I'm off. My count is off. My 2011 resolution is very off, and I have failed at many points. You know, that's kind of the story of my life.
I fail at so many points. I need a Savior to cover up those failures with a grace that runs deep and wide. I think that's something that has really stood out to me this year. Every day the goal is to give blessing to God through gratitude and praise, to recognize his grace that he gives me every day despite my heart condition or mood.
That practice has not only built me up but made me humble.
I'm glad that I did this. I know I've mentioned that before, but I'll write it again.
Christmas is coming fast. And there are lots of going-ons going on. There are Christmas lights to see, and cookies to bake, and stuff to do.
Tonight was another occasion of that.
My husband had a work party, and so we went. There's really not much to tell about it. I've had a cold, and have lacked sleep, so combine those two things and I wasn't very chipper.
I feel bad. I wanted to be more talkative and friendly, but I was just struggling. In fact, I had my husband drop me off at home before picking up the kids so that I could go straight to bed. Then I proceeded to have an on-off sleeping experience. So that was lame, but what are you going to do?
Another fun thing was my son having a Christmas party with his pre-school. He had a blast, and I am so thankful for his teacher and the experiences he is having there. He's really blossoming this year.
In a neighboring town they have a neighborhood that puts lights on most of the houses, and so we went out there (instead of staying home and watching a depressing board meeting or going to it). I'll tell you, my son is a crack up. If he saw a nativity scene, he would exclaim, "Oh look! Jesus!" or "There's God!" So that was pretty great.
All we have left that is an actual "event" is the little Christmas program at church.
I'm not sure if we'll do a Hanukkah night this year, even though I want to.
We're just getting a little bombarded with all the goings-ons.
Lord, let not any busyness of the season keep me from the joy found in you.
We've been anticipating December 13th for a long time now. Last month I was able to go to a school board meeting and watch as a panel of seven people listened to parents give testimony and try to sway at least four of them to keep my daughter's school open. This month I wasn't at the board meeting, but it was the one we were waiting for. Tonight was the moment of truth.
The vote happened, and in a heart-breaking loss of 3 votes to 4, my daughter's school was closed. Budget cuts are necessary. I know that. All across the country there are boards just like this one, making difficult decisions. I think the last thing a district does is close schools, but it is what it is.
Now we have to make some educational decisions for our kids. We transferred them intentionally into this school, and now we have a lot of things to weigh out, and a lot of questions on what affect closing the school will have on the whole area.
Lord, thank you that school boards aren't sitting on the throne, but you are.
I've wept. I've been angry. I've been exhausted and tried. I've prayed. I've whined.
You name it, and I've probably felt it this week. Between, hearing my work news, to being provided for, to being excited about picking up the kitten, there's just been a gamut of emotions. On top of all these things, it's been a crummy mom week.
I have been dealing with whining, disobedience, angry outbursts, and sassing. It has come from both children, and my oldest has been leading the charge.
Tonight, the camel's back broke. I calmly, after being sassed at bedtime, told my firstborn to go to the kitchen and wait for me. Leaving my son in his top bunk, I entered the kitchen and brought out the Tabasco. She had talked disrespectfully too much. I needed a strong object lesson.
Judge me if you will. I had to do something, and since this was the most calm and humane thing I could think of, this is what I chose.
As I put the Tabasco on the spoon, I prayed that it wouldn't hurt my daughter, that she wouldn't throw up or that she wouldn't hate me forever for using this punishment. I prayed for the Lord to give me words to speak to her as to why I was giving her the hot sauce and why her behavior not only deserved it, but why it was not to continue.
Well, she almost threw up, and she cried. She thought I was mean, but the lesson sunk in. I told my daughter, my precious daughter that as much as she doesn't like the Tabasco, that's how much I don't like being spoken to in the way that she had, and it's how much it hurts God when He sees that kind of behavior.
It was a powerful object lesson.
I have no idea if it will be remembered tomorrow, but I do know that tonight she hasn't disobeyed since. I do know that it made an impression, and that I cannot and will not have another week like this last week. I will lose my mind if I have another week like this last week.
Lord, please don't let this week be like last week.
It's a simple prayer, and I need you to fill in the rest because I am tired.
I just want to be a mom that promotes peace and honors you in raising my children.
I don't deserve them,
but in your wisdom, you gave them to me.
And I know that if you gave them to me,
then you will give me the wisdom to raise them to your glory. I'm counting on that this week.
When I got home from all my errands yesterday, I had a voicemail waiting from another semi-employer. I had worked for The Children's Place on Black Friday, and I have a good relationship with people there. I spoke with the manager there letting her know my predicament, and she told me that she could see if she had any hours that I could have there.
When there is a need, God provides.
It may not be the perfect solution, but it's one that He has provided thus far. I'll take it. I will rejoice in it.
Lord, thank you for getting me through this week.
I know it's not over, but you've already gone before me.
On Monday I called in to work to see what my hours would be, and I was put on hold to speak to our new general manager. He informed me that I wasn't scheduled until a short work meeting in a few weeks and then for one day at the end of the month. Talk about lame.
So, basically, I've lost my job for the month of December, and no one bothered to warn me or anything. That's unacceptable. I understand the severe and seemingly unreasonable hour cuts. I understand that my boss is in an awful position. I don't accept being kept in the dark though.
My plan was to go in today and speak with this manager, and ask for an explanation for this treatment (nicely, don't worry); but I couldn't because he had a family emergency.
Great. I was on pins and needles, thinking and praying over what I was going to say and how I was going to say it (and I'll be honest, a couple times ranting and chewing him out in my head with no intention of doing it in person because that's rude- but cathartic nonetheless.)
I went in to work anyway to speak with another manager, and ask some questions. I'm really glad I did because both he and one of my co-workers were there. As it turns out, we're all in the same boat of frustration, and bewilderment. We're all asking questions to ourselves of, "What do I do?" We spent time, not griping, but simply sharing burdens. My manager can't pay his mortgage. My co-worker can't help at all in the household bills.
As it turns out, it was pretty encouraging to me. I needed the camaraderie of these dear ones that I have the privilege of working with (um, kind of, if I get to work at all).
I'm still intending to speak with the general manager. That is an important and necessary thing that I should do, but I know that the time will come. In the meantime, I know I'm sustained and provided for by God. He'll never let me down. He'll always help in my time of need.
ThereforeGod has highly exalted him and bestowed on himthe name that is above every name,
so that at the name of
every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Whenever I see a "therefore", I was taught to ask myself, "What is the therefore there for?" And this is a verse that has been on my mind a lot in recent weeks. As our church hears the depths of Hebrews, in small group we just finished studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. There's a lot to be said about who Jesus is, and what he has accomplished and fulfilled. So I have been thinking a lot about Jesus, and all that he is from High Priest, to Savior, to Emmanuel.
So, what is the "therefore" there for?
We find it in the verses before this amazing statement:
...though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself bybecoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Christ had to be born in humility and obedience, fulfilling all that the prophets wrote about him. He had to become a spotless Lamb and die on the cross. Being God, he conquered death, and has victory to the glory of God the Father. There is power in the name of Jesus.
On Sunday mornings I teach a Sunday school class, and I usually have three kids in it. One of the children is a little girl named Karis. Slowly she's accepting me as a teacher, and that's been a fun journey with her.
On Sunday evenings our church has an AWANA program, and Karis's mom is a helper with my son's age group.
As I drove home from picking up my son from his AWANA night, the thought occurred to me how sweet it is that every week, Karis's mom and I get to bless the child of the other. We just have a blessed kid-swap every week!
The next thought that occurred to me is that things like that make the body of Christ beautiful, amen?
Today we worshiped with some saints in another town, in another church. Casey was filling the pulpit for a pastor who wanted to be at our church for his granddaughter's baptism. That was a good enough reason to so a swap between the churches, and it was a nice blessing to be among God's people, no matter where they are.
After church, we went to a couple's home that attends the church. What's special about them is that we actually knew them from our first ministry in California. They had moved to Oregon while we still were serving down there, and many years later, our paths crossed. It was very nice to catch up and, in some ways, get to know them. We really didn't get much time to spend with them in the past, and this was probably the most time we had ever spent with them!
It really is a sweet thing to know that God builds his church everywhere, and that no matter how far a distance is laid between believers or how much time, there is still the same Spirit and fellowship in Christ.
Father, thank you for the fellowship of your Spirit bought in full by Jesus Christ.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
I've been thinking about this hymn, especially the words. Read them without thinking of it as just a Christmas carol. It is a song rich with Biblical truths, and doctrine. There is depth.
Want proof that I'm a preacher's wife? In thinking of these things written so eloquently, my repeating thought is, "Well, that preaches."
Last night was our church's craft night, and it was so nice to be away and share some time with the wonderful women in our church body. There were several crafts to choose from, and the two that I did were the greenery centerpiece and a yarn knotted scarf. So fun!
My hands got all sappy, and my brain nearly exploded from yarn choices, but I survived.
I am so blessed by the church that I am a part of, and it was delightful to have a night out with the girls.
Today, I got a real deal. I explained on Facebook that when I got my Christmas decor out, I was a little tired of it. I've had things for a while, and it's all fine. But I'm just kind of tired of it. A lot of it I didn't even choose myself. I just was given it, so I used it and that's been fine.
Many women commented that they feel the same way, and that made me feel a little better. I wasn't alone in my boat. That's always nice.
I wasn't complaining. I had just never really experience that before. So it was new, and therefore fascinating enough to make it my status update.
Well, a friend wrote to me, and asked when she could come by to drop something off. What she brought overwhelmed me. She had purchased a gift card to Real Deals, a home decor store, and just gave it to me. She said, "Now go get stuff for your house for Christmas!"
For Christmas the kids aren't getting a bunch of toys (which they never really do...), and they ARE getting a pet! Our very first pet, with fur. That's much different than one that has a lifespan of approximately 3 months.
He's going to stay at the shelter until it's closer to Christmas. But I can hardly wait.
Lord, thank you for making pets, and that we can have one.
I pray that this new little friend will bring even more joy to our home and be a blessing.
Sometimes things just come together differently than you think they will. The general plan for our household income is that Casey earns the bulk, and then I work eight hours a week to make up for the rest that we fall a little short with just his paycheck. The trick is that I have to get that minimum-ish of eight hours a week. It's not much, but that's about what we need me to do, and because of the way I get paid, it's nice to have the consistency of those eight hours.
Hours are really tight at my work right now though. Through Christmas, there just isn't much work and so hours get cut. My hours were cut this week. That doesn't bode well with our general financial plan. And Christmas is coming. That means there's extra treats to buy, and little gifts to give. We don't do anything crazy, but it just kind of adds up, you know?
This has happened before, and we've always been fine. It creates frustration for me because you would think that I would be able to get a measly eight hours at a part-time job, but I guess thing aren't always what you think. They don't go the way you think.
In light of the disappointment of another week's worth of pay cut from our budget, Casey was given a check. As coincidence providence would have it, it was for about the same amount that I get for a week's worth of work.
So yeah, sometimes things come together a little differently than we expect.
I've been helping my husband with the counseling ministry at our church, and it has been really educational and good to support him in it.
One of the many things I like about it is that the counseling isn't meant to be a perpetually ongoing thing. It's meant to serve a purpose to help someone work through a situation through the truths found in God's Word. Tonight marked our last meeting with someone, and I am praising the Lord for the work that he has done in the heart of this individual. I'm thankful that I have been so encouraged in it, and that he has blessed the time.
He has answered so many prayers, and he has done such mighty things through the work of the Holy Spirit. I just give him praise for his goodness and kindness towards myself, Casey and the dear saint that we had the privilege to meet with.
God is good. All the time and in every circumstance, He is good.
Making things pretty is one of my favorite things to do. Whether it's spending a long summer rearranging the house and decorating for as cheap as possible, or making food look extra appetizing, making something prettier is something that brings joy to my heart.
So as I'm learning how to use GIMP, I took on the project of making this blog and our family one pretty.
And I did it! Go me!
It brought so much joy to my heart, and every thing that I was able to do successfully was such a victory for me. I'm so thankful for learning new things, and using my creativity, or building on the creativity of others, to make something that is fun, and well, pretty!
Honestly, I don't remember it much. But I do remember enough about the movies and such to know that the new Muppets movie that just came out is really great. We went to it as a family on Thanksgiving, and it was one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in a long time. The kids liked it, and my husband and I liked it. It was clean and cute and funny. I actually lol'd in the theater. So that's pretty good.
God gives us gifts of all kinds, and one of the things that I want to bring him glory for is all those things that make us happy, even movies. He created people with the ability to imagine, think, dream, laugh, and entertain. Movies, music, plays, and art all reflect qualities held by our Maker, and I rejoice in that.
Lord, thank you for Jim Henson,
and that through his imaginative spirit,
we have things in this world like Muppets, and Sesame Street.
This time of year, it's only natural to start looking at what has transpired in the past year. I was doing this, and I am ashamed at how little I have thought about all that the Lord has done for me and my family in the past year. Don't get me wrong. Obviously, I'm thinking about these things as I go along, but it's been a while since I looked at a big picture view of how God has moved in the last year.
My heart overflows thinking about all the ways that we have been provided for, or how prayers have been answered, or for all that we have been given.
A year ago this Thanksgiving, my husband didn't have a job. I was working as much as I could to earn as much as I could for our family. I was very divided in my heart, trying to balance work, home and supporting Casey in finishing his degree. The burden was heavy, and many tears were shed. It was a very trying time, but the Lord always gave comfort. He always provided.
Casey was finishing up his degree. He had worked hard for about four years, and finally, it was the end. He did it! In the spring, he was done. And he finished his Masters in Biblical Studies with straight A's. We made it through the long hours of study and writing to get to the end with minimal debt!
Also, about this time last year, Casey wrote and submitted his book. In this last year, the proposal was accepted, the book was written, and it was published. It is one of my favorite books, and I am really overjoyed to know that I am married to the man who wrote such an encouraging and gospel-filled book. To read the reviews that followed its publication, and hear the compliments and testimonies of it being a blessing, has been so encouraging to me. I am beyond grateful that my husband has had this experience, and I pray that he can do more and more like this.
In January my niece came home from Ethiopia. It was a long and wonderful journey to watch. Knowing that my own adoption in a little way inspired the adoption of this little girl thrills me to the core of my existence. She is beautiful. Her story is beautiful. God has poured out his most abundant grace on her life, and He gets all the glory!
About this time last year, we received the news that my mom was going to start a long health journey. Cancer was discovered, and although it looked very good, there was still a bit of a gnawing fear. No one wants to hear those words. No one wants to fight that fight. What followed in this year has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs of health-related issues. My mom went through 3 surgeries, was on several absences from work, and had medical bills piling one on top of another. The stress of getting well, and paying for the privilege of treatment to get well took a toll. But God always provided. He always gave her strength and faith. This Thanksgiving she is healthy and cancer free. Hallelujah! Our God is a good, good God!
This Thanksgiving, I am only working one day a week. My husband has a job that isn't the best, but we have health insurance. We have been able to get off of assistance, and I am home most of the time. I still need to be creative in how to support our family, but the stress and the burden of our situation a year ago is much much different.
That brings me to my last blessing, and that is hope for the future. We always have hope in Christ. He has gone before us. As a new year begins, so will a long awaited journey to add another to our family. God has been actively working in our hearts to bring us to where we are, and I believe with all my heart that His work isn't done. It won't be done til I see him in glory.
Something that my mom introduced me to is baking. She is such a great baker, and is always looking for new recipes to try. Come Christmas time, I can count on my mom making a delicious feast of sweets. I've adopted this to a degree, and have come to really enjoy making new things. I have to limit myself though because of having diabetes and all (lame, I know.)
So this week I have gathered the necessary ingredients, and began on my mission to bless my family with some Thanksgiving treats. I have a lot of fun doing it, and it makes me happy to follow in my mom's footsteps.
Thank you Lord for the sweetest things in our lives.
Norah is my smart little cookie. It's always a blessing to hear what others say about her, because, like most children, she's super-duper good for them, even if she (ahem) isn't all the time for me. So it was no surprise that her teacher wished she could get three more like her in class, and that when I looked at the new seating arrangement, my girl was trusted to be put in the back row.
I think it was an encouragement to me because sometimes we parents get caught up in trying to make sure our children are being instructed properly. We want them to obey and we put forth so much time, effort and prayer to that end. We often get lost in the wondering if they will ever obey perfectly the first time, or ever stop whining.
The truth is, though, that they won't. Do I always obey my Heavenly Father? Do I always approach life with a happy heart?
What I can do for my children is instruct them in the Word, discipline them when it's appropriate, and trust the Lord to work in their hearts to trust in Him and follow Him. The Holy Spirit doesn't need my help, but I am humbled that I can be used in my children's sanctification.
Conferences like that remind me of these things. I'm not a hopeless mess of a parent, just human, a human who is a sinner in need of grace every single moment of every single day.
Father, be my fount of ever lasting grace. I need Thee every hour.
Today is my grandmother's birthday, and she is so special to me. I don't know if I will ever know this side of eternity all the ways that my Heavenly Father has used her as a rudder for my sanctification.
It was my grandmother who paid my way through private school, which help pave a solid foundation in learning God's Word at a young age. It was there that I heard the gospel over and over again. It was there that I made friends that influenced what I thought and brought joy to my life.
My grandmother made a lot of things possible for me as I grew up. Living on a very small budget, with just my mom to lean on, my mother's mother stood as a dependable safety net. She helped and gave in ways that I'm sure I don't even know.
She has always been an understanding ear to hear, and a heart ready to empathize with me. She is a stalwart of comfort and support. Her tenderness and generosity compliment her beautiful spirit. She had dazzling green eye that laugh when she laughs, and a feisty streak that is to reckoned with!
Above you see me wearing her rings. I remember my grandmother's hands. I will always remember her hands. When I would spend the night at her house, she would get me settled into bed by gently tickling my feet and working her way up my body telling each part of me "Goodnight little toes... etc." I remember her wedding ring and diamond ring as they would sparkle in the glow of the lamp at the end of a day being thoroughly spoiled. It means so much to me to wear those rings every day.
My prayer is that my hands are used as they were by their previous wearer, with gentleness, hard work, and love.
Today was another tough text in our church's series in Hebrews, and I'm really impressed with how carefully our pastor walked through a passage that is often misinterpreted.
I got a kick out of how he approached it, "I am looking at this text through the lens of a Calvinist!" (Those aren't his words exactly, but I can't listen to the audio right now to confirm, but that's the gist)
While I heard a couple gasps (not loud ones, mind you), I heard one, "Amen!" in the crowd. I got a kick out of it!
In our experiences that God has walked us through, that word "Calvinist" has been a hot-button word (that's putting it mildly), and I am thankful today that I can sit in a church under a pastor that confesses to be a Calvinist, and know that there won't be a church split over it. Maybe someone will leave, but that's okay. People can pick their side.
My husband was telling me that he couldn't preach if he weren't a Calvinist. He had a lot of things to say on that topic. May he'll blog about it.
Being a Calvinist is having the profound conviction that nothing, absolutely nothing, that I can do will save me. My faith, my salvation, and my security rests entirely on the grace and work of Jesus Christ on my behalf. I was dead in sin, and if it had not been for the divine act of God, I would not have responded to the gospel. The faith I have is not my own. It is a gift of God.
Whew! It's nice to get that off my chest! Yes. I am a Calvinist too. I confess.
In contrast to last night, I went to a few places with specific things in mind, and I was faced with the holidays! Busy! Busy! Busy! There wasn't traffic so much as it was just people. Everywhere. I couldn't browse casually. I couldn't walk easily.
As flustered as I was (it's one thing to go out anticipating crowds, but another to be bombarded with them unexpectedly), I'm glad I got to go out with my mom, kids and niece. I'm looking forward to having my niece and sister over to do a craft that I got, and I anticipate making fun memories doing that!
Beyond that, I picked up paint samples. Oh boy. Watch out. I'm trying to make things pretty again!
Father, thank you for being peace in chaos, for simple fun in crafts,
and for giving me a focus for a reason to celebrate during the holiday season.
Sometimes you just need an evening with people with no agenda or plan. That's what we got tonight. We got fellowship in doing nothing and going nowhere in particular. (In fact, we didn't go anywhere, but that's beside the point.)
It was fantastic.
Father, you have blessed us with great friends.
Bless our times together, and may we have many more of them together.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
Can I say this again?
I. Love. Jesus.
We're in the middle on the Sermon on the Mount in our Bible study. It's not easy to study that sermon because it's pretty hard-hitting to say the least! But one of my favorite things to look for when reading any of the gospels is how Jesus presents himself to the people.
I used to wonder why the religious leaders of the day wanted to kill Jesus. He was healing people, and wasn't that a good thing? To me, it seemed perfectly normal for him to preach what he was preaching because I believe he is the Son of God. Why would you want to kill someone who spoke truth?
I don't wonder that anymore. By God's grace, I understand a little more about where these leaders were coming from, and what exactly Jesus was saying.
I love his statement in the verse above. He came to fulfill all that was written in the Prophets and the Law. Basically, he's claiming that he is the embodiment of all that the Jews studied and believed. Everything was written pointing to him! If I didn't believe that was true, I would probably want him gone too. It's really no wonder to me at all, that things worked out the way they did. (Besides it being ordained by God, but I digress!)
To make this statement even more impressive is that it's in a sermon in which Jesus explains to the people what the Law was really telling them. He was piercing through the legalism and letter of the Law to get to the heart (literally) of the Law. (Not even the Pharisees could listen and not know that they too had sinned.)
Anyway, thing number umpteen-million that amazes me about Jesus: He is the fulfillment of the Law.
Jesus, thank you for being the fulfillment of the Law and for all that means to me.
My favorite sermon series are when there is preaching through a book of the Bible. Topical sermon series have their place, but I like that just focusing on one book is like the meat and potatoes of bible teaching. The book that our pastors are tackling right now is Hebrews, and I'm glad we're going through it. It's not an easy book, but what I appreciate about my church is that overlooking difficult texts is not an option.
There are plenty of texts in Hebrews that are dripping with depth, and I am so thankful for it!
My husband introduced(A Better Rest: 11/06/11) the topic of Christ as our High Priest when he preached last week, and then our senior pastor piggy-backed it this week (A Better Access: 11/13/11). I. Love. Jesus.
We read the Jesus Storybook Bible to our kids, and what I love about it, is that it is a simple way to introduce children to the truth that ALL of Scripture is about Jesus, or pointing to Jesus. As we study Hebrews, this is idea is not lost!
Like I said, at our church, we don't shy away from difficult texts, and a while back we studied Leviticus (yeah, Leviticus!). Understanding the books of that law is so important! If you understand what a high priest does, and what God is communicating to his people about sin, and sacrifice, then it gives you a better understanding of what Christ has done and is doing on our behalf!
So where am I going with this?
I will tell you.
I am incredibly thankful that Jesus fulfills the role of a High Priest on my behalf. He offers me direct access to my Creator because of the perfect sacrifice he offered on the cross. He makes intercession for me perfectly, just as priests of old tried to do for the people. All the blood that was spilled, all the cleansing that was done, could not cover sins. There was still a divide between God and man. We needed a perfect sacrifice, and we needed a perfect High Priest.
Hallelujah! The curtain has been torn, and I am set free!
I didn't post about this at the time because I'm a reasonable person (for the most part!) and filter some things that I allow to be "out there". On Sunday evening, I got a call from a friend at church who knows our heart for adoption, and told me about a little girl who needed a home. Without going into details, Casey and I felt that this was something to look into.
We've had some situations like this come up before. Sometimes you hear of someone who is pregnant or some other situation where there is a need for a child to be adopted. All of those instances have been dead-ends (obviously, otherwise I would have another child, duh!), and so I went into this news with a grain of salt, not anticipating anything really.
This time was different though. It was a little bit harder to swallow than other things. As it turned out, this little girl wasn't being relinquished for adoption, although with the little bit of history that I heard, it sounds like that is what will be best for her. That's what was difficult.
It wasn't even that I wasn't going to bring her home. It wasn't that I felt like we were the right family for her and I was disappointed that she wasn't going to join our family. Those thoughts weren't even an issue for me.
It was knowing enough about the situation, and enough about the foster system in our country to know that the road ahead of this little one will be a lot tougher than it would be if she were adopted. That's what broke my heart this week.
I began to think anew about the choice that my own birth mother made. I don't know the circumstances of my birth or the issues that surrounded her. The most important thing that I do know is that she let me go. She made a choice that most likely tore her apart inside, but she faced what was most hurtful and difficult to give me the best that I could have.
What she did has had arguably the most profound influence on my entire life. Her selfless act put me into my family where I heard and received the gospel, and as I think about every circumstance in my life from the places I've lived, to the people I've met, to the very family I belong to, all can be traced back to that one moment when she resolved to let me go.
Her choice points me to God's love, a love that is willing to give everything so that I can live. Her choice teaches me that parenting should always look selfless.
Birth mothers are the unsung heroes of adoption stories. We look at the families, and the journey they go through to decide to adopt and walk through the process. We marvel at the transformation in a child's life when they go from being an orphan to a part of their new family. But we often overlook the amazing, powerful and important decision that a child's first parent makes.
(Sometimes an adoption doesn't look like that, I know, but in most cases there is someone who is letting go.)
So looking through the lens that I have at the situation that was dropped in my lap this week, I guess maybe one can see how this one got to me. Because I personally know the impact of a selfless act in my life, and because I know what kind of life I was potentially saved from, my heart breaks when I hear of a little girl that isn't given what I have been given.
Why? I don't know. I don't know what God has in store for this little girl. I don't know what he has in mind for his glory in her life. I do know that he knows. He knows exactly what he is doing, and he will do all things for his glory.
That is the only comfort I have as I think about her future. Because my God is so big, and strong and mighty, I know that comfort is enough.
Lord, you know every detail of S****'s life, and all the people in it.
You have a plan for her,
and I pray that you would protect her and that she would learn your truths at an early age.
Lord, I pray that the truth of the gospel would take root in her heart so that she can face every situation knowing that all will be worked for your glory.
I don't really get where the phrase "turn on a dime" came from, but I know what it means. All to well.
Yesterday was a very pleasant day with the crafting and funness. (Yes, funness. I'm sticking by it.) In the evening things began to turn. Enter cold. Then I couldn't find my Sunday school lesson book. Enter fret. This morning I found the lesson book in my Sunday school classroom, and saw that it wasn't a difficult story and I had a good craft put together. Enter relief. Then church, and it was so very encouraging and uplifting and God-glorifying! Enter worship. Back home, and there was sibling rivalry, building sinus pressure headache, and lack of sleep because of last night's frets that showed their ugly faces in my wretched face. Yet another dime turn.
We are fickle people. At least I am. So many things can make emotions and heart conditions turn on a dime- wherever that phrase came from. God's not fickle though. He's unchanging. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is always right, always just, always good, always constant.
Every year I hear this from someone. It never fails. I can count on it. I'm not sure I have an opinion one way or another. When I worked in retail clothing, it seemed as much, but now that I'm not out and about as much, I don't notice the moment that the Christmas decorations get put out.
That's okay with me. I like that I don't notice.
Today my friend and I worked on Christmas cards. I had made some this summer with my niece, and then made more at my open house. Then I got to thinking that I had already started, so why not just make all my Christmas cards this year? It's fun, and gives me something relaxing to do that allows for a creative outlet. So when my friend mentioned making cards, I suggested that we make some together.
It's like big girl play time!
We watched that last portion of Pride and Prejudice (the A&E version, of course), and worked on making fun cards with her ginormous collection of wonderful scrap booking paper.
My kids played and really behaved quite well while we just did our thing, and played a little with them. It was a great way to spend my day. I am so thankful to be able to do stuff like that every once in a while.
And hey, I'm just about done with Christmas cards, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet! Yippee!
Thank you for all the blessings of Christmas, and how it is a season to celebrate
Today is my father-in-law's birthday, and I'm so glad that I can call him my dad. I don't have a father, or at least a relationship with my own father. And my husband's dad had become just as much mine as his. That's just an amazing gift that I have been given. And today, I am so grateful that I have a dad and that my children have such a great grandfather.
I love the Cosby Show. So when I saw that I could watch it on Netflix, I was so pumped. I grew up watching Cliff and Claire dance, and all the kids fighting and laughing, delivering one-liners. The show was just great.
I'm so glad that there are things like that, that bring back memories and are still entertaining. I like I can watch them and simply have fun.
Sometimes we need stuff like that. I know that I do at least. So tonight I'm grateful for the Cosby Show and all the memories and laughter that it has brought to me both as a child and as an adult. I appreciate little things like that, and know that in every little thing that is good and brings joy, there is a Source from where it all flows.
I never want to forget that it is from the Lord that every thing that brings happiness to me is from the Lord.
I've become slowly more aware of something about myself, and I'm not what has changed to make me this way; but nevertheless, it's happened. I get car sick.
I get car sick. I kind of noticed that I had issues with it after the kids were born, but i never went on that many car trips. So it was never really that much of an issue.
Then we drove to Disneyland. And back.
I did okay on the way down, but I will tell you, on the way back, it was a sad, sad story. I was tired, and I think that added to it. If I'm pretty well rested, then I can do okay, but I was so dizzy that I just laid down in the back seat of our van, and just tried not to throw up.
I learned something on that drive. I learned that I have the most patient husband ever. He just took control of the kids, went with the flow, and got us home as fast as he could. He didn't complain or whine that I was leaving him with all the driving and care for the children. He just did what he had to do while I was feeling nasty.
Wow. I am so blessed.
Thank you for my husband Lord.
He's the best friend I could ever have, and the best teammate ever!
I went to a meeting this evening with the school board of directors. I've never been to a meeting like this, and I will be honest in that I would prefer never to go to another. it was frustrating to say the least.
I felt patronized. I felt insulted. I felt shocked. I felt outraged. I felt discouraged.
You see, it's been recommended that my daughter's school be closed. It is being kept open this year, but next year it's on the chopping block of major budget cuts in our local school district. the superintendent spoke down to those in attendance assuming that we don't understand the budget crisis.
Yeah we do. We're normal people who, when there is a budget crisis, make immediate cuts to our household budgets and not waste every dime we have and then get forced into cuts. That's where the school district is now.
But I digress...
So I was there at the meeting to show them that I wanted my daughter's school to stay open. In fact, I was among several who couldn't hardly get in the door. The audience was a sea of red representing the Rosedale color.
I left feeling with a major case of the grumps, and a big feeling of helplessness. Questions keep floating around in my mind. All of them boil down to one question: What are we going to do with our children next year for their schooling?
That's a huge question.
I know a bigger God.
Lord give us wisdom in how to best help our children learn.
Lead us and guide us, and keep us held up by your peace.
Today I got to hear my husband preach again. That in itself is a blessing, and then add to that all the comments and sweet things that people say about my husband after he preaches. That just warms my heart.
He likes preaching, and I believe that he will someday preach more frequently. But for now, that's not God's plan, and I'm thankful for any opportunity that he gets to share God's Word.
Every time my husband preaches, it's nice to see how our children react, especially my daughter. She remembers more of his former pastorate, and she is more keenly aware of daddy's desire to work full time in ministry. On a Sunday morning when daddy is going to preach, she seems much more content. She knows that daddy is doing something that he's gifted to do, and even though she doesn't listen, I think she likes that he is simply preaching that morning.
So today that's what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful that Casey got to preach this morning, and that the Word went out, as it does every Sunday. But this Sunday it was from a very familiar source.
... to catch up on what I have missed. I just missed a bunch. October ran away with me, and that's all there is to it.
October held Upward Flag Football and Cheerleading, and we had both kids involved. Both of us were head coaches. I. Am. Not. A. Cheerleader. I'm going to be honest, and it's not something that I am proud of; but I used to think that cheerleading was really dumb. I thought it was too easy to be called a "sport". I thought it was silly that people could get varsity letters in high school cheerleading.
My tune has changed. It's not easy. I would practice and practice my brains out until I could learn a simple cheer. You have to have an awareness of what all your limbs are doing at the same time. I don't do that. I lack full body awareness, and it became a running joke on our squad about how many times Coach Kelly would mess up.
Yeah, I'll take a big, heaping piece of that humble pie, thankyouverymuch.
Getting through the Upward season was a challenge for me. I'm not one to do things unless they are easy. It's not something that I'm proud of, and I believe that God brought me to this task to show me this character flaw for his glory. If there is something that is too much of a challenge, I tend to just let it go. I could not do that this season. Nope. I was the coach. I had to be there. I had to actually teach these poor unsuspecting 6 and 7 year-old girls how to perform tasks that I could barely do.
Big. Slice. Please.
I'm so grateful for it though. God showed me that I can't just bail on things that are too difficult and that I need to try new things and stretch myself. If I don't, then I may miss our on a big blessing. I had eleven girls on my squad that I got to share the gospel with multiple times. By the end of the season, some of them were clinging to me and giving me huge bear hugs.
I guess it didn't matter if I could teach them a herky. (Oh yes I did just bust out some cheerleading jargon!)
In October, I also plugged along teaching Sunday school. I'm really loving my little ones. We have a blast. It's interesting what they remember. The biggest thing that they like, that I do, is I sing a good morning song. They love it! I love that they love that. God is so good to allow me the privilege of teaching these children every week.
One word. Disneyland.
We went to Disneyland. It is the happiest place on earth, and we were so excited to go. The kids hadn't a clue that we were leaving, and we told them the morning of. And they were so good the whole time. The only breakdowns that occurred were fatigue-induced, and that is just to be expected to some degree.
I may or may not elaborate more on that subject. It just depends on what comes to mind.
Finally, and I will not get into it a lot, but we are finally at the point where we feel that the time is right to start adopting. I did a little fundraiser, which will keep going until the 12th to get us started a bit, and it's just an exciting thing.
I will get into that more later, believe me.
In other news, I only spent $3.50 on Halloween, and that's only because our children chose to be bugs. It was too easy to put together bug costumes for myself and my husband. We were a spider, butterfly, ladybug, and bee respectively. We had a very buggy Halloween.
And I still haven't watched Luther this year marking the anniversary of when Luther posted the 95 Theses. I find this unacceptable, but what are you going to do?
God is good. He is good all the time. He's good when I mess up the words in a cheer, and he's good when I see smiling faces on kiddos at Sunday school. He's good when I spin with my family in a giant teacup. He's good when he guides my path. He's good when I tape giant black dots on my shirt and wear black Fuzzoodles on a headband.
The weather has turned to be more cool and rainier. I welcome the change, and am glad to have weather that makes me want to cook! I have missed wanting to bake something, but not be willing to heat my home by even 2 degrees. Now, that it's cooler, of course I welcome the warmth of an oven. I relish the opening of the door to let all the warm air out while cooling the oven down.
I also love the return of comfort food, like pot roast. Ah, the first pot roast of the season! And to make it even better, we had our dear friends over for dinner. Our kids were so excited, they could barely get to bed.
It was such a nice evening, and it was exactly what we needed. I love hosting people in my home, and I really like to have opportunities to get better and better at it.
Lord, thank you for simple things in life like pot roast, cool weather, and warm friends.
All of these are good blessings that only come from you.
Okay, maybe the word finally is a little melodramatic, but it felt like it took forever for me to join in. I mean, it was the l o n g e s tweek. Well, okay, it felt like the longest week.
Really, though, I'll be reasonable now. To put it simply, I was blessed. I was blessed to be there and sit under my husband's teaching. I was reunited with people who I love, and we were able to laugh and talk about things of the Lord. And it was a great time.
Now I just have to wait two weeks before I can go back because we'll be gone.
Ugh. That's forever!
Thank you Father, for the fellowship of friends.
May we come together again, to study your Word and bring you glory.
Haddon is my kiddo who is not like other kids. He doesn't speak as well as others. He doesn't think like others. He doesn't act like others. He doesn't play like others.
That's okay with me. I like Haddon for who he is. What that doesn't mean is that I don't want him to grow and learn and change in certain ways.
The other day, he unloaded his backpack from pre-school, and pulled out an alligator puppet. He had colored it in a scribble-like manner, but generally staying around the lines, and he proceeded to say, "Ay! A-a-a alligator!"
My daughter's classroom needed a turnaround. There was no doubt about that, and the class is on its way to a lesser level of chaos. A huge weight has been lifted off one shoulder.
But one weight remained.
The Upward weight.
Things have been pretty rough for me in this coaching season. I've had difficulty controlling the girls and getting them to listen. Parents haven't been too involved, and it's been a struggle to get them to commit to helping out. It's just been an overall discouraging season, and to be honest, I've been counting down the weeks until it was over.
I sought out some help though. I got some good ideas from some people, and sent an e-mail to parents detailing what I needed to happen at tonight's practice.
Finally. It was a practice that went well. The girls listened, and parents jumped in where I needed them to, and we got so much accomplished.
So a few days ago I saw this movie (trailer above), and I found it to be so encouraging. There was hardly a dry eye in the house, and it is a great challenge out there for men to stand up and be leaders of their homes. To be a godly husband, father and leader truly takes a lot of courage. Every day we are tempted to be less than what God has called us to be, and men have a truly high calling whether it be leading their home, leading at work, or leading the church.
These are challenging times when men are tempted by so many things to take their hearts away from what it right and true. Pornography is way too easily accessed. Promotions are easier to acquire through less than honorable means. Jobs are very demanding. Video games are addicting, and sports are very appealing. All of these things can draw a man's heart away from God and his Word. All of them can sneak into the place of a wife and children.
Families suffer when fathers aren't present or do not lead.
This film brings that to light is a dramatic way, and I am thankful that it was made.
Even more than that, I'm thankful for my husband who is courageous in standing for the truth, leading his family and loving us.
At the risk of seeming like a moody person, I will say that this has been a very challenging week that has ended just the way I have needed it to. I have been emotionally drained. The weight of Norah's class, and the discouragement from how the cheerleading season were taking their toll.
Yesterday was a very good day for Upward. The girls responded better, and I have some hope that I can help get things going in a better direction.
Friday night I also got to have a date night with my husband, which I will write about later.
Today, was such a nice Sunday. Sunday school was so fun. The kids had a blast with their craft, and it seems like having the high school students teach for the second hour is really starting to get into a groove. From what I could tell, they had a very good morning as well.
Our pastor began a new series in the book of Hebrews, and he gave such an encouraging message, one of his best, about who Christ is. It was truly a blessing to hear Christ preached.
There was a baptism in service, and that will never cease to move me. Whenever I see someone step out in obedience and declare their love for God, it moves me deeply and brings joy to my soul. I love baptism!
I enter into this next week with hope. I needed that so badly. I was getting so worn down and discouraged.
Yesterday I experienced a turnaround. I got a phone call from a parent from Norah's class, and she told me that things were very different in the classroom today. There was a system for managing behavior, and the class was better than any other day.
I didn't even want to take Norah to school. I didn't want her to be there. I was so discouraged about the way the class wasn't monitored and the chaos of the day that I just didn't want my daughter subjected to it anymore. But my girl came home lighter than I have seen her. She told me all about how they now have new cards and that she needs to keep hers green by behaving and staying on task. She told me how all the kids were better and how everyone was able to get their jobs done!
I don't know what happened in the heart of the teacher. I don't know if it was the e-mails she got or if it was just time for her to be fed up as much as the parents were, but something turned around. I actually look forward to going into the class on Monday now.
Three times. Three times I have been in my daughter's class, and today was the last straw. I have talked with teachers, and fellow parents. I have weighed options, and today you can stick a fork in me because I am done.
It's e-mail time.
It's time to write an e-mail to Norah's teacher expressing my concerns, and hope that we can have a good discussion.
I don't know what will come of this. I don't know what will happen. All I know is that I've given it some time to turn around, and things are not getting any better. It's time for action.
Oh Lord, please let that e-mail be received in a positive light. I want so badly for it to be productive and help things and not make things worse.
We're trying to have me work just one day a week. We hope that's enough. Today was that day, and I needed it.
There's really not more to say than just that. I'm discouraged. I'm worn down. This is an exhausting week, and I needed a break. I guess I needed to go to work.
Seems weird to say that, but at work, I don't have to think about what's going on at Norah's school. I don't have to be concerned with cheerleading. I don't have to think about anything that's bothering me because I am there to work and help the people in front of me. I am there to bless people with better vision, and that is enough.
I'm really not that obsessed with having food titles for blog entries, but it just makes sense tonight.
This is the start to a discouraging week. First, I was in Norah's class yesterday, and well, I won't get into that. Second, and mind you, it's only Tuesday, I have the worst cheer practice ever.
I wanted so badly to have a fun time doing Upward. It really is a fun thing to do and a fun league. I really enjoy being with the girls, and I'm even liking learning cheers (as silly as I feel doing them!). But I have little support from parents. I have a hard time controlling the girls. It's just not going well.
I cam home tonight feeling very discouraged. I was bracing myself for outcries against the chili that we had planned to make, and I started in on some grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids.
Haddon was summoned to the table, and upon seeing his plate, cheered, "Yay! I love the cheese!"
Oh that boy. I just love him. Countless times he has brought a smile to my face when all I wanted to do was cry. Who knew that having a grilled cheese sandwich could bring such delight to a little boy? Not me, but I am sure glad it did. I needed that burst of joy because it rubbed off on my spirit.
Sometimes all it takes is a grilled cheese to turn some things around.
Lord, thank you for grilled cheese sandwiches. Thank you for my boy.
Lord, I don't know what you would have me do with Norah and her schooling. You know all the details. You know her teacher's heart. You know all the children and the people that are involved and I know that you have a plan.
You know my desire to honor you with Norah's education and for her to benefit from knowledge and to learn and grow. Please help Casey and I make the right decisions and take the right actions to be her advocates. Help me help her teacher, and help me to have a loving spirit towards her and to keep patience.
I don't even know what else to say, except, your will be done.
In our home we have a routine. Well, it's some sort of routine. I get up, and Casey goes to bed. Casey get's up, and I go to bed. We call daddy our owl. He's up all night, while the kids and I sleep. While he sleeps the day is buzzing by with activities of the rest of the family.
I know it won't last forever. I just look forward to seeing what God will do to get him out of this nocturnal routine.
Lord grant me patience, and fill me up with gratitude for how you have provided.
I remember a year ago, I was struggling as the bread winner,
and this year, I am happily working less and Casey has taken that role back.
Thank you for allowing us to be where we are,
and I pray that this isn't where you would have us stay for too long.
But even if you do, I will still praise you in the getting up and going down.
Today was a hot day for Upward football and cheerleading. I am so wiped out, it's not even funny. Where is the fall weather?!
Let's not complain.
The weather really is lovely and warm. For a normal day of hanging out, it would have been much more enjoyable to me. We've really had such a pretty September, and it really is nice to have summer extended.
I am ready though. I am ready for fall and rain and cider and blankets. I always like putting on more clothes- especially if they are scarves or gloves or coats. Oh, how I love me a good warm coat!
Yes, all of God's seasons are beautiful, but I have to ask: Where is fall?!
Um, the parent who had concerns, now has a person who shares those concerns- me.
I don't know what to do. I don't know what is going to happen, but I do know that I can't allow my daughter to be in a classroom so poorly managed.
It seems that I need to be in there a few more times to get a better handle on what actually going on in there. I mean, it is the beginning of school. There's always a few rough weeks at the beginning. There are definitely things to watch.
Lord, I don't even know what to ask or what to pray.
I know that I just need your wisdom to be able to know what to do for Norah.
My childhood was filled with a few people, and those few people played very important roles in my life. I had just my mom, my sister and my grandma. They were who I had, and for me, they were all I needed. Each one of these women played a special role in helping me become the person I am today. God used them as agents of grace in my life to give me love, security and guidance.
I am six years younger than my sister. If I were to say that I am the baby of my family, it would be very, very accurate. So I'll say it- I am the baby of my family. My mom provided for my sister and I and carried the burden of fulfilling the role of two parents. My grandma was our saving grace, filling in the gaps wherever she could.
And then there was my sister. She was 13 going on 20. She was responsible, and treated me so well and so kindly. She watched out for me, and was so patient with me. She helped mom by cleaning and doing things around the house, and that I didn't even notice or really think about until I was much older.
My sister was a huge carrier of God's grace to me and my mom.
Today is her birthday. We went to lunch, and had a nice time together- just me, her, my mom, and Seble.
My sister Amber is an example to me in so many things and in so many ways. I can talk to her about anything and rely on her. She's the person that I will know the longest in this world- Lord willing, and I would have it no other way. I am so grateful for the relationship that we have and how it has grown and changed over the years.
Amber is one of my best friends. She is my sister in the sweetest senses of the word. We are bonded through Christ, and we are bonded by family. She is one of my greatest treasures.
Today I started ahead! I hardly ever start ahead- well, at least maintain it! I got things done today and it feels so good! I want to be ready for tomorrow and being in Norah's class, and some other fun things that I have planned. So, it's just nice to be able to go into tomorrow with some things done.
Thank you Lord for allowing stuff to get taken care of today!
I'm not sure what to think of it. I had a feeling that things may not be all that great in Norah's first grade class, but tonight it seems that at least one parent isn't thrilled with the prospects for this year.
We had our back-to-school night, where we got to meet our daughter's teacher and see some things in the class. I look forward to these sorts of things because they often answer a lot of questions.
But tonight, I have more questions.
There are a lot of things going on in our life right now with Upward and such, but this is something that I intend to look at closely. I'm looking forward to getting into my daughter's class and seeing what things are like for myself.
I made a decision today that I would make lasagna, and in looking at my Groupons, I saw that I had one for Great Harvest Co. So, I loaded my boy into the car and took him on some errands with me.
We arrived at the bakery just in time. There it was, on the baking schedule: "Cheese Garlic Bread- 12:00" I was right on time. Out a new, warm, delicious loaf came from the oven. It smelled delightful, and I had to try it while it was still warm. Then it filled up my home with it's wonderful aroma.
Combined with lasagna, which I haven't made in so long, it made for a most delicious meal that we were able to eat as a family.
Every single month. It's like clockwork. I am always surprised. I get moody. I get grumpy. I get easily irritated. I get to be the worst version of myself.
Every single month.
I get shocked and discouraged at my behavior, glance at the calendar, and realize, "Oh. That's why."
Seriously, this is a discouraging cycle- pun intended. How can I break my monthly grumps? I'm really tired of it, and my guess is that my family isn't exactly jumping for joy over this about every 4 weeks.
Every single month.
Lord, help break this cycle- you know, the cycle that I can break, not the other one.
I'm only going to change if you help me by your Spirit.
Fill me up with your Spirit that the cycle can be broken.
I don't want to get discouraged like this every single month anymore.