Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eternity & Fish...HUH?


I was thinking of something the other day while watching the fish in our 55-gallon aquarium.  When we first got it, Jason and I joked that we might move the couch into the foyer so that we could be comfortable as we watched the little fish swim back and forth, back and forth across the tank!  Why is that so mesmerizing?  Anyway, I was watching one day and I wondered about the fish.  Are they bored?  Are they happy?  What are they thinking about?  I couldn't help but think about how bored I would be if all I had to do was swim around in the same tank, day after day.  Then, I remembered that a fish's mind is finite compared to ours, so I concluded that they are most likely as happy as they can be, since that aquarium is the only life they know.  They just don't know any better!  

On some level, that made me think of God, and how He knows all about what else is out there, yet here we are, living day to day on the earth, getting bent out of shape sometimes over petty things and being all wrapped up in ourselves.  Our minds are so finite compared to God's that He probably does wonder about us sometimes!  But there is a great hope!  The psalmist wrote in Psalm 103:13-14, "Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust."  So, like the fish in the aquarium, God knows that we don't understand what it's like to live anywhere else but on this fallen earth.  Still, He extends His mercy to us so that one day we CAN know better.  And I am excited beyond words!!  One day, we will get "out of the tank" and be in a world that in one sense is unfamiliar to us, but in a greater sense will be home, because we will be with so many loved ones and most importantly our Father.  So among all the good things that God has blessed us with in this world, what gives the greatest hope is that because we know Christ, it will only get better.  Now that makes life worth living!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

She Loves to Fish




Every night at bedtime, we read out of a little book called "Blessings Everyday".  Each day's reading consists of a simple devotion and a passage from the Bible.  Ashlyn always likes to look up the Bible passage, and I usually read the devotion.  So the other night after she found the passage, her face brightened up and she startled us with this huge squeal. Then she said, "Oh, Mom, this is the coolest verse ever.  Are you ready to hear this?"  "Yes."  "Are you sure?"  "Go ahead, Ash."  "OK, are you ready?"  And I thought I would never get to hear her read the verse.  But finally, she read it, and because I know her, I understood her enthusiasm.  The verse was Mark 1:17, "And Jesus said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men'."  The girl LOVES to fish!!  I thought that was so great, and in my heart I prayed that she would develop that kind of excitement for all of God's Word!

1st picture:  Fishing with Uncle Josh
2nd picture:  Birthday present from Uncle Josh!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chasing Butterflies






Today is one of those days.  It's storming outside now, but earlier the weather was just perfect.  The kids and I were swinging, playing with the animals (well, making sure Jake wouldn't strangle the kittens while trying to pick them up), avoiding a wasp and yes, chasing butterflies.  Emily was determined to get one on her finger.  It never happened, but I was happy to get some photos of her trying.  I love these days.  I have things to do, but right now I am enjoying just being with my children.  After all, time doesn't stop and they are growing up, right?  

I know these days will come and go so fast, and oh, how I don't want to take them for granted!!  It's easy to busy myself with my own interests sometimes, and although I need that occasionally, right now I have been called to invest in my children--in my family.  I am constantly learning about the giving that is involved in marriage and family life.  But oh, what a blessing it is, and what deep joy and satisfaction it brings!

  So today, with the house undone, we played.  And now I will resume my doings within the house as they are resting.  But tomorrow, while it is still summer and while they still want to play, I will chase butterflies again.  And I will love it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Map


Today the kids & I went on a little shopping trip.  Nothing major, just trying to find some shoes that will actually fit the kids for the fall.  Before we got to the store, Emily started complaining that she had left her "map" at home.  "How will we know where we're going?" she asked.  I played along.  "I don't know!  I hope we can find our way!"  Then she cried, "Wait a minute, I have a map in my purse!"  "Great!" I said, and didn't think anymore about it.  
When we got in the store, she enthusiastically began telling me which direction to go, looking at her new "map".  Guess what she was using?  Her precious little pink New Testament!!  
Over and over I am amazed at how God uses these little things to remind me of Biblical truths.  Little Emily was just playing, but there was so much truth in her actions.  I started remembering Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path".  And Psalm 119:35, "Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it".  God's Word is so rich, full of direction for any aspect of our lives, but of course most importantly, the direction to salvation.  Emily was not shy about telling several people about her map, and although she had no idea of the deep truth she was speaking, it was an encouragement to me to make sure that I am sharing the "Map" too.  I love being taught by the "little" things!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Cry to Simplify



The longer I live, the more I realize that I don't like stuff.  I don't mean just any stuff.  I mean just having lots and lots of "stuff".  Maybe I'm a little extreme sometimes, but I just can't stand having excess--things sitting around that never get used.  I am taking a break from "cleaning out" today to write this, which is why it is on my mind.
I remember being a little kid, and wanting just two or three things on my dresser instead of having it cluttered with all different kinds of things.  I guess it is safe to say that this is my natural tendency.  But somewhere along the way I started accumulating all of these "valuable" things that I am struggling to know what to do with.  What I am truly longing for is simplicity.  Organization is definitely not my strong suit, so in order to eliminate clutter, I just want less.  
I've always had the "less is more" frame of mind, though.  When I have to make a decision, for instance, I would prefer as few choices as possible.  That may seem weird in a society where people seem to thrive on "choice", but for me, too many choices is overwhelming.  Even still, though, it can be difficult because it is against of the grain of our culture, which is obsessed with wanting more.  When I look at magazines or am out in a store, I find myself wanting and "needing".  But when I get home, I realize that I have been blessed, I need to be content, and remember that in my heart I really don't want too much "stuff" anyway.  So, today I am cleaning out some "junk" drawers and some important drawers.  But with both types I'm just trying to simplify.  That is my cry today.  SIMPLIFY.  Anyone with me?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ashlyn



Today is a special day at our house.  Our sweet Ashlyn is 7 years old.  Sometimes that is hard to believe, but at other times it's like I can hardly remember life without her being around!
I remember carrying her in my womb and reading aloud Psalm 139.  I wondered what she would look like, what would be her likes and dislikes and what she would become. Turns out she is beautiful, she likes animals (especially horses, cats and butterflies), the color yellow, sports, fruits and vegetables, being outside and music (just to name a few).  She dislikes chocolate, carbonated beverages and the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyworld (I mean she REALLY dislikes that).  She is such a bright and sunny child with a very sweet disposition.  Our prayer is that God will continue to mold and shape her into the person HE wants her to become, although if she has her way, she will be, and I quote, a "veterinarian, a farmer, a zookeeper and a jockey-or anything where I can be around animals".  
 As far as the latter, I can't wait to see what God will do in her life.  He has already used her in so many ways to be a blessing to me.  Here is one instance that stands out:  when she was 5 years old, I was putting her to bed and she said, "I can't wait to die".  I, being very startled to hear that, asked her "Why?".  She very confidently replied, "'cause I can't wait to see Jesus!"  That was a moment I will never forget.  How sweet and precious is the faith of a child!!  Sometimes it scares me to love someone so much.  I often have to pray that God will harness those fears, and He, of course, is faithful to gently remind me that her life is in His hands.  And I know that I can trust Him completely!

Hope you enjoy this short clip I pulled from the "Ashlyn" archives.  It's one of my favorites!!


video

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Caved


Yep, it happened.  Last night.  Jake went to bed, laid there for about 3 minutes, then started screaming.  I was fine at first, but then it went on and on and on.  He didn't even bother getting up.  He was just lying on his stomach, screaming.  I felt so sorry for him.  I knew exactly what he wanted.  So, I gave it a little more time, and then all hope was lost.  I found it and I gave him what he wanted.  After that I never heard a peep.  I did, however, take it back out of his bed so that he wouldn't have it when he woke up this morning.  As I am sitting here I can hear him "talking" up there, but not crying!  Maybe there is hope for premature ridding of the passy after all!  If not, though, that's okay, because when he turns 2 it will "break" or "disappear", and then, just like my girls, he will learn to live without.  

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why the Weeds?


Well, we finally made it home.  It was a very long day of traveling, although I must brag on little Jacob.  He did not even come close to crying the whole way home, AND he gave up his pacifier in the meantime!  He had lost his "passy" at Disneyworld, then he chewed a hole in his other one, so he has been two days without it.  Last night when I put him in bed he kind of looked around for it, then quickly (and quietly) gave up and laid down to sleep.  I am very happy about this!!
Anyway, this morning I was trying to do a little work in my flower bed and I was reminded of a little tidbit of truth that I wanted to share.  
When I got home, I took one look at my flowers and realized that it probably had not rained a drop since we had been gone.  They were wilted looking, and the ground was dusty and dry.  However, even though I had weeded the garden right before I left, the bed was covered in more weeds.  Same with our yard--the real grass is turning brown while the areas of crabgrass seem to be flourishing. 
So why is it that the good stuff requires so much TLC while the not-so-good stuff can grow in any condition?  Once again, God uses nature to reveal a little spiritual truth, for isn't it the same in our lives?  We have to constantly cultivate the good and stave off the bad, because of the fallen world in which we live.  The Bible says that one day we will live in a world that is free of natural harm (thorns, carnivores), and spiritual harm (Satan will be bound).  But until then, we must work hard to keep ourselves free from the "weeds" (sin) that can come up and discourage us and try to choke us out.  Those weeds will certainly take over if we are complacent, but the way to keep them at bay is by being proactive; praying and living out God's Word--continually.  And as encouragement, we can look forward to the coming day when all things will be made new and we will forever be in the physical presence of the living God!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Our Big Day at the Park


I am so exhausted.  Am I really supposed to be this exhausted on vacation?  I guess it's inevitable when you have three little ones who don't stop needing you just because you go on "vacation".  Actually, we have had a great time, I am just extremely tired today because of our day at Disneyworld yesterday.  It was good, but the two and a half hours of pouring rain sure did make it challenging.  The rain started as we were standing in line to meet Aerial.  We never made it to the princess, but instead we got absolutely soaked.  So soaked (as if we had just stepped out of the shower--ALL of us) that we actually went into one of the gift shops, picked out three dry (expensive, but dry) shirts for the kids and changed them right there in the middle of the store.  FUNNY STORY:  We tore the tags off and started putting them on the kids, and Ashlyn was just watching very solemnly.  Then she quietly said, "Mommy, why are you stealing?"  Little did she know that we had talked to the nearby clerk and had gotten an OK for using the shirts in advance.  
Anyway, after the rain cleared (the first time), we were fine, and the kids had a fun day, but of course were absolutely exhausted by the end.  But hey, it's Disneyworld.  Gotta get your money's worth.  :)  They really did have fun, and I was surprised at how much we actually got to do considering that we stayed with a group of 24 people.
So, even though we didn't get to "meet" Aerial, Emily was okay with just seeing her in the parade.  Jake loved the rides and 3-D movie experience, and Ashlyn was tall enough this year to ride the big roller coasters, including Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, of which she remarked, "that freaked my chest out!!" (after going down the big hill).  
So we did the Magic Kingdom, and today we are hoping to relax and enjoy our last day at the beach.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why God Made the Ocean (a child's point of view)


We rode the "ski lift" out over the pier last night.  Emily and I were in a car together.
Me: "Emily, why do you think God made the ocean?"
Emily (without missing a beat):  "So we could swim in it."
Me:  "Why else do you think God made the ocean?"
Emily:  "So fishes and other water animals would have a place to breath."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good Times





We are loving the beach!!  Ashlyn would be out in the water all day--wait a minute--she IS in the water all day.  She does not take a break until I make her.  Emily and Jake really started playing in the waves yesterday instead of running away from them, Jason has been riding the waves on a queen sized air mattress, and I have been taking lots of pictures and video AND improving my Guitar Hero skills after the kids go to bed.   Fun, fun, fun!
  


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Observations from the Sea


The ocean always inspires me.  It inspires me to get up early.  It inspires me to exercise (jog on the beach).  That really shouldn't be a surprise, though, since God is enough to inspire anyone, and I know that God reveals himself through His creation.  Romans 1:20 says that "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made...".  In fact, I would go so far as to say that there are certain attributes of God that I might not recognize if I don't take time to watch and listen to His creation. Please do not misunderstand me; He has revealed Himself through Christ and the Word.  But isn't awesome that He has also chosen to show Himself to us through some of the most beautiful things our eyes can behold, small and great?  When you really take the time to OBSERVE nature and think about these intricate and majestic creations, you can, without fail, learn something about the nature and character of God.  Here is an example:
As I watch the ocean and it's never-ending tides, I am reminded of God's never-ending love.  Day in and day out those tides roll in.  It never ever stops.  Never.  And when I am silent and just take it in and listen, it brings a calm and peace to my soul--just like the love of God.  
I really feel like when we get to eternity we will finally understand the reasons for everything that God created on earth.  For now though, I will look around and seek to know my Father as I observe the many aspects of His brilliant creation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Outta Here!


Today we are leaving for Florida, so it's a full day of packing and cleaning, around the kids of course!  It's alot of work, but I know it will be worth it.  
Please pray for us as we travel and as we (well, not ME) swim in the shark-infested waters.  Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic, and I always hear that you have more of a chance of getting hurt on the way TO the beach than in the water.  Fine.  I guess it's just that sometimes the old think-too-much-about-what-COULD-happen (aka worry) resurfaces (I used to be REALLY bad about that).  Yes I've gotten better, but I still have my moments.  I just have to remind myself that our lives are in HIS hands and pray that my husband doesn't get too "brave".  
Otherwise, we are VERY excited about our trip and just getting to spend time with the fam.  I'll be posting from Florida!!!

What is he smiling at!?!?!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's a Way of Life


Jason was telling me the other day that he was trying to straighten up one of the rugs in our house and Jake was right there with him, trying his best to straighten that rug too.  He follows Jason around like a little puppy and tries to do whatever he sees his dad doing.  We have even played games with it, like moving our arms around in certain ways just to see if he will do it too, and he always comes through!  He is such an imitator of us!!!
Okay, so I found a great spiritual connection there.  I know this isn't an original thought, but sometimes I just need to be reminded.  Kids are sometimes wonderful (albeit inadvertent) teachers.  I learn alot from watching my kids.  While thinking of the relationship between Jason and Jake, I could not help but think of Ephesians 5:1, where we are urged to be "imitators of God, like beloved children".  So, Jake wants to be just like his dad--he does his very best to imitate him.  He can't always do it perfectly, but he tries his best.  Just like Jake, I want to imitate my Father--to do what He does.  Forgive.  Show compassion.  Love, even when there is no return.  It won't be perfect, but just as Jason would never reject Jake for not being perfect, I can trust in my Father's love and know that He is right there willing to help me.  I'm always amazed at the way God uses my little ones to remind me of Biblical truths.  And they are completely unaware of being used by God (that's a whole other blog in itself)!
By the way, can you see what the back of Jason's shirt says in the picture?  It sums it all up.  (For a hint, check the title of the blog)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Princess Named Ariel


Yesterday at lunch as I was sitting across from my Emily, I looked up to find her combing her hair with her fork.  If you've never seen "The Little Mermaid", then you wouldn't know that she was mimicking Ariel, the red-headed, sea-dwelling star of the movie and sweet Emily's favorite princess.
I don't know exactly how many times I have heard the phrase, "Mommy, I'm a princess named Ariel....", but I know that it is at least once a day, and usually more.  After her declaration, she then proceeds to tell an animated story, completely made up (and usually really lengthy) about how maybe she went to Wal-Mart or went to visit her friend Belle.  
She also likes to use her character as an opportunity to refer to me by my first name.  "Hi, Amy", she'll say, "I'm a princess named Ariel".  And then she continues to her story, and sometimes will go ahead and burst into a very loud and full-of-vibrato song.
I know that these are precious days, and there is nothing in this whole wide world that I would trade for my little princess.  I love the way she twirls her hair, I love the way she wears her "high" heels, I love the way she names every living thing "Sparkles", I love that she only wants to wear dresses (and has about a 4 or 5 dress rotation).  I love to paint her nails pink, I love listening to her stories, and of course I LOVE hearing her little voice singing at the top of her lungs.  She is our princess right now, and I will cherish every twinkle in her little eyes.  And the best part about it is that I can truthfully tell her how she can be a real princess--a daughter of the King of Kings.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Holiday Weekend


We spent the 4th of July in the land of the Hoosiers again this year.  There were lots and lots of people at the big party, and the night ended with an incredible fireworks display, put on my awesome pyrotechnic husband and his brother and cousins. We had put together some Patriotic music for the show and it was pretty cool.  It was emotional too, though, since we took time to remember Teddy, Jason's cousin who died in a motorcycle accident in January.  He always loved helping with the fireworks too, so they called this year's celebration the "Teddy Weber Annual Memorial Fireworks Show".  Jason also lost his grandfather this past year, so we remembered him as well.
We had fun with the family, though, and we're excited about the 32-person trip to Florida with them next week!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Charlotte Mason Way


Over the weekend, as much as possible, I immersed myself into a book describing the Charlotte Mason method of teaching.  This is a method that I am really excited about implementing this school year.  To follow her way of teaching is to basically encourage the love of knowledge and learning, not just individual pieces of information (memorized facts, etc.)  She believes (and so do I) that education goes FAR beyond academics, and includes manners, discipline and an understanding of God's world and the natural things around us.  
One of my favorite Charlotte Mason insights so far (I'm not even halfway through the book) is that when a child is misbehaving, it is good to acknowledge to the child that their misbehavior is a result of sin and that Jesus Christ is the only one to save us from our sin.  While I teach my children about Jesus, I wonder how often I actually make that connection for them in a practical way (like applying it to their own sin).  Many times I simply react to the present offense and administer the necessary discipline, then stop there.  Something to think about!
My goal as a homeschooler (and a mother) is not only to teach my kids what they need to learn in the academic realm, but to instill in them a love of learning, because then they will always be able to find out what they need to know.  Most of all, though, I know that God has created each of my children with a unique purpose, and I (along with Jason, dependent upon the guidance of the Lord) have the responsibility to help them as they navigate through these early years, to discover their God-given gifts and help lead them in the direction they were meant to go.  
I have much more to learn, but I am so excited to implement this "gentle art of learning" as it has been called, and continue on this wonderful journey of teaching my children.  

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Josh

Last night we went to the Lincoln County Fair.  Jason and Jeff were in the Cornhole Tournament, so we loaded up the family and set off for a night of fun, fun, fun!!!  :)  Anyway, my brother Josh wanted to play in the tournament too, so we tried calling everybody we could think of to find him a partner (he just moved back home Monday), and nobody could do it.  So, when we got there, he met another guy (also named Josh) who needed a partner, so they played together.  

As it turned out, Josh's mom works with Myers International Midway, so he travels with her and hangs out at the fairs.  He was so nice, and I immediately wondered if he knew Jesus.  The opportunity never came for me to talk to him, but I had prayed that God would open up a door for one of us to witness to him.  God answered.  One of our friends got the opportunity to talk to him about his faith.  He was receptive, and he is going to talk to him again tonight.  

I pray for Josh and I hope that you will remember him too.  Maybe the whole reason he played cornhole with my brother was so that he would have the opportunity make a friend who would talk to him about Christ.  

By the way, Jason and Jeff were runners-up.  Josh and Josh lost the first round, but a seed planted for Christ always brings about a win.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

First Words


This week Jake has been babbling out his first words.  Well, second words if you count "uh-oh".  The other day he came wobbling into the kitchen with a ball in each hand yelling "Bah!  Bah!".  I could have predicted that to be his first word, as much as he loves them!  He repeats "mama", "da...", "fish" ("sh..."), and utters only the inflection of "thank you".  The rest of the time it sounds like he's transmitting Morse Code.  He just kind of grunts.  I love it! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mission Minded?

For awhile now, I have been frustrated with the ever-present mindset of people just going to church instead of being the church.  I'm not alone in this thought process, as my pastor has been speaking on this very thing lately.  Over the past couple of years, God has been speaking to me about changes that I need to make.  As a result, I believe that overall I have become a more forgiving person, a more eternity-minded person and hopefully a more loving person (especially to those with whom I disagree). Of course, I still have much more to learn.

But when I read God's Word and actually try to DO what it says, I realize how sinful I am, and I am constantly reminded of why I need Christ.  So, I have been convicted about my lack of true service to God.  This thought came to my mind:

If I were from say, South Korea, and I came with my family to my hometown to be a missionary, I would be meeting my neighbors, witnessing to them, inviting them to church, etc.  But because I LIVE here, I just tend to drive on by and sometimes wave. What I think is that I need to have a missionary mindset--as if I were here on a mission trip--because isn't that really what it is?  We are on this earth to build His kingdom, right?  We just get so wrapped up in our own "worlds" and forget that every day we are to be His servants.

Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled like crazy in our world right now, and I personally feel a great urgency to reach people for Christ.  I don't have to go somewhere else.  I can be a "missionary" in my hometown, where there are LOTS of people who desperately need Jesus.  That means not just GOING to church, but SERVING in a church.  It means not focusing on where I am most comfortably entertained (music, programs, friends), but where God can use my abilities from Him the most.  I'm having a change of heart, and though I don't know where this will lead, I know that building God's kingdom is a most important and incredibly urgent task, so therefore, I will follow.