire to receive attention from boys. I was completely captivated with Christ and on a mission to spread the Word. I met my Andy the first weekend of college. We had a Christ-centered, easy, passionate relationship. Miraculous. He absolutely did not have to give me this relationship. I did not deserve it, nor did I even desire it, but He did!

:::My man on the way home from Cracker Barrel...candy cane and's all good!:::

With the birth of each child I can see how He blessed me in ways that I could hardly imagine. Our first son was suspected of Asperger's and diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder and Motor Apraxia. He was supposed to be awkward, void of humor, repetitive and fixated- for starters. He was so severely limited in certain ways as a toddler. His future and ours was questionable. He is now a spiritual leader, bright, hilarious, and kids love him. In fact, he seems to be the kid that everyone wants to be with. He's honest and loyal and tender-hearted. He's everything and more that I would want in a son. God didn't have to heal our beautiful boy...but He did!

:::Jaybird cracks a joke with a 101 fever and strep throat:::

And soon after, He gave us the sweetest, most adorable, easy baby boy. Right in the midst of tests and devastating news with Jaybird, our little Toot was born. We never asked for Him. In fact, we were planning to wait a good while for any more children with the special needs we thought we were facing. But God gave us the most precious blessing, and Jaybird a best friend that I am sure aided in his healing process. When I was working on the hours of home therapy with J, Toot was cooing and smiling and requiring very little from us. He was a giver, that sweet boy. He has dimples, and loves to kiss and hug, and is so joyful. And we never even asked for him!

:::Oh, the dimples!:::

Later Lydie came. A girl, my daughter. My secret longing fulfilled. Not only a girl, but a sweet little friend. We have the same personality, interests, and love languages. She is emotional and demanding, but I completely understand her. She is femininity personified. My girl is beauty and strength all shaken together. She is quite certain that she is loved and royal and everything the four of us dreamed of. Our daily prayer for her is that she love others as much as herself. That would be powerful, let me tell you! But we love and adore her...He just keeps giving!

:::One of many love letters she authored today. This one said, "Mama, you cute and I wanna kiss you.:::

The list goes on and on. I find myself equally thankful for the pitfalls we have had. You can not look at a boy that is in karate or riding his bike and begin to cry until you have heard "autistic spectrum" and "uncertain future". You might not feel thrilled to serve your husband coffee in bed when he is sick unless you watched your marriage almost crumble, but instead be slowly and painfully built into something extraordinarily beautiful. When your daughter is having a temper tantrum over what to wear, you might not find it laughable and squeeze her into giggles unless you thought she would never be after experiencing a heartbreaking miscarriage. And if you did not experience the love and grace of Christ until you were a teenager, you might not skip and dance all day when your children express sorrow over their sin and confident love for their Savior. Sometimes His grace makes me bubble over, as it should.

:::Lovely chaos! My boys were assigned kitchen duty and this was their idea of "a perfectly clean kitchen"!:::

I have witnessed it in so many ways. He never forsakes me. He never ceases to love and bless me with the joy of knowing Him. When I count my blessings my heart bows in worship at the way He gives beyond measure to such an undeserving servant. And when I count my losses (painful marital strife, death, uncertain health diagnosis, broken relationships, financial problems, etc.), they are incomparable to the Joy of knowing Him and seeing Him known in my home. Life is full, beautiful, adventurous, loud and messy (but some how peaceful) with Jesus. I do not deserve to be "in the game". I am a selfish sinner in need of grace every day to turn my eyes away from myself and towards Jesus. That He gives me the opportunity to love and care for the people in my life makes me feel humbly giddy! I want to keep looking at His life, what He has redeemed in mine, and what He promises in the future. I can not believe what He has made me a part of.

Romans 7:24-25

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Psalm 118:1,5
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!... Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Finally bought my first Christmas gift

For $10 you could provide one person in Africa or Asia clean water for a year. After reading about this project, I felt compelled to donate. Maybe it's because we dream of running a family farm and having a ministry like this one, only with food. Or maybe the pictures were so poignant and beautiful that the opportunity was irresistible. But I'm glad that this was my first gift to buy. I pray it will take my eyes off of myself this Christmas season and give me eyes to begin to see what my Savior sees, loving and giving as He would. Being able to give is such a gift! Take a look:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jesus help me

Revelation 3:15-18
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are luke-warm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see."

"It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity." ~Frederic Huntington

I feel completely humbled and quite overwhelmed with what the Lord is teaching me right now. For starters, my relationships with the high school girls at church have given me both great hope and great fear. I realize as I spend time with certain girls that they are capable of understanding God's word and applying it to their lives at a level much, much deeper than I had dared to hope. I am thrilled and encouraged. Simultaneously, God is revealing that many of these girls do not appear to have had a true encounter with Christ. Their lives are marked with sin patterns that they are not mournful over. They seem to be jumping into a downward spiral, and have become quite comfortable and pleased to be there. I think their Christianity has been a hoax. Man, is that heartbreaking. Mentoring is one thing, evangelizing to girls that have heard the gospel all their lives (and seem to be cold to it) is another.

I found myself wondering this weekend what in the world I was going to do. Here's what I've simply come up with: Keep sharing Jesus. I am going to assume, as I always should, that Jesus is going to soften their hearts to His love and grace. I am going to continue to be vulnerable and transparent about my past, and all the ways that I chose to have what Revelation calls a "lukewarm faith". I will continue to pray for the commitment and love that will lead me to exhort these girls, even when it is so uncomfortable that I would rather be anywhere else on earth! And I must make prayer a bigger priority in my life. I want to petition the Father on their behalf more and more.

Lastly, I want to learn from what I hear and bless my children with this time. I desire salvation and joyful, worshipful living for my children and my husband more than I can articulate. God is so gracious to give both myself and Andy a season to get to know this high school age group on an intimate level. I pray it will not only lead to fruit in the high schoolers lives, but fruit in ours and consequently our children's'. I pray that we will have the wisdom, discernment, and knowledge to point them to Christ in each of their stages of life.

Today I am begging for wisdom and understanding. I am begging for grace and mercy in the lives of those I love. I am praying for brokenness over sin, so that His redemptive love can be tasted and lives can be transformed. I am praying that Jesus will be more, and I will be less when it comes to who is reigning in my own heart. May He alone be glorified!

*Pictured above: Two of the beautiful souls that bless me.*

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not to be obliterated

“A man should hear a little music,

read a little poetry,

and see a fine picture every day of his life,

in order that worldly cares may not obliterate

the sense of the beautiful

implanted in the human soul.”
~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe~

*My baby love last fall*

I had a wonderful time last night at our "Welcome to our church!" party for our newest staff members' wives. The highlight was hearing how each lady met her husband. I was a little stunned at how many of us met the love of our lives at age 18 or under! We forgot to pull out a camera, but the memories are mentally saved and filed. I am looking forward to seeing these new families enfolded into our Church body. I know they will be blessed, and we will as well!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our simple art

"Creativity will broaden, deepen, intensify your relationship with God. It can be your most vital, viable, examining experience, resulting in worship and wonder."
~Ruth Vaughn

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Field trip:Rock Ranch

What a way to kick-off the Thanksgiving season!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bathroom redone

Our master bathroom needed some help. It is itty bitty, but serves its purpose. But aesthetically, it was just pathetic.

All of the towel racks were silver and gold combined. I never liked them at all. Notice the cabinets. They were stained a yellow-brown many years ago. They were scratched and faded.
Our bathroom light looked like a dressing room mirror from the backstage of the theatre. The paint was the same flat cream that all the walls were covered in when we moved in three years ago. I never hung a thing on the walls because there was no inspiration. Thankfully, the tile is an off-white and the countertop is a cream and tan swirl (faux marble) pattern. Those were both okay. Last fall I bought everything needed to redo the bathroom. It has been sitting in a corner of our bedroom collecting dust until yesterday. We invested less than $100 total.

Here are the AFTER shots:
The walls are painted light gray ("Lampshade Grey"). The cabinets are black (high gloss). We bought polished silver knobs, towel racks, and a light fixture. I moved some art and that yard sale cabinet on the walls. I even had the blue hand towel monogrammed by my sister-in-law last year when I bought the paint! The shower curtain is a simple white eyelet with baby blue trim. I am loving the transformation!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Belated Halloween pics

I want to remember our Halloween night. My friend Tammy had us over for her annual party. We enjoyed great food, fun decor, an indoor big screen featuring The Wizard Of Oz, and a fun night trick-or-treating. There were 75+ friends there, and each of us had so much fun with friends of all ages. The kids were Dora, a GI Joe man, and Wolverine. Even though it rained, we marched forward with umbrellas and rain jackets in tow. Tammy's house was phenomenal. Every room in the house was festive and the food was so wonderful.

Our sweet friend Bo fell down the front steps just as we were ending the night and gashed the back of his head. He later had to get 3 staples. But he was a trooper. And our good friend Ella missed the festivities because of illness. We missed her, but we were so glad to be able to trick-or-treat at her house and see her for a bit. We are blessed to have good friends! I am sure there could be none better.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lifting up

"Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up."
"When I am weak then am I strong, Grace is my shield and Christ my song."
::Charles Spurgeon::

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Agitations from 4PM

The dishwasher broke and I am finally washing the dishes from today...and yesterday. How long will this take?

My little boy comes downstairs with gum on his shirt and face. How do I get gum out of a shirt?

What will we have for dinner? (The leftovers are calling my name all of a sudden.)

The same little boy can not find his book for reading time. He gets a pen and paper and sets out on a "mystery hunt" that lasts for nearly an hour, and comes up empty. Seriously?

I have 5 minutes to put the clean sheets on the bed. How?

My husband will be gone to youth group to speak tonight, and it's bath night. I have gotten up at 5:30 for the last week. Where will the energy come from?

The cat is scratching...are those fleas?

Is that Lydie I hear singing during nap time??

Frazzled, I send everyone to their room to play for 30 minutes. I spend time talking with the Lord and then remember the cd I borrowed from the library. I have a date with John Coltrane. I feel amazing again. (Even the saddest jazz makes me happy.) And all 99+ dishes are washed and drying. Oh, the healing power of music!

"Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us."
~Martin Luther

Thank you

You listen patiently.

You help constantly.

You pray faithfully.

You care tenderly.

You lead strongly.

You love well.

You dream with me.

You are a Joy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The big girl room

On Saturday I decided to turn Lydie's crib into a big-girl bed and change her room around to celebrate. I had $20 to invest (a little pitiful). I spent $15 on artwork and $5 on a new frame. The other frames and things have been found at yard sales over the last year from pocket change.

No more babies in our sweet little crib. We were given the opportunity when I was pregnant with J 10 years ago to choose any crib that we wanted. We fell in love with the white, sleigh bed-stlye. It's held up so well. I have been very emotional about seeing it turned into a toddler bed. That little crib symbolizes so much for me- hope, innocence, everything sweet and lovely that a baby brings to a home. While I am a little heart-broken, Lydie has done wonderfully. She has stayed in her bed every night and only fallen out once. When I went to rescue her she had rolled over and found a comfy spot on the floor without missing a single snooze. The great thing about change is that where beauty is lost, there is always more to be found.

It looks a little different:
Come on in!

I took her dress from her first birthday party and another dress that I made her and displayed them this way. I picked up these frames and needlepoint circles at a yard sale, for pennies. Soon the frames will have black and white pictures- one with Lydie and me, and the other with Lydie and Andy. (*I use the word "soon" loosely.)

She loves to cook. I hung some pails on hooks for her food and tea sets. She can take the pails down, or just reach in and grab a thing or two.
Above her table is this little display. I bought the bird watercolor from our artist neighbor for $5. It looks great in this 10 cent frame. (The bird theme is carried throughout the room. Lydie loves birds and sings like one, too!) The mini tea set was my Grandmom's. The frame has a black and white of all three kids together. This potter's bench-stlye changing table that Andy made for her converts nicely for toys and baskets. She loves music and books and princess toys. Those hanging iron stars and dragonfly have been one of my favorite things in her room.

There is no way I was getting rid of our rocking chair. It too has been around since J was born, although I recovered it when I was pregnant with Lydie. I remember rocking and praying when I was pregnant 10 years ago, and then with each pregnancy. I wonder how many times I nursed these little ones right there? No, she will probably be an adolescent before I can bear to move out this chair!
The pink flower painting cost $10 from the same neighbor. The tree art was a free download. The mirror and green framed bird silhouette were all second-hand finds, too. That little yellow cross says, "Celebrate!". Someone gave it to me when we were pregnant with our third baby that we lost. And I love it! We try to celebrate life every day!
These plates used to be in the kitchen. Lydie loves them. So here they are for her to enjoy. We will add more above the bed as time and our budget allow. They are a little small for the space, but it's nice to have room to add and make a collection. We just used a baby quilt for her bed. I know she will soon outgrow this toddler bed, so I didn't invest in a nice bedspread. Her room is a very eclectic mix of color- anything goes!
Her little dress up area is fun. The mirror and hook are at her eye level. I remember buying them for her when I first found out I was having a girl. Her dress up clothes are just inside the closet. She LOVES this new area.

I had to frame her Gigi book cover above the dress-up stuff. If Gigi were real, she would be Lydie's soul mate. Every girly-girl needs a Gigi book or two.
So there it is, the big girl room. We now have no diapers, no crib, no babies. Time for a new chapter (sniff, sniff).
"A girl is Innocence playing in the mud, Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot."
-- Alan Beck