Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Paying Bills

There is nothing better to put you in your place, bring your head out of the clouds and totally wake you up from la la land than paying bills. Depressing! I don't think it matters how much money I have in the bank... it could be a good week or a very, very, very sad week as far as the bank statement goes and I still can't find "joy" in writing those checks.

Where does it all go? I know gas has been high. Milk is high. Doing anything for fun these days costs an arm and a leg (unless your my sister and live next to the "free to enjoy" lake!). It seems like our paycheck is spent before I've even have a chance to deposit it! Ugh! What else can I say?

If you haven't already guessed... it was payday for us today, which means I payed bills. Which means I was definitely not the "fun" mom today!!! My son is ready to go back to his aunt's house...

However, the silver lining is that, just when I think things seem about hopeless, God sends me a hug! I really can't share what form my "hug from God" took today, but let me say this... I serve a MIGHTY God, who takes care of his own! (And no, I didn't win the lottery!!!)

Matthew 6: 19-34 ... Read this and remind yourself how much the Lord cares!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jordan's flag

When I was a child, I had a very active imagination. I was never "alone." My stuffed animals became my friends, while my room became my haven. I even had imaginary friends. In my room, life was always great, dreams always came true and there were definitely many "happily ever afters."

When I played with my real 'live and kicking friends", we were always creating some fantasy world. Whether we were the Charlie's Angels or playing house, there was always a drama waiting to unfold on the playground. Between somersaults or a game of freeze tag, our imaginations would run wild! Promises were made and broken, while memories were in the making.

However, sometimes I worry about the kids of today. I look at my children and wonder if children no longer know how to entertain themselves? My daughter has a very creative side to her, yet still would rather listen to music, play on the computer or watch TV, instead of allowing her mind to just wonder... And my son? Well let's say he probably needs to be reminded of what the word imagination Even means!!! If it is not some kind of electronic contraption or a sport, do my kids know what it means to "just play?"

I was blessed with a small token of a moment that gave me just a little hope... While my nephews were here visiting, the oldest, Keaton, asked me for tape, paper, markers, etc... I asked Jordan what they were doing, since all the boys were in the back yard playing. "We are making our flag!" he answered.

"Flag?" Sure enough, there in the back yard, four little boys had created their little imaginary club, with a flag. I didn't think much of it at the time, mainly because all the boys left that day, including Jordan who went to stay with them for the week. However, yesterday, Jordan comes in and gets a piece of my white, scrapbook paper, and asked for a marker and some tape. I asked what he was up to. "I have to fix our flag, Mom. The boys are depending on me!" I looked out the window, and there he was, by himself, making sure the flag stood tall.

I had to smile. No, he didn't stay out there and play, but he had found something that a computer or PlayStation game couldn't given him... his imagination! And he was determined to keep that moment alive...

The second flag made by Jordan, standing tall in our backyard...

Monday, July 28, 2008

My kids expressions...

Well, ever since my sister's oldest got his own blog, Jordan has been bugging me to death for one too. I asked him what he was going to put on it...he said stories about baseball and golf and... I told him that would be copying his cousin. Besides, between you and me, he really doesn't like to write stories! His sister is the writer...

Anyway, I compromised. I told him I would create a blog for him, but he would have to share it with his sister. (I still think this is just a passing fancy!) So, I don't know what you'll see or what my two darlings will end up creating, but if you check out their blog every once in a while, you might smile as you view their many creative expressions.

Lessons learned...

Alright, my sister has inspired me with all her lists, so I thought I would give it a whirl... I will call my list, "lessons learned from spending a week at the beach with 70 something teenagers!" In other words,what us adults can learn from our youth about how to live life :)

1. More is always better! If we are traveling and stop at a truck stop, it is always better to buy the biggest drink available, if they sell jerky by the yard it is a must have and it is always important to see who can spend all their money before we even reach our destination!

2. Sleep is not important! It is better to be the energizer bunny and keep going...

3. You can live on Pop tarts alone! You might be starving, yet if it doesn't look right, smell right, forget even tasting to see if it tastes right... thank goodness Kevin had provided each condo with breakfast foods!

4. Life should always have a dramatic "flair' to it... it is always the "worse" thing that could happen, life is over as we know it, there is never a silver lining!

5. It is all about the dress and a little bling bling! It doesn't matter what the dress looks like, if it belongs to someone else, it must be cool. I honestly don't know if a couple of our girls will ever see all their clothes and jewelry again!!! The price you pay for having good taste!

6. The best time to fight is when you are worn out and worn down! That is when you are full of meaningless comments, lack great sense and would rather act first, think later! Fun times!

7. It is cool to be the rule breaker... There is always one who plunges ahead and brings the one thing on the list, that was suppose to be left at home. Of course nobody turns him in because they all want to use it!

8. Fighting over a boy without a name is great fun! In other words, forget meeting the guy, or finding out anything about him, just continue to admire him from afar and bicker over "who gets him." Wow! This one really takes me back to my teenager years!

9. It is important to put appearance over feelings. It is thought to be more important to "look cool" than to show how you really feel. Cockiness is the thread that holds a group together!

10. Live in the moment! There are never any consequences to any actions!

Truth is I enjoyed camp and hanging out with the kids. I might look back with smiles and make a silly list at their expense, but if anything, it takes me back to my own youthful days... Wonderful childhood experiences, friends and yes, DRAMA!!!

Life is full of possibilities! It is hard at the age of thirteen, sixteen or eighteen to hold on to God's promises and know that he has special plans for each of his children. Yet, I can look back at the age of thirty seven, and know beyond a doubt, I was always in his care... there would be no way I would be sitting here writing this today if I wasn't.

I look back a mistakes made, fears and hurts and almost laugh at how some of them seem so insignificant now. So, yes we can learn from watching our youth. The troubles I may have today, will one day be small and almost forgotten. We really should live in the moment... but only if we let Christ sit beside us!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm Back! And Let me tell you...God is Mighty to Save!!!

I'm back from camp. I'm tired. Not just the "rest your head on the pillow" kind of tired, but rather the, "I had appointments with God this week" worn out "emotionally and spiritually" tired! I will say that I don't think XFUGE is my favorite camp, but I certainly know now that we were suppose to be there!!!!

For me, the whole "give everything to God" experience started with the trip down there. I hate to travel. I will not complain, for we were in charter buses, yet there is something a little claustrophobic to me about being on a bus and not being able to just stop along the way when you want to. I know this sounds crazy, because I spent my childhood and youth traveling around the world...of course I didn't have certain health issues then, which sometimes makes traveling hard for me sometimes. Anyway, I said all of that to say, there was a lot of prayer passing through my lips for the 12 hour journey to Panama City Beach.

We got there and it was beautiful! Except for the 70 something kids, my sister would have been in heaven! However, God didn't bless me with the skin that tans, instead I have very fair skin, that only turns one other color... lobster red! So sitting on the beach, laying out in the heat doesn't appeal to me, if there is not a "prize" of a tan at the end of the day! I spent a lot of time in the condos with my girls, though. Hmm... maybe there is a reason I wasn't at the beach in the afternoons?! It was a great time for me to get to know a lot of them better! As for going to the beach, well, we had our church group time out there one night. It was majestic! Nothing like hearing youthful voices singing "How Great is Our God," with arms lifting to the stars and waves crashing in harmony in the background. Beautiful!

The Speaker was wonderful. He was an "in the word, scripture teacher." He left me every morning and every night, bruised and battered by the word. I always left worship feeling like I had my toes stepped on, was punched in the gut and left bleeding. Isn't it amazing how God knows what we need to hear, when we need to hear it? I still have so much "stuff" floating in my head and in my heart that I haven't even been able to grab hold of all God wants me to know, yet. I can't wait to have "appointments" with him this week, to learn more.

Notice I said "appointments?" My husband often says to his kids, that God has "appointments" set up for each of us. Sometimes they are moments of blessings and learning, sometimes they are earth shattering experiences and one day each of us will have the final appointment of meeting our maker and Father face to face. Well, we all, our whole group had appointments with God this week and He was going to certainly show us his glory!

I first started thinking about all of this Tuesday afternoon. I was suppose to teach the Wednesday small group lesson to the older girls. You have to understand this about me, teaching is a little out of my "comfort zone." Not that I can't do it, it is just something that doesn't come easy to me. So the other adult lady in my group, who is one of our youth Sunday School teachers, agreed to teach Tuesday and Thursday morning and I would be in charge of Wednesday. Tuesday afternoon as I started looking at the lesson that I would be in charge of, I about died! It was hard! Maybe it was just the subject matter for me, but as I glanced at the other lessons, I thought God was playing a joke on me, because it certainly seemed a more difficult lesson than the others. I was scared! How was "I" going to get through this lesson myself, much less try to teach it. I was up late and up early praying and worrying about small group time and what would actually come out of my mouth...

The lesson was on "being clothed in Christ." What's so hard about that to talk about? Well, truth was that was just the intro to the lesson. The "meat" was FORGIVENESS! Ouch! We were to talk about accepting God's forgiveness, forgiving others and most important, forgiving ourselves. I have to be honest here... I still carry a lot of baggage from my childhood, my youth, other church experiences that has built up and created "plaque" on my is so hard to let go and totally ACCEPT forgiveness sometimes. I don't remember everything I said during class time and I certainly will not take the credit, for I was having an "appointment" with God and I believe with all my heart, that so were my girls! You see, the day before I had already talked to three out of the fifteen girls in my group one on one about things going on in their lives and forgiveness popped up every time. So when I saw the lesson, I knew in my heart that 6 months or a year ago, God had whispered the words to a lesson to the writer, that would touch the hearts of my kids and myself. During class that day, we ended with tears, prayers and many hugs. God was working on us in a big way... and there would be more to come...

I was sitting talking to three other adult counselors, sharing about the morning events, when we got the call... four of our guys were swept out in the ocean and couldn't get back in. Because of the quick thinking of other friends on the beach, they were rescued. One spent the night at the hospital, while the other three seemed ok, yet inside were fighting a battle. They almost drowned! They thought they were going to drown and were worn out and scared. The rest of us were left feeling helpless. I wanted to yell at God. WHY? After all we are at CHURCH CAMP! God whispered back... "I answered your prayer, I'm getting their attention." I almost feel the need to apologize to those boys. The night before I had prayed for God to get the attention of our group and show them how great he is. Lesson have to be careful what you pray for. God certainly showed us his power that afternoon. He was shouting to us with each wave that crashed and each breathe those boys took... LOOK AT ME, I AM!!!

Our boys are fine. Our group is fine. However, we are all changed. Camp this year was unlike any I had ever gone to. I left camp feeling like I had totally experienced the power of our God first hand. The ocean is beautiful, with all of the water crashing on beaches of sand... yet it can also be so dangerous. Isn't that the way life is though? Beauty surrounds us everywhere, yet danger lurks in the shadows at all times. And then there is our incredible Heavenly Father who showers us with love, forgiveness and saving grace... He is our "I AM!"

My children are back home with me, which makes me happy. We were able to bring back seventy something kids back home to their parents last night, which makes me thankful. At camp a whole youth group was changed, which leaves my heart speechless. I believe in a mighty God, who embraces us with tenderness and his forgiving love, yet demonstrates his power and majesty! God is "mighty to save!" Amen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why right now???

Ok. So I have my three nephews visiting... not a problem! Even though that is three more than I'm use to, we've had a pretty good time. Believe it or not, there has only been one major crying spell (Tate going to VBS), one major blowout (between Jordan and Kayla - an everyday occurrence) and one hitting spell (Tate decided he wanted to hit everyone with the butterfly net - at which Keaton cried). Up till now only one thing was broken (by them , anyway!!! it was the light fixture in Jordan's room and was soon to be replaced by a ceiling fan) and nobody has gotten sick.... Overall I think that is a pretty good track record for five kids over the past 3 days!

No my problem is not the kids... It wasn't even VBS after the first day, when I figured out the schedule and expectations and it wasn't even the fact that I haven't had a nap all week! My problem is my house and appliances!!!

My dryer is still not fixed and now my kitchen sink decides to leak. Yes, I will say it again... My sink is messed up!!! So now, not only can I not dry my clothing, I can't wash my dishes! These are fun times. Don't they say things happen in threes? I'm scared!!!

The good news is that there is a laundromat down the street and a plumber coming tomorrow to look at the sink, yet I have to ask "Why Right Now????" I mean, why do these things happen when I have a house full of company, and I have to pack suitcases and get my house in order to leave for camp. Why couldn't it be my vacuum cleaner or television that went out, not two things that bring cleanliness to a halt...not in a house full of little smelly boys!!!

I keep reminding myself that there are worse things in the world and I truly believe that. I just don't want the hassle or inconvenience right now. Of course, when would be a "good" time? This is one of those moments when you have to step back and just breathe and simply be thankful.

I can hear all the kids laughing together in the next room, a beautiful sound... yes, I choose to be thankful!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

when will Uncle Kevin get home?

All day today it has been the same question... "When will Uncle Kevin (Dad) be home? We promised the boys we would take them swimming sometime today. Since I had some shopping to do for camp, Kevin said he would take them. Only one problem, he wasn't able to come home from work as early as he originally planned. Therefore, lucky me, had to hear about it.

Of course, he finally made it home and the boys were able to swim. Here are a few "wet hugs" for my sister, who is enjoying being able to organize her house in peace, but misses her boys.


Jordan and Tate


Sawyer, Jordan & Keaton

My Vacation Bible School room...

My first grade Vacation Bible School Room. My kids helped me decorate it. They hung the streamers from the ceiling and colored the fish on the walls. They were so proud of themselves.

SpongeBob's pineapple and a little bed...

Yesterday my sister brought her three boys to stay with us a few nights. Being the "wonderful" sister that I am (Hee! Hee!), I am trying to give her a few "quiet" days before she returns the favor and takes my kids back home with her. She has agreed to entertain my two next week while I am at camp. Anyway, instead of dragging around my normal two kids, I now have five.

This is a big step for us...for my youngest nephew, Tate, is a big mommy's boy! I wasn't even sure before they arrived if he would stay with us...

Surprise, surprise! When they arrived, Tate came in smiling and talking about the "little bed" I had set up just for him! (We have a trundle bed that is under Jordan's bunk beds.) Even after mommy left, he was excited about his own little bed.

Of course my biggest challenge would be getting Tate to "Bible School." Sure enough, just like Amber said, he woke up saying, "I don't want to go to Bible School!" Finally, I asked him if he wanted to go see SpongeBob's pineapple. (There is a big blow up of a pineapple at the church) Yeah, he decided he wanted to see the big pineapple, but wanted to come right back home. I told him we were going to find a new friend to play with. He told me he already had enough friends! I told him he would have fun. He told me he could have enough fun at home...

We went to VBS, and after a tearful moment, he had fun. He made a "shaker" and tomorrow he gets to make music. I asked him if that meant he wasn't going to cry tomorrow, and he was going to go have fun... he said he would "have to think 'bout it."

Anyway, here are a few pictures, so mommy can see everyone at Bible School, SpongeBob's pineapple and Tate in his "little bed."
Kayla, Jordan, Keaton, Sawyer & Tate at Vacation Bible School.

Tate and "SpongeBob's pineapple"

Tate in his "little bed."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How do you "roll?"

OK, I will try to make this quick, it's getting late and I still have a million things to do before I can lay my head on the pillow tonight. I would have done this sooner, but I just got back from Walmart. CRAZY! They are remodeling our store...need I say more???? I absolutely can't find ANYTHING!!! What use to take 30 minutes, now takes me an hour and a half!!! I would have gone tomorrow to the store, but my "dear, sweet, adorable" nephews (I wrote this sentence just for you sis!) are coming tomorrow to stay with us for a few days. My sister is a master at shopping with a van full of kids, I don't like shopping with my two, let alone adding three more to the great big adventure we like to call WALMART!

I know, I know...I said I would make this quick, and then I started rambling. Sorry! Anyway, I had a cute story to share about Jordan...

We were in the car today and we started talking about the new school year coming up. Jordan is a little nervous, because 3rd grade was not his best year and he really wants to do better. He said, "Mom, I liked my teacher, but she just wouldn't explain anything. She would tell us she was only going to explain things once, and sometimes I felt I needed more help." To which I replied, "Jordan, I think you are going to have a great 4th grade year..." Jordan then stated, "Well, I hope those 4th grade teachers explain things better, 'cause the third grade teachers sure didn't and I just don't roll like that!"

I started laughing secretly. It was so cute. I wanted to ask him, "How do you roll?" But we were having a great conversation and I didn't want to lose the moment. Truth is there are so many days I get frustrated too. Wouldn't it be great if you could just say to the problems of this world, "Hey, go away! I just don't roll like that!"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ask and it shall be given...

Today was our first day of Vacation Bible School... FUN! My family loves it! In years past, at the previous church, Kevin and I have been in charge of it for the past 6 years. It was great! We loved finding out what the theme was, decorating the stage, planning the themed events and watching our kids have the time of their life! Then when we were blessed to see little children come to know the Lord, well it was ... perfect!

Did I say that we did VBS perfectly? No! I know I didn't, for every year the Lord taught me something I needed to know... this year would not be different.

It has been hard for me this year, for a part of me does miss that leadership role, while the other part of me is welcoming the nice break. However, you know, that if you have ever been in charge of anything, it is hard not to have an opinion on how others do the same job. This has been a struggle for me. I now live in a new place, new church, new friends and peers, new way of doing VBS!!!

I'm not going to say anything negative right now, for who am I to really judge what the "correct" way to do VBS really is? Have I learned a few things along the way that could help... YES! However, you know as well as I do, that is a big fat no - no too! I hated all the "friendly advice" people would shower on me, while I was in charge, so I hardly think it would be nice to return the favor. Oh, but it is sooooo hard sometimes to keep my big mouth shut!

The reality is that "I" being the "new girl" and a little bit ignorant of how they do things at my new church, didn't have the greatest of days. Yet, my children had the time of their lives and loved it! In the end, that is what makes a good VBS...

I was talking to a lady in my church today, telling her that God was certainly trying to teach me patience and how to "go with the flow." If you know me, you know I'm not a fly by the seat of your pants type of girl. I don't like surprises. Yet all day today, I was faced with one "big" surprise after another. Anyway my wise friend asked me if I had asked God for patience, to which I replied, "yes I did" Her comment was simply this, "Well, you are the one that asked for patience, so you can't fuss now! Don't you know that God's way of giving us something, many times comes in teaching form?" Oh, how true!

She is right...I certainly asked for patience? And the Lord answered my cry and showed me multiple ways in which I should show my patience all day! Dare I ask for more patience tomorrow?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tired...but Thankful!

I'm tired! Today has been one of those days when you are not given the chance to sit down once! Yet, I learned a good lesson on being thankful!

My day went pretty much like this...

Got up, did the normal morning routine...then washed 3 three loads of laundry, straightened up my room and bed and then checked my mail and email. Ok, I lied, I did get to sit down for 15 min... SORRY! Then I took one load of clothes to my mother-in-law to dry and took the other two to the local laundromat.

This was not my first time shuffling over quarters in order to have clean clothes, but I'm still sad my dryer is not working right. However, as I sit and watch the MANY different people coming and going, all ages, shapes and sizes, that "still small voice' whispers a lesson to be learned. Here were so many different individuals going about their normal routine, with no complaints and I'm fussing because I "just have to use two dryers!" Nothing like watching a whole family come in with five baskets of laundry to put things in perspective! As I was sitting there, I started to feel "thankful." I truly have so much, and I take so much for granted on a daily basis!!!

After the clothes were done, I went to the church to decorate my VBS room. Although, I'm happy with the results (I'll show a picture later) it was definitely a lot of work! Of course I have no one to blame but myself... I'm the one that wanted to cover all the walls in blue paper. I'm the one that wanted to hang streamers from the ceiling. I'm the one that wanted ... get the picture? And did I mention my husband is gone, so I had to in list the kids as my helpers? After they stopped fighting they actually ended up helping me a lot, however it just takes twice as long to do anything when you have to shout "settle down" every 5 minutes! Of course, in the end, another lesson was to be learned...

I was at the doorway to the classroom, watching my kids work and got "happy!" I was happy, because even though the room wasn't perfect, it was decorated for kids, by kids. They were proud and even stated they thought "our" room was decorated the best. Of course not everyone is finished decorating, and it is not a competition in any form, but I couldn't help but agree with them, just a little. It made me regret how many times I had told my children, they couldn't do something , just because I longed for perfection. Good grief! My Heavenly Father would never bless me with responsibility, if perfection was a requirement!!! Lesson learned!

After decorating, I went by Taco Bell to pick up dinner, (Dad's not home, I'm not cooking!) then swung by my in-law's to pick up my laundry. I was given a big sack of fresh tomatoes...YUM! I know my sister is jealous to hear that little tidbit! Where's the salt shaker, I'm ready to have one of those tasty treats right now!

My kids want me to watch a movie with them... I might just do that. I deserve a few minutes with my feet up. Only a few moments, though... I still need to pick up the living room, load the dishwasher, and find clothes for church tomorrow (hope they are clean!)...

I'm tired, but thankful. God is good. He manages to show me the blessings among the difficulties, no matter how big or small. Today was long... yet I can go to bed peacefully tonight, knowing I accomplished what I set out to do and even learned a little about myself and God along the way!

Friday, July 11, 2008

I take it back! I don't hate my dryer!

My dryer went out today. After checking the same load of clothes three times, I finally realized something was wrong. It's running...there's just not any heat! Of course these things never happen at the right time.

My husband has an out of town wedding to sing at, so it was his clothes. He wants to leave at 12:00... it is 10:30 when I discover the problem. Thankfully, I now live in the same town as my mother-in-law, so I raced over there and put the load in her dryer. Realizing I don't have time to dry the other load sitting in the washer, before he leaves, I run to Walmart and buy dress socks. Now I'm left trying to help him pack... with the bag at our house, and clothes in my mother-in-law's dryer... it's tricky.

In the mean time, I just want to cry. Why now? Why today? I'm trying to wash and pack, he's leaving town, so he doesn't have time to check the dryer out and it's almost the weekend, so how can I get it fixed? I have to take a moment and relax!

How many times have I walked by that dryer, used that dryer, even hated that dryer because of the work it represented? Lots! You can ask my family... laundry is not my thing! Yet now that it's not working, I'm sad, almost in tears, because I've lost something that is important in our family's day to day life. If you have kids, you know what I mean! (My son changes clothes three times a day!)

There is a lesson here to be learned. How many times do I take what I have for granted? After all, how many mothers in this world have it harder than I? I can still remember my Granny washing her clothes in the back yard, on her ringer washing machine and hanging her clothes on the line...

Do I need this headache right now? NO! Yet, I can be thankful. Even though it is not convenient, I really don't have the extra money to fix it or buy a new machine, and it's just my nature to worry about things... I'm going to try and let go of the situation. It may just be a dryer, but I also know that nothing is too small or big, for my God to handle.

Of course, if we show up in wet clothes for church Sunday morning, you will know why.:)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Joyful Noise?

We went to a friend's house today, to swim. I'm still the new girl in town, so I still don't know where everyone lives. I ended up following my friend out to her house, since she was in town this morning and lives about seven miles out. My kids decided to ride with her...

Anyway I said all of that to say, " I WAS IN THE CAR BY MYSELF FOR ALMOST TEN MINUTES WITH NO KIDS OR TRAFFIC!" How often does that happen? I had the music blaring, singing at the top of my voice, without a care in the world! Wonderful! We are called to make a "joyful" noise, and I was "trying" my best. Of course there was no one to hear, except the Lord, so I'm going to pretend it was "beautiful" too.

My new favorite chorus is "Mighty to Save." I think the writers wrote it just for me! Don't you love it when God works like that?

Everyone needs compassion
A love that is never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of the Savior
The hope of the nations.
Savior, he can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty save
Forever,author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave.
So take me as you find me
All my fears and my failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We are singing for the glory of the risen king...
(written by Reuben Morgan & Ben Fielding)
I hope you can find some time in your busy schedule to "make a joyful" noise too. It is incredible what ten minutes can make! Read Zephaniah 3:17 and you might just hear the Lord singing with you...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Yard Work...A Reason You Have Kids?

Yard work... Ugh! It seems you mow and mow, just to have to turn around and do it again. Fortunately, my husband enjoys it. He was one of those kids that always had about ten yards to mow in the summertime. His problem is finding the time now. I'm not much help either. If I stay too long in the grass, I tend to swell up bigger than Dallas, due to my allergies.

The great thing is... my kids are now fascinated with the lawn mower. They see it as a four wheeler with a job to do! When Kevin goes to do the yard work, my son is following close, hoping for a chance to mow. "Please Dad!"

Yesterday, the yard was pretty bad and it was going to take a while, so Kevin called Kayla to come help. Jordan sat and pouted. Kevin had said unless you can stop the mower, you can't mow. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Of course Jordan didn't see it that way... all he saw was the fact that his sister was getting to "ride" the lawnmower!

After Kayla mowed the back yard, which looked pretty much like aliens had come and landed, Kevin finally said he would let Jordan try. Set and determined to impress his dad, Jordan hoped up on the seat, sitting on the edge, so his legs could reach... he was so cute!

You know what? He did a pretty good job too! In that moment, I could see the future. Jordan, taking his dad's truck and trailer, loading up the mower and going to mow "his ten yards" during the hot summer.

I ask Kevin how the kids did, when they finished. "Pretty good," he said, "I knew there was a reason I had kids! Guess I had better get work out of them, while they still think it's fun!"

Our yard may not be perfect, but that's alright. Kevin had taken the time to hand down "valuable daddy wisdom" while spending time with our kids. They thought it was great! And when they were finished, all hot and sweaty, he rewarded their efforts and took them swimming!

Queen of the mower...
A little help from dad... My little boy is growing up...

Picking up branches...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hugs from my children...

Any parent knows, you're going to have your good days and your bad days with your children. There are those days when it seems the fighting will never stop. And then there are those moments that are truly just gifts from God...there is no other way to explain it.

My daughter has entered the "tween" years. Daily we are now greeted with mood swings, disrespect, running of the mouth and a whole lot of other scary things that are hints of what is yet to come. Can I have my baby back, now? PLEASE!

However, on good days, it is wonderful. God has graced my child with such an understanding of the human heart. She has such compassion for others. She becomes my little warrior princess, ready to defend the less fortunate. Right now she still sees everything as black and white. If only that big heart of hers would extend to her younger brother, then I would truly be happy as a mom!

Earlier this week, the moodiness took over our household. I'm surprised I still have hair. I tend to want to cry out, "Am I the only mom that feels this way!" Is it a sin for me to want my children to go back to school, so I can have peace and quiet?

Yet, last night I was given two "hugs." I'm not talking about , "put your arms around me and squeeze tight" hugs. I'm talking about those precious moments that come your way, that can only be God inspired, that let you know you are not totally a failure as a mom.

My first hug came from my daughter. I had had a headache yesterday, so I decided to lay in my bed, read a little and watch some TV. Out of the blue she comes in my room, crawls in bed with me and stays. At first I thought she just wanted something, yet soon realized as she snuggled closer... she just wanted to be with me, her mom. For two hours, we talked, giggled, snuggled and just enjoyed the moment. If you have a teen or tween, you know this was rare and special. After all, they are usually in their room with the door shut and the music loud. When she got up and finally said goodnight, I felt like I had been hugged tightly.

My next hug came from my son. As I was putting a few things away, getting ready for bed, I found a note. It was from a few weeks ago, written on race car stationary. It said; "Dear Mom, I wanted to help you with the laundry. Hope this helps. Love, Jordan." I had come home one day and found a laundry basket sitting on my bed, with clothes "kind of' folded" inside. On top laid this note. I remember thanking him and giving him a hug then, but God reused that note to speak to me last night. Believe me, JORDAN doing the laundry... yes that was certainly God's doing!

I am so thankful for my children. And when parenting gets tough, I'm thankful for a God who sends me "hugs" to remind me of my blessings.

To Swim or Not to Swim...

It is summer. In my family, that can only mean one thing...we have to go swimming! Actually, let me rephrase that, MY FAMILY has to go swimming. Me? Well I am one of those few people in this world, that don't enjoy the whole experience. I don't like bathing suits, I don't like burning eyes, I don't like the water in my ears, I don't like cold water, I don't like being splashed, I don't like being dunked...

The truth is that when I was little, probably around four, the creek current swept me away... I don't think I've been the same about water since. Oh, I put on a good show. I took the swim lessons, I went to the pool parties, I swam laps in school P.E class, but the older I got the harder it was. When I was a teenager, it was a struggle. Being thrown in and dunked were common. It sometimes took all my strength to not panic, when someone walked by and pushed me in. And then there were the bathing suits... I don't think I've ever found one that fit me just right or looked decent on me, both during my skinny phase and "mama belly" stage.

Family and friends often say if I had my own pool, maybe... who knows they might be right. However, the honest truth is that I never take a bath, I'm a shower girl. And the older my kids get, the less I want to swim with them. ( They are now in the splashing, dunking, wrestling phase of life.)

Do I regret it? Yeah, I have moments. Sometimes I wish I DESIRED to go swimming with my family. But then don't we all have a desire deep down to get rid of our fears? Who knows, maybe one day... I can only handle one challenge at a time, and this one isn't it, for now anyway...

In the mean time, I enjoy being the mommy sitting by the pool, taking pictures, capturing the moments... here are a few...

My floating princess...

don't know how... Ready for the splash...
Running on water...

Have a great swim! Let me know when and where, and I'll bring my camera...

Monday, July 7, 2008

He's trying to tell me something (part 2)...

My "burning bush" typed out by my daughter. (Read "He's trying to tell me something" blog)

This crumpled up piece of paper has been with me a long time... I guess I'd better hit "THE BOOK!"

He's trying to tell me something...

Sometimes I wish God would just send me the "burning bush." That way this blind, thick headed, child of his with cotton in her ears, might actually start to pay attention and listen to what he wants to tell her! Have you ever realized that your being reminded of something over and over? Finally, it hits you over the head, knocks you out and you sit up with a light bulb plastered above your head, realizing your having an "ahhh haaa" moment? Welcome to the last few weeks of my life...

It started pretty simple... while cleaning, I found a crumpled up piece of paper with a scriptures written on it. Later that night I'm reading a book by Francine Rivers, a wonderful Christian writer, and I'm impressed how the characters in her book, although fictional, pray with such faith and scripture knowledge. I'm feeling a little jealous of a character in a book!!!

The next day, while unpacking another box, I find one of those "pass it on" message cards, it has the verse Psalm 119:105. (Thy word is a lamp unto my feet...) I put it on my bulletin board without a thought; now it stares at me everyday, while I am typing away!

A few days ago, I get on Beth Moore's blog...I love to read what she and her girls have to say.
They have started a scripture memory contest kind of thing...

Then Saturday, I'm preparing to teach a Sunday School lesson. It happens to be on Stephen and Paul. As I'm studying about not being "ashamed" of you faith, I'm pouring through my Bible, frustrated, because I've drawn a "blank" as to the location of a verse I just knew, I knew. Unfortunately, either age is starting to affect my brain power or I just have to admit that scripture knowledge has never been a strong point with me. Do I get a star if I admit the truth and stop trying to blame my age? After all, with age comes wisdom, right?

Did I tell you that my pastor has been preaching on scripture memory, wanting the whole congregation to memorize a verse every week?

Maybe my burning bush came in the form of my oldest child. She came home from church and went to the computer, typing out her favorite verses in pretty colors and fonts. "What are you doing?" I ask. "I'm going to hang these around my room, to help me remember them." was her answer.

Yep, I wouldn't listen when God sent me a note. I didn't listen when he sent great messengers; a wonderful author, a great woman of faith, my pastor. No, I didn't even acknowledge I had a problem while in the midst of my frustration. So he got down and dirty with me...he sent my child.

There is a reason Jesus said "Let the little children come to me..." When they believe in something, it is simple and uncomplicated. My daughter heard God's voice, listened and obeyed.

Okay! If you haven't already guessed... I have a problem with memorizing scripture and keeping it there. Memorizing anything is difficult for me and short term, ask my family! I can't remember phone numbers unless you've had the same one for ten years! In school, I did a great job of studying for the test, only to let all knowledge walk out the back door of my brain, when I put my pencil down. I'm constantly second guessing my memory of things, going back and looking things up, checking twice... you get the picture! But I've always had this desire to do better. I've bought books & memory cards, taped scripture to the mirrors and I even have verses on signs, pictures and plaques decorating my house. I have found comfort in all of those things...yet I've come to realize, that unless I decorate the walls of my brain with their power, a sign on the wall of my living room seems fake and fruitless.

I almost feel like I'm in school again...dragging my feet over homework. "It's hard for me!" I want to cry out! Then I'm reminded of the verse that I encouraged the kids to learn and hold close in Sunday School...Philippians 4:13. Ouch! Again, he knocks me down a little...

Moral of my story... you better get the cotton out of your ears! When God wants to tell you something, he will get his message across. Even if he has to humble you a little while doing it!
Yeah, I'm pretty sure he has been trying to tell me something!

Say a prayer for me... I'm going to try and do some much needed "homework" this week.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A little boy's diary?

We moved about eight months ago. I still have several boxes to sort through and a "junk" room to organize. It is certainly a work in progress...

The other day I was going through some boxes, trying to get rid of some things, when I found an unusual surprise. I couldn't tell you what was in the box, but on the outside, was Jordan's handwriting. I went to read what he had written and realized he had used the box and a marker to express his feelings one day.

When I asked him what it meant, he couldn't remember (or at least didn't want to tell me). Whatever did happen, my little boy was a little upset at his dad and found a way to express himself! The fact that he wrote down his feelings, would make his "Pooh pa" (my dad) very proud!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

My niece has been visiting for the week. Bless his little heart...Jordan has felt like he has had two older sisters picking on him, instead just one. It can get difficult at times, yet they can be so much fun too! We had these hats from past "dress up" activities. They had a grand 'ol time, being silly and smiling for the camera. I had fun snapping away!

When Jordan forgets he is suppose to be mad at them, he loves being right in the middle of whatever they are up to. I am so thankful for my family. God has blessed me greatly with two wonderful kids, a terrific niece and three awesome nephews!

Happy 4th of July!

Rolling Through Ministry...

One Sunday morning we got out of bed, went about our normal routine in order to get ready for church, then got in the car. As we circled around the front of our house we were met with a big surprise... Our house had been rolled!!!

You have to understand, in youth ministry, this is a compliment. The fact that the teenagers thought of us during their night activities meant something. I had that brief Sally Field moment where I wanted to shout, "They like me, they really like me!" Of course that thought was quickly replaced with, "oh no, they like me... what is going to happen next?"

Being new to town and this youth group, we never could find out the names of our dear "rollers." They are still testing us for our reactions to different situations... but I thought it was great! Well, scratch that... I was honored for a moment, that is until we had to clean it up!!!

I will say in youth ministry is never boring! You never know what is waiting to "roll" around the corner...

Kayla and Kevin cleaning up the yard.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Our Cinderella...

Last weekend my daughter and husband were in a wedding. The bride use to be in Kevin's youth group and she and Kayla always have had a special friendship. Kevin served as the main minister in the wedding, while Kayla was a junior bridesmaid. Kayla felt so special, yet she was so nervous! There was a lot of planning that went into being a junior bridesmaid!!! The dress, getting the dress fitted, the shoes, getting the shoes dyed the same color as the dress, finding someone to do her hair, etc... I got to thinking, "WOW!" this is a lot of work for just a young girl...what am I going to do when she is in high school going to the prom, or better yet, when she is the bride??? They grow up so fast!

The wedding turned out beautiful, but it really didn't matter. My attention was totally on my little girl, in her Cinderella moment. I had found someone to do her hair (a friend of mine) and Kayla felt pretty. She glowed that day, and my heart was bursting with pride.

As I looked back at all the pictures I had taken, all I could think of was that Steven Curtis Chapman song "Cinderella."

"So I will dance with Cinderella, while she is in my arms
'cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella, I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause the clock will strike midnight and she'll be gone."

This is Kevin's favorite picture... I love her smile!

The Hair... Kayla squealed in delight when she first saw it.

The Little Green Monster...Jordan

The little green monster...

My son is nine years old. He's bright, energetic and loves to be on the go. However, he has a temper. It tends to show its ugly face when his sister picks on him or when he doesn't get his way (normal kid stuff). I always tease him about being a little "Hulk" when his temper flares. I'll say something like "your green is showing, Jordan..." and it serves as a reminder to him that he needs to calm down.

Two weeks ago he developed an ear infection. In fact, we think he had a busted eardrum. Anyway, every morning I would clean his outer ear with alcohol and a Q-tip. He would love seeing the "gook" that was draining out of his ear. Mostly dried blood, however one day I pulled the Q-tip out and it was a yellow- green color, from the puss. I looked at Jordan and said, "Look, you really are "green" on the inside!!!" Oh if only I had a camera rolling that morning. With BIG eyes, he grabbed the Q-tip from my hand...

I wonder if I should have kept the evidence...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This is for my sister...

This is for my sister. She called the other day and said she had started a "blog." "You need to have your own blog too!" she said. Well this is my attempt to make my younger sister happy and proud.

Who knows what I will end up writing about... I have a very talented husband, two children who love each other when they forget they are suppose to be fighting, a crazy dog who hates anyone who is not family, and a very rewarding, yet busy life in ministry. I tend to have many little quirks and fears as anyone in my family will tell you, yet I love deeply and believe in an amazing God.

So I hope at the end of the day, I can reflect on the blessings, pray through the trials and laugh through the memories in the making.