Monday, April 30, 2007

Real Blessings...

I have summarized what I am learning from Ephesians 1-3. As I was reading, I placed the individual points into one of the three categories below. (There was some repetition, but I only listed them once.) I've changed the pronouns from "You" to "I" to make it personal.

Because I...

- Listened to the message of the truth of Jesus Christ and believed, now

In Christ...
- I was chosen before the creation of the world.
- I was predestined to be adopted as a son.
- I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
- I am redeemed through His blood.
- I am forgiven of my sins.
- I am a fellow citizen in God's household.
- I have freely been given His His grace.
- I have been shown His will in regard to things to come and the summing up of all things.
- I have an inheritance.
- I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.
- I have the surpassing greatness of His power and the strength of His might.
- I have been made alive with Christ, raised with Him, and seated with Him.
- I have access in the Spirit to the Father and can boldly and confidently access Him.

So That...
- The glory of His grace will be praised.
- In the ages to come, the surpassing riches of His Grace in kindness towards us will be shown.
- I will be holy and blameless before Him.
- I will walk in the good works He's prepared in advance for me.
- We'd be fitted together to grow into a holy temple in the Lord and into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Wow! What amazing Chapters! It goes back and forth so much in the plain reading of it that I was getting lost - listing things out like this really helps me. I think I will post this beside my bed to read often.

In the midst of that great truth, there are two fantastic prayers. I pray them for all of us this morning:

Dear God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, I pray You might give my friends & I spiritual wisdom and revelation in our growing knowledge of You, since the eyes of our hearts have been enlightened, so that we may fully know the hope of Your calling, the wealth of Your glorious inheritance in the saints, and the incomprable greatness of Your power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of your immense strength when You raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at Your right hand in the heavenly places.

I kneel before You, Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on the earth is named. I pray that according to the wealth of Your glory You would grant us strength with power in our inner man through Your Spirit. I pray that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith so that, because we are rooted and grounded in love, we might be able to comprehend together the bredth and length and height and depth of Your love. I pray we will know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge and be filled up to all the fullness of You.

God, You are able to do far beyond all that we ask or think. Thank You for Your power that is working in us. To You be the glory in our church in in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I'd like to blog about something different tonight. I'm looking around my office for inspiration. Oh, I have an idea - decorating. My girls helped me decorate my office by placing gift ribbons and bows on the shelves. They think it's beautiful. When we did their room, they filled their dresser and table tops with little things that they like, including a paper cup I made into a trophy for her when she won a game of Sorry. When will their view of what is "good decorating" conform to what the world deems nice? When will imaginative creativity fall by the wayside to let Pottery Barn take over?

I helped a friend today who broke her arm pick up her house a bit. I was so impressed by all the things she had that were meaningful to her. Desks, dressers, old fashioned dolls, all from family or friends that were important. A blanket made by someone special, a picture she had when she was a girl. I can imagine that her whole house brings back nice warm memories.

Very little in my house has any sentimental value. I know my parents won't be upset if I get rid of the 30 year old couches we have from them in the loft, and I doubt my father in law would notice if we exchanged the converted water bed we got from him for a real bedroom set. Most everything is recent to me (meaning I might have gotten it used, but its new to me.) Even our pictures hardly go back more than 3 years.

But as I look around my office, I guess we're making our own memories. I like the pictures of my children all over our walls. I like the photos hanging in our office that I personally took of things on our land. I like the homemade Easter center piece Abby designed for our kitchen table. And I even like, for now, the wrapping bows and ribbons that I'm looking at on my desk in front of me. I hope I don't push them into a cookie cutter decorating style too soon so that the imaginative creativity lasts as long as possible - and maybe one day they'll create their own 'Pottery Barn' Store.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Photo Contest

I entered Katie into a Shutterfly Photo Contest. You can vote here. The category is cutest kids and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to send in a picture. Rather than going through the hundreds I've taken this year alone, I chose this picture I took last night titled, "The Princess and the Toad."

Whether I win or not, everyone who enters gets a free 8x10 - sounds like a good deal to me!

Oh - and you can vote every day! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spur One Another On...

A lot of people have asked me how the Tomato Staking was going. Well, I think you really have to be home to try it, and the only time last week we were home for any length was Monday morning - and that went well! LOL! So I'm going to try again this week. It is looking like it will be much slower!

I was really encouraged by this morning's message. You will be able to listen to it here by Tuesday or Wednesday. It's Nate Irwin's message called, "Entering In."

The whole thing was great, but I was especially inspired by the end.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24

Consider also means "think about" and spur on also means "provoke, incite." So I'm thinking about how I can provoke and incite my daughters to love and good deeds.

Provoking them to do good. Its an interesting "tactic" to think about. I often think of child raising as training, instructing, teaching, correcting... which are all good things. But I haven't thought much about spuring them to good things.

I've encouraged good behavior when I've seen it and discouraged bad behavior, but I can't think of major ways I've incited them to do good before hand.

One simple thing that we do is writing cards and letters to friends and family, but I'd like to think broader - Any ideas?

I'll probably be praying about this for a while. Is "spurring on" the same as suggesting or asking them to do good? Like, "Abby, will you share that toy with Katie?" Right now I don't think so - to me it seems more like doing something that will just agitate them in a good way to good things. I wonder what that looks like?

Ok, that's where I am tonight.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kid's Sale!!!

Every year my friends and I participate in a Kid's Stuff Sale at a local church. It's really big, fills an entire gymnasium, and all the clothes are in great shape and free from stains, holes, etc. I probably only buy my kids a couple items the rest of the year that I didn't get from this sale.

It really is a big deal. For five years now we've worked the sale because you get to shop the night before. Even for the pre-shop, people line up an hour ahead of time! For the last 3 years, we've been first in line. Yes, we're dorks. And we love it. Every year I say I'm going to make T-Shirts with "Kid Sale Crazies" on them but I forget. This year was no different. The best part is that its a MOPS group that organizes it and we're so into it but we don't belong to their MOPS group. I wonder what they think of us.... Those Crazy College Park Ladies...

This is the first year we've sold anything. It's about time. After being practically the top-buyer 5 years in a row, I think it was time to give back! We filled an entire truck and cab with boxes and bags... and that doesn't include the stuff we sold at our own pre-sale last weekend!

I know this probably doesn't interest anyone, but its all I can think about tonight. I'm not prepared for the pre-sale tomorrow at all. I usually go through the kids clothes, plan out exactly what they need, and bring my handy paper to the sale. But you know what, I never use my "plan" so I decided not to mess with it this year. If there's something I like I'll buy it. After all, even the best clearance items at the retail stores can't come close to a $1 The Children's Place Dress!

So I should head to bed - it's a big day! We work the sale in the morning (preparing, setting up, etc), go to the pre-sale that night, and then head out for appetizers after. Its really a fun but exhausting day. I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Computer Time

I used to savor my computer time - like a sweet dip in a pool on a hot and humid day. But this week I started doing the accounting work for our business. I actually enjoy the work and I like knowing what is going on, but the 2-3 hours/day I've been doing on that has been sapping my other lovely computer time. Being online right now is more like running through a cold sprinkler. More annoying than refreshing.

The good part is that I'm currently spending my time getting the database set-up and up to date. After that the work should be less time-consuming.

The hard part is that I'm not an accountant, nor am I good at numbers. Thankfully people who are both have developed software for people like me! The help menus are amazing - there are even video tutorials for just about everything. I still wonder if I'm doing it right - I guess time will tell. So far the books balance!

My friend reminded me of Moses at the burning bush. God asked him to do a job, provided endless proofs that God would take care of him, but he still resisted, "But God, I'm not a good speaker." I've known that this is a way I could help for awhile, but I just sqirmed and wiggled and whined, "But God, I'm not good at math!" Hopefully I'll be able to do the job well and we won't have to call Aaron!

I tried uploading my favorite Calvin and Hobbes Math Cartoons, but they were too small to read. You can see some here: Math Quotes.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Blog About Nothing

I started a blog of random thoughts but deleted it because really, it was nonsense. I'm so tired - I'm getting over a light stomach bug and should go back to bed, but I've spent so much time there that I'd rather sit here and stare at my computer screen. My brain is mush. So I won't bother you with any more of my pointless chatter. Good night.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tomato Staking

My plan for next week is to be glued to my children and train them. Where ever I am, they will be. Whatever I'm doing, they will be doing. If I have to change Nate's diaper, they will throw it away and help put away the wipes. It's going to be intense training, but I have a feeling it will also be fun...

So I mentioned this on a message board I'm on and a friend explained that this has a name, "Tomato Staking." Everything has a name now-a-days, doesn't it? I read a bit about it, and although I don't agree with it as a lifestyle, I do agree with it as a training method.

The idea is that you are acting pro-actively to train rather than re-actively. If Abby spills water in the kitchen and I see it much later, I have to find out who spilled the water and then ask her to clean it up. If I'm right there, I can instruct her to clean her messes up right away. If Katie gets a band-aid out and leaves a mess all over the floor, I can train immediately if I'm around.

Now, I know I can't be with my children all the time, but I'm hoping that a week of this will help establish good habits, like putting away jammies right away and wiping the toothpaste out of the sink. Maybe it will take more than a week, but nonetheless, I'm giving it a shot because something needs to be done.

And actually, after a week of together-ness, we might actually find that we like it. I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Getting the Lead Out...

So now I need advice - how do I my motivate my children to work quickly? When I give them tasks, they usually take forever. Unless I set a timer and threaten and yell, which I don't like to do, they mope and dawdle and procrastinate.

They've been "cleaning the basement" all morning, a basement that was perfectly clean the day before. The task shouldn't have taken more than 15 minutes. I've been upstairs cleaning other things because I knew that going down there and seeing them dragging their feet would have driven me nuts today. And I could go rescue them, cleaning it in a matter of moments (everything has a place...) but I want them to learn something. (But I don't think they're learning anything, because the behavior keeps happening...)

I've been going round and round w/ this for the last six months or so, as many of you reading know. I've tried making it fun, rewards, timers, limiting items, explaining the place for everything, taking away priviledges/things, etc... So far I've not found a solution, other than me turning into the drill sargeant. I guess my anger/frustration about it comes from a fear that this lifestyle will continue and I'll still be arguing with them about cleaning their room when they're 15. Is there any hope??

Is it too much to expect an almost 6 & 4 year old to be able to pick up their room? Or clean up the few toys they took out in the basement? Maybe my expectations are too high.

My next "tactic" I might try next week is to make them be with me everywhere I go. Not letting them out of my sight. At least for a day. Kind of like being grounded to mom. They love to run off and play and be creative, so this might work. I'll let you know...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Sunday

I wrote and read the Easter Narration for our church this year. I'm pasting it below. It went around the music, so it's a little disjointed, but for the most part it flows. Enjoy, and Happy Easter! :)

Most stories begin with “Once Upon a Time.” This story, however, begins with “Once, before time…” when God penned a novel incomparable to anything we could have imagined.

There was a King who created a world for His own glory, but His arrogant creatures constantly rejected His ruler ship, wanting instead to be kings themselves. Because of their rebellion, the King declared their sentence – permanent separation from Him and all things good. The rebels needed a hero to rescue them from their deserved punishment, but no one was qualified to go before the King.

In an amazing act of love that even his flying messengers couldn’t fathom, the King Himself provided the needed Hero: His Princely Son transformed into one of them, moving from a world of eternity to a life trapped by time and space, in order to live a perfect life in complete harmony with the King and in the end, to be the one qualified to take the sentence that was reserved for the guilty creatures.

The King chose a group of people and declared that the Hero would come from among them. Years upon years went by as the people waited. The time came for them to travel to their Homeland, the city of Jerusalem, to celebrate the Passover – an ancient miracle that was used to deliver them from their enslavement in Egypt. They gathered together each year to worship and sing praises to their King Jehovah – through whom their final deliverer would one day come.

During the celebration, word spread quickly that a man named Jesus had entered by the Eastern Gate. Some rushed through the gate to meet him, joining with the crowds that followed Him there from Bethany. Many believed Jesus would be their earthly Ruler, saving them from the oppressive Romans. Although the enemies stood by watching and loathing every moment, the crowd loudly showered praises on Him as he rode in triumph. They cried, “Hosanna! Save us, we pray!”

There were those in the crowd who witnessed many of Jesus’s miracles and wonders. Blind people could see. The crippled were walking around town. Even Lazarus, who was pronounced dead, was alive again. And although His fame spread, there were others who were filled with questions.

Who is this Man? He hangs out with the scum of our society, he has no home or credentials, he doesn’t even look very regal… Where are his Horses? Chariots? Robes? Riches?

He wasn’t remotely what they had expected.

Jesus didn’t appear to be the King, nor did He speak like a future conqueror. When he had spoken to the multitudes on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee, His words were not of this world. He taught of another Kingdom, an eternal one, not confined by time and space. A Kingdom He came from, and to which he would one day return.

During the Passover, Jesus gathered his closest followers and shared a special meal. He explained that the bread was a symbol of his body, and the wine was his blood that would be poured out for all the people. He was giving them hope before the heart-wrenching days that were ahead, assuring them that they would one day dine together again with Him in the Kingdom of God.

The enemies of the God-King took their stand against Jesus. The rebellious people would not submit to the authority of their Creator. In a whirlwind of events, the crowd was swayed against Him. Betrayed, Arrested, Beaten, Abused, Cursed, Crushed, Condemned.

The Perfect Hero, who had stepped out of the throne room of the Almighty to help His hostile enemies, was stabbed with nails and murdered on a cross to die like a criminal pauper.

They thought they had won. They thought they had burned the end of the novel and foiled the plan as their God-King intended, to rewrite their own saga. But where His enemies saw personal triumph mixed with disgust, God saw love – a love that we can’t even begin to put our minds around.

God is not bound by the laws of our land or the rules that dictate our mortal lives. As life poured back into his veins, Jesus ascended to victory.

Jesus – our Prince and Hero - will return, as He promised, to claim His rightful Kingly throne, and until then, He holds out His offer to His creatures – ‘Accept my love, repent of your evil rebellion, and follow Me.’

Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday

What makes Good Friday good? Death, blood, thieves, darkness...

And why did Jesus have to die anyway? Why couldn't God have said, "To cleanse yourself from your sin, you must wash in the river."

If my daughter Abby stole $10 from a store, I'd require her to pay back the $10 plus do 10 hours of work at the store the following weekend. That is the punishment I'd set in place for the crime.

If she tried to get a bunny to work in her place, I'd insist it be a human - not a bunny. A bunny could look like it were working, but it wouldn't really be taking her place.

If her friend offered to pay the money and work in her place, that would be a justifiable trade. The debt would be paid and the work would be accomplished. However, if her friend was also guilty and had stolen as well, then he would not be a good replacement because he has to work the 10 hours himself.

Our punishment for sin is death - which is in reality separation from God. When we do works of service or personal sacrifices to cover our sin, it's like having a bunny take the punishment for Abby. Someone else qualified must step in and take our punishment for us.

No other human being is qualified because they are in the same boat as us. They also are convicted and the verdict is "guilty."

That is why God himself provided our needed replacement. Jesus lived a perfect life and was not guilty or deserving of death and separation. 2000 years ago on Good Friday, God put our sins on Jesus in some amazing way I can't comprehend, making him take the guilt for all. Only God could do this.

In the most simplistic way I can think of, that is what makes Good Friday Good.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I love you, Lee!

When Hollywood depicts birth, the mother is usually yelling and screaming while hitting her husband, "You did this to me!!!!" That has never been the case for us. With each of our three children, I've fallen more deeply in love with Lee than words can describe. This recent situation for us has been no different. He knows exactly what I need, whether he's giving the kids a bath, cleaning up after dinner, or simply holding me when I cry...

I was laying awake in bed last night thinking, as I usually do, and I thought through again how many things I have to be thankful for. In the normalcy of life I can overlook so many good things, but its times like these that amplify them in my mind.

Music and Lyrics mean more to me than I can explain, and this song has been resonating with me so much since January. We have a lot going on in our lives right now, and its not about what we have or do, because that is in a constant state of change. God has given me a beautiful family and such wonderful friends. I am so blessed.

Blessed by Martina McBride

I get kissed by the sun each morning
Put my feet on a hardwood floor
I get to hear my children laughing
Down the hall through the bedroom door
Sometimes I sit on my front porch swing
Just soaking up the day
I think to myself, I think to myself
This world is a beautiful place

I have been blessed
And I feel like I've found my way
I thank God for all I've been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed

Across a crowded room
I know you know what I'm thinking
By the way I look at you
And when we're lying in the quiet
And no words have to be said
I think to myself, I think to myself
This love is a beautiful gift

When I'm singing my kids to sleep
When I feel you holding me
I know

I have been blessed
And I feel like I've found my way
I thank God for all I've been given
At the end of every day
I have been blessed
With so much more than I deserve
To be here with the ones that love me
To love them so much it hurts
I have been blessed

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Real Deal

I know that my Savior lives,
I'm trusting in His plan,
and though it may seem trite and fake,
Its just the way I am.

Some may never understand
the hope I feel inside.
Its just as real as all the mess
around us world-wide.

Jesus is the bread of LIFE
and to live with Him brings peace.
In the midst of all the ugliness
His beauty I choose to see.

His Word will feed me every day
as I look to fill the gap
of the emptiness that comes when I
try filing with things that lack.

This poem I know is kind of dumb
but I don't know how else to explain.
Jesus is with me all the time
and gives joy when I call on His name.

For 28 years He's been by my side
leading, guiding, helping,
and I'm so thankful for all He's done -
forever I'll be praising!

if you're looking for gloom or hopeless despair
you're facing the wrong direction
cuz from where I stand there's nothing but hope
and a promise of future perfection!

"And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him."
Hebrews 9:27-28

Monday, April 2, 2007

Mortality, Eternity, and Today

Psalm 139

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (13-16)

Yesterday we found out via an ultrasound that our ten week old baby no longer has a heart beat. Over the next week or two, our pregnancy will be ending.

I was so encouraged by Psalm 103 this morning.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer. (15-16)

I've been reminded as never before of the mortality of our lives. At first I prayed, "Oh God, make this pass quickly!" because until it does, I'm reminded relentlessly in a very visual way of death and the ugliness of it. But there must be some value to that, because King David prayed in Psalm 39:

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
You have made my days a mere hand breadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it." (4-6)

Our life is a nothing compared to eternity. A mere poof and its gone. If the Psalms ended there, we could all leave discouraged and hopeless. But praise God through Jesus and His death for me, there is hope. Psalm 39 continues:

"But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you." (7)

And Psalm 103 continues:

But the loving kindness of the LORD is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him... (17a)

I have a hope for an everlasting future! An eternal home, free from worry, sin, and death. I can sing loudly at the top of my lugs from my kitchen with this FFH song on repeat, "One day I'll see you coming back for me and all together we'll fly away. One day I'll hear the trumpet loud and clear and all together we'll fly away! Oh how I long for the day when we'll fly away!"

But if the only hope God gave us was in Heaven, how discouraging life would be now!! However, earlier in Psalm 103 he says:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. (2-5)

In one single Psalm, David laments our mortal life, is encouraged with the hope of everlasting life, yet expresses thanks for the blessings of God to sustain us now. Praise the Lord!

So I can also pray, "God, satisfy my years with good things, and renew my youth like the eagle." And I can also sing along loudly with another FFH song, "I'm ready to fly" which is more about flying now in this life on Eagle's wings, rather than living in the trenches.

I'm ready to fly,
I'm ready to soar,
I'm ready to leave this world behind,
I'm ready to open up the door.
I'm ready to fly,
I'm ready to spread my wings across the sky.
I think its time.
I'm ready to go.
I'm ready to fly.

So although I'd love for this all to be over quickly, I'm also praying, "Lord, take as long as you need to transform me into who you want me to be so that I understand the brevity of my life and then live without wasting a moment."

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Kids 'N Pets

I have to write about my all-time favorite cleaning product, Kids 'N Pets, All-Purpose. It comes in a giant squirt bottle, and I buy mine at Walmart.

Carpets: When my potty training kids or dog go on the carpet or mattress, you just blot up what you can and then soak it with KNP. Then you let it evaporate and its gone! It's a miracle worker for mattresses.

Laundry: I have so many success stories. The best ones are when I'd washed and dried a pair of Lee's pants with grease stains and a pair of Abby's pants with grass stains. I squirted it on, rubbed a little with a brush, and the stains literally disappeared before my eyes! Sometimes the stains don't come out until after the wash, and a few things I've had to do more than once, but for the most part it works the first time. Better than anything else I've tried, and there's no time-consuming, sink-hogging soaking to worry about.

Today, Nate wore a beautiful blue shirt from Nicaragua that is sentimental to my brother's family. We had an Easter egg hunt outside and he was covered in chocolate. It sat there on him in the sun all day. So tonight, I used Kids 'N Pets and a brush and even before I've washed it, it looks like new!

I love it! (Obviously)

Wow, I'm noticing that this blog is very random...