Friday, December 25, 2009

12.25.09

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Enjoying my family by our fire and warmly light tree.

Thanking my Heavenly Father for sending his blessed son to save the whole earth.

Praying for peace on earth and good will toward men.

Loving this season and all of the giving that I have witnessed.

Blessings!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving

As grateful as I am for my loving husband and my beautiful children this year I am most thankful for the ultimate peace that passes all understanding. Sadness and heartache have bitten my soul in this season of my life and the merciful hand of my loving God has held onto me and reassured me that He will never leave or forsake me. Human relationships will always let me down but the strength of the Lord will always prevail. I have recently come into contact with an atheist who is just downright bitter and I have to agree that I would be too if I had absolutely no faith in anything at all. I know that I would want to just curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep everynight if I could not pray to a God who heard my cries! And as amazing and complex as our human bodies are and can be, I just find it hard to believe that I have absolutely anything at all to do with sending peace over my whole body when I am uttering my petitions and requests to my savior. Time and time again a spirit of fear has been transformed into a spirit of calm peace.

So today I am thanking my precious savior for reaching down to this broken heart and putting the pieces right back together again and leading me to calm waters!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The "Fret-Train Express"



With all of the media hype I have found myself falling into the pit of worry about my children's health. Micah came down with a fever last night and Jonah had a low grade one today. My mind immediately began to race and panic set in as I envisioned the most horrible outcome imaginable happening to my precious ones. Because lets face it this whole H1N1 thing has driven people into a fearful, anxious state of mind and I have climbed right on board the "fret-train express"!!

In the blink of an eye I seem to discard all of my hope in my ever present help and I trade it in for a spirit of fear and anxiety. All too quickly I let the prince of this world suck me into this tunnel of worry!

And I know that is not where my God wants his child. I am His! Just like I don't want my little ones to panic or worry about getting sick, I know that my Heavenly Father wants me to rest assured on His everlasting promises. He has hidden His word in my heart for these very times and I have to admit that even though I know I should be, since I quit the Bible Quizzing team in 7th grade I haven't been much of a scripture memorizer.

But here are some verses that have helped me today:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind" 1st Timothy 1:7


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27


"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:27


"1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress"
Psalm 46:1-7

Monday, October 26, 2009

Running, Running, Running

What else is new? We have been going, going, going. My little sister had her beautiful wedding in the beginning of the month. The following weekend we had a tournament in Cleveland for Jonah's hockey team, which they won! (and I have to brag for a second that my sweet Jonah scored the winning goal of a shoot-out in the semi-final game!!!) On Mondays Micah and Jonah both have hockey practice at different times but the same rink, thankfully. On Tuesdays, I work an afternoon shift so that is a free night for Joe. On Wednesdays, Micah has hockey-On Thursdays, Jonah. Fridays are usually free and on Saturdays I work but Micah has hockey-so my wonderful hubby packs up the kids and takes him to his practice or game. Sundays are church and most of the time hockey does not interfere which is so nice for a change and Sunday evenings we have dinner at my in-laws.

Run, run, run. Lately, God has been helping me to cherish the down time that I do have. Today I took Ayla on a walk and gazed at the brilliant blue sky painted with several shades of crisp autumn leaves and took some time to slow down and thank my God for His creation and the beauty of it. I had a little bit of time to step back and breathe in a few moments of unhurried, quiet time. My heart is always racing and I am constantly thinking of what I need to do or what I haven't done and today I was reminded of God's peace in all of that. Once again I felt God's gentle voice urging me to let go of trying to control my life. If I can't trust Him in the little, menial things how in the world am I going to trust Him when my world comes crashing down all around me? I need to give Him everything! And maybe my run will begin to feel more like a slow, peaceful jog!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Tame Tongue

Next Saturday is my little sister's wedding. My family of five are all in it. The boys are going to be the ring bearers and Ayla is the flower girl. I'm doing Elizabeth's hair and Ayla's hair, of course, and giving a "matron of honor" speech at the reception. But those are the least of my concerns. I am singing a song at the ceremony and I have been hoarse since June. I thought it was my allergies, the same thing happened last year, but am realizing now that I must have strained my vocal chords somehow. Hmmm, maybe screaming at the hockey rink, or raising my voice at the kids, or talking over the blow-dryers at work, or just talking in general-which I happen to be REALLY good at! I gave my former voice coach a call this morning to give me some tips on what to do. She let me know that I have to rest my voice, like try not to talk, especially on the phone. What?? Me, not talk? Now that is a TALL order! What a lesson on taming my tongue!! Not only am I praying that God will heal my voice by the wedding but I have to do my part in this whole thing too!! Once again I find God pruning me through circumstances. This is going to be interesting!! Hey, at least I can blog!!! My fingers are still fine!

James 3:1-12
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.



All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt[a] water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Make New Friends (But Keep the Old)

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new school year for the boys. Micah is going to a new school and starting 1st grade. He has been very quiet and not at all enthusiastic about this new venture. You see Micah likes to do what Micah wants to do. He enjoys playing with his little action figures and slapping around the puck in the garage and shooting hoops, but on his time, and when he wants to. He doesn't like being told what to do and how to do it. (And I just don't know where he gets that from!!!) The last few days I have been trying to encourage and excite his little spirit about school. He told me that he doesn't want to go because, and I quote, "It's going to be so boring! I'm just going to have to sit around all day and listen to the teacher!" And yes he is only six years old!!!

So tonight I was putting him to bed and asked him if there was anything he wanted me to pray about. He asked me to pray that he wouldn't get his "card flipped" (behavior program that he knows about because of his big bro. Jonah) and that he would make new friends. And after I prayed for him, he asked me,

"Mommy, what if I don't have time to make new friends?"

And I let him know that he would have the whole school year to make friends and assured him that he would see his other friends who are going to be in different classrooms, etc.

But his little statement really got me thinking... Micah's little six-year old mind is concerned about relationships. His heart is in the right spot. He wants to make time to make friends. And it's at the top of his prayer list, (right after getting into trouble that is).

And again one of my children have taught me a lesson. A priority lesson on what's important in this life. A biblical lesson on caring more about having time to create connections that lead to deep and intimate relationships instead of worrying about all I have to do and what I haven't done. A lesson on making some time to make new friends.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Last Bit O' Summer











We had a great vacation! I am so thankful for blue skies and sunshine! One more week of summer left and I'm going to try to hold onto every bit of it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thankful in the Moment



The beginning of this month marked the one year anniversary of my blog. Last August Joe was gone training in New Jersey for his new job for the entire month. I can't believe that it's been a whole year ago already that Joe had to miss our family vacation. This weekend we will be leaving again for our week up north, only this year Joe gets to go! Yeah! I have completely taken it for granted that we are all able to go up as a family. I have been too busy complaining to myself about how the weather is going to be chilly and thinking about how we are just staying in a rustic cottage on an inland lake instead of our luxurious condo on beautiful Lake Michigan that we usually stay in.

How easily I forget how good I have it until I am reminded of how much worse it could be. And my worst isn't even bad, you know? Last year I met a woman who lost her husband a few years ago. He died unexpectedly while getting a minor surgery. She was left with a young baby girl and two boys who are all now, twelve, nine and four. She works and is very involved in all of her kids activities. She has to take care of her house and yard and everything, completely alone. Who am I to even complain, ever?

Today I am thankful. Thankful for my sweet babies and my loving husband. Thankful for an opportunity to take a relaxing vacation with all of them. Thankful for today, because only God knows what tomorrow holds!

Monday, July 20, 2009

This Isn't What We Had Planned...




Joe and I took the kids on a last-minute weekend getaway up north. I love it up there. I have been going to the same area every summer since I was 10 and Joe started coming up with my family when we were in high school. He absolutely loves it there too. Our boys definitely love going and Ayla is following in their footsteps. We enjoyed a couple of days at different beaches, exploring and looking for beloved Petoskey stones. Joe enjoys rock collecting almost more than the boys, I think. We ate good food and took in glorious sunsets. It was a much needed little trip.

On the car ride home, Joe and I started talking about how our life together has not turned out at all as we had anticipated it would. Not that it has turned out too shabby, just not what we expected. A lot of our plans that we had for ourselves and our children have pretty much crumbled to the ground. We always thought that we would have a cottage and take the kids up almost every weekend in the summer, spending our days exploring God's creation and our evenings singing songs around the campfire and roasting marshmallows. We wanted our kids to have a passion for music and the outdoors. We wanted to spend good quality time together, taking it easy and relaxing with each other as a family. We never wanted to run the rat-race of dragging our kids from one activity to another. We always wanted to sit down and eat dinner, all of us together, not scarfing down Happy Meals in the van with a DVD playing. I always said that I would NEVER be one of those crazy hockey moms!!

And here I am, not only a hockey mom, but a baseball mom and golf mom (is there even such a thing?). Joe and I definitely have a hectic, chaotic life together which is totally the opposite picture that we had in our minds before we had kids. And we are to blame. We are the ones who have signed up for this. Part of it is what feels comfortable. Joe grew up playing sports, that's what he knows. As a young married couple, we wanted to break the mold a little bit. Almost rebel, if you will, against the typical household in our city. But here we are running in our little wheel, trying to balance it all and by gosh, we aren't going to break a sweat, at least not enough for anyone else to notice. So we just keep trying to juggle it all, work, activities, commitments, obligations, sports, etc.

The question is, "Is this God's plan for our lives, or is it our plan?" Where does divine intervention intervene into our free will? Is this God's pre-chosen, pre-determined plan for my life and my family's lives or is it my doing? How did we end up here? I find myself reverting back to the Calvinistic doctrine that seems to have been taught to me most of my life and have to admit that I do think that our lives have been predestined to be where they are. If not, I am given way too much credit for choices and in that much more weight than I can bear. And I don't think that we are little pawns either, I'm not saying that. I just think that God's plan is much bigger than all of my little plans and He is going to do what He wants to, whether I'm on board or not. So maybe I should just stop questioning and jump on, even if it's not what I envisioned or much more chaotic than I would like!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Full Circle


Last year was probably the absolute busiest and most stressful years that Joe and I have faced since we have been married. Where should I begin? Lets see, in March, Joe started coaching Jonah's hockey team (thankfully we had someone step up as manager, but he had never done it before and Joe ended up co-managing as well.). In the beginning of April, I quit my job and opened up a salon/spa with my family that was a work in progress for over a year and had to be kept "top-secret" so that my sister and I could retain our clients and not lose our previous jobs. (No stress there, really) In the beginning of June, we both felt led to start attending a new church and leave our place of worship that we had called home for the previous seven years. In that same month, Joe made the decision to take a new job with a new company. This new job would be closer to home and an awesome opportunity but he had to attend training in New Jersey for the whole month of August. On top of the daily challenges of parenting young children; taxiing them to their activities, breaking up fights, kissing skinned knees, helping with homework, giving baths, tucking in, and the never ending piles of laundry and endless crumbs under the kitchen table, Joe and I were both trying to adjust to our new jobs. I started working more than I ever had since before Jonah and I don't regret it but it was just a little chaotic to say the least.

So anyways, we were a little busy, a little hard-pressed, if you will...
And everyone's busy. And we chose to busy ourselves. We do that, don't we? So I'm not complaining, just trying to explain my rationale behind why I haven't been able to really get too involved in my new church. I tried a few times and felt God pulling me back to my family and focusing on them, especially my children as my ministry. Yet there has been this small gnawing in my spirit for the past several months. And it is so cool how God has pulled this whole thing full circle.

I have had a little place in my heart for school-aged children since I was a young adult. I have to say "little" because after working in a summer day camp for 6-12 year olds the summer after I graduated high school, I decided that I really didn't want to be a teacher and pursued a completely different career, hence the hairdresser I am today. And looking back, I know full well that God had His hand on me in that decision. But I love kids. I love the crazy things that fly out of their mouths. I love their sweet innocent faces and their inquisitive nature. And as a mother I have grown in learning how to deal with and reason with little ones, so much more than I ever could at the young age of 18. Besides working with soloists for the Christmas plays at our previous church, I really didn't lead young children. Joe and I taught the high school Sunday school class and were more involved with singing and worship. So this is just totally a God-thing that I have finally felt the confirmation to volunteer in the kids church program.

Today was my first day. I woke up at 6:00am and that is completely abnormal for me. I am not a morning person. I was up very late last night too so it was REALLY abnormal. I was nervous. I was excited. I was nervous. To make matters worse, Micah almost started to cry just as we were going in and told me that he did NOT want me to work in his class. I asked him why and he replied,

"It's just embarrassing Mom, to have you in there."

Go figure. After the jitters wore off I can honestly say that I felt so "at home". I just felt like God was re-confirming in me my decision. It's so true that you really feel blessed when serving. And I have to admit that I really enjoyed the lesson. But it wasn't until tonight as I tucked the boys in and we were talking all about what they had learned at church that the Holy Spirit confirmed in me how this was just what God was pulling me toward. I was so much more equipped to engage with them in the conversation. I was able to refresh their minds and share with them so much more than usual. And I just think that it is so cool how after feeling so led to focus on my children as my ministry that God has opened up this opportunity for me to serve them even more and my church body all at the same time. Our God is so good. He has brought me full circle with this and for that I am entirely grateful.

Proverbs 22:6 (NASV)
Train a child up in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An American Soldier

My dad's older brother Gary joined the Marines at the peak of the Vietnam War. He wrote this letter to his pastor four and a half short months before he was killed. On this 4th of July I would like to honor his memory and thank him and every single soldier like him who has sacrificed his/her for the sake of our freedom.

24 Sept. 1967
Dear Rev. Jones,

You'll have to excuse me if I started this letter wrong, cause it's the first time to a man of the Gospel. I really don't know what to say, but I'll try anyway.

To get things straight, my name is Gary W. Holbrook, son of Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Holbrook, 2216 Grange Rd. Trenton. If you will remember I talked with you a few times before I left for Vietnam.

I guess that most people getting letters from the men in Vietnam, would like to know a little about what it's like over here. This is the way I think of Vietnam.

The mountains are beautiful even if they are Vietnam mountains, and the water in the rice paddies is so clear you can see yourself in them. The sun is like a great light that never ceases to let you know it's always on the job. And at night the beauty of this far eastern country is unexplainable. I guess you might say it's like one of Walt Disney's Kodak Colored Pictures. That's what Vietnam appears to be like. Only God and the men that are over here giving up their lives truly know what Vietnam is like. to them it is always hot, wet, muddy, and above all lonely. All the outward looks of beauty that pertain to Vietnam's landscape and Vietnamese people is just a falsehood which hides death or destruction behind every bush or from the vast low banks of the lonely green paddies. During the day when the sun is shining brightly above and sending life to this ever expanding vastness of green foliage and jungle terrain. The fighting man must be especially leery because from these beautiful grass lands and majestic jungles there are those who would take his life if given the chance.

During the night when all is still and peace seems all around you, (for Vietnam doth truly seem peaceful at night) once again you find the American fighting man awake and waiting, for during these hours of blissful peace and constancy is when the enemy takes advantage of our fighting men, for at these beautiful times he sometimes lets his mind wander back to his loved ones far across the ocean, he asks himself, "Is it all worth it, being over here amongst all this beauty which is only a front for death?" He asks himself, "Is the price of peace and happiness for his loved ones too dear to pay with his life?" All these questions and many more run through these brave young mens' minds and there is still the same answers with God on our side and us being a free people and believing in Him, He will stand by our side no matter what the price. For I'm an American fighting man and will do my best to serve my God and my country. And although Vietnam is truly beautiful, it is just as deadly and even more so lonely for the American fighting man. Well I guess that's enough of my philosophy about Vietnam.

Well Reverend, I guess there really isn't much more to say except that I'm pretty sure I am not the only one that has a strong and compassionate feeling for Nam and it's people. I would certainly appreciate it if you would pray for all of us over here, and maybe some Sunday you could give a sermon on Vietnam, so people can do a little more about it then just say, "Well Vietnam's way over there and I am over here." I believe they should be made to realize that there is a little of each of us over here living and dying to help us all free and save, for tomorrow the sun will surly shine on a free and God-fearing people. I will also send you my address in case there are a few people in the church that might want to write. Thank you very much for listening to my problems. I only hope God heard them as well.

L/Cpl. Gary W. Holbrook U.S.M.C.

P.S. Feel free to tell others what I wrote, maybe it will give them a better understanding of what goes on over here.


Some final thoughts,
I hate war. I was always taught that it is a necessary evil, and maybe it is. The pacifist side of myself is totally against it yet the logical side of myself deems it as justifiable. Hopefully, one day God will answer all of the questions I have on the issue. But just like during Vietnam, I do believe that we need to pray for each and every soldier fighting for us, even if we don't agree with it. Just as my uncle cherished every prayer uttered on each American soldier's behalf, I think our troops today would as well. So will you join me in praying for our soldiers?

Happy Independence Day!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Daddy




I really couldn't ask for a better father for my children. Joe is absolutely AMAZING with them. Just before I was about to have Jonah, he told me that he was going to spend special time with him everyday. And even when life gets hectic and chaotic, I have to say, Joe takes time each and everyday to give each one of our little ones quality "daddy-time". Whether it be playing catch, roller-blading, looking at baseball/hockey cards or painting Ayla's nails, he makes every effort to be with them on a daily basis.

Remember the song "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin?

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then


Joe never wanted to be like the man in that song. I am so thankful to my heavenly Father for my better half who gives 110% of himself to our kiddies. They are so blessed to have a daddy who not only loves to be with them but also is extremely patient with them as well. His love is unquestionable. And even now, I believe that Jonah and Micah have a respect for their daddy and such a good example of a father.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Living in the Now

Today marks the first day of the last week of school for the boys. As excited as I am about summer, I have been super emotional. How quickly they grow!!!! In the fall, Jonah will be in third grade and Micah will start first grade at the same school. I am not nearly as nervous as I was when Jonah started first grade but I am sad.

See, change and I, well we don't go together too well. All three times that we have moved I have mourned over our previous dwellings. The last move was the worst, I was a complete mess. I was the last one in the house vacuuming the basement and dusting the floors and just sobbing my brains out. I stopped by my mom's house afterward and she thought that somebody passed away. I couldn't even talk because I was crying so hard! And it's the memories that I was going to miss, not the actual house.

I tend to hold onto the past and worry about the future, instead of living in the moment. I'm working on this. I'm trying to live in the now and enjoy each minute of the day, TODAY. Guilt is such an ugly trap that I am sick of being stuck in. What I didn't do right or how I should have done something different. So instead of beating myself up and having a pity party right now, I'm going to go and tuck my little ones into bed and cherish every moment! (...because all too soon, they won't want back-scratches and goodnight kisses!!!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Miracles


Micah turned six last Thursday. I still am having trouble wrapping my mind around how fast the years fly by. The first couple years of his life are a little bit blurry. The boys are two years and five months apart and I did feel slightly insane dealing with the terrible twos and a new baby who wasn't extremely difficult or anything but literally came out of the womb coughing. And because he struggled with lung-issues, he was always fussy and constantly wanted to be held. But I have to admit, I enjoyed holding him, all of the time. After we had Ayla, my mom informed me that she never even remembered holding Micah because he always wanted me. (Didn't remember that, must have been a bit blurry too.) Around the eighth month of his life, I took him to the doctor's office and told him that I knew something was wrong because Jonah never sounded like the penguin (Wheezy) on Toy Story and Micah did. From that day on, Micah has been on some sort of asthma medication. Joe and I have gone back and forth through the years. We would try one med. and then take him off after a couple of months because we were worried about the side effects. Thankfully, we have medicine readily available but I really can't stand pumping his little body full of it. Watching my son struggle with this sickness has tested my faith, in God, more than any other issue in my life that I can think of. Countless nights, he has waken up coughing, violently, sounding like an old man who had horrible bronchitis. On numerous occasions throughout his young life, I have cried out to my God, "Why? Why Lord, don't you heal my little boy? Don't I have enough faith?" One night we took Micah to a healing service at out church and had hands laid upon him and people were praying over him for God to intervene. And I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we were up with him all night giving him Albuterol treatments because his symptoms worsened.

In my opinion, there is nothing more horrible, as a mother, than watching your child suffer. How I longed, long for my Lord to make him better, completely. Hundreds and hundreds of prayers have been uttered from my lips. For some reason, my God chooses not to take this completely away from Micah. Being completely honest, I am not sure why but I do know that He CAN miraculously heal him, if He so chooses.

I have witnessed miracles in my life time. My little sister, Elizabeth, was born with "low muscle tone". That was the diagnosis after much testing. She didn't role over until she was 13 months old and never crawled. Instead she would sit with her little legs like a frog and scoot around the floors of our home. A therapist came to our house once or twice a week and she was in a special program with other children who couldn't walk or were physically disabled in some way. At the time, my mom was a brand new Christian and she tells me that she actually experienced "the peace that passes all understanding" when praying for Elizabeth. She envisioned her in a wheel chair, playing the piano (...my little sister is an extremely gifted musician who happens to play the piano and sing and write music, amazingly!). Even if she never walked, my mom had this PEACE, but she did pray that Elizabeth would walk before she turned two, if she was going to. Two weeks before her 2nd birthday, my baby sister took her first step. The doctors and therapists couldn't explain it. But we could, and we did. My mom's response to any inquisition was always, "It was a miracle. I believe that God healed her." I know He heals. I know He can.

Right around the same time, my mom was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and had been for a long time. My mom tells us that she loved smoking. She loved sipping a cup of coffee in one hand and smoking a cigarette in another. I distinctly remember her pack of Marlbolo reds on the table next to the ashtray. She would never buy more than one at a time. Every morning my dad would drive up to the gas station down the street and pick up her pack for the day. So, my mom had been praying to God. She told Him that she didn't want to quit smoking, she told Him that she loved it, and that if He wanted her to quit, that He would just have to take it away from her. I don't know how long my mom prayed this prayer, but I do remember her one morning, in her green bathrobe in our little living room, and my dad standing at the door letting her know that he was going to go up and get her cigarettes, and my mom telling him that she didn't need them, because she wasn't going to smoke anymore. She hasn't touched a cigarette since that very day and when people asked her how she did it, her response always is the same, "I didn't quit, God took smoking away from me." And I believe He did. I know He did. I know He is able.

I know that God uses circumstances in people's lives for reasons. My mom was a young believer when these amazing miracles occurred. Her own personal faith in Him increased as well as others' around her. This childlike faith is attainable, I know that because I had it. I was three years old when my baby sister was born, five when she walked, I remember it, I lived it. Thinking back on this now, I am so grateful that our Lord was magnified in so many ways that were oblivious to me as a child.

And I can't even try to figure out why, why God chooses to do the things he does and doesn't do, and honestly, I don't even have a desire to know why. What I do know and have been reminded of tonight, is that my Lord is the one in charge. Everything big and small is in His hands. And it's not all about me and my little family and my little world. It's about Him and He is the Most magnificent miracle to have ever existed or that will ever exist. He is the Alpha and Omega, He is I AM and I want everyone, everywhere to know that HE IS LOVE. His love is deeper than the deepest ocean and higher than the highest mountain peak. And right now I want to thank Him for miraculously intervening and revealing His deep, deep love to me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Forty Degree Drop



On Monday our skies were blue and the sun was shining at a hot 82 degrees. Micah and Ayla were illustrating beautiful chalk drawings on the warm cement. People were everywhere,in their summer attire, walking dogs and riding bikes. The kids were even asking me to take them swimming and begging me to let them have water balloon fights. The very next day my thermometer read a bleak, 46. All I can say is, "ONLY IN MICHIGAN!!!" Only in Michigan, can the temperature plummet almost forty degrees overnight!

And of course, I started thinking about this drop...
And of course, I started thinking about it in more ways than one...

It could be any day, I could go to church and the worship was awesome or in Bible study I become deeply inspired to allow God to mold me in a new way. Sometimes it happens when I am gazing at my precious babies as they sleep and look so angelic or when He paints the sky with such magnificent shades that I can't help but stand in awe. I plan out how I'm going to change or what steps I'm going to take to draw closer to my Lord and feel really on top of my game. I feel God holding me in His arms shedding his unfathomable grace upon me and I really FEEL it. You know? I take it all in and I repent and truly feel His forgiveness and promise Him that I am really going to change certain things in my life this time with honest sincerity.

And then, I wake up the next day and seem to feel forty degrees different. The feelings of exhilaration that engulfed me the day prior become bleak and cold. Back in the mundane grind, I sludge through the day ignoring all of my promises that were straight from my previous joyful heart that has suddenly turned quite muddy. I feel thousands of miles away from my God who I felt, just yesterday cradling me in the palm of His hand.

And I know it's me and not Him. I know He is right there. It's just that I can't FEEL Him and it seems as though forty degrees separate us-God and me. And I long to FEEL Him, really FEEL Him again.

Up and down...back and forth...flesh against spirit...day to day...LIFE...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unity


Last Wednesday night we drove down to visit some beloved friends in Marietta, Georgia. We really enjoyed our time together and it was so nice to spend a few days catching up, while our seven kids (combined) played hard! We spent Easter attending the church that our friend is now on staff at, and went out for a yummy dinner. The message was really good and the service was amazing.

Their church is huge and there is a full orchestra and choir and drama team that were all involved throughout the service. The church is very well established and seems to have been around for quite a while. We are attending a totally different type of church at the present time where you are out of place if you don't have on your blue jeans and if you don't like loud rock music, you probably wouldn't care for our place of worship. So the two churches are almost as opposite as can be, yet they both preach the same gospel.

Isn't it crazy how like churches, we, as believers in Christ can be so different from one another, yet worship the same God? From our choices in clothing and the way we decorate to the way we discipline our kids and our political views. From differing opinions on interpretation of scripture, (eternal security, the tribulation, speaking in tongues, etc) to varying denominations.

So much of the time, I want everyone to think just like me. I have a hard time accepting people's views on certain issues if their views differ too much from mine and what I think is biblical or whatever. I am not talking about the essentials, here. (The Apostle's Creed is my favorite statement of belief on that matter). I am talking about non-essentials and staying united in Christ with one another even though we don't agree completely with one another on every single stinking issue!! Wherever there is division, I believe, gives Satan a foothold. So tonight, I just wanted to get that off of my chest and hopefully, into my heart.

"In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity (or love)"
St. Augustine

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sweet Ayla



I posted this 6 years ago today....



Today my precious baby girl turned 2 years old! (yesterday we had her little party and she was definitely the little "belle of the ball") Memories of her birth flooded my mind all day as I played with her and held her and just stared into her beautiful blue eyes. I am so thankful to God for my darling girl.

When I found out that I was pregnant with her, Joe was convinced that we would be having twin boys. I didn't believe the ultrasound technician when she told me it was a girl. We actually had five confirmations through ultrasound and I still didn't believe it until moments after her birth in the delivery room. My pregnancy was very similar to the other two except that I was more nauseous with her than I was with the boys. After going for my 20 week ultrasound appointment my doctor informed me that the radiologist detected that her brain ventricles were "mildly prominent" and that she had a choroid plexus cyst. He told me not to worry but to schedule a level three ultrasound and to make sure my appointment had the genetic counselor there as well. The hospital could not get me in for three weeks. I was in agony. I was so worried about my baby and could do nothing but wait and pray. Of course I googled and looked up everything I could on the internet about this condition which only scared me all the more. Everything from developmental delays to hydrocephalus popped up. I remember specifically one evening when I was crying to Joe about how upset and worried I was and he looked at me with a wisdom that I never before had seen in his eyes and said,

"If God chooses to give us a special needs child, He will. He has a reason for everything and if it's His will, it's His will and it won't change the love I have for her already, as a matter of fact I'll probably love her even more!"

He had this reassuring peace and strength that I did not have. I remembering blaming myself for wanting a girl so badly and thinking this is what I get for wishing for her.

Before I got pregnant with Ayla, a friend from church came up to me and asked me when I was having my little girl. I was like What? How do you know I'll have a girl? She told me that she had envisioned my Joe, the boys and me with a little girl standing in front of a church and she had a feeling that I was going to have a girl one day. ...a couple of months later, Ayla was conceived... So after finding out about Ayla's condition, I ran up to her at church and in between sobs managed to explain what was wrong. She laid hands on me and prayed with me and as soon as she did, I felt this peace just come over me. That sick feeling in my stomach disappeared and I was at ease. At that moment, my faith grew more than it ever had before. I knew there was a God. The "God who sees me" saw me right then and there! So many people were praying for my baby. They were praying for God's healing and for His will at the same time.

So the weeks past and I went to my appointment. The genetic counselor wanted to be in the room and the technician scanned me and looked me straight in the face and said ,

"Her brain ventricles are completely normal and there is no cyst."

I started bawling my eyes out! I was so relieved! The doctor came in and scanned me and said it was probably an error. He said that they probably measured the wrong area of the brain. I thought, maybe...or maybe, just maybe...God performed a miracle and healed my baby. Why? I don't know why. All I know is that my God, "El Elyon": the Name, is the God who sees me. He hears my cries and calms my fears. He is Jehovah, God and through His precious son chose to give me life and I will forever praise his most holy name!

Lord, today as I celebrate the birth of my sweet Ayla, I thank you for hearing my cries and calming my fears. Thank you for my precious girl. May her life continue to be a testimony of your grace to an unbelieving world.

And today she turned 8...our sweet girl has blessed us more than words can say. She is passionate, kind and determined. I love watching her grow in God's love and grace...She truly is our little miracle.. My friend, Deb, who prayed over her that Sunday so many years ago has now gone to be with Jesus. She's not with us anymore but her prayer of faith lives on in my precious girl. I think of her often but remember her especially on Ayla's birthday.  I am still encouraged by her boldness to step out in faith even when it wasn't natural. She listened to God's voice in her life and obeyed. May I be 
able to trust and obey Him in that same way, even when it's out of my comfort 
zone. 

I pray the same for my darling girl... 





Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring...well almost


Spring is almost here!!

Today I am thanking God for:

-the sunshine and the chirping birds

-the sound of Micah's street hockey stick scraping the cement of our driveway

-Ayla's sweet little voice asking to ride on her bike

-sweatshirts instead of coats

-time with Micah to make mac and cheese from scratch (at his request)

-that today is the first day of Spring Hockey (yes I am actually thankful...more on that next post...)



Oh the anticipation of SPRING...

Maybe we will actually have one this year instead of going from winter to summer, here in Michigan, like most years!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wedding Dresses


My little sister is getting married in October. Recently, I went with my mom, her and her fiance to sample the food at the place they are considering to have their reception. The chef brought us out appetizers to try and I felt like we were on the Food Network or something, it was so much fun! I love helping her plan the wedding and she is totally NOT a "bridezilla" but I think I am being one for her! She is so practical and I am so traditional, it's funny how different the two of us are, but we have been having a blast and I just love the whole wedding thing!

We have gone out looking for Elizabeth's wedding dress a couple of different times. There are so many options. Satin or silk, beaded or plain, bustle or train, off the shoulder or strapless, straight or flare. Choices, choices! We have found one that she really likes, but she's not 100% sure it's "the one" yet.

Shopping for bridal gowns has reminded me of a song by Derek Webb (now solo, formerly with Caedmon's Call). Bear with me as I take this post in a whole different direction. I don't know if any of you can relate at all, but these lyrics just really touch an ugly but honest side of my sinful self that I really do struggle with.

The Wedding Dress

If you could love me as a wife,
and for my wedding gift, your life
Should that be all I ever need
Or is there more I'm looking for

And should I read between the lines
and look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich and wise
Is that really what you want

I am a whore I do confess
I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle
I'm a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you

So could you love this bastard child
though I don't trust you to provide
with one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side

I am so easily satisfied
with the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
over your very flesh and blood

Because money cannot buy
a husband's jealous eye
When you have knowingly deceived his wife

Pretty shocking words, offensive words, I know. Unfortunately, I can relate to many of the comparisons that he is making in the song. As the Lord compares the nation of Israel in Ezekiel 16 to a prostitute because of their sin and detestable acts that they took part in, I am explicitly reminded of my own sinful acts and unrighteousness.

I'll never forget the feeling that overcame me when I saw "The Passion" for the first time. I was weeping uncontrollably and was literally stuck with my face into the rug on my living room floor because I felt the weight of my sin, my shame, in a way that I never had before. I felt completely and utterly unworthy to be called a child of God. I believe that the Holy Spirit allowed me to experience that burden of uncleanliness and ungodliness for a purpose and for that I am extremely grateful. God put me in my place and Him in His place, if you know what I mean. And even though I am unfaithful, my Redeemer is faithful, Praise His Holy Name! And even when I question how God could call me His child, He still does!

John 8:34-36
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

Please forgive me Lord for not completely submitting my whole life to you. Thank you for your freedom, help me to accept it and help me Lord to live for you, not for me.

In closing, I'll leave you with a quote that Beth Moore gave in her Esther Bible study.

An excerpt from "The Queen and I" by Ray Stedman:
"When, because of your faith, your life too becomes perceptibly different; when your reactions are quite opposite to what the situation seems to call for and your activities can no longer be explained in terms of your personality; that is when your neighborhood will sit up and take notice. In the eyes of the world, it is not our relationship with Jesus Christ that counts; it is our resemblance to Him!"









Friday, March 6, 2009

Hockey, Hockey!



Two hockey posts in a row. I just had to share these pictures. We had the Mother/Mite game last Saturday also and even though the long blond hair may resemble me, I hope you can tell that is Joe dressed up to help the moms win against the boys. It was so cute! And as you can see, my mom played for me. Jonah thought it was the coolest thing to have his grandma playing against him. The boys still won by many goals even though we made them play with their sticks upside down, mini-sticks, brooms, even and even huge dog bones at one point. We all had a riot and if you have to know why I did not participate, well hockey is definitely not my forte and my competitive mom was just waiting on the sidelines to step in. She used to joke around with Joey about how if she played hockey her whole life like him, she could beat him! Ha Ha!! Needless to say we had a blast!
...and Grandma scored!! Of course she would!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Say What You Think!


We're going to the JOE! ...That is the Joe Louis Arena. Jonah's hockey team made it to the Championship game. They won the semi-final game on Saturday. We all were so proud and excited! Jonah got the first goal and ended up getting the game puck. Afterwards in the locker room he was so excited that he could hardly contain himself. He stood up on the bench and asked for everybody's attention so he could make an announcement. (This isn't unusual for my Jonah, he is always announcing something in the locker room) He said something along the lines of how he was the number one player of the game and let everyone know who numbers two and three were as well. One of the other little boys on the team told me that Coach Joe (otherwise known as my hubby) told him to be quiet and sit down.

Tonight was Micah's first hockey game. He has played scrimmages before and been practicing all year, but this was the first game against another team. He was born in '03, so he will be considered a mini-mite this spring. They only play on half of the ice and three on three. Micah was tearing it up out there tonight! He got 8 goals and one assist, and played goalie for two of the shifts in between all of that! Jonah was screaming in the stands,

"Oh my gosh, he got two hat tricks, OH MY GOSH!"

Micah comes off of the ice, after and lets me know immediately and extremely loudly,

"MOM, I'M THE STAR! I GOT 8 GOALS AND 1 ASSIST!!! I'M THE BEST ONE ON MY TEAM!!"

Oh let me tell you, I was shushing him all the way to the locker room. I whispered in his ear,

"SHH! I know you did really good, but the other kids did really good too!"

"But mom, you tell me I'm the star when we're at home. Daddy and you tell me I'm the best!"

"I know, but you shouldn't say it in front of the other kids!"

And, so, that's where I'm at tonight, TORN. How do I encourage my kids and build up their self-esteem, yet teach them humility all at the same time without confusing their little 5 and 8 year old minds? (and how do I get it through their heads to STOP BRAGGING??) Kids, at least my kids, are so honest. They are just "out there" with their feelings and really don't always understand how to take others' feelings into account. I guess I could really learn a little something from them because I worry too much about what other people think. ...But I know there is a happy-medium somewhere. (I just don't want my kids to be THAT KID that nobody wanted to be around or play with because he or she was such a bragging brat!)

Guess I'll just have to "let go and let God".



*I know that I have written before about how sweet and compassionate Jonah is, and HE IS! He is extremely aware of other children's feelings, most of the time. That being said, he unfortunately has inherited his mother's "speak before you think" problem. ...and Micah, well he's 5, need I say more?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Humble Pie...Anyone?

Have you ever had a day when multiple situations and or people pointed you in a certain direction? Today was one of those days...

First it started off this morning at church when my pastor specifically pointed out these cards that he put in the bulletins with little prayers for each day of the first week of Lent. Today we were supposed to pray for a humble heart. Next to the caption was James 4:6 (God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble). After I read it I thought to myself how it was such good advice and kind of placed it on the back-burner of my mind.

This evening I was "venting" to my little sister about a situation and she said to me,

"Emily, I know you don't want to hear this right now, but you should be the bigger person and humble yourself in this situation..."

Those words were not exactly the ones I wanted to hear when I was up on my high horse and filled with just a little bit of...dare I say the word, PRIDE? The verse I had read earlier did pop up into my mind and I backed off a tad with my anger, but of course not totally.

After I hung up I decided to catch up on some of my bible study on Esther (Beth Moore). BAM! There it was again, right in my face, word after word about honoring myself and my own "presumptions and entitlements". She had us look up verse after verse about honoring oneself and asked us to relate it to ourselves. Reading these scriptures really hit a sore spot,

Phillipians 2:3-4
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Easier said than done, I KNOW! But for some reason, I am being smacked over the head with all of this humility stuff today. Maybe I need to choke down some pride and bite back my words that are on the tip of my tongue and do the complete opposite of what I REALLY want to do! (...an especially hard thing to do when I KNOW I'M RIGHT!) This whole excercising my faith thing is a lot harder than I thought!

Humbly I'll end with this very interesting verse that also just happened to be in my homework today,

John 7:18
He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth, there is nothing false about him.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Change

Heard a song by Tracy Chapman on my favorite satellite radio station "Coffeehouse" the other day. I had to come home and download it off of i-tunes. The opening stanza immediately caught my attention with her deep melancholy voice singing,

"If you knew that you would die today,
saw the face of God and love,
would you change?
would you change?"

What a great question! What would I be doing differently?

If I knew that today would be the last day of my life on this earth, would I live it for me or for Him?

How would I change?

Good question! Makes me think...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Toning Up

So tonight I went to my first kick-boxing class ever. A couple of girls from work have been going and I decided to try it out. I haven't exercised in months and am extremely uncoordinated so I really don't know what I was thinking except that I want to get into shape and tone up. So right before it was time for me to leave, I told Joe how I wasn't sure that I should go, maybe I could just do my pilates video (actually my pregnancy pilates video even though my baby is going to turn two next month and I am NOT expecting). I was looking for an excuse not to go and I thought that he would discourage me and want my help with the kids or whatever...Well of course, he did not. He just gave me a look that said, "Stop stalling and GO!" So out the door I went and the panic kicked in as soon as I shut the car door. Believe it or not I have some social anxiety issues, especially when florescent lights and sweat are involved. My heart was pounding so hard that I'm sure everyone could hear it when I walked in. And wouldn't you know it my friends just happened to be absent! OF COURSE!

So the music begins and we start jabbing (mind you I don't even know how to make a proper fist...what was I thinking?) and bouncing and I start to see stars and begin to feel my head spinning. I don't know if I am just completely and utterly in the worst shape of my life or if it was my nerves or a combination of the two. I am thanking the Lord in heaven above right now that I did not pass out! I actually got through the whole session (with a few extra water breaks). I felt like I ran a marathon afterwards and thought that I was going to toss my cookies on the ride home, but the sense of accomplishment was grand!

Starting to tone up my physical body has got me thinking about my soul's well being. How much have I been exercising my faith and am I doing it halfheartedly or full-force? Am I just going through the motions or am I giving 100% of my heart to it? And why am I so afraid to take the next step and "just do it"? Maybe it's because I'm afraid that I'm not going to do it right. Maybe it's just pure laziness or maybe, it's a little of both.

Whatever my reasons, I need to get off of my spiritual rump and move forward in my faith. I need to stop making excuses and start exercising it in new ways. I know that it is going to be uncomfortable and it might even hurt. There usually is pain in any type of growth but the reward will far outweigh the minor injuries, I'm sure. So I'm going to start "toning up" tonight in more ways than one. Hopefully I won't give up in the next few days when my muscles start to throb. Hopefully I won't quit when God starts to mold this hunk of clay into a beautiful new shape.

Toning up is never easy, but I think it will be worth it!

(...and bear with me through this version of these verses, I think it's really worth it!!)

2 Peter 1:5-8 (Amplified Bible)
For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),

And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness, (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),

And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.

For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Time for February

We have been freezing and drudging through mounds of snow this winter in Michigan. I heard that we already surpassed the average snowfall accumulation that we typically get in a whole winter, weeks ago. It seems as soon as the sidewalks and driveways have a chance to be cleared, we get dumped on again. The weather has been getting to me because I cannot stand to be couped up in the house. Yesterday we enjoyed some cherished sunshine and warmer temperatures so Ayla and I took full advantage of the nice day and headed out to the park. She loves to visit the duckies. As soon as she saw them, she pointed them out and in a giggly voice said,
"Look, I see the duckies! They're swimming! The duckies are hot!"

How I wish the duckies were hot. I wish it was the middle of summer and we were swimming in the river (Well, maybe not the Detroit River, but some type of water...)!
But there is a time and season for everything and God is right up above us orchestrating it all, even the frigid Michigan weather. And it sure does make me appreciate a 40 degree sunny day!

Ecclesiastes 3:1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Evidences of Faith

Joe and I rented "Henry Poole is Here" (Luke Wilson) last night. Without giving the movie away, it basically was about a man who refused to believe or have faith even though there were living proofs of miracles that surrounded him and they were happening right in his own backyard! After we watched it I started thinking about my personal faith and hope.

Hebrews 11:1 popped into my head this morning. Since I am no bible scholar, I won't even attempt to dissect the verse but here are some different translations:

-Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.(NIV)

-Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen.(NKJ)

-Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(NASB)

-Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.
(Contemporary English)

-Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we
cannot see.(New Life)

-Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
(Holman Christian Standard)

-Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means
being certain of the things we cannot see (J.B. Philips)

-Now faith is the assurance (confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope
for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality
[faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. (AMP)


Today what am I hoping for and putting my full confidence and certainty in? Is it in my comfortable American lifestyle? Is it in the well being of my children? My husband? How I look? How I feel? Will these temporary flashes of happiness give me peace when my world comes crumbling down around me? When a job is lost or a life endangered? Of course not.

It's not forgetting when the kids are healthy and the job secure.

It's not forgetting in the middle of the rat race.

It's not forgetting when I'm packing three lunches and frantically grabbing hats and backpacks every morning.

It's not forgetting in the mundane things.

Faith to me, right now, is daily consciously being aware of what I am hoping for and holding onto what in my humanness are "small" proofs of a real God that really aren't so "small" when I really think about it. Here are some of those little reminders,

-Hearing my sweet Ayla say, "I love you Mama"

-Watching my precious boys forgive one another

-Gazing at a wondrous sunset

-Quietly feeling the peace of God enter into my soul after the children are sound asleep

The list could go on and on...

Evidences of faith...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

His Princess


Today is a new day and I am going to make the most of it. My sweet Ayla and I have had a good one so far and have been having tons of fun playing in her bedroom that we finally finished decorating over the weekend. I love having my little girl, she is such a princess. The boys adore her and there aren't words enough to express the place that she holds in her daddy's heart. I am so overprotective of her. Don't get me wrong, I am with the boys too, but with her it's different. I don't know if it's because she is my last baby or just because...

Today I have been thinking about how I am my heavenly Father's princess. I am his heir with an inheritance waiting for me that my human mind can't fathom. His love for me is beyond measure. He loves me more than I could ever imagine loving my sweet little Ayla. I am my beloveds' and He is mine because he holds a banner of love right over my life. I have been fortunate enough in my life to have a wonderful earthly father. He is the most generous person I have ever met and when it comes to his three daughters, he would drop anything to come running to our sides when we are in need of him. I am so blessed to have a godly father, but my Heavenly Father can love me with true Godly love because He is Love. He is perfect and knows how to perfectly love me and what is so ironic about it is that despite all of my shortcomings and all of my faults, He still loves me, no matter what because in Romans 8:38-39 we are told that,

"...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."(NKJV)

The beginning of those two verses starts out with,

"For I am persuaded..." (New King James Version)

"For I am convinced..." (New International Version)

And for me that is the question. Am I totally and utterly persuaded that God loves me and nothing can take it away? Am I completely convinced of this? Being brutally honest I have to admit that I am not, at least some of the time. In order for me to remember this fact all of the time, I have to consciously remember His faithfulness to me in different circumstances of my life. And I am not saying that things in these instances necessarily turned out the way that I wanted them to, but looking back I know that God was faithful. He was in control, even when it didn't feel like it at the time. Just like we have to discipline our children sometimes, and it hurts because they are sad or upset, but we do it because we love them and in my lowly human flesh I cannot imagine anything being able to take away the love I have for my children. Again, how much more my God loves me!

How can I not believe that I am His "little princess" when He loved me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me so I could become an heir of His, adopted into His royal family.

So today I am remembering. I am remembering my Father's hand in my life, and how much he has and continues to shower me with His unfailing love.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Mess

When we moved into our new house just over a year ago, I made a pact with myself that I was going to turn over a new leaf and keep a tidy house. I had no excuse now because we had so much more room and ample storage. The people who lived here previously kept the home absolutely immaculate to say the least. Picture this with me, a three-car garage with a finished floor and workshop area, but nothing, I mean NOTHING in it!!! So when we moved in, everything was in tip-top shape to say the least. We turned the key to open up the door for the first time and walked into this shiny wood floor, potpourri smelling house that would never, EVER look this good again and I felt like I had to keep it nice out of respect or something. The first week we were in here, Micah tore off this plastic trim piece that held the wall paper onto the corner of the walls and tore off sections of the wall paper with it and that was the first step to the downhill spiral of my messy house. (You'll never guess what the trim piece became...a lightsaber of course!)

As I have mentioned before, I struggle with this problem of keeping a tidy house. I get sick and tired of straightening up and constantly putting things away. When company comes over, I have a bad habit of shoving everything into the cupboards, drawers and closets and dread opening them back up because it reminds me of how unorganized I am and just gets me in a bad mood. I constantly have a burden hanging over me about my unorganized house and my unorganized life and I feel like a hamster running in his little wheel going nowhere yet running really fast and wasting a ton of energy for no reason at all.

So I got to thinking about this whole concept and it so relates to my life. My little family is on the go, on the run, if you will. Joe and I have fallen into the trap and just keep on going! We pile up all of our dirty-laundry and toss it in a pile and throw it in the closet because we don't have time or make time to deal with it. And when I think about all of the issues that need to be addressed, it overwhelms me, like my messy house, so I just put it off and keep piling it up. I don't want to start to dig into the junk out of fear of what I might find and just plain laziness. It seems so much easier to deal with it later. Yet when I shove my "stuff" around and push it all aside behind closed doors, it just sits there, piling up, until one day it comes busting through and spilling out because there is no more room left.

I want to begin to pick at it. I just need to take that first step and not look up at the huge mess because I know that it will take a while to work through. I need to stop living such a reactive life and become more proactive, especially in my relationships with my husband and my kids. And I am going to try not to be so hard on myself because I will make more little messes along the way, I just need to trust in my God to help me clean them up.

As far as the messy house goes, I've realized that I need to stop worrying and start living. I need to stop beating myself up about it. I need to start enjoying my children right in the middle of their MESS!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Anxious Prayers

A few days ago I found out that a very good friend of mine who has been trying for a very long time to become pregnant is with child. Our God is so good. He is so faithful and I am so thankful that my friend is experiencing pregnancy. Would you join me in praying for her? Her name is Amy and she has been a life-long friend of mine. I am praying that God will grant her the peace that passes all understanding as she goes through these next several months.

The peace that passes all understanding...

How I long for that. So much of the time I am anxious about EVERYTHING, instead of presenting my concerns up to God with prayer and supplication.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about when I was pregnant the very first time with Jonah. Two very important people in my life are expecting right now and I am thinking about them often and remembering my pregnancies, but for some reason I only remember the first time clearly (probably because I was busy taking care of other children the other times and couldn't really think about myself). Thankfully there weren't any complications, I just got to experience the miracle of housing another human being inside of me for nine months and I really wasn't concerned at all...that was, until he was born. After Jonah arrived here, I became a germophobic, panic-stricken, worry wort of a mother. I was so worried all of the time about my precious baby. I became obsessive about people getting him sick and when he was sick, I was sick to my stomach with worry!! I joke around with my friends and family and tell them that I didn't become a type A personality until I had kids, and it's the truth! Looking back on this I realize how God used this thorn to turn me to Him. I think I would have lost it, if I didn't have my faith and God has increased my faith and continues to do so through my children and their circumstances. Until I became a mom, I didn't ever realize how completely and utterly powerless I am as a human being. How could I, or how can I go through life without holding onto my God? I couldn't! Call me weak, Say I need a crutch, and I will agree! I am desperate. I need my God. I could not live one day without His unfailing love.

So that's where I am right now.

Powerless.

Weak.

In Need.

Reaching out to a God who reached His loving hand down for me.

Waiting on Him and knowing that He again will fill me with the peace that passes all understanding.

Praising Him in advance for all that He will continue to do in my life and the lives of those I love!