CLICK HERE FOR THOUSANDS OF FREE BLOGGER TEMPLATES »

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm moving...

to Word Press! Though I've enjoyed my time at Blogger, it's time for a change and after playing around at Word Press, I decided it was just what I needed. You will still be able to read old favorites here for awhile--I'm learning that moving my posts isn't as easy as it sounds--and I'll keep this open until my new site is fully functioning.

So, follow me to: http://ohhowhappy.wordpress.com/

See you there!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

You're six today and off with Dad watching fireworks. He watched fireworks with me, too, the night before you were born. You are somewhat of a fire cracker yourself. Surprising, illuminating, beautiful. I'm so glad you were born!

Happy Birthday, Roo!



Monday, June 29, 2009

Views from Vacation...

We're only home for a few hours to do laundry and re-pack, but here are just a few of the highlights from part one of our summer vacation.
Isn't my cousin a stunning bride?!?!
Cousins at the lake
Rolling down the dunes

He likes the sand more than the surf

They've been working on the railroad
More to come later this week!



















An Open Letter of Thanks to My Swim Suit

Dear Swim Suit,

I just wanted to thank you profusely for your recent service to my strong sense of modesty. I am so grateful that you not only covered all the appropriate places, but also provided the additional task of staying in place during a poorly timed series of waves. You went above and beyond your job description when my son needed to nurse--thanks for being flexible and accommodating for about 20 minutes. Lastly, if you would share my gratitude with your team mate Elastic, I would appreciate it ever so much. She really hung in there for me and I couldn't have survived our family vacation without her help.

Sincerely,
Jen Henze

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crawling!

After months of hard work, Samuel is now crawling! This is a huge achievement for him and a very proud moment for us. I almost cried and all the girls clapped and cheered as we watched him crawl across the room over and over again.

When your child is struggling and you are praying through each little movement and motion, it's sometimes hard to be happy for other parents as they share how their babies are developing normally (or even ahead of the curve). It's especially hard when those same parents don't realize or forget that our days are filled with special exercises and equipment and extra appointments and therapists, all designed to help your child do the very thing they are describing. Spiritually speaking, I realize that my reaction to others needs some work. It isn't realistic for anyone else to be as invested in my child's development, not should I expect our friends and family to walk on egg shells around us. I can, however know that God our Father is intimately interested in our son's struggle and achievements. He listens and cares about all that is going on with our boy. After all, He designed Sam's life!

So, we are rejoicing today in a milestone achieved and I am feeling justifiably humbled concerning my heart attitude. Thanks, Lord, for visible evidence that You are working in our son's life. Thank You for reminding me that You are the only One I need to turn to for support and concern. Forgive me for being overly sensitive. Help me to rejoice whenever one of Your little ones grows--however that happens. Just thanks for being all that I need all of the time...In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Impatient House Seller

I'm discovering that selling our house isn't easy. Not that I thought it would be a snap, but I figured if God was leading it would all just fall in place and happen rather easily and peacefully. Hmph. (That's my mystified shrugging of the shoulders.)

First, we cleaned like crazy people. We were obsessed. Like the President or Queen or both were coming to dinner. Like our lives depended on it. We put furniture in the garage and our floors were literally clean enough to eat off of. It was exhausting. The photographs were taken and turned out lovely. In fact, they really make our house look, well, like someone else lives here.

About a minute after the photographs were taken, we all sighed and the house basically let out her gut and the dust began to accumulate again. Then we got busy making the necessary repairs before our first open house. Replacing columns on the front porch, replacing the ceiling in our living room, painting the porch, cleaning up the landscaping, pressure washing the basement floors, cleaning out the sewer line (thank you , Mr. Plumber for going the extra mile--literally!) My poor husband has been working around the clock--sometimes through the night--to get things in order. Now, we have to clean the house yet again for the open house this Sunday. Oh, and did I mention we are leaving for our vacation this Friday as well?

I'm confirming my suspicions that I am an incredibly impatient person at heart. I want to know when the house will sell, for how much, where we are moving, what color the grass will be in that yard, whether or not we can raise chickens, whether or not I need to save all my extra curtains, how big the closets are...can you tell I'm a detail person?! But, worrying and being anxious is sin and sin gets in the way of seeing all that God is doing. As a reminder to myself (and maybe to encourage someone else in the process!), here is a list of some of the things I've seen God doing:

--Although it has been exhausting work, we've been able to do it! Every tool and supply we've needed has been found either in our garage or been lent to us by a family member.
--Our family has been AMAZING spending lots of their own time and money traveling to our house to help us complete the projects.
--God has supplied all the extra money we've needed to carry on with our projects. We haven't gone hungry or had the electricity turned off:) We've even been able to share some of our abundance with others!
--Charlie and I have been able to study Proverbs together as we have been praying through our decision to sell this house. It's been good to make time to study together again.
--We have a wonderful realtor, Jane, who is fast becoming a friend.
--We're still going to be able to have a nice family vacation this summer.
--Every time we have felt overwhelmed or discouraged, a friend or brother or sister in Christ has come alongside us to encourage us and help us continue.
--Our kids are resilient.

Thanks, Lord, for being with us in all this. Help us to be faithful and to have complete faith in You and what You are doing...even when and especially when we can't see. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

Our realtor, Jane, came to take photographs of the house last Thursday. After she left, I was walking around the house enjoying the once-in-a-blue-moon-ness of our house being ultra clean. It used to really shine BK (Before Kids), but now I'm happy if the dishes are washed, beds are made and the laundry is (mostly) done. Really, our house looked almost foreign to me. We've removed a few pieces of furniture to make things a little less cluttered and we've already started the lengthy process of sorting our stuff into three piles: keep, donate, pitch. I'd like to argue there should be another category: where did this come from?



One of the challenges of putting our house on the market is being prepared for others to see our house at a moment's notice. I can pull the house together well for a planned birthday party or a planned sleepover, but this spur-of-the-moment thing is a stretch for me. I mean I need time to hide things.



When the photos appeared online late Friday night I had the sense I was looking at someone else's house (and let's be honest, I really want this to be someone else's house very soon!). Where were all the toys and books and papers and crayons and mess that follows our family wherever we go? I suppose that's all part of the strategy of marketing our home to another family--make the house feel warm, inviting, clean, but impersonal.



I do that spiritually, too. On the outside, I want to present a good impression. I'm a super mom who has it all together. I'm a good wife, daughter, friend. I love Jesus. I cook, I clean, I sew, I launder, I teach, I pray. I'm the whole package. But those are the planned moments. There are other moments--when my kids are arguing through the entire grocery store culminating in me stomping my foot at them just as our pastor's wife rounds the corner. Or, when I say something harsh and argumentative to my husband not realizing he's got a young woman on the phone holding for me--the same young woman I've been giving marriage counseling to for weeks. Or, when after my friend listens to my newest diatribe on diapers and fabric softener for 30 minutes, she mentions casually that she's struggling spiritually and I realize I've just wasted all the time we both have talking about nonsense. My outward appearance doesn't match the inner heart. And it's grieving. Grieving because it isn't a reflection of Jesus but a reflection of a false image--really a false god, the god of self.



I want to work on that. Check that-- I want God to work on that in me. I want my outside to match my inside, even if it means not measuring up to anyone else's standards. Even if it means sacrificing the appearance I've worked hard to present. Especially if it means that Christ becomes greater and I become smaller.

Lord, help me to be more like you. Change me. Really, I'm begging You to change me. Conform me into Your likeness and image--into a loving, caring, Christ-sharing person. Into who and what You have planned for me to be. Forgive me for my selfishness. Forgive me for my carelessness. Forgive me for worshipping myself instead of You. Change my heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Changes

We've felt it for almost 4 years now. That persistent nagging feeling that God has more for us and that change is coming. Several times in the past, we've thought the moment had arrived only to have God's will confirmed that we were to remain just where we were at. This time is different. It's time for things to change...

We're selling our house. Though we have a lovely, old Victorian-era home with plenty of space for the kids to play and grow, it's just time to move on. When we purchased this home we were newly married and childless. We filled our home with homeless people, college students, friends, relatives, basic strangers, and even a band or two--all who needed a place to rest weary heads and hearts. There was purpose in living in and paying for a large home. Now that the Lord has filled the home with children, our focus and attention has shifted. We are growing children and building character and we feel the Lord drawing us in a different direction. It's just time to move on.

So, if you think of us over the next few weeks and months, please pray for the sale of our home. Though we don't know where we will land next, we are certain and reassured that our loving Father is in complete control. Please pray that the sale of our home would go over smoothly and with as little disruption and confusion as possible. Pray for peace.

Father, Thank You for our home. Thank You for filling it with so many good and pleasant things. Please provide a buyer for our home and quickly! We are eager to step out in faith with you on our next adventure together. Thank You for my husband and children and that You are allowing us to travel together through this. Praise to You, Jesus! Amen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Delayed


Sweet boy with the emerging curls. With the one-tooth grin. Who always greets me with a smile. Who pulls my hair and pinches my arms. With the big eyes, taking it all in. Sweet, sweet boy.




In His wisdom, God delayed your arrival. You are the last of this womb. Somehow that delay is so fitting. You belong at the tail end of this train, making things complete.




Our meeting was delayed. I saw you for what seemed a mili-second before they whisked you off to the part of the hospital where God truly works miracles. It was hours before I saw a glimpse of your helpless little body, shrouded in tubes and wires and monitors. Days before we could really touch, skin to skin. But, each time our eyes locked His presence overwhelmed me.




Intimacy was delayed. It was weeks and weeks before I could recognize patterns and cues that make you unique. I'm still learning and trying to understand...




Emotions were delayed, bottled up to be poured out later, when they could be fully grasped.




And now, more delays in your development. Understandable, considering your rocky start to life, but I see how it frustrates you day after day. We learn together and rejoice together when you reach a hard-fought goal.




So, we wait together, you and I, in this wonderful suspension. Watching the world pass by at lightning speed. And I think God planned this delay, this slower pace so I could slow down for you and and to notice the real miracles He is performing every day. And so you wouldn't have to hurry and scurry out of the newness of life.


I love you, sweet boy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What I've noticed...

...the less time I spend with my kids in their normal routine and rhythms and the more activities and extras we throw into the mix, the worse their behavior and mine is.

...I can't make up for my bad behavior and sharp tone by giving my kids extra book reading and an Oreo. I have to sincerely apologize and also repent in my heart to make it right. I really do have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

...the grass is waaay greener on my side of the fence.

...my kids are really well-behaved in general, so I need to be consistent and persistent in both their spiritual training as well as behavioral training. Though it is tiring, it must be working!

...God is always big enough to handle whatever I'm facing. Always.

Thanks Lord for new and improved perspectives from Your Word. Thank You for not letting me "think I know" what You think and who You are, but rather showing Yourself to me clearly through Your Word. I love that about You and I love that You know just exactly what to say to soothe me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mental Health Day

I'm alone in my house. All day. Alone.

Okay, I had to re-read that and pinch myself to make sure this is reality and not a really, really nice dream. I love my children, but I'm completely enjoying this mental health day! My good friends took all four kiddos for the entire day so I could get some work done (more on that later this week) and I am enjoying the solitude and time to reflect and think. Instead of posting all the things God has been sharing with me today (I don't want to spend all day at the computer!), I'll share this e-mail my very best friend sent to me this afternoon:

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17.. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Path

Psalm 16:11You will show me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 25:4Show me Your ways, O LORD;Teach me Your paths.

Proverbs 3:6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Isaiah 42:16I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.



Our piano teacher lives on a numbered county road. It isn't all that far from town, but far enough that you can't hear much traffic or noise except neighbors and this time of year especially, there are lots of farmers passing by with their implements. We always take the same route to her house and the same route home. Emma and Ruthie each take a 30 minute lesson once a week, so I have an hour of time with the two young ones to run errands. Today, after dropping the girls off for their lesson, I decided I really wanted to know where the rest of the piano teacher's road went. I had some ideas about where it might lead, but I wasn't sure. I told Olivia we were going on an adventure and off we went.

Turns out, about a half mile down, the road dead ends into a gravel driveway forcing you to turn either right or left onto another county road I was already familiar with. Some adventure. We basically saw some fields and houses on a stretch of road and then landed pretty close to WalMart. Big deal.

But, it got me thinking about our journey through life. Charlie and I are facing some choices about our next path in life and we've been carefully weighing all our options and trying to imagine the outcome of each road we could potentially travel. Of course we want to please the Lord and want Him to choose for us but, sometimes I think God wants to reveal something of greater importance--the desires of our hearts. What are we really seeking? What is it that we really want? Is it really to serve the Lord with gladness, or only to serve Him when it's comfortable and easy? What if His path takes us down an unexpected gravel road, to a place that's completely foreign? Are we still desiring to serve Him wholly?

On our way back to the piano teacher's house, I called Charlie and left him a message:
"Hi, honey, it's me. I love you. I just wanted to tell you that I don't really care what road we take as long as we're together and the Lord is leading. Wherever we go, whatever we do, it's fine with me. It will be an adventure!! I love you. Bye."

So, even if the road God has for us is really just a more scenic route back to the familiarity of life, I'll gladly travel it. Especially since He's given me so many amazing people to travel with!

Thank You, Lord for the adventure of life in You. I know You have a plan and that You are in complete control of all things. Above all else, let us glorify You. Drive all personal aspirations and desires out of our hearts and minds and allow us to serve You with whole hearts, bringing glory to Your name. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Encouragement

I've struggled with homeschooling so much over the last few years...from not knowing where to begin to battling others' comments to comparing and being compared to public school kids to wondering if what we were doing was working. I just have to share good news! Emma just returned from her visit to school and her future teacher shared with me that she was able to keep up with second and third grade students just fine! In fact, she wondered if second grade material would be challenging enough for her or if we might want to just skip ahead a grade or two! I told her Charlie and I would pray about that and talk with her over the summer, but I was sure we didn't want her to "skip grades." Maybe just work ahead...
But, it was encouraging to hear that after much struggle it hasn't been in vain and contrary to popular opinion and the competitive spirit of other mothers, my child is doing above average. Not only that, we as her parents have been given great wisdom from the Lord concerning her education, learning style and spiritual gifts. I heard that gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit all year long and it sustained me. I'm just thankful for the audible...

Thank You, Lord for the encouragement today. Bless Emma and bless her teacher and classmates next year. And thank You for showing me how great You truly are and what You have been doing behind the scenes. Thank You for pulling it all together into one big picture for me today. I needed that and I know You know that, too. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Firsts and Lasts

Emma is at school today.
Even re-reading that sentence gives me a lump in the back of my throat. After lots of prayer and discussion, Charlie and I have chosen to enroll her in our church's small, private Christian school this Fall. So, today she is having a visiting day to meet her teacher and see what a day at school is like--though the end-of-school spirit was palpable when we drove up! She seems so mature and grown-up at home, but she looked so small and vulnerable as I was walking away. It took all my energy not to scoop her up and smother her with hugs and kisses. I was guessing that even in a small, safe, Christian environment that wasn't quite the right response:)
I've given a lot of thought to what sort of schedule we will have to adhere to in the Fall and this morning I decided to try it out. This is what I've discovered after only one morning:
1. Get up earlier--both me and the kids.
2. Go to bed earlier--both me and the kids.
3. Make sure there is gas in the van the night before.
4. Pray, pray, pray.

Emma was really excited when we told her about school. She is bright and eager to learn and I have every confidence that she will do exceptionally well next year. Still, it was hard to watch my "baby" settle in for learning somewhere other than home. I've really spent a lot of time praying that God will help me trust His leading. This is the right decision for her and for all of us. It's just hard to let go.

But, I am excited about the possibility of focusing more intently on Ruthie's studies next year and so is she. At first, she was put out that she wouldn't be at school as well, but when I explained that she would have my undivided attention all week long, she lit up. I know she's been craving "mommy time" for awhile now. She's been working on a list of things she'd like to do next year. Many of them are things Emma does now, but she's beginning to come up with her own ideas:
1. Type the grocery list each week.
2. Learn to make bread.
3. Walk the dog.
4. Read a chapter book.
5. Learn all the books of the Bible.
6. Study Esther.
7. Dance.
8. Do harder math.
9. Write letter to people in our family.
10. Go to the zoo....a lot!
I think we can accommodate all those items and then some!

Anyway, today is about firsts and lasts and while I am feeling a little sentimental about this summer being our last one with all the kids in home school, I am so excited about all the firsts the future holds as well. We're trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and trying very hard not to lean on our own understanding, acknowledging Him in all our ways as best we can, knowing He is directing our paths. (Proverbs 3)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why We Need The Light...

Our power went out Sunday night. Word on the street was that a foil balloon got caught in some power lines a few streets over causing sparks to fly. But, that's the word from a nine year old...the same nine year old who may or may not believe Spider Man is an actual career choice.

Anyway.

We had a house full of little people--a few extras tossed into our usual gang for an impromptu sleepover--and no power. So, we sent them out to the backyard to launch their latest, greatest imaginary play. If you live near me, I'm sure you could hear the ruckus several blocks away. Charlie took our Crab-Boy for a walk to try to soothe his aching gums and ears while I attempted to clean up from a very busy weekend. It was twilight so I knew the light was fading. I also knew that with extra people in the house, some degree of cleanliness was required.

First, I opened all the curtains and doors to capture as much light as possible and then decided to work from the darkest areas to the lightest, picking up and putting away as quickly as I could manage. Though I was interrupted here and there with requests for drinks and the need to steer the girls' play-acting in a different direction (No, there are no vampire bats in the neighborhood and please stop including that as part of your story-line--you're scaring your sisters!), I managed to get quite a bit done...or so I thought.

The power finally came back on just as I had lit all the candles and was calling the kids in to get ready for bed. We turned on lights and the result of my efforts was apparent. Though obvious things we in their proper places--toys in bins and baskets, laundry in the hamper, dishes in the dishwasher--the tables and counters I had wiped down were streaky and still dirty and I had missed several items lurking in once dark corners of the house. The house was only half clean and therefore appeared to still be all dirty.

It got me thinking about how important light is...it illuminates our surroundings. Not only that but it drives away the mystery of darkness. Basically, you can't hide in the light.

And Jesus said He is the Light of the world...hmmm.

It's a good example to think through. As believers, we probably all know folks who are living in darkness. Even if they don't agree. It's so important that we keep perspective. Just like my housekeeping efforts, God doesn't want us to try to clean ourselves up in fading light, missing obvious filth and sin. He wants to illumine our souls--to show us the absolute ridiculousness of our situation. He wants us to understand that we, in our own efforts and under our own power, cannot possibly make ourselves clean. And then He gets to work cleansing us completely. There are no streaky counter tops or missed clutter. Our lives take on a shine and an orderliness that is impossible without Jesus Christ.

Since our powerless hours Sunday evening I've been thinking a lot about why Jesus calls Himself the Light of the world. And about how dark our world is becoming. It's twilight, I think. The Light is fading in our culture and God is calling us to let Him shine brightly through us to a lost and hurting world. It's challenging. Part of me wants to hunker down and stay blind to the world around me. It's a scary place full of scary ideals and sinful behavior. It's getting worse and worse each year. But, I think about how life changing it was to have the Light of God's love shine into the darkness of my own soul and how grateful I am that others were willing to be used in such a way that I came to understand how valuable I am to God and what lengths He will go to rescue me. And I want to be in that Light, working to make a bright place for others.

Light of the world, shine through me and in me. Make me useful for Your kingdom. Be glorified in all I do and say today and everyday. In Your name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Storing and Freezing Bacon

We like bacon...maybe love bacon. But, in an effort to be a smidge more healthful we try to limit our consumption of our favorite salty, crispy breakfast meat. Last time we visited my grandparents, my grandfather showed off his latest, greatest culinary feat (boy, he is getting handy in the kitchen!). He showed me their stash of ready-to-go freezer bacon and I loved it! So, when our favorite brand of bacon went on sale recently, I stocked up and got to work.I started by prepping a large baking sheet with a very light coat of non-stick spray. I then took each individual piece of bacon and wrapped it around two of my fingers, forming a cutie little swirl. I then placed the swirls on the baking sheet, being careful to place them close together but not touching.

Once the sheet was full, I placed it in the freezer for about an hour. Then I placed the swirls in a freezer bag and--voila! I have 3 pounds of bacon prepared in individual portion sizes. Now, when we want a little taste of bacon but don't want to overdo it, we simply remove however many swirls we want and enjoy!
Thanks to Tammy for hosting Kitchen Tip Tuesdays! And thanks to PaPa for the great idea!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Real Birds and Bees Moment

We took the kids to this dairy farm today and had a great time. Their ice cream was unbelievable. Guess it was the 21% butter fat...anyway...

We were able to see a calf being born and the kids were super excited about that event. They all agreed that was their favorite part of the day. I was surprised at how patient they were, waiting for the cow to push the baby out. One of the vets had to help her along a bit as this was her first calf and it can be a pretty lengthy process. Sounds vaguely familiar...

As I was tucking them into bed, Emma mentioned that it was "weird" to see a calf coming out of a cow bottom. I was exhausted and I told her that I had a lot more to tell her about all of that, but not tonight. Part of my plan in seeing the live birth was to begin a rather lengthy process of explaining the birds and the bees to her...a process I am imagining we will be careful, thorough and prayerful to explain. Olivia though, was not assured by my answer. "But, how exactly did that calf get in there? And where was the daddy cow?" Her three year old brain is full of questions...we may have to get into the Reader's Digest condensed version of this issue for her! But I love how her mind works and that she is always thinking about something and trying to figure things out.


It was a great day, but very tiring so off to bed I go. Even if sleep doesn't come right away, just resting this weary body will be awesome.


Thanks, Lord, for another memorable day together as a family. Thank You for the miracle of both and life and our hope in You. Give us wisdom as we guide our children in Your truth. Give me rest tonight. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crazy Cousins











Growing Things


Both son and garden are growing, growing...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Super Heroes

We have my niece with us for five days. Currently, we have a 7, almost 6, 3.5, 2.5, and 8 month old tearing around the house. They came up with the idea of forming a super hero club. They've commandeered a giant box for the club house and several of my dish towels have become capes. When their "Hero Phone" lights up (a little gold trophy), they turn into Purple Rain, Green Sparkle, Pink Sparkle, Strawberry Blossom, and--this is where it gets too cute--Samuel becomes Super Pooper and Penny (our dog) becomes Nickel. It's just too fun to watch them playing and using nothing but a box, some towels and brilliant imaginations.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

In His Presence

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

-Matthew 11:28 NKJV

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

-Romans 8:26 NKJV

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

-Ephesians 6:18 NKJV


Several weeks ago, I was at a prayer meeting. It was pretty routine—we spent some time catching up, talking about current events, and asking about each others’ day. Then we went about the business of prayer.

Our Pastor opened up the prayer meeting as usual, asking that the Lord would lead us in our prayers, and that we would pray in accordance to His will, and then there was silence. For a while, we just waited for whatever came to mind that needed to be lifted up in prayer.

Most nights, something would come to mind for me. But on this particular night, as I waited, I found nothing but rest. It was good to just be still before the Lord and experience His peace and presence. In the stillness, He was literally there; and for the rest of the meeting, it was clear I was to rest and enjoy His presence. The Holy Spirit would utter what I could not express.

I left the prayer meeting that night realizing it had been months... perhaps, even years since I had really rested and enjoyed the presence of the Lord without saying a word.

Oftentimes, we tend to begin and end our prayers without ever being quiet before the Lord. Our minds race and our thoughts drift. We grope for words and try to express ourselves, and hope for the best.

But one of the primary purposes of prayer is to just be with the Lord—to wait with Him and allow Him to give us rest… to let Him restore us and reaffirm that we are His. Thank you, Lord, for wanting to do that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 4/20/09

I can hardly believe it's time to post monthly menus again! Where did the last month go?!?
This way of planning is working well for us. I've saved my menus as an Excel spreadsheet, so planning is getting easier. At the end of the month, I've been making notes about things we liked, things we didn't, ideas for future menus, etc. This month, I really wanted to try using our crock pot more often. We have a couple of busy days each week that make dinner time a bit tough to coordinate. I did some research and found four new recipes that look like winners! I'll let you know how they taste:)

Breakfasts (4/18-5/15)
Saturdays: Cereal and Donuts
Sundays: Eggs and Toast, Pancakes, Out of Town, Omelets and Fruit
Mondays: Oatmeal, Yogurt, Fruit
Tuesdays: Pancakes, Sausage, Fruit
Wednesdays: Oatmeal, Fruit
Thursdays: Cereal, Yogurt, Fruit
Fridays: French Toast, Fruit

Lunches (4/18-5/15)
Saturdays: Bday Party, Leftover Sandwiches, Out of Town, Turkey Sandwiches
Sundays: Out to Eat:)
Mondays: Grilled Cheese, Fruit, Veggies
Tuesdays: PBJ, Veggies, Fruit
Wednesdays: Out:)
Thursdays: Hot Dogs, Veggies, Fruit
Fridays: Leftovers

Dinners
Saturdays--Grill Night, Side--Salad and Potatoes
4/18 BBQ Chicken
4/25 Steak
5/2 Out of Town
5/9 Pork Chops

Sundays--Leftovers

Mondays--Mexican, Side--Corn
4/20 Tacos
4/27 Steak Fajitas, Corn Cakes
5/4 Enchiladas and Quesadillas
5/11 Tacos

Tuesdays--Meatless, Side--Salad
4/21 Baked Mac N Cheese
4/28 Spaghetti, Garlic Bread
5/5 Potato-Bean Soup
5/12 Baked Mac N Cheese

Wednesdays--Crock Pot, Side--Green Beans
4/22 Asian Lemon Chicken
4/29 Horino Psito (Slow Roasted Pork)
5/6 Chicken with Cranberries
5/13 Italian Chicken with Potatoes

Thursdays--Stir Fry/Pizza, Side--Rice/Salad
4/23 Pizza
4/30 Chicken with Peppers and Pineapple
5/7 Chinese Take-Out
5/14 Pizza

Fridays--Soup and Sandwich, Side--Veggies, Fruit, Pretzels
4/24 Big Sandwich, Ramen Noodles
5/1 Out of Town
5/8 Leftover Potato-Bean Soup, Cornbread
5/15 Chicken Noodles Soup, PBJ and Grilled Cheese

A friend asked me why we eat out so often...I had to giggle because we really used to eat out a lot more! Poor planning was usually the culprit. That or a certain someone with pregnancy related cravings...Anyway, we really enjoy eating out with friends after church on Sundays or even just as a family. It's nice to continue the fellowship from the church building to the community. On Wednesdays, the girls have piano lessons in the morning and I usually run errands for the week. It's a good day to pick up Happy Meals or the like. We tend to bring them home and have a carpet picnic together. Lastly, it helps to go ahead and plan when we are going to eat out, rather than let it happen haphazardly. We budget for those times and then enjoy the activity, instead of eating out as a result of poor planning and then blowing our budget for the month. God has really blessed us with the resources to enjoy modest meals out on the town and I enjoy the break from kitchen duties.
Happy menu planning to you all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No Do-Overs

The girls were playing a spirited game of Hi-Ho Cherry-O this morning, much to Olivia's delight. She loves it when the older two acquiesce and play a non-reading game with her so she has a somewhat equal chance to win. Anyway, I kept hearing Emma shout, "Do-over! Do-over!" every so often. Apparently, the game had morphed into each girl trying to get the cardboard spinner to land on the maximum amount of cherries. They were having fun and being completely silly shouting "Do-over, Do-over" again and again. I love seeing my kids both having fun and at peace with each other...it can be a rarity around here!

As I finished up in the kitchen, that word kept ringing in my ears--"Do-Over! Do-Over!" I've had more than a few days lately that have ended with my heart screaming that same phrase as my head hit the pillow. It isn't so much that I haven't accomplished anything or been totally out of step with the Lord, but I know in my heart that my attitude has been less than Christ-like. Or, I've said something to my children or husband with a sharp tone. Or, worse, I've had a critical spirit. And when it's quiet in my home and in my heart, there is deep conviction and a desperate wish that I could somehow go back and do it all over again...only this time in Christ instead of my flesh.

But, we don't get "do-overs" do we? We don't get the chance to travel back to a spent moment and right our wrong words or correct our critical spirits or tame the tongue that spewed out angry or hurtful or careless words. Every moment of each day is a gift, if we choose to view it that way. And while I know it isn't possible to be perfect or to even strive for perfection--that in and of itself is sinful thinking--we can always submit more of ourselves to Christ's gentle teaching and leading. After all, He was fully human and can relate to the temptation to lash out in anger when your husband piles your freshly cleaned kitchen with loads of dirty dishes. He knows how difficult it is to listen to the same Sunday School song over and over and over ad naseum. He knows how hard it is to keep that critical spirit in check when you see a friend obviously teetering on the absolute edge of a wrong choice.

He knows because we do the same to Him. We pile our filth into the once-clean heart He has made in us, forcing Him to start the cleansing process anew. And He loves us. He listens to our sing-songy complaints over and over and over, usually about the same issues. And He loves us and tells us His grace is sufficient. And He sees the almost daily routine we have of teetering on the edge of disaster as we flirt with sin and transgression. And He lovingly pulls us into safety...because of His great love for us.

I was talking with my best friend last week about our individual testimonies and how somehow, the sensational testimonies--you know, the ones where believers attest to being rescued from drugs, alcohol, abuse, infidelity, addictions, and the like--are sometimes put on a pedestal. I think the intention is to offer proof that through Christ, God can transform even the most awful life and we can have a relationship with Him. But, that isn't always the way those testimonies are viewed, are they? I've heard other believers--in fact, I've been one of those believers--that feels like my own testimony isn't powerful enough because there isn't enough "dirt" to make it a good story. But the truth is that the best testimonies are the ones of believers who testify that they have always believed in Christ. That they were raised by Christian parents, believed from a young age that the Bible is true, have always trusted in Jesus, have always understood that their own sin nature needed to be kept in check. Those are powerful stories because there isn't a need for "do-overs." They are powerful because they offer proof that we don't need to succumb to temptation in order to be fully saved. There is GREAT comfort for me as a parent in knowing that my kids can understand the pull of sin and their separation from God NOW, and choose to live for Christ from now on.

Let's live for Jesus with no thoughts of "Do-overs." Let's let Him love those around us through us. Let's stop right now, confess our need for Him to renew our spirits and create clean hearts in us and let's allow the quiet peace of our hearts testify loudly.

Lord, forgive me for not letting you live through me at all times. Help me to be more like You. Help me to let go and let You do whatever You think is best. Help me to not over-think every decision and choice. Forgive me for misusing the gift of administration to try to control every thing and every one, just to make myself feel more comfortable. I know I don't get any "do-overs," but please redeem the mistakes I have made and use them for your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spoiled...

I'm feeling very spoiled this afternoon. After a VERY busy morning Saturday hosting 140 women at our church for a Lenten breakfast, hubs graciously entertained the kiddos so I could nap and even treated us to Steak and Shake later in the day. Dinner was steak on the grill--another chore for the hubby. He even agreed to let me escape to the trail for a couple hours so I could meet up with a good friend and catch up. Somehow we ended up being able to walk the babies to sleep and get in a good conversation. And it was so sunshiney!



Today, the spoiling continued as hubs and the kiddos pitched in to help clean house. Many hands certainly do make lighter the work! After chores, everyone else magically took a nap for TWO HOURS. (Are you jealous yet?) I was able to soak the beans for dinner, make four loaves of banana bread, start catching up on my Bible in 90 Days Challenge reading, and write this post.



Yep, I'm one spoiled woman.



Thanks, Lord, for rest. For my body, for my mind, for my spirit, for my soul. Thanks for restoring me and re stirring me. Thanks for good friends and the perfect husband for me. Thanks for Your Word, for our church family, for solid teaching that isn't afraid to offend where offense needs to be offered. Thank You for letting me serve and be served. And especially thank You for helping me accept the service of others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Potato-Bean Soup

For Mrs. Pear...

Potato-Bean Soup
1.5 C dried navy or great northern beans
6 C water
1 tsp salt
1 garlic clove smashed
1 bay leaf

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1.5 C diced white onion
3 ribs celery, diced
2 C sliced carrots
(about) 6 small to medium sized potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1.5 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 C chicken broth (you can also use vegetable broth)
1.5 tsp parsley flakes

Place beans in large skillet or stock pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water OR use quick soak method. Quick Soak Method: Place beans in large skillet or stockpot. Cover by at least two inches of water. Bring beans and water to a boil. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for approximately 90 minutes. The results of quick soak aren't always consistent, but I've never had a problem with it. I've heard older, drier beans don't respond well to quick soaking...

In a large soup pot, place soaked beans and 6 C cold water, smashed garlic clove, salt and bay leaf. Cook approximately 30-45 minutes or until beans are tender. Strain beans, reserving bean liquid. Remove bay leaf and garlic clove.

In same large soup pot, heat olive oil. Place onions and celery in oil and saute until they become soft. Add rosemary, black pepper and salt to pot and stir. Add carrots and potatoes to pot and stir. Then, add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender 20-30 minutes. Add beans and 1 C of reserved bean broth. Bring to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes. Add parsley flakes just before serving. Adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!

Ten on Tuesdays--Genesis and Exodus

Thanks to Ann for hosting Ten on Tuesdays!

I'm doing the Bible in 90 Days Challenge and thought I would post 10 things I've discovered/remembered while reading. I'm not all the way through Exodus yet, but we'll give this a whirl!

1. The lights God placed in the universe serve these purposes:
--As signs
--For seasons
--For days
--For years Gen 1:14
2. Refusing to call sin sin, not taking ownership of sin creates even more sin. The blame game never leads to redemption--just more complicating sins. Gen. 3:12-13
3. It isn't until Gen 4:26 that any mention is made of people calling on the name of the Lord.
4. Both Enoch and Noah are described as "walking with God." Enoch was just "not;" Noah was given a floating home to escape the evil of the world. Gen. 5:24, Gen 6:9
5. I wonder how long it took for Noah to collect all those animals?! Gen. 6:22
6. The genealogy of Nimrod was:
Noah--Ham--Cush--Nimrod
Even the best parenting and most spiritually devoted family can produce wicked offspring. It's all a matter of the individual heart. Gen 10:8
7. Abraham called upon the name of the Lord A LOT! Gen.12:8, 13:4, 13:18, 21:33 as some examples
8. In the picture of Christ we get with Abraham and Isaac on Mt. Moriah, three things were necessary for the sacrifice: Fire, Wood and a Lamb. Those same things were needed for Christ's sacrifice: Fire of the Holy Spirit, Wood of the Cross, Lamb of God. Gen 22:7
9. Isaac provides a wonderful example of a husband interceding on behalf of his wife. Gen 25:21
10. Esau's descendants (his 12 tribes) developed kings and kingdoms long before Israel did. Gen. 36:31

Okay, I have WAAAY more than 10 things in my notes. I could probably list 100 things that I've noticed or things I want to go back and study! Isn't God's Word wonderfully rich and vibrant?!?!

Thanks, Lord, for opening my heart to Your Word. Amen.

The Bible In 90 Days Challenge

Technically, I should have my nose buried in my Bible, completing my reading assignment for the day. But, I'm having trouble winding down, so here I am sharing the challenge with all of you!



I started the challenge last Thursday, and by our next meeting, I need to have completed Genesis and Exodus. So far, my biggest struggle has been the manner in which I need to read to be able to complete the assignments. I'm a speed reader by nature, so it isn't the amount of reading. If this were any other book, I would probably be well ahead of schedule, devouring pages lickety-split. But, I'm forever spoiled. We attend Calvary Chapel and we've been taught chapter by chapter, verse by verse, inducting hundreds and hundreds of verses each year. We welcome rabbit trails and extensive researching of meanings and translations. It suits me to a "T." I'm a detail person. I remember birthdays and anniversaries and unusual spellings and intricate directions. But, this study requires a very different approach. It's a "big picture" study and I've always struggled with the big picture.



Don't get me wrong--I get the very basic concepts of the Bible and God's message to us. But, I find myself getting caught up in the details of each colorful story. It's hard to glance over them and not stop to study them through! I know there is purpose in this approach, though, and I am excited to see what God will be showing me as I study the Bible as a whole.



Thank You, Lord, for this study and for this new way of reading and understanding Your Word. Please grant me understanding, wisdom and clarity of how You are speaking to me at this time in my life. Bless my study times and continue to provide that time for me as You see fit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Morning Five

I love the idea of Making Your Home A Haven, so I'll join in this week and list the five things I'd like to turn into a morning routine:

1. Shower-- I know that should be a given, but if the boy wakes before me, it's sometimes pushed to the afternoon or even after hubs gets home from work. I want to be showered, dressed and looking (fairly) good when he gets home from a hard day's work. Not dirty, tired and bewildered!
2. Bible--I'm in a new study call the "Bible in 90 Days Challenge" and the reading assignments are massive. I want to spend more time reading in the morning and less time trying to cram it all in before bed.
3. Meal Prep--In the past it has always worked so well to prep both lunch and supper as much as possible right after breakfast is over. It's a hedge against the day, allowing our meals to be prepared quickly and easily.
4. Laundry--This is the bane of my existence right now! It has been for the last two years. The only method that has worked consistently for me is to wash whatever is dirty every. single. morning. Then, put it away after lunch or dinner. So, I want to go back to that method and just do the laundry every morning.
5. Listen--We are blessed to have wonderful, local, Christian radio broadcasting sound teaching 24/7. I've noticed that when I tune in as I do my morning chores, I tend to spend less time thinking about and worrying over the little things and more time thinking on the things of God--a much better way to spend the day!

Lord, thanks for this tangible way to help me organize the beginning of my day and bring order to our home. Bless this home and all who wander through. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Menu Plan Monday 3/23

We've been "off plan" the last couple weeks, trying to use up some things from the freezer as well as deal with some curve balls thrown our way. Time spent off plan has shown me how very much indeed we need to have a written, strict plan! We definitely over-spend our "out-to-eat" budget category when we a) have no plan and b) let ourselves get too busy and tired to incorporate healthful cooking into our day.

So, here's the plan for the next four weeks. This month, I've added breakfasts and lunches as well. Having those planned as well helps make our day flow better.

Breakfasts
Saturdays: Cereal and donuts (a tradition!)
Sundays: 3/22-French Toast, 3/29-Pancakes, 4/5-Eggs and Toast, 4/12-Out of Town
Mondays: Oatmeal, Yogurt, Fruit
Tuesdays: Cereal, Toast, Fruit Cups
Wednesdays: Breakfast bake, Fruit
Thursdays: Eggs, Toast, Fruit
Fridays: Oatmeal, Yogurt, Fruit

Lunches
Saturdays: 3/21-Leftovers, 3/28-Frozen Pizza, 4/4-Out to Eat, 4/11-Out of Town
Sundays: Lunch With Church Friends
Mondays: Grilled Cheese, Fresh Veggies, Fruit
Tuesdays: PBJ, Fresh Veggies, Fruit
Wednesdays: Out to Eat
Thursdays: Hot Dogs, Fresh Veggies, Fruit, Cheese
Fridays: Leftovers

Dinners
Saturdays: Grill Night Side Dish: Baked Potatoes/Oven Steak Fries, Salad
3/21 Pork Chops
3/28 Chicken
4/4 Steak
4/11 Out of Town

Sundays: Soup/Salad/Sandwich
3/22 Big Sandwich, Veggies
3/29 Pasta Fagioli, Salad, Bread
4/5 Potato-Bean Soup, Cornbread
4/12 Easter

Mondays: Italian Side Dish: Salad/Peas and Bread
3/23 Spaghetti and Meatballs
3/30 Ravioli
4/6 Spaghetti Bake
4/13 Out of Town

Tuesdays: Mexican Side Dish: Corn
3/24 Tacos, Corn Cakes
3/31 Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
4/7 Steak Quesadillas, Chips and Salsa
4/14 Tacos

Wednesdays: Leftovers/Clean Out The Fridge!

Thursdays: Misc/To Eat
3/26 Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Veggies
4/2 Out
4/9 Pork Roast, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Lima Beans
4/16 Out

Fridays: Meatless/Fish
3/27 Eggs, Toast, Fruit
4/3 Grilled Cheese/PBJ, Fruit, Veggies
4/10 Fish Sticks/Salmon, Mac N Cheese, Veggies
4/17 Spaghetti, Peas, Bread

And just to make you feel better--we don't plan this way because we are super organized and highly motivated people. We plan this way for a couple of reasons:
A) We aren't, in fact, super organized and we need the written, black and white plan to motivate us.
B) We have a lot of little people demanding our time and energy. A plan helps us take care of them better.
C) A plan concerning meals helps us communicate better. All we need to do is look at the chart on the fridge to see what our plan is.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Still Here...

The last two posts here have been written by my pilgrimming husband--thanks, hubs! I'm still here and have lots to write...just no time to write it down! Thanks to all who faithfully read anyway. Be back soon!

Friday, March 13, 2009

"I am the Lord...."

22 Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all."

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."
2 God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

6 "Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.' " Exodus 5:22-6:1-8.

Moses had just approached Pharoah and asked him to release the Israelites from their labor so they could leave Egypt and go worship. In response, Pharoah scoffed at Moses’ request and reasoned that the Israelites were being too idle in their work. So rather than release them from their work, he increased its difficulty, and required them to gather their own straw to make bricks.

While the Israelites were scattered by the Egyptians to gather stubble, the Israelite officers, who were appointed over the people, were beaten because the people could not meet their daily quota of bricks.

So the Officers went before Pharoah to discuss the matter, but were met with hostility, and were warned to fulfill their quota of bricks.

On their way out from their meeting with Pharoah, they met Moses and Aaron and basically blamed them for bringing trouble on the people.

After being rebuked, Moses questions his calling and expresses his doubts about God’s plan. Things were not going the way he thought they should. Apparently, he thought Pharoah was going to let the people go because God had sent him to ask Pharoah to do just that. Instead, Pharoah made the Israelites suffer.

Many of us have been there—you set out to do what you believe the Lord has called you to do, only to be disillusioned because things didn’t turn out the way you had envisioned. It is at that point that we tend to sulk and question God’s ability.

But as Moses found out, the point of going to Pharoah was not so he could accomplish a great work for the Lord; it was so the Lord could be revealed. The Lord wanted Moses to know that He (God) is the Lord, that He is compassionate, and that He remembers His promises and intends to keep them. The Lord wanted Moses to know that it would be by His mighty hand that the people would be delivered.

Are you facing disappointment? Have you been disillusioned? Do you question God’s ability to work in your situation? The Lord is God. He is compassionate and remembers His promises. He wants you to see what He will do—not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit (Zech 4:6). Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up (1 Peter 5:5-7).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Exodus

Exodus

Eácodov
Transliterated: Exodus
1. exit, departure
2. departure from life, decease

4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. –Colossians 3:4-5.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? -Hebrews 12:7.

For the past two months, I’ve been working in Covington, IN, which is about a 30 minute commute one-way. On bad-weather days, it can be a pain getting to work, but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed my time in the car.

Part of “redeeming the time” has been listening to the radio and playing cd’s. A close friend of mine handed me a cd by Andrew Peterson entitled, “Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ.”

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to the songs, and their meaning is pretty deep. A recurring theme throughout the album was the nation of Israel anticipating Jesus Christ to free them from bondage. Interwoven with this theme is also a message for the believer: Anticipate Jesus Christ to free you from spiritual bondage.

What’s ironic about all this is that we’re beginning to study the book of Exodus. When I looked up the word Exodus, it means to exit or depart; the word is also used to describe physical death.

When I read that, the Lord began to deal with my heart… “there’s some things you’re going to have to leave behind, if you’re going to follow me. There are some things (habits/earthly desires) you must put to death.”

Okay. There might be a few things I need to deal with before I can/we can go on with the Lord. And with that in mind, I sat down and read chapter 1 of Exodus. That’s when this jumped out… “13 So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” Exodus 1:13-14.

My first thought was "hmm... dully noted, Lord-- let's avoid the whole bondage thing and get on with whatever you have for me." Unfortunately, I can be pretty stubborn; and it usually takes a degree of suffering to bring me to a place of submission.

Oftentimes, the Lord has to make us uncomfortable in order to get us to respond to His leading; He allows us to experience the consequences of living according to our earthly desires so we will turn and follow Him. He’s just simply preparing us to move on. For the Israelites, He allowed their lives to become bitter, hard and rigorous so they would want to leave Egypt… so they would be ready when He called.

Do you find yourself being afflicted? Has your life become bitter and full of rigor? Is there something you need to come away from and leave behind? Is there an earthly desire or habit that needs to be put to death? There’s a good chance the Lord is trying to get your attention. There’s a good chance He’s preparing you to move on.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blast From The Past


Here are our two oldest girls, wearing coats that originally belonged to my mother and her sister and were also worn by my two cousins. They were so careful with the coats Sunday as they trotted off to church. I know my mom and aunt will get a kick out of seeing their coats again!

And So It Begins...


What do you think? Will he survive three older sisters? They spent all morning trying different colored headbands on him. Next it will be his toe nails and some pretty pink polish...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Things I Found While Cleaning Today...

I haven't cleaned our bedroom in, oh, say for-dash-ever. I mean other than just making the bed and picking up laundry (sometimes.) There are three of us camped out in there right now as Samuel is still sleeping next to our bed--oh, okay, truth be told he still sleeps IN the bed with us a couple nights a week! Anyway, it's amazing what you find whilst cleaning and de-cluttering:

Dust bunnies the size of my fist (all the way under the bed having a big party together)
Miscellaneous socks under the bed, dressers and at the bottom of the closet.
Lost shoes.
A library book I repeatedly assured the librarian over the phone had been returned ages ago (I had to call and apologize and return the book pronto!)
Chapstick
Receipts
My journal
Expired coupons
Unopened mail (nothing serious, thankfully!)
Photos
A piece of jewelry I've been hunting for since we returned from Christmas vacation (I was certain it had been lost on the trip!)
3 pacifiers in need of a trip through the dishwasher
Misc. pony tail holders, barrettes, clips, and headbands


It was quite the treasure trove of sorts, but mostly embarrassing because I've neglected our poor bedroom for so long. Now, there are clean, fresh sheets, dusted furniture, floors that have been swept and mopped, tidy bookshelves, and a lovely candle glowing and scenting the room. I can't wait to go to bed! I will feel like a queen...

Sometimes our hearts get this way, too, don't they? We are so busy as wives and moms that we forget to clean our own hearts regularly. We accumulate things that don't belong there: fear, guilt, pride, resentment, prejudice....the list could go on. That's why a daily time with God is important (I'm remembering!) It isn't about "feeling" something special. It's about spending time with Someone special: Jesus Christ! Many mornings, I've not felt particularly connected to God, but through the day, my mind recalls His Word or I see answer to my prayers--even the half-hearted ones. It develops intimacy with God. It helps frame my day. It gives me the correct lens to see things as He does.

So, spend some time today, tomorrow, every day for that matter in the Word. Even if you don't feel like it. Let God begin to clean your heart and fill it with His love.

Thank You, Lord, for a clean bedroom and the opportunity to have a clean heart whenever I choose. Thanks for reminding me that it really is my choice and that You are always willing to oblige. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Red Envelope Day

If you want to participate in Red Envelope Day, March 31, 2009, I've copied some details below. The basic premise is to flood the White House with empty red envelopes addressed to the President, representing the millions of lives affected and destroyed by abortion. It's an easy yet powerful statement to our country's leader. I believe it is important for us to make such statements of faith. Hope you will join me!

What: Get red envelopes or postcards (http://www.zazzle.com/RedEnvelopeDay) and mail them on March 31st to the White House
When: March 31st, 2009
Get a red envelope.
On the front, address it to:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington , D.C. 20500
On the back, write the following message:
This envelope represents one child who died because of an abortion.It is empty because the life that was taken is now unable to be a part of our world.

Barack Obama spoke at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event, uttering the now infamous line, "Well, the first thing I'd do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. [Applause.] That's the first thing that I'd do." An empty red envelope will send a message to President Barack Obama that there is moral outrage in this country over this issue [The Freedom of Choice Act, which will essentially “undo” every law currently in place to limit abortion in the U.S. (i.e., parental consent laws, parental notification, waiting periods, prohibition of transporting a minor girl across state lines to obtain an abortion, etc.)]. It will be quiet, but clear. Please read more about The Freedom of Choice Act here:
http://www.lifenews.com/nat4359.html
http://www.barackobama.com/2008/01/22/obama_statement_on_35th_annive.php
http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2008/07/one_year_annive.html

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Elvis


We are grieving. We are remembering. We are thankful.


Yesterday, after an agonizing decision, we said good-bye to our beloved Elvis. Though he was a stinker dog--shedding everywhere, leaving muddy paw prints through the house, barking at every.single.person. he was still our dog and faithful to the end.


Friday, someone opened our back gate and let our dogs out. Our neighbor saw them and called Penny to her, but Elvis took off down the alley. At some point, he got into a fight with another dog and Animal Control was called. When the officer arrived, Elvis was the only dog to be found. Unfortunately, Elvis decided the officer was the enemy and attempted to attack him. The officer wasn't injured, but Elvis was transported to "dog jail" to cool off. In the mean time, we spoke with our vet who was able to peek in on him and reported that he just wasn't himself. After recounting to her how many incidents we've had with him in the last couple years (five unprovoked bites), she recommended that we consider putting him down. And the knot formed in our stomachs.


Yesterday, Charlie went to the shelter to visit Elvis and talk to the officer who had taken him in. After hearing the story and seeing the obvious distress our poor dog was in, there really was no other choice. He took Elvis for one last walk around the grassy yard of the shelter and said good-bye to him. When he came home, he said our dog was not the same dog. Something serious had happened to him. He couldn't be trusted. Charlie didn't want to risk his family's or any other family's safety keeping a dog around that had turned so aggressive. And we couldn't give him to another family in good conscience. We cried. We prayed. It was the responsible thing to do, but it left us with such heavy hearts.


We decided not to tell the girls until after their Valentine party. As we were doing our family bedtime routine last night, we told them. They cried which made us cry, too. We all held each other and grieved together. There is comfort in so many little bodies piled together. They asked all the usual questions: Is Elvis in heaven? Will we see him again? Where is his body? We answered the best we could, but continued to emphasize that he always belonged to the Lord and the Lord is taking care of him now. Emma being the absolute animal lover she is was devastated. She cried herself to sleep. Ruthie cried, too, but more because she felt so badly for Emma. Olivia didn't completely understand all that we were saying and was tired enough to cry from sheer fatigue. It was by far the hardest parenting moment either of us have faced.


But, this morning, we are rejoicing in the many years we had with our faithful friend. I will miss his familiar outline in the black night as we return home. I will miss his tail wagging in delight whenever he saw my husband's car pull in the drive. I will miss running with him. I will miss his kind eyes and face that always seemed to smile. Those are the images and memories I will take with me.


Thank You, Lord, for our faithful friend. For providing his companionship and comfort to us all these years. Bring comfort to our hearts now. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

...and missing envelopes

Yesterday, it was the crashing mirror. Today--it was missing envelopes. Charlie couldn't find the valentine envelopes I wanted him to mail today so I had to get up and search for them. And, since I was already up and didn't want to disturb Samuel climbing back into bed (though it was so inviting!), I was able to spend time in the Word again.

Thanks, Lord, for employing a variety of ways to get me out of bed. Thanks for knowing me so well...knowing it takes a mountain to move me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Power Steering

Today has been...challenging. I want to say "bad," but I'm trying to work on that whole negative attitude thing.

Last night at Bible study, I asked my sisters to keep me accountable for my quiet time. I've been on auto-pilot for awhile and the effects of that are invading other areas of my life and affecting other people. As the alarm went off this morning, I (too) easily decided to turn it off and roll over to my pillow instead of getting up to pray and read my Bible as planned. Then I heard a crash from somewhere in the house. I jumped out of bed, thinking one of the girls had fallen out of bed or down the stairs. Fortunately, it was just the mirror over our bathroom sink that had fallen somehow. I got the message clearly though. "Okay, Lord, I'm coming. Let's talk this morning."

And, if you've ever found yourself in the dangerous position of coasting spiritually, you know the thoughts that come and go in your mind: I'm okay. I'm going to church and Bible study. I'm listening to praise music in the car. I'm praying with the kids at night. God understands that I'm a busy mom and I don't really have the energy to get up early in the morning. Those are dangerous thoughts because they put you in a defensive position, trying to justify your inactivity. It's far better to be on the offense--eagerly pressing into the Lord and all He has for you.

Anyway, I got my day started in the Word and prayer, though it wasn't a particularly energetic or motivated heart that was participating. Still, I had faith that God would meet me where I was and change me. Emma and Ruthie had piano lessons this morning, so after dropping them off, the younger two and I did the dreaded monthly trip to Wal-Mart and headed back to pick up the big girls. Halfway there, I heard a thump and then lost the power steering. Then the temperature light came on and the dash started flashing all sorts of warning lights and dinging at me. I pulled onto the berm to be safe and turned the van off so it wouldn't overheat. I knew we needed to get home, but I had to pick the girls up first. Olivia and I prayed that we would make it to the piano lesson teacher's house and our home safely. And we did. I have the sore biceps to prove it! Have you ever driven a car without power steering? It could be an Olympic event, I tell you. It was scary not knowing if I had enough strength to turn corners safely. Or, to think that if I had to swerve to avoid another car, I probably wouldn't be able to do it.

And once we were home and I had time to think about it, I realized that coasting spiritually is a lot like trying to drive without power steering. You can still drive the car, but it's hard. Really, really hard. And, if you drive your car very long without power steering, the battery doesn't receive a charge and your car will eventually die. Same thing with God. If you spend too much time trying to accomplish your own will and way, eventually you won't be in touch with the Ultimate Power Source. Too many days I've tried to steer my own ship, plot my own course, use the wisdom and mind God has given to me for my own selfish desires, instead of looking to Him and letting His power flow through me and navigate me safely through the day. It's a tough lesson, but one I'm thankful to learn and hopeful that it won't need repeating!

Thanks, Lord...for waking me up this morning. For Your Word. For safety on the road. For reminding me to let You guide and lead me. And for giving Charlie the wisdom to know how to easily repair the van for us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 2/9/09

Okay, so technically it's Tuesday, but that's the week we seem to be having!

I posted about this genius meal plan system last week and I have to say between the ideas I gathered from that plan plus some others I've read about, I was able to morph them all together into this plan that works super for our family. Here are my tricks and my plan for the month:

1. Shop the deals for next month's menu. As I've been shopping, I've been able to take advantage of sales and bargains and put those to use for the next month's menu plan. For example, last month boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale for $1.88 a pound two separate times. I was also able to score a couple packages from our grocery's "Reduced for Quick Sale" bin for .98 cents a pound. This month, we're having a chicken night each week plus I'll have a package or two left in the freezer.

2. Cook in bulk when possible. I stumbled across this recipe for a beef mixture that can be used three different ways. By cooking it all at once and freezing it in meal-sized portions, I now have three easy meals for later this month. I have plans to do the same thing for chicken as well.

3. Post the plan on the fridge. When the plan is in plain sight my husband and I are less apt to choose to eat out. No plan=more unplanned eating out=less healthful eating=less money leftover at the end of the month.

4. Try new recipes. That has been especially helpful to me. I tire of making the same things over and over again. Trying a new recipe or a new way of making an old favorite keeps the chore of meal making more enjoyable.

5. Plan for the unexpected. I've been trying to schedule a casserole or soup each week that can be easily doubled or tripled, wrapped and frozen for future use. If we have an especially busy day or sick children or know of a family in need of a meal, it's right at my fingertips with very little preparation involved.

6. Pizza Night! Everyone enjoys a break so we plan to eat pizza once a week. The only stipulation is that I don't have to cook it! Sometimes we order it delivered, sometimes we eat at our favorite pizza parlor, sometimes we pick up take and bake, and sometimes my husband makes the BEST homemade pizza. It's a fun tradition and one carried over from my husband's family as well.

This is our plan for February (we were traveling some of the first few days of the month so I was pretty unorganized that first week...and we ate out too many times, too!)

Mondays (Mexican)
Side Dish: Corn
2/9 Beef Tacos
2/16 Tacozagna
2/23 Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole, Salad

Tuesdays (Chicken)
Side Dish: Green Beans
2/10 Orange Glazed Chicken, Brown Rice
2/17 Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
2/24 California Chicken, Brown Rice

Wednesdays
"Must Go's!" (or clean out the refrigerator night!)

Thursdays (Italian)
Side Dish: Salad, Garlic Bread
2/12 Spaghetti and Meatballs
2/19 Lasagna
2/26 Mastaciolli

Fridays (Breakfast for Dinner)
Side Dish: Fruit Salad
2/13 Biscuits and Gravy
2/20 Breakfast Bake Casserole
2/27 Eggs, Toast, Bacon

Saturdays
PIZZA NIGHT!

Sundays (Soup, Salad, Sandwich)
2/15 Sloppy Joe's, Spinach Salad
2/22 Potato-Bean Soup, Cornbread
3/1 Chili, Cornbread, Spinach Salad

The only other comment I have is that I never imagined I would need to be this organized to feed my family! While this might seem like overkill to some, we have four children seven years old and under, no family closer than 3 hours away, we homeschool, and my husband works out of town. I must be organized to keep this ship afloat!

Thanks, Lord, for giving me wisdom and resources in this area. I ask for continued wisdom concerning our home and my homekeeping responsibilities. Guide me. Teach me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

To-Do List For the Stay-At-Home Mom Of Four

I'm a list-maker most of the time and here is my (almost) complete list of things to do for today:
1. Read Bible
2. LAUNDRY
(by the way, these two are always on my list and always in this order!)
3. Find Hello Kitty socks for Olivia since she's been asking for them for a week now.
4. Brush teeth--mine and theirs!
5. Take shower
6. Sweep and mop kitchen floor so socks don't stick to grape jelly tracks in front of fridge!
7. Call Mom
8. School
9. Make menus for next week
10. Make dinner

I try to keep the list to ten items or less so I can feel like I can actually accomplish the entire list. However, with a super-crab for a son who is teething, teething, teething...we only got #4, #6 and #8 done today. Thankfully, we were invited to dinner by friends who need to eat up leftovers, the laundry can sit until tomorrow, the socks...well, we'll try again tomorrow, my Mom will understand if I don't call today, I have a couple more days to review my menu plan and make a grocery list, and maybe I can hop in the shower before we leave for dinner. It's not getting #1 done that makes this day feel so...well, so unproductive. I need to work on that.

Thanks, Lord, for being with me in this day. Please comfort Samuel and help me to see where there is more time in my day to spend with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Genius Meal Planning Idea!

I've found it a bit difficult to stay on top of my menu planning since adding a fourth child. The time I used to use for such chores has evaporated! But, I did stumble across this genius plan, if you struggle with a plan as well. It works for us because it takes a lot of the guess work out of planning. Also, it plans about a month's worth of menus at once. Trust me! It's really easier than it sounds!

Cousins

What could be more fun than four cousins, all dressed in pink, celebrating a birthday?!

Whew!

I'm enjoying the sound of my dryer running. It's the only thing running in the house at the moment! No elephant noises coming from upstairs. No little bare feet racing from the front door to back door to front again. No treadmill whirring (though I should be hopping on there more often!) I'm exhaling. Whew...

This weekend, we picked up some "new" used furniture from my out of state family and brought it home. It was a huge ordeal, but the end is in sight! The kids and I spent all day today cleaning, rearranging, re-rearranging just trying to get the house sorted. I'm a nester. I like all my feathers to be in place. It may not make sense to anyone else, but the feathers need to be where I want them. My poor husband has learned to just let me do it. In the end, it all works out fairly well. When he came home tonight, I had all the furniture where I wanted and just needed to work on cleaning and putting things away. No dinner in waiting for my working guy, but he's clever. He had already planned to take the girls out for pizza!

So, I'm continuing to exhale and enjoying a few minutes of quiet. They are few and far between, but they do come now and then.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Four

Most days, I hit the ground running (literally), just hurtling through our day and trying to juggle the demands of our home, marriage, children, ministry. I don't have time to stop and think about what I'm doing or what it looks like or whether it's perfect or not. I just move from one thing or person or need or cry or spill or boo-boo to the next.

But, now and then, I catch my breath and it hits me:

I have four children. One, two, three, four.

Four little bodies piled in my lap for story time.
Eights hands and eight feet to wash each night.
Four bellies to fill several times a day.
Four extra beds to make.
At least 24 pairs of shoes to keep track of.
Four loads of laundry most day.
Four bedtime kisses to give and receive.
Four little wonders to place at the feet of Jesus each morning and ask for His protection and wisdom as we journey homeward.

Four children.

It takes my breath away...and sometimes my sleep. And usually all of my energy.

But, it's four more than I ever dreamed possible a decade ago. And, I'd take four more if it meant even an ounce more love would flow through this happy heart of mine.

Thank You, God, for these four. And for so much more...Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 1/26/09

I've been making a menu plan for almost a year now, but this is a good place for me to keep track of what we're eating for future planning:)

Monday (1/26)
B--Cereal, Milk, Fruit
L--Grilled Cheese, baby carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, cherries, milk
D--Girls out to eat with Dad!

Tuesday (1/27)
B--Oatmeal, Fruit, Milk
L--Chicken Noodle Soup, Veggies, Fruit, Cottage Cheese
D--Fish, Mac N Cheese, Peas and Carrots, Melon

Wednesday (1/28)
B--Cereal, Fruit, Milk
L--Out to eat after piano lessons:)
D--Chicken Noodle Casserole, Salad, Fruit

Thursday (1/29)
B--Oatmeal, Fruit, Milk
L--PBJ, Veggies, Fruit, milk
D--Ravioli, Salad, Bread, Fruit

Friday (1/30)
B--Eggs, Toast, fruit, milk
L--Leftovers
D--Leftovers

Saturday (1/31)
B--Cereal, Doughnuts (a weekly ritual!)
Leave for Grandma's House!

25 Things About Me

1. I love Jesus…Who He is, what He’s done for me, for you, for us all.
2. I love to cook. I love tackling really complicated recipes-- homemade, from scratch recipes. And then sharing the results with my family and friends! And to think, when I first got married all I could make was cereal!!!
3. I have a port-wine stain birthmark. Different, unusual, conversation-starter and ender but something I really, truly wouldn’t trade if I could. I know who my friends are and I know who loves me. I also know God thinks ALL He has made is gorgeous.
4. I love my husband…he is the perfect complement to me and vice versa. I love his enthusiasm for the Lord as well as his faithful service to me and our kids.
5. I had 4 babies in 6 years…I’m tired!
6. I think my kids are amazing people. I have loved each and every stage they have gone through—even the rough ones!—and I can’t wait to see what kind of people they are going to be!
7. I home school all four of our kids.
8. My parents divorced when I was 8.
9. I never really got to know my real dad very well and sometimes I wonder if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Really, I wish I could have had the opportunity to choose.
10. Pizza is my favorite food. Of all time. Ever.
11. I hate mushrooms.
12. I want to run in a marathon before I turn 40.
13. I want to learn to sew better.
14. I love snail mail. I still get excited before I open the mailbox each day.
15. My feelings get hurt easily, but I’m good at hiding it from others.
16. I have a tendency to sulk when I’m tired.
17. I like to dance and do so when I think no one else is looking…especially to Latin music
18. My favorite household chore: vacuuming.
19. Least favorite: dusting.
20. I’ve had the same best friend for 16 years and we talk on the phone for an hour every week, even though we live 2000 miles apart.
21. I love civics...not the car, the subject.
22. A couple of my spiritual gifts: hospitality, intercessory prayer, helps, administration.
23. I know how to knit and sing.
24. I really love the Bible study I’ve been in for the last 3 years.
25. I don’t think I know 25 people well enough to ask them to respond to this!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some things that are going well...

I have a tendency to mentally dwell on those things that aren't going well in my life. I guess you'd call it a penchant for the negative. It's something that I want God to work on in my life and I'm praying about it in this season of motherhood and home school. Homeschooling has been a HUGE area of challenge for me. My thought life has centered on what I can't seem to do and what doesn't happen, rather than the things that are going well or things that I can do. So, in the spirit of trying to correct this deep-seeded fault I have, I'm going to list here in black and white some things that are going well with our home school right now:

First, we are "doing school" every day. Believe me, that has not always been the case! Just doing school each day--in some way, shape or form--has helped lift the conviction I was under!

I'm getting more organized with our school supplies and curriculum. This weekend, Charlie and I cleaned out the closet in our family room and I now have this beautifully organized and spacious closet filled with puzzles, books, papers, and school supplies right at my finger tips. It makes our school time much smoother when I don't have to spend as much time searching for items we need to get started on a project or lesson.

The Folders. Each of the girls now has a color coded, three ring folder that holds their school work for the week. On Sunday afternoon/evening, I spend time preparing for the entire week. I copy anything that needs copying, print off extra math drills from the Internet etc. I also type out a list of lessons that must be completed by Friday afternoon for each girl and put it into the folder. If they finish the work early, they are done with school early in the week--great incentive for them and me! At the end of the week, I empty the folder, filing away anything that should be saved and recycling the rest.

The Great Toy Round-Up 2009! One of my biggest competitors for my girls' attention was their TOYS! How can you make phonics games and math flash cards seem more fun than Polly Pockets or My Little Pony?!?! Hubs and I rounded up all the competing toys, sorted them into color-coded bins and put them away. All we left out were stuffed animals, mega blocks and their play kitchen dishes. These were toys we felt would not compete with school. The girls now know that they other toys can come out Friday night after Daddy gets home from work, but have to be packed away before bed Sunday evening. Happily, there have been no protests or complaints! PTL!!!

We're eating better. Instead of just trying to get food on the table, I've tried to be MUCH more conscientious about providing healthy, hearty meals. Whole grain cereals, oatmeal, fruit for breakfast. Lots of fresh veggies and fruits at lunch time. Dinners that are about more than just eating, but also about sharing what God did in our day. This has really helped keep my kids more even keeled all day. They aren't as crabby and cranky because of hunger:)

A regularly scheduled rest time each week. Sometime mid-week, I schedule a rest time for everyone. Me included. Surprisingly, this has become a household favorite. Everyone (even my three year old) loves to take a giant stack of books to bed with them and curl up for a good hour or so.

Capturing time...this is a biggie. I've really been asking the Lord to help me capture every moment that could be used for learning purposes. Setting the table--my oldest can work on division and fractions; my middle one works on adding and subtracting; my next youngest works on counting and matching. The two oldest help each other with reading and spelling as the younger one spells words aloud and the older one listens and tells her what the words are. Both of the older girls read books to Olivia and she is loving that time with her big sisters. Even when we're at the grocery store or the bank, there are opportunities to connect them to the world around them and learn.

So, these are things that are going well. It's tempting for me to write another post about things that aren't going well, but I'm learning (slowly) that dwelling on the negative won't glorify God. He is so gentle and patient and will lead me through any changes and corrections necessary.

Thanks, Lord, for showing me what You are doing in my life and that is good because You are doing it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.