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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cute Videos of Nathan

These are just some cute recent videos I've taken of Nathan. Enjoy!

First up is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (taken 9/8/07) which he learned from his sweet friend Eva just a day or so before.

video

Next is a recent development in him showing off his knowledge (taken 9/20/07).

video

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Demolition

We have officially begun one of many (down the road) projects on our 27 year old house that has yet to be updated. The kids spent Friday night and Saturday at Mike’s mom’s house so that we could have a date night (what’s that?) and get started without them under foot.


The current project is the living room. It has wood floors that are still nice and a beautiful huge stone fireplace which we love. The thing we don’t love is all the wood paneling on the walls. We’re talking floor to ceiling wood paneling. Oh, and long tubular fluorescent light fixtures. Oh, Oh, and in case anyone is interested in my opinion (which I’m going to share even if you aren’t), grass/hay/raffia/jute type materials are NEVER acceptable mediums for wall paper. Along with the wood floors, stone fireplace and not very many windows, the whole combination makes for a very dark room. And, the paneling is a picture frame design that is pretty prohibitive when hanging pictures. It puts me in too much of a box where that’s concerned.

So, our plan is to:

  • take the wood paneling (and underlying particle board) off the top half of the wall,

  • fix up and repair the dry wall as needed,

  • take out the fluorescent light fixtures and replace them with can lights around the perimeter of the room,

  • texture,

  • paint, and

  • replace the chair-rail.

This weekend was “demolition.” We were not very encouraged about how much we would get done when the first pieces of paneling and particle board were extremely difficult to get off because all the nails that had been used. Mike said it looked like whoever did it had just gotten a new nail gun and was showing it off… 30 times in an approximately 3 foot long by 8 inch wide piece of particle board. He was so frustrated.

However, after we got past those couple of pieces, there were not as many nails and the rest went pretty quickly. We started at about 8:30 or 9 am, and we were done by 4 pm. This is how it currently looks:


As we were working, I kept thinking about the concept of demolition. Have you ever been involved in the demolition phase of a project? I tell you what… it feels good!!! It felt so good to just rip that stuff that we dislike so much off the walls and throw it away. However, it doesn’t feel so good when it happens to us.

What? When it happens to us? “What-chu talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”

What I’m talking about is what we have to go through sometimes in order to learn what ever it is that God is trying to teach us. Just like when a football team gets a new coach. In order to teach them his way of playing the game, he has to get rid of the old way of playing before the new way can actually be taught. We’re no different in our spiritual lives.

I guess I made this connection because I just feel like I’ve been through this process recently. As I look back on this summer, I think that’s what God allowed to happen with me. He had to allow me to be completely broken down, torn apart, and demolished in a sense, before He could truly begin to teach me what being dependent on Him and finding my purpose in Him is all about. And I tell you what, being broken down and stripped of what I thought life was about didn’t feel very good. In fact, it hurt… a lot.

My guess is that He has tried to teach me these lessons before in gentler ways. But this thick skull of mine kept the true lesson from sinking in. I had to be desperate for it in order to truly grasp the depth of what finding my purpose means in every day life.

The glorious thing is that I’m mostly on the other side of it now. After the demolition, God did build me back up again. He showed me purpose and began revealing His plan for this season of my life. He remodeled my life to be more in line with what He likes instead of the outdated version of the life I was living.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Toys

Oooh, I got a new toy this week. I have actually gotten a couple of new toys with my birthday money this year.


First, I got a new (well, refurbished) digital camera. My old one quit working much earlier in the year and I didn’t think I would miss it as much as I have. So, I first looked into having it repaired, but it was not going to cost much different to get a new one on ebay that was even an upgrade. It’s really neat and takes some pretty good pictures. I even did a “self portrait” to celebrate.

Also, I got a new (well, used actually) Cricut (with a short “i” sound… like cricket) machine. If you’re wondering what in the world a Cricut is, it’s kind of the “holy grail” of all scrapbook toys out on the market right now. It is basically a die-cutting machine that will make different fonts and shapes at whatever size you specify based on different cartridges you insert. Mike actually gave me a Mickey Mouse cartridge for my birthday because my friend Lisa has a Cricut that I have used before. He figured I could just use hers when I go over there to crop. However… I had different plans. I was able to find one (smaller than Lisa’s) used on ebay for a fraction of the cost which fit nicely into my birthday money budget. I’m also looking at getting one more cartridge to go with it. But that may have to wait as I “need” some new clothes for work. OOOH, I can’t wait to get started.

Check out this fun video clip:


These are guys that will try to blend anything in their brand of blender. They've done all kinds of things including glow sticks.


Isnt’ it funny how we, as adults, love our toys as much as kids do. Only ours tend to be more expensive and easier to break. What causes us to crave toys and something new to play with?

For me, I think its distraction. I feel the need to have some distraction periodically from the reality of what life is. That’s partially why I scrapbook. It gives me something to do that allows me to just leave the rest of the world behind for a while. I get to go back in time and relive memories by looking at and journaling about the pictures in my scrapbooks. I also use scrapbooking as an outlet for visual arts. I get plenty of opportunities at church for performing arts, but I don’t have many opportunities these days for visual art. Photography is one and scrapbooking is another. And they go hand-in-hand.

I do have to be careful, though, that I’m not trying to fill myself up with these “distractions” from life instead of looking to Jesus for that fulfillment. I think back to purpose here. At BSF this morning, one of the principles brought out by our teaching leader was that how we spend ourselves shows what we perceive our purpose to be. I certainly don’t want to leave a legacy for my children that I thought my whole purpose in life was to take pictures and scrapbook them. I want them to see me spending my life in pursuit of knowing the person of Jesus Christ better and more intimately each day. So, I just need to make sure that how I spend myself each day reflects that purpose that I believe He has given me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Soccer

Sarah had her first soccer practice and game last week. It was clear as she wandered out onto the court at practice on Thursday evening that she had absolutely no clue what was going on. She knows the basics that you kick the ball and don’t use your hands, but beyond that she doesn’t know a thing about it (and neither do I for that matter). One of the best scenes at practice was when I saw her just skipping along down the court without a care in the world.

The game was funny also. We actually played against a team coached by a friend of ours from church. Coach Mike had them put on eye black underneath their eyes because it makes them look “fierce” and they were all about that. We (The Jets, btw) beat them pretty well. We have a couple of very good players that take charge with the ball. She went in during the 2nd quarter and tried really hard. She would get frustrated as she would get control of the ball only to lose it to a faster kid pretty quickly. But she stuck with it. That is, she stuck with it up until she made and unintentional head shot when a kid threw it in towards the end of the 2nd quarter. We all tried to tell her that people do actually use their heads in soccer and that it probably just scared her more than it hurt. “No,” she replied, “it HURT.” He asked if she wanted to go back in later on in the game, but she was not interested and seemed to begin to wilt in the hot sun (our delicate flower).

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Calling

I got an email the other day from a dear friend, Lisa, who recently moved to another city. It was so good to hear from her. And I believe it was not coincidental that I got an email from both her and my dear friend, Sherri, in the same day. The Lord had been putting my name in my friends’ minds and putting me on their hearts on the day of my 2nd interview.

So as I was responding to Lisa, I just referred her here to read what’s been going on lately. She emailed me back and made an interesting observation / suggestion. And it is certainly something that I have pondered from time to time… Is the Lord calling me to ministry?

Wow. What a question. And a valid one at that. And, she is not the first to suggest such a thing. I have had several people recently say something similar such as asking if I would be applying for the open Children’s Minister position at our church (btw – I am SO not qualified for this position). I have also explored this from the aspect of trying to find a job in a ministry related area in recent months. However, none of them have been right.

While I do not rule out the possibility of working in ministry at some later point, as I discussed before, I do believe the Lord wants me, at least for this season of my life, to serve Him in a non-ministry position so that I may have the opportunity to minister to those who may not know him on a real level. I think the Lord has just clearly spoken to my spirit that ministry doesn’t just happen in the church. I need to, as our pastor says on Sundays, go and be the church outside of the walls of our church building.

So to answer Lisa's thoughtful question: Yes, I do feel called to ministry. Just not in a "traditional" ministry related job. I think the Lord wants to show me that ministry is so much bigger than just working at a church or in a para-church ministry job. I think He wants to show me what it means to be a minister in everyday life.

Ameriprise called on Wednesday and wanted me to come back in today to talk about an offer. So, I went this morning and talked to them and they gave me an offer letter that was, if nothing else, very thorough and very professional. It is a very good offer monetarily. However, the thing that has struck me the most is the confirmations that I think are coming from the Holy Spirit on both sides of the table.

  • I was told this morning that they began looking at the first part of the year and yet this is the first offer they have extended. They have gone through a time of searching and asking God, “Why is it taking so long?” I, too, began to sense God telling me it was time to look for a job at the beginning of the year and struggled with why the jobs that I had looked into were never a good fit for us.

  • I was also told that when they have staff meetings on Monday mornings that they gather, go through things, and pray for their clients. WOW! That’s the kind of boss (and the kind of financial planner, for that matter) that I want!

  • The franchise owner told me that he had a sense from me (and from the Holy Spirit, imo) that I would appreciate knowing that while their purpose in their business is, obviously, to help people in their finances and financial position, they have a larger view of having an impact for the Kingdom. They are hiring a 4th person not to necessarily expand the business, but to spread the work around so that everyone can have the time to do the work of the Lord’s Kingdom whether that be something at church or just standing in the hallway talking to someone you’ve been praying for.

Unless the Lord really reveals something unexpected to us this weekend, I do believe this is the road he is leading us down. And I believe that if this is truly where He wants me, then all the stuff with the kids will work out fine and I have no need to be concerned about Nathan being in childcare or my volunteer time at Sarah's school or anything like that.

Gardening

I actually did some work in the yard yesterday. The weather has been so beautiful (other than the hay fever inducing allergens) that I just can’t stand to waste it being inside doing much needed housework. So, instead, I did much needed gardening.

I trimmed up my 1 remaining rosemary bush. There were 2 of them when we moved in but one died last summer. The remaining one was starting to get some dead spots so I trimmed those out. I don’t know how long rosemary bushes live, but these have got to be close to the age of our house, which is 27 years old. I also pulled a bunch of weeds in the “flower bed” and trimmed up my lantana, which was completely out of control and taking over like they tend to do when left unchecked.

As I finished weeding one section of the bed I came to realize that I had just disturbed and possibly destroyed an entire ecosystem. I know for a fact that I displaced many critters that had been living in the dense weeds and moist soil including (but not limited to – aka these are only the ones I saw): a large wolf spider possibly with eggs or babies, 1 snake, 3 lizards, tons of beetles, and a whole mess of earth worms (1 of which I kept for the kids).

As I always do when I’m pulling up the out of control weeds in my beds, I begin thinking of the spiritual implications of what I’m doing. First, I thought about trimming the rosemary bush and lantana. John 15:1-2 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” This is exactly what I did… the dead parts got completely removed from the rosemary in order to hopefully preserve the rest of the plant. I ask myself, who is the branch that does not bear fruit? Is it the one who does not know Christ, or is it the one who knows him but is not living the life Christ wants them to lead? What if it’s the one who has always heard of Jesus, has a belief in him, but never has come to a saving knowledge and faith in Him? Is it the one who chooses to deny him Lordship in their lives when they have clearly been shown the path? I’m just thinking “out loud” here so if you have any insight on this, please share.

And I pruned the lantana so that more shoots would produce more flowers and hopefully draw more beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds to my back yard. I think about how out of control my life gets with me stretching my arms and legs out too thin like that lantana. I begin to wonder, “What does the Lord need to prune out of my life in order for me to produce more beautiful flowers to draw people unto Himself.” I did recently back out of one commitment that I had made as I felt that I was stretched too thin. I felt like I was going to be doing things only half-way. So I asked the Lord what needed to go. He was very clear in his revelation to me and it went.


And then there are the weeds. I had a difficult time finding a scriptural reference for this, and maybe it’s just an illustration I’ve heard over and over again, but I always relate weeds to sin. There is the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13:24-30 which may be where I’m getting this relation in my mind. But as I’m pulling up these weeds and I see how they have just taken over several beds, I think of how sin can truly take over our lives when left un-dealt with. If I would be faithful to ask God to reveal sin in me and to confess it and ask for forgiveness regularly, then it wouldn’t get so out of control… just like the weeds in my yard that I need to regularly pull to keep under control.

And what about all those critters? Getting all those weeds out of the way brought light to the underlying soil and the bugs went a-scurrying just as sin can only do when it is revealed in the light of His Word. What critters can live among the weeds of sin in our lives? The critters that come to my mind are people that are unhealthy for us to be around, situations that put us in danger, among other life situations that can all be displaced once we begin to deal with the underlying sin that allows those unhealthy situations to flourish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A New Year


Today was the first day of a new year of BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). This was Nathan's first time to attend and he was so excited this morning, saying "bible tubby" all morning. He was excited, that is, until we got to his room and he became overwhelmed with an overly exuberant teacher. I actually had to tell her that she was overwhelming him. You could just see it in his face... most of you know the look that I'm talking about. He went in screaming, but calmed down shortly and I actually made it in to the worship center for our opening time of hymns. I can't remember the last time I actually made it for that. We had a great morning and I am so excited and expectant of what God is going to show both of us this year in our study of Matthew.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remember

I remember where I was, as I’m sure all of you do, when I heard the news – in the car on the way to help my sister do some things around her house. Mike called me and just told me to turn on my radio.

“What station?”

He answered, “It doesn’t matter.”

I remember us just being on the phone together as I listened and we learned at the same time that the Pentagon was also on fire.

“What is going on?” I asked quite distressed.

“Nobody knows.”

Can you believe it’s been 6 years? I can’t. I’m sure just like much of the country, I feel like it was just a few days ago that the events of 9/11 rocked our world and shook the foundation of our great land.

I recently encountered a situation where I felt like one thing right after another just shook my life. I was coming apart because there’s only so much shaking we can take. The circumstances drove me and the Lord drew me straight to His word with a heart that was pleading, “God, give me a word from you right now. If I don’t have a word from you, I am literally going to fall apart.”

As I sat down with my Bible, I pulled out some notes from a Beth Moore teaching session I had attended just a week or so before. The Lord led me straight to this passage:

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’ ” Hebrews 12:28-29.

Just let that soak in a moment. We are receiving a kingdom that CANNOT be shaken. Oh what an encouragement that passage was to me on that day a few months ago when I felt shaken to the core. The kingdom that I am a part of as a child of God cannot be shaken. I can stand firm on Him.

Let us all remember that fact as we also remember and pay tribute to those who died that fateful day 6 years ago.

On a similar, but separate note (quite literally), there is a song that we have been singing in choir recently that has really been speaking to my life situation and the place I have found myself spiritually recently.

God (You are my God)

Oh, Thou who knowest my beginning,
Thou who created the plan,
Who orchestrated my life’s journey,
God, You are my God.

God of decisions, creator of answers,
Thou who ordained my way,
Through my transition, held my position,
God, You are my God.

I will forever give You praise.
Honor and celebrate Your Name.
God of the past, present and who is to come,
Oh, God, You are my God.

Whatever you do with me is alright,
You have my total trust.
All glory and honor, dominion, and power,
God You are my God!

Let those words just fall and rest on you for a moment.

Some of them were very revealing and eye opening to me. He knows where I come from. He created the plan. We all know how much I love a plan, but I've always viewed it as my own. To understand anew that He created it, was a fresh revelation to me. He has orchestrated my life’s journey and put me exactly where he has wanted me each and every step of the way.

The Holy Spirit has just been speaking to me about this as He has been re-revealing Himself to me as sovereign over my life, which is one aspect of His character that got many of us through the events of 9/11/01. It’s something that I know, but I suppose it’s been mostly head knowledge and not something I have truly had to live out and depend on Him for. So, for me to be able to sing at the top of my lungs in my car (and you know I do – and pretty well imho) but also from the depths of my being that whatever He does with me is alright and that He has my total trust… well, that’s huge.

And that’s just what I did today as I was on my way to my 2nd interview with Ameriprise. I had such a sense of peace as I entered the building that felt completely relaxed and I feel that the interview went well.

My dear friend and fellow sahm, Cristel, asked me if I had any brain freezes or lapses, and I said surprisingly, no. She felt encouraged that I could still have an intelligent adult conversation. We laughed at the thought of me reverting to my current role and reaching across the table with a tissue and telling him to blow, or asking if he wanted me to tie his shoe. I’m picturing the wife in the movie Mr. Mom as she reaches over and begins to cut up her boss’s food when they are on the company jet.

So, I guess I’m just in the waiting phase right now. I continue to pray for patience and clear direction where this job is concerned. I still have so many concerns: for Nathan’s care, for my involvement at the school, for my poor pitiful house. I am confident that if it’s where I’m supposed to be, that all those little details will work out, but they are just concerns that I have.

Lord, calm my fears and concerns. Give Mike and I a clear indication if this is truly what You have for our family at this time.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

September 9, 2007

What you see below are a couple of recent entries to my personal journal. As you may or may not be able to tell by reading, I have been doing a lot of personal self-examination recently. To be perfectly honest, I have been in quite a dark time in my life recently dealing with a sense of purposelessness and finding my way through times of depression. I’ll not post all of my journal entries from the summer in order to spare you the gory details – although I will always reserve the right to do so. For now, let’s just leave it at this… it was a difficult summer for me spiritually and emotionally.

However, my God and Savior is good. As the Psalmist says,

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

Psalm 40:1-3 NIV

Indeed I pray this to be true. That my feet would remain on the Rock and that many would see and put their trust in the LORD.

August 21, 2007

Purpose. My purpose on this earth. This is something I have desperately been trying to figure out these last few weeks and I’ve finally had a breakthrough.

I’ve been meeting with some friends on Sunday evenings to do a Bible study on the Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 31:10-31). It’s been so nice to meet especially with Keal through this time as she has been experiencing and going through many of the same things, feelings, and emotions that I have lately.

During our last meeting of the summer on Sunday, we made some meaningful discoveries. As we were talking about the chapter on purpose, I mentioned the booklet that I had read by Beth Moore about purpose. As we were talking through the points that were being made, we were both nodding and saying, “Yeah, but what is my purpose?”

I couldn’t help but think that the idea that our purpose is to live for His glory and pleasure and to know Him and make Him known is an overall purpose for any Christian. But I was also thinking that there would be a specific purpose for me. And then it hit me.

Maybe that’s just it. Maybe that is my purpose. What if that truly is my purpose in life and the rest is just specifics… the plan (so to speak)? Now, maybe this is all just semantics and doesn’t make a bit of difference. But it’s very liberating to me to think that I have discovered my purpose and now I can agree with God about it and simply ask that He reveal His plan for me in this specific time.

My purpose is…

  • To exist for God’s pleasure and His glory.
  • To know Him and make Him known to others.
  • To know Him and to “progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.” (Philippians 3:10 Amplified Bible)

My plan is (as I know it right now)…

  • To be a wife and mother and a godly influence in my home.
  • To leave a Proverbs 31 woman legacy.
  • To use my talents and gifts in music and administration outside of my home.
  • Is working outside of the home part of the plan?

Another ground-breaking discovery that I have made recently is concerning my job search. I have been thinking that I needed to work in a church or ministry; and for good reasons. I think that a ministry based job would hold more satisfaction for me as well as they would probably be the most reasonable as far as me being a mom and taking care of my children. However, as I have considered the fact that finding that type of job would likely include a church change, I have had to seriously consider if that is what I’m supposed to do. And it has occurred to me that it may not be what I am supposed to do.

When we first enrolled Sarah at her private school, we determined that we would have to search out ways to minister to non-Christians if our child was in private Christian school. We would not have that constant contact with non-Christian class-mates and their families. So we decided that we would have to play sports and do other things outside of school so that we and Sarah are exposed to those who do not know Christ. It has occurred to me that this might apply to me and my job search as well. It is possible that God wants me in a non-Christian environment to make an impact for His sake.

So, as I discovered this possibility, the job at a Bible church across town that I have been pursuing became less and less attractive. That is until they called and emailed me on Monday wanting to set up an interview. For so many reasons that job was not a good fit for our family: the drive, the logistics involved with Thursday evening hours, changing churches, difficulty getting involved there if we did change because of the distance, the lack of peace there would be in our household if I took that job. And yet, it was so difficult to reply back to them and say no to the interview request. My flesh kept saying, “This is what you’ve wanted. The exact right job for you. Just go to the interview and see.” And yet, the Holy Spirit kept prompting me to say no, to deny my flesh, to honor my husband’s opinion and wishes. It was incredibly hard. But that’s what I did. And I indeed have peace about it.

So, I ask, dear Lord my Savior and Friend, continue to reveal your plan to me. Help me see clearly what you have in store for me. Be extraordinarily clear about my working outside of our home. Make it so that I absolutely cannot deny your hand. And help me to give you the absolute glory for whatever happens.