Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 271: Isla Belle

Isla is my niece. Isla is a beautiful 3 year old today, and I am going to miss her party.

She is a spit-fire, if I ever saw one, and she is sweet and funny and just a joy. I love that little niece of mine, and I am so so grateful that I get to be her aunt.

Lord thank you for Isla. 
She is such a treasure, and I love her! 
I pray that she will grow in wisdom and in internal beauty. 
I pray that she would be a godly woman as she grows and that you would give her parents wisdom in how they should help her grow in you. 
I pray that she would believe in Jesus and trust in him at a young age. 
I pray that she would follow him faithfully and be a light in this world, honoring him in all she does.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 270: E-mail Time

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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 269: Break

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.

It was a break.

And I needed it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 268: Grilled Cheese

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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 267:

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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 266: Getting up, and going down

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.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 265: Where is FALL?!

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?!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 264: Yeah, it's what I thought

So, yesterday was my first day in Norah's class.

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. 
Show me what I am to do.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 263: Big Sister

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.

Happy birthday sister!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 262: Ahead

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! 
Help me stay ahead more often!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 261: Uh-oh, is that a storm?

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.

Oh boy. I hope there's not a storm coming.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 260: Lasagna!

Simple pleasures are the best!

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.

Yes, the simple pleasures are the best!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 259: Every Single Month

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.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 258: What I Really Wish...

... is that I had the ability to get my storybook project going. I wish I knew how to use the program I need to use better. I wish I could learn it faster. I wish I could make these adoption storybooks so that I can bless people.

I just can't work on it right now. The plate is too full. This is a project that has to be put on the back burner. There's other things that are too pressing.

It's just going to have to wait.

Waiting seems to be the biggest theme of anything adoption. Anything that is worth experiencing and of any value involves a lot of waiting.

So I'll wait. I'll do what I need to do now, and I'll wait.

Lord, please don't make me wait too long.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 257: Fall Came FAST

Everything has been coming on so fast! It seems that September hit, and started rolling, and I have been running to catch up!

Upward, counseling, small group, school, and cleaning... it's all going on, and sometimes it feels like a whirlwind.

Lord help me. Sustain me. Help me do everything well and to your glory.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 256: Getting Things Rolling

One of the biggest blessings of the last year was being involved in a small group Bible study. And tonight we got to get back together and plan for this year. We're missing some, and we're gaining some. All in all, I'm happy to be a part of the group, and I pray that this year we will be blessed even further and be able to enjoy the fellowship and growth in Christ more and more.

So, let's get it going already!

Lord, thank you for the people you bring into our lives. 
I pray that I would bless them as much as they bless me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 253: Belated Michelle

Birthdays are a great thing, and I really like to celebrate them. But sometimes things get belated, especially things like birthdays.

Michelle had her birthday a few days ago, and I didn't write about it on that actual day. So here I am. Belated blogging. (I really do that a lot, to be honest. Fortunately not many people read or follow this blog of mine. So I can be belated.)

I love Michelle. She's become a very dear friend. She saves my day so very often it's ridiculous. She helps me think of creative things to do, and often gives me creative things to do- or just wants me to assemble furniture or move it- either way, it requires some level of thought or creativity.

So, today, though belated, I recognize her birthday. I am very very grateful for her friendship as well as her husband's. They are an encouragement to my husband and I, and our children love love love them!

Sharing our home and our lives with my friend Michelle and Devin has been one of the biggest blessings of the year. I thank the Lord for bringing our families together, first in Christ and then in friendship.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 252: I Remember

It was a morning like any other, for the most part. I don't know what I did the day before, and I really don't remember what I did the day after. I do remember that day.

My mom woke me up.

"Someone has flown a plane into the World Trade Center."

Even typing those words is a haunting thing. My initial reaction was, "Oh, someone is in trouble!"

Those were the first words out of my mouth. I don't know why. I was immediately thinking of the justice that needed to be done maybe. I don't know. I just knew it was something big.

I came to my living room, and all else that was in my mind went away. Images of people hurt, crying, scared and covered in ash made every other thought fly away.

Then I saw the towers. Smoking. It was surreal.

Then one fell tower. I was numb. You can't really absorb a thing like that. You can't really take it all in at a moment like that.

Then the other fell.

All day, I remember my thoughts being engrossed with information and images. Over and over, I saw the plane fly into the second tower. All day I watched them fall. All day I thought about the people and the buildings. Tower One. Tower Two. The Pentagon. The Field. With each new revelation of the events of the day, the weight in my mind was heavier and heavier.

Planes were grounded. America stopped. All eyes were fixed on New York and Washington and Pennsylvania.

I remember.

The day was stunning.

I remember driving down Cordon Road and listening to my president give the biggest speech of his life. For a man who was often teased for stammering or mispronouncing words, he was flawless. He was resolute. That day he was the leader that the people of the United States needed him to be. He was, in every sense of the word, name and role, the President.

I remember.

My country hasn't been the same since. My people haven't been the same since.

I remember.

God bless America, land that I love. 
Stand beside her, and guide her 
through the night with the Light from above.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 251: Brookie

There are friends that stick, and my friend Brook is one of them. I have known her since my high school days, and although there are sometimes long stretches when we don't see each other, it's never difficult to start up right where we left off.

I got to visit with her today, on her birthday, and it was very sweet. It was too short, but it was sweet nonetheless. We talked about her new babe #2 due soon, and I got to dote over her daughter.

Brook is one of the truest and sweetest friends that anyone could ever ask for. She's a beautiful wife and mom, and her heart belongs to Jesus. I know that I can count on her in a pinch, and rely on her loyalty no matter what.

Today I am very glad that I have a friend like her. It's truly a gift from above.

Happy birthday, Brookie.

Lord, protect Brook, especially in her last weeks of this pregnancy, and may she be blessed as she embarks on being a mother of two. Give her wisdom and strength in the days ahead and prepare her heart for all the joys that a new baby will bring. Bless her and her husband, and may they grow ever more in love with each other. Be at the center of their home, and bless it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 250: It Just Gets Better

Sometimes things strike you, and it puts you to thinking. Such a thing happened to me just this evening. I'll explain:

I learned that yet another person that I went to school with is now divorced. Don't get me wrong. I have no judgments on the marriage. I have no opinions. I just simply lament another marriage ending, two people being torn apart, and children not having parents working together side-by-side, in love, to raise them and model a Christ-church relationship. I think it's worth mourning. I think it's worth taking pause and being saddened by it. (If you're reading this, and you have suffered through divorce, my prayer is that you would not feel added guilt or shame. That is not my intent at all.)

That's what I did this evening. I shared with my husband that it made me so sad, and I shared with him that it also drives me to thankfulness.

With every passing year, I am more deeply committed to my husband. I love him more deeply. I care for him more deeply. Separation seems more and more to be an impossibility. Marriage isn't easy, and if I were to sit here and write about it's ease, I would be a liar and a hypocrite. But there is much to be said about the longevity of marriage cementing the vows taken all the years long ago. As time goes on, the idea of life without my husband seems absurd. It truly does. Short of the Lord calling him home, it just doesn't even seem feasible.

In saying this, I don't mean to seem prideful or that we are immune to the temptations and hardships that can arise in the life of a marriage, but I am just so thankful for the peace I have in being married to the man I fell in love with in my youth (not that I'm so old, but I was younger then than I am now!). I pray that God gives both he and I the strength and determination to hold fast to that love as the years roll on and we grow older with each other. I pray that every new phase of life and marriage does not work to tear us apart, but brings us closer together and makes us stronger.

It is a fragile thing, holding some one's heart, and allowing them to hold yours.

Lord, may I be worthy of holding my husband's heart. 
May we cling to each other 
and live life in light of your Word so that we may withstand all the trials that may come our way.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 249: I'm a Mommy to a First Grader

My daughter started school yesterday. It was her first day of first grade. She's too big, and she's growing up too fast. I'll be honest, I had a hard time it. It's a long school day, and the idea of that much of my daughter's day being taken up by school is kind of difficult for me to swallow.

When I wanted to be a mom, I thought the hard part would be disciplining, and teaching them the ways of the Lord. And I think that's true to a degree, but I think maybe the most difficult part is realizing that I am simply the steward, and God is in control. The hardest part is letting them go, and seeing them grow. Inch by inch, day by day, they gain more and more independence, and with that is an increase in realization that I am completely dependent on God to carry them through this life.

Lord, help me let go, and put Norah into your hands. 
Give me strength to watch her learn difficult lessons, 
experience pain, 
and grow into the person that you created her to be. 
Help me stay out of the way and use me where you want me to be used. 
Give me wisdom to determine which times are which.
Thank you that you have already gone before me, and are working in my heart every step of the way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 248: Happy Birthday Husband

Today we celebrate 31 years of my husband's life.

I love my husband. I love the way he talks, walks, listens, and acts. I love his big blue eyes, and that he passed those eyes on to our children: Norah the big part, and Haddon the blue part. I love when he laughs, and when he talks about something he's passionate about and that what he is usually talking about with passion is something to do with God, ministry or Scripture. I love how smart he is, and that he can understand things and have such clarity of mind on so many matters. I love that he will do what he needs to do to provide for our family, and that in the course of our marriage, that hasn't been easy- but he has never backed down from that responsibility, that honor. I love how he coaches our son's football team. I love that he listens to our daughter's stories and asks her about her days. I love that he is ticklish and that he tickles his children. I love that he enjoys spicy foods, and that he tries to make new things. I love that he does a good job at it!

Yes, happy birthday, Husband. I love you always and forever.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 247: Being an Upward Coach...

... is proving to be quite humbling. I am not a cheerleader. I am not coordinated, and I do not remember things very easily. My first two practices, I forgot things, and tonight's practice was really not very smooth.

But for all my poor attempts at being a really stellar coach, there's much value in what I'm doing. These little girls think that myself and my assistant coach are really cool- sometimes. And they have such open hearts.

Last week I had one of my girls break down in tears and shy away from the group for about a quarter of the practice. She was terrified of the devotional time when I would ask questions of different girls. Great. Coaching fail. It was the second week, and I had already broken a little girl's spirit!

But what started as a bit of an ordeal last week, turned into something much better this week. I spoke with her mom, and tried to make sure that I didn't single her out in any way. At tonight's practice, she was right at my side during the mid-practice huddle, and she smiled for the first time without prompt. She participated in all the cheers and chants that we were doing, and I caught her smiling even more! That made me feel better to see her feel better! I hope that she comes out of her shell more and more, and I pray that I have wisdom in how to relate to her and not scare her back into said shell.

This week another girl got really sad in the middle of practice. So while my assistant coach, who actually knows something about cheerleading, taught the girls jumps, I spoke with my melancholy sweetie. She was overcome all of a sudden with nervousness about the first day of school, and our first game. I got to talk with her and reassure her that everything would be alright and that she would do so great on her first day of school. Slowly her frown turned into a smile, we hugged and she returned to practice.

What I'm experiencing as an Upward Cheerleading Coach is that although I run practices and have to learn cheers, what I'm really doing is building relationships with little girls, sharing truths from Scripture, and helping them see how precious they are in God's eyes. by the end of the season, I will have the opportunity to share the gospel with them all, and I pray that as I love them, encourage them and laugh with them, that they see the love of Christ.

That is of much more value than whether or not I remember cheers or make mistakes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 246: In Which I Read Too Much Austen

I have been engrossed with Jane Austen's Mansfield Park all day. I am just too curious how it will end. I have done my best to not know any of the plot as to not spoil it for me, and I am enjoying it.

I'm very grateful that God has given people such imaginations, and a talent of spinning a tale that can offer commentary on certain times and sensibilities, even lessons in wisdom. I really do marvel at how diversely God made all his image-bearers. No two people are alike, and no two people can bring him glory in the same way. He has a plan for each person, and delights in who we are because he made us the way we are for a purpose- for his glory.

It's very sweet to chew on that for a while.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 245: There's Work to Do

I did it.

I took the plunge and volunteered to be a regular Sunday school teacher.

Today was my first Sunday doing it, and I'll tell you, I was nervous. I have never taught Sunday school or taken ownership of a thing like this. I have done small groups for teen girls or college students, and I have been on rotations for nursery or children's church, but never, ever have I committed to being the consistent teacher for a kids' Sunday school class.

You know what?

I think it's going to be fun. I already am thinking of ways I can bless the kids in that classroom, and I hope that my efforts are God-glorifying. I think it can be a little intimidating taking on something like that, and I bet there are going to be times when I wished that I didn't volunteer to serve. But I think that it will be a really good experience, and prayerfully, it will be a good thing for the kiddos in my class as well.

So, bring on the construction paper, crayons, glue sticks and flannel graphs!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 244: Sharing a Room

So of all the projects I have undertaken this summer, I think the one that can have the biggest impact will be the bringing Norah and Haddon together to share a bedroom. I pray that they will learn valuable lessons and grow as they share this experience. My hope is that some selfishness may fade away, and that consideration for others will take hold in their hearts. I am very hopeful of what the Lord may do in their lives- whether they share a room or not- but I'm very curious to see what this particular experience with do in his master plan to shape them into who he wants them to be.

Lord thank you for giving my children to each other. 
They may not understand it now, but they are on of each others great gifts straight from you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 243: Who? Me?

My husband has recently worked with another man in our church to start up a counseling ministry, and already they are about maxed out. What's more is that I'm am in the shuffle now as well.

I've never been in a position where I am in such a setting. I have counseled with people, but always on an impromptu, informal basis, never a scheduled and really purposeful Biblical counseling position. Needless to say, the idea is a little intimidating. I have no formal training, but my husband comforted me with the fact that I don't have to have answers, and I don't have to depend on my wisdom or training, I simply look to the Word and direct the person(s) to the Scriptures. God has the answers, and he's given the means to understand how to live life for his glory and our joy.

So, I'm feeling more free about that. Instead of asking, "Who?! Me?!" I can focus on looking towards the one who has given us all we need pertaining to life and godliness, commit it to prayer, and trust the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those I am to come across.

Thank you Lord for giving me a husband that helps put my mind at ease 
and on the right track in accordance with your truth.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 242: Beach Day

Today our family went to the coast for the day. We enjoyed going to the aquarium, and wowing over God's creation. We also went to the beach and flew kites.

It was our last outing of the summer before school starts, and it was a beautiful day. We were at a part of the coast that we have never been to. It was truly lovely. It was the prettiest part of the beach that I have been to in a long time. There wasn't much debris on the shore, making the sand really smooth.

It was a particularly windy day so the waves were large and the kites flew very high!

There's a lot to reflect on when you're on the coast. You can't number the grains of sand, and yet so many are God's thoughts towards us. The waves are constant, ever crashing, just like God, faithful, steady. The powerful wind coming across the shore reminds me of the powerful God that controls it, and the effects it has on the patterns in the sand remind me of his faithful work shaping us. The blue of sky and water declared God's glory, and the knowledge of all that lies in the deep is too wonderful to even comprehend.

Needless to say, my heart and mind were full of sweet reminders, as a trip to the beach always does. There are few places in God's world that you can stand and really feel small and yet very significant all at once. But the beach is one of them.

Thank you that your love is deeper than the ocean,
your faithfulness greater than the waves,
and your power mightier than the wind.