July 30, 2008

An advantage of a megachurch

Well, I don't know what really constitutes a megachurch, but a church with more than 3000 people per Sunday is pretty close to mega in my book. I'm probably not a megachurch kinda gal, but I sure enjoyed it tonight!

Our worship ministry took a field trip to join their worship ministry practices for the evening. Wow. What great night!! Singing with 200 people is always great, but worshiping for almost 3 hours with 200 musical people who love to worship is about as good as it gets! They were very friendly, loving, welcoming and encouraging. (The fact that the choir is about 30% male did not go unnoticed either.) We also learned about 5 new good songs in one evening!

We made a bunch of observations, but a few stick out:
They weren't all sharing their opinions on how the music minister ought to be doing things.
There was a spirit of worship that was evident on every face I noticed.
They were happy to be there, not rushing to be finished, and seemed to be enjoying every minute of it... no matter how many times we'd sung the songs.
They didn't have rehearsal. They just had church! It just happened to involve the songs they are supposed to sing Sunday morning.

Our point in going was not to come away with a spirit of discontentment about our own body... I'm certain they have grumblers in their church as well! But if we can desire that spirit and heart in our own lives, there will be overflow that will bless the Lord and affect our church.

It was an encouraging night for a lot of reasons, but a fun one as well! And if I ever need to avoid my church for awhile, I think I know where I'll go!

July 29, 2008

Mattie: Two Going on Five...or Ten

This little girl amazes me every day at least once. Not in a skill level sort of way, but because she is just so aware of what is going on around her! I often have to remind myself that she really is not quite two-and-a-half yet! Here are a few things lately...

She's swallowing pills with only water now, just because she wanted to do it "like Jacob." Actually, one day last week I set her acidophilus pill down and she had swallowed it dry before I got her a cup!

She had an accident the other night at 4:30 AM. By the time I noticed her footsteps and got up, I peeked in to her room and she was back in bed. She'd taken off her wet jammies, thrown them out on the floor outside her gate, gotten dry clothes and gotten herself back in bed! (And terrible mother that I am, I left her there! I could see she had laid down on her pillow, which I knew was dry. And with her horrible sleep habits, I knew if I got up with her she'd be up for the day and it was waaaay too early for that!)

She did not come the other day when I called her. She was on my bed, so I reached for her leg to pull her near me, and she must have known what was coming. She rolled her eyes and said, "Not again."

She's asking questions about what things mean. (God gave me another chronic questioner???) Last week, "Mama, what does
puffer-belly mean?" And later that day, "Mama, what's a patriot?" And she won't let me off the hook until I answer.

Sunday when we were having breakfast before church she said, "Mama, I like your hair." (Good to know someone around here cares about my hair!)

Today we were in the library and I told her we were not going to get a particular movie she was wanting. Her response? "Whatever."

She has very strong opinions about her clothes. She loves shoes too. Last week she said, "I want the blue shirt with the pretty flower on it. It's just so pretty!"

Saturday night she gave us a hard time going to bed. Sunday morning in the bathtub she said, "I'm sorry for being ugly Mama." I said, "When were you ugly?" She said, "Last night bedtime. Not quietly. Will you forgive me?" (Oh, blessed little girl, of course I will forgive you!)

Her prayers... "Thank you, God: food! Thank you, God: sunshine! Thank you, God: Mama, Daddy, and Jacob! Thank you, God: dying on cross! Thank you, God: Daddy workin' hard! Amen!"

Jacob loves to ask her to help find things. He could almost have his shoes on his feet and not be able to locate them. She, on the other hand, would remember where they got left last week under a pile behind a closed door and be able to find them with no trouble. Now I send them together to find things...

My personal favorite:
Two weeks ago after a long day at Dollywood Jacob was having a tough time being cheerful. When we got in the car Mattie grabbed the children's Bible and lectured Jacob. She pointed to words in the Bible and said, "Jacob! Jesus help attitude!" then she'd point to Jacob. "Jesus help attitude, Jacob!" Yeah, you can imagine how cheerful he was at that point.

She is just a mess! I know she looks like her face hadn't been washed for a week, but it only takes her about 5 minutes to look like this!
(And yes, I have washed that nasty door since then!)

July 28, 2008

He always knows our needs

In beginning the disability ministry at our church, I've been exposed to Joni and Friends Camp. Joni and Friends is a ministry that was begun by Joni Eareckson Tada many years ago. Their vision is to minister to families dealing with disabilities. One of the ways they do this is by offering Family Retreats, a 5 day camp for families dealing with disability of any sort.

Well, I get to go this year as a short term missionary! (I'm going at the end of August to Alabama.) I'll be an attendant to a person with a disability for the entire camp so their families can attend workshops, enjoy some free time or fellowship, eat their meal uninterrupted, and just take a break from some of their never-ending responsibility. I'm really looking forward to going, though I'm a bit nervous they'll hook me up with a teenager!

I've been wondering the past few weeks how I was going to pay for this trip. STMs are volunteers, but it costs the same to attend, and lately we've had to tighten our belt a lot. I had some of it paid for already, but I still lacked $200. And I was just running numbers in my head instead of asking the Lord to provide it. Well, this weekend I had a yard sale with a friend. About an hour into the first day, I thought, "Lord, wouldn't it be just like you for me to earn exactly what I needed for Joni and Friends!" Then I glanced around at what I had to sell... I'd have to almost sell everything to get that amount, though I knew any amount would help.

You know where I'm going now... my grand total??


I love it when He reminds me that the little things matter to Him.
Yes, He created the world just by speaking it into being.
Yes, He died on the cross.
Yes, He rose from the dead.
Yes, He offers me a lifetime in eternity with Him.
Amazingly enough, He knows how much I needed to be reminded that just because He's the creator of the universe doesn't mean He's forgotten about my trivial needs.
And yes, He knew I needed $200 to go to Joni and Friends Camp.

July 23, 2008

Little Johnny

At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, "Johnny, what is the matter?"

Little Johnny responded, "I have pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife."

July 22, 2008

Robert's "little book nerds"

Robert affectionately calls Jacob and I his "little book nerds." (I think he's jealous.) I have always been one to bury my nose in a book and not want to come out until it's over! That is most often what I choose to do on Saturday, the day I do as little as possible around the house. I love to read a book from start to finish, and it appears I have passed that love of the story on to Jacob. He and I have already shared a number of chapter books together, but up to this point, they have been books I had read previously.

When we were in Maryland in May, Jacob heard my uncle reading a chapter or two of a specific book and he's been dying to finish it. When I told him it was in a series, and not the first book, he started begging to start as soon as possible! And my dad treated us to a full color brand new collector's edition set of The Chronicles of Narnia in which to begin our journey!

This was a series I did not read as a child (I did not like mythology/fantasy at all) so I have been looking forward to this whenever we'd encounter it in homeschooling. I wondered if it might be over Jacob's head, but he's not had any trouble getting it. And he's read much of the books himself when I can't sit down and read with him, leaving me to catch up before that evening (when we'll certainly move to the next chapter or two, snuggled up under the green blanket on the right end of the couch - our reading spot).

So we appropriately happened to start the week we were studying lions. We started reading in chronological order** and just finished today The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, book two when reading them this way. It has been a joy to enjoy these books together, but also to recognize in Jacob that curiosity of "what happens next" that I know so well. And it's been fun to watch him take that to the next level and jump into these chapter books independently (where before he was totally intimidated though he was perfectly capable of reading them), then come and fill me in on what I've missed. Mostly, it's fun to have a hobby in common. And I'm praying it will be a tie that binds us through times where we might not understand each other very much!

**There is quite an emotional debate among Narniacs concerning these books which I did not know about at the beginning. Should they be read in the order in which the events are chronological, or the order in which they were published? We chose to read them in chronological event order, and CS Lewis has given that as the way he would probably choose. And he says he's not even sure that they were published in the order in which he wrote them! But he says it really doesn't matter, they can all stand alone.

I will say that The Magician's Nephew would be more enjoyable to read somewhere other than book 1, because it explains the roots of details of which one does not realize the significance until The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is read. We read it as #1 (because that's how our book set came) and survived, though I now understand the argument for reading it later.

July 20, 2008

A first for Jacob!

Jacob rode his first roller coaster last week! We went to Dollywood and he reached a height level that enabled him to ride some new rides this year. He's enjoyed the bumper cars several times already, but he got all brave this time (we left it totally up to him) and rode two roller coasters this time! The first was the one is all inside in the dark!

Here is the big boy with his fun daddy!

The next one was a water ride that had a 60 foot, 60 mph drop! Robert said as they were going up slowly before the drop, it was easy to recognize when Jacob realized what was happening. He said, "Um, I don't think this is as fun as I thought it was going to be." : ) But he survived and gave me a play by play. His eyes were definitely not closed!

And Mattie's new favorite ride is the Twist and Shout, aka the Scrambler. The workers (mostly senior citizens) all enjoy watching her grin and laugh through the whole ride. When we were at Splash Country right across the street from Dollywood two days later and I asked her what she wanted to do next, she said, "Go ride the Twist and Shout at Dollywood!!"

Hi Mom!

As much as I want another little one, we are enjoying this no baby stage. No naps, diapers, or feeding schedules definitely make for more carefree family outings.

Aaaah, to be settled in a church!

I think I'm actually feeling at home in a church again. It's been about 6 years since we left the last church where we had built friendships, settled into roles of ministry, and enjoyed fellowships. About a year and a half ago we found this church and while we enjoyed it right away, it still took a long time to feel at home. It is a very big church (2000 or so?) with three services, so there are many people that I have never met. And many of them have known each other for 30 years, so it's a bit hard to break into that way as well.

So tonight was the church picnic. I always want to go to these things, but as I'm arriving I have this tumultuous feeling that I'm going to get there and be sitting by myself talking to no one the entire time... especially if Robert isn't there with me when he has to leave town. Interestingly enough, I could entertain a good conversation with a tree, so I have not a blessed thing to worry about! As I arrived, I made a beeline for the first family I felt comfortable sitting with. Ah, once I have a home base, I know I'll survive the next couple of hours. But after the first 30 minutes, I never made it back there!

I mingled (my least favorite form of fellowship) for two hours without a lull. I visited with other moms, pastors, pastors' wives, teenagers! (wonder of wonders-that age group is NOT my gift!) and my kids' Sunday School teachers. I introduced myself to a couple of people I see often but have never spoken with. I borrowed a friend's towel, shared my kids lollipops, and made plans for a playdate. My kids played easily with children they knew and were comfortable with from their classes. Jacob ran off by himself for more than an hour with friends, and I just enjoyed casual conversation with different people for some time while little girls came by and took Mattie to play for awhile (I remember being one of those little girls who loved to "mommy" and thoroughly enjoying those little ones! I can't believe mine are those little ones now!). While I watched my kids in a water slide line (without me) with 30 others they were totally enjoying, I just stood there thinking, "I know a good portion of these people. I know their names, a bit about them, where they've been, and where they are, and their favorite way to minister. They know me, they love me and my family. Aaaah! I think we're finally settled in a church again!" I just felt familiar and it felt very settled. And I'm so glad I went.

July 14, 2008

Our small gift from the Lord

We had a great day today! A family whose child is in my Special Friends Sunday School class treated us to a day at Splash Country! It was the boys birthday (the little guy in my class has a twin) and they asked us to spend the day with them to celebrate! What she didn't realize is that by buying us a day pass to the park, we were only $2.50 away from season passes (because of the Dollywood pass we have)!!!! So she wasn't only treating us today, she was treating us for the next six weeks of the season! She bought our passes, insisted on buying my lunch, and bought Jacob a $10 squirt gun as well. And you could tell she was genuinely loving every minute of it. She is a very giving person, and this isn't the first time we've been blessed by her generosity. This whole thing was just a completely unnecessary and unexpected blessing from the Lord. And I know He's enjoying every minute of it too just because He delights in loving on us. It's nice to get a metaphorical hug from God in the middle of a hard few months.

The kids loved every second of the day. We were there from opening to closing. Jacob did some brave things on the water slides, went under water a few times willingly, and challenged himself a bit out of his comfort zone. That's big for him!

Mattie, of course, had fun. My little water bug was right in her element! She did every water slide Jacob did (by herself!), spent more time under water, and is getting really used to being completely under and stabilizing herself to get back up. That little half-pint never ceases to amaze me!

And apparently the Lord is going to take away my photography hobby for awhile. I was taking a picture of the kids on one of the slides, saw Mattie needing some help and stepped in to what I thought was six inch deep water. Ha! More like twenty-six inch deep water! So I went in completely horizontally (yes, a bunch of people noticed!) and my back-up camera went in as well. Thankfully I have the extended-do-anything-stupid-to-it-that-you'd-like warranty on this one too. My pictures already on the card were fine, but I'm too tired to do anything with them tonight and you've seen plenty of my kids having water fun lately. I only took a few anyway because I was too busy helping with Mattie.

I had a challenge of my own today as well... I told my friend that those really steep freefall slides were my favorites at water parks... "were" being the operative word she apparently missed. Well, I was probably 15 the last time I was at a water park, so I had no sense then. My friend was insistent that she watch my kids so I could go on my favorite slide! Ummmmm, this one seems much taller now! I got about 2/3 of the way of the un-enclosed elevator shaft like staircase and did not want to go any further! I wasn't even worried about the slide. The stairs were doing me in. So I told my riding partner that I think I'd like to turn back. To which he said, "You can do it! You know right when it's starts it's almost over!" Well, I couldn't turn him down, so I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, implored the Lord to help me be brave just like I've trained Jacob to do, and moved on. (On a side note, it was very good to be back in this position. I often encourage Jacob to do things he's unsure of and he always ends up having a great time. But it was good to remember how hard it is to be afraid.) I made it to the top, keeping my eyes very focused ahead of me. I had a hard time pushing myself out of the starting block, so to speak, but I did eventually. I did have too much pride to step up out of the water and walk down all those stairs past all those people.

Here's a picture, just so you can feel my pain. It's 70 feet tall. It was sort of fun, though I have no desire to do it again. My riding partner was very proud of me for sticking it out! He jumped up at the end as I was picking my wedg- ummm, righting my swimsuit bottom and said, You did a great job! Wasn't that so fun after all?" We made a memory at least.

Oh, I didn't tell you, my riding partner? He was turning 7 today.

Boy, do I feel old.

July 13, 2008

Our week with Lentil

We studied Lentil the week around July 4th. This was a favorite of both of my kids! We had checked it out form the library, and by the end of our study, I found out I had won this book in a drawing of sorts (thank you homeshoolshare.com!!) so we'd have our own copy. Jacob was very excited!

We used Lentil to kick off a bit of a whirlwind US History unit. While we were reading this, we began History for Little Pilgrims (again) and reading one chapter a day, are only one chapter away from the revolution. Then this week we'll study Paul Revere. I have been feeling like Jacob needed some sort of US History concept fairly soon, so this has been perfect.

This week we learned about our flag's history, patriotism, and choosing cheerfulness.

Then one of our most fun activities was a study on taste buds and sweet, sour, bitter, salty. We set up potato chips, raw sugar, vanilla, and lemons.

All three boys loved the sugar, of course!

This little guy obviously isn't ours (he's one of Jacob's favorite playmates), but I couldn't resist posting this one! In spite of the taste bud reaction causing his facial expression, he kept sucking on his lemon!

Then we talked about how we put vanilla in all of our cookies, cakes, homemade ice cream, etc and how good it makes all of our baked goods! Each boy had a spoon of vanilla (just a few drops) that they were quite eager to taste!

Here's their immediate reaction! I guess they didn't like "bitter" after all!

Cocoon Report

Remember our caterpillars? Well, in our craziness of June, I realized I forgot to post pictures of our cocoon success. We ended up with 4 Eastern Tent Moth Caterpillars and all of them made cocoons. Jacob got new leaves each day from the trees where we found the caterpillars.

We put them in our Butterfly Pavilion we had from last year. Jacob fed them for three to four weeks before they all made their cocoons. We got to catch two of them in action!

They all chose this spot up in the high crease of the Butterfly Pavilion (as opposed to the stick Jacob got for them). They all even took a trip to Maryland with us, because I couldn't bear the thought of them coming out of their cocoons while we were gone!

In this picture below you can see that two of them made much thicker cocoons than the others. No idea why, but I assumed that they died while they were making them. I was shocked when they came out!

Then one morning we walked by and there was a moth there!

Here you can see the moth's symmetrical wings. Actually, they are beautiful up close! I just don't appreciate their beauty when I'm trying to squeeze in my front door in the dark before I let 10 of them in with me!

Isn't that the most beautiful little boy hand ever?

Jacob was very sad to let them go. I hadn't thought to cover that at the beginning... Once he realized that we had to set them free to let them live, he was kind of okay, but his sensitive little heart was quite sad as he took each one out to their new home in the tree. He wanted to keep them forever. (I decided to save their short life span for another year.)

Our afternoon in the sun!

Last week we got invited to go jet-skiing with some friends from church. (Well, I guess we knew them a long time before we went to church together! The father of this family was my boss when I taught, then I served their family with our Birth to Three program when their daughter was born with down syndrome. And now, they go to our church. So we've been friends for a long time.) Anyway, here are a couple of fun pics.

Jacob has ridden on a jet ski before. Actually, he tells us regularly we need to buy one. We keep telling him to get a job. He's not taking us up on it.

He was a bit reserved at first...

Here he is after a few donuts!

And Mattie took a ride too! This was her first, and I thought she'd want me along. No way! She was off and never looked back, and she came back begging for more. She wouldn't take her life vest off until I forced her in the car.

Jacob and Anna dressing up when she was here playing one day.

They've been over here a couple of times lately and she and Jacob have a blast! Anna told her mom she was coming to live with us and even wrote me a letter to come pick her up! It is funny to hear them play together. They play like a cranky old married couple, but never need intervention.

Then last week she kissed Jacob a couple of times on the cheek. Of course he said, "Yech!" And Anna later told her mom, "It's okay Mom, because after he wiped it off, I saw hearts coming out of his head!" A few too many princess movies, I guess...

July 10, 2008

Mattie's Big-Girl Bed

This is a transition I planned on putting off for a very long time. Because this child does not nap anymore (yes, I've tried whatever you want to suggest!) and is still getting into something every minute of her waking hours, I NEED that crib! It is my only rest from the ever-present thought, "What is Mattie doing this second?"

So, remember we ditched her paci a month or so ago? Or was it a year??? It seems like that long! She has been much happier during the day and for that, I'm thankful we pitched them (she had quite a collection!). Nighttime has been another story. She has been screaming without exaggeration, at the top of her lungs, bloody murder, sometimes as if she was actually possessed, every night at bedtime and anytime she gets up to go potty (at least once a night). YES, I considered getting the paci out more than once (I saved her favorite "pink paci" in a drawer for her memory box) but just couldn't give in. I knew this fight would only be harder next time. And she actually stopped asking for her paci long ago! We have had a few peaceful nights when we've given her Benadryl just because we didn't want to fight with her, which is total avoidance, I realize. But if this behavior was a habit, it was worth trying to break it that way!

So, this week my in laws found a house to rent, so my mother in law moved out of my laundry room (yes, that's what I meant to type-long story!) and made available the twin bed she was using. As scared as I was to take this leap, I set it up in Mattie's room. And totally bribed her. We told her if she'd learn to go to sleep quietly (which she totally understands, more on that later) she could get sheets - My Little Pony or Dora. She picked My Little Pony and we got started that very night.

First night, "Goo' night Mommy!" Happy girl! PRAISE the LORD! And every night since then! She has had to be trained to stay in bed at bedtime, but after the first night, she's not had any trouble. And she's happy to go to bed.

This is what I found the first morning. I used to put toys in her bed for her to play while I took my shower, so she helped herself!

First morning, "Mattie! You slept in your big-girl bed!"
Mattie: "And I went to sleep quietly! Get My Little Pony sheets!" I told you she understood.

It's been 4 or 5 nights and she's been blissfully quiet. When I'm needing my mommy-brain-break, she goes in her room to play with music on and a gate at the door and plays very happily.

I am totally dying to go buy her an adorable hot pink, flowered, girly girl quilt and be done with the red in her room (because she and Jacob used to share), but I'm hoping one of these days our house will sell. Until then or I have money we don't know what to do with, she'll use Jacob's old quilt and red gingham valances. And notice her sheets for now... the Thomas ones Jacob used for two years. She has to sleep quietly for 10 days before she gets her My Little Pony ones. I expect it will be soon!

July 09, 2008

Don't Make me Count to Three - Book Review

The title of this book by Ginger Plowman was misleading to me. Enough that I overlooked it several times until someone actually wrote a bit of a summary. I'm not a "counter," so I didn't think it was for me. But I was wrong. It is an excellent book!

In summary, it's a book long explanation of Biblical discipline. Foundationally, it involved the same subject matter of Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Ted Tripp, another excellent book. Basically, one can spank all one wants, but if you do not get to the heart of your child, you are not leading them toward God. What I liked better about this book is that it is completely practical (which was something I thought Shepherding... lacked). She gives example after example of errors we make and alternatives we have to serve our children better. More than once I thought, "I don't think I really do that" (though I knew there were plenty of other errors I was making, otherwise why would I have picked up the book in the first place??). Then when she explained whatever "that" was, I realized I was totally doing those things without even realizing it!

Just an excellent book I would highly recommend. Many of the things I've learned I have already implemented with my children. (And it's come at a great time... This is the first week we've been home several days in a row, I had no internet for two days, and we have canceled tv/computer privileges for a week! Why not begin some new parenting techniques??)

The one thing I thought she lacked was a section on toddlers (and what she might suggest when you're in public and can't follow Plan A). I do believe toddlers know what no means, and I do believe they need to be disciplined Biblically. But all of her examples involved a large amount of language and an understanding of that language, something that there is no time for in the midst of a language developing toddler. I'd like to reread it and take some notes for my journal, so maybe I'll find something about toddlers I missed this first time. But other than that, I'm sold.

Praise the Lord for additional warranties!

Each time we buy something electronic, we wonder, "Is it worth it to spend that extra money for the extended drive-over-it-with-your-car-or-do-something-else-stupid warranty?" We had that same discussion again with our new camera. And boy, am I thankful our answer was, "Yes" this time! After our fireworks fun in the front yard the other night, I came inside and put Jacob to bed.

Sunday morning, Robert looked out the window and there was my camera... hanging on the chair! Ordinarily, no big deal, but this time it had poured rain all night long. Ugh.

So we opened it up as much as we could and got it dried out. Thankfully the lens dried out perfectly, b/c it wasn't under a warranty at all. But the camera is completely dead. So, thanks to my warranty, I'll have a brand new camera in a couple of weeks!

(Interestingly enough, this is the second time I have left a camera out in the rain. My first one was out there for 3 days when the electrician brought it in to me! And of course, it had been raining a lot of that time too. I had the warranty on that one as well, but didn't need to use it. It worked as if it was made to get rained on!)

July 05, 2008

What kind of insect is this?

We have seen this guy a lot here lately, but can't figure him out. He has two sets of clear wings (that are very hard to see in these pictures because they are moving so fast), a wide furry body, six legs, antennae, and drinks nectar through a proboscis. And he has no stinger that we can see. Is he a moth with bee coloring for a defense mechanism?? Please help us!

ANSWER: Amy from the Five in a Row Forum had the answer! It's a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Thank you, Amy!

Happy July 4th!

We had a great day yesterday! We started off with a family bike ride and swimming at the lake. Bike rides have become one of our favorite things to do together. So after we rode for an hour or so, we settled down on a little beachy part to swim, watch the boats, and relax.

I was so impressed with Jacob! We go on our vacation in August each year, then come home and often don't swim after that. So any skills Jacob has gained that summer get lost over the winter. But this year he's jumped back in right where he left off! Yesterday he was swimming out so far in the lake we kept telling him to come in! I'm proud of him, but mostly I'm just glad for his sake. It's so much nicer to not be afraid of the water!

And of course Mattie was in heaven... I think her heaven will be one huge waterpark.

A sunbathing break.

Some good balance practice with Daddy (while Mommy laid
still in the sun!).

And we came home and flew the new kite Robert got for the kids! Jacob enjoyed flying it too. He only let go once, but that was when he was running to check on Mattie when she got hurt. Thankfully Robert was close enough to jump up and grab the rope before it flew into the stratosphere.

And then for the evening we went to hang out with some good friends, Pam and Eddie. We've known these guys since before we were dating!

We've camped with them, vacationed with them, gone to church with them, and just about everything else imaginable. They're in the grandparent stage of life, but they still love having our kids around and love them like we do. We've gone through a lot of stages where we haven't seen each other much, but we can always pick up where we left off! It's one of those priceless connections that are few and far between, I think.

Pam and Eddie's son and his family.


Gabe and Cole (Mattie's partners in crime for the February wedding.)

I got to snuggle me some good chub and slobber with this little guy, Jensen.

We did try for fireworks in the evening, but the "bang" we ended with was from God, in the form of lightning and thunder and a fast break for the car! We did hit the fireworks stand at buy 1, get 2 free, so we'll have our own show here tonight for the kids.

Happy Independence Day!

July 02, 2008

We did it!

We did it! We finished our last lesson of Algebra II today. Not with Jacob, lest you think I've completely lost my mind. But with Rachel, the senior in high school daughter of a friend of mine.

When I started out the year, I wasn't really sure if I would be able to make it all through... My high school experience (16 years ago!!) in Algebra II gave me the lowest Math grade I ever got. But, with thanks to the excellent DIVE CDs, we made it! And more importantly than completing 111 Saxon lessons, we've developed quite a nice friendship. Rachel has been sweet enough to love on my children and we've been able to spend a lot of hours chatting about all sorts of stuff... boys, men, sleep, food issues, discipline issues, hurts, lessons I've learned from mistakes I've made and the God who hangs in there with us in spite of all those mistakes. And I found this sweet gift on my table today after she left. It's the Willow Tree "Wisdom." I'll miss our scheduled visits from here on out, but it will be nice to not have to buckle down for Math when we get together. And we'll get lots of time when she goes to Florida with us for vacation!!

Deeper Still #3 - Kay Arthur

Kay Arthur was our second speaker of the weekend. She was excellent as well! She was the boldest speaker of truth I believe I've ever heard. She shared how burdened she was about that particular message, as it was a hard one. I would imagine that many toes were stepped on during that two hours.

She spoke on Truth... The Truth... The one and only Truth... getting back to The Truth. She kind of gave us a whirlwind tour of Jeremiah, actually! One of her bold statements is that it is not God's desire to bring judgement, calamity or catastrophe, but we leave Him no choice when we do not obey His word (based on Amos 3:6). Everybody I've always heard says, "Well, God did not intend to send that hurricane, but we live in a fallen world..." or other things like that. I've just never heard anyone be bold enough to speak that scary truth.

Based on that judgment from the Lord, she exhorted us to get back to the truth. Know the Word. Know God. And share the Word and our God with our children. That's my responsibility- not my church's.

She gave us seven things to do:
1 break up the fallow ground (the hardness of our soul) Jer 4:3
2 mourn over the sin in our lost world Jer 9:17-18, Ezek 9
3 pray Jer 36:7, 1 Tim 2
4 love God's word (and don't let "this is just a season" be an excuse for neglecting the word during the time of raising small children - She spoke pretty plainly here too! If we have time for shopping, tv, or Christian novels, [or the computer] then don't say we have no time for the Word of God! OUCH!)
5 love others as Jesus loves them Jer 31:3, John 13:34
6 introduce people to Jesus Jer 31:31, 33:1-9,15,17
7 rest in doing all God has called us to do

This message was my favorite of the weekend, I think. I had been enjoying more time in the Word already, and this has reminded me how important it is to know the Word...not just put in a few minutes a day.
I am often praying for the Lord to help me see people as Jesus sees them. It helps me be more gracious and get a lot less offended, though I'll not say I always manage those well!
And lastly, I'm praying for opportunities to be around people who don't know Jesus. Sadly, I have almost none! I know the Special Needs ministry at church is bringing people, but it's not nearly enough exposure. I'm praying that the Lord will lead me to people who don't know Him, and I need to be seeking out those opportunities.

So those are the highlights of Deeper Still! Beth Moore spoke last, but honestly, uummmmm, it wasn't my favorite?!? She spoke on John 1:4, but she covered a lot of stuff in her happy hyperactive fashion and I lost her in my after-lunch tryptophan flood. I did come away being very thankful that in her Bible studies she gives us fill in the blanks!

And you guys are probably really tired of this play by play, so I'll tell you quickly that our guest speaker at Charles Stanley's church was Newt Gingrich! That was pretty neat, actually. I have always felt very ignorant of the last 50 years of US history/current events, so I enjoyed his talk. He gave me a few great trivia items as well... always love those!

July 01, 2008

Deeper Still #2 - Priscilla Shirer

Our first speaker was Priscilla Shirer. I knew nothing about her, but I assumed since she was in the lineup with Beth Moore and Kay Arthur she would be great. And she did not disappoint me! She was an excellent speaker that I'd love to hear again.

She spoke on being in the wilderness and making the most of it when we find ourselves there. Her main points based on Exodus 19:9-11 were:
~Sometimes God takes us into the wilderness to get us ready for deeper intimacy with him.
~Sometimes God chooses the wilderness for us (not a popular belief these days).
~Sometimes our blessing will be completely opposite of where we think it should be.
~When we're in the wilderness, instead of praying every day to get out of there, settle in, camp out, dwell, bend down and seek what the Lord has for you while you're there. (This is one I've learned with out infertility struggle.)

I don't know if I'm in the wilderness or not. I guess I don't know what it really means to be in the wilderness. If ever I think I might be in the wilderness, I look at others' struggles and realize I couldn't possibly be. I do have my own struggles for certain, but I know God loves me and knows what's best for me. I guess if I choose to trust and desire God each day, then it doesn't really matter if I'm in the wilderness or not. God's commandments are the same, wilderness or otherwise.

She also talked a lot about a divine invitation that we have from God. One that invites us into a deeper relationship with Him where we commune with him for ourselves, not on someone else's coattails. She warned us based on Exodus 20:18 to be sure we respond when He wants to be close to us; don't stand at a distance when we have our chance to be close to Him. What a tragedy it is when He desires us and we back up in fear of what that time might bring!