Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Music To My Ears

Music plays a regular role in our home....always has. I remember shortly after we were married Bruce came home telling me about this stereo system a friend of his had and was selling...and how we really needed it....and the bass amplifier and the tape deck and the 3 disk CD changer. (I realize I am dating myself a tad). So he told me how much we could pay each month and we  he decided this was a good idea. Thus rekindling his love affair with the Bee Gees, Don Williams, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, The Gatlin Brothers and pretty much any artist I hadn't developed a taste for. We were sooooo opposites when it came to music.

But today...after almost 18 years of marriage we tend to agree on the sounds that make us the happiest. Like....

hearing our children pray....
.....the laughter as we tickle tiny toes....
the songs that fill the bathtub at wash time.....
....the clanging of pots and pans as children learn responsibility.....
the piano keys as they are pounded out ...
....the crashing of matchbox cars on the track....
the whispered goodnights...
...the "one more time" pleas
...the "I love you more" games....
...the echos of our own voices replicated in those tiny bodies

This music we agree on. The best, most beautiful, melodic...and yet somedays chaotic. This music fills our lives with much more than some 80's beat could ever manage. It represents the best...and sometimes the worst of us. It has the power to move us....to challenge us to do better...to laugh more...to invest more....to teach more...to pray more...to draw closer....to watch....to sing...to dance....just a little more. Because the music will change in just a few years...the station will play sounds of cars starting, boys calling, phones ringing....and while we will grow to love that music too....it will never be this station...this moment or this melody.

Thankful for today...embracing it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays

Continuing with my list of random everyday gifts God gives...

12. Little hands that are big enough to help around the house

13. A man of God for a life partner spouse.

14. Modern technology to keep in touch with far away family

15. A spur of the moment shopping trip with the sister in law

16. Flaws in myself that draw me closer to my creator

17. Wycliffe Bible Translators

18. The Gideons International

19. A mom friend who shares God's love with her children....those she bore and those she is entrusted with for a while. What I've learned from this incredible love is immeasurable.

20. The steadfast love of the Lord that never changes....no matter what.

21. Modern medicine that helps stomachs prepare for international travel, cures motion sickness and dries up poison ivy.

Thank you, Lord, for these blessings.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Time...

This time next week I will have driven halfway to GA and back to meet my mom and step dad and handed over my kids to be spoiled rotten for 13 days while Bruce and I are in Peru. This will be their first trip to ATL without us and pretty much their first time away from us for any extended period of time. I'm pretty sure they are way more excited about this than I am.

This time next week I will have cleaned my house so that I will not be totally embarrassed when aforementioned grandparents bring my children back from GA and arrive back at my house 2 days before I actually do. While I am super excited that I do not have to drive the 12 hours to ATL to get them, I am not as excited about cleaning my house.

This time next week I will have packed my clothes, flip flops, converse, flashlight, meds, sunglasses, Bible, passport, camera, and the various other 200 items that cannot weight over 50 pounds in my suitcase...and chances are I will have done 100% of Bruce's packing too....cause I'm a good wife like that ;)....and I want to be sure that his clothes match.

This time next week I will have made a lengthy list of contact numbers, social security numbers, life insurance policy numbers, dr. office numbers and every other number that might in some way make my mother feel more comfortable as she cares for my kids.

This time next week I will be almost ready to turn my iphone off because as "smart" as it is, it hasn't found a way to allow me to use it without costing me as arm and a leg while I am in Peru.

This time next week I will be eating my last of American food.....maybe.....I hear there's a Pizza Hut in Lima....and we all know how I love me some Pizza Hut.

This time next week I will be ready to see my friends. To hug the neck of a sister in ministry. To hear of the ups and downs and the ins and outs of their new ministry. To hear vision and dreams for a city. To experience traffic like I've never seen. To ride in a double decker bus. To visit places I've only thought of and prayed for. To love on some people, to encourage, to spend time with my church family. To eat food that I can't pronounce. To get motion sick, to drive through the Andes Mountains, to see the jungle, to take a cold shower, to have no airconditioning.

....and I can't wait!

But in all the planning and preparing it's all for nothing if my heart goes unprepared. I've really been thinking about what God wants me to "get" from this trip. What does He want me to see, to hear, to experience that will change me. I don't believe He gives opportunity without giving us the chance to be changed. This is true everyday....not just on a mission trip or at youth camp, but everyday is an amazing opportunity for Him to do His glorious work in our lives.

So maybe, just maybe, this trip should be like every other day...only in a different country, with people who don't speak the same language as me, where things are different and strange and beautiful. What if I lived every day like something glorious would change me? Because it can. The place you are in ....your location... doesn't dictate how God can use you. He's capable of using a jailer, a murderer, a thief, a tax collector. Certainly if He wants to use a willing subject in Texas He can. But am I surrendered to that opportunity to be gloriously changed while I am caring for my family, taking kids to tennis and piano, buying groceries, attending my local church? Am I willing? Somehow we've adopted some stinkin' thinkin' that says, "God doesn't work out His glorious plan in my little ol' insignificant town in small town USA." But that's exactly what He does when we are willing. Just think if we all asked Him to.....what would happen? How would we be changed? How would things be different? What kind of impact would that make in our world?

If you're still reading after all that...please know that I realize that I got off on a rabbit trail there....but these are just the thoughts that are floating around in my head. I've thought about erasing them and just decided that maybe some mom, wife, teacher, secretary or who knows who else reads this blog, might need to know that whether or not they ever go to a foreign country or not, whether they feel like they are making a difference where they are that HE can and wants to do something beautiful right where you are!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Publish His Mercy

"'Not called!' did you say?
'Not heard the call,' I think you should say.
Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.
 — William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

Friday, May 27, 2011

Storm Watching

The weather in the Midwest has been crazy scary lately -Tornadoes, flooding, damaging winds and thunder - all keeping us glued to the weather channel or local news late into the evening a couple of nights recently. Between our local meteorologist and the national weather service we've been kept "in the know" and are safe and sound.

I was thinking of some of our friends from previous ministries and current ones that have experienced some "storms" lately...2 family friends experienced the horrific tornadoes and reside in Joplin, MO, 1 other family had a house fire and lost all their earthy possessions, countless numbers of people are experiencing the tough economic challenges....seems like everyday the storms keep coming.

But just like the expertise of a weather meteorologist God doesn't leave us to weather the storms alone. He's given us His Word to navigate during bad weather. The Bible gives us prime, experienced examples of people who have walked through the storms of life and come out stronger, better, faithful. Think about Job, Daniel, Paul, Rahab and others, who when facing a storm put their faith to the test and experienced that peace that passes all earthly understanding....embracing in the dark, what they knew to be true in the light.

It's just a matter of time before any of us encounter our next storm, Christ the ultimate Storm Tracker says....in this world we will have trouble. (And of course we know he experienced that trouble first hand.....)Thankfully he also is the One who has overcome the world.

Praying and praising with friends through this storm.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quiet Hour

Because life is busy and loud and crazy I take a quiet hour. 

During the school year I don't know how I would make it if I didn't take a quiet hour. Usually this happens between 2-3pm, after lunch is eaten and a load of laundry started and kids are settled. I set the timer on the stove and announce...."it's quiet hour." By now the kids know what this means....no TV or electronics or any kind and no bothering mom unless someone is bleeding. Usually they grab a book to read, the play dough, the Lego's, a game or something else that makes little to no noise and they play together ....quietly.

I've decided that even though I'm not working this summer that we will still observe quiet hour at some point every day. This will help keep me on speaking terms with my children....because as much as I love them.... I need silence for 60 minutes a day....silence that involves not worrying that they are tearing the house down or catching something one fire. I need to recharge my battery, clear my mind, blog, read a book or shut my eyes....or heaven forbid....talk to a friend on the phone or go to the bathroom uninterrupted!!!  

Today there wasn't even a whine when I said it was time for quiet hour 

could it be because of this????

Yes...they were busy doing hard things this morning with me out in the yard. Thanks Kids!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Doing Hard Things

A couple of years ago I read a book entitled, Do Hard Things. This book is the personal story of two brothers whose parents weren't afraid of teaching their boys the value of hard work, determination, perseverance and goal setting. From school work, to chores, to Christian living....these boys have exceeded the average and excelled in areas that even most adults only dream of.

I've been thinking about my expectations of my own children and what I am teaching them by my life and by my instruction lately. We are out of school for three months and I don't want this to be a summer full of channel surfing and sun bathing. While there will be time for that, I want them to learn a little about teamwork, hard work and determination. So, we started with some simple chores yesterday.

Scrubbing down cabinets

 Does Anyone Else have a tupperware cabinet that looks like this?????

All in all this lesson only took about 20-30 minutes, but let me tell you what was neat to see later in the day. When Bruce got home he asked the kids what they had been up to and they were eager to tell him about their chores they had helped with. There was a certain pride in learning to organize and scrub....and doing something a little more difficult than just making a bed or gathering laundry....which yes, they still have to do!

So....here's a question....What kind of chores to do have your kids do? Do you think it's important to teach them harder things (in all areas) or can it wait til they are older and bigger? I'd love to hear your thoughts on these points. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Plant, Water, Harvest- A Food Pantry Lesson

Yesterday volunteers from our church helped to sort, mark and organize over 10,000 pounds of food for our Food Pantry. Do you know what that looks like????? 

There were 35 or so beautiful people there to do the dirty work. 

Young and Old Working Together

The beautiful body of Christ 

Expert Pallet Stacker!

But....we were not alone. As I was thinking about these wonderful, sweaty, dirty, thirsty volunteers my mind also wandered to all the other people that helped make this moment happen. The many citezens of our community who gave the food, the postman who put our name in the mix as a recipient of the food, the parents who stayed at home today with small children so that their spouse could be available to work, those who have prayed for this ministry, the warehouse space donated, the visionaries for this ministry....lots of unsung heroes. I thought of the verse....

I Corinthians 3:6- 
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.

The wonderful thing about this verse is that both of the first two jobs are essential in gardening....you must plant and you must water....without those two things, certain failure is guaranteed. However, when each gardener does his duty, God blesses the land and makes the garden grow. Each job is essential but when it comes right down to it...it's all about the job God does.

The parent who stayed home with small children today and the person who prays for this ministry on a regular basis and those who came and worked today are all just sowing and watering.....but God gets the glory for all that was accomplished today.

Thanks to all those who helped make it happen. It was wonderful!

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

I'm beginning a challenge that is prompted by reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. The art of gratitude is beautifully displayed in Ann's masterpiece writing and has prompted me to live a more grateful life....looking for everyday gifts in the midst of our heartaches, our schedules, our burdens, our fears. So in no particular order or amount, I plan to journal one by one my (at least) one thousand gifts. Want to join me? I think you'll be glad you did!

1. A nourished people sorting food for hungry people.

2. Generosity modeled in deed

3. Laughter and silliness with friends

4. "I love you" and sleepy hugs

5. Spring showers

6. Summer break

7. Plastic rodeo toys and time with the boy

8. Toenail polish and time with the girl

9. Forgotten flowers planted last year now blooming this year

10. Cringing sounds from the piano that will one day bring beautiful music

11. Chinese food, Ronnie Milsap and ice cream....double date night with friends.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sustaining Peace

I don't know about you but when I am struggling with something...whether it's a decision or a circumstance or my schedule or finances or ____________, I usually can muster up enough sense to know that I need to stop, pray, focus on the Lord and get some peace. And for the next 5 minutes, I'm able to get quiet, refreshing, calming peace....and I LOVE that feeling. But.....at 6 minutes that peace that felt so good seems to sort of fade away and leaves me feeling a little anxious, doubting, worried...and at 7minutes, I'm having to start over again at step one...stop, pray, focus.

The thing is...the peace doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't run off or get scared when we start doubting. Why? Because the Prince of Peace is Jesus. He's not afraid of our troubles, He's experienced it. He's not overcome with difficulties.....He is the Overcomer. He doesn't get going when the going gets tough. He's stronger, more stable, higher, mightier and He is the peace giver.

When I don't feel peace the problem is me. What causes that feeling of fleeting peace could be a long list of things, but I will list a few of my top peace quenchers:

1. Eyes focused on my circumstances rather than His plan
2. Trying to figure out things according to my agenda
3. Guilt over sin in my life
4. Unconfessed sin
5. A lack of fellowship with Him or other Christians
6. Listening to what others say about things rather than what God says
7. Worry over things I cannot control
8. Focus on past failures
9. Consumed with things I can't change
10. And the one that sums them all up....focusing on anything but the Lord.

I wasn't made to handle this life without the Lord. In fact apart from Him I can't do anything worth anything. We get sustaining...steady....life-giving peace when we learn that every moment in a walk with the Peace Giver....every second of each day is in total dependence of what He is doing in our lives. Whether a difficult situation, an illness, a family issue or tricky finances, He's the only constant. He wants to be in the middle of it all...working out His Will....giving us sustaining peace to get through all the ups and downs that inevitably will come.

Today's goal....embrace the peace giver. The never changing, always constant Prince of Peace.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Goals Week 1

Soooooooo, tomorrow is my last day of school!!!! YAY ME! I'm excited to have some time off this summer to catch up on some things around the house, do some fun things with the kids, read, move around furniture, watch some movies, plan some women's ministry things for the fall and GO TO PERU. So here are my week 1 goals:

1. Sort and organize food from community food drive.

2. Work in yard, weed flower beds, plant flowers  (yes, I'm soooooo behind!)

3. Laundry

4. Play at the park with the kids and friends 

5. Buy toiletries for Peru trip

6. Cook dinner nightly

7. Start reading a good book with the kids ....any suggestions?????

8. Deep clean kids rooms

9. Watch a movie with Bruce (To Save a Life) 

Hope you have a great start to the summer!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes when things aren't going as you had originally planned, it seems hard to give thanks. I think this is just another trap we get sucked into by the enemy because in those moments of suffering or trial, thanksgiving eases the pain. It's like an ibuprofen for your soul. So this weeks list comes after a little wading through the rough waters and soul searching that disappointments bring. Does that make it a more important list than last week? I doubt it, just a little more thoughtful. So with that, here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. I am thankful for the blessing of teaching a wonderful group of women each Sunday. We are doing a crash course about what God's Word says about 13 topics that women are interested. We're covering everything from money to motherhood to emotions. It's crazy fast and we have to hang on for our lives because we are covering so much material in a short amount of time.....BUT...it's all worth it to see their eyes light up when they grasp a new truth from God's Word....and to top it all off....I am learning so much by teaching it!

2. I am thankful for my husband. He is hardworking, positive, loving, patient, great with our kids and most of all he loves the Lord with all his heart.

3. I am thankful for the summer off. This will be the first summer in over 10 years that I have the entire summer to spend with my kids. What a gift!

4. I am thankful for diving appointments that interrupt my schedule. God's plan is always better than my appointment book!

5. I am thankful for food that was raised in our community for the food pantry that I help with.

I'm feeling better just typing all this. Giving thanks lifts the spirit and reminds me of the goodness of the Lord always....not just when I feel it or when I recognize it. But always.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's Really Important

Tomorrow is the last official day of school...then Friday Morning there is graduation. It's been a busy year for my class. We've learned about ABC's and 123's and colors and shapes and phonics. We've learned about vegetables, pilgrims, patterns and weather. But, all of that is second to the really important things that I hope these kids came away with. 

My prayer is that when they look back at this year that they'll remember these lessons:

1. Jesus loves them. If they know that, then my job is done.

2. Be kind to others. It's not enough to just be kind when someone is nice to you. If they can remember to treat people with kindness...even someone who doesn't deserve it then they will have learned a valuable lesson for life.

3. Say I'm sorry. When you do wrong, on purpose or on accident, say "I'm sorry" and then get on with life. If you take a toy, interrupt, cut in line, push, bump into someone, or call them a name...do the right thing and apologize. Don't let things build up....you'll get angry.

4. Forgive...when someone hurts you, or your feelings, forgive and move on. 

5. Share....your crayons, your glue, your toys, your books, your colors. 

6. A hug makes things better. It's a bandaid for your heart. And we all know preschoolers love bandaids.

7. Be a helper. If someone is struggling give them a little help. One day they will return the favor.

8. Do your best. Whatever that is. Your only competition is yourself.

9. Work together as a team. 

10. Try try again. Don't give up just because you don't get something the first time. Keep trying...and then try again. 

Come to think of it, I hope these are lessons I have learned this year! What an amazing time we've had.
This truly was a year of life change for me and my little class. What a wonderful group of lives God allowed me to be with each day.  

- Thank you Lord, for these unspeakable gifts.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

For the Love....

Something new...something hard....something out of the box. 
Last winter Savannah found out about the area homeschool tennis lessons that are offered in our community. She was interested in taking the lessons, worried that she would get sweaty and concerned that we wouldn't be able to find the perfect tennis outfit (you know a girls gotta look good!) But I am happy to say that three months later we have completed our first 12 lessons!
She did awesome...endured lunges, and learning tennis positions, terminology and strokes. 
She also the value of team work, effort and good sportsmanship. 

Good Job Savannah!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

True Blue

Sometimes you need someone to call something what it is....a spade a spade. Sometimes you need someone to be real enough with you to point out your faults...to tell you when you are off base....when you've lost you're marbles....when you've gone too far....when you've blown it...when you've got spinach between your teeth...and yes, even when you're wrong!!!

These are the true blue friends in my life. Those few people who I trust love me enough to see way past all the flaws in my life and see the person God is molding me into. They see past my insecurities, my appearance, my dirty house, my dirty blond roots, my bargain flip flops and they see the real deal. The wanna be God girl who is always one step behind where she really wants to be.

And this week, one of those girlfriends called a spade a spade. She accused me of being an enabler. WHAT?!?!?!

And she was right. Ouch!!!

And I knew it as soon as she said it. And I said "Thank you".

Thank you for not letting me get away with it. Thank you for loving me enough to know my heart...but also know it was wrong. Thank you for doing the hard stuff and calling me out. Thank you for sharpening me and getting me to think passed a temporary moment of what I confused to be "good" and waking me up to the reality that I cannot protect everyone I know. Thank you for being confident enough in our relationship that you could trust that I would "hear" you. Thank you for helping me grow.

That's a true blue friend to me. I've got a couple and I wouldn't trade them for all the chocolate and diet coke in the world. They are the best examples of what it means to truly love one another. It's easy to be friends with someone who will always take your side or hear your opinions, but the hard stuff is when you go through things that are messy and you sharpen each other with God's Word....because really...who else's words really matter anyway.

Sometimes when we are sharpening each other it can hurt at first, but in the end, the refining friction that happens during that sharpening will create something more beautiful if we are pliable and willing to hear and apply those lessons of love from people who truly care.

Do you have a friend who sharpens you?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thankful Thursday

This weeks random list of gratitudes includes:

1. A beautiful Mother's Day with my family and many other mom friends.

2. The working together of many people to make a load lighter. Thankful for the many women who helped make our Muffins with Mom at church a success.

3. The opportunity to watch others grow and mature in Christ....it's so exciting and makes ministry work very rewarding too!

4. That God is the ultimate healer....and what he doesn't deliver you from he means for your good as part of His purpose to bring more glory to Himself.

5. For answered prayers for lots of people I love.

So....what are you thankful for?

Spring Rain

Dust covered, spiderwebby, dirt laden, grime covered. That about sums up the vibe my porch and backyard were giving off this afternoon before the gentle fall of spring rain. There's something about that gentle pitter patter of continuous rain that washes the earth of it's oldness and rinses the filth from nature. It leaves everything feeling fresh, more alive, vibrant, greener, cleaner, nourished.

Ever feel like you need your own personal spring rain....a couple of hours of uninterrupted washing away of the world's grime? Where forgiveness and grace and mercy and healing and nourishment can do their work and you can sit and soak every last drop of it in? Where you walk away feeling vibrant, healthier, more alive than before?

I think this must be what the God must have had in mind when the Psalmist penned...

Psalms 72:6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.

This watering from heaven to earth ...or from God to us is exactly what we need after days filled with drought. When our own spiritual grime is so thick that it takes more than a quick squirt of the water hose to get cleaned. When our thoughts don't match His, when our mind is not His, when our hands and feet are not His. We need this washing....this cleansing that comes from sitting in a spring rain...soaking in His goodness, His presence and His forgiveness. 

This cleansing rain helps us grow. Just like the flowers and gardens and trees will flourish after a spring rain, so does our own walk with Christ. The fresh feeling the earth has after rain is mirrored in my own life after I've sat with the Lord and soaked in some of His goodness. What a generous God we have that He would have enough for all of us and that in the middle of any personal drought He can bring the spring rain to provide refreshment, healing, nourishment and fresh growth.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two weeks ago

Two weeks ago I met a man.

I had been taking a friend of Savannah's back home after a fun sleepover. It was Saturday. 2pm. I dropped her off and with Savannah in the backseat, we made the short trip home. My guys were hanging at the church doing a few last minute preperatory things for the Sunday service and I had secret hopes of catching a quick nap when I returned home.


As I rounded the corner on my way home, I saw an older man standing on his back porch holding a sign that read "I NEED FOOD". Immediately my emotions were stirred. I looked around my car to see if I had a cereal bar or a juice box or something I could toss out the window to him, but even as I asked Savannah if there was anything in the back seat I knew God was asking me to do more. It was like I heard him say "He's your neighbor". I was crying by this time. Savannah had seen the man and the sign and I knew she was waiting to see what I was going to do. Since I couldn't dig up anything in my car, I knew I had to do something.

For a moment I thought about heading to the church and getting food from the food pantry. I knew there would be some nonperishables and some eggs and butter...and hey, that would be enough right? But that question still lingered..."Isn't he YOUR neigbor? Don't turn him away." So, as I made my final turn into the driveway of my home, I told Savannah to stay put and I would be back in a minute. I unlocked the house, went to the pantry and began filling bags with rice, pasta, canned vegetables, a brownie mix, I looked in the fridge and grabbed a dozen eggs and then opened the freezer and (here's where it gets good) I grabbed 4 ribeye steaks, 5 pounds of ground beef and a couple of frozen dinner type meals. I was able to do that because someone blessed us with giving us a 150 pounds of fresh meat this past winter.....so we were able to share our abundance with someone who had nothing. I love how God allows us to pay forward the goodness we experience. Under ordinary circumstances I never would have had that kind of quality meat at my disposal! Hot dogs...yes.....but not steaks!

So, we loaded the car, drove the route back to the porch where the man stood with the sign. I got out, handed him the bags and I looked up uncomfortably into the eyes of a 60ish year old man who was crying. I wondered what had happened to him, what had caused this man to end up hungry with no means to take care of himself? Where was his family? His children? What about a job, his health, his rent payment?

And I was reminded...it's our job, the family of God's job, to help the poor...the hungry....the outcast. God's admonished us to be compassionate and willing to share our wealth or ribeyes or vegetables with our neighbors. And I was reminded...that my neighbors have needs...some physical, some spiritual and I have a responsibility...to share what I have, to love them and to introduce them to Jesus.

As I drove off, Savannah heard me sniffling and saw a few stray tears. In Savannah fashion, she was concerned that my tears were "sad tears" instead of my usual "happy tears". She said she was glad we helped the man and I think as she was talking I heard a little sniffle from the back seat too. What a lesson she learned that day!

BTW, before anyone scolds me for doing all this without my husband or a body guard....or with Savannah in the backseat....the hubs gave me a stern scolding and instructions to never go alone again... and because I really already knew this I didn't argue. He's a good guy though...he said he would go with me next time. See, I'm blessed to have someone like him that realizes he probably won't be able to stop me ....so he joins me! Gotta love him!

And...please don't think I'm bragging and saying "Look what I did". My point in journaling this is to help me pay closer attention to all the opportunities we have to make a difference, share Christ, feed the poor...whatever. It's all around us... unless you're called to a foreign land....your ministry is your neighborhood. Right here...where God's placed you. I hope you'll be encouraged just as I was, to open my eyes a little more to the needs that are clearly right down the street from where I live.

Monday, May 9, 2011


What would happen if we laid aside our pride and tried...a little kindness?
What would happen if we held loosely  to our anger instead of our tongues?
What would happen if humility motivated our posture and prayer our thoughts?
What if instead of being heard, we listened.

Instead of pouring out to each other, what if we emptied ourselves before the Lord?
Instead of trying to solve each others problems, we realized we aren't smart enough or wise enough
Instead of elevating our opinions we held high the Words of the Most High
What if we practiced what we say we believe...and tried a little kindness.

---Author Unknown

Our world is in a constant state of frenzy. In a hurry people say and do things that given time to think, pray and think again, they might not would say or do. Over the last few months I have thought about the implications kindness might make on our society. Don't get me wrong...I'm not talking about niceness. We've got just about all we can handle of empty compliments, fake smiles and loud and obnoxious artificial laughter. I'm talking about hard nose kindness...the kind that won't take "no" for an answer.  The kind that is looking for needs to meets and gets great delight from knowing he or she is instrumental in leading someone closer to Christ. That's real kindness. Real kindness is honest, truthful, humble. It makes room for people's mistakes...their clutter. It gives 70 X 7 chances and more. It gives up personal comfort for others gain and invests in things that make God happy. 

I've been on the receiving end of a few kind deeds lately. Out of the blue notes of encouragement that someone took the time and effort to handwrite me were incredibly timely. A few facebook messages and even texts have been used to set my feet to dancing! Just a few of the many kind deeds of the body of Christ. Those deeds are a continual motivation and blessing to me. It makes me want to look around and see places that need a reflection of Christ....the gas station, the pediatricians office, the kitchen table, the job, the daycare, the DMV. Wherever God plants your feet we have the opportunity to help make His name great. 

How are we doing, church? 

Mother's Day Artwork

Each student in my preschool class made one of these paintings for their mom for Mother's Day. They turned out super cute!

Here's how you do it:


canvas mats (found mine at Walmart near the acrylic paints)
green acrylic paint
blue acrylic paint
white acrylic paint
brown acrylic paint
pink acrylic paint
stencil paint brushes


1. Place your canvas mat vertically and draw a light pencil line slightly below the halfway point on the board. This will be the dividing line between your sky and grass.

2. Take a small amount of green paint and dab you stencil brush in it. Using an up and down motion stomp off some of the excess. Then begin pouncing the green paint in the up and down motion below the pencil line. This creates an illusion of texture.

3. Repeat the same directions as #2 but using blue paint for the sky. Allow to dry completely

4. Take child's arm paint fingers, palm and halfway if the arm with brown paint. Place arm down on canvas where the brown on the arm is placed at or below the halfway point of the green. Any further up and the fingers will be off the canvass. This creates the tree and branches. Allow to dry completely.

5. Place pink paint and white paint on paper plate. Then mix a little white and pink together to make three separate colors...(pink, light pink and white). Take a small stencil brush and using same up and down motion as before pounce on each finger (branch) and cover palm. This will give the illusion of cherry blossoms. You might also like to paint some on the grass to look like they have fallen from the tree. All to dry.

The kids loved seeing how great their work turned out. They did an awesome job being patient (it took us a week to complete all the steps).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Me, Myself...the Mom

Besides being a wife, motherhood is the greatest joy and responsibility God has given me. After a recent in depth study I was reminded that it was designed to be a blessing from God. These precious children were given to me to remind me of God's blessing, His magnificent work of creation...the actually knitting together of their beings. It's truly amazing. And after 10 years of thinking I would never be a mom, to now be able to experience it....the word "blessing" hardly explains it.

A few things I have learned (so far) from being a mom:

1. I should have invested financially and heavily in Band aid, Baby wipes, String Cheese and Gogurt.

2. When one of my kids tells me they need to go to the bathroom, they mean NOW.

3. There are just some messes that a household cleaner has not been discovered for yet. This would include vomit with any type of cheese product contained in it.

4. Sometimes my kids teach me things...like about forgiveness and friendship and how a hug really does make most things better.

5. My words have no more power now than before...the only difference is that the ears that are listening matter more to me.

6. They are watching...all the time...they hear when you don't think they are listening and they watch when you don't think they are looking. Not to self..What do I want them to see and hear?

7. If I can't say it in front of them, I need to think twice about what I am saying...and proceed with caution.

8. Their idea of a great Mother's Day present includes something for them....like a Scooby Doo movie or Open Season 2 (these were Tucker's suggestions for things I should think about asking for)

9. God expects me to do what I can to share Jesus with them....but in the end....it's all about them hearing His voice and His plan. I just get to watch and see it all unfold. I'm glad it's not all up to me.

10. Their smiles and love can change a day from excruciatingly painful to delightfully pleasurable.

My list could go on and on with a steady stream of funny and serious things they remind me of everyday. But, the bottom line is that I am blessed. These days of Handy Manny and LalaLoopsy and Sidewalk Chalk won't last forever. I'm cherishing each one. Grasping at these moments hoping they will stay just a little longer so I can drink them in like a tall glad of lemonade. There will be time for my "to do" lists later....for now I am going to be present...in this one moment God has given us.

Thank you God for these immeasurable gifts!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thankful Thursday

A small list of the many gratitudes I have this week:

1. I am thankful for first morning hugs from my kids.

2. I am thankful for the opportunity to watch God's peace smother a friend's family this week.

3. I am thankful for the new life that is springing up all around me...even with my yard being a mess, the roses and lilies are still poking out there reminding me that God's in the beautification industry, spiritually speaking too!

4. I am thankful for a group of thoughtful parents that were sweet to bring me something for Teacher Appreciation Week.

5. I am thankful that Savannah was baptized on Sunday.

So....what are you thankful for this week???? Comment below!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


From the moment I realized I was pregnant with Savannah I have prayed that she would know Jesus at an early age. I'm not talking about every once in a while I would shoot a prayer skyward and think it would nice....I'm talking about a fervent prayer. When she was 4 she began asking questions. 

"Why did Jesus die on the cross?"
"Why were people so mean to Him?"
"What is sin?"
"Am I a sinner?"

I even remember getting very nervous one time thinking "She's too young, she couldn't possibly be ready to know Him." Yes...I know....wasn't that what I was praying for??? But I found myself almost talking her out of salvation instead of explaining this wonderful gift of God to the world. I struggled with the reality of her being able to in any sort of way really understand what Christ had done for her. 

One night in late August just days before her 5th birthday she cornered Bruce and I and said, "I'm ready to be saved." We asked her a few questions and after she gave a full dissertation realized that she was ready. She didn't repeat a parent led prayer, instead, she said her own version of some sort of sinner's plea for God to forgive her, make her clean and let her live in heaven when she died. It was the most beautiful prayer I will ever hear. 

That prayer of any lost soul coming to Jesus for the first time is sweet, but when it is your own child reaching out, accepting, believing, confessing....that is something that will be ingrained in my heart forever. I completely understand how all heaven must rejoice when someone comes to know Christ. It's amazing. And having recently experienced the spiritual battle that goes on when Satan feels the sting of loss or the elation of some temporal earthly victory, it is fresh on my mind how truly spiritual this salvation experience is.

So...now, over three years later Savannah got baptized last Sunday. Dad got to do the honors. And yes, I know that her knowing Christ doesn't stop at salvation or baptism, in fact, it's really only the beginning. My prayer continues to be that she will grow to know Him more and more and more....to be a lifetime learner of Him....to keep her eyes fixed on Him. 

Thank you Lord, for answered prayers!

Buried with Him in baptism...

Raised to walk in newness of life.