Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cindy has been Eli's teacher for the last two years - and will be a dear friend for many to come. I said before - she is a blessing directly from God. She has more talent and ability than should be alotted to one person... but as long as our family is blessed by it I'm okay with it...:-)

For my birthday, she put together this fun video of Eli's firstgrade year. She is so special to us - and is a good one for tear-jerker gifts! Thank you Cindy!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Catch up

So tonight is my short chance for catch-up. I think Angie calls it a blog that's what I'm doing tonight!

* * *

Tonight, Eli picked up a Kaleidoscope of mine from when I was little.

Eli - "Mom, this is a good way to look for God."

Me- "How so?"

Eli- "Because you have to look at the light - and when you do, you see all sorts of new colors in life."

That kid is seriously cool, sometimes.

* * *

If you want to crack up, check out another Eli's videos !! Eli's a friend who we got to hang out with for a couple of days - a rare treat for us. He's a minister in California, and he and his wife are just people you know are pretty incredible from the moment you meet them. You can pick any video and crack up, but the two on the bottom, left-hand side of his home page are my favorite. My kids can't stop watching it. :-)

* * *

My birthday was Tuesday, and for the first time, Eli bought me something that he completely picked out and paid for on his own. It was a huge jug of purple lavender bubble bath. He told me he hoped I could " at least get two bubble baths out of it." :-) It was the best gift ever. I seriously didn't know how precious that would be.

* * *

I'm sold on two books that I have to share.

First, - as I've said before, I'm not a fiction reader, normally. But I'd heard a couple of times that I really needed to read "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers.

It's a retelling of sorts of the book of Hosea, set in the 1850's . I have fallen in love with it. I'm not even sure I can come close to doing it justice in reviewing it... but the gut wrenching journey it takes you on as you live out each character is amazing... bringing me to "a-ha" moments about myself at every chapter. The many opposing emotions we grapple with in ourselves find a voice and a character - and the illogical, unreasonable pursuit of us that God initiates despite our best efforts to thwart Him take shape - and begin to make sense -both inspiring me accept love and to offer love to others with equal abandon.

The second book that I've been really challenged by is called "Stripped: Uncensored Grace on the Streets of Las Vegas", by Jud Wilhite.
I'll be honest... as I stepped into the first chapter - I was frustrated with where I thought the author was going... & wanted to throw it away. But knowing my friend Stu doesn't waste time with the books he recommends, I decided to keep going - and it turned a lot upside down for me, - thankfully so.
At one point I was appalled, only to have my hypocrisy gently revealed to me. Truth wrestled open the door of some convictions I had left untouched and un-dealt with - unravelling the false sense of security I had built around them and making the uncertainity of grace not only more certain and but more justified.

Here's one of more than a few underlined passages in the book:

"Too often we mistake grace for weakness, forgiveness for giving in. We see strength only in pointing out sin and stomping on it until it's dead. But in Jesus we find someone who has no patience for those more concerned with enforcing the rules than helping others. Though He was perfect and, therefore, in a position to judge and punish all of us, Jesus showed us a different kind of strength, a strength found in grace, compassion and forgiveness.
Jesus had a way about Him that caused people to feel they could approach Him. Children ran to Him and sat in His lap. Women were drawn to Him and His message in a culture that oppressed women. His inclusiveness shook people. He related to those of another race and religion (Samaritans), those of questionable professions, and members of the religious elite. He challenged all to love their neighbors, care for the poor, and live toward God. He showed grace to those who needed it most. But, if I may be blunt, He was not a wuss...."

Both books do an incredible job of inspiring one to step up to the plate with the difficulties of offering grace.... and firmly reminding us of the reasons why.

* * *

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Who needs cable when you have kids?

2 Funnies (from Julia) and a neat one (from Eli) for the night.

This morning Julia runs her finger from her shoulder to her wrist and says:

"I think my brains are coming down my arm."
I look at her for a moment, confused, but knowing she will never leave a void of air unfilled... so I wait.
"It makes me sad that other people can see their brains and I can't see mine."

"Do you mean 'veins'?" I ask.

"Ohhhh... yeah,"
She laughs.

Tonight, in her prayers, she prays for the chance to babysit Ms. Stacey's new dog. (They affectionately refer to it as the psycho dog.)
"But God, I hope he's not scared because then he might bite me, and I been bit before. In Jesus' name, Amen."

She then looks at me and decides to explain.
"You know one time Clancy (My brother-in-law's BIG dog) was around me. And I was by him, and then I didn't see my finger inside his mouth. Then he accidently bit me."

I hate it when that happens. But I do think we could go on the road with her show.

Eli prayed the sweetest prayer tonight, about our worship minister, Shane.
It started off like a pretty routine prayer, but became quite lengthy (for Eli) and centered around Shane. I can't remember all of it, but here were some of the things he said:

"God, thank you for Shane. I just really like him a lot and he is a nice man. When I am around him, He makes me just always think of God. He's like a robot. "

When I first heard him say that, I didn't know what he meant. But when he had finished praying he sort of repeated all of it to me, sharing his thoughts a little more. He said:

"Mom, Mr. Shane is like a robot because every time I'm around him, he always makes me think of God. Not everyone can do that, but with him, it's every time, I just automatically start thinking about God."

I thought that was a pretty impressive compliment. - And a true observation. :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ahoy there!

Sadly, I think I've passed on whatever it was I had to my family.

Tonight, Julia was whiny and complaining of feeling cold. I asked her if she was feeling bad.

"Yeah. I think I'm seasick."


Wednesday. (Because sometimes you just don't have the energy to be creative with a title.)

I'm a few days late in catching this, but DOUG had some great insight into why AIM-a-Palooza was so special to some of us...

I was feeling pretty bad & spent a rare day in bed today. Julia, always wanting to "pretend play" and yet wanting to be sensitive, had the perfect idea:

"Momma, I know! Why don't you be the girl who's sick and sleeps for many hours?"

Thanks Jules... I think I will. :-)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rainbow Hands

So in December, our fam went to Branson. We'd been a couple of times, but never in the winter and it was BEAUTIFUL! We had a magical time. With the exception of the rainbow hands.

It was one of those souvenier booths that I usually pass right by ... but this one really caught my eye. You dipped your hand ( or hands if you wanted one of you & someone special) into a vat of wax until the mold formed, and then they painted and decorated it for you. They were really cute, and though a bit overpriced, I thought it was worth it. Not like it's a t-shirt you spill chocolate milk on and then throw away. No... I had visions of it capturing history. I asked Julia if she'd do it with me. What a picture for years to come!?!... my precious little girl's hand tucked sweetly in mine capturing the moment she would quickly outgrow....

The process was simple enough... hold hands, then dip them for about 20 seconds in the warm wax, then holding the form dip them into ice water for another 20 seconds... and repeat this about 4 times back and forth until the mold forms. Then slip your hands out, and they paint and decorate it right before your eyes.

Julia was on board. At first. Then she got scared. Then she started crying and didn't want to do it. I talk her into it, step forward,only to hear the owner tell me he really didn't let kids as little as her do it because they usually weren't still enough. Then she starts crying because he won't let her do it. Another customer steps forward and we move off to the side... Jason wants to forget it and walk away, I really want to do it, and Julia is still crying - now because she wants to do it yet is still scared, and mad.

When the other customer is done, and no one is around, I ask the owner if he would just try for us. He agrees, and Julia reluctantly steps up, Jason rolls his eyes, and I try and talk excitedly about this fun thing that were are about to do together!

So we put Julia up on this little stool so she's high enough to dip her hands into the two barrels, and get started. We start with the ice water so the wax only feels warm. Now understand... neither sensation is really extreme or uncomfortable... just funny feeling as you went from one to the other. But as we start... Julia decides that she doesn't want to do it any more... and starts pulling away and crying. I however, have determined that we have made enough of a scene that we are not turning back. So I grip her hand to hold it in form, she cries ( loudly) and I smile and offer encouraging words as I fake appearing completely oblivious to the whole thing.

When we finally complete the process and remove our hands... there it is: that sweet beautiful, history capturing moment of me death gripping Julia's hand.

Somehow, it seemed the appropriate moment to catch in a permanent mold.

That little mold sits on her bookcase in her room, now. This morning she randomly pops up and says, "Momma, some things I want to stay with me forever."

"Like what?" I ask. "My Rainbow Hands." She answered.

She takes them down and often shows anyone who visits. I catch her playing with it every now and then. (Even when she's not supposed to.) She loves it.

Isn't that ironically true of some of our more traumatic moments in life?
If we let them, they become the moments that redefine us. God gently walks us forth,despite the fact that our heels are dug in and our protests loud.Our fear becomes so overwhelming and our cries so adamant that we become oblivious to the comfort of His presence beside us and His hand holding ours, experiencing everything we are desperate to get away from right along with us. And then it's over. And as tears clear and time passes, one day that moment which we had feared becomes the moment we value. Sometimes we even treasure it. It some small way, it is a humble symbol of what we learned that we could survive -when we learned that He really did create us differently than we had always seen ourselves.... When we realized that the death grip showed that He was bigger than what we were afraid of ..

Those rainbow hands were worth the price... and ended up capturing way more than just a moment for us...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

You know your child doesn't get out much past 8 pm when....

Julia and I were reading her Bible for bedtime last night. She got a new Bible , and so we decided since we were "upgrading" from the story books to her first real "big" Bible, we'd start at the beginning... so creation was covered the first night. She knew a lot already so we were having fun "filling in the blanks" as I would read.

We got to day four...
"God made two great lights. He made the larger light to rule over the day. He made the smaller light to rule over the night. He also made the stars."

Me : "Julia, what was the bigger light God made to rule over the day?"
Julia: "The Sun!"
Me: Good! And what was the smaller light God made to rule over the night?"
Julia: "The light switch?"

Tonight she couldn't go to sleep. So after a few futile attempts to get out of bed, she brings me this conversation...:

"Mom, my finger feels funny."

Me: "Okay."

"It feels like there's blood in it."

Me: "Well, Jules, there is blood in it but that's a good thing."

"Maybe it feels that way because of the ketchup I'm eating."

(Those of you with 5 year olds know you can't laugh in their face.) So I swallow my laugh and suggest that maybe she should quit eating ketchup.

"No!! I love ketchup!"

Me: "Well..."

Julia : "But if it happens again in the morning, I'll stop eating ketchup."

I don't know what we'll do if she decides to do that. It's her only daily vegetable serving....

A must read for this weekend ( and any time you want to Worship.)

Lindsay is a friend.... a teen mature and wise beyond her years, (and often my years too!) and gifted by God in her ability to write... not just write, -but communicate from and to the heart. Her privacy and humility run deep and yet her submission to God runs deeper ... her desire that He be glorifed outweighed her desire for privacy in her worship of Him in writing this. And I'm thankful that she let us share in it. You will be blessed. It is a poem she wrote after she watched ?THIS VIDEO
on Brenda's blog. If you haven't watched it yet, do so... then read Lindsay's heart... and let it fill and speak to yours.

What can I do but thank You?

What can I do but thank You?
You gave Your life for me
In spite of all the wrong I do
Can I anything but grateful be?
Humbling Yourself to death on a cross
Painful, horrible and cruel
Giving Yourself that I might not be lost
Lord, forgive me, a fool
A fool for knowing the price You paid
And doing my own will anyway
A fool because on You my sins were laid
Yet I give you not even a part of my day
How undeserving I am of this love
This marvelous gift of Your grace
Heaven’s perfect Lamb, come down from above
Meeting me here, face to face
Though You were perfect, for me You were crushed
We tried to destroy heaven’s best
Taking my sins, You ground them to dust
And carried them farther than East is from West

What can I do but thank You?
In spite of our very best swing
Up from the grave You arose like new
Taking away all death’s sting
You triumphed over death
Your victory can’t be denied
Let me praise You with my every breath
You have wiped away all the tears that I cried
Jesus, Your Father has lifted You high
Your name is exalted eternally
At the sound of Your name, all creation cries
“Holy, holy is He!”
Seated, now, at the right hand of God
You wait patiently there on Your throne
But You’ll jump to Your feet when He gives you the nod
And come back to take all Yours home
Until then I’ll wait, blessing Your name
Praising You for all that You’ve done and You do
Because of Your love, I’ll never be the same
What can I do but thank You

Good Friday

Tonight we had an AMAZING time of worship at a friends home.

On the way there, since this was out of our usual routine, I explained to Eli and Julia what the evening would be like.

Julia said: "I know! Let's praise the Lord first, eat second, and play third! "

We all laughed. I asked the kids if they knew what today was, and was getting ready to explain it to them when Eli surprised me by saying "I know! I know! Today is Good Friday!"

I was honestly surprised that he was aware, so I asked him how he knew.

He replied, "When Emmerson (a friend) and I got to school, we looked at our calendars and it said Good Friday. Then Emmerson told me all about it and then we went to the Lincoln Logs center and played Jesus and the cross.... Emmerson really reads his bible!!"

What a sweet blessing I almost didn't even know about. I'm thankful that God calls and teaches our children even when we are unaware.

Tonight we sat around a living room and sang, prayed, shared communion, and listened to thoughts on why indeed this was a good Friday. It was so good to be with friends who celebrated the redemption we have in Christ. It was a night I won't soon forget, commemorating a sacrifice we can never forget.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A post I wish I'd written.....

My friend Heather makes a great point about what we're "comfortable" with...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I don't know how to do You Tube yet... but

Brenda has this video on her blog. Wow. Take the time to watch & listen. It's worth it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

AIM-A-Palooza pics

AIM-A-Palooza pics

Monday, April 02, 2007

AIM -a-Palooza

I'm a little slow (okay a lot slow) in posting on what was one of my highlights of the week but in my defense... I'm honestly still catching up on sleep!
God blessed us immensely over the last two weeks..... I have six potential posts floating around in my mind, but I owe some who couldn't attend AIM-a-Palooza some photos, so I'll start there!

I will post pics soon... but for now, check out the fun slide show Jason and Michelle did!

I can't even begin to convey how cool the weekend was. Tim - I really think it was the name. (Thank you.) :-) It outgrew our house before we even knew it. I put out fliers out at the AIM booth around 10 am on Thursday at the Workshop and was back by 1 pm changing the address on all the fliers to move it to the church building. Good thing, too....I never took a final count, but I know we had over 70 in attendance from what we could count.

The night, to me, was just one more example of our God and His goodness - making things bigger than we dream, blessing more that we imagined, - doing the unthinkable out of simple thoughts. I don't know how many classes were represented ultimately, but for sure 18 classes from the last four decades. ( Thanks Jay and Sherry for making that statistic possible...:-)

What amazed me the most was to see the faithfulness of our God. For many of us, AIM was such a pivotal point in our life... and in our faith. And from there, the journey for each of us is quite diverse...with joy, pain, celebration, disappointment, confusion, uncertainty, confidence and ultimately, profound change.. etc - as any walk that faithfully pursues Him will eventually have.
Jason made a point that if we had a glimpse at where & how everyone worshipped..some of us might be surprised. But I think that's what I loved most about the night. When we piled into the room late that night and began to sing, the passage of time and the different paths were irrelevant. In fact, it seemed better to me... because I knew the hearts that were singing were even more mature and in love with our God than when I first met them. The songs held more meaning.
I sat next to some I knew well, and some I had just met that night. Didn't matter. When God takes you on a journey... He bonds you with others you don't even know... because you both know Him. Most exciting to me was the thought that heaven holds such feelings for us. Except add in everyone who couldn't make it, a few other generations of believers, a heavenly host and songs that we don't even know yet but will love... and wow. Who wouldn't want a taste of that once a year?

I'm not a crowd person... so the one frustration to me was wishing I could have had coffee & conversation with everyone (and by 2:30 am I NEEDED coffee) .... but just seeing everyone & chatting was amazing. Thank you -EVERYONE... for coming and for making it a blessing to so many by your presence. And make plans next year!!


Angie... My heart smiles in your presence. CONSTANTLY. Thank you for making a huge impact on this world and in our lives - you touch so many. Your sensitivity breathes His life into people. You continue to grow me up and inspire me, friend.

Tim... thanks for always dreaming big - esp. for this weekend. God has blessed our lives through you in particular over and over and over and over again. Thanks for your faithful pursuit of Him.

Jason and Michelle.... I don't know at what point you all decided to come, but when you did, it was like a shot of adrenaline to me - and I KNOW it inspired others. Thank you - that move of faith I really believe added momentum as only He can to others deciding the same - and made the night so special. You both are wonderful.

Heather - Again, I could say the same to you as I just said to Jason and Michelle. I know He worked in your presence bigger than you realized. And even though I didn't get to personally spend time catching up with you like I really wanted to ... the chain reaction of your presence blessed so many. I'll get my time eventually... and between now and then I will keep being inspired from afar by your blog.

Flee ,Selandra & Stuart.... I love that time passes and yet with you it doesn't. Your singing was hoped for ... and a treat. Thanks for always making your voices available for His using along with Ang and Jason to bless others. You enjoy each other, and you let us enjoy you. Thank you.
Flee- I love and miss your directness.. He gifted you in your ability to skip small talk and get straight to the heart. How I love that about you.
Selandra... it's all coming back to me now ( the whole thing about you caring for Eli for the WHOLE first year of his life!) You can laugh out loud at me. Good grief...I've always been a mess and you have always loved me faithfully in spite of it. You were one of the biggest leaps my heart made in the whole weekend. How I have missed you... and could use a good dose of you every day.
Stu... We didn't know 15 years ago how special you would become to us. You continue to eternally invest in our souls. There are friends, and there are friends. You will just always have a special place. Thanks for making the night fun with the books... but know that you have taught me things both through your generosity and in the very books you have passed on that really have changed both of us. He is at work in you always.

Steve - every time we see you... no matter how long or how little we talk, our heart swells with pride in a way it does for few others. In fact, I'm not an overly emotional person - but every single time I get a brief glimpse into your life and what He's doing in you... I feel immediately thankful and overwhelmed - He grew us up through you , and you still hung in there with us. More importantly - you pursue Him. I love that - and I love you.

Donovan and Sharon - You've been doing this connecting thing long before the AIM-a-Palooza night got here. Thank you. I don't know if you get thanked enough - but what you do is bigger than you realize - way bigger. And I would have never guessed that what would get my kids through the night would be the connection they made with yours. What a blessing.. what a glimpse (hopefully) into the future. Thank you so much!

Kris & Barb - Again, I needed lunch... not just a brief hello. (But I will NOT pick the restaurant.) Our hearts are connected to yours permanently though - so we will take time when we get it, and even hugging and standing next to you fill us up. Thank you for shaping us and continuing to bless us.

Kim (Solis) - I can't tell you how many times I keep reflecting on that moment of staring at you over the registration counter - and later thinking that I must have looked either really funny or really rude!! I'm SO glad we figured it out - and so glad our God crossed our paths again. Only He can create such depth of feelings over such a short span of time. My friend, you spurred me on in inspiration bigger than you could have imagined years ago, and it brought such joy to me heart to see where He has taken you since then. Your family is beautiful - and your heart always has been and continues to be. Thank you for being a highlight of my week.

Amy & Jeff - - Again - another shot of adrenaline to hear you were coming. Jeff - thanks for sacrificing and making it so special for so many by sending Amy all that way. Amy, your laughter and stories kept me entertained (even as my body was begging for a pillow) - and you have always been that way. One to balance humor and genuine faith and devotion so wonderfully. I love you and LOVED seeing & listening to you again. I think I could do a thousand late nights with you in the room.

Oh my goodness.... I have so many more to write. But I don't know if they ever read this blog... so I'll save my energy and go to bed at this point. Although I do want to point out it is now 2 am. I don't know why it seemed so hard to stay up that night... I've been able to do it just fine ever since!!!!

Thank you for making my life so much richer...each one of you. I am so out of my league in the blessing of friendships.
Our God is so good.