Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Living Life Small

"Out of the mouths of babes" so the saying goes... or something like that...

Don't they crack you up sometimes, those little ones?  Thank God that they can do that, right?  Because the Lord, He, also knows how often they can make the blood boil in us parents.  But I have to share Ayla's latest line.  We were at my mother in law's for Sunday dinner and she was sitting on the landing putting on her shoes to go home.  Her cousin's miniature labradoodle, Bauer, was sitting next to her.  My sister-in-law was standing over them and asked Ayla, 

"Is Bauer your buddy?"

She replies "Yes" and looks at the dog and up at her aunt and shrugs her shoulders and says,

"It must be really strange living life so small like that..."

And even now I chuckle thinking about her little voice uttering those words...

I am humored but at the same time in awe of what a six year old brings to my attention.

How much of my life is spent up on my high horse?  Quick to guard my ego and lash a rebuttal.  Or how often do I stand tall on my pedestal?  Gazing down hard at those underneath where I have arrived or thought I have arrived in my arrogance that sometimes hides behind a false religion or legalism.  I might as well be hurling stones at those below on the ground outside of my comfortable box... 

What if I decided to live life really strange and jump down off of the high road falling hard on the ground beneath me bent over on my hands and knees?

There may be some bruising even some scrapes that draw blood...

My pride will wound me and it will hurt I am sure...

But how really strange life would be for those around me and myself and most importantly the kingdom of Heaven if I started living life small like that.  Because last I heard, Jesus carried his cross down the road to the place where he was brutally crucified...and I don't think he was riding a high horse or standing proud on his pedestal but rather he was bent over in humility and grace.  And in turn His sacrifice would become the greatest gift ever given to us.   

How beautifully strange living life so small can be!


  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

Go:
Laundry and I , we don't go together too well...I mean AT ALL!! Really there isn't something out there that I loathe more than dirty clothes that need cleaned, or clean ones for that matter that need folded and put away.  How I long for a tidy laundry room with empty baskets and clear floors.  But in all reality that just isn't going to happen in my lifetime, like EVER!  So I have embraced the fact that the piles will remain, most of the time un-seperated and towering high.  And as I confess this awful secret that hides behind a tightly closed door...I can't help but think about the dirty little secrets of our lives that hide behind these doors.  Whatever may be locked up tight and tucked away...we all have them.  And I know that I wouldn't want my dirty laundry being aired out to a judging audience that's for sure!  Instead, whether it be literally or figuratively...how I long to surround myself with those who understand and can relate to the Mount Everest piling high in my small grayish blue painted room or on the folds of my heart that hold my soul.  What I don't yearn for are pointing fingers at my clothes or my confessions.  I long for a place where my dirty laundry can be aired and encouragement may be whispered instead of judgement pointed.  Tonight that is my prayer...To clean up with support that I can totally confide in without chastisement but with love....

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary


How to Join:
Want to know how Five Minute Friday got started and how to participate? All the details are here.
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on the word:::

Ordinary…

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My big sister who is two years older and a lot more comfortable in her own skin was voted "Class Individual" her senior year of high school.  She was the opposite of ordinary.  She rode her bike to school and wore bell bottoms in the 90's before they were back in style.  She loved her straw hat and in her free time enjoyed frolicking in the sparse woods that lined the small city we lived in.  I on the other hand yearned to be the ordinary.  To fit in and mesh with all the other brand named kids gracing the halls of our blue and gold themed school.  I wanted to find acceptance in the in-crowd and be well-liked.  I guess part of it was my middle child people pleasing personality.  All I ever wanted was to be accepted but how afraid I was to show the real me.  If other kids found out who I really was underneath the cheerleading uniform and curled hair, I was worried they would reject me.  I was always a good girl but not too good to slip into the crowd.

And still I struggle with this.  Despite the fact that I am a 35 year old woman married and raising three children, I still worry way too much of what others around me think.  I am consumed so much of the time, whether it be through technology or actual human relationships with my peers, coworkers, church-goers, etc.  that I have offended and not pleased the other person.  I read into Facebook posts and Twitters and think, "Are they talking to me?"  How often do I measure self-worth through "likes" and comments.  And why am I intimidated of people who are typing and hiding behind computer screens who can't just pick up the phone and call me if there is a problem or conflict?

Why can't I just be more like my big sis who still isn't afraid to take a stand for what she believes in?  People pleasing can be a dangerous thing.  And I am done.  Ready to face the unordinary head on.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Knows Your Name

When we were young so long ago, two decades now, he used to sing to me.  He would sing one song and one song only.  His buddies told him he sounded just like the guy who sang it on the television.  I thought he sounded even better.  His singing voice still sends chills down my spine all these years later... 

The words of the theme song to the popular TV show really do have deep truths...

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got
 taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot
 wouldn't you like to get away? (HECK YA! after taking care of the kids for two days while he is outta town)

 Sometimes you wanna go
 Where everybody knows your name
 And they're always glad you came
 You wanna be where you can see
 Your troubles are all the same
 You wanna go where everybody knows your name"

(insert dododododoo-doo)

And tonight he is really living out those words that he sang so sweetly to me so many moons ago...

He is in Boston on business and went to "Cheers"  

I couldn't help but smile when he sent me the pic:


And as I hummed the song and thought of the words, I was reminded of a truth that my God knows me by name.  

"...Do not fear for I have redeemed you;  I have summoned you by name;  you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;  the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD your God, the holy one of Israel."  (Isaiah 43)

My God knows who I am, He knows my name...and He is with me through the carpool line which lets just be honest can feel like walking through fire or passing through sweeping, raging waters...It is scary! Yet very reassuring knowing He is with me while I am dodging mini-vans being operated by crazy moms on cell phones and jacked up on caffeine.  

But in all seriousness, He is with me and knows my name. 

Which brings me to my next point...Now please keep in mind that I am not a biblical scholar and will never ever claim to understand commentary or translation but I thought it was very interesting that as I read on God is calling out His people...reassuring to "draw out His sons and daughters from the ends of the earth"...and then it reads:

"everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

He knows my name but has called me by His name.  

I have a new name in Christ.  Which is His name.    

I am not my own, I am His...Let His name be glorified in the hustle and bustle and when I am worn thin. When the kids are bickering and I am drowning, He is there bringing me up for air.  When I am feeling burnt out, He assures me that I will not be burned up...

 And as I'm making my way in the world today (feeling used up and spent),
 taking everything I've got  (I can always go right to the feet of Jesus)
 I can take a break from all my worries...because it sure does help a lot! 
 I would like to get away
 and I can go to Him who called me by my name
 and I think that He's always glad I came...
 
(insert dododododoodoo)






Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend 5 collective minutes writing on a single prompt.
Here’s how it all got started, back story, details and all. The short version is:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word. (On your blog or in the comments).
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog footer}.
3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you.
It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week.
- See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/2013/09/five-minute-friday-she/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thegypsymama+%28thegypsymama%29#sthash.T5EbxBIm.dpuf

She:


Go

She's got a way about her, don't know what it is...or so Billy Joel thought...

I want to be her, the she in that song.

I wonder if every woman does?

The longing to be cherished.  To be loved and not just typically but atypically...

To be needed...yearned for...

To turn someone around...and have them not know how we do it.

And in the ordinary, mundane everyday life to be thought of as extraordinary.

I may not be.  Probably never will be in the eyes of another human...

But there is a God and He is a God who sees me.

And in His eyes, through the sacrifice of His beloved Son who bore all my shame, He sees me as just that.

Extraordinary...with a way about her...

And He sees my potential...What I was designed for...To do His will, making known the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Living out His purpose in a way that He would have...All for His glory!!

Stop

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

Mercy

One of my Grandma's favorite sayings was, "Well Lord have mercy..."  Whenever something was shocking or surprising to her, she would say those four words with her southern Kentucky drawl.

And when times are tough, when I don't feel the grace of God I say those words, pray them out to Him...

"Lord have mercy..."  sometimes it's in the form of , "help me Jesus"  when the kids are on my last nerve or the clock ticks too fast or when I'm at the end of my rope.

But that's what Jesus is...mercy...Our saving grace...and it doesn't matter if the situation is large or small, He grants us mercy whenever we cry out for it...

Today I'm saying it.

"Lord have mercy"  on my children while they are at school...on my husband at work...on me as I go about my day.  Because we all need it so...




Monday, September 2, 2013

Where Feet May Fail

Almost exactly two years ago to the day I posted this...it was a Wednesday, August 31, 2011...Joe and I had made a pact to wake up before the littles.  It's not poetic or charming, but it was where we were in this short life and worth re-posting because God is so BIG and we are so small...

Here it is:

"LOOK AT ME"

Today I rolled out of bed early. 

I promised him that I would and it was all my bright idea.  To wake up before the crack of dawn together and seek Him out. 

I didn't even hear the alarm but instead woke to the yellow glaring light he had flicked on in the bathroom. 

How I am NOT a morning person.  It takes everything in me to get out of bed at a normal hour and I think to myself how this is insane but stand firm on my word and plant my feet on the cream plush carpet almost begrudgingly and arise. 

I stumble down the creaky stairway and find him sitting there, looking at his phone and almost roll my eyes until I come closer and realize that he is reading scripture on it.

He tells me how he woke up, right before the alarm went off, from a dream.


In the dream, he tells me, there was a hand reaching out and water all around him, and he was fearful but the man behind the hand urged him and spoke with great authority...

 "Don't look left or right...LOOK AT ME!"

And Joe stood there on the water, afraid but looking straight ahead...

and then he awoke...moments before the alarm...

out of a dead sleep he arose with a sense of urgency...

He immediately thought of the story in Matthew of Peter walking on the water. 

And that's what he was reading on his phone when I almost rolled my eyes at him.

He reads it for me...


Matthew 14:26-32 (NIV)


26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
   29 “Come,” he said.
   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.


And as I let the words (this bread of life) in...a chill runs through my veins and out my skin, goosebumps all over...

We woke early to seek and He speaks...

And we are listening with ears perked out because He has shown up BIG...

And I don't doubt now...

My faith has been increased...

I know we can walk on water, if we look to Him, not to the wind or the storms of life, not left or right but straight on ahead to Him...

I am encouraged, we both are!  Our eyes are straight ahead...

But the question isn't:

"Will we walk on water?"

He has assured us that we will, if we look to Him...not left, not right...

and He has enabled us this morning in the early hours of the day as the children still dream fast asleep to do just that..look to HIM...

The question is:

"Will we get out of the boat?"





And tonight, September 1, 2013, I ask the same question... 

"Will we trust in our Savior to lead us out onto the water where feet may fail and fear surrounds?" 

Last week we sang a song at church that we had never heard.  It was beautiful and moving.  People were wiping their eyes and sniffling around me, I didn't think much of it because typically, I cry during worship, I'm a mess, don't judge, I'm not afraid to admit it, anyway...The next day, Joe called me from work (which isn't very frequent...yes he loves me, but apparently doesn't have lots of time for chit-chat...or he knows I will keep him on the phone for much too long but I knew it was important) and he starts to say, "I can't stop thinking about that song we sang last night at church, and I didn't sing the words because I was afraid to..."  I tried to recap the worship set and thought that I remembered but wasn't quite sure since I had lost half of my body weight in tears...but thankfully a sweet soul had posted a link to the song on FB, and I was able to make the connection...  

And tonight we sang it again at church...

It is both beautiful and courageous...

And really does make you think before you sing...

Check it out..I hope it ministers to you as much as it did to us!

God is so good and His love endures forever!! 

May we all trust in Him to give us the faith to step out where our trust is without borders!!  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sacred Moments



Almost three years have passed since my Grandma passed...

The dull churning of my insides has eased and moments turn to hours that change into days...weeks...months...years...

But the empty pit deep down and tucked away sometimes rears it's face and sadness graces my being, wishing she was here.

She lived two doors down... a skip, a hop, a jump away...

If I was feeling lonely or that middle-child-syndrome was flaring up hard, I would race there...my bags packed for the night looking forward to the warmth from my precious grandma's house that always made me feel at home.  Her house was small and her surroundings quite meager but I couldn't have felt more safe any place else.

We sipped on tea from her corning-ware and my ears were filled with stories of her childhood and marriage and any other thing that could be talked about.  My Gram, she liked to talk.  And I loved to listen to her southern drawl as she fiddled with her collar bone, reaching for a necklace that wasn't there but telling stories that made me feel like I was back home with her down in her Kentucky blue.

We would sit and chat in that tiny kitchen where she cooked literally thousands of meals,,,

There was something almost sacred about that space.  I can remember watching her time the dinner.  The pressure cooker's high pitched whistle and the humid, hot air.  Soup beans, corn bread, salmon patties and tomato gravy waiting to smother warm biscuits right out of the oven.  Fresh green beans from the humble garden behind her garage that were snapped and broken on the front porch in her metal bowl while the cars sped by fast down Grange Road.

I still envision her sitting there and tend to look, even now, when I walk by or drive passed.

Oh how I miss her.

And tonight my uncle, who now lives there in that blue trimmed house where my daddy grew up, he brought me a cherished gift.

He brought me over one of her cups, and a couple other pieces of her dinnerware...

And my eyes took in the familiar white dishes with pea-green daisies.

Rushing thoughts flood as moments, remembered...

And how thankful and grateful I am for each memory.

How quickly this life may pass.

But how lavishly we can live in remembering these sacred moments that words cannot contain.  Because death may snatch our loved ones...young or old...but their memories will live on telling stories untold...








Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Am "THAT" Mom



So I am THAT mom...

Ayla lost her second tooth the other day and was so very excited.  With her two front bottom teeth missing, she smiled big at me after I picked her up from day camp.  She shared, in detail (oh my goodness it took a few minutes), exactly how it happened in the Meijer bathroom with her cousin directing her to "twist, twist, twist" until the tiny tooth made it's way from her gums to her hands...yes I know, it all seems very unsanitary, the whole thing, but I have to put that out of my mind so that my blood pressure remains normal.

So anyhoo...she brings the cherished ivory prize home in a dixie cup.  I put it in the cup holder of my sweet white-mini-van-that-sucks-all-of-the-cool-right-out-of-me and drove us home.  And the prized-possession stays there overnight because, oops, I forgot!  We forgot, all of us!  And that was Friday.  Ayla didn't seem to mind or remember that night or Saturday night either, when she spent the night at Gaga's (can you blame her, she has a new pool?  With fountains!!).  So I don't recall what happened on Sunday but the tooth spent the night AGAIN in the dixie cup in the cupholder...

So yesterday, she remembers about her tooth and how she forgot to put it under her pillow and I panic as my heart starts racing because frankly I don't recall even seeing it in our two month old van that was spic and span for like a minute or two after I vowed to keep it perfect, and totally fell off of that band wagon...But thank our Father in Heaven, it was there!  We retrieve the dixie cup and Ayla finds her special tooth pillow and tucks it tight under hers and goes to sleep without a fight and dreaming of tooth fairy dust...

Mind you, Joe and I took up walking/running in the mornings before the kids wake up, like two whole days in a row...So, in my defense, all that was on my mind was the 6:30 am alarm as I climbed up the stairs Monday night.  And this morning, as we tip-toed around tying our shoes and setting our playlists...Ayla (who has been sleeping in until at least 9 am the WHOLE summer) whimpers in a very tired and confused morning voice,

"She didn't come, my tooth is still here!"

And my heart sinks as my stomach ties into an ugly bow...

I forgot!  I totally and completely felt like I ruined her childhood, right then and there!  Now I must admit that the tooth fairy has forgotten Jonah and Micah, on more than one occasion as well and I felt really horrible but they are so easy to divert and fool.  And the drama, oh the DRAMA, is just not nearly as noticeable with those boys, ever!  But Ayla, on the other hand, NEVER misses a beat and has the memory of an elephant.  I tried to explain that the tooth fairy may have forgotten because we didn't leave out the tooth on the first official night of the loss...

And she cried, and cried... She said the tooth fairy forgot her and was never coming back.

Oh the guilt.  I am THAT mom...

So tonight we left a big sign on her door.  She asked for tooth fairy dust (thank you cousin Janie for telling her all about the tooth fairy dust that you experienced after losing a tooth).

And tonight the tooth fairy will make an appearance.  Her and her "Bare Escentuals: Gold Mineral Veil" will have to do...

Ayla after her first tooth loss
















Friday, July 19, 2013

Smile and Nod



I am sitting on my back porch watching the lightening show in the sky.  The rain pours and pounces, changing directions swiftly and fiercely making it's mark.  I feel like a child again as each one of my three...'not-so-littles'...make their way to me.  Concern and anguish grace each face as bright light flashes across the sky.  Hands and arms reach over to me grasping for comfort and reassurance.  My 12 year old is worried mostly about the beating his new bike in the driveway may be taking but the younger two are afraid that they may be struck and hurt.  I try to explain and cradle them each in my embrace for this cherished moment that they actually want and need me in.  And even though the thunder roars I have to be the rock...the grown mama... and I can't let on that the storm scares the living daylights out of me as well.  It may not be my bike in the driveway but my umbrella and patio furniture are out back and my house could blow down and crush us all with these unseasonable winds in an instant flat...But no, I just smile and hold tight and tell them that everything will be fine.  

Lately this has been my motto....Just like the little penguins from the movie "Madagascar" 

...'Just smile and nod boys, smile and nod'

Because isn't that what we end up doing so much of the time as parents?  When the waters are raging and the storms are beating...We have to hold it altogether and pretend like "it's all good"...

We have to be strong for them when the thunderstorms of life pounce on us and beat us down.  When the ones closest to us are sick and hurting...when we don't have the answers to the hard questions...when their little hearts have been beat up and broken and ours are bleeding even more for the pain they are going through.

We long to protect them from any extra anxiety or fear.  So we take it on ourselves.  

But so much of the time those burdens that we carry to protect can be too heavy to hold.  

And as the lightening strikes and the thunder rolls, I am reminded that I have a Father in heaven who loves my 'not-so-little ones' even more than I do...

Will you join me tonight in handing over your burdens that you are carrying, as I do mine. to the Creator of this magnificent creation...

1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

because he cares for you....

And because of that you and I can truly,

"smile and nod!"





Friday, May 24, 2013

Comfort Zone

The sun shines through the window casting square shadows onto the humpback sofa we pinched our pennies together for so many years ago.  I've hidden the ripped cushion that the yellow foam peers out of up against the back and bottom of the frame.  At first glance it's in pretty good condition but upon further inspection one can see the worn down fabric and broken in seats.  I've tried to update it's slightly dated look by adding some trendy pillows.  Joe and I, we love this sofa.  After each one of our babies were born, this couch turned into my bed, temporarily.  And even though I am not proud to admit it, the tan cushions have also held Joe and me on slightly numerous occasions after a misunderstanding (not to sugar-coat a knock down drag it out full fledged fight or anything...ahem) But seriously we would both agree that our living room sofa is the most comfortable piece of furniture anyone has ever sat their hiney on! Hence the reason either one of us can bear to say our eternal goodbyes to the thing! 

And since I happen to be on the subject of comfort and sitting, I guess that it would be a good time to bring that exact thing up.   I am comfortable in my worn down, slightly dated and torn-at-the-seams life.  Getting off of my rump and out of my comfort zone not only requires the physical strength and action of really doing it...it also calls for the possibility of replacing the known with the unknown.  And after sitting deep in extra comfy cushions for so long, that initial move upward can sometimes really use a boost...a prompting, if you will.  It may be as casual as a conversation with a friend or acquaintance or as grand as a life-altering event.  It may be a Sunday sermon or a stranger's story...Whatever the situation is, sometimes a prompting needs to take heed.  And I have been urged to pull myself up and off of my cozy-comfy place that I have been enjoying and get up and out there into a not-so-snugly place. 

And I am terrified because the color may not match the room and it just may be even more outdated then this 10 plus years old couch.  For goodness sakes it may even be something from my worst nightmares, something colored country blue and mauve (with heaven forbid ducks or even worse, cows!)...if that's not scary, I don't know what is...

But you see the thing is, whatever the unknown, out-of-my comfort zone area that I am headed to, I am being drawn and led by a hand that is holding onto me tighter than I am holding on back.  He is leading me down the narrow path and I am going to try to just follow along, gratefully.  


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sweet Ayla


I posted this 4 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 passed 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.




2nd Birthday

Pre-school
Kindergarten



Kissing 5 goodbye!
Today I am thanking God for giving us these last six years with our little miracle.  We have been blessed with dollies and drama!! How grateful I am today for our sweet Ayla who has brought us so much joy!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust

I grew up watching the "Bad Boys" (a.k.a. the "Detroit Pistons" for any of you who were under a rock in the 80's or not in the Detroit area or were toddling around or not even born yet you young-ins!)  Isiah Thomas was my favorite because first of all he was a point guard and second of all he was short...(6 feet 1 inch did indeed look short next to the rest of the bad boys)  We watched them win back to back championships, it was awesome!

My dad loved the game and my older sister was the most aggressive basketball player I have ever seen to this very day.  Thinking back on the way she would hold the ball and growl as she flung her elbows from side to side still sends chills of fear down my spine.  I never dared try to take the ball from her, she was and still is pretty darn tough!

So I grew up playing basketball through the 8th grade.  I even went to McCracken Basketball Camp the summer before Junior High and suffered through a running cramp the entire week, if you didn't know that was possible...it is...trust me!!  I didn't continue in high school because I became a cheerleader...much to my big sister's dismay (we were polar opposites and still are but opposites attract, right?  I think they do as long as you don't live under the same roof because we have a great relationship now but definitely had our fair share of WWE, WWF at the time, smackdowns and they were scary, let me tell you...I think Natalie would agree because I did have some pretty sharp nails...)

Needless to say I wasn't as strong or aggressive as my big sis, but I wasn't a china doll either.  I could hang pretty tough, even if it wasn't with NKOTB (never liked them, sorry girls, remember I had an older sister who probably would have ended my life if I did, we liked U2!  But I have to admit I couldn't hide my love for Debbie Gibson and she still rips on me about that!)

My boys are really into basketball right now regardless of the fact that their dad is Mr. Hockey.  For any of you Trentonites, don't worry they still play hockey but are really enjoying the court too!   I also would like to add that our Trenton Trojan boys varsity basketball team has won districts and their first game of regionals...the farthest they have gone since 1944...my mother-in-law's brother is the coach and it is all very exciting, so I guess the boys have inherited some basketball-loving genes from "daddy hockey's" side as well!  Unfortunately the gene wasn't passed onto Joe and I will never forget the first time I played him in "Pig" when we just started dating and he literally turned red and got angry when I beat him.  The boys did however take on the "Very Competitive" trait for sure!

So back to my original point...As some of you may know, I had a really bad scare last year.  It was the day after Easter and the boys and I were shooting hoops in the driveway.  They had the net lowered and Micah dared me to dunk.   And in my sparkly flats I ran up and dunked but closed my eyes and held onto the rim because I was afraid the ball was going to hit me in the head.  Next thing I know I am on the ground under the whole backboard, rim and net.  Blood was pouring from my head and the boys were terrified.  Later Jonah told me I screamed, "Help, Help me Jesus in heaven!"  a few times.  And THANKFULLY (bold caps don't express my gratitude) he did help me!  Miraculously, I was not seriously injured.  I did take my first ride in an ambulance and experience my first concussion and looked like a creature from Avatar for a week or so...but overall I recovered amazingly well.  And I do admit, laying in bed for a week being pampered and loved on by my kids who are still traumatized to this day that their mama almost died in front of them was pretty wonderful (I know, I'm bad...when the kids are talking back or complaining I do pull out the "remember-when-I-almost-died-in-front-of-you?" card)

And a couple of people have brought up the big fall to me recently.   And no they didn't call me "Floor Jordan" or "Vanilla Thunder" while bringing it up even though I have been referred to as both, hahaha very funny!  And on Sunday at Micah's 3 on 3 tournament I was simply walking down literally 6 bleacher steps.  Ayla and I were heading to the vending machine and I BIT THE DUST and accidentally tried to take down an 80-something year old man on my way down to the gym floor.  I was down and down hard.  The pain in my foot and wrist were over ridden by my embarrassment.  One mom chuckled and said that was soooo something she would do and the rest of the crowd stared wide eyed and I just know they were all thinking "I am so glad that was her and not me..."  I kept apologizing to the old man, I really do think I may have hurt him, he moved to the middle of the row for the next game, he wasn't going to let anyone else grab his poor shoulder on the aisle way again!  I got up and Ayla was so concerned!  Now I have fallen hard and flat on my back in front of all three of my kids at the basketball court...We got out in the hall and I didn't want to go back into the gym.  I held Ayla on my lap and held back my tears as she asked me over and over if I was ok.  I don't know if I was more excited that she cared or that she wasn't embarrassed of me.  I did make my way back into the gym and avoided ALL eye contact with the crowd!

Someone told me that maybe I should stay away from the basketball court.  That we don't go too well together.  That may be true.  Sometimes I feel like that with God.  I believe a certain way, deep in my heart I have this desire to be one with Him  And then I do something foolish, sometimes I don't even see it coming and my feet just fall out from underneath me and I wind up embarrassed by the things I have said or done, my example failed again. I don't want to look the people around me in the face.   Sometimes, I am trying too hard to do something on my own that I am not cut out to do and the whole thing falls on top of me and I have no where to look but up...And maybe I should just stay away from church to save myself the humility of  biting the dust in front of the congregation.  But then I am reminded that if I never failed, if I never wound up down on the ground, I would have no need for a Savior.  I am less but He is more, and His love for me will always be enough!!

And I don't think that I am going to be able to stay away from basketball, we have too long of a history together (even if I do have a scraped up foot from the latest fall!)


     





         

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Facing the Giants

The boys joined a basketball team.  They both love the sport but haven't really had the chance to participate in it since they are busy with travel hockey but they got this great opportunity to play on the same team.

The teams consist of 5th and 6th graders.  And the first game they played was pretty good.  We did lose, but only by one basket.  Not bad, I know.  The boys seemed unharmed and in good spirits.  Their steps were filled with strides, they had comeback from losing by quite a few, to just a shot.  Smiles were beaming and high fives were flying and in walks their next competitor, Team Detroit.

Towering young men file into the gym.  I have never seen so many ten to thirteen year olds that tall in all of my thirty four years but apparently they can be that size because I saw it in plain sight and so did our little basketball team.  Wide-eyed they stood and waited for the referee to toss the jump ball to begin the game.  And as the giant reaches easily, tipping the ball to his teammate, my husband looks at me and mutters,

"Oh boy, here we go..."

And so it began....and the next words out of his mouth were,

"It's like taking candy from a baby....what do you do with that?"

And the score board was filling up on one side, making it's way all the way to 60 something with our side still at 0.

Defeat was thick and hope was thin and just when we thought that our two sons were in the least bit athletically elite, we were so put in our place and humbled.....

And as I watched these boys literally facing the giants and never giving up, I was encouraged...


You see most days, I wake in the morning and feel beaten down and insufficient.  Giants are towering in the hectic schedules and cluttered closets.  They are lurking, waiting to knock me down and tell me what an incompetent mother I am...How I've failed as a wife, sister, daughter, friend...The scoreboard is definitely not in my favor as I tally up the mistakes.  Shortcomings and failures rack up and my good behavior points don't measure up far enough at all.

But I cannot allow all that is against me to keep me out of the game.  I may be facing some fierce opponents, giants... if you will...They may knock me down and bruise me hard.  They may take the ball from me just like taking candy from a baby, especially when I try to play all by myself.  Only when I pass the ball off, take the burden of my performance and hand it over to the only one in whom there is true victory...will I win.

Our boys, they played a tough game.  They never gave up and hung in there.  The final score was 78-13, with us finally making our first basket in the second half of the game.  Jonah is the one who made it and the other team cheered as loud as we did when it happened! And what a proud mama was I when all of the fans were all cheering for my sweet son! :)  Makes me wonder and imagine how proud our Heavenly Father must be of His one and only Son!

 O victory in Jesus
My Savior, forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood


                                    Eugene Monroe Bartlett Sr.






Thursday, January 24, 2013

(from Feb. 2011)

Two years ago almost to the date, I wrote this.  Today we are in a very similar spot with an unknown future.   I always find strength when I take the time to remember His faithfulness in my life...

Path Unknown

In winter we bundle up in our gear and journey down the path prepared for harsh wind, frigid air, hard ice.  Waterproof clothing and boots shell our bodies.  We are ready for the bitter cold.  Dressed for the journey down the snow-laden trail.  It is a Sunday, the Sabbath, the Lord's day.  The sun is shining deceivingly in the brilliant blue sky.   Within minutes, Ayla cries to be held.  Daddy sweeps her up in his arms and plants her on top of his broad shoulders.  We trek on and turn around after almost a mile or so.  Micah, exhausted from the hike, begs me to pick him up.  Knowing I would only make it a few feet lugging his lanky 60 pound body, I tell him no and try to get his mind off of the situation instead.  "Lets pretend like we are walking down our street back home."  To divert his attention, I go through each house lined on our block and have him help me remember which one is is next.  Soon enough we are back to where the trail began.   The whole family is tired but invigorated.  Micah is so proud of himself, he didn't think he would make it.

Cold circumstances are nipping our cheeks right now on our actual life-journey.  There is an unknown forecast awaiting us as we take each step.  How desperately I yearn for my Heavenly Father to grab me up and whisk me onto His shoulders.  My legs are throbbing and my feet are starting to feel wet.  Anxiety and fear flood over and try to drown out my sanity when I let my mind wander to the worst case scenario of the not so distant future.  Cut backs.  Lay offs.  They've been talking about it for weeks at his company.  We've known for a while, the state of our country's economy let alone our state's.  But now crunch time is upon us.  Will we hear tomorrow, the day after, next week?  Will he have a job?  I am reminded of a song I learned so long ago back when I was a carefree adolescent.

"When the water's too high
  when the water's too high
  I will carry you
  I will carry you"

In my mind I can hear my little sister's beautiful voice singing, her delicate fingers strumming the wooden guitar up in front of the church.

"When the night is too black
  when the night is too black
  I will carry you
  I will carry you"

That is His promise.  To carry me.   All I need is a teeny tiny bit of faith that He will be there right? (He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matt.17:20)  Will my lack of faith be too heavy for Him to handle me for more than a few feet?  Will He have to divert my attention, get my mind off of the situation so I can continue on alone weakened from the testing journey?  Or when I am unable to press on because of my tired body, my worn out mind, will he reach down from Heaven and whisk me up in His everlasting arms?

I think back to that Sunday stroll with the family.  The untouched white clumps hanging off of the barren trees was a sight to behold.  The blazing sun streaming through tops of trees and animal tracks imprinted on millions of  uniquely designed minute flakes of snow...amazing.  A sight to see.  Beauty in the middle of not so comfortable circumstances.  Cold, frigid, red-cheeked weather yet so pretty at the same time.  Definitely was worth the journey for the beautiful memories.

Whether God is carrying me or holding my hand or clearing the path ahead for me to journey through, I feel Him.  I feel Him right down to the marrow of my bones directing and leading.  The outcome may not be what I have planned for our family, it could get uncomfortable on many levels.  I may have to bundle up for the journey He has in store for us.  I may even have to double up my socks because it could get slushy and muddy.  But along the way I will inhale unanticipated joys and beauties that can only come from above.


The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.        20
Robert Frost


Today on Jan. 24, 2013  I am making the choice to take the road less traveled by...and put my trust 
in a loving God whose plan is bigger than I can see...It won't be easy and I may take one step forward and 
two steps back...But with an ever faithful Father who is quick to extend a merciful hand, I know it is possible...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Slow Down and Breathe Deep


Tonight my sweet daughter, our only girl last in the line of two brothers, asked me to spin her around as fast as I could.  She threw her head back in laughter and as she lifted her gaze up to mine, she grabbed my cheeks in her hands and squished them lovingly and begged,

"Faster, faster mommy!"

Carefully while spinning I explained if I went any faster we both might end up on the floor.  And all the while I was trying to cherish every moment of the very end of 2012 with my precious girl tight-fast in my arms.  As we twirled I held hard and soaked up the beauty of the sacred dance between us...

And as she cried,  "faster,"

I thought, "no, sweet baby girl, slower..."

How rushed we live most days...

I yearn to "Slow Down"

I have every good intention of doing it also.  But unfortunately when push comes to shove I ignore the latter and race through instead...

I want to soak it in, cherish, live in gratitude daily and actually take the time to give thanks for the moment...

This 2013 I want to slow down and breathe deep...

Goodbye 2012~