Wednesday, June 26, 2013

World traveler

My firstborn got her first passport this year and this week left  with her youth group to Costa Rica.

I was thrilled for her.
And not all that emotional about her leaving.

But the day she left I decided I may have thought I was braver than I actually am. When I see her phone lying on the table I am reminded I can't call her.
When I see her car in the drive I get excited thinking she's home!
And then I remember she's gone.

I am a little bit of more of a baby than some.
But I miss her presence in our home.
I miss her smiles and hugs and her help.
I miss her friendship. And she's only been gone 2 days!

The thought hit me in bed last night... This is how it will be all the time in a year from now. YIKES!! I hate having those  scary thoughts when I'm trying to sleep.
The truth is.
My time is almost up and I'm not ready. But I'm not sure I ever would be.

I remember her leaving for school way back at the beginning... Realizing our family unit would change with her absence every day. And it did.

So while I'm thankful for these giant new places she is going... My heart feels a little tug.

I can't wait to see this face in a few days.

I believe God will use this trip to grow her up in some tremendous ways!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Scavenger Hunt

I was trying to plan a little fun celebration for the last day of school. Some years it's hit or miss depending on what's planned in the evening. This year I decided last minute to do a scavenger hunt.
So after dinner at home I handed out the instructions... J and the girls against Mama and the boys.

 It was a wild trip to town ... not because of speed but those 2 boys of mine had all kinds of crazy ideas they kept shouting out.

 This was their idea of photographing themselves with animals
In contrast the girls visited our friends goats.

While it took me two tries to get exactly .50 worth of gas. The daddy/girl car came into the station. We took off and headed into Goshen.
Jumping from the swing we counted how many there were as we ran back to our vehicle. 
As we finished up... here these three  came again. (it's like they were following us) 
We high -tailed it over to get our fortune cookies and take out menus.

We were just unsure how we would find that 85 year old.
 But this group knew. They spotted someone they knew outside Hacienda officially giving them the title of grand champs.

So while they got bragging rights we all enjoyed our favorite ice cream treat.
The boys handled it relatively well ...And on the way home even serenaded us to this.
Love these days! I sure will miss them when they go.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The 13 year old gets celebrated properly

So This boy waited a long time to be celebrated like the great teenager he is.
We had a long winter with lots of sad and it never seemed like the right time to celebrate.

When my oldest brother Jim and his wife Shirley's children turned into teens they started a tradition we absolutely love,And have carried it through all these years later.

I would strongly encourage planning this celebration if you are a parent or guardian of children. It doesn't have to be at 13 but this age is an excellent time. A celebration of the years that were and the preparation for years to come.
Each aunt or uncle and grandparents are welcome to share a blessing through a letter that is read to the birthday celebrity. Scripture is shared and a prayer of protection and purity is prayed over the young person.
We affirm the good we see in them and encourage them to stay strong in the days ahead.
If you don't have a family you can do this with, maybe a small group or other friends who participate in your child's life and will be available for them through the  immediate years ahead,  would work wonderfully.
So thankful for this man who shows his sons every day how to be  men.
He got to pick some of his favorite foods ...which were pretzel bread ham sandwiches (another family favorite) and an ice cream bar with chocolate cake.

I love this new teen. He makes being a mom fun. It hasn't been without it's challenges throughout the years and he is not raised yet but I like what I see in him. Our family is not a quiet one, everyone has something they like to add to conversation which makes table time and car trips very lively... 
Sometimes the lively gets a little excessive but I'm thankful for the fun times.
This is the letter I read to Micah for his blessing.
My dear Son,
When you were born 13 + years ago I was not yet 30. I felt fairly accomplished at caring for babies and children since you were my 3rd born. But with each child there is always an element of new that I had never yet experienced. You have brought with your presence that new very often.
You were born to lead. From the beginning I knew it. The way you approach learning and life is inspirational to me. I remember at the young age of 3 you would struggle to crawl up on the stool beside your big brother so you too could learn how to read right along with him. And you did. Kindergarten was a formality for you. You also expressed a love for animals from the time you could talk. I remember the time we were at the park with friends and a storm blew in. We took shelter under the pavilion till the storm passed. You ran back out to play but returned only moments later with a small bird that had blown out of its nest. You were quite anxious as you begged us to take it to the vet or find some place that would care for this bird. You showed me your heart that day. How you care for the helpless and hurting. Your sensitivity to others around you continues to grow deeper. When you took the time this year to enroll in the program to help kids with Special needs Next year, I saw again your heart for the least of these.
 I am thankful to have a front row seat in your raising. Like a director I sit here coaching you, clapping for your accomplishments and reminding you when you have forgotten how or teaching you what you still need to learn. God has given you countless abilities and you are driven to use them all. Whether its music, academics, sports or Bible memory, I see you driven to accomplish the task before you. Especially when there’s a prize at the end J
Your Wit and Strong will are two more of my favorite qualities about you. You’re funny. That’s all I have to say about that. You just are.
Your strong will can be a challenge when crossed but it is important to be strong in a world that wants to suck you in. I pray that Strong Will serves you well in the days ahead. You will have many voices that call your name but you my son, you know the one who called your name many years ago and I am convinced that you will stay strong in him. 
The verse of blessing I picked for you is the one I challenged you to memorize.  And you did. It’s found in I Samuel 17:45-47 “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, The God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beast of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands.”
My charge to you is when the enemy comes at you remember these words you have learned. You will look that giant in the face and proclaim that the battle is the Lord’s. He is your deliverer.
Your name means the one who resembles God. We pray that will be true of your life today and always.
I love you Micah,


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

She Laughs

A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
    all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
    reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
    when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
    her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
    but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises!
~Proverbs 31, The Message

The Words of this passage have always been a bit frightening to the female race. If you read this blog and you are male, just know that we all wish we could wave magic wands and turn into this woman.

It's like the best qualities of every girl born to woman wrapped up in one person. It's who we all wish we could say we were all the time but perhaps know that it is not always the case. 
I, as a young naive bride used this passage in my vows... I said, " I want to be to you the virtuous woman spoken of in Proverbs". I meant it. 
I still do.
But I am not always what I wish I were. 
I have been thinking lately of this phrase "She always faces tomorrow with a smile". I must say in this world of trouble, smiles of tomorrow are often not on my lips.
Not in the sense of humor. I think I'm okay with humor and light-hearted banter. You can make me laugh at a story or joke faster than most people because I like a good time.
 The NIV version of this says... "She laughs at the days to come." 
This speaks to me of a confident woman looking into the future and trusting it will all be fine. You see I've lived long enough to know that sometimes it doesn't work out the way we plan. And in that process it is easy for us as people to hold back, to reserve the smiles, to remind ourselves  that it's dangerous to just plunge  into relationships or callings or careers, maybe even life in general, so we hold back in fear. We may try again but when we do, it will all be a very cautious tiptoe.
The picture of an uninhibited, fearless woman stands up and says, "I can be all God has called me to be. It will all work out in the end. I will stand boldly and walk in the dark places because I know someone greater than me walks with me. I will not fear the unknown. I will not fear what man can say about me or do to me".
She laughs
Not a "stick my head in the sand", or "Pie in the sky", kind of way. No, she is far from ignorant. Instead she looks at her giants and says, "I come against you ithe name of the Lord Almighty," ISam 17:45
 "I will look you squarely in the eyes and I will defeat you, fear".
No longer will they call me Fearful but Confident.
And she will laugh in the face of fear. 
Because her heart is set on what is unseen.
She is joyful even when the dust is stirred up around her causing her lungs to fill as she coughs. Her eyes sting and she can barely see the next step. Her mouth is dry and it's difficult to speak. Even then...
She laughs.
She is confident when dreams she had crumble around her.When she feels broken and let down. When her laughter turns to mourning....
She laughs when the pain threatens to choke her. When she feels isolated from the ones she once held close. 

Because she knows, this is not the end. 
It's only the beginning

Her life here is for a season and then she moves on. And it is here where she can find the courage to move forward. 
To see the light. To understand the fleetingness of this moment. 
It is here where she knows without a shadow of doubt that she can rest in someone greater than herself. 
And finally, she knows there is one who never left her. 
Indeed he has been with her through the dust storm and the broken dreams. She is secure in him.
She laughs.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mahlon and Dorothy... Two Of God's finest Saints

I want to tell you about 2 of my favorite people in all the world.

I am sad that I have only been friends with them for 2 years because they are so wise and wonderful I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet them years ago. They are the kind of people that we can call anytime. And I always highly value their counsel. They pray for us as if we were there own.

They have walked us through some deep waters. And they have carried closely our story.

We are separated by 40 years in age but much closer than that in Spirit. 

We met in Sunday School. We were new to this church and sat toward the back. They usually sat in the middle. As I would listen to their answers to questions and their prayers I knew without asking that they were Spirit filled.  I felt I must meet these kindred spirits So I introduced myself.  Through my life I have learned  that I grow greatly when I am with seasoned mentors who love God and People. 
They are the epitome of both.
I love to listen to their stories of how they have seen so many changed lives through their years of ministry. Graciousness pours from their lips. They teach how to respond to others. They have so much wisdom and experience.
I know they are not perfect...but they seem pretty close. I love the way they love each other and speak tenderly to each other, as though they know each day is sacred. It makes me want to weep.

I often wonder what life looked like on them when they were my age. Were they always like this Or did time make them like this? 

Because life has a way of shaping us. 
Each one of us is writing that story today. The choice I make with my life in this moment however great or small it seems at the time, will be my future story. 
When we come to forks in the road, we all make choices.
 If we choose to go right (even when the feelings aren't yet in sync with our actions)OR if we choose the left. We can choose to write a different kind of story that leads us down a road of brokenness and pain.

We know ultimately that if we surrender to him, God will turn our stories of brokenness into songs for his glory.  
I am thankful for that grace. 
But honestly,  I prefer not to go down the road of my own making of what feels good for today. 
It may feel good for a season but it always ends in destruction.

I know through their testimonies that they were not always so saintly. It's hard to imagine that now. But they were saved from a life of misery and rebellion. And when God changed their hearts they never looked back again.

These two friends of mine have demonstrated through their lives how a well fought battle of choosing the road less traveled looks at the end. 
I am so blessed to have met them on the path of life. 
I count them as one of God's richest blessings in this season of my life! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Piece of Art... It's a wonderful life

 I've been wanting to try this Pinterest idea for a long time.

And the past few weeks I finally did it.

I had heard you could get engineering prints from Staples for 1.39 for a decent size picture.

So I took my sd card in and asked if they could help me.

And this is what they gave me. I took the print and mod podged it onto a board cut to size.
I made a print for each of the kids. 

And this one that is displayed in my foyer.
I think it's a great way to display pictures without breaking the budget.
And my favorite art always includes people I love.

I am loving my first week of a our new summer schedule. Ball games keep us running every day.
We are enjoying having friends over to play.
Over Memorial Day we were in South Haven with some Friends...We didn't let the cold weather ruin our fun!!

 Jalen and Sophie enjoyed Activities Day. And they got to be on the same team!

We had a walk to raise awareness and funds for Cystic Fibrosis 
Here are Grandma and Grandpa on our mile walk.

It was a beautiful morning.
 Every picture with these boys looks like it's missing something. It is. You.
We miss you so much Benji. But we know you are healed and whole. 

Micah had his piano recital... Here he is with his wonderful teacher Kay

Sophie had her piano recital

Here she is with her  big sis who is also her teacher.
And that big sis started her new job as a hostess this week. She is now a working girl.
And we finally celebrated this  13 year old's birthday. I will blog about that later.

What a full month. 
My cup runneth over.