Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Encouraging Husbands

Months ago, I was asked to prepare a message on "Encouraging Husbands". I knew right then that God had work to do in my heart. Marriage is a topic I am very passionate about. My husband and I will be the first to tell you that marriage takes a LOT of work! The enemy wants nothing more than to destroy families. Husbands and wives that lay aside the "American dream" and seek to obey the Lord in caring for others ... including those in greatest need ... well, they will come up against some hefty opposition. Add into that mix the humbling journey of being a parent and there are opportunities every day to get distracted from the big picture. There are reasons each day to lose hope. To give up. To check out.

I'm looking forward to sharing with a group of moms this Friday on "Encouraging Husbands". We'll be tackling the deep stuff and even sharing some laughter as we do. It is my deepest desire to see wives truly be lovers of their husbands. God didn't just call us to be good moms .... he's called us to care about their daddy, too! And as marriages become more healthy and seek the heart of their Father, I can't help but believe we'll see more families step up to do radical things.

I can't wait to see what God has for us moms this Friday!

Friday, March 25, 2011


We are {STILL!!!!!!!!} working on our kitchen project. Yes, it's been going on for over a year awhile now. :) Progress. That's what makes me happy. As we tore out a bunch of the old kitchen, we set most of it aside, hoping to salvage as much as we could. Those materials have come in handy when we went to build a new pantry where the old second stairway used to be. Love me some free supplies! My hubby has managed to re-purpose much of it into a lovely new corner unit that will serve as pantry, home office for his business, and a few educational supplies.

As I watched all of these pieces be put together, I couldn't help but think about how much God has "re-purposed" my life. "To give a new purpose or use" is what the dictionary says. As I worked on fixing all the messed up areas on these pieces of lumber I thought of how God has done the same with me. He's sanded off rough edges. He has manipulated pieces of me back together so they can be useful again. He's covered over all my junk and sin with WHITE. In reality, when we receive Christ He makes us new. He gives us new life. A new purpose. A new function. And I believe with all of my heart that he uses all the junk we came with. Sometimes things happen to us that cause us to appear and feel pretty dented up and warped and gouged. But He is the great carpenter.

I now have GLORIOUS pantry storage near the cooking area again in our home!!! We're still working on getting it all set up. The section to the left of these double doors will be where our copier/printer and David's office files will go. Then counter top between this unit and the fridge. It's starting to all come together.

These doors were NOT easy to cover. Two coats of heavy duty primer barely sealed it. I thought of my own life and how God has covered me. He's taken me from what I was to what He designed me to be. He didn't throw me out as a piece of unusable stuff. No, He salvaged me. He re-purposed me. He's still doing that even today. Some days I look pretty banged up and need to go to Him and allow Him to do His work on me.

What about you? Are you trusting Him to work in your life? Do you sometimes feel like that pile of broken pieces lying around? I know at times I do. We can trust Him to make something beautiful of our lives and of the lives of those we love. He's still working on us. None of us are beyond repair.

We need to find some type of door closers yet and then this project is about complete. The girls have been putting the lower section to great use with their puzzles, coloring books and supplies. I had forgotten how much easier clean up is when there is a plan and a place for things!! That's the craziness of living in the midst of construction long-term ... sometimes there is no place to put things! :) Off to scour "home office" photos in google image to find a plan for above the counter top between this unit and the fridge to the left.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Who do You Adore?

If eyes could speak, my six year old girl would never have to move her lips. Her eyes speak volumes. They always have. Here they speak "adore". Plain and simple, this little girl is head-over-heals with her big brother. There's heavy competition, as she has three AMAZING big brothers!!

This momma's heart is quite sentimental these days. Here pictured is my "Senior" and "Kindergartener". Enough said??? Sigh. :) I can't say that this time has caught me by surprise, because I've been preparing for it all of his life. Those of you who are mommas know what I mean. That constant battle of living in the present and preparing for the future. Fretting over laundry, spills, discipline, legos all over the floor ...... while knowing all too very soon it will all be over. Wanting them not to grow up too fast, while also wanting to fully prepare them to spread their wings.

This photo is so much more than just a brother and a sister. It's a picture of God's incredible love. You see, God didn't just call my husband and I to adoption. He drew the heart of our children to Him also. Answering God's call to adoption for our family was a deep commitment. There already weren't many extras. Our boys were well aware of that (at ages 11, 9 and 6). They didn't care. Well, that really isn't true either .... they DID care. They cared more that a child without a family would have one than their own selfish pleasures. The Lord gave them faith to believe that beyond all odds, we COULD step forward in obedience and do this. He gave them a passion to work hard. And we saw them do it with great JOY. The older two hung up signs all over town trying to get odd-jobs to help raise money. Throughout that summer they'd do just about anything someone would hire them for to earn a few dollars here and there. They also set aside money out of their daily paper route. All of this was their own doing .... as parents we were humbled to see their hearts for the Fatherless. It was a time of drawing close as a family and walking toward God's call on our lives even if the world didn't understand.

What a beautiful thing it's been to see our sons and daughters grow up together. I guess back then, I wasn't thinking that my oldest son would only have about six years with this precious child before he'd be leaving. He's definitely made the most of that time. He's poured into her life in such wonderful ways. What a blessing it is to see when he comes home from work and she goes running to him asking .... "Can you play with me???". He smiles and assures her that he can. He always makes time for her. He lets her ask him 3 questions at night if he takes a turn tucking her in {unlike Mom & Dad's 1 question limit - haha!}. He knows what calms her when she's gone ballistic and emotional. He makes her feel like the most important person ever when she wants to tell him something that happened in her day. He doesn't hold a grudge if she's naughty while we're away.

As you prepare for graduation, you can't help but look back and reflect. And as I do, I can't help but adore my Heavenly Father and all He's done. We could have said "no" to God during that time in our lives. We had every practical {and some might say SENSIBLE} reason to just shrug it off as impossible. I mean really, aren't vacations and a second vehicle and eating out "rights" of the American child? :) What about college funds?

Some of you are sitting in the midst of those decisions. God has been tugging at your heart about the needs of orphans. He's been bringing to your mind what matters more for eternity. You struggle wondering what others would think. Maybe even wondering what your own family would think. You fear what it might cost you .... beyond your bank account. Are you brave enough to ask yourself the hard question? ..... "Who do you adore"?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Great is the Lord!

Psalm 145:3

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.

On Friday I came home from two glorious days with my husband. Last week was his birthday and what did he want? Me... alone ... for two days and one night (well, he would have loved longer than that, but we did what we could - ha!!). The older two boys kept the littles for us. I don't think they can ever top that gift to us!! What an incredible job they did to make those two days so special for their sisters. Third guy down got to stay with grandparents, which was great fun for him! :)

This little get-a-way was perfect timing as we are seeking the Lord about the future. We've had so many changes in our lives over the last couple of years. Personally, I'm seeking the Lord for wisdom in what His vision is for me as a wife/mom/servant. Through the years I have learned that isn't always going to look the same. What's most important though is that I am seeking HIM and being obedient each day with what He's given me to do.

For a couple of years now I've been desiring to receive more training with speaking/writing. God continues to give me great opportunities to serve Him in this way ..... but I don't just want to write and speak .... I want to communicate WELL. I want to grow and be stretched and challenged. I long to gather with other women with those same passions and learn from each other. I also am really seeking wisdom on how that is to look for me. A wife and mom in my current season of life. I long to talk to other women that have walked a similar journey and get insight from them. I want accountability in my life so that I keep things in balance.

I knew there was JUST the place to receive this kind of training. I blogged about it here. Well, Friday evening when we came home and I opened up the email from She Speaks I was just in total SHOCK. I actually read the email a half dozen times just to be sure I was reading it correctly.

She Speaks Conference "Congratulations!! You are one of our She Speaks scholarship winners!!"

To be honest, I was just dumbfounded. "Me, Lord??? You, would do this for me? You know my desire to serve you and you would be so KIND as to provide in this way????? It's really true that you know every detail of our lives and that we have no money for this conference, yet you would see fit to take care of that? You have plans to train, stretch, grow and equip me for this next chapter of my life?" Yep, that's pretty much what the conversation {in my head} looked like as I stared at the computer screen. I sat there with a trembling heart just trying to comprehend the goodness of the Lord.

The journey isn't quite complete. I still need a plane ticket. I'm thinking God must have a plan for that, if He's provided a scholarship for me to go. I must choose to trust Him. And be faithful today with what He's given me to do.

Are you in a season of needing to trust Him? Is there something going on in your life that you can't make happen on your own? Maybe it's a hurting child that is struggling. Maybe you're in the thick of trusting God for funds on your adoption journey. Maybe your husband is crippled with depression that you just can't change or make better. Maybe you aren't sure where next month's groceries are gonna come from. Our Heavenly Father wants us to trust Him. Sometimes we grow weary in the process. I think of our house that didn't sell month after month which turned into years. It didn't have a happy ending. He is STILL worthy of our trust. THAT TOO is part of His perfect plan.

Lord, how I want to trust you ALWAYS. Thank you for your patience with me, along this journey. You are so kind and faithful.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Full Heart

What a blessed time I just had at Hearts at Home conference in Central IL! I couldn't help but think back to how many years I've spent as a momma feeling pretty alone at times. It's a huge blessing to gather with other moms and hear from incredible speakers that reach in and touch your heart with their stories and experiences and then more importantly direct you to the Father's heart.

I was really excited to hear Jennifer Rothschild, as I got to go through her study on "A Thought Closet Makeover". If you don't know her testimony, you really need to check it out. What a great reminder she gave her listeners to trust our Heavenly Father no matter what we're going through. "It can be well with our soul, even if it's not well with our circumstances" will be a quote of hers that resonates in my heart for a very long time.

My schedule included two sessions by Wendy Pope. In "The Scriptures Are Alive" she shared her passion and love for the Word of God. It wasn't always that way for her. She shared very candidly about the journey God brought her on in the last several years and how He now uses that passion to reach out to many women through her on-line community. I thought about the years that I was so lonely in ND and how I could have greatly benefited from such community. If you are feeling a bit alone on your journey, I'd really encourage you to check out the resources she offers. My second session with Wendy was titled "Yes, No & Maybe of a Balanced Life". What a great encouragement that workshop was to me as I seek the Lord in finding balance in this new season of my life.

Those who heard Dr. Julianna Slattery no doubt came away blessed, encouraged and equipped as they trust the Lord about intimacy with their husbands. I especially appreciated how Juli challenged her audience to trust God no matter what their past or baggage is. I look forward to reading a couple of books she has written.

I was delighted that Tammy Maltby's session on hospitality showed up on my schedule! "Lifegiving Hospitality ... Start Simply, but Simply Start!" was a passionate message about the WHY and HOW of hospitality. Tammy didn't just give the how-to's and INCREDIBLE recipes concerning hospitality. She addressed the great NEED of reaching out and ministering to others. I found myself nodding in agreement all throughout her wonderfully passionate message!

Then my afternoon ended with the heartfelt message from Jill Savage, leader of Hearts at Home. Jill shared with us about the theme for this conference which was the Mom Revolution. She taught us much about what real love is. From her heart she communicated the current journey God has her on and how He is so faithfully teaching her how to truly love.

My weekend was deeply blessed with two special friends and a whole lot of sweet fellowship. I am so thankful the Lord provided for me to attend this conference and spend time getting my heart full of encouragement and truth. I look forward to seeing how He changes me as a result of all I learned. I want so much to serve my family well. I want to serve the women God brings into my life well. Most importantly I want to serve my Heavenly Father well. I love the image of the heart in this post. God knows the condition of our hearts. He's well aware of the places that have been hurt and broken. He's fully capable of stitching them together and working His healing into those deep places. What a loving Heavenly Father we have!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Soup for Supper

Here in Central IL we've been having flip-flop weather {and no I'm not talking about the cute shoes you wear on your feet}. One day the warm sun comes and we don't even have to wear winter coats. The next day it's snowing again. This week we've had some really drizzly/dreary days. It seems like on such days SOUP is what's for supper. :)

I'm a "throw together" kind of cook. Especially when making soup! Often times friends will ask me for one of my recipes and it's almost embarrassing to say there isn't one. Recipes for something like soup just feels so restricting. However, in my attempt to work on some projects with hospitality, I am trying .... REALLY trying ... to document. Sigh.

The other day I had one of the boys put some potatoes into the oven for soup. I've always been a fan of potato soup, but even MORESO after learning about the deliciousness of BAKED potato soup. It takes potato soup to a whole new level of YUM. In an effort to frustrate my third son, oldest daughter suggested Spinach & Potato Soup (as she knows how much he just 'loves' spinach). Ha. I decided instead to substitute broccoli into her idea. Just so happens to be her fave vegetable and I had some broccoli that needed used up.

When it was time to get the potatoes out of the oven I was surprised with THIS site. Now only ONE child of mine would do such a thing. Those of you who knew us in our earliest days of parenting will know who. ;) Yep, the same guy who used to LINE UP cars to "play" instead of actually "playing" with them like most kids did. I had to just LAUGH when I saw this.

Anyway, the Baked Potato & Broccoli Cheesy Soup really hit the spot. Maybe you'll enjoy it as well.

Baked Potato & Broccoli Cheesy Soup

Bake 8 or so potatoes for about an hour at 350 degrees or til done. (be sure to prick your potatoes before baking or they will explode as they bake - I failed to tell this to my children once which made for one major disaster!)

Saute 1 sweet onion (sliced/chopped thin) and 2 generous tablespoons of minced garlic in about 3-4 tablespoons of butter or margarine. Saute til completely limp and golden.

Cook up a package of frozen broccoli.

Put 4 cups milk and two cups chicken broth in your crockpot. Add in about 6 slices of cheese. Peel baked potatoes and cut into chunks & place in crockpot. Add in your yummy onion/garlic mixture. Add broccoli.

Sprinkle in some Hidden Valley Ranch Mix (I buy mine in bulk). Add a little pepper if you want. Next add in a big ole' scoop of sour cream.

Mix all together and heat til hot, then put on keep warm setting til ready to eat.

I really hope we can wear flip-flops soon!! Just think of how fewer pairs of socks I'd have to deal with on a weekly basis! :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Every Morning

One of the things I love about a young child is their curiosity and interest in "newness". I think about my daughter in the photo above and how she wanted to really investigate and take in the teeny tiny weeds flowers that were springing up amongst the grass.

I have to wonder ... how many times am I too busy rushing or preoccupied to take in the "newness" that God offers to me each and every day? Lamentations says how His mercies are new EVERY morning. E-V-E-R-Y morning! Our Lord is not confined by a frugal budget in the area of compassion, my friends. Isn't that a wonderful truth?

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

Just as little tiny flowers will soon {eventually} begin to sprout up out of the ground, He offers something new to us each day! Are you taking hold of it? Are you seeking Him about what He has for you today? I am so thankful that He is my portion. Without Him I would be completely empty.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Exciting Opportunity - She Speaks Scholarships!

She Speaks Conference

Just last week I was sharing about the She Speaks conference that is taking place this summer in NC. Well, today they started announcing their scholarship contests! Like I shared in my other SHE SPEAKS post, even though God has already shown me one way He is providing for this opportunity, there's a lot left of the picture. When I pray about this conference I can't help but see what a great fit it is with where God has brought me in speaking/writing ministry.

I truly believe that God doesn't allow things into our lives without using them for His glory and to minister to others. God has allowed a lot in my life, but with a purpose. I find great encouragement in 1 Cor 3-5.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ."

You see, when we have KNOWN and EXPERIENCED the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, we have something to share. It gives us a message of hope and healing for the hurting, no matter what they've been through. He comforts us so that we will know how to comfort others!

As the Lord continues to provide opportunities to share about the hope and healing found in Him, I want more than ever to GROW, learn and be better equipped. There is both a speaking and writing tract in this amazing conference. Both would be extremely beneficial. Decisions ... decisions. :) There's only one thing keeping me from being there. A little mountainous thing called funds. I say "little", because for God that truly is a little thing. I say "mountainous", because I can't help but think back to all the ways God has provided in the past. We used up all the funds we had {and then a bunch} to our earthly names when we said "yes" to God twice with adoption. Never have we regretted those decisions. We'll never forget how God so faithfully sustained us through months of unemployment and we waited for a house to sell for two years in a crashing economy {of which ended in horrible loss}.

We serve a God who is more concerned about the big picture and what He's doing in and through us than obstacles. In fact it's through these experiences that He allows us to relate to others when they, too, go through trials. I want to be obedient to Him concerning that. I want to be faithful. This conference would help equip me in those areas immensely.

The winners are announced this Friday!! :) I'd love your prayers, friends!! Many of you have encouraged me deeply on this journey of writing/speaking ministry. Thank you!

Redemption - From the Inside Out

Redemption, in our lives, comes when we allow God to use the past to create a future. But, there can be a big hindrance in that process. US. We can literally stand in the way of the future that God is trying to bring about. Another hindrance. Control. We can't control the future. {at least not the one that God has designed} That can be downright scary.

When we come from a broken past, sometimes we want to just hide it all away. Then we wonder why there are gaps in our lives. You know, those empty places that we try so hard to fill up. We try to fill them with food, with unhealthy relationships, with compulsive over-spending, with worldliness, with BUSYness, with addictions of every kind, with our children ... even good "causes"!

At times we come away wondering why we still feel empty, frustrated and miserable.

God is all about redemption, but we have to give him the WHOLE deal to work with. He's fully capable of taking the mess we've made in our lives and transforming it into something greater than we can even comprehend. In order for that to really happen though, we can't have suitcases of our stuff packed away with dead bolt locks on them.

So many times we sit around completely FRUSTRATED and angry and bitter wondering why God allowed things into our lives. And that whole "God only allows what we can handle???". Big fat nonsense. Some of you know what I'm talkin' about, because you have lived through it. You know good and well that God has allowed so much more in your life than you could ever even ATTEMPT to make it through. The REAL deal is that He never has us go through it ALONE. That's the promise, my friend. That's something SOLID you can cling to. THAT is TRUTH.

Deuteronomy 31:8

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you

nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Do you have a life needing redeemed? Do you have places in your heart no one else knows about? Are you plagued by fears and failures?

Romans 8:1
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"

Do you know that kind of love? Maybe you've never experienced that kind of love before.

I truly believe that as we understand more WHO we are IN CHRIST, we will have so much more to give to others. When we understand what Christ did for US? .... how can we not choose grace and forgiveness to those around us?

Experiencing redemption means letting GO. It means not living like a victim. It means understanding that Jesus didn't just die for YOU, but for EVERYONE. Even ones that have caused you pain. Especially ones that have caused you pain.

Psalm 107 is a great place to go to learn about redemption. It breaks my heart that so many have never seen or heard about redemption, because they've instead had so many examples of condemnation around them!! There is NOTHING that can separate you from the Love of God.

I encourage you to TRUST HIM with your story, my friend. He's the author. And He's not done writing. We can't fully praise Him when we only allow Him into every part of our lives. This song speaks so much to me, "From the Inside Out".

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cookie Time!

My spunky Texan girl exclaimed the other day that we needed COOKIES! :) How could I argue with that? Especially since I'd just been facing the "forgetting guilt" recently. So, I told her after naps we would bake. Recently we tried out a new recipe for David's parents anniversary and I thought a re-do of that would be perfect.

So, after naps, we got started with our sweet project. Naomi was filled with excitement about getting her hands on all the ingredients. She could hardly believe it when I told her she could crack the eggs. One little problem. I forgot this was a first for her. :) Let's just say she conquered that egg! She looked into the little dish and proclaimed, "Well, I think that DID it!". ;) After we fished out all the shell pieces we were good to go!

I laugh every time I see this bottle of vanilla. Awhile back I realized that Naomi thought this was "whiskey" from Grandma in TX. Seriously??? Where does she get such ideas? Must be from watching old Andy Griffith shoes with Daddy and the brothers. :) {for clarification Gma in TX brings us vanilla, not whiskey!}
And yes, this is Naomi pretending to 'chug' it down. ;) She is definitely our spunky one. She used to make my dad do a belly laugh when he'd come to visit. I miss hearing that.

Looking for a great chewy cookie with tons of texture and powerful yum? Give this one a try!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2& 2/3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (generous)c. flaked coconut
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat butter, shortening, sugars, egg and vanilla together until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Stir in coconut and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until set. (Til set is the key to the chewy part! If you bake too long they are still good, but not the perfect chewy texture.)

Do you have a fave cookie recipe? Be sure to tell us about it in the comment section!! :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

She Speaks

"She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue."
Proverbs 31:26

She Speaks Conference

As some of you know, the Lord has been leading me into a new chapter of life and ministry. Really, in a lot of ways I'm aiming to do what I always have .... focusing on being faithful where God has me each day with whoever He brings into our lives. Sometimes that is a hurting friend far away who just needs a word of encouragement and to be reminded she isn't walking alone. Other times it's simply opening my home and heart to a weary mom or family in need of a place to rest and be refueled. Now and then it entails an invite to speak to a larger group of women {and men} giving testimony to the work that Christ has done in my life. Over the last 18 months I've been receiving more and more of the third opportunity.

What used to really intimidate me and make my voice do the shivers now feels like an incredible opportunity and one which has greatly humbled me. I've thought all my adult years that everything the Lord has allowed into my life has to be for a far greater purpose that my mere survival. I see now that He's showing me glimpses of how He plans to use all of that for good and for His glory. Instead of fear, I just sense His incredible faithfulness.

Since our move back to central IL, I learned of a wonderful conference that takes place each year to help equip women in speaking/writing ministry. Check out SHE SPEAKS for more info!! As I poured over all the information I couldn't help but see that this perfectly lines up with where God has me right now. There's only one problem and for me it felt like a crippling one. I just didn't see how I could come up with the funds needed to make it happen. Well, guess what? ... I can't. As hard as I tried to shake it though, the Lord would keep bringing this conference to my mind.

Yesterday I heard from a dear friend. She's pretty precious to me ... not just because of who she is, but because of the incredible testimony her life represents. God has brought her to a place of truly loving her savior, her husband and her children. It wasn't always like that though. Like many adoptive families she faced great trials as God was weaving her family together. When you are following God in radical ways it's a sure way to tick the enemy off big time. I had the incredible privilege of walking with this precious mom long-distance {thank you Lord for technology!!}. What a JOY it has been to see God bring healing and health into her marriage and family and new children. HE IS SO GOOD and FAITHFUL to provide. I LOVE her updates. Anyway, yesterday she wrote to tell me that she and her husband want to cover part of my airfare to the She Speaks conference this summer in NC. I was moved to tears. And reminded again that GOD KNOWS. He knows every detail of our lives. He knows we used everything we had to stay in our ministry in ND for nearly eight years and bring two children into our family with little income. HE KNOWS we'd face a tremendous loss on our home there that would wreck our finances for years to come. HE KNOWS it all!!!

So for me, yesterday was a HUGE reminder to me that the Lord will provide for what He calls me to do. I don't where the conference fees are going to come from. I don't know where the rest of the flight ticket is going to come from. But I know this is part of the process that God has in preparing me for future ministry. And today, I'm choosing to trust Him.

As I wait for God to show me what His plan is for all of that, I want to stay focused on what He has for me today, tomorrow and the next. I'm excited that part of the next few weeks includes preparing for two upcoming speaking events. I can hardly wait to see what all God has to teach me along this journey.

If you'd like to hear more about the details of this conference, let me know. :)

And to my sweet friend .... thank you. Thank you for reminding me that God cares about the details of my life and that He has a purpose for what He's doing. Thank you for challenging me to BELIEVE in what He's doing and all that He is capable of. I can hardly wait to hug you in person. ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sometimes I Forget . . .

Sometimes I forget to take those 'moments'. You know the ones .... when you STOP going at warp speed and instead of shooing off the littles that are underfoot you actually INVITE them into your space and work together. Today I was reminded of those moments.

I think there's a tendency when you have bigs and littles {by the way I realize those aren't words in spell check, but they are for me so I use them}, it's easy to just go with what works FASTEST most efficiently instead of what is most important. Am I alone here? It's a whole lot more convenient to call for a big kid to prepare the salad for supper {especially the teen son who will be eating 2 adult sized portions alone!} instead of the little newly four year old who would feel like queen of the castle for a turn on momma's stool.

Why is it that we can be with our kids 24/7 and often not really "BE" with them? There is both value in quality AND quantity of time with our children. One without the other still comes up short.

Today I STOPPED. I looked at my precious new four year old and asked if SHE would like to help momma make the salad. Inside I cringed to think of how seldom I do this. And guess what? We had GREAT FUN! What had been a rather vigorous and challenging day to me all of a sudden transformed into a wonderful moment spent with the youngest in the batch. ;) There is reason to be concerned .... I just called my daughter the youngest of the "batch". Can you tell I spent the largest portion of my day doing l-a-u-n-d-r-y?

What about YOU? What are some ways that you take time to enjoy those special 'moments' with the children that God has entrusted to your care? I would love to hear about them!!

My mom taught me so much in the kitchen growing up. They were some of my favorite times spent with her. Today as I chatted with Sweet M about the color of the peppers and the lettuce my heart just cringed re-learning all the WONDER and JOY a 4 yr old has with such simple tasks as being momma's kitchen helper.

I need to not rest in the achievement of having taught three amazing sons how to work their way around a kitchen. I need to be faithful to do the same with my littles. Perhaps one of these pics will soon be placed in my "forever under construction" kitchen so that I don't forget too often.

Please share in the comment section ways that you include your children when you don't forget.

Our Father is Faithful

Last fall I had the privilege of speaking to a group of amazing moms at Treasure of Mother's Heart Retreat put on by Karen Campbell. If you are anywhere close to central IL it's a yearly event that you don't want to miss. Beautiful tables, chocolate, delicious buffet meal, speakers and encouragement from the word of God. What could be better?

After my post yesterday about Spring and sharing Isaiah 43:19, my mind drifted back to that retreat once again. What a blessing it was to stand before those women and share about God incredible faithfulness in my life. The One who makes beauty from ashes .... He is my Father and I am so grateful for how He doesn't stop working through broken lives.

Maybe you are a homeschooling mom in need of a good bit of encouragement to press on in the 24/7 of raising your kiddos. Or maybe you also are a wive/mom of a broken past. Maybe sometimes you wonder if healing is really possible. If walking in freedom and healing can ever be attainable. I invite you to listen to the podcast below and be reminded of the Father's love for you. This was presented just a few shorts weeks after my dad passed away last fall.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring is Coming!

Can you sense that spring is coming? Here in IL we've had a few days of much milder temps. Some days are even nice enough to allow a crisp, cool breeze to come through the windows. I can hardly wait to see new life coming up through the ground. Seeing my "littles" experience this amazing wonder brings me such joy. We're already talking about the garden we're going to plant and my head is spinning with a little more landscaping I'd like to do!

Yet this year, I'm aware of another fact that soon-coming-spring means. It means that the ground is thawing and before long people that work at monument businesses can lay a foundation at cemeteries for headstones to be placed. This fact makes my heart ache, because it's a reality of the upcoming springtime for me. I haven't found the courage to drive to the cemetery since last fall when countless people gathered in solemness to say goodbye to my father. I was afraid I couldn't find the spot and feared that might be more than this daughter's heart could handle.

So many changes ahead for our family. I'm reminded that Season's Change. With this spring will also come our first-born's high school graduation. Dad would have been so proud. I know it hurt my son's heart when he couldn't call his Grandpa and tell him that he made it to the school of his dreams. {MBI!!} I look so forward to what God has for my son, even though it will rock my world to have him gone. It's a new season again ... and I'm learning to embrace it with joy ... even if I do need to reach for a tissue now and then.

Are you ready for what spring is bringing? Perhaps for you it's a mixed package as well. It even contains things you don't know of yet. More importantly, are you well acquainted with the One who is in control of the seasons? I think of Isaiah 43:19.

" See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. "

He truly is the one who makes a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. He is worthy of our trust no matter what kind of season we are in. He comforts those who need comforted. He knows our fears. He brings new life. I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father and that promise that He will be there ... through each and every season.