Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Patches" and Chimney Tops

One week ago, we were living it up in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I love that place!

It was a mini-vacation of sorts, and we were blessed with two glorious days, which we spent hiking, shopping, go karts, mini golf, a comedy show, and more hiking!

One of the hikes we took was a 4-mile (round trip) "strenuous" hike. The two miles one way took us 1700 feet in elevation, so it was a pretty steep trail in many parts. It was rocky too. And beautiful. Anyway, Jason and I had been on this trail back before we ever had children, so it was exciting for us to get to take all four kids along this time.

At the beginning of the trail, Emily started to whine about something. Even though she is our resident drama queen, I knew that she was capable of handling such a strenuous hike.

While Emily was crying and holding on to my hand at the start of the trail, I looked at my mom and whispered, "Give her ten minutes....she'll be a new kid". I was wrong. It was hardly two minutes before she took off barking and panting, running to the front of the pack as happy as a lark.

I knew it would happen. I knew Patches would show up. Yeah, Patches. That's Emily's alter ego. Patches comes along on hikes in the woods and long family walks. Patches never complains. Occasionally, Patches gets a little wild, and I am instructed to say "Heel Patches!" and then Patches calms down and walks with me. Patches has a very cute bark and likes to run and leap and lead the hike. Patches also likes to sniff out various flowers and also doesn't cry when she falls down. Patches is great!!!

I found it humorous how quickly her attitude shifted, and how similar it is to the way I operate at times (minus the turning into a dog part). :) We really can choose our attitude, can't we? We can decide to stay in a sour mood or we can choose to smile. We even have the choice of how we will accept our circumstances or consequences. Our attitude really is something that we can control. That doesn't mean it's easy, but it is within our reach. And when we reach out, our patient, loving Father meets us there. He supplies the strength we need to make the complete adjustment.

These were just thoughts that I pondered as we hiked. It was one of my favorite hikes I've ever taken, in part because I love that trail (Chimney Tops), but mostly because I was so proud of how the kids enjoyed it and were so enthusiastic, even during the steep portions.

Jason took Ashlyn to the tip top of the peak, which is just up from the top of the trail. You actually have to scale the rock to get there, so we decided that Ash would be the only kid to go. It was a wonderful day, one that I will not soon forget. Here are a few pics:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Number One

See how my boy has grown? (And I like how he is taking down that lion!) :)

The kids and I just finished a biography about Lottie Moon. If you're like I was, you didn't know much more about this lady than that she was a missionary to China and that the Baptist church takes up an offering in her honor every Christmas, which is applied to international mission work.

This was the second bio we've read about missionaries to China (the other was about Gladys Alyward, and I highly recommend them both), and during both books we were riveted as we read about how these ladies received their calls from God, how they endured persecution, and how they lived lives that were far from successful by the world's standards, but were truly extraordinary in the eternal realm of Kingdom advancement.

Reading these books confirmed within me something which I have thought about for a long time:

Eternal Mindset.

That is the number one principle that I want my children (and myself) to grab a hold of.

I've asked them before to imagine their lives as a speck on a line that goes forever in each direction (not to discount their lives, but to offer perspective and see how much bigger God is than we are). I want them to truly understand that we should accept the things that God brings our way on this earth, whether it be blessing or hardship, in light of the fact that this life is so temporary.

Am I saying we shouldn't enjoy our lives on earth? Absolutely not! As always, looking to Jesus Christ as our primary example is a must. He enjoyed relationships with people, grew up obeying a mom and dad, went to weddings and worked for a living. But He always had eternity and His Father's Kingdom in mind.

People like Lottie Moon are fine examples too. At the end of her life, she had almost nothing to her name (she had given it all away). She had grown up in a wealthy Southern family. She had been well educated. She could have become very successful according to the world's standards. But that was not her calling. (Worldly success isn't bad, except when it comes at the price of giving up God's call on your life.)

A beautiful life, that's what she lived. A beautiful life full of people, pain, and prayer. I encouraged the girls to imagine, that even though she had nothing of value when she died, the souls in heaven who greeted her, thankful that she had made such a sacrifice so that they might hear the truth of Jesus Christ. What encouragement that is!

My prayer for my children is that God would turn their hearts toward Him. I pray that His purposes would be at the forefront of their minds. I pray that He would draw them to Himself and give them the desire to work for His Kingdom. I pray that we would all never forget that our work will one day be tested, and only what's done for Him will last.

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold,
silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
each man's work will become evident;
for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire,
and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.
If any man's work which he has built on it remains,
he will receive a reward.
If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss,
but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My List

Reasons I love being a mom:

1) Ashlyn:
nature-loving, generous, energetic

2) Emily:
girly girl, dramatic, sensitive

3) Jacob:
comedian, independent, tough as nails

4) Evan:
cute, cute, cute

I love doing life with these kids, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for them!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Garden We Will Grow!

Yesterday, the kids and I took a trip to the greenhouse to pick out flowers, and today, being the glorious day that it was, we took advantage of the nice weather and spent the entire day outside cleaning out beds and setting flowers.

It was truly a blessing for me, because my kiddos really did help me. I was hoping they would give me an hour or two without complaining, but as it turned out, it was a whole day of happily working together!

At the greenhouse yesterday, they were asking for flowers that would be their "own". I told them to each choose two flowers, and I would buy one and they they would buy one. So the girls took their purses, shopped carefully, and each paid a dollar fifty on some great choices. This investment really sparked their interest in where the flowers would be planted, making sure they have a happy home where they can grow and thrive!

It was so great being able to spend the whole day like that working together. We had some good conversation, and there was lots of teaching and learning going on. Days like this are a good reminder to me that learning is truly a lifestyle. No matter what we are doing, there is always some kind of knowledge to gain that is relevant to real life.

Finally, at the end of the afternoon, 
I pulled out the sprinkler as a reward for their diligent labor!