Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Children Teach Me about God

This is my entry in Everyday Mommy's Writing from the Heart contest. You can read the other essays on this topic here.

I have always heard people say that they never really understood God's unconditional love until they became a parent. I agree with that, but I say that I really began to understand the unconditional love of God after I had children.

My seven year old daughter demonstrates God's love and mercy to me.

Psalm 103: 10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

I Samuel 16:7 Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

My daughter doesn't hold my sin against me. I can have a horrible Mommy day, complete with short temper, angry words, selfish acts, and lack of attention (and with reactions like that, she's probably glad that I am not paying attention). When the weight of my sin and careless or hurtful behavior hits home with me, usually after some type of blowup, I hug her and apologize. I often say, "I'm sorry that I have been a mean Mommy today." Amanda has replied the same way for the last several years: "You aren't a mean Mommy. You're the best Mom in the world!" She really believes that it's true. I am thankful that just like my God, she does know my true heart, in spite of my actions which sometimes speak to the contrary. I love her and even treasure her. Amanda's example has prompted me to try to give her a clean slate each day, judging her only on that day's behavior, not expecting the worst based on past mistakes. She is still way ahead of me in applying this principle.
Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with everlasting kindness.

She loves me no matter how I treat her, just as God loves me and seeks after my love. If I ignore Him, He is always waiting. If I choose selfish interests over time with Him in prayer, Bible study, and acts of service, He waits, and accepts me back into fellowship anytime I am ready to return. In the same way, my daughter longs for my time and attention. When I say no to her invitation to play video games, or a board game, or watch her ride her bike, she will ask again later that day or the next time she engages in that activity. I am never off her radar screen. I am the caretaker and am supposed to be the one who is always thinking of her needs and wants, but she is the one who is always thinking of me and waiting for my attention, whether it comes often or seldom. She won't give up on me, just as the Lord patiently awaits my heart to turn fully to Him.

My two year old son shows me what it is like to live life to the full.

Kyle shrieks with joy, giggles with glee or howls in disappointment or anger. Every emotion is felt, and expressed, to the full. I am reminded that I should approach my life in Christ that way. My responses to my Lord should be honest and without restraint, just as David's were throughout the book of Psalms. Just as Kyle would not even know how to put on a false front, I too should seek that transparency before my Lord.
Genesis 1: 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

When Kyle sees an interesting bug, he doesn't just look at it. He squeals with delight, and even shares his joy, "Mommy! Look! Ant!" Then he gets down on his tummy, level with the ant, and watches. He delights in rain, and earthworms, and even later creations of the mechanical variety such as trains and planes.

My children are truly a gift from the Lord, and I am thankful that He has entrusted me to raise them. Amanda has already chosen to have a personal relationship with Jesus, so while I fail in many areas, I am confident that I have taught her the most important lesson of all. I strive to keep growing in my faith and cultivating a heart like the Lord's, so that I will be a suitable model and example for them, since they are definitely watching me. But I am watching, too. I seek to emulate them, showing the selfless and unbounded love that they show me.
Mark 10: 15-16 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Eating More Fruits and Veggies

Yes, that's Amanda, yesterday, on her first day of school.

Forget January resolutions. Back-to-school August has always felt like the new year to me, automatically signalling time for me to reorganize and reprioritize as I get back on a schedule. Summer was great--lots of time to read (and blog), but just as my daughter was ready to get back to school (friends) and begin the third grade, I also have been gearing up for the routine that her schedule will impose upon me.

In addition to cleaning out clutter, and cracking down on discipline, one of my resolutions is to eat better. Reading The Color Code last year really helped me get excited about eating fruits and vegetables for the health benefits that they provide. The plan includes eating fruits and vegetables from different color groups (red/orange, yellow, green, and blue), in addition to striving for ten vegetable servings a day. Yes, ten. Now when I was trying to follow this plan, I rarely actually hit ten servings. However, I did often get over the five which is commonly recommended and seldom reached by the population in general.

So, the way that I managed to encourage myself to eat more fruits and veggies, and to encourage my family to do the same, was simply to make a chart and post it on the fridge. I'm all about a little friendly competition, even if it's just with myself. Keeping a piece of notebook paper on the fridge, and simply putting tally marks on it, totally works for me when I'm trying to decide what to eat. So, the chart's going back up, and hopefully I'll be making wiser food choices. When you are trying to eat 7 - 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, there's not as much room to eat chips or candy or other things that I probably shouldn't be eating as much as I do. It also helped my daughter make her own good choices (another lover of the competition), because the two tally marks would be right there staring at her telling her that she really should eat an apple instead of a chewy granola bar. I also use it for my toddler, because it was convicting to me to see the lack there (since pretzels and graham crackers do not count as vegetables).

You probably know the saying that if you don't have a target, then you're sure to miss it, and a simple piece of paper with tally marks is my target. The book really made those foods something I wanted to eat, as opposed to what I should eat, so do think that another book skimming is in order as well.

Go over to Rocks in My Dryer to see what works for everyone else this week:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pure Obsession

This song really resonated with me as I listened to it on church Sunday. I've heard it before, but I have been feeling scattered lately, and I think it reminded me of what I need to feel peace. This praise chorus, written by Mark Altrogge, reminded me what is really important, and as I seek to sort of reorganize and declutter my life in this back to school "new year," I am reminded that I need to focus most on one thing.

Give me one pure and holy passion,
And give me one magnificent obsession.
Give me one glorious ambition for my life,
To know and follow hard after you.

To know and follow hard after you.
To grow as your disciple in the truth.
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you my Lord.
Lead me on and I will follow after you.
Lead me on and I will follow after you.
That glorious ambition is what I'm really pondering. gives these definitions:
  • an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment
  • the object, state, or result desired or sought after
If my ambition is misplaced (on self), then even the simple and pure desire to know and follow after Christ can be sullied. If I seek to gain knowledge in order to show off the fruits of my relationship with Christ in leading Bible studies, writing this blog, being a kind, wise and gentle mother and a supportive wife, then the object of my desire is myself, or the praise of others specifically, not simply knowing God. The obsession, the desired result, should be the knowledge of Christ Himself. And that in itself should be enough.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Why Snapshot?

Barb, at Chelsea Morning, wants to know what our blog name means. I always wonder the same thing about a blog I'm reading, and I thought it was great to revisit the subject here, so I'll answer. You can check out everyone else's explanations over at her site, including Dianne's Unfinished Work, where I got the prompt to do this.

My first post introduced Snapshot like this:

In general, I feel like life is just blurring by, but in the midst of that, there are snapshots. Some may be significant, like my wedding day 13 years ago, or the first time I looked into the faces of the two babies that had grown inside of me for 9 months, but many are just a look at my life.

If I don't capture the snapshots, then hour after hour, day after day, does seem to blur, and many of the precious, funny or sad details might be lost. I guess that's what I'm going to try to capture here. A snapshot of a day, a moment, a feeling. . . . Perhaps by writing them down, they won't get lost in the blur, but will stand on their own.

After blogging consistently for a few months, I was beginning to wonder about my title. Did it really capture who I was and what this blog was all about? Then last month, I read a comment from Joshua Lake at Blest With Sons' blog, and it reminded me that, yes, this is what I was striving for.

A slightly revised version of that offhand comment is now my tagline: "That'’s why blogging is such a rewarding venture. It gives you snapshots of your past, and yet, surprisingly often, those snapshots catch you completely off guard."

Have you ever read something that you wrote and thought, "I wrote that?" Or looked back at a journal and thought, "I really worried about that little problem so much?" Perhaps even looking at pictures (of the paper or digital variety) causes you to marvel at how much things have changed and how much they have remained the same.

That's what I'm doing here each day--just a little snapshot of my life. Some are trivial, some are weighty, but all are significant (which is a version of my old tagline).

A Child's Obedience

I found this great article by Elisabeth Elliot called A Child's Obedience on Michelle's sidebar at This One's For the Girls (she's really a fount of information and that sidebar is a great overview of her parenting wisdom). It's short, and I highly recommend you checking it out. You can read it now. I'll wait.

The short article talks about training your young toddler to obey. It seems quite simple to me, and I think it will work. Kyle likes to do things his way, but he is fairly trainable. Given the problems I've had with Amanda this summer, I think that this will work as a way to train him to listen and obey--the first time--but I think that it will train me to be a better disciplinarian. You see, I am learning that it's really all about me.

As far as Amanda, I am implementing this for her as well. I'm thinking that perhaps an immediate time out every single time she doesn't act immediately or speaks disrespectfully might work. I know that for a 3rd grader, "time out" seems like a weird punishment, but she loves to be in the midst of everything, so sending her to the stairs for just a few minutes is an effective deterrent, and if nothing else, it gives her a chance to reflect and regroup mentally.

So far, so good, but I know that it will require me to be consistent. All the time.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Book Review: Cook Off!

If you enjoy

reality TV--like Survivor, the Apprentice, or Top Chef, the Next Food Network Star, or Food Network Challenge

a well-written, educational and colorful non-fiction read

cooking and cookbooks or magazines. . . .

then you might enjoy Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America as much as I did.

This book was written by Amy Sutherland, a food writer from Maine, who began her year of research into cooking contests when a resident of her state won a place in the Pillsbury Bake Off. She chronicles the history of the recipe contest and then devotes a chapter to each of the biggest or most popular contests that are held across the United States throughout the year. She generally follows a different contestant in each chapter, detailing his or her methods, personality and competition style.

One thing that surprised me was to learn that many people are sort of professional "contesters," entering many recipes into many contests each year. By encountering these same competitors chapter after chapter, the book reads as a compelling and suspenseful story while allowing you some insight into the hows and whys of recipe contesting.

Edited to add that each Saturday, Sherry hosts a book review link on her site, Semicolon. Check them out or link one of your own.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Amanda's Stories

Blest started "Take Your Kid to Blog Day" today. I thought it was a great idea, but I was sad that Amanda wasn't going to be here today to play. However, based on what Blest posted and how she described it, I am also going to take this opportunity for a shameless plug of my daughter's outstanding abilities. If you'd like to play, click over to her site, and see what it's all about, then link your post to her site.

Amanda likes to write. I think that it comes from her love of reading. In fact, I myself remembering wanting to be able to write something as good as what I was reading. I remember writing a Little House on the Praire type story in the 5th grade in school. So, when I started a story with Amanda this summer, I was quite impressed with her realistic dialogue. I will type it pretty much as she wrote it, misspellings and all.

Chapter 3
The Company

"The company's here!" Mom said. "Oh!" I said. "I know who that is!"
"I don't," said Sam. "Those are my cousins!" "Let us introduce ourselves," said Leo. "My name is Leo and I'm 11. This is--" "I'm Lucy. I'm 10. This is--" "I'm Cassie and I'm 8. This is--" "I'm Rickie. I'm 4, and this is--" "Woof!" "This is Spot, right?"

And from
Chapter 7
Don't Tell!

I went into the room. "I i i warrnnnedd youuuuuu," the voice said, "AHHHHHH!" I screamed. A dim light shone. "W-W-W-Where am--Hey! What are you doing here? Did the ghost get you, too?" "No, silly! Ha ha," said Tyler. "You and your friend fell for it," said Rick. "You mean--" I asked. "Yes, the "ghost" is us."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Need Some Help

I don't know about you, but I am really good at noticing others' faults and figuring out ways that
  • their lives could be easier,
  • their children would be better behaved or
  • their day would run more efficiently.
When I was at my grandmother's house last week, one thing that she really wanted to do is to tackle the "stuff" that had accumulated in the garage, on shelves, and in closets and drawers and cabinets. We threw away a lot--old magazines and papers, mostly. I convinced her to give some things away as well. I really did not do that much, but she was pleased. In my quest to make some room, I kept repeating that if she didn't use something or need it, that we should get rid of it. For example, she had twin sheets, but no twin beds. She had at least 6 sets of full sized sheets for her guest room bed that was only slept in five to ten nights a year. One thing that I did manage to convince her to do was to pare down the number of linens, which left room for some other things on the shelves.

Am I born organizer? Is my house all pared down itself? Um, no, not quite. I found that it is much easier to convince someone else all of the rational reasons why certain things need to go. I once read (in this Don Aslett book I think) that people hold on to things for a variety of reasons, and none of them are good ones.

1. It was a gift. It does seem like a good idea to hold on to something that someone gave with good intentions. But they gave it to you for your enjoyment. Clutter complicates your life. Unused or unwanted items are clutter.

2. I might use it someday. I am guilty here. I love kitchen stuff, but I don't use all of it. Serving pieces, bowls, gadgets. . . . The advice is that if you haven't used it in a year (you could stretch it and say two), then get rid of it. If an occasion comes up to use it, you could likely easily borrow it from someone else.

3. I might wear it again. The same applies here. If you haven't worn it in a year (unless it's some sort of special occasion item), then get rid of it. The clutter in your drawers and closets make it harder to find and use things that you do want. I have moved several times and I often ask myself, "Why did I move this?" and yet I still have it.

The other thing that I read that could make it easier if it is difficult for you to let go is to put the things that make you feel doubtful in a box. Label it with the date. If a year goes by, take the unopened box to the donation site of your choice.

I am revisiting these ideas because it was so easy for me to point out ways for her to simplify, and now I want to take it to heart myself. I know that I can get rid of the extra (and well worn) sets of towels that are filling my linen closet. I know that there are clothes I can get rid of. I think that these tasks will be fairly easy. But I know that I can go deeper. So, just as it was easy for me to counsel Mimi in the ways to simplify her life, I'm asking you for ways that you have been able to pare down (or to avoid clutter in the first place if you are one of those born organized types).

What have you gotten rid of that you haven't missed? How do you keep clutter from taking over your home and your life? Do you have a system of clearing out on a regular basis?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Read for the Record

Jen Robinson posted this great post about Read for the Record going on tomorrow. I thought I'd pass along the information for anyone who might want to participate by
  • reading along with your child and participating in the record breaking event
  • purchasing a book at Starbucks to benefit Jumpstart (available through Monday)
  • getting involved in an already-planned event in your community
If my Starbucks has the book, I'll probably buy it and read it tomorrow.

Starbucks, a new book, a good cause--you can't go wrong there.

UPDATE, Thursday: We got to Starbucks around 9:30, and there was a sign that they were having a read aloud with treats at 10:00am. Thirty minutes is a long time for Kyle to wait, so we sat and drank some coffee, and then ran to the post office and returned right before it started. They had sold out of the books three times, they said, but we participated in the group read, and Kyle got a chocolate cupcake, so all in all, not bad.

States I've Visited

I posted last week about all the traveling I did with my grandparents growing up. I thought I would do this states visited exercise that I first saw at PENSIEVE and have now come across a couple of times since I am back in the blogosphere. It puts me at 70%. Between driving with them, and living in 3 regions of the US, I've been around. Cool, huh?

create your own visited states map

Home--Minus One

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. . . .

No, I haven't been to market to buy a fat pig, but I am really glad to be home. I was happy to be able to stay on with my grandmother and help her after my grandfather's death, but there is nothing like waking up in my own bed, even if I wasn't quite sure where I was.

Kyle slept in today, as I knew he would after our long travel day, and Terry cleaned house before we came home, so it gave me a little time to do some blog reading. Amanda is at her other grandmother's house for the rest of the week in a previously scheduled visit.

This morning, I came across Katherine's Minus One Theory. You should read it if you haven't already. It is so true, and I can attest that the theory holds up in this family. My husband has long observed that Kyle is a different child without his sister around. He's calmer. Quieter. Did I say calmer? My husband is not a big fan of chaos, so he likes this calmer, gentler Kyle. But what I also have reminded him is that Amanda was different when she was an "only," too. We've been struggling with her lack of immediate obedience lately, and I'm just coming to realize that she's a little distracted by seeing her younger brother as a playmate now. She's having to learn how to have fun with him and entertain him (which she does well), but also when to turn off the switch.

So, because we are Amanda-less, I know that Kyle will probably squeal less, run less and even cry less. It's a good thing, but it's also a sad thing. He likes squealing and running and although he doesn't like to cry, he does like to play with her and takes the occasional injury or annoyance as a risk worth taking. I guess that this will be a trial run for next week, when she will be back to school full time, and it will be just the two of us, until she comes home late afternoon, and then Dad joins us for dinner. So, yes, Minus One is easier, but easier isn't always better.

The Minus One theory makes me think of the Plus One theory. This one you have to really work to make happen, unlike the Minus One theory, which can just happen, when a friend asks a child over to play for the afternoon, or older children are off at work or school, or husbands are traveling for work.

Me, Plus One husband equals a different me than Mom Me. Wife Me can be relaxed, funny, maybe even more self-centered. Our dates are not as often as they once were, due to a busier schedule all around, but we do try to get out alone together at least every few months. The thing that my husband has always been great at scheduling is the alone trip. We have managed to get away for several days at least once a year, if not twice. These extended retreats have done wonders for us as individuals--taking breaks from our jobs as parents and the other roles we fill--and also as a couple, to stay in touch with each other.

Me, Plus One daughter equals a child knowing that she is "Number One" for the hour or afternoon, anyway. Whether it's just a trip to the mall or even the supermarket on our own, that time with her gives me an insight into what she's really thinking. We also like discovering common interests that the men in the family don't share. Because I had a Saturday morning ministry meeting each week, I usually had to meet the family at Amanda's soccer games. When we ended up with two cars, Terry would take Kyle home, and Amanda and I would drive home, stopping at tag sales along the way. This time has to be seized. This summer, I often took Kyle's naptime as a chance for me to catch up on the things I wanted to do, but when I saw that she needed it, we used that as some good Mother Daughter time to play a game, read or watch a movie together or cook and chat.

Grandma, Plus One grandchild, lets Grandma lavish all that grandmotherly love on one child, and indulge her interests without being distracted by parents and other grandchildren. I had those weeks growing up, and I know that I loved them, and Amanda and her grandma have come to enjoy them as well.

So, the return home Minus One will afford me the extra time to do laundry, and catch up on email and blogs and bills, while Amanda enjoys being the Plus One down in Virginia and Kyle blossoms under Mom Plus One here at home.

Autoposting on Blogger

Well, you're right, there's no way to set Blogger to post things that you have previously written and want to publish on future dates.

I was going to be without web access for almost a week, and didn't want to just disappear off the blogosphere for that time. I usually have a couple of posts that are in progress as a draft, so I got those ready to go, and dated them when I wanted them to post.

I gave a friend my blogger log in and password and she published when the dates came up. Voila! Autoposting on Blogger!

Go over to Rocks in My Dryer and see what other handy tips people are posting today.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Meme of Fives

Jeannine tagged me, and still going along with my friend's theory that a meme is an easy blog post, and since I am still sort of in transition (catching up on email and flying back home today and arriving late tonight), I thought it would be a good chance to share. My daughter will be with her other grandmother on a previously scheduled few days alone with her until the weekend, so I'm hoping for some good thinking/writing/reading time, but until then. . . .

Five things in my freezer:
1. Flav-R-Ice pops
2. boneless, skinless chicken breast
3. frozen peas
4. one of those gel ice packs
5. ice

Five things in my closet:
1. my clothes
2. my husband's clothes
3. random surprises bought for Amanda on the top shelf
4. the iron and ironing board (folded up)
5. too many extra hangers

Five things in my car:
1. CDs
2. Kyle's car seat
3. a bottle of water--half drunk usually and some goldfish or other snack
4. books for Amanda and Kyle
5. trash

Five things in my purse:
1. lipstick
2. Tic-Tacs
3. a notepad (or two), pens, and crayons from Cracker barrel
4. cash money and credit cards
5. trash

Five people I tag:
I will try to widen my meme circle and tag some of my newer commenters instead of just my best blog pals. Again, if you just don't "do" memes, I will not hold it against you or feel personally slighted. . . .
1. Laurel Wreath
2. Mag
3. Heather
4. Tammy
5. Shelled Peas (because she is funny and will come up with some good stuff and it seems like her brain still needs the break that a meme affords)

Monday, August 21, 2006


I have come to realize that we influence others more than we know. How many of you have a book on your bookshelf that someone else recommended? How many of those reads actually ended up changing your outlook and affecting you? What about your favorite recipes? Are they all ones that you found on your own? You probably cook some of the things that your mom or grandmother cooked, or you may have a new favorite or two that was passed on from a friend. A Christian friend might make a comment about something that they have chosen to avoid (a certain TV show or movie or music), and that gets you thinking, "Perhaps I should also avoid that." How many times have you run out to Target to stock up on the latest sale item touted by a friend?

Last Fall I was talking with a young girl at church who had finished high school and was taking the first semester off. She didn't like high school at all. Her father wanted her to go to college. In the course of our chat, I mentioned that there were many two year programs that were specifically designed to train you for a specific career, which would allow her to begin supporting herself, and to take courses related to her end goal. I think she might have equated college with four years of boring classes. I mentioned things that I knew existed, such as dental hygienist school, an education degree at a four year college if she thought she might like to teach (because she loves children), and we talked a lot about nursing. Because my sister-in-law is a nurse, I know a little bit more about it. I know that nurses are in demand, and whether you have a two year RN degree or a four year BSRN, you can make pretty decent money. The other thing I love about nursing for a woman is that one could actually continue working after having children, on weekends or in the evenings, contribute to the family income, and mostly stay home as well, if that is a goal.

My young friend had mentioned that she was going to be registering for her classes. The next time I saw her, I asked her if she had chosen her classes, and if she was just taking the general first year stuff. "No, I'm doing the nursing thing," she answered casually.

Well, I'm glad I didn't tell her to jump off a cliff. But seriously, I am humbled and honored that she listened to me. I don't really see myself as the answer-giver to her. I think that her heavenly Father, who knows what she will enjoy, excel in and be able to achieve, used me to help her find a comfortable option for her. I hope she will do well. I hope that I will be able to continue to be an encouragement to her.

Friday, August 18, 2006

About my Kids

I was tagged by my friend Shelled Peas for this meme. She said that she likes getting tagged because it gives her brain a break so that she doesn't have to be on the lookout for the topic of the perfect blog. Well said. That is certainly the case this week, with not nearly as much blog time as I am accustomed to.

Assignment: Name three things about each of your kids.

Amanda (7, 3rd grade)--
  • She really does like to read. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. When she was bringing home her stuff at the end of school last year, there was a self portrait. It also said, "read lots of books and make lots of friends." It was her wishes for 2nd grade. It came true! She has her first "best friend" that she met in school this year, and she hasn't stopped reading yet.
  • She is very confident. She thinks that she is good at everything. She is proud of her writing (which is clever), her soccer playing (which is quite average), and her other abilities.
  • She is a wonderful big sister. Kyle thinks that she is so funny, and she also takes pride in "taking care of him," for me. I have been surprised that since she is a good bit older than he is, that I have another partner watching him grow and taking pride. You know how you can always share those cute sayings and new achievements with your spouse? Well, Amanda is just as interested, and even tells me things that he's done or says, "He's so smart!"

    Kyle (26 months)--
  • He repeats words and phrases from songs, TV shows, and games (for example, his My Little Leappad Jay Jay book--including sound effects; and the opening songs and dialogue of Elmo's World and Little Einsteins, and even wordy songs on the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack).
  • He is very sweet and affectionate. He will often come up and grab me, "Mommy, 'ug," and if there are others around, he will spread the love, "Pops, 'ug," etcetera. When we were entertaining some of my husband's coworkers earlier this summer, he went around the whole group sitting on the deck dispensing hugs in this way, to about 7 people, including several young childless males.
  • He's funny! He really likes attention and will often do something because he knows you are watching. When he was only seven months old, he had a "hot face." If he was having a bite of table food and it was a little warm, or getting into a bath a little warm, he put his hands in front, fingers splayed, and opened his mouth into an "O" and shook. We were quite amused. Once he saw that it solicited this type of reaction, each time he took a first bite, he gave us the "hot face."

    I'm going to tag a couple of big family mommas--make them work for their suppers. Seriously, even though they write a lot about family, I would love some specifics about each little family member to get to know them better. So, if you "do" memes, I tag Katherine and Michelle and Jeannine. I'm also tagging Katrina, but if she wants to dodge me like I did her, then we are even. If you don't do memes, or don't want to do this one, that's okay. If you also want to do it, you are tagged. Let us know you did it in the comments.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Love Journal

I wrote in this post about my need for encouraging words and my husband's forgetfulness about expressing them. In January 2005, I came across some journals on sale. When I saw this red suede one with "Love Notes" embossed on the front, I had an idea, so I bought it.

On the inside, I wrote a note to Terry telling him my new idea. We could exchange this journal anytime we wanted to express something to the other. My first note to him was complimenting the patience and grace that he had recently shown me. There were a couple of instances when he could've and should've been angry with me (like a careless mailbox swiping incident that obliterated my side mirror). When he wasn't, I thought, "Wow, he's really growing." I also thought, "Gee, I should be nicer and more forgiving myself," but that's another story.

He has used it to wish me Happy Anniversary, Happy Mother's Day, telling me he misses me when I've been gone, and to express something that he's appreciated about me.

It has become a wonderful substitute for cards in general. I often forget to buy them, and he thinks that "they are stupid, and no one reads them anyway." I enjoy receiving them, mostly for the sentiments written inside, but I've never been sure what to do with them when I get them. This way the sentiments are stored in one place.

I have started one with my daughter as well, since I'm horrible about keeping a journal about her. I have to admit that I haven't kept up with it much, but I need to write something. I think I started it over a year ago, and I think that she would be much more proactive about keeping it going now if I reintroduced it.

This is what Works for Me. If you want to see what is working for others, go see Shannon. . . .
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Albert Einstein once said, "In the middle of difficulty likes opportunity."

When I read the quote prompt for this week, I couldn't help but think of this post that I just wrote last week, in which I shared about a little flare up of bad behavior from Amanda. But look at the italicized part in this quote from my post--

So, apparently my parenting skills have been so lax of late, that saying no to your mom is not deemed as something "really bad." So, I am accepting responsibility. And I feel okay about the whole situation. Because I did stand firm then, and we discussed it on the way home, she now knows that it is absolutely not acceptable, and we have set the bar. We've told her that she will be penalized or punished each time she tells us no or refuses to do what we've asked her in reasonably short order.

I didn't really elaborate on that statement then, but apparently Albert Einstein and I think alike. That was what I meant by being okay with the whole situation. If the difficulty never occured, we would not have had a chance to unequivacably state our expectations. It's okay, because of our response. We took the opportunity to restate, and perhaps even raise the bar, on our expectations of her behavior. The difficulty served as a reminder to her, but I think more importantly, to us as well, in how diligent we need to be in coaching her.

This is the cornerstone of Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose." Good lies in the opportunity. Life can definitely be difficult. Do you learn life's lessons, or do you keep making the same mistakes over and over again? How do you handle your difficulties, and thus model for your children how they should respond--as something to hold on to and foster bitterness, or as an opportunity to learn from?

See how other Christian Women Online have interpreted the quote this week here:

Monday, August 14, 2006

How Do You Like Me Now?

Oh, yes, I took the plunge.

Thank you to Susie, at Bluebird Blogs, for giving me a beautiful new look.

What do you think? I love it, love it, love it. I am usually sort of a control freak and can tell others what to do quite well, but I just gave her some general ideas, and sent her the pics (and told her I liked the color scheme of the pics in the books), and she did it all.

Reading Recommendations

Since I may be scarce this week (although I haven't been so far), if you're looking for some reading, check out some carnivals. It does look like I may be without internet access for the most part for the next week, when I will be with my grandmother. I surely have appreciated all of the expressions of care and sympathy that you have given me--and it has even impressed my non-bloggy friends and my sister-in-law Dana who I love like a sister and who is one of my favorite people in the world. So, you can keep praying for us--that I (and the wild kids with me) will be a comfort to her, and we will be productive, if she would like to, as far as going through his things. She may choose to use me to help her go through and organize other things, and that's fine too.

So, in case you don't hear from me as regularly as you usually do, here are some things to keep you busy. I have some posts ready, and my friend will probably post some things for me that I've prepared, but I may not be able to respond or do any blog visiting for the next week or so.

The Carnival of the Blogging Chicks is up now.

The Carnival of Family Life, to which I submitted Dull Knives, hoping to get some more advice and experience that we are all looking for, is also up, and you can check the original post later this week to read the comments if you are following them.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Remembering Mac

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My grandfather died Friday afternoon after fighting cancer for many years. He would have months of really poor health and then he would rally, and get almost back to normal. For the last four months, he's been very weak and after a stay in the hospital, the doctor sent him to a nursing home so that he could get physical rehab therapy. The cancer began to take over his body. He hated being down like that. I remember him as vital and healthy, beyond his years. He was 85 (or 86?) years old, but up into his late 70's, he was absolutely the picture of health. He had very little gray hair in his jet black until he was well into his 60's and then it gradually went white. He had smooth skin and piercing blue eyes.

My sister and I both have wonderful memories of time spent with Mac and Mimi. When I was about thirteen and my sister was eleven, we began our tradition of traveling with them in the summer. Mac would have sold the house and lived on the road in the trailer that they towed if Mimi was willing. Instead, they were often gone from June to October. My sister and I would either leave with them and fly home after 4 - 6 weeks, or we would fly together and meet them somewhere along their trip. Not only did we get closer to our grandparents during these summers, but also to each other. I don't remember us fighting as much as we did at home. In fact, I remember sending my braver little sister over to meet other kids for us to play with at the campgrounds. She has told me that she remembers me taking care of her and easing her fears when we were flying.

Because of their generosity and interest in us and their love of travel, I've been able to see most of the United States, state by state. We have been to many national parks--Crater Lake, Yellowstone, Painted Desert, Grand Tetons, and the Grand Canyon, not to mention Carlsbad Caverns, Mount St. Helens, Graceland, the World Expo in Vancouver, Disneyland, and seeing our first snow in Northern California (in the summer!). We were also able to visit our great grandmothers and other relatives in California, Mississippi and Texas.

Theologically, I'm pretty sure that heaven isn't our idea of a perfect world--you know eating ice cream and not gaining weight, living in a perfectly decorated self-cleaning model home, time to read or blog to our heart's content. . . . I think that spending eternity with our Lord and Savior is so much more than that.

But metaphorically speaking, I like to picture Mac like he was all those years that he enjoyed so much, driving the Suburban and pulling the Silver Streak trailer, traveling the open road in the highway in the sky.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

News from the Road

Forgive any typos or spelling or grammatical errors. I am typing on a strange computer, I woke up at 4:00am (which is really 3:00am adjusted time, over 12 hours ago), and I got about five hours of sleep.

Why? My grandfather passed away yesterday. We had known it was probably coming this week. I will probably post more about that tomorrow. I appreciate prayers for my family, including my grandmother, who survives him, and my mom who is an only child.

So, we had an 8:00am flight and the airport is over an hour away. With the new travel restrictions (even at this smaller airport), we figured that we should plan to arrive by 6:00am. So, we got up early. The line was long. Very very long. The restrictions weren't a problem for us, since we were planning to check our luggage anyway. For infants and young children, you can bring milk and juice, which is good, because Kyle really likes his milk and juice.

On the plane, I brought some music for the kids to listen to. I knew Amanda would enjoy it and it would help her sit quietly, and I learned when Amanda was a toddler that sometimes a little music in a headset allowed her to sit still long enough to fall asleep. Given the early hour of departure, and the fact that Kyle doesn't really like to miss out, I thought some nap encouragement might be in order.

I brought our portable CD player discman with headsets, that we bought many years ago for our drive from Texas to Oregon to use with the cassette adapter. I felt hopelessly outdated when I dragged it out, noisy spinning and all, like I might as well have had a boombox on my shoulder. It did serve it's purpose, though, enabling him to sleep the last 40 minutes of the flight.

What I really need is this:
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Well, of course I don't need it. It sure would be cool, though. I have been toying with the idea of one for a year or so, and now I think I'm sold. I don't know if I would get the super fancy video kind, but with those, you can even download little Disney shows, which could be very helpful for entertaining kids in waiting situations. I am not a walker/exerciser, but I think I would love to have my music with me and be able to dock it in the kitchen or wherever, and as I mentioned, I have just been enlightened to the use for kids' enjoyment.

Since I know that I am one of the last people on earth without one, what do you enjoy most about yours?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dull Knives

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

I'm helping out with the kids this summer at our midweek church service. That night has always been a disaster, partially because it's been understaffed, and partially because of the inertia in the fact that it's always sort of been a free for all. My friend who is leading now has done a great job of giving them some structure, but also let them have some fun. It's a smaller group and the problem (with teaching) is that it's ages 3 up to 11 or so.

So, during the course of the Bible story video they were watching, I moved a couple of children around who were talking or otherwise distracted after initial warnings didn't deter them. After the video when the teacher was trying to discuss it, I made eye contact with Amanda and let her know that she'd be moved if she didn't stop. Not only did she talk again, but she then got up and walked around and picked something up right behind the teacher and was playing with it. So, I told her to move to a chair away from anyone else.

"No, I'm sitting by E."

"Amanda, go sit over there. You got a warning."

"No," sitting down beside E.

I moved out into the hall. "Come out here with me."


After a little more refusal, she finally came out. We discussed her behavior. She stayed out there a bit, then rejoined the group.

So, on the way home from church, we filled Daddy in. She sobbed and sobbed. I asked why she was feeling so badly. She said, "I feel worse right now than I did earlier. You make me feel like I did something really bad--worse than what I did."

So, apparently my parenting skills have been so lax of late, that saying no to your mom is not deemed as something "really bad." So, I am accepting responsibility. And I feel okay about the whole situation. Because I did stand firm then, and we discussed it on the way home, she now knows that it is absolutely not acceptable, and we have set the bar. We've told her that she will be penalized or punished each time she tells us no or refuses to do what we've asked her in reasonably short order.

As the iron that complements her iron, I have let her get dull. Her conscience is dulled to the fact that "just disagreeing" is disrespectful. I need to keep her sharp. I have always noticed when she slips off the deep end in this area, it's because I've let things go. So, I'm gonna take a knife to her. (Figuratively speaking of course).

I would also like you wise readers to take a knife to me. I do know that talking back and disrespect is best banished when it is dealt with consistently and swiftly. How do you deal with it in your own homes? How did your parents respond to it? How does a mom you know with respectful kids handle it?

Come on, sharpen away. My daughter and I need it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


In the past couple of years, Amanda has made new friends wherever we went. Last year we were camping and the girl beside us was about her age. They rode bikes, explored, played cards and had a great time for those three days. Over those days I asked her some questions: What grade is she in? How would I know? (Well, you could have asked her). What did y'all talk about? I don't know. See, it wasn't that kind of relationship. And that's okay.

Have you noticed how easy friendship is for kids? Well, of course there is the usual "she likes you more than me" stress, but do you realize how easy it is for a child to make a friend? As a child, you don't think about what she thinks about you, or if you're talking too much or not enough. You're just having a good time.

Amanda was swimming in the pool at our hotel this week, and came over to the side and asked Terry or me to come in because she had no one to play with. Terry answered, "There are a million kids here." I added on, with the "anything for a laugh" parenting style that I inherited from my mother, "There's one right there!" There was indeed a girl about her age on the edge of the pool not two feet from her, watching this whole exchange. She grinned wide when I pointed her out, and Amanda looked slightly embarrassed, but then they swam off together and played for the next hour.

But when I went over to check on them, I noticed that things had changed a bit. Instead of a completely simple friendship that she used to enjoy on these occasions, this one came with a name. "Mom, this is Alexa." Wow. She doesn't usually remember names, nor would she introduce me. I had overheard them talking earlier. Amanda was asking Alexa if she played any sports and telling her that she liked soccer. Hmmm. Searching for common ground. Wanting to go deeper.

It's really all we need to do, regardless of age. Take the plunge into friendship. Go out on a limb and invite someone over or meet them for coffee. Talk to her and find some common interest, be it sports, children, or a specific hobby, such as knitting or tennis. That casual relationship may stay right where it is--a coworker who you go to lunch with, or another mom friend who you meet for coffee once a week for casual chit chat while your kids are in preschool. Or, if the time and circumstances seem right, you might go deeper by asking her and husband on a double date, or the whole family over for dinner. You might let her help you out when you need it, which will make her feel needed and closer to you. You might help her out, which will, well--help her (and maybe make her like you even more).

The back to school season has always been a landmark to me, even when I didn't have children. That's when the new year starts fresh for me, not in January. So, is it time for a fresh start for you? Clubs will be resuming their regular meeting schedule, after likely taking a summer hiatus. New Bible study groups will be starting up, day and night, weekday and weekend, across America (and the world). Small groups may be reorganizing in churches, making it easier for someone new to get involved. Neighborhood playgroups will be forming, or reuniting. Someone may ask you, or do some encouraging like I did with Amanda and her swim friend, or they may not.

Would you rather hang on to the side, alone and discontent with your present circumstances, or do you want to make a friend and do flips, have underwater tea parties, and have breath-holding contests? It's your call.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Living Life or Capturing It?

A photojournalist sees some amazing things. Through a lens, she can capture governments being overthrown, lives lost and freed at war, cultural mores changing, and even simple everyday moments. But those pictures she is taking are completely separate from the life she is living.

I was thinking of this as we were on our whale watching trip. I wanted to get some good photos, but you often miss so much when you are looking through the camera lens. That happened when we were watching fireworks last year in Washington DC with my inlaws. It was amazing. Awe-inspiring. Breathtaking. I wanted to capture it on film. Better with flash, or without? Let's try night flash. Maybe the action setting. On and on. I ended up getting some fair pictures, but I think I missed out on the experience.

I should have just been watching, like they were.

Or, for that matter, hooting and hollering and cheering them on like she was:

So, on the whale watching excursion, I did watch. I took some pictures, too, but I didn't feel bad if I missed "the shot." I even "let" Terry have some fun with the camera, and many of the great shots are his. I won't forget those large mammals, and the photos don't accurately capture the experience anyway.

That's kind of like it is with our kids. We have to just be with them, and take in the whole experience (not just the perfect Kodak moments). When I see pictures of the kids, from even months ago, I often think, "Did she/he really look like that?" It seems like who they are continues to change and so that becomes my current perception of them. A picture doesn't capture the way that Kyle says, "Wha'?" anytime you mention his name or catch him offguard (like last night, when Amanda screamed out two sentences in her sleep). Even a video can't capture Amanda's enthusiasm for life and her imaginative perspective on things.

Read Beck's post, or at least the last couple of paragraphs, here . She voiced her thoughts on why she doesn't have a lot of video footage of her kids. It's really beautiful.

NOT taking pictures is what Works for Me this Wednesday. Try to capture some memories in your heart as you live it. Journaling (and blogging for that matter) really appeal to me, because I am able to record the whys and the hows behind the picture frozen on film. I am not a dedicated scrapbooker, but that was what I loved when I was first introduced to Creative Memories. I don't worry about my poor handwriting on those pages. I capture my thoughts or our family's reactions to trips we've taken. In fact, I think that my handwriting becomes part of the recorded history.

Check out some other tips over at Rocks in My Dryer:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


No one really likes perfect people, do they? Most of us were secretly pleased to see Martha Stewart "get hers" for her investment snafu and go to prison. She seems like she can do it all--cook, cater, tend to chickens, maintain multiple homes, entertain, garden, craft, decorate, sew. . . . the list goes on. Because she's very rich, I doubt she even does much of this for herself anymore, other than what she does truly enjoy or must do for research for her new project to show off her perfection. The money goes a long way in ensuring that she seems like she has her act together. What we see isn't real. Even in reality TV, the perception that we get is orchestrated by situations set up by producers and enhanced by good editing.

Have you ever thought that your perception of my reality isn't real either? And neither is my perception of yours. My friend Amy had called me wanting to know my secret for doing it all--playing with my kids, controlling and disciplining them, reading my Bible daily, cleaning my house, and even blogging. I assured her that I didn't do it all. I don't usually watch TV during the day, but I am on this computer a lot, writing or reading blogs. I have chosen to get up earlier and/or stay up later to give myself some guilt-free time to do it. That aside, there are times when the lure of the computer causes me to neglect other relationships or responsibilities, and I know that (and try to admit it). We can't do it all, and we shouldn't pretend like we do.
"Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand."
~ Emily Kimbrough ~
On that phone call, Amy had shared some misadventures of her children that had discouraged her, and wondered if mine ever caused trouble. When I went upstairs the next morning after Kyle had been up in his room, I found a mess in the hallway. He had emptied out several boxes of cards, and several of Amanda's games--pulled from the shelf and played with in the best way a toddler knows how. I called her up the next day and told her that I wanted to share some of our recent misadventures. I told her about the mess in the hallway, and how I thought of her that morning when I found some colored sand behind my trashcan as I was sweeping the kitchen. The week before Kyle had found some of Amanda's sand art bottles that were stuffed in a random drawer. As I was cleaning up mess number one, he was walking through the kitchen with the second bottle, which I had not taken away, and was making his own sand art all over the kitchen floor.

She told me that she wasn't glad for me that there had been trouble, but yes it did make her feel a little better that she wasn't the only one who struggled. The kind of friends that I want to walk hand in hand with are the ones with whom I can share my excitement over a child's achievement, but also laugh (or cry) over a frustration as well. I want them to expect a certain standard and encourage me to do better, but not to judge me too harshly when I fail.

It's great to share the good things. I am inspired when I witness a friend changing her ways in response to God's leading. Hearing about sacrifices made remind me that it's not all about me. Hearing about fun projects encourage me to try new things with my own kids. But sometimes seeing or hearing about the stumbles is a great reminder that none of us is perfect. We can try, but there's only one person who was perfect, and His name wasn't Martha Stewart.

" " " " " " " " " " CWO " " " " " " " " " " CWO " " " " " " " " " " CWO " " " " " " " " " "

Click over to Christian Women Online to see what other bloggers had to say about this quote.

Monday, August 07, 2006

News from the Beach

Greetings from the beach! Amanda is feeling fine--thanks for your good wishes and prayers. We drove up here with no traffic, which is a wonderful gift in itself. Our hotel is perfect. Here is Amanda out on the balcony, and the beach is right there behind her. When we got here, we headed right out to the beach. And, this is a first for us who consider the beach Texas, or Florida, or even the Caribbean. It's not hot! Well, okay, we did have our West Coast Oregon days, but we called that the coast, not the beach, because it really was cold, all the time. It has been in the upper 70's, and to be honest, it was so windy today that it was almost cold at the pool.

Kyle did not like the sand. As soon as walked down the stairs into it, he started screaming. It wasn't hot, but I guess he just didn't like it. He likes mud and puddles, but not the sand--wet or dry. He liked the water if we carried him, but still didn't want to walk. We finally convinced him to sit on a towel and play in the sand.

Today we went Whale Watching. It was about an hour out there on the boat, and then because there were SO many whales, we stayed about an hour and a half out there, and then an hour back. They were all around our boat, many times in groups of two and three, which is odd. These pics are of a tail, various parts of two or three whales in a group, and the mouth. They would feed on the fish, and bring their heads out. We saw this multiple times. It was truly awesome. There is also a picture of most of the body as it's coming out of the water.

If you click on the pictures, they will enlarge. Sorry that they aren't in there so nicely, but I don't have time to mess with them (and even if I did, they might still look all crooked).

We ate lunch when we got back to shore, and then came back here and swam in the pool. We ordered pizza in, and Kyle was really ready for bed. He even got in his portacrib while we were sitting around watching TV. We left him alone for 5 minutes, and he was out.

So, nothing monumental to report, and no introspection, but I just thought I'd share! I'll close with a live shot of Amanda, captured by Terry, watching the whales.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Blogging and Vacationing

The carnival of the Blogging Chicks, "What I love about blogging" edition is up over the BC Blog. If you like reading about blogging as much as you like blogging, check out what everyone else has to say on this topic.

Also, if you haven't weighed in on which glasses you think I should buy, go ahead and click over and be heard! And this is the last time I am mentioning it, I promise.

We are leaving for the beach for three days, but we have WIFI!! I'm so happy. Since we are also bringing a toddler, my husband or I will have to be nearby (in the room or on the balcony) if he is able to nap, and when he goes to bed. I have a feeling that the "short straw" will be the pool or beach with Amanda. I'm sure we'll switch off some.

Generally I get this bit of anxiety before we leave for vacation. Do I have everything packed? Will we be able to leave on time? Do I have snacks and everything that we need for the car? Will everything fit in the car? It usually disappears as soon as we hit the road, but this time I felt none last night when we were packing up, and none this morning when I awoke. However, we have another problem. Amanda's actually feeling sick at the moment. She had fever last night, and appears to have it this morning as well. The good thing is that it's one of those weird fever things with no other symptoms, so I think that as long as I keep her medicated, that she will be okay. However, please pray for us, and for her quick healing of these symptoms, so that she can fully her enjoy her long-anticipated trip to the beach.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Peace in the Philippines?

My husband does not read my blog (do yours?).

So, last night after he had gotten back in town, I pulled up my blog to show him the "Vote for my glasses" post, since part of the reason I had taken the photos was to show him the options. (Have you voted yet?)

He saw the post at the top. "Peace in the Philippines? What's that?" He knows me quite well, and would be right to question why I would be writing about that. Politics and current events do not hold my interest. I know that they should, but they don't.

I corrected him by telling him that was my sixth entry in my week long series called Peace in Philippians. "You wrote all that? Or you just copied it from somewhere?" he questioned. "I'm not a hack," I replied. "Yes, I wrote it."

My husband is not a words of affirmation kind of guy. Reading the Five Love Languages really helped our marriage. I explained to him that I was a words of affirmation kind of gal. He still doesn't get it. One time I pulled up something for him to read on here, and he read it and said, "You really like to write, huh?" I think that really meant, "Wow, this is really good. I can't craft words like you do." So, no, reading this book did not change my husband into a consummate compliment-giver. However, what it did do was make me realize that I needed verbal acknowledgement. So, when I clean the house (which is an event worthy of praise), I prod him by asking, "Doesn't the house look clean?" When I make a new dinner that he seems to be enjoying, I ask, "So--do you like this new recipe?" It may seem unromantic and forced, but after thirteen years of marriage, it works for us. I remind him to speak up so that I don't end up feeling unloved or unnoticed. The other wonderful thing that this book helped me realize was that he was showing his love to me in so many other ways. Being a Quality Time person and an Acts of Service person, when he sweeps out the garage, or invites me to sit with him while he's watching a ballgame on TV, he is saying, "I love you. You're a wonderful wife, and I enjoy the pleasure of your company!" So, I take it as such. And of course in reading it, I learned that it really matters to him that I am putting forth the effort to make sure that cluttered hot spots are cleaned up, or that he has clean clothes and a meal on the table. This book gives descriptions of all five languages, and by the time you finish, you can easily identify yours and those of your loved ones. Although it is written for married couples, knowing these principles helps you with other relationships as well. There is a whole series, including specific books on showing love to your children, teenagers, and one written for singles.

He became much more interested in the blog when I showed him this:

My blog is worth $152,425.80.
How much is your blog worth?

So, we are selling, if anyone is looking to buy. I think we'd even come down off the asking price a bit, so make an offer. . . .

Showing Concern in Philippians

I wrote about the background to this story here yesterday, so if you haven't read it, you might want to go there first.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

Philippians 4: 10 - 14

When Paul was in dire need, those who had always cared for him had the opportunity to show it. When I lost my baby, I was showered with love. I received heartfelt emails letting me know that my family was being lifted in prayer. I received cards in the mail. I had meals brought to me for at least a week. I wasn't physically infirm, but by pampering us with a nice meal, our friends could let us know that they were thinking of us, and wanted to help in some way. My small ladies' Bible study wanted to do something, but they knew that my Sunday School had already been providing dinner, so they decided to take a love offering, and then brought me gift certificates--to Chili's, Wendy's, et cetera. Why? To show their concern. Then someone from Sunday School came by and brought two wonderful large plants that they bought with a love offering that was taken in class. It was all a bit excessive. But the end result was that I was able to say, "Something awful happened to me. It was sad for me, my husband, and even four year old Amanda. But if this had not happened, these dear friends of mine, sisters in Christ, would not have been able to show the love that they have for us."

Needing each other helps to bind us together, and can give us joy in the Lord, as Paul expressed. In the midst of a trial, we sometimes need to look for sources of joy, so don't let offered help or sympathy pass by. You might be missing a chance to offer praise to God for the unexpected blessings that they bring.

* * * * * * * * * * " " " " " " " " " " * * * * * * * * * " " " " " " " " " " * * * * * * * * * *
This is the conclusion of a week long study of Philippians.

Day 1: Praying from Philippians
Day 2: Parenting in Philippians
Day 3: Standing Out in Philippians
Day 4: Self Confidence in Philippians
Day 5: Strength and Gentleness in Philippians
Day 6: Peace in Philippians

Friday, August 04, 2006

Peace in Philippians

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Sixteen weeks into my second pregnancy, the doctor did not find a heartbeat. The baby had stopped growing just that week. As the nurse hunted for the heartbeat with the sonogram, she kept saying, "Oh, I'm sure everything is just fine. Let me get the doctor in here, because he can usually find it." She left the room, and I laid there, praying. I prayed for peace. You see, I sort of already knew that everything was not fine. Through some other circumstances of the week, God had planted the seed, preparing me that even in your second trimester, things are not always clear and easy.

After the doctor didn't find a heartbeat, I went in for a sonogram. Then I got dressed and went into the patient counseling room, where he explained our options. I would basically have to deliver the baby, tomorrow, in the hospital. I was calm, but I think it was more the calm of shock than peace at that point.

I went to pick Amanda up from her friend's house. I told my friend what had happened. Before I got home (about two minutes away), she had already called our mutual friend whose first baby had been stillborn. She called me and told me she was coming over. I protested, but she came anyway. I called two other people to start prayer chains into motion (one for my ladies' Bible study, and one for our adult Sunday School). I asked them to pray for all of it to happen quickly the next day, and for peace for Terry and myself.

It didn't go quickly. It was a long day, but they kept me very medicated (which I hate). But I did have peace. I had peace as I waited through that night until I could check into the hospital the next day. I had peace in the days and weeks to come. I didn't understand it--why was I being spared the grief that I had known friends to experience after miscarriage? Did I have no feelings? Yes, I grieved the loss of that little baby boy, but I truly experienced the peace which transcends all understanding. What's more, my heart and mind were guarded. My heart was guarded from the pain and hurt and confusion that deep grief brings. My mind was guarded from the doubting questions, "Why would God let this happen?" "Did I do something wrong?" "Will I be able to have another child?" I was able to trust in God's plan for our family.

I was absolutely floored and surprised by the peace, but I shouldn't have been. It is what the Bible tells me I can possess, and I did. Additionally, I had specifically prayed that for myself, and requested it from my friends and family. It was answered prayer, and I accepted the answer for myself.

Does this mean that if you have grieved or mourned deeply over a loss that you are less spiritual than I? Absolutely not. I add this so that no one leaves with that impression. The Bible mentions grief, wailing, and mourning as something fitting. Just as I had to keep reminding myself that the peace that I experienced was from God, and was a fitting reaction for me at that time in my life, mourning and sadness have a place as well, and do not indicate a lack of faith or trust in Him. He uses different methods of teaching on all of us. We also all have different in-born temperaments. Just know that peace is a promise, and when you are ready, make sure you claim that promise.

There's more to the story, and it will wrap up my week of Philippians tomorrow.

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Day 1: Praying from Philippians
Day 2: Parenting in Philippians
Day 3: Standing Out in Philippians
Day 4: Self Confidence in Philippians
Day 5: Strength and Gentleness in Philippians
Day 6: Peace in Philippians
Day 7: Showing Concern in Philippians

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Help me Pick out my Glasses

I am pretty sure I'm going to be getting glasses. I have avoided vision correction for 35 years, so that's not half bad. In the last couple of years, I've noticed my eyes getting worse. I did pass my eye exam when I got my driver's license after we moved here less than two years ago. But in the last couple of months, it's gotten decidedly worse. Since trying to look at glasses and decide what I like is next to impossible with two active children around, I made my friend come with me last night before our girls' night out. And I made her take pictures. Really, a hospitality basket and a guest journal have nothing on that kind of warm welcome. . . .

So, I'm allowing you to vote! Even all of you lurkers out there. You don't have to log in, you don't have to identify yourself, just vote on the glasses you like best. If you'd like to explain your vote, or identify a close second, just do so in the comments.

A: rectangular glasses, black wire on top, rimless on bottom

B: rimless, sided shape

C: half oval, no rim on bottom, reddish/coppery wire rim on top

D: tortoise shell

Free polls from
Which Glasses Should I Buy?
A: Rectangle, black rim top, rimless bottom B: Rimless multi-sided shape
C: Half oval, coppery rim top, rimless bottom D: Tortoise Shell

I'll leave this up for a week. You can vote one time.

Strength and Gentleness in Philippians

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5
I am not a gentle spirit. It is one of the fruits of the spirit that God is still cultivating in me. Yet, it's important--so important that Paul is reminding his followers that they should let their gentleness be evident to all. Why? Because the (day of the) Lord is near. Since the day of the Lord is near, we should be pointing others to His work on the cross. And nothing causes us to stand out and shine like stars like a gentle spirit. Look at the first definition listed at

1. Considerate or kindly in disposition; amiable and tender.
2. Not harsh or severe; mild and soft
3. Easily managed or handled; docile: a gentle horse.

If we are considerate, kindly, amiable and tender, won't people want to know our "secret?"

I was at our ladies' retreat last spring, and the speaker talked about meekness--how there was nothing wimpy about it. She compared it to a brick wrapped in velvet. The power and strength and boldness of Christ is the brick. The gentleness and humility of putting others before yourself is the velvet. The perfect integration of these is a velvet brick.

I always think of my friend (who we now refer to as the Velvet Brick) when I think of a gentle spirit. I know some people who come by it honestly, but I think that the reason that I value it so highly in Lee is because I know that it's Christ's work in her, and she just exudes it. I didn't know her before she began to follow Christ, but she has enough spirit and individuality in her that I wouldn't guess that she would have described herself as gentle by nature. I told her at the retreat that I thought of her immediately with the description of the velvet brick. I added that I might have to classify myself as just a brick, and our friend Nicole assessed that she was probably just velvet.

The amazing thing is that in Christ we all have that power--the power to be tough and bold when we need to, and yet the power to give up all of our rights as well. I think that even though the third definition above uses a horse as an example, it suits those of us who aspire to be trained by the Lord. If I let Him break me, just as a horse must be broken to be tolerant of a rider, then I will become more useful to Him and to those around me as well.

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This is fifth in a series on Philippians. Come back all this week for more.

Day 1: Praying from Philippians
Day 2: Parenting in Philippians
Day 3: Standing Out in Philippians
Day 4: Self Confidence in Philippians
Day 5: Strength and Gentleness in Philippians
Day 6: Peace in Philippians

Day 7: Showing Concern in Philippians

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

An Invitation

I would like to invite you to a carnival. No, not to read one (although I really do usually enjoy browsing through the Carnival of Beauty and the Blogging Chicks carnival each week). I would like to invite you bloggers out there to write for one. Perhaps you haven't really understood what is involved in submitting to a carnival. They all have their requirements (on topic, when it was originally posted, and when it has to be submitted), but if you meet those, all you have to do is email a link and brief description to the host. You may feel like the wallflower standing against the wall, wanting desparately to be asked to dance. So, I'm asking, "Will you?"

The Blogging Chicks carnival is usually just open to members of the Blogging Chicks blogroll. However, this week, Michele is opening it up to all chick bloggers. The topic is "What I Love About Blogging," which is always a fun one for me to read about and to ponder and post here. So, anytime this week, write about why you like blogging, post it on your blog, and send Michele the link and a description by Saturday at midnight EST. It will be posted on Sunday morning, and this week, if you are participating, you must post a link on your site directing your readers to the carnival. Go to the Blogging Chicks metablog for more information, graphics, and Michele's email address.

The Carnival of Beauty has some specific stipulations about participating (read them here), but if you meet them, it's no trouble at all. Look at the topics coming up for the rest of the month. Won't those be fun to write on, and to read? If you are interested, all you do is post when specified in the requirements, and then go to the hostess' site, and send your link via email.

August 9, 2006 - The Beauty of Chocolate (Ellen @ MzEllen & Co.)
August 16, 2006 - The Beauty of Frugality (Sallie @ A Gracious Home)
August 23, 2006 - The Beauty of Music (Malissa @ Malissa’s Merry-go-round)
August 30, 2006 - The Beauty of Learning (Blair @ Scribblings by Blair)

I participate in carnivals for a couple of reasons. Yes, to be honest, one reason is to bring some traffic here, not just for the sake of hits on my sitemeter, but to perhaps gain a few readers if they like what they read here enough that they decide to come back. The other reason, especially with the Carnival of Beauty, is that I get ideas on things to write about. The Beauty of Philippians, which is up today, was the impetus of a whole week of writing topics for me.