Monday, March 30, 2009

Stop and Smell the...Dandelions

One thing that I have always known about myself is that I love every season, especially when it first starts.  If I HAD to choose a favorite, it would be fall, but even then, when each new season rolls around, I find so much pleasure in the newness.

Right now our grass is so green, and little "blooms" of yellow are dotting our yard.  Yeah, I know that some people think dandelions are weeds, but I have had too many of them in vases to refer to them as weeds anymore.  If I had a nickel for every bouquet of dandelions given proudly to me by my kids, I would, well, I'd have quite a few nickels!  

Many times we have walked through the fields that separate our house from my parents' house and then their house from my grandparents' house, but in the spring, it takes twice as long!  Why?  Because my kids want to stop and pick all the dandelions (or at least smell of them until their noses turn yellow)!  There have been many times that I have wanted to rush the journey, needing (wanting) to get on to the destination.  Then I've had to stop and realize that for them, there is great joy in journey.  And what's even more amazing is that what they find so beautiful, many people spend lots of money trying to eliminate!  

Oh, I don't really know what great life application could come from this, except that it reminds me to just recognize the joys in the journey of my life.  And sometimes I may be surprised, since sometimes my greatest joy may seem like a "weed" to someone else.  God knows us so well, and He had created us all so uniquely.  He desires for us to enjoy our lives as we serve Him, and He gives us everything we need.  I thank Him for little lessons like this to remind me of His provision for my life.  And I KNOW I'm not the only mom who has learned to LOVE dandelions!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Her Quiet Time

First, thanks for all the congratulations!  Though this was a little unexpected, we are excited!  I have no doubt in my mind that this is a blessing from the Lord and that this pregnancy and this baby is in His hands.  We would certainly appreciate your prayers.

My heart has been blessed this week, not only because of the miraculous new life that is growing inside of me, but also because of the growth I have witnessed in my other three children.  I want to praise my Father for the blessing we have experienced with Ashlyn in particular this week.

The other night after bedtime prayers, Ashlyn informed me that praying and reading the Bible were very similar, but that when we pray we are talking to God and when we read the Bible God is talking to us.  I was blown away by her insight, although I knew that this is something that Jason had discussed with her.  I told her that I like to read the Bible in the mornings because it helps me to start my day off right.  She then asked me if I would wake her up early the next day so that she could read the Bible with me!  Of course I promised her that I would.

The next morning, I was up very early, so I waited until a reasonable hour to wake her up (it was still earlier than usual).  She woke up ready to go.  As we sat in "my" chair together, I started to select a Psalm for us to read.  That is until she told me she wanted to read her favorite Psalm, and "could we please read separately?"  (instead of aloud together).  So that's what we did.  I can't tell you how blessed I felt at that moment!

So, for three mornings in a row, Ashlyn has gotten up and read her Bible.  Because of the interest she has shown, I bought her a daily devotional book for kids (one where she looks up the Bible passage herself), and I showed her how to use it this morning.  We have had many conversations about God and I can tell that He is drawing her little heart.

I praise God for being so gracious and directing my child's heart, even when I feel like I make so many mistakes as a parent.  I have always prayed that God would turn my kids' hearts toward Him, and it blesses me beyond measure when I see that happening.  I know she is young, and she may not understand everything she reads right now.  I certainly don't feel like I have to give her a lecture on every passage she reads.  For now I am happy that she is (hopefully) developing a habit of spending time in the Word and eager to learn more about Jesus.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We Have News...

I kind of think the picture speaks for itself, don't you?  :)

Somebody's Watchin' You

You know, I've always been told by my parents that the way we conduct ourselves as Christians is so important, and one reason is because people are watching.  We may not realize it, but claiming to be a follower of Christ automatically sets us up for scrutiny by others.  They want to see how we react to difficult, unfair or simply every day circumstances.  They want to know if we are truly different than others who don't claim to have a walk with Christ.

I was thinking about this last night as I was going to bed--about the importance of maintaining and demonstrating Godly character even when you feel that you have the right to be upset.  In a way, I feel like times such as this are good, because it really helps to beef up the "character" muscle.  In other words, there are times when we can look at our hurt or angry feelings as an opportunity to grow in our faith.

Ashlyn is almost 8 years old (I can hardly believe that) and her little ears pick up on so many things that we probably don't even think about half the time.  As husband and wife, Jason and I discuss many things that we wouldn't talk about with anybody else.  There are even times when we "vent" to each other about a hurt that we have towards someone else or when we feel that we have been treated in a way that is unfair.  But little ears are listening and little eyes are watching the way we handle such issues.  We are helping to shape the character of our children.  So imagine if our children always heard us talking down about someone or simply complaining all the time...that is probably going to play a huge role in the way they handle difficult circumstances as well.

It doesn't matter if it's about the president or the neighbor next door, my kids are watching, listening and looking up to my words and actions.  I feel a great responsibility to be extra careful of how I react to various situations and people.  The best way to appear to have strong character to my children is to actually have strong character.  How is that produced?  Romans 5:3-5 tells us,

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 

People are inevitably going to do things that either make us upset or that disappoint us.  But one of the greatest lessons my mother always taught me is that we are only responsible for our own actions.  We cannot control others, nor do we have to answer for them, but we can control ourselves, and we will have to answer for our actions.  God will use even the smallest trials to help build character within our own lives, as well as anyone else who might be watching, when we choose to follow His instructions to love Him with all our hearts and then our neighbor as ourselves.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well, it's been awhile since I've been on here, but we had a great time on our trip to Texas, and I feel like we've been going non-stop ever since we arrived home Saturday!

It was so good to be with our family down there, and it was great to have a break from the every day routine, you know?  The trips there and back were long, but they really weren't bad.  The kids DID ask several times, "How many more minutes?" but overall they did so well.

The trip also provided plenty of opportunity for me to step back and kind of evaluate the goings on of my life and re-evaluate my priorities and perspectives a bit.  I found myself reflecting quite a bit on several things, although I must say I didn't come to any definite conclusions.  There are many things about which I am still praying and seeking God's direction.  

But, as for the trip itself, we saw lots of animals, ate lots of good food, and had a ton of fun!!  The highlight for me was the night we went to Rodeo Austin...that was a great time!  Laura and Will were extremely hospitable and patient (we invaded their home for a week!)  I'm so thankful that we were able to go, but now we are home, unpacked, and getting back into the swing of real life.  Of course, that's not a bad thing.  There's just something about sleeping in your own bed...even if it is cram packed with kiddos by the time morning rolls around!  :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Days in Austin

After approximately 19 hours on the road and then the flurry of activity that surrounds a happy reunion of sisters, cousins and in-laws, we are HERE! Well, actually we've been here for a few days, but I haven't been able to find the time to sit down long enough to post updates or anything else for that matter! But it has been great. The kids have been playing and having the time of their lives, and we've enjoyed just being together, loving the warm weather, and feasting on good stuff like Texas barbeque and Tex-Mex.Sunday night we let the cousins have a movie night, so this is a picture of them all piled on the bed. Jacob stayed in bed long enough for the picture to be taken, but as soon as the movie started he felt he'd had enough. He didn't last long!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For A Reason

This morning I was reading a Scripture passage that I've read before about one of the people that Jesus healed.

The story is found in John 9:1-11, and starts with Jesus and His disciples walking by a blind man.  Do you remember?  The disciples ask Jesus, basically, why the man is blind--was it his sin or his parents'?  They assumed this because the man had been blind from birth.  Jesus' reply touched my heart,

It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.

And then, after He said those words, Jesus healed him.

The reason this passage touched me is because it made me realize (again) how sovereign God is over all things.  Jesus is saying that this man was born blind so that "the works of God might be displayed in Him".  It doesn't mention the age of the blind man, but I wonder how many times in his life he had questioned why this had happened to him?  Think about that, and then think about how many times we question things that we (or others) may be going through.  Could it be, in some of those cases, that it's because God wants to reveal His glory?

You know, sometimes we may not understand why things happen, but God knows.  In fact, He either purposes or permits it for a reason (Romans 8:28).  There are things that happen as a result of sin, but then there are things that happen because God has a greater purpose, even though we may not understand right away.  When this world (or your life) seems out of control, remember that the Bible says that our days were ordered for us before even one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16).  God knows our circumstance, and our job is listen to Him, trust Him, obey Him and pray that, as in the case of this blind man, God's works might be displayed in us.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Emily's Clarification

Okay, first of all, this time change is about to do me in.  Anybody with me?

I was so tired this morning that it was all I could do to fix breakfast.  I thought I might try to sneak in a few moments of "nap" while the kids were doing their chores, but of course that was a ridiculous idea.  So I decided that I ought to be responsible and take care of my duties as well.  I also prayed that God would rejuvenate me today so that I might be able to accomplish what I needed to without dragging about.  I praise Him because He absolutely did that!  I still feel much better, and I really do credit God for helping me because I didn't do anything different...I simply felt a boost of energy.  I thank Him that He cares about even the small details of my life!

Anyway, I want to share this little tidbit that kind of spoke to my heart today.  As I was gathering the plates off of the table this morning, I heard Emily screaming at Ashlyn, "I'm not going to play with you at all today!!!!!"  I just listened to hear what would come next.  I expected a retort from Ashlyn.  But instead, as if she realized the gravity of what she had just said and what it would mean for her later in the day, Emily softly said, "Well, I might play with you a little bit--but not very much!"

I had to laugh.  I thought it was so funny that she would make such a bold threat, and then immediately back down when she figured out that she just might want to play together later.  If only we could be so humble!  I thought about how many times we make bold (obnoxious) threats or speak before we think out of anger.  I loved that Emily had the innocence and honesty to clarify her words.  She didn't take it back completely, but she is only four years old after all.  Still, even though I'm sure we all say things we don't mean from time to time, I can't help but wonder how much better off many relationships would be if that sort of humility was present!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Narrow Way

I have lots on my mind today, and I feel antsy to write, but honestly, I don't even have it all together in my head.  All I know is that lately (well, for some time now), I have been burdened by all of the lies that are swirling around in the world today.  I am burdened particularly by the fact that so many people--even "Christians"--are buying into lies about spirituality and about God.  

I suppose the reason for much of this is two-fold.  Number one, many of the lies are worded so closely to the truth, even quoting Biblical references (though out of context), and number two, there is a lack of spiritual discernment among many believers, possibly in part because the busyness of life tends to so easily detract from time that is spent in God's Word.

Have you ever felt so burdened but you don't know what to do?  That is the way I feel.  I love the Word of God, and I believe every word of it.  I have so much to learn and God is so faithful to reveal truth to me so that I can grow.  I just want to do more.  I want to share His truth, as well as what God has done in my life.  

The Bible is clear that in the last days there will be many false teachings.  The danger is, as I stated earlier, that many of these tend to sound so much like truth.  If a person is not completely devoted to the Lord, then they are in danger of falling for many of these lies.  Knowing this makes it clear why Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14,

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again.  We live in urgent times, and there is no time to mess around.  I feel a call to urge people to get off the fence and be completely devoted to the Jesus Christ.  His grace is available and welcoming, and we would be fools to live our lives with indifference.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Living Among the Animals

I can't go into any room of my house without seeing wild animals.  

No, I'm not talking about my kids (hee hee), but rather a menagerie of the stuffed sort, lying here and there and everywhere.  I have to admit that it sometimes drives me crazy!!!  Every morning after breakfast, I walk back into my bedroom to get ready for the day, and there on my bed are piles and piles of stuffed animals.  They are hiding in tents (made by the kids with blankets and pillows) or peering out from under the covers.  

Then after (and during) lunch, I find these animals on the table, each with its own bowl of plastic food.  In the afternoon, many of the animals are brought to the vet's office (aka our living room) for a routine checkup or maybe a minor surgery.  Then before bedtime, the animals are swept away, back in their proper places for the night.  

But there are always lingerers.  
A puppy on the edge of my bathtub.  
A tiger underneath the end table.  
A flamingo that has been left on the window sill.  

Sometimes I grumble silently when I see these animals that were, for whatever reason, left behind.  I guess I figure that if they are putting all the others away, why leave just a few here and there?  But then yesterday, as I was staring at a pig sitting on the back of the chair, I realized something.  I realized that there will come a day when my floors will be free of stuffed animals.  Someday my living room might just be a plain old living room instead of doubling as a veterinarian's office.  And I have a feeling that when that day comes, I will surely miss my little animal friends, not to mention the whirlwind days of my kids being little.  Time passes so quickly it seems, and I know that each moment that passes is one moment closer to that day.  

So, I guess the next time I see these random critters making themselves at home in my "space", I'll simply pick it up...and smile (I'm going to be doing a lot of smiling).  :)