Thursday, November 5, 2009

All Hands on Deck!

To understand where I'm coming from today, I have to share the background of what has been going on with our family. God has been weaving His grace through every fabric of our lives (whoa- Aaron Neville just popped into my head!).



The last few months we have been working on getting Haddon evaluated as he has a speech delay, and some issues understanding directions and certain words or concepts. Of course to get that help, he has had to go through one evaluation after another. We've been interviewed and had to really think about all the things that Haddon can and cannot do. It gets a little overwhelming and seems daunting at times.



He has now spent a little bit in a specialized preschool, where he goes two times a week and is supposed to get two sessions of speech therapy a month. Just a couple days ago, his teacher talked to me about possibly having our son evaluated for autism as she sees some signs and symptoms in him.



I listened to her, and although my head was spinning, I think I was understanding her and able to somewhat communicate effectively.



But as I drove away, the tears came down. I was dreading that someone would say the "a-word". Autism. It didn't seem to me that all the symptoms were there. That if he were to be evaluated as having autism that it may be a little early or that we would be jumping the gun a bit as he had just started in the school, and the teacher barely knows her.



Yesterday I processed all day. I was overwhelmed. At times I felt scared. I started to think about what I may have done wrong while I was pregnant with him. Time and time again, the Holy Spirit kept my spirit in check. Fear is merely disbelieve in God and His promises as set forth in His Word.



I thought about a couple months ago when we were at a church. It was the week that the senior pastor's father died, and he was taking the time to share about his father and the legacy that he had left. The pastor spoke of the times when they would have family devotions and prayer, how his father would call out, "Call to Arms!" And all the children would come running to hear their father read God's Word and pray.



That's what I needed to do yesterday. I e-mailed the ladies in my small group Bible study. I wrote to a dear friend in Colorado. I asked my mother-law to pray. I was calling the troops to arms.

When bad weather comes upon a ship, the Captain often orders for, "All Hands on Deck!" All the workmen of the ship will rush to the aid of the wave battered boat to assist in keep it afloat.

God called for His hands to be on deck for me. It was no mere coincidence that I got a note from a fellow member of my Bible study- a mother with a child with autism. It isn't chance that Haddon's speech therapist from Colorado wrote to me asking me how he was doing that very day- even though we had not heard from her in a year!

Yes, it's true. When the Captain, sees a storm brewing, He knows and provides that call for the battered ship. He moves. He calls. He prompts. "All hands on deck!"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting It

This is a conversation that I had with Norah last night after having a less-than-perfect good night experience.

Norah: "Good night mom."
Me: "Good night, Norah."
(Hug)
Norah: "Mom, I'm sorry I threw a fit."
Me: "I'm sorry I got angry."
(Another hug, and then a pause while Norah is thinking.)
Norah: "I guess we both sinned, huh?"
Me: "Yeah, we did."

She's getting it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Me! Monday!: The Misadventures of an Unadventurous Me



Ah, it's that time of the week again, and welcome to another Not Me! Monday! a carnival blog created by MckMama. Will you not join her and her other readers as we laugh at ourselves and our imperfections? Just visit her blog, and read away.

As I think back on this last week, I can't help but remember last Monday when I brilliantly came up with the idea to take the kids to feed some ducks. I had a plan. I had a gallon-size Ziplock bag full of breading, and a box of stale Wheat Thins. The kids were excited. I was looking forward to it too.... and then we got there...

A lovely pond tucked away behind a Super Walmart is the setting for this tale. We got out of the van and started walking towards a smaller group of ducks. A couple red-billed geese were in the group, and they certainly weren't walking towards us before we even whipped out the gallon-size! It was then I knew.... this was going to be interesting.

As I threw pieces of bread into the air, geese did not start scolding me for not feeding them faster. A larger group of geese did not fly over from the other side of the water to partake in the festivities. The geese were not the size of Haddon, and they certainly did not pop our personal space bubbles. Norah didn't retreat away from the flocks, throwing bread at them in fear, and Haddon didn't get overwhelmed by the size, number and closeness of the water fowl surrounding him. I'm very brave and keep things together, so it certainly wasn't me who panicked, chucked the bag of bread at the geese, scooped up Norah, and ran for the van... no, that wouldn't be something I would do. I'm much more even keeled than that!

In doing something like that, I would have been leaving my son behind in the middle of a group of geese and ducks, and my keys as well. Good thing I didn't do that! So, I certainly didn't run back, braving the hungry birds, and get Haddon only to forget my keys again in the grass.

We most assuredly didn't end up feeding the birds from inside the van.

A nice couple trying to enjoy their lunch weren't watching us instead- and trying not to laugh.

Don't worry. That wasn't my only encounter with nature this week. A grasshopper did not make its way into my son's room, and scare me. No, I was not scared of a silly grasshopper. I did not jump when it jumped, and I was not creeped out by simply scooping it up and putting it outside. Seriously. I'm not that much of a pansy!

Furthermore, I did not show how ditsy I am when I was checking a very sweet voicemail from someone. They were telling me a story, and it was not so real to me that I did not start talking back. I didn't sit there through most of the message, "um-hum-ing" and saying, "yeah"... because it was a recording. The person wasn't really talking to me. I would have no reason to talk back to someone who wasn't there right? RIGHT?!

There you have it. See how easy it is? I really didn't do those things, so there is no need for me to feel embarrassed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Grace to Rise Above Molech

The spirit of Molech is at work among us even now.
Even as you read this... there are bones of babies being ground to unrecognizable bits,
perhaps even a few short miles from where you're sitting.
These are babies lying in garbage receptacles, waiting to be taken away as "medical waste." These infants won't have names until Jesus calls them out for the first time...
Aborted babies can't say, "Abba." But the Father hears their cries anyway. Do we?

There was more said in this paragraph, but when I read this, the tears came. Molech was a god in the Old Testament that nations would sacrifice children to. The nation of Israel was instructed specifically to not offer their children to Molech.

We pray that we will be able to adopt soon. We pray that we will be blessed with the opportunity to prevent one child from being torn from this world through the choice of abortion... by being sacrificed for the sake of self, offered to a modern-day Molech.

By God's grace, I hope that just reading this one paragraph quoted above, someone might consider reading the whole book. And maybe by reading the whole book, sees the importance of adoption in the life of Christians.

(Excerpt from "Adopted for Life" by Russell D. Moore, emphasis added)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not Me! Monday!: Of Dishes, Laundry and Batteries


Welcome to Not Me! Monday! a blog carnival created by MckMama. This is a chance to be humble, laugh at the silly things that we do, and live to tell about it! You can visit MckMama's blog to see what others are not doing this week... and maybe you'll be inspired to join the fun!


One thing that people will be pleased to know about me is how meticulous I am with keeping my sink free of dirty dishes. I mean, that's very important, right? For instance, this last week when I made a pork roast, I certainly did not leave the crockpot in the sink overnight. No. I wouldn't do that because that would be gross- especially when the next morning you find that everything left in the crockpot would be solid fat and grease with chunks of pork something-rather in it. Not me!

Also, I keep track of when I run the dishwasher. In the past couple weeks, I would never have to really think hard about whether I ran the dishwasher or not. Not me! Furthermore, my husband would never have to ask if the dishwasher was clean or dirty because when I do run the it I immediately empty it, right? RIGHT?!

Yes, I keep a close watch over the affairs in the house. That is why laundry did not sit unfolded for approximately 3 days, and my son did not chew on AA batteries so many times that the label started coming off. My son also didn't unroll a practically brand new roll of toilet paper, and the laundry hamper is not just about overflowing again. No way. Not me!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

God Our Provider

Some puzzle pieces were put together last night as I drove home from an evening out by myself. You see, I found a job. No, God found a job, but I'll explain.

I had to fill out paper work- which, as it turns out, is all digital- at my new place of employment. When I was done, I asked one of the managers how some interviews went, since they will be hiring 2 or possibly 3 more people as retailers anticipate the Christmas season. She told me that they went well, and then we discussed how many applications came in- a flood! She told me how hard it is to go through them all, and really, unless one of them stands out a lot and they put it aside, it's easy for a good applicant to get lost in the shuffle.

As I drove home, it hit me. It really was God's grace that provided a part-time job so quickly. Months ago I was in the very store where I just got hired, and ran into the general manager. The general manager just happened to be a former boss from way back before I was even married. We caught up a little bit, and I was on my way. I hardly thought about that chance encounter again.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to look at part-time work to help in this rough financial time for us. We put it off as long as we could, as our goal is to have me at home with the children (a goal we still have, and look forward to that again), but for now, while he is finishing school, and has yet to secure a better-paying job (not for lack of trying- his persistance is such a blessing to me!), I will be needed to pitch in. I am happy to do so.

I got right to work thinking where to apply. I filled out one online application, and knew immediately that this was going to be a rough process! Then I was struck by a thought, "Hey! I wonder if they are hiring at The Children's Place?" That is where I knew the general manager.

To make a long story short, I called the manager, asked if they were hiring. She told me that they were, and that I should come on down. About 12 days later, she called me offering me a job with no interview or anything. I will be starting next week.

So I just happened to run into the right person. I just happened to think of her in a time when my family needs me to help. She just happened to be hiring in the coming days. The job just happens to offer just the right hours, and be with, what appears to be, a great staff. It just happens to be a job that I am very good at and generally enjoy (retail, customer service, etc.)

And in an economic time when it can take weeks and weeks to even secure a part-time job because of the sheer number of applicants at any given position, I just happen to know the right person at the right time who was willing to hire me on the spot?

I don't think those things just happen. I think that is evidence of God's provision.

Thank you Lord for providing swiftly and abundantly for our family.
All our needs are met, and you give us so many wants. As you reveal different parts of the glorious tapestry you are weaving, may you recieve all glory. Forever and ever!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Norah

It has been a difficult time this past month. Being Norah's mother hasn't been easy. My head has been spinning as she throws curve ball after curve ball in behavior. I'm not sure what's behind it, whether it's simple sin and pushing limits, or if she's feeling insecure or unsettled in any way. It's hard to know.

The challenge in all this, beyond simply dealing with each disciplinary action needed, is to keep a proper perspective. It is so easy for the devil to speak discouragement at times like these. Doubt and insecurity about my own parenting creep in. Is she going to turn out alright? Am I presenting the Gospel clearly enough? Will she repent and turn to Christ? When? What if she doesn't? What will we do if she doesn't get things together and get this behavior under control? What will family and friends think? Are we really doing this badly?

But that's not what God says. God has promised that I am sealed with the Holy Spirit. God has promised that His word will give me all I need pertaining to life and godliness. He has promised that trials will bring about perseverance and faithfulness. He has promised that He will be glorified in all things.

So, if God is going to be glorified, and if my desire is to glorify Him in all I do, then it will happen. I may stumble and struggle through this time of testing, but so help me, I will glorify God as His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

As to how I think of Norah, that is another battle. When children push buttons or repeatedly disobey, it is easy to label them as bad or think poorly of them. I won't let that happen.

Norah is such a bright and intelligent little girl. I look forward to helping her mind expand and grow in new ways. I look forward to seeing her understand new things and use that intelligence to figure out problems and discern what is right and wrong as she gains wisdom. She is tender-hearted. Norah watches out for those that are littler than her. You should see how she dotes over babies and toddlers younger than her. It is a joy to have her younger cousins around, as Norah watches out for them. Just the other night, I knew as a four-year-old, that she would do her best to watch her one-year-old cousin as he was in her bedroom. "Watch that he doesn't put anything small in his mouth." She did. Of course adults checked on him and the rest of the kids, but it was a proud moment for me to know that she would do her best to watch out for the little guy.

Norah is full of energy, and makes us laugh. Even in the womb, she rolled around, pushed, kicked, stretched. And when she entered the world, she kept going! Norah will talk and play and move from activity to activity. Though this is, well, exhausting, at times, she is a blessing to see with the spark for life that she has. Norah loved crafts, and coloring and singing and making music- none of which produces something that anyone would say is lovely, but to me, it is sweet- though often LOUD!

So I will keep these things in mind when I am tempted to be dismayed over my daughter's behavior. I will remember that she was created excellently by her Maker, and endowed with a personality and gifts all her own. May God give me the grace to help direct those things for His glory. And may the Holy Spirit draw my daughter into relationship with Christ- because all the sweetness of who she is won't matter if it's not lived for Him.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A New Gig

It seems that lately my thoughts are like a tumbling tumbleweed or something. Things keep rolling around and around! One thing that is on my mind is facing returning to work again after being at home with my children for over four years. This isn't something that I enter into lightly, and truth be known, I would prefer to continue at home with my children, but it is needed for a time that I pitch in to care for our family. We've put it off for as long as we could and reduced things as much as possible, but I will need to find something part-time in the evenings.

As I apply to different jobs, I find myself feeling so daunted by all the process. I've been out of it for so long! In fact, I have not had a job interview since 2003!

It's also surreal because while moms are taking their children to school and rejoicing in their "freedom", I find myself feeling the opposite. Yeah, I'm getting out of the home, but I don't want to. I want to be home all that time. My husband wants me to be home all the time. It is a privilege to be at home with children, and though it's the toughest gig you'll ever have, NO ONE can do it better than your children's mother- you.

So, I will be faithful to search for a job that will be a minimal disruption to my mothering, and I will pray that I will be able to get back home soon. And I will pray that I am able to find something soon.

Either way, though, I know that God will provide.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'd Rather Be a Freak

I recently read a post on another family's blog. It resonated with me. This particular family had spent some time in Mexico, working as missionaries, and now they are back in their own hometown. The husband and father of this family wrote about how different they were upon coming back. He found himself biting his tongue more. He thought so much differently than those he had left behind. It was all sort of strange to him.

We have been away from our hometown on two separate occasions. While we were gone, a lot was learned and so much changed for my husband and myself. We studied, read books, talked and had experiences that I don't wish on any, but lessons that I wish on all. While we were gone, life continued in Salem, Oregon. Most stayed the same, but still some things changed.

Mostly folks just kept going on the course they were going on, a few twists and turns here and there, but steadily along they all went.

We zigged, and zagged; we darted one way and then another, climbed mountains and hit deep valleys.

We came back both times looking the same, but we're really not- with firmer convictions and things so deep and we cannot even express the impact on our hearts. If we try to express it, many just don't get it- either we can't express it well enough, or well, you just had to be there.

Sometimes we come across dear ones that have been in full-time ministry, and sometimes get moments of camaraderie. But for the most part, we're on our own. It's not that we aren't supported or encouraged or that no one wants to understand where we're coming from. I just wonder if it's confusing for folks because we look the same, but we're not who we were. We're just different now. We think very differently now.

To those who knew us for years, we must seem quite freakish.

At times that feeling brings a little bit of loneliness, if I'm being honest (and I prefer to be so, as that is what is God-honoring).

I wouldn't have it all taken away though. I would rather be a freak among friends and family, having gone through the trials of the last 6 years or so (really, who's counting?!), then to go back to who I was when I first loaded the car to head to California on a wintry January day.

Nah. I'd rather be a freak, definitely a freak.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Me My Child! Monday!



It's a Not Me! Monday with a twist. The Not Me! blog carnival was invented by MckMama. Click on over to her blog and see what others are not doing... or what other children are not doing!

Anyhow, as a mom of two there have been some wonderful moments full of laughter and fun, and there have been those other times... I will tell you. We're certainly not in one of those other times now. Oh no.

Since returning from vacation our children have completely adjusted perfectly to the routine of being home. Never, ever would we have a night when both children would get out of bed several times, not caring what the consequence was, but outright defying what they have been trained not to do... not my children!

Oh, and for our oldest, a pattern of bad behavior around bedtime would never continue for more than one night. Not my child!

No, it would not continue. It would certainly not go on for 3 nights... uh, or 5 nights.... or 7 nights.... most certainly not 9 nights of disobedience! Such stubbornness would never be in my child's heart. No, no, no! Not my child!

She most certainly isn't on her second day without certain privileges like, t.v, sweets, or games(because the anty hasn't had to be raised up and up). Nope. Remember, she hasn't behaved badly every night for the last nine nights since being home from vacation, right? Not my child!

So yeah, thank goodness, that we have had such smooth bedtimes because it might be a little discouraging if it were different.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Had a Dream

Yesterday, I was dancing in the kitchen with my son, laughing and enjoying a good ol' snuggle. I was reminded of an experience I had in college.

I went to a local community college, and earned my 2-year associate degree- partly because I didn't know what I wanted to get a 4-year degree in, and partly for financial reasons. But whatever the reason for me being there, as an 18-year-old, I knew what a really wanted to be was a wife and mother. That didn't require a degree.

As I sat in Psych 101, the teacher went through the class asking what each student's educational goal was.

Uh. I didn't really have one- not that I devalued a good education, but really, my goal was not a career per se.

So when he came to me, I answered, "Well, I'm not sure what I want to pursue professionally, but what I really want to do is be a stay-at-home wife and mother."

His brow furrowed, and his expressive brown eyes pierced right into me, and so help me, every pair of eyes was on me too. For a moment, you would think that I had said that I wanted to run a Nazi concentration camp or something!

"Why would you sell yourself short like that?" he asked me.

I told him that I wasn't.

I was then ignored, and the class went on.

There are many thoughts that I could go into based off of this life experience, but something that stands out the most is simply that while I dance in the kitchen holding my 3-year-old son, I am living the life that I wanted.

I am married to a wonderful husband, who loves me and the Lord. He has given me two children to enjoy and invest in.

Whatever anyone's view is on staying home or "just being" a mom is, I don't really care. Because of God's grace, I am able to live a dream and hope that I had. With all the tears and triumphs, diapers and kisses, laughs and messes, I have the best career in the whole world.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Praying More for Stellan

Baby Stellan is in the hospital again, and so his family needs to be lifted in prayer once again.

His heart has thrown curveball after curveball at doctors, and he continues to baffle medical minds.

But the Great Physician knows all that He is doing, and He will do what is for His greatest glory.

Join me in praying for Stellan this week, as God reveals His glory in the life of him and his family.

For updates on Stellan's condition visit his mommy's blog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Like He Made the Sea


On the way home from Walmart today, I popped in Norah and Haddon's favorite children's cd. The first few songs played, and then it came to "God Made Me." Norah had been singing along off and on, but when this one came on, I could hear that she was singing every word. The chorus goes like this:


"God made me, like He made the sea. He filled it up with green and blue.
He sent His son, His only One, to fill me up and make me new."

I don't know what it was exactly. Maybe it was the combination of what my daughter was proclaiming, or the sweetness of her little voice, but whatever it was, the tears came to my eyes. I started praying that those words would not just be words to a favorite kids' song, but that she would hold that in her heart: That she was created by the Most High, and that Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, has given her life by His grace through faith. I prayed that both of my children would bring glory to God and do the good works that He has for them to do.

I felt the weight of the responsibility of the proclamation of the Gospel to my children, and was so thankful that God is sovereign to draw His people unto Himself.




Monday, July 20, 2009

Not Alone

I just finished the first week of two in which my husband will be gone. He's at school at the Masters College working towards a masters in biblical studies. This is his third year in the program, and he's half way done- I think...

Anyway, I have been very blessed to have been busy. The first week went quickly, and it hardly seemed that long. Now there are only five days left, and I'm hoping that they can go as fast and the first leg of this separation. God has graced me in this week with friends and family and activities, and have made me feel so loved and supported. I am so very thankful for that.

I guess that's really all. It's as simple as that. During a time that could have been very trying and difficult being alone and feeling lonely, I have felt rejuvenated and encouraged by the relationships that I have and ones that are growing.

God is good. He is good all the time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unerring Wisdom

Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.
You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances.
Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good.
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon
I discovered this little treasure of a snippet from dear Spurgeon this past week. I have been mulling over it since, and have been so thankful for the truth of this statement. Scripture after scripture comes to mind as I think about this quote and break it down in thought.
The promises of God to protect us, to work all things for the good of those who are called, and the sweet umbrella of God's perfect love in all circumstances come to mind, and keep it occupied.
The truth of the phrase, "unerring wisdom"- God never makes mistakes, no matter what we think in our wisdom. His thoughts are higher than ours, and he is the perfect source of truth and wisdom.
I just had to share these things, letting anyone who may read this chew on them for a while. You will be blessed.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not Me! Monday: A Restaurant Tale


Welcome to another installment of Not Me! Monday where I admit the shortcomings in my life and live to tell about it for the laughter of others. This carnival blog was started by MckMama, and you can visit her blog to see what others aren't doing.

Yesterday was Father's Day, and what better way to celebrate dad than not having to cook for him?! So out we went, to Red Robin to be exact, and there the following did not happen.

Thinking it most prudent to strap our youngest down, we requested a booster seat, and he certainly didn't howl very loudly at the idea upon being seated in the booth. He wasn't threatened with a "trip to the bathroom" at all because of his reaction, and for the next 10 minutes I didn't snuggle so close to him as to give him the illusion of affection... but really it was incognito restraint. That so did not happen.

When it was time to order, I did not skip the waitress past drinks and go straight to entrees hoping that would make food come faster. No, I wasn't in a rush. Not me!

As I sat by my son, I did not make up a game in which he took the germ-infested strap that is attached to the booster, put it up to his mouth, and then I would pull it out playfully, saying, "NO!" I wouldn't allow a game like that because every mom knows that would lead to actual placement of said germ-infested strap in the mouth because a mom can't keep up that game for the entire meal. So yeah, I didn't do that. I didn't do that knowing the outcome. And I certainly didn't regret it about 2 NO's into it, thinking about all the children who had previously sucked on that strap and that it was like my son licking those children's tongues, and who knew where those other children have been?! No. None of that happened.

When our meal came, my heart didn't sink as I saw that on my burger was dreaded mayonnaise and tomato. Upon seeing the defiled bun, I did not realize that I was in such a rush to order that I forgot to ask to have those things left off. And then when the waitress asked if everything was all right, I did not remain mum feeling guilty about that it was my fault for not making the request in the first place. And it wasn't my husband who requested a new bun. Can't I do those things for myself?! Apparently, not me!

While I was waiting for the new bun, I did not give all my fries to my son without thinking to break them up and blow on them to cool them off. He didn't shove a big bite in his mouth and whimper in the pain of each bite. I'm very careful about that... uh, not me?

Finally, as our meal went on, and the fries diminished, my son did not turn to the humorous cardboard coasters for his nutritional benefit. And after telling him that they were "yucky," I did not just ignore that he was taking nibbles off because frankly, he was quiet, and I got a late start on my meal anyway. Not me!

What about you? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who is imperfect. In fact, I know I'm not.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Kids' Daddy

Today I am thankful for God's provision in allowing me to have a husband who loves and serves Jesus, honors His word, and leads our family accordingly. He disciplines our children with love, instructs them with the wisdom God provides, and diligently watches over them.

Many men can be fathers. But fewer men choose to be dads. Casey Lute chooses to be daddy to the children he has been given and takes that responsibility to heart.

He is strong, discerning, and gracious.

I am humbled by the grace that is poured out on our family through the work of the Lord in the life of my husband.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Lot of Thinking

There haven't been many posts as of late, but that doesn't mean that I haven't seen God's grace daily or His provision in my life and the life of my family and friends. I have!

I have also been learning and thinking about many things. I probably could have written many a post about it all. And believe me- I have done plenty of things worthy of a Not Me! Monday post!

There are just stuff rolling around in my head, and when I am able to put them into words, then it will come out in blog form for the two people who read this! I have also been a bit preoccupied with the whole full-time, stay-at-home-mom, mother-of-two-young-children thing.

So until that time comes when I have sorted through all the junk rolling around in this empty cavern called my thick skull, it will be typed out and posted magically on the Internet for folks to peruse to their hearts' content.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Renewed Sparkle

One of my favorite possessions is a gift I got from my husband, and I wear it every day. Of course there are the occasional mishaps like when I take it off to put lotion on my hands and forget to put it back on, or when my fingers were a little swollen when I was pregnant with Norah, but on the whole, I wear my wedding ring every day.

Recently, I noticed that the prongs were crooked on the main diamond, and so I had been wearing my "fake ring" that I bought from Gottschalks when I was pregnant with Norah. At the time, I purchased it because I had quite the baby face, and I didn't want to walk around pregnant without a wedding ring on!

My real wedding ring was sitting in my jewelry box awaiting for me to take it to get fixed. Well, it was fixed this week.

Yesterday I walked in to Fred Meyer Jewelers, and got my ring back. As I looked at it, I commented to the gal behind the desk how much it sparkled. Rings are always extra shiny after getting them cleaned or inspected at the jewelers!

I was actually distracted by how much it shined on the drive over to meet my mother. Little specks of light shone all over the inside of our van as the May sunshine hit the facets of the diamonds.

It's funny though. When I first began wearing my ring as a single engagement ring, and then as a set, it was so sparkly at first. After time, it has been on my hands as I have washing dishes, taken many showers, changed diapers, vacuumed, dusted, played, and weeded. Of course it has been cleaned to a sparkly shine many times, but I guess what's different about this time is that I was without it for so long. It was kind of dull when I took it in to be repaired, even though I didn't notice it.

I think we're that way sometimes. We get into the daily grind of chores, errands, and the business of each day, that sometimes we don't notice how dull we have become. Maybe time with the Lord slips, or praying throughout the day doesn't happen. Then the Spirit moves. We open up that Bible or seek God's face in prayer.

And the greatest thing happens. We're cleaned up. We're renewed. We're opened up to the instruction of the Word.

Sometimes it takes us seeing that we need fixing. All we have to do is look. We didn't notice before because we were too busy to look. Sometimes we don't want to look because if we did, we would indeed notice that there are areas where we need work.

You know what though? If we allow the Lord to fix the problem, then we'll see that one the other side is something so much better than what we knew before just like my ring that had dulled from the business of life. How long the prong was bent, I will never know. What matters is that I saw it and it was fixed. Now there's a renewed sparkle.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 1:6
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10

Monday, May 18, 2009

Not Me! Monday: Of Humility and Stuff



Welcome to yet another Not Me! Monday, a blog carnival created by MckMama, where we can laugh at our mistakes and at those of many others. It's a lesson in therapy and humility all in one. So, sit back, relax, and have a laugh at my expense- really, it's okay! So many are doing this. Just go over to MckMama's blog and see what everyone else isn't doing!

Here we go!

I certainly didn't need to use the bathroom so badly this week that I nearly forgot to disrobe all necessary garments before doing what Nature was calling me to do! No, I certainly wouldn't be in such a predicament because I was too busy cleaning the house or meeting the needs of my children- who, by the way, have forever altered my ability to hold it. Nope, not me!

I don't take a little bit of pride in remembering people's birthdays, so when I remembered that this week was the 13th, I surely didn't make a mental note to be sure and wish a certain friend a happy birthday on their Facebook. After posting, said note, I wouldn't delete it promptly after realizing that his birthday is next month on the 13th and hope to gloss over this little faux pas as if it never happened and that the recipient of the accidental birthday greeting would be blissfully ignorant. Not me!

Upon finishing perusing last week's Not Me Mondays, on Wednesday, I didn't have to stop Norah from holding down the toilet knob and stop the gushing water that she was wasting in doing so. And upon walking away from stopping this wasteful action, I did not step on a piece of peanut butter toast and got it stuck to my foot. That couldn't happen because I wasn't in the kitchen, but in the hall. (Besides, that wouldn't happen in the kitchen either... right?) And I would never miss that a stray piece of toast made its way into the hall. Seriously, not me!

Oh, and I positively did not take my husband's glass of water in my hand, bring it to my mouth, smell the scent of the lemon he added to it, and still think that it was my water only to have him say, "That's mine." Uh, yeah. Not me!

Because I don't love certain t.v. shows and have such better things to do with my time, I really, really don't care to check on nbc.com to see the deleted scenes from the most recent episode of The Office on Friday, practically every Friday. That would be silly. Nope, that's not me!

Finally, I should make sure that you know, I haven't been working on this off and on this past week to make sure that I remember my stupid stunts. Really, I'm just this on top of things on a Monday morning. Really.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Since I Was a Crusader

Tonight was my 10-year high school reunion, and I just can't sleep. My mind keeps thinking of questions I had for different people, like what their siblings are up to or things like that. There are a few folks that I didn't get the chance to speak to much, and that's too bad.

I am also awake because it is quite warm and uncomfortable in our home. That always makes sleeping hard.

So, with these two reasons keeping me awake, I figured I might as well do something, and in doing something, I just got lost looking at old photos.

Now, put together having a nostalgic night with old photos of my children, and what you get is a full heart.

I am so very grateful for the things that have happened in the 10 years since I was a Salem Academy Crusader. I met the greatest love of my life, and married him (who, by the way, was the most handsome husband at the reunion-thankyouverymuch!). I became a mother to two of the most beautiful children, and I have had the honor of serving my family at home and in two churches that God led us to.

I am grateful for every heartache and trial, for God has woven them into a tapestry of joy.

So, tonight's events have left me thankful, thankful for what He has done since I was a Crusader.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Platforms, Pageants, and Purity

Upon reading this, I couldn't help but think about the recent celebrity of Miss California. I'm not sure if I have seen evangelicals run to the support of someone so quickly... well, at least in the recent past.

After saying that it is nice for folks to have a choice in whom they marry in this country, but sharing her personal opinion on same-sex marriage, the evangelical applause was overwhelming. So many were so quick, though, to rally around this young woman for her opinion that marriage should be between a man and woman only.

I'm wondering if some Christians have lost a little perspective. Here is a participant in a scholarship programbeauty pageant, and despite the poor message this sends to younger girls and the world about what true feminine beauty is, we praise it? Besides that, there was no look into her person. Within hours of her statements, racy photos were released, and I'm thinking to myself, "Is this who I want to point out to my daughter as someone that she should be like?!"

And I'll say very quickly that I don't. I'm grateful for Carolyn McCulley's post today reminding men that they have the opportunity to praise women- but not for their beauty on the outside, but what's on the inside. How hard is it to raise our little girls to believe that it's what is on the inside that counts, when we're bombarded with ideal images of women?! It is hard to reconcile in your mind that what's inside holds higher value when we are complimented on beauty more than the purity and substance of our character.

I know that personally, the most precious compliments to me are not the ones where my husband has complimented me on what's on the outside (though welcomed and appreciated). What really stands out to me is if my character is noticed. If that is seen then I have reached far greater riches than looking nice. For my person is glorifying God.

I have a different view on what would be more valuable of Miss Prejean's time and energy, but it's her choice. And I pray that when the lights and publicity fade, and she is left with just who she is before no one else but the Lord, that she can be proud of who she is, not by her own standards, but those of her Creator. Based on the information before me, though, I will not put her on any platform for myself or my daughter to follow. Posing topless and entering beauty pageants are not goals I have for my daughter, no matter how conservative her views on marriage are, and those things are not good for marriage either (Seriously, do we need any more temptations for wandering eyes, and unrealistic views of feminine beauty and sex appeal?). This doesn't exemplify the Biblical femininity that we as believers should embrace and uphold.

Instead, I will strive to put forth the standards of God's word. And I will endeaver to put those at the forefront of my mind for myself as well.

God is glorified...

...when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:2-4

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rim Rock Annie's Quilt

This weekend we had the privilege of meeting several saints at a local church in Bremerton, WA. But there is one saint that we were unable to meet, for she went to be with the Lord a week ago today. The folks we met had heavy hearts, filled with hope over the loss of their dear Annie.

One gentleman handed my husband and I a copy of an autobiography by this departed friend, and we gladly accepted it. It was a short book; a very quick read, but on the pages revealed the life's story of a woman who faced difficult challenges and learned many valuable lessons along her life's journey. Never have I read in such detail some of the personal hardships members of the "Greatest Generation" faced during the Great Depression, and it was a blessing to see the grace of God on her life to overcome the temptations she must have felt to be bitter or angry, allowing those emotions to overwhelm her life and take her captive.

Mrs. Carriere writes, The kaleidoscope of patterns that the Lord has built into the beautiful quilt blocks of my life are according to His plans. The knots He uses are tight, and make a "Comforting Quilt" of my life for others.

That is a beautiful testimony! I am thankful that I was able to read about this lovely person, who I could tell had touched the lives of so many. I look forward to meeting her in glory, as I was a week too late here in time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Not Me! Monday: The General Mishaps as of Late


Welcome to Not Me! Monday, a fun blog carnival created by MckMama. Head over to her blog and see what others "aren't" doing this week!

Well, since it's been so long since we have had this fun business as usual, you would think that my mind would be full of mishaps... but I'm quite blank today.

In fact, I really haven't been thinking off and on since last night about what in the world I have done that could possibly be silly or funny. That in itself would be ridiculous as I have better things to do with my time and mind. Yeah, not me!

As we prepared for this weekend's trip us to Bremerton, Washington for my husband to fill the pulpit and candidate, I certainly didn't fret over what to wear to church. No. I wouldn't do that. I wasn't concerned about my age, and the idea of being a possible senior pastor's wife at 28. I wasn't concerned at all about what I should wear and if I would offend anyone by simply not wearing pantyhose. Not me!

And of course when we took off on Saturday morning to hit the road, I certainly didn't leave my house at any way in disarray. Not, it was spotless. My son didn't pull out several DVD's, yank out the sleeve cover thingies, and leave them on the floor. I didn't leave a dish soaking. And I certainly wouldn't look over our beds being left unmade. Nope. Not me!

As we dropped our children off at my mother's home, I didn't feel bad at all about leaving them. Especially since they didn't stand pathetically outside the garage waving good-bye to mom and dad. No, not me! I have a heart of stone.... uh...

I didn't eat only mashed potatoes and gravy from Church's Chicken because I felt to car sick. No. That wouldn't be the best healthy food choice. Not me!

Anyway, upon arriving at our hotel in Bremerton, I certainly wasn't car sick still and probably such poor company for my husband, especially since we hardly ever get away alone. No, I always take advantage of those precious times because my feelings never get in the way of having a good time... uh, yeah, not me, really! Because like I said, I wasn't car sick at all!!!

When we saw our room at the hotel, my first thought wasn't, "Goodness! This room is decorated better than my house!" And I certainly didn't take mental notes as tips for home decor. No. Not me!

This morning, when we woke up at home, I certainly wasn't so sleepy that I barely caught my son grabbing a cookie that my mother baked and sent home with us. Knowing that my children spent most of two days with said grandmother probably eating all sorts of sugary and unhealthy foods, I didn't just let Haddon have a cookie as a precursor to breakfast, and certainly not two! Nope. I didn't have one either. Not me!

Whew! That felt good! Join the fun... what did you NOT do this week?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stellan's Home

After a 5-week ordeal of tests, a surgery, up and down emotions, and trusting and praying, baby Stellan woke up at home today, and I am thankful for God's faithfulness to the McKinney family.

Stellan still needs prayers of protection from further SVT, and for healing as he grows. But I thank God for bringing him and his mommy home. The relief must be overwhelming for MckMama.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pulling from Proverbs

Our family will be embarking on quite the adventure in the coming weeks, and my husband and I will need discernment and wisdom. (If you don't know what's going on, go here.) Am so thankful that God grants wisdom to those who earnestly seek it.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5

This doesn't mean that I simply ask the Lord for wisdom and sit back and wait. No. He gives generously to those who ask without doubting. Wisdom is to be sought after. So I am looking in what should be the most obvious place- His Word. I am confident in the counsel for the Word.

I'm reading through a chapter in Proverbs every day. And I'm just going to read it over and over and over and over again. I am going to immerse myself in Scripture so that I may be wise for now and the days ahead.

I am being blessed by it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Re-Thinking Miracles

I have been thinking a lot about miracles lately. This is easy to do when we just came out of the Easter season, in which we celebrate the greatest miracle of all! Yes He is risen; He is risen indeed!

But beyond what we typically think of as miracles, like changing water to wine and feeding over 5000 people with a few loaves and fishes, and yes, raising from the dead, I have been thinking about the other miracles that I am seeing in the lives of others.

Stellan is a sweet baby, and thousands and thousands of people are praying for the healing of this little one's heart. He has been in the hospital for nearly a month now, and his family is still giving God glory. They still have peace and joy.

Just this April, would have been Audrey Caroline's first birthday. She was only in this world for about 2 hours. Her mother carried her to term, and delivered her knowing that God would take her baby home shortly thereafter. Since hearing the news of their baby's medical condition, her family blessed the Lord and trusted in His sovereignty. The pain is still there, and the longing for that precious child lost is still there. But there is unspeakable joy there as well.

Personal friends of mine have recently suffered from broken marriages, and yet there is peace, and a perspective that is higher than human thoughts. Healing, forgiveness, brokenness, and incredible trust are things that these ladies have experienced in these days. Through the pain, there is joy in the sanctifying work of Christ.

I could list other testimonies from people, but you can see that pattern, right? Just this Sunday a pastor defined a miracle as, "... an occurrence at once above nature and above man."

I would dare to list the reactions of these believers to the tremendous trials as miraculous. The joy is beyond the human capabilities with such hurt. The peace is truly peace that passes all understanding. The joy isn't found in the suffering, but in the God who is sovereign in the suffering.

God is working miracles in the hearts of His people as they face suffering.

So, I'm re-thinking miracles. Miraculous is a martyr singing praises and praying as they are crucified, burned, or tortured. Miraculous is a missionary sacrificing her body to protect the purity of other women in a small African village. Miraculous is a Chinese believer facing death with joy because they will not reject Christ. Miraculous is a monk standing before authorities and not recanting the truth of Scripture. Miraculous is the ability to bless God and rejoice in Him when all things are against you.

Our human hearts cannot do that on our own.

Oh, that the God of Grace work such a miracle in my heart if He blesses me with the opportunity!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

He Knows the Time

Yesterday was my 28th birthday, and although I'm not an overly analytical person, I can't help but take stock of where I am in life at each birthday. Though I know that I am practically still a child, it did occur to me that I'm almost 30- which is still so young. But it sounds old. It seems so very adult.

If you know me for any amount of time- probably about 2 days- you will hear a couple things about me. First, you will know that I am adopted, and that this is a tidbit that I really enjoy about myself. I share it openly because I know that this fact allows me to share about adoption. And that leads me to the second thing that you will learn about me in no time at all. I am passionate about adoption.

The general population is pretty ignorant about adoption and the dynamics of it. The need for people to adopt is not really known or thought about. Adoption is one of the truest human examples we have of what it means to become a child of God. Adoption is an answer to abortion. Adoption is a beautiful option for any family wanting to build a family.

My husband and I, from the time that we were dating, have wanted to adopt. We also thought that it would be nice to be done having kids before we're 30, but so far, God has said, "Wait." And wait we shall.

With all this in mind, I felt the longing to build our family yesterday morning. I was thinking about how I was 28, and in 2 years is that 30-mark. I thought about how we're in a position where we just can't possibly start the adoption process. As my daughter sat next to me, I just heard these words come out of my mouth:

Norah, do you think God will let us have another kid soon?

Maybe you could ask Him. Then He might let us.

I love how simple things are to a four-year-old. Yes, we will keep asking. We will keep praying. And if He asks us to, we'll keep waiting. We will trust in His perfect plan. For He knows the time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Explaining Larry

I guess it's just revealing all the background time because in the last post about The Red Envelope Project, I let whoever reads this know about being adopted. And today, I was going to write about who Larry is.

Larry is my father, and I haven't spoken to him or seen him in years. He left our family when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Except for a short time after my parents' separation, Larry really hasn't shown any interest in speaking to my sister or myself, nor does he care to know his seven grandchildren. He has walked away from so much, and left behind a trail of hurt as he did so.

But enough about that. That is in the past.

My daughter is in the present.

The day before yesterday, she asked, "Mom, where's your dad?" Oh no. I have been dreading this question. How do I explain this?! Since she is so young, I thought that I could get away with saying that I didn't have a dad because really, I don't. Larry has chosen to not be a part of my life, and though I would welcome him into our lives with open (but pretty cautious) arms, he's really not a father at all.

Well, my daughter is just too smart. Yesterday, "Mom, are you sure you don't have a dad?!"

Okay.

Here we go.

I had my daughter turn her sweet little face to me and told her that I wanted her to listen. She did, and I explained to her that I do have a father, that he left when I was about her age, and that he doesn't talk to mommy. With a lump in my throat, I told her that he doesn't know Jesus or love God, so he doesn't really know how to love, because love comes from God. I told her that we need to pray for him that he would know God and believe in Jesus so that he can know real love and love others like Jesus.

She thought it was silly that a dad would leave his kids- from the mouth of babes! Right?! And she told me, when I asked, that she knew that her mommy and daddy wouldn't leave her.

Though I haven't been emotional about being abandoned by Larry, I got quite emotional last night. That lump in my throat seemed to explode, and I wasn't sure why. I hardly ever think about him or what it was like when he left. I really have a nice peace about it, and have a sincere concern for his salvation because two things can happen then: 1. He escapes eternity in hell and can rejoice in the glory of God, and 2. He can be covered by the grace necessary to heal the broken relationships in his family.

So, I reacted, and didn't know why. Such a girl-thing to do right? But I thought about it. Sure the hurt is still there in many ways, but I never, ever want my children to feel rejected by him too. Essentially, that is what he has done. He knows that he has grandchildren, so it's not an issue of ignorance. He has just turned away from them too. My kids and my sister's kids are blessed with grandpas that love them and play with them. So they are certainly not wanting in the grandpa department, but I don't want them to feel the pain that comes with being walked out on.

But I can rest in this because when her daddy put her to bed last night and it was time to pray, he asked her, "What can we pray for?"

Norah answered, "We need to pray for mommy's daddy."

"Why Norah?"

"Because he doesn't love God."

If she keeps that in mind, I think she'll be okay. You see, it took a long time for me to get to that place of compassion instead of hurt or anger, to that place where the gospel is the center, and knowing that nothing can be made right without it.

Norah's already there. I need to be faithful to keep her there. I need to keep her at the foot of the cross praying for her astranged grandfather. I'm convicted that I need to be there too, faithfully praying.

And someday when Haddon asks, I'll take him to the cross too. Then Larry can have three people that he has walked away from praying for him.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Baby Girl Foote's Envelopes

In 1980, an unnamed woman went into the doctor's office to look into having her tubes tied. What she didn't know was that this procedure was too late. She was pregnant, and she was faced with a choice. She could exercise her rights over her body and terminate her pregnancy, giving her temporary freedom, or she could have the baby, keep it and take on full responsibility for a life unplanned and unexpected or wanted, or relinquish it to adoption living with the pain of loss and not knowing this child.


None of the options are easy. But she chose adoption. In April of 1981, Baby Girl Foote was born. She was given a name by parents who anxiously awaited her arrival.


I was that baby. I was a candidate for abortion.


But an unknown woman gave me life. For whatever reason, she made the difficult choice of carrying me to term, feeling me grow in her belly, laboring to bring me the world just to look at me, possibly hold me for a moment, and then let me go. She knew that she may not ever know my name or see my face or know what I look like. But she chose life for me. She gave me a great gift.


But in America today, there are so many babies who do not get that chance. Life is taken before they breathe the air outside their mother's wombs.


I don't know if that will ever change in this country, nor do I think that taking part in this will necessarily change anything right now. But I am sending 5 red envelopes today to the White House, addressed to President Barack Obama. I was inspired by her. Each envelope is empty, and represents one child whose life was taken by abortion. Those children lost their right to offer anything to anyone, and that's why they are empty envelopes.


By God's grace, maybe statements like these may challenge some to pause and reflect. Maybe not one mind will be changed for the cause of life through bombarding the White House with red envelopes, but we cannot think that way. We do not know what our mighty God will use to begin to turn the tide for the right.




Monday, March 23, 2009

Praying for Stellan

As a mom, my heart goes out to MckMama, who is at her son's side all day today in the hospital. Though I do not know her or her family, I know her story and I know Stellan's name. Though she keeps the name of her other children private, MckMama and her husband Prince Charming, wanted everyone to know their miracle son's name.

Today I have checked online a few times throughout the day to see how this little one is doing, and right now this family needs prayer, the doctors need prayer.

Stellan's parents have every confidence is God's sovereignty and goodness. I do too. He is so good, and I know that if I were in the situation this fellow mom is in today, I would want anyone and everyone to storm heaven's gates for my sweet babe.

So that is what I am doing today.

Won't you join me? Let us approach the throne of grace.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not Me! Monday!: Pantry Precision


Well, it's time for some graceful confession. How good it is to know that despite our tremendous shortcomings and mishaps, our Heavenly Father loves us! Thanks to MckMama and the blog carnival she created. Visit her blog, and see what others are "not" doing, or simply leave a comment here. I would love to hear what you're "not" doing too (that is, if you're too shy to write a whole post yourself- maybe next time!).

Well, in all seriousness, I wasn't going to write a Not Me! today because I just didn't have much inspiration. Not that I haven't done anything less than graceful in the past week, but I just could think of anything. And then it happened. This morning I saw one lonely brownie in the pan. It was too small for me, and I really wanted to get the dish into the sink so that I could wash it with some other items. So my intentions were good, right? So, because I was being to thoughtful to get my kitchen in order, I would sacrifice my son's nutrition. Not me! He didn't get the last brownie as an appetizer for his breakfast. Nope. He certainly did not.

Then the floodgates opened. I remembered last night. While heating up broccoli in the microwave, I didn't forget about the Parmesan toast under the oven broiler. It didn't burn. No, no, no!

And after rejecting my sweet sister-in-law's invitation to go grocery shopping with her because, "I don't really need anything right now." I didn't run out of bread and margarine making said unburnt toast. No, not me!

I really have a total grasp on what's in my pantry. I know exactly what we need and when, and there are certainly not three bottles of syrup in the back of the bottom shelf. No, not in my cupboard!

Ah, there it is. Just when I thought that I hadn't done anything too bad this week, my memory comes through! I'm so glad I didn't let anyone down. There you have it. Laugh away. My gift of un-gracefulness (?) to you!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It May Not Be Glamorous...



This challenges me. Oh, how we need to keep this perspective and prize our husbands! I know that I will be following the Girl Talk blog as Carolyn and Daughters, go into this series specifically for this phase in life: the no-time-to-myself-because-I-have-very-young-children-and-I'm-running-around-like-a-chicken-with-my-head-cut-off! phase. I know I'm there, and I know that I need God's grace every day to keep the right perspective because all the dishes, laundry, discipline and runny noses, are not glamorous. It is tempting to let it slide by, and it is tempting to not have joy in the midst of it. If I don't keep the right perspective, I may lose so much- more than the personal sacrifices of being a mother


But even though it isn't glamorous. I want it to be joyous because it will go by too fast, and my God has given me this time to bring Him glory.

Monday, March 9, 2009

This Morning

This is my first interaction of the day with my daughter:

Norah, pointing to the clock on my nightstand, "Look mom, it's seven. That means it's time to get up."

Me: "Okay, Norah, but will you snuggle with me? I would love to snuggle with you."

Norah: "Okay mom."

Me: "Because someday you won't want to snuggle with mom. You'll be too big."

Norah: "Yes I will! I will snuggle with you."

I hope so.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Not Me! Monday!: My Wits Aren't About Me


I guess if I take don't do a Not Me! Monday! for a week, then the next week is filled with plenty to make up for it! Let me explain.

Having been married for six years, my husband and I are quite used to sharing a bed. You hear of newlyweds coping with the inconvenience of not being able to sprawl over the entire bed. Well, my husband and I have no issues with that at all! Not us!

For some reason, after returning from our quick trip to California, the next series of evenings were filled with strange moments. I wasn't elbowed, or kneed or nudged. I didn't get kicked, and one night I didn't even wake up to Husband frantically gathering all the bedding away from me. No, that wouldn't happen. I just dealt with each incident with grace and a calm demeanor.

The icing on this cake wasn't getting hit very hard on the head, resulting in strange behavior by yours truly. (And really, really, REALLY- that was a complete and TOTAL accident on the part of my sweet husband) The next morning my head felt wonderful, and went out the door with the kids to my weekly women's bible study. There I shared the joys of the weekend with the ladies, with a smile on my face, calmly and eloquently blubbering like an idiot in front of more than a dozen women. Those who know me well, know that I never let PMS hormones affect my emotions and keep it together always. Such a display of emotion in front of women I don't know well, would never, ever happen in my life! Nope. Not me!

The rest of that Wednesday wasn't filled struggling with vertigo, and not being able to be vertical. I did not watch episode after episode in my bed of Gilmore Girls. I did not call my mom asking, "Mom, how do you know if you have a concussion?" Furthermore, I did not have her come over after she worked a long day and have her sit with me and the kids and pick up dinner for us.

The next day, I did not tease my husband about injuring me. No, I would never do that. That might make him feel bad for something that he didn't do on purpose! Not me!

After watching the finale of The Bachelor, I was not disgusted at the distasteful exploitation of personal feelings and relationships reality television show, I certainly wasn't so upset that I had trouble getting to sleep. That would be pathetic. And that is so not me!


Oh, dear. I am so glad that Christ covers me. Because I could write even more that I didn't do.
Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What a Groom Gives

This weekend I traveled to California to watch our friend Bryan get married. When he and his bride exchanged rings, I couldn't help but think of all the things that he would be required or asked to give his new wife. I thought of what my husband gives every day, and that the way he loves me and our family is a gift of grace as he reflects Christ.

Throughout our six years of marriage, my husband has given so many things. Presents, sure, but so much more. He leads me and our family. He considers my opinion when decisions are to be made; I have a voice in the direction we take. He gently rebukes me. He encourages me. He works to provide for me and our children- and believe me, the work has sometimes been a task he did not like, but he will always work a job or do whatever he needs to in order to provide. He forgives me, and he comforts me in hard times. He teaches me. He is on my side and shares the same dreams as me.

When a groom gives his bride a ring, he is promising to continue to give, and give, for the rest of their lives. I am so thankful for a husband who understands this, and though he doesn't do it perfectly, he models Christ's love for the church in how he relates to me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Not Me! Monday!: Funnies and Failings



Well, I need this to be very clear... this is NOT me...


Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
To start off, it definitely did not take me four months to drag myself into DMV to get a driver's license in our new state. I did not take any extra care in what I looked like so that my ID picture would look decent. I did not spend about an hour waiting there, being very confident in having everything together and that my test would be a breeze. As I filled out the license app. I certainly didn't admit in writing that I have been driving for 13 years and then proceed to completely choke during the written exam and completely and utterly fail it!
Our Saturday night after dinner was not spent gathered together in front of Husband's laptop googling "silly hats", "funny hats", and on You Tube searching for funny videos of people falling, or monkeys or cats doing kooky things. That would be a waste of time when dinner dishes are sitting in the sink- dinner dishes were still sitting on the dirty dinner table! And we certainly wouldn't spend an hour doing that and barely get the kids to bed on time when we know that church is the next day. Oh no. We're too responsible to do that.
Finally, after being a stay-at-home mother for nearly four years, my first day in five months that Husband wasn't home all day didn't make me nervous. Not at all. I was not nervous about how I might be pushed or that I night not get everything done. And this emotion didn't overshadow the joy of Husband actually having a job. No, I keep perspective much better than that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Love You, Mama

This may seem a little extreme, two postings within hours of each other, but when I wrote the last one (see below), I was simply trying to distract myself from a crying 3 year old that I sent to her room. I needed to take a moment and think about how the Lord has brought us through in the last months, and take stalk that if He carried us through unemployment, and moving, selling a home, and saying good-bye to people we love, then surely He would give me a few more ounces of strength to endure a hard parenting moment after a very difficult "mom-day".

Today I was not my daughter's favorite person. The discipline that the Lord requires a parent to yield is not often loved or appreciated in the moment by those who are on the receiving end. Words of defiance and disrespect came out of my little one's mouth today. She threw fits, whined, screamed, and flat out made for a very rough time for everyone in the house. It was an old-fashioned battle of wills. She spent a significant portion of the day in her room as she was unwilling to apologize or change her behavior.

After her father left this evening to play some basketball, the battle went into a round two. Back to her room she went, and I was crushed. There I was, having to face the same sin in my child's heart. Did I have it in me to deal with it?

I knew I had to. I could not consider myself a faithful mother if I did not. But this time, she just had to go to bed, for everyone's sake.

I spoke with my precious sister-in-law, who happens to be one of my best friends and was given some needed perspective. I am not a bad mom. My daughter will not grow up to hate me. I will get through to her, and she will learn respect, if I am faithful.

So my patient little boy was put to bed, and into my girl's room I went. I carried her into the living room, and we talked about her behavior today. We talked about some consequences for tomorrow, and I outlined requirements in behavior for certain privileges tomorrow.

Two things stood out:

1.
Me: "Norah, what do you need to say to mom when she says things are going to be?"
Norah: "Okay, Mom."

YAY! Something is getting through!

2.
At the end of our little talk:

Me: "I love you, Norah."

No response, but a smile.

Me: "You can tell me you love me too."
Norah: "Love you, Mama."

Back to bed she went.

Me: "Goodnight, Norah. I love you."
Norah: "Love you, Mama."

No prompting. No cues. I needed that.

Just Enough

Though the trial goes on in many ways, and there are still many questions looming, today a burden was lifted for our family. My husband received a phone call and was offered a job. It doesn't pay a lot, and it only goes until the end of the school year; but it should be just enough for us to get by on. We shouldn't have to tap into our savings anymore while he has this position, and it "buys" us some time to find something that will be more permanent.

So I am thankful for God's provision today. His grace is sufficient for us.

On our family's blog, my husband posted the following, and it seems very sweet especially today almost half a year later:

The Lord Will ProvideFrom the album All I Owe, available at www.matthewsmith.us
Words by John Newton, Music by Matthew S. Smith© 2006 Detuned Radio Music (ASCAP)

Though troubles assail and dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail and foes all unite;
Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide,
The scripture assures us, the Lord will provide.
The birds without barn or storehouse are fed,
From them let us learn to trust for our bread:
His saints, what is fitting, shall ne’er be denied,
So long as it’s written, the Lord will provide.
We may, like the ships, by tempest be tossed
On perilous deeps, but cannot be lost.
Though Satan enrages the wind and the tide,
The promise engages, the Lord will provide.
His call we obey like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way, but faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers we have a good Guide,
And trust in all dangers, the Lord will provide.
When Satan appears to stop up our path,
And fill us with fears, we triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried,
This heart–cheering promise, the Lord will provide.
He tells us we’re weak, our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek we ne’er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions our spirits have plied,
This answers all questions, the Lord will provide.
No strength of our own, or goodness we claim,
Yet since we have known the Savior’s great name;
In this our strong tower for safety we hide,
The Lord is our power, the Lord will provide.
When life sinks apace and death is in view,T
his word of his grace shall comfort us through:
No fearing or doubting with Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not Me! Monday: I'm Not Perfect in the Kitchen


I found this to be fun last week, and although it breaks a little from what I normally write about, it is good just to be able to laugh at yourself. It's good for all to know that I am also not sitting here, perfectly counting my blessings, and contemplating Scripture all day... oh no. I am far from perfect.... especially in the kitchen.

So...

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Well, for starters, I did not try many different things in the kitchen, and over the course of a few weeks, I did NOT have some dingy-head moments. I will now not share them with you and cover up all those silly moments.

Uh, I did not try to crack an egg, and drop it on the counter, and watch it slip in between the counter and the oven. I could not hear it PLOP to the floor. I did not miss the bowl. I did not make a gross mess.

I did not make the rookie mistake of turning on an electric mixer on too high of speed, thus flinging flour everywhere... I am so much better than that- or NOT.

I certainly didn't open up my new Magic Bullet, excited to make 10-Second Chocolate Mousse for company. I did not put all the ingredients in, get startled by the loud sound the small appliance makes, and stop the machine, only to have it never start again. Nope. Didn't happen.

And seeing as I so easily let things go (Ha!), I certainly didn't try to make said mousse with other kitchen appliances. What resulted was a beautiful masterpiece- and not an over whipped, chocolate syrup mess that looked like chocolaty curds and whey. Yum!


For the same company, I did not go to make spanish rice just to find we didn't have any.


I did not spill anything.


I did not burn anything.


And I never, ever, ever get upset at my shortcomings. Nope, NOT ME!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream



I used to count on Tillamook for Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. But for some reason, grocery stores don't seem fit to carry it right now. I don't know why. It's something that I have always counted on. It's an Oregonian classic. What has happened?

I have been wanting this particular flavor for a while. The thought of the sweet mixture of chocolate with peanut butter comes to me later in the evening, after kids are in bed, when it's fun to have a treat. But no. It hasn't been there.
There was just one hope. Baskin Robbins.
And tonight my Valentine got some for me. Thank you, Baskin Robbins.

Thank you, dear Husband.
It's just so nice to have people, created by God, placed in our lives by God, that are gifts of everyday grace. And it can be as simple as a single scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A First Not Me! Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I did not have two sick kiddos this week.

I did not stand frozen in the kitchen, holding the trash can as my husband held our daughter with strawberry milk, mucus-puke on him. No. I'm too cool-headed to do that.

And when she vomited again on the way to the bathroom, I was not more concerned about the carpet than her in that moment. Nope. Not me!

I did not praise my daughter for holding the vomit in her mouth and keeping it from getting on the carpet. No, I wouldn't be so proud of that.

I did not, nor would I ever let my children watch hours upon hours of movies and TV because they felt so rotten that they just wanted to rot in front of television.

I definitely did not take my kids to an independent living facility for dinner and expose the entire dining room to fits of coughing.

Finally, I would not think that my poor children are so pathetically cute that I would take pictures of them in their distress. No.

And I would never post them in a public forum for anyone to see...




God is good. Even with our imperfections. I saw grace every day this week as He carried us through.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Forgetting What is Behind

When we went to Woodland, I remember the first Sunday school lesson Casey taught was on Philippians 4:12-14:

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

We had come into a situation where the church just suffered a severe church split, and where some students still felt the hurt of losing a youth pastor. They needed to forget what lay in the past, and press on towards godliness in Christ, looking heavenward to where all things would be made right.

After we had been hurt in Woodland, this passage came to mind again. I needed to forget what was behind, let go of the bitterness or anger that was sinful within my heart, and move on to what God would have for us to do- and do it with diligence!

Well, this verse comes to mind again. I have had the privilege of seeing some updates from our former church, and am seeing that our friends that we have left behind are being such precious stewards of the young lives we had to walk away from. The leadership of the church appears to be doing an excellent job of supporting that ministry, and seeing all that was a blessing for me.

If I'm being honest though, it was bittersweet too, for we never had that benefit. I couldn't help but think, "What could have been?"

I said this to my mom on the phone the other day, and she told me very simply that what happened happened; and now we have to move on looking to the future. I responded, "Mom, that's hard to do when I don't know what's ahead."

And it's true. What happened to us in the past still hurts in many ways, and I believe that as time goes on, it will heal. God has already laid out a plan of what will happen and how He will provide. I am His. I am called according to His purpose, and He will accomplish all that He has for me and my family.

He will not let my husband be crushed under the hurtful treatment he experienced in Colorado, nor will He let us stay the same. He is refining us. God has put on our hearts the call to minister to His people, and He will use us as we are faithful to the opportunities that He gives.

Oh, that I be faithful to not despair! May I be confident in His provision, and hope in the future that is in His hands- whatever that may hold.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
(bold, added for emphasis)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Anniversary Present



I have had a horrible time with the oven in our new place. I have burned things, and have made some very weird cookies and crisp bread with dough in the middle. The oven just wasn't working for me, and I wasn't working for it. We didn't like each other, and that was just how it was. One of us had to go.

My husband, knowing the stress of wanting to bless my family with good things to eat and just struggling to produce this, went to Lowes and purchased an oven. It was on clearance. It bakes beautifully, and I named it "Rose" because I wanted to. (Ha! Rose from Lowes... I just thought of that!)

So why could he do this? I wish I could say that it is because he is employed, but that isn't the case yet. We are getting help from the state, and still don't qualify for medical insurance for the kids. We will qualify at the end of the month though, with this purchase. Basically, this oven is our grocery money that we would have spent anyway. And now, our children can break a leg if they want. (But I don't want them to!)

This is such a blessing to me, and I have already baked homemade scones, carrot cake, and blueberry muffins. Not one thing has been burned or unevenly baked... I am beside myself with giddiness!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Countdown to 6- THIS Year!

Six years ago, we walked out of the sanctuary and into a full marriage. Children, trials, moves, and waiting were before us.

As I look back on our most recent year to celebrate, I know that this year was a hard one. The relationship between the leaders of the church soured. Criticisms flew towards him and myself. We knew that it wasn't working, but wanted to be faithful. And with no place or direction that God was clearly leading us, we stayed and endured.

But in September, Casey was convicted that he had to stand up and address some of the issues, and instead of talking through them, we was dismissed.

Without getting into details, the separation was ugly and not glorifying to our Father. And we are still healing from the hurtful manner in which the relationship ended.

But God has been faithful. Our house was listed, and it was occupied by new tenants in 6 weeks. We moved to Oregon and began the process of moving my grandmother into an independent living facility, clearing out things and cleaning her home. It is a good home for us, and we are thankful that we can help her like this and that she can help us like this!

And here we are. Today, one day before we celebrate walking out of the sanctuary having taken our vows, we don't know what today will hold nor the next few weeks or months. Just like January 31, 2003, we face tomorrow knowing that God will give us the grace for each day that follows.

So, without full-time work, and savings dwindling with each month, there are things to be nervous about, but we know that God is faithful. We enter year seven praising Him for what He has done, and with hope of what He will do.


"God has poured out upon us all his treasures which no man can measure
and no angel can understand or fathom."
-Martin Luther
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
with whom there is nor variation due to change."
James 1:17
(The Martin quote is off our wedding invitations, and the scripture was in our wedding program)