Thursday, November 27, 2008

50 Things I Am Thankful For Today

1. God's grace and salvation
2. Ben
3. Bailey
4. Darby'
5. Kally
6. Rainey
7. Rawley
8. Friends
9. Family
10. our house
11. Bible study
12. Being at our friends' house for Thanksgiving
13. Safe travel
14. Darby is better
15. Rainey can read
16. Fun trip up to Little Rock
17. All the help we have received from friends
18. Amy Childs being so encouraging
19. Lisa Alsop being so caring
20. The love of so many people
21. Our old SS class
22. God's provision in so many ways
23. Shopping the day after Thanksgiving
24. Our health
25. Stephen's RV
26. Generosity of others
27. Bailey growing into such a beautiful woman
28. Darby helping Kally with Bible study
29. Rawley being so entertaining
30. So much food daily
31. How much Ben loves me
32. How much Ben loves the kids'
33. How kind Ben is to my family
34. How much my Daddy loves me
35. The great friendship of my mom
36. Older women in my life who mentor me
37. Younger women in my life who challenge me to be closer to Christ
38. Laughter
39. Dates with Ben
40. Ice Cream Nights!
41. Being fulltime missionaries
42. Janie Cole's love and acceptance
43. Karen Fergason's challenging me to be better
44. Being American
45. Being able to travel in my life
46. Seeing friends' children maturing
47. Extended family who believe in Christ
48. Seeing people live out their faith
49. Seeing spiritual growth in myself over the year
50. The political ads are over

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As I sit and type, we are in Little Rock visiting our dear friends and taking life easy. What a gift to us! My boys are playing the game of LIFE with Nick, Ben is listening to Christmas songs downloaded free from (free for the next 48 hours only!), Bailey is visiting a friend and probably at Starbucks. Darby and Kally are playing, and I am loving the whole thing!

God is so great to allow us this time of refreshment. This Thanksgiving I am so grateful for the way He cares about our littlest concerns!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Headed Out of Town!

We are packing as we speak to head to Little Rock for Thanksgiving! We always underestimate the time it takes to get seven people packed for a trip...why do we do that? You'd think we'd have it down to a science by now....but, noooo!

We will inevitably forget something-hopefully not something really big like Darby's diabetes supplies, but maybe something easy like a toothbrush or socks.

The two oldest girls both have ear infections with ruptured eardrums, so medicine is coming with us and we are leaving bright and early...about 5am! We are thrilled to be heading up to see friends once again.

Hopefully we will see some of you while we are there. We love you dearly and miss all of you so much. Your smiling faces and warm embraces will be a welcomed respite from life here. So, until tomorrow, may God reveal Himself to you so very clearly!

Story of the Lost Sheep

I had the scare of my life the other night.

Bailey was at a retreat for church and she was going to come home on Saturday night to be able to be at work on Sunday morning. At about 3:45am I woke up and looked out the window and didn't see her car! Where was she? I went downstairs, cried, prayed, tried to get her on the cell phone...She wasn't answering...again, where was she?

For several hours, I was praying, crying out to God. What I found myself not doing was bargaining with God. I was pleading, but He seemed to place a bit of a peace in me at the same time. Not a peace that said she is ok and will come home safely, but a peace that said, whatever happens she will be ok...I (God), will take care of her one way or the other.

About 6:30, I finally felt like I could wake some people up to help me in my search for Bailey. Ben and I called several people from church to get cell phone numbers for others attending the retreat. Within several minutes, we heard back that Bailey was safe and sound. She had decided to stay at camp and not risk driving home late at night. The cell phone service was spotty, hence, no phone call telling us.

Relief, joy, overwhelming amount of gratitude set in! It happened, this time, that the peace that God provided me was just the peace that I wanted to have. What I realized, though, was that as hard as it would be, I was ok with whatever God allowed knowing that He was watching the whole situation and would turn all things for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Ben, Bailey, and I certainly all fit in that category!

Praise God, our lost sheep had come home! She was restored with our other sheep and we have one more thing for which to praise God this Thanksgiving week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Once again, Rawley has come up with something only a two year old could say with a straight face.

He was on the couch and I was changing his diaper. He has been very congested lately, so as any good mother would do, I leaned over and got what he lovingly refers to a "guckers" out of his nose. Being so very proud that he made something, he insists on seeing what I pulled out of his nose and then says, quite loudly, "You may NOT eat that guckers, Mom!"

So that's it...I have been told! (Was there REALLY a question?)
Q: What's better than having your child having read his first book all by himself?
A: Knowing that you taught him to read that book!

Our Rainey, age 5, just sat down on my lap yesterday and read his first book! He didn't even need to sound out any of the words...he just knew how to read them! It's amazing to know that I taught him how to do that. To think that I helped his world open up and that he is beginning the process of being a life-long learner...astounding!

Q: Why would I want to give that privilege to someone else?
A: I don't know...I wouldn't!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Funny

Rainey is sitting on my lap and we are watching Rawley running all over the house...I do mean, literally, all over the house! (In my head I call Rawley, Dennis, as in Menace.) So Rainey says, "Mom, do you see Rawley running all over?" and I say, "Yes, I do." Rainey says, "God sure made him crazy, didn't he Mom?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ben and I spent the weekend representing Military Ministry at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference. We met many military couples, gave them lots of gifts, heard their stories, and tried to honor them and give them the best weekend possible.

There is a saying that we are a military at war and a nation at peace.

We found that to be true as we held a special session for the military couples and spoke on PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One soldier spoke on how he has served a total of 26 months in Iraq. He has a wife and two daughters. He talked about how on the transition home, he was in Iraq with a weapon one day, in Kuwait with the weapon taken away the next day, the home with his family the next day. There was little training in the transition from being in a war zone with a weapon, looking all around you, being on high alert, to being home driving his family to go out to eat.

It was difficult for him to be in large crowds. It was hard for him to drive the car without always trying to find the enemy. He didn't like loud noises.

We, here at home, hear on the news that we are at war, but don't really see the ramifications of it. We are a nation at peace.

But our troops are at war. They are having a difficult time adjusting to being back "at peace". They, and their families, have a new normal and it is hard to get used to it.

Ben goes out to a local military hospital to visit with the chaplains there and there he sees more of the results of war...burned victims, missing limbs, bandages, and wheelchairs, etc.

It was sobering to hear the stories and an honor to be able to listen to them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Funny Of The Day!

Rawley, who still sucks his thumb, was sitting on my lap. He had his "ent" (his understuffed, almost flat elephant) and his right thumb in his mouth. I asked him if I could have it to suck on and he said, "NO!" So I asked if he liked his other thumb and he said, "no". So, I asked if I could have that one and he said firmly, "NO!" Then he turned around and looked at me and said with his thumb still in his mouth, " Suck your own thumb!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Picture this: my family is seated in the living room, not seated really...but lounging, lying down, slouched, you get the idea. I began reading what we are reading as a family right now: The Tale of Desperaux. I am reading and they are all listening. It's one of those Dickens-type moments.

The story ends for tonight and everyone hangs around for a bit. This is where the "funny" happens. Two kids are playing the Nintendo DS and another one is playing a game on my cell phone. Another one is watching a dvd in close by. I am watching these kids with so much technology at their fingertips and then it happens! One child says, "Hey! Why did the chicken cross the road?"

The answers go something like this, while still playing the tech toys, never looking up!:

"Because his friend was over there!" "No, that's not why."
"Because he is goofy!" "No, that's not why."
"So why did the chicken cross the road, then?"
"Do you really want to know why the chicken crossed the road?"
"To get to the other side!"

Complete hysterics break out! Laughing, smiling, groans...! Funny that with all that modern day stuff in their hands, and they still got the biggest kick out of the chicken joke.

I'm resting easy that I know now that they still like the simple things!
As I was looking back at a few of my much earlier posts, I realized that I was in a difficult spot having just moved here, wanting to move here, but wanting to stay back in Little Rock also! I was torn in two. I have felt that since the move, but last night I realized that I am becoming more and more entrenched here! How did God sneak up on me like that?

I tend to believe that if my life is not working in some sort of three-ring circus type atmosphere, then what's the point in living? I love getting involved, being part of things, and feeling like I am much as any left-handed, scatterbrained person can contribute anyway.

So, I now realize that the moment we got here, God has been getting me involved and filling this need of mine...sneaky, sneaky...

I was asked to join a Bible study even before we actually moved and it started within days of our arrival...about 18 women, some I had known and others new (I suppose that was God's sneaky way of beginning to provide friends for me .... hmmm...).

Then our homeschool co-op started and there were more people to meet, begin to grow to love, and laugh with. Friends for my kids, and support for me.

Church...we found one! Many of the same people from Bible study and co-op and spiritual food as well.

Then came the two things that really made me realize that I was getting deeper and deeper...Ben and I were asked to teach a Sunday school class similar to what we did back in Little Rock-young married couples..we love that! Then I received an email asking me to consider being the co-director of the co-op next semester. So, of course, I said yes! It feeds directly into my need to be needed, and maybe wield a bit of power at the same time! (OK...I don't know where that power thing came from, maybe a freudian slip?)

Back to last night...I was at a meeting for the co-op and the director and I were there along with several other women. (there are 75 families involved in this co-op) At one point I looked around the room and BAM! it hit me...God has been answering my prayers all along!

He sure is good at this shock and awe attack of the blessings!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Who Are You Sucking Down With You?

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? Does it ever baffle you as to what God allows in our lives?

These are the questions that I ponder normally and lately even more so. I am burdened for people I know, pondering the effects and devastation of sin in our lives, and, in some cases, encouraged to see friends run to Christ as their only hope.

I don't know why lately God has allowed four situations to occur. "Why?" has been on my lips a lot recently, yet knowing that, as God told Job, I was not there at the foundation of the world. Who am I?

Two of the situations involve our personal sinful natures. Ben and I have told our kids forever that we don't sin in a vacuum and these two things have been the epitome of that very concept! People have been hurt, relationships broken, trust gone, love lost. I am so sad for all the people involved...the sinners and the ones sucked into it, the innocents.

The other two situations involve more of the innocents and the results of larger, corporate decisions, which also happen to be sinful. The effects of these decisions are so devastating to so many! The fall out is enormous! The ripples left behind when the "stone" was thrown have yet to settle.

I know we live in a sinful world, but I am blissfully unaware of so many things that happen in day-to-day life. I say "blissfully" in the most wonderful definition of the word. There is a joy in not seeing such ramifications often! God is really showing me, once again, the lesson about sinning. We don't sin in a vacuum, and we always suck innocent people in with us. How sad that is.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Gap Theory

I have recently been asked how Ben and I raise our kids so that they turn out the way they have, so far...fingers crossed, actually every part of my body is crossed...

So I have been pondering what we do and don't do that leads to the results we have gotten.

I could wax poetic about how much we love our kids...all true. :)
I could go on and on about how we listen intently to our kids and all they have to say to us...not always so true. :(
I could say it is all in the wrist..the discipline "wrist" I mean...partially true.
I could tell you it is in our total consistency 100% of the time...not even close to true.

So I guess I need to tell you it's all about God and how He has grace, mercy, and favor on us. How He has given us the raw materials for five awesome people.
How He has filled in each of our gaps (is anyone hearing Rocky talk about how "I have gaps and she has gaps and we fill each other's gaps"?).
How His love for us has extended down even to helping us raise our children even when we "miss" more than we "hit" in that "hit-and-miss" theory.

I must say, though, that we do our best and then that philosophical Rocky comes into play again with that ever-needed gap theory to fill our many shortfalls! And at the end of the day, I have to admit that we do have five of the best kids ever! Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Oasis in a Dry and Weary Land

The move here has been really pretty good. We have gotten settled quickly, made some new friends, and rekindled old friendships. We have found a church and get to see my family most every day. Though all these things have has still been like being in a dry and weary land. It is exhausting to make new friendships. It is tiring to be the "new" person. It can be lonely to be in a room full of people who don't know you, but seem to know each other.

God provided just the right oasis for me the past few days. He allowed two of our girls and me to go back to Little Rock for a couple of days. I felt it the moment we walked off of the plane! The air was calling to me, so it seemed. The breeze blowing by me whispered in my ear to relax and let go. The leaves on the trees were in full blaze color just for my arrival! How awesome was that?

Then my friend drove up to pick us up. I knew right away that this was going to be a fabulous trip! The hug I received was one of total acceptance even though she knows me better than almost anyone. The advise from the breeze was sinking in.

Church was terrific also! What a joy to see women who have touched my life in some of the most meaningful ways. What a pleasure to hold their newly born babies knowing that Jesus was being spoken to them everyday.

I think I smiled the whole time, especially while sharing meals with good friends, sharing our lives, the ups and the downs and encouraging each other along the way.

So while I was being driven to the airport to come back, I bid farewell to the breeze and the trees, and then I really had to say goodbye to friends.

I came back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated...ready to begin life again in the desert. I know that this desert will soon bloom into its full beauty. But for now, I am satisfied that I know where the oasis is and I think if I am really still, I can hear the breeze calling me back.