Monday, December 3, 2012

Let me be grateful

This is the post in which I ramble on about the things I am grateful for.  They are many, and most of them are not things you would even care about.  But it makes me so happy to see them in writing, and get what you get.

  • My love made me fried rice for supper.  He knows how much I like it and surprised me with it.  I love him a lot....he has given me so much grace, so much.  After 13 years I can't imagine myself being any more in love with him, and yet I know in 10 years, I'll say the same thing.  
  • Speaking of love, I viewed a random blog on Sunday with pictures of grooms seeing their brides for the first time.  Just look at the priceless moments captured on film.  Later that day, we went to church where God was...and oh, He was!  I thought again about that blog with the pictures of the grooms and the looks on their faces.  And I thought, I want to be so beautiful to Him that on that day that He returns for me, He stands there with a look of wonder and amazement at His bride.  I can't imagine being any more in love with Him in 10 years, and yet I know I will be!
  • I'm grateful that my work hours have slowed so much.  I'm working around 9 hours a day instead of 12-13.  Honestly, it feels a little like a vacation after working so hard for over a year.  I am supremely thankful for this.  I'm spending more time with my kids, and getting more sleep--both very good things!
  • I'm grateful that I have so much.  My home is always heated and cooled, my water always runs when I turn on the faucet, and I don't have to trudge out to the back yard to use the restroom.  If I'm sick, I have medicine and cough drops I can use to help me feel better.  I go to sleep at night on the most amazing mattress with warm blankets and even a fake rain noise maker to make me feel comforted.  My husband and I have two paying jobs right now, despite our feelings about both working, and we are still able to care for our children full time ourselves.  My bills are all paid with a little extra usually, and we eat a lot.  Probably too much.  We. Have. So. Much.  I am overwhelmed.
  • I am really grateful about Christmas this year.  The last few years, Christmas-time has been rough for me.  Special for my family, I'm sure, but for me, in my heart, it has been hard.  I spent last Christmas very stressed about my job...the one before that we drove from WV to AL (a drive which I hope I will never have to make again), and the one before that I was physically sick and emotionally miserable at my circumstances.  This year, my life is just so rich.  I am surrounded by my family (all but one sister who lives in NM with her family) just a few hours away.  For the first time in my life, I feel able to give presents to those I choose from a grateful, excited heart.  I have things picked out I feel will be meaningful (I hope!) to those I love, and I just can't wait to give them.  It makes me wonder how our Lord felt when he was doing all that "growing in grace, and in the sight of God and man" while He was young.  I mean, seriously....if you know what was going to happen when you were 33 and what it would mean to the world, how hard would it be to keep that all to yourself for the next 20 years??????
  • I am grateful that my children sleep pretty well.  It didn't use to be so, and I remember that and accept this season of rest with utter thankfulness.  By 8:30 or so, I can wind down and have an hour before bed for "fun" however I choose to use it.
  • Grateful for a hard working husband, who gives me grace when I am choosing to use my hour to blog and get some thoughts out of my head, instead of finishing up the dishes or folding some laundry.  He doesn't judge me and gives me space to be me.
  • I'm grateful that my children's natural leaning away from the things of God, is what keeps me close to God.  I need Him so so much, to know how to gently lead these kiddos He's given me.
  • I'm grateful for new neighbors who love the Lord...and some new neighbors who may not but are just as precious to Him.  I have never in my grown up life had "real" neighbors who send their kids to each others' houses.  It is absolutely precious and wonderful!  Looking forward to getting to know them more this next year!
  • Thankful for all the leaves in my yard, because it means I have a yard, and I have trees in the yard that provide shade during the hot summers of AL.  My yard is fenced and is exactly what we prayed for a few years ago, when we lived in the 2nd floor apartment above the cranky older couple whose female half took a nap daily at 4 pm (witching hour for my kids).  Thankful that Marc or I did not crack during that very stressful season, and I'm not sure I would be as grateful or content to rake leaves if I had not been through that time.
  • Thankful, just thankful.  For Riddlers Skittles when I don't know when I'm getting the melon flavored ones I hate, and for 3 bowls of Frosted Flakes to remind me of the days I was pregnant with Zachary, and for this striped long sleeved shirt that matches my baby sister's shirt that we bought together last year, and for friends far away I wish I could spend more time with.  For wedding rings that mean more than just a status symbol, they mean for always no matter what and he has proven that to me.  For doubles in dominos, and L.L. Bean catalogs that come in the mail and make me drool.  For my electric blanket that is my dearest winter friend, and my striped-with-tassels slippers that make me feel like a cross between the cat in the hat and the Grinch.  Thankful for sacrifice, and for love, and for the whole reason we celebrate this month.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November November

If I post at least once a month, in the last half of the year, does that mean I've met my New Year's Goals?  :) I suppose it is better than nothing!

Slowly but surely, life is easing, and I am getting more time to just BE.  Time to ponder my life and rest in Who He is, and time to think about the fact that "He's still working on make me what I ought to be...took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars...the sun and the earth and Jupiter and loving and patient He must be...He's still working on me!"

Lately I am not blogging as much because I'm just enjoying keeping things to myself.  I have so many things I could say, could clog up the www with.  But sometimes it feels special just between me and God, you know?  My sisters and friends keep at me to write a book.  About what, I have no idea.  Don't really feel I have much to say, honestly, and all that writing seems it would just be another thing hanging over me, another task to complete, another "life" to nurture.  No thanks.

Here are some snippets of things my Love has spoken to me over the past few months:

Let Go.

Grow Up.



Don't Quit.

Funny that as I was typing all those things, I was reminded of a pretty famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13, about Love.  "Loves endures all things, hopes all things.  Love never fails."  "Never keeps any record of wrongs" (grow up)  Gee, what are you trying to tell me, God?  ha ha

It feels tight and close in here, in His shadow.  I'm not too interested in heading out anytime soon...matter of fact, I think I'll just take a little nap.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The palm tree of Psalm 92


I worked 5:30 am to 5:30 pm--a hard 12 hours where nothing went right, everything was my department's fault (which I am ultimately responsible for) and 2 patient complaints to Administration AT THE SAME TIME.  Literally both of my phones ringing and both calls were from different people in administration, at the same time people waiting outside my door to answer questions, etc, etc, etc.  The last 45 minutes of those 12 hours, I dragged my hobo-looking kids around (all 3 in one double stroller because 2 out of 3 kids did not have shoes on), while I completed my work at the hospital.  Stopped by the cafeteria to give them all bribes of chips because I just needed to survive til I can get us all out the door and hopefully not look foolish to anyone in Administration on the way (failed by the way, of course we passed someone looking at me like I was insane).  Get home to start homework with Z, and he's whiny and doesn't want to do homework.  And Emi is coloring on every homework page, and Kenna has decided to eat her chips and Emily's, and I resort to sticking Emi in front of the TV watching Caillou.  I eat my cold supper of plain noodles that I dip in the cold spaghetti sauce with meat, while I stand at the stove.  Literally eat out of the pots in between giving spelling words.  Finally get them bathed and almost in bed--whoops, forgot the milk for the last minute drinks before bed.  So trudge out to the back 40 of the garage to the landlord's fridge because mine is still not working because no one has time in my family to call a repairman.  Kick a cockroach HARD on my way out to the garage because these things are going to be the death of me one day and I hate them and it's not fair that they try to live in my house and I shouldn't have to pay money to a bug guy to keep them out so I don't but I still feel infested in the winter and it's not fair.  Come back in with the milk, girls drink it, Zach's in the tub, bring the milk back out to the garage.  Go to tuck girls into bed, and Emi has a stinky diaper, which of course absolutely had to wait until she was wearing a fresh diaper (there goes another 25 cents for nothing!).  Change her, come back, calm the girls down, try not to threaten them too much to stay in their beds because Kenna playacted one day not too long ago with her doll who was taking a nap and said "You'd better stay in that bed, or I'm going to kill you!"  No, I have NEVER said anything like that to her, not even close, but just because I didn't use those words, did my tone convey that to her? and Oh my God (praying now), do I really sound like that? and if so, Lord, really I need help here!  Come back to get Z out of the bath and he whines about getting out of the bath just like he whined going into the bath, and I finally quietly say, "Mom's had a really really really bad day.  Can you just please wash your hair, get dressed and go to bed without any fussing?  Just this once?"  Get Z in bed and think about how I let Emi watch Sprout for almost 2 hours before bed because I couldn't balance both her and the older 2 with homework and how Zach ate his bag of chips, then a banana, and then more tortilla chips he found somewhere and maybe I'm not doing a good enough job of making sure healthy food is available, and maybe if that stupid fridge were working in my house instead of in the garage we would eat better.  And no wonder why I'm starving because all I had to eat all day was a small bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, a 20 oz Pepsi and a tiny bowl of soup at lunch.  And "Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death??

One of those days where you just feel like giving up, throwing in the towel and vegging on the couch in front of the mindless tube.  But I'm not giving up!!!  God told me not to, twice, specifically 2 weeks ago on a Wednesday and a Sunday.  Days that will burn into my heart like other times He has spoken through people and things to teach me stuff about how to grow up.

"Thank GOD!!!!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 7:24-25

So...the Palm tree
"But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.  For they are transplanted to the Lord's own house.  They flourish in the courts of our God.  Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.  They will declare, 'The Lord is just!  He is my rock! There is no evil in Him!' "  Psalm 92:12-15

4 things I learned about the palm tree from my pastor

  1. The roots of the palm tree will continue to grow if any part of the tree is cut down...the tree will re-grow and send new shoots out.
  2. The tree bends, but won't break.  Storms could bend the tree over almost doubled, but it will eventually stand back up straight again like it never happened.  The more the tree bends under the weight of the wind and rain, the greater the yield of the fruit.
  3. The root system of the tree goes straight down searching for water.  Often the roots of the tree are deeper than the tree is tall.
  4. The palm tree produces fruit even in old age--it is continuously fruitful.

What do you think?  If I'm honest I want to say that I'm not 100% sure all these things are true, although it sounds pretty good.  I don't have hours to spend researching all this stuff.  But I will say that in life, the principle seems to be true that the more we are tested, the more we find out who we really are and what we're made of.  In this case, I find out that I am nothing.  And without Christ, I have nothing and might as well give up trying.  But "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."  I can declare that He is MY rock, and He is just.  I can go to bed now, hopefully not feeling that this day was wasted, because I decided to redeem it by declaring that this day was not wasted.  He is going to make something out of this day, whether I can see anything good in it yet or not.

Tonight I am grateful to be turning out the light soon...grateful that when I set my alarm it is going to say something ridiculous like "your alarm is set to go off in 7 hours and 22 minutes" and that this will be the most sleep I get this week, grateful that I have a cell phone to use as an alarm.  Grateful that I have all my fingers and can type all this out and not leave it in my spirit, grateful that although my supper was cold, I did get to eat.  Grateful that tonight it was not raining when I had to go out to the back 40 of the garage...grateful that the cockroach flew really far when I kicked it and it really did make me feel a little better to kick it like that.  Grateful that though my job is stressful this week, I have Friday off and that I even have a job to go to each day to help provide for my family.  Grateful, just grateful.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What faith

I'm trying to decide whether to name this post "What Faith!" or "What Faith?"

First of all, I was lovingly chastised by my cousin Jen this week that I am not blogging enough.  She is right, and so I am blogging again.  Or at least tonight.  Which is better than not at all, I suppose!  Only time will tell if I continue.  I love blogging, but this year it has been hard to steal away for quiet moments and still my mind enough to pour it out onto paper.

Back to faith.  I've been reading a very small book by George Mueller called Answers to Prayer.  Have you ever heard of him?  He started an orphanage in the 1800s simply to prove that God did not need man's help to accomplish anything, and discovered along the way that God provided him with the faith to ask only God for his needs the rest of his life.  Mr. Mueller never once even told people he was going to start an orphanage.  He simply prayed, and suddenly people came out of the woodwork to give him money toward the cause.

The book is a slow read, but not for lack of interest on my part. It is slow because I need time to absorb all he writes. 

"Either we trust in God, and in that case we neither trust in ourselves, nor in our fellow-men, nor in circumstances, nor in anything besides; or we DO trust in one of more of these, and in that case do NOT trust in God.
"If we, indeed, desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and, therefore, through the trial, be strengthened. In our natural state we dislike dealing with God alone. Through our natural alienation from God we shrink from Him, and from eternal realities. This cleaves to us more or less, even after our regeneration.
"Hence it is, that more or less, even as believers, we have the same shrinking from standing with God alone--from depending on Him alone--from looking to Him alone: and yet this is the very position in which we ought to be, if we wish our faith to be strengthened. The more I am in a position to be tried in faith with reference to my body, my family, my service for the Lord, my business, etc., the more shall I have opportunity of seeing God's help and deliverance; and every fresh instance, in which He helps and delivers me, will tend towards the increase of my faith." I said, deep. I was reading the Bible to the kids tonight before bed and the story was about Jairus and his sick daughter. You can find the entire story in Luke 8:40-56.  Jairus came to Jesus, obviously upset and overwrought with emotion over his daughter. He fell at Jesus' feet and pled with Him to come home with him because his daughter was dying.
Then Luke says that as Jesus went with Jairus, He was followed by a crowd.  In the crowd was the woman with the blood disease, who reached out and touched the hem of His robe and was healed.  Jesus stopped the entire crowd to find out who touched Him and talked to her and the crowd about what had happened.

As I read the story, I started to think about Jairus.  If I were him, I would have been extremely impatient with Jesus at this point...probably starting to get testy or angry.  I mean, here is this woman who has touched Jesus and it's great that she got healed, but what about his daughter who is dying?  I imagine that minutes and even seconds were precious at this point, to ensuring that Jesus could heal her.

At that moment, a messenger arrived from Jairus' home who told the crowd that his daughter had died and "there's no use bothering the Teacher now."  But Jesus said to him, "Don't be afraid, just have faith and she will be healed."  I'm not so sure what I would have done or felt at that point.  I mean, I've been there.  Five miscarriages and 3 difficult pregnancies teaches you something about hope...mostly how to not have hope so you won't allow yourself to be disappointed in case you lose another baby.  I'm not saying it's right, I just know how that feels--what it's like to battle fear and faith when all earthly knowledge is telling you there's no use.  Who's to say that Jairus hadn't gone through similar circumstances in his life?  And yet, here is Jesus telling him, "Don't worry, just have faith."

So they get to his house, and Jesus won't let anyone else go in the house except Peter, James, and John, and the girl's parents.  The house was filled with the mourners at this point and Jesus says to them, "Cut it out!  She's just sleeping, she's not dead."  The crowd laughed at Him because they all knew the "truth."

But here it is:  "Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, 'My child, get up!'  And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up!"  This reminds me much of my dear friend's journey with her daughter, which begins Here and after 3 years is Here!!!  The faith and consistency in praying of Jordan and Rob is just amazing and their sweet daughter's victories bring all the glory to our God.  He is so worthy to be praised!!!

All that to say:  What Faith!!!  And I am asking myself:  "What Faith?"  If I shrink back from the hard stuff, from not wanting to walk the difficult road because I'm too tired or I just don't think it's fair that others don't work as hard as I do...I won't see the victory, won't get to feel the thrill of seeing God come through for me in a way that doesn't even make sense.  I've had some hard weeks with my job lately and some trying times personally.  Yet, the times I remember to ask God for guidance, to ask Him to make a way where there really is no way, He has shown Himself true each and every time.

"Would the believer, therefore, have his faith strengthened, he must especially, give time to God, who tries his faith in order to prove to his child, in the end, how willing He is to help and deliver him, the moment it is good for him."  --George Mueller

**This post is dedicated to my dear friend Susan Hinkley, who passed away on Wednesday after a long battle with ovarian cancer....but not before letting God try her faith and ultimately bring her closer to His heart.  Susan, I love you and will miss you.  Give all my babies in heaven a kiss for me!**

Saturday, February 11, 2012

More faith. I need it.

I thought it was time to finally post a few pics. This is my "baby" who is now almost 17 months old. Look at those curls! She's a daddy-lookalike.
Sweet sister time on the couch.

My 3 beauties. I love them!!!

Since I am trying to blog at least twice a month (and I failed already in January!), I figured I'd better try to catch up a bit. Nothing too exciting to share here. We're having our share of rough days with these young ones...and sometimes rough nights too. Our youngest is not the best sleeper and we haven't figured out how to fix it. You would think after 2 other kids (1 of them being colicky) that we would know what to do. Sigh.

I feel so content in many ways, and discontented in other ways. I love where we are, love our home, love the satisfaction I feel in my job, love watching my kids grow up and learn lots of stuff. But I feel just as un-sure in the number of hours I have to put into my job...knowing that am missing almost all of their days. That stuff is hard to swallow. Knowing my husband is feeling a lot of the same, wishing he was out working and I was home with the kids. It's strange how we both have the same desire, and yet God has made it so clear that our current situation is what He wants for our lives. Despite how we feel about it. Like I said, it's tough to swallow.

I'm reading about Abraham and Sarah lately. When you really think about it, the stuff that happened to Abraham is just plain weird compared to our current lifestyles. I think we have gotten so used to hearing the Bible stories over and over, that the reality of what actually went on doesn't strike us the way it should. For instance, God called Abraham to leave his family and "go to a place I will show you." No maps, no plans, just "follow me." People just don't do that kind of stuff anymore.

And then the whole thing about Sarah not being able to have children, and yet years prior to Isaac being born, God promised them that they would have a son. Imagine the hope and the thoughts of the future they had!! They went to bed the night after receiving that promise, feeling like God had finally heard them...He was finally going to come through for them...a son would be born!! And then YEARS pass, and Nothing. What's up with that? Sure, I know eventually Isaac was born, and it was still definitely a miracle. But what about those waiting years?

Don't get me started on the story of Abraham bringing his almost-grown son on a journey, telling him, "we're going to worship." And having Isaac carry the wood for the sacrifice....little knowing he would be that sacrifice. I wonder a lot if Abraham felt like I would have felt, that every step he took was painful and sacrificial. Or maybe he had tons more faith than me, and he didn't question at all?

At any rate, all these stories don't seem to fit with God, and yet they do. I think the problem is that we have gotten so far away from who God really is. Too far from what He really wants us to be doing, because we're too concerned with what WE want. Who's to say that God couldn't/wouldn't do things like that in our lives, now? We don't depend on Him like Abraham did...I don't, anyway. Oh, to have the faith of Abraham!!! The Bible said that "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." That must have been some pretty powerful believing.

As I read the Old Testament, I'm praying that I would have ears to hear what He is really trying to say to us. These aren't just stories anymore....they really happened. Read it slowly, think about what if that were you in the story? How would you feel? What would you be thinking? What would you tell your family if you were the one that God told to leave everything and travel to a place you didn't know?

Something to ponder....

Monday, February 6, 2012

To my favorite man in the whole world....

This post has been in my head for awhile now...I love you and still, all these years later, can't believe you picked me.

  • When you open up Goldfish bags, you make the bag into a little spout which makes the snack come out better with no mess. I'm not sure if you do this for me, or if you just like it that way. But it makes me happy.

  • You are the king of knowing fascinating random facts about everything...and you teach our children to love randomness. It makes them look at the world in a whole different way. I love that.

  • You like my cooking, or at least have pretended to for 12+ years. Even when I have the annoying habit of critiquing my own cooking each and every time, you just smile and say "it's good." Steady...I like that.

  • You know things. Like the time when I was afraid to tell you I was pregnant with baby #3--pregnancy #8--because it was not in our plans and I knew how much it worried you. I was nauseated by the corn you made for dinner and pushed it around on my plate. And you said, "You need to eat that corn. It's good for the baby." And then you said you already knew I was pregnant because of my voice on the phone a few days earlier. The knowing you have about everything drives me insane...yet it grounds me, here with you forever.

  • Life with you is never boring. I never know what you have planned for the day but almost always it's something I would not have thought of. Your love of adventure dragged me onto a train halfway across the country for vacation....and has master plans to drag me back for retirement to your blessed Chamberlain. I hope I like it there.

  • You see beauty in things I never can. Lining up cars and taking close up pictures of them on the carpet. Arranging decks of cards and playing dramatic music while videoing the whole thing....and then laughing your head off when your video's panning out just so happens to occur at the grand finale of whatever soundtrack you love at the moment.

  • Still you boss me around, but only when I need it. You give me room to grow and change, yet reel me in when I need some boundaries. I feel safe with you.

  • You love my heritage, carefully packing and unpacking the precious Ukrainian Easter Eggs my great-grandmother made, and gently reminding me that it's time to keep up my skill of pierogie-making to keep it in the family. Our home is filled with things that are precious to us but have little value to the rest of the world...and I like it that way.

  • When I first met you, you wore Jnco's to church instead of dressing up with the rest of us. You somehow convinced me that God didn't care what we were wearing and I became proud of your comfy flannel shirts and crazy wide leg jeans. I still think you'd look good in a pair of those....(I thought of this yesterday when I laughed at my jeans attire during church!)

  • You love me. And I love you. Forever. Thanks for never making me doubt it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's a new year, again.

It's fairly sad to say that I was too busy to make a New Years Resolution. But this year it was just too true. I have made myself a couple of goals here and there, which I would like to put here in writing for all 5 of you who read this blog...this way you can help encourage me in them.

  • I want to memorize the book of Ephesians. It might not all get memorized in 2012, but I'm going to try. I miss memorizing Scripture and I'm hoping that this will help keep my brain cells growing instead of dying the way these children seem to want them to.

  • I want to blog at least twice a month. My sis-in-law just got me re-motivated. (Thanks Shu!) Yes, Facebook is good for sharing/pictures/etc but since moving to AL I have hardly taken any pictures and I'm pretty sure I've never even hooked up my external hard drive with all the pics on it. Which leads me to the next one...

  • I HAVE to get more organized at home. Bills are getting paid on time but not filed, pictures taken but not sorted through, etc. Baby steps, I know.

  • Watch less TV. As my job slows down I find myself still coming home and plopping in front of the tv because I'm tired. My goal this year is to not have that be my default setting after the kids go to bed.

  • Spend more quality time with my love. Have a date night at least every 2 months...and maybe twice this year, spend a weekend with no kids. Have I mentioned how much we love being close to our families?

  • Grow out my hair. Doesn't seem like much of a goal, but this is an easy one to cross off my list.

  • Learn more recipes and get out of the same old same old recipe doldrums.

  • Actually hang some pictures and curtains in my 5 month new to me house.

  • Keep up with my "counting gifts" and being thankful.

Ok, well, I'd better get off this computer now and actually start some of this stuff! It's challenging because I don't have as much "free" time as I used to when I was at home all day. Not that I was working any less being at home but my time was my own. I could do laundry and learn Scripture at the same time, where as at work I am getting paid to work 100%. Maybe one day I'll get to be at home more.......too bad managers can't work 4 10-hr days!!