Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Image Reflected: Pilgrimage


I have often reflected on how we survived the first few days and every day since that horrible day Kiley died. This month has been never ending. Memories of her are everywhere and the dread of the middle of February seems to start building in even more intensity. I keep telling myself that if I can just get through the next few weeks, then spring, newness, and hopefully a deep breath will be right around the corner. With that said, my days of late are filled with tears ready to brim over at any moment.
I believe God when He says that His grace is sufficient. I used to think that maybe we received extra doses when tragedy struck, but now I think that grace just is. It is a constant and it is sufficient for whatever we are going through. I used to pray that He would give more grace, now I pray that I am able to live in the already present grace that is available to us. His power is displayed in our weakness. It just is.

With that said, I think we can grow in the revelation of that grace. Since God is unchanging, then His grace must remain constant as well. So, the only thing that can change is our perception of God’s grace. When 2 Peter 3:17-18 challenges us to grow in grace, it is challenging us to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the ever present grace of God.

If God’s grace is inexhaustible, then how do we access it? God is merciful and is always willing to bathe us in His grace, but he also requires that we be humble, submit to God, and draw near to the Father. As we do these things, we see the Father’s hand at work and can more readily use the grace that He so freely gives.

I have become more and more aware that we, as Christians, are on a pilgrimage. It seems to me that a lot of the journey seems to take place in the desert. We live in a fallen world, and I am not sure that this is a surprise. Psalm 84 paints a vivid picture of this pilgrimage. Verses 5-7 say, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”

Blessed are those that realize we are on a journey to our true destination. This home is not the one we were made for. Jesus is preparing something far better for us. If we can look forward to the hope of a new home, then Jesus says we are automatically “ashar” or happy and blessed.

The verses say that we are to “pass through” the valley of Baca (which means weeping.) We aren’t meant to stay in a place of despair, adversity and sorrow forever. With God’s grace, we are to pass through. God is our strength and with him as our stronghold and fortification, we can pass through that place and arrive at a place of springs and refreshment.

Verse 7 says that we are to go from “strength to strength” till we each appear before our beloved God. It basically means that we are to go from “capable to capable,” all the while increasing in victorious power as we walk in God’s grace through the difficult and dry seasons. As pilgrims, we know that seeing our Father’s face is our ultimate destination, so we allow God to turn our tears into living streams of water.

Trying to trust in our own understanding of circumstances will only bring death to our souls, so we accept the daily fresh anointing to keep on the narrow path, even when we don’t understand the rocky and deserted path that He has placed our feet upon.

Those who grow in grace shall be perfect in glory. Those that keep putting one foot in front of the other will see the face of Christ. Psalm 84:11 says that “no good thing will he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
Allow me to walk, Jesus. Over these next few weeks, just help me keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Just One Word

While taking the boys to school this morning, the radio offered an interesting idea. Here it is: in just ONE word, sum up what you would like to see God do in 2010. At first, I thought this would be tricky, and then I realized that most of my prayers seem to have a centralized theme, so maybe I could accomplish this radio task after all. Whew, what a relief.

Here is my word: New

*I need for God to write new lyrics and new chords on the pages of my heart as he ushers forth a new song for me to sing.

*My soul needs a new and fresh revelation of Jesus.

*Our family needs a new blessing of financial provision.

*I'd love to see a new earth where babies aren't orphaned after their parents are buried under mounds of rubble.

*My mind needs a new and creative way to bring glory to God...or for God to take an old thing and make it new in His way.

*New and freshly given joy.

I am reminded of Revelation 21:5: "He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new!"

{Amen! And let it be!}

If you had to choose just one word...something you would like to see God do in 2010...what word your word be? I will pray over that word with you and praise Him when He brings it to fruition in your life!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guest Writer Monday! Meet Anna!

Ready to meet our guest writer? Let me introduce you to Anna! She is wife to a youth pastor, mother to three boys, and friend to all she comes in contact with. I personally enjoy her good taste in salsa, laughter in the small things, and collection of home fragrances. I know you will be blessed by what she is sharing with us today! Be sure and leave her some comment love.


This picture bothers me. Do you want to know why? Because there is 'real' Softsoap on the inside. I know good and well what is on the inside because I refilled the dispenser. Yet, even though I know full well that the expensive, "better" stuff is on the inside, it still drives me crazy.

If you came to my house to wash your hands you would look at this and think the same thing. Equate soap. {then we'd probably have a conversation about the big semi-annual sale at Bath & Body Works and we'd try to figure out if we like the way Twilight Woods smells or not} Anyhoo, it is human nature. We see and we make judgements on what we see. This is something that happens in an instant and it happens everyday.

Sometimes the judgements we make in our minds about people leave us feeling discontented and dissatisfied with our own lives. That is because Satan, The Father of Lies, prowls around looking for those he can destroy. If he can make you discontent and unsatisfied then you are left feeling unworthy and probably more unproductive.

Have you ever stopped to think about what your impressions are about people? When you read her blog? When you see her Facebook status? When you see her out and about around town? When you see her with her family? When you see 'her' and you leave feeling bad about yourself for some reason let that be your red flag. The Father of Lies is making you feel bad about yourself. As a Child of God your guilt has been removed. You know you were not Redeemed from your former life to walk around with condemnation about yourself like that, don't you?!

Years ago I passed a family we know. It was one of those perfect Spring days where the sky is blue and the air smells good. The dad and son were sitting in the driveway, shooting the breeze on the back of their truck, living in a very well to do neighborhood. As we cruised by with the windows down, my first thought when I saw them was, "They are the perfect, All-American family. They have such a good life and they are so close with each other." I did not say it but what I felt when I passed them was that they have a better life than I do. You know what though? That is not true. It was a lie and that thought was not from God.

Last week I was waiting on the boys to get done with school. As I waited another mother and her son were in the room. I simply saw her play a game with her son and this is what went through my mind. "She is such a good mother. She actually knows how to play that game. And she is so smart. She always comes in here with a book." What I felt was she is a much more adequate mother than I could ever be. Can you believe that? In an instant lies about Who I Am raced through my mind.

Does God want us to feel incompetent in our lives? Does he want us to feel invaluable in our roles? Does he want us to get down on ourselves and compare our lives to our friends? We don't even have to answer that because we know good and well the answer to that is a big No.

Here is my question for you today. Are you listening to truth about yourself or are you believing lies? Your true worth lies in who God says you are.

Here's the bottom line. I don't want you walking through your day feeling like Brand X soap.

As you wheel through this day and week think about what plays across your mind. Those quick, fleeting thoughts about yourself and other people. Test them. Challenge your thoughts. Sometimes outwards appearances and looks can be deceiving. Sometimes things are not as they appear. Guard against the trap of comparing yourself. You are the real thing. You are chosen by the King. You are worthy. You are equipped to live out the roles God has called you to today.

The sick cowboy

We (2 lil boys and I) are skipping church today. The little man was up all night hacking. He caught his brother's cold. I just love it when my children share. Sam is a snorer. But, let me tell you, when he is sick, he is so loud, that I can hear him in my room. Who needs a sound machine or a fan for noise when your kid provides background noise?

I guess he was feeling rotten, because he crawled into bed with us. The kid practically sleeps on top of me when he is in our bed. I am one who likes my space, not a space heater. So, I got to hear the sound of sawing logs in my ear all. night. long.

This morning, I proceeded to place him in front of "Mr. Roger's neighborhood" which was on tv. I just loved that show. I have awesome memories of watching it at my Nana and Grandad's. But, Sam didn't share the same enthusiasm, and proceeded to go don his cowboy hat and pistol. He then kept shooting at me, which was his way of saying I better change the channel or it would be the death of me. Such a nice kid I have raised.

Well, Eli was his saving grace. (He is home because he said his ear was hurting in the middle of the night...and he crawled into bed with us, as well....) Eli managed to turn on a show about animals and all is well in boyland. (Funny to me that spellchecker says "boyland" isn't a word. I whole-heartedly disagree.)

I hate missing church, but occasionally it is nice to have a few hours that you never can expect to have on Sundays. If I am a good girl, I will exercise, read the Word, and cook an amazing lunch. (ha)

I have my first "senior" photo session today and am so excited that the sun is out!

Can you recommend to me your favorite book/author?
Thanks and have a nice day. :)
Oh, and I have a fab guest writer lined up for tomorrow!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dads and Donuts

Every year, the boys' school has a special morning just for Dads and their kids. I got to tag along because the class needed some pictures taken. It was fun to see the Dads interacting with their children. Lots of donuts were shared, along with special papers made for Dad. Sam got to join the fun!
Eli man and Daddy.
Cader and his Dad!

Cade started a journal in is fun to see what kind of things he writes about...usually something to do with sports!
This sheet is precious. I think I am going to forward the pic to our pastor...the last line says
"I'm grateful for my church because it's a very Godly church." very sweet Some winter themed artwork by the fact that he incorporated the Hogs and basketball!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some Color For Ya!

Every year at about this time, I start to get my hopes set on a landscape painted with color instead of shades of grey and brown. I tend to weep when my last bright red Japanese maple leaf falls off in November, knowing that is signals the end of vivid hues. I have to remind myself, that soon enough, gorgeous shades of yellow, red, pink, green, and blue will once again fill my eyes with delight.

So, here's to spring and summer!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On Matters of Life and Death...

A very dear friend to Eric's parents lost her battle to cancer today. My heart just wants to be still before God in this moment. I remember losing Kiley and being so frustrated that the world didn't stop to grieve with us. It just went on as if our hearts hadn't been shattered into a million pieces. And so, I stop for a while and in the recesses of my heart, reflect on a woman of God and the ones that have been thrown into such heartache.

My heart is heavy and I think I can better understand spiritually why death puts such a burden upon my soul. Upon all our souls.

In Bible study (John 11), I was confronted with the question of why Jesus was deeply moved when his friend Lazarus had died. I had always assumed it meant that he was filled with grief for the loss of his friend. On deeper study, I learned that the Greek word for "deeply moved" is "embrimaomai" which means "angry in spirit" .

Jesus was angry? We see that he is deeply moved right after he witnesses Mary weeping. (The Greek word for weeping here conveys that she is wailing loudly.) So, what is it, exactly, that makes him so mad? I think it is death. Plain and simple. Jesus hates death and it makes him agitated and angry to see his loved ones suffer the consequences of the grief that death brings about.

As creator, He simply didn't invent death. Sin brought it about. It was never in His plan. His story has always been about life. Abundant life. Seeing how death has marred his plans, well, it makes him angry. The Greek connotation is that it makes him as angry as a snorting a horse.

I think it is personally interesting that in verse 35 where we learn that Jesus weeps, it isn't the same kind of weeping that Mary was doing. He isn't wailing loudly as if all hope were lost. After all, He is hope. He is resurrection and life.

For whatever reason, it gives me a peace inside to know that Jesus gets riled up over this thing called death. He gets mad about it, people! When he sees what death does to those left behind, he goes around snorting like an angry horse. And, for some reason, that is comforting to me.

It does my heart good that He just isn't up in Heaven saying that everything will be OK, whispering sweet nothings into our ear. He feels what we feel! He is mad about death! We know Christ's heart is to do away with death, as he did with Lazarus. His whole redemption plan was to do away with death! And praise God, he came to earth to set us free from spiritual death if we trust him to do so.

John 11:26 says "And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?" In a sense, if we have received Christ's life, then how can Christ's life stop living? It continues, but in a different location. Our souls truly never taste death.

"One day soon you will hear that I am dead. Do not believe it. I will then be alive as never before." Dwight Moody

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

I found a fun NordicWare pan on sale at Target and decided it would be a great addition to our household. After all, this is Jurassic Park I live in. We used it the first time as a cupcake mold and it was fun to decorate the little guys.
Then, we tried it as a muffin tin and it worked perfectly! Berry muffins, eggs, and a banana: Now we are ready to roar! (If dinos roar, that is.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guest Writer Monday! Introducing Savannah!

Let me introduce you to Savannah! We met in a parenting class and I instantly fell in love with her spunk, no-nonsense-tell-you-like-it-is-with-grace-style, and her creative mind. We both love photography and I remember being with her at a table full of others where they were encouraging me to go ahead and dive into that big unknown world of photography. Savannah is a great Mommy to three and is amazing at teaching her kids how to play very creatively. I hope you enjoy what she has to share with us today...leave her some comment love!

Wow! Look at me, guest blogging! Which, is apparently the only way I blog anymore, since I’m terrible at keeping my own page up. I was so thrilled when Becke’ asked to write a post for her blog. Her only request was that I write “anything that points to the glory of God.” I figured I could do that, only if I surrendered my fingers to deliver words that He has written on my heart.
There is an old cliché that says, “Write what you know.” If there is one thing in this life I know, it’s babies. I’ve been a parent now for 68 months. I stared my journey to parenthood early and haven’t slowed down yet. I had my first child at age 20, my second at 22, and my third at 25. Cumulatively, I’ve been a parent for 122 months!

When I was pregnant with my first, my son, I devoured every bit of information I could on pregnancy, infancy, motherhood, and toddlerhood. I was not scared (though looking back now, I should have been. I can only assume God had laid some grace-laced blindfold over my eyes, or I would have been doubled over in panic the entire time), but I wanted knowledge. I wanted to know exactly how my favorite little fetus was developing each week. (It’s the size of a pea! A grape! An orange! A WATERMELON!) I wanted to know what to expect during labor and delivery. I wanted to know how much a newborn sleeps, how often it would eat, and what to do with it in the meantime. I wanted to know when to expect the first tooth, when he would learn to walk, and when he would express to me how grateful he was for the endless hours I put in wiping poop, snot, and tears from his body, and for continuously providing him with love, hugs, and decent food. So far, we’re two-for-three.

I wanted to learn. I spent hours on those internets, I bought at least 16 books about pregnancy and the aforementioned –hoods. I questioned every woman who’d ever mothered me. I eyed pregnant ladies in Wal-Mart to see if their ankles were smaller than mine (“They better not be!”). I voluntarily watched –oh the horror!– birth videos.

And then my son arrived. And then I learned to sleep in two-minute increments. And then I knew the heart-crushing agony of slicing off a little bit of his skin when trying to cut his fingernails. And then I knew I’d never love any living thing nearly as much as I loved him. There was just no way. My heart was filled to the brim with adoration of this tiny little sweet-smelling creature. How could I even consider sharing my time/energy/attention/kisses with anyone else? But then we got pregnant again. When my son was 27 months old, we had a daughter. Our family was complete. My heart grew exponentially. The places I thought my husband and son occupied had suddenly expanded to include this small, angry, perfect little girl. We thought we were through, but when our chubby princess was 28 months old, I gave birth to Daughter #2. I was certain my heart would rip in half. But it didn’t. I had room enough for one grown man and three small children. I was stunned!

When my husband and I got married, we searched for two years for a church home. We came from different theological and doctrinal backgrounds; it was hard for us to find a place to belong. Eventually we did find a place. We got “plugged in.” Again, I did some diving in. My husband and I found a small group. I participated in the Women’s Ministry. I took Bible studies. I was hungry for knowledge of the Lord.

And now, to this very hour, I am learning. I am amazed at the similarities of my role as mother, and His role as heavenly Father. I hurt when my kids hurt. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” When I chastise my children for their disobedience and encourage them to do right, I am reminded what the Lord said to Cain in Genesis 4:6; "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?"

But also, I am learning how very childlike I am in the Lord’s eyes. I am weak, I am helpless, I am confused, and I get lonely. (One glimpse would display a newborn.) I am hardheaded, I am stubborn, and I want my way to be the right way. (Doesn’t that sound like every three year old on the planet?) I am shameful, I try to hide my sins, and I am easily irritated. (Hello, school-age kids!)

Each time I discipline my kids, they are repentant. Each time I come to my Father in prayer, I ask His forgiveness. At the end of every punishment, I remind my children how much I love them, and that nothing they do can change that. I am, in turn, told that, “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

There is room in the Father’s heart for all of His children! He has infinite patience with us! He promises forgiveness, if we’ll only ask! He is a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15) It is impossible for me to quantify the enormity of my love for my babies. How much more then, does my Creator love me? What would I not do to save my children from harm? What did Christ do to save me?

Each week, my kids learn a new verse from Scripture. One of the first verses they learned is one of the most commonly quoted, and best known passages in the bible. It embodies the Truth perfectly, and bears repeating here: John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

I make precious few promises to make to my children, because I know how fragile life is, and how easily unexpected circumstances arise. But in the Lord, through Christ, we are given a promise, one that can never be reneged, and one that is not dependent on any circumstance. We are given an eternal promise of salvation. That, my friends, is glorious.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Sad Friday

It is so sad around here. I got a call from the school at 10:30 saying Cade was throwing up. Sam and I go pick him up, only to find him all alone in the boy's bathroom, throwing up. It is sad to throw up all by yourself. And by the way, boy bathrooms smell really bad.

So, we grabbed a sack and ushered him to the door where he could throw up in the car as we sped him home to the pearly throne. And now, he is asleep by that throne on his comfy pallet.
And our bathroom doesn't smell.

The really sad thing is this: Eli was going to have his very first sleepover birthday party tonight with 3 friends coming. He doesn't know it yet, but the cancellation of his party is going to make him very sad indeed!

And here is something else sad! Eric's computer got hacked into by some major virus...escaped all the antivirus stuff and everything. The cost of fixing that is sad, too.

But, the sun is shining and it does feel almost warm out there today. That makes me happy. What makes you happy today?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Eli!

How can it be that my Eli is 7 today? God seemed to give Eli an extra dose of a lot of things: laughter, compassion, joy, competitiveness, and birth weight. Coming into the world at 10 pounds 5 ounces, Elijah was full of surprises. He continued to surprise us with his laid back character and easy going attitude. He has been nothing but pure blessing to Eric and I.

I needed some rest after that delivery.
The above: 9 days. I bet you had a 3 month old that size.
The below: 4 months and such a good baby
Eli has inspired his brothers with creative ways of playing. Why not be an astronaut, cowboy, and ninja, all at the same time, while in your pajamas?
You tend to melt the hearts of all you come in contact with.

I am just blessed that you call me Mom.
Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Holy Jeans

Our conversation thus far this morning:
Sam: Uh, Mom, What are these?
Me: Holes in my jeans
Me: That's how we roll around here; we like holy jeans
Sam: I think we need to go to the doctor and check out what these are

This next picture is for Amelia. It is a bribe, pure and simple. Come see me, sista, and I will make you a whole pan. XOXO

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unbelief in the Face of Mercy

Somewhere along the way, I fell head over heels in love with the Old Testament. It is rich in story and points to a Savior that would one day make everything right. So call me crazy to think that 2nd Kings is a fascinating read, but really, it just oozes with goodness.

The Israelites, God's chosen people were wishy washy in their faith. At one moment, they were praising the One True God, and the next they were setting up false images and idols to adore. When we get to chapter 7, we see that God is fed up with their adulterous hearts and allows an enemy to take their city siege.

The famine got bad. Imagine not being able to leave your city gates because you know doom is right outside of the walls. Imagine the hopeless feeling of not being able to give your kids a piece of bread as they tug on your leg and beg with all that is in them. Imagine striking up a deal with someone else where you eat your son today and her son the next day. That is how bad things got.

God is a God of discipline (hence the siege) but He is also a God who is rich in mercy. I think He just couldn't stand it anymore, you know? When His children start eating the children He blessed them with, things have just gone way too far.

So, he instructs his prophet at the time, Elisha, to tell the King that "About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria." Now, if you are thinking what I am thinking, then you are wondering what on earth a seah or a shekel amount to. Truth is, I am not sure. But, we do know that in the famine, the head of a donkey was selling for 80 shekels, which is about fourscore pieces of silver.

Can you imagine trying to get meat from the head of a donkey? Flour and barley weren't available at any cost. Things were bad.

As Elisha was telling the prophecy, the King's officer (on whom the King was leaning) said, "Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?"

It took me a bit of study to understand why he would respond with "opening the floodgates of heavens." I can be a bit slow like that. Well, duh, it is because they were under siege and the officer thought the only possible solution would be for God to rain it down upon their city. That is if that could happen.

I want this drilled into my head so I never forget it: God is serious about unbelief. Elisha immediately replied to the officer that he would see it come to fruition, but not eat any of it. Spurgeon says, "unbelief in the face of unusual mercy becomes doubly provoking."

Remember the enemy that was encamped around the city walls? God made them hear the noises of a great army. Panicked at the thought of being attacked, they fled their camp and left everything behind.

Who found the plunder? Four men with leprosy who decided to surrender themselves to the enemy because of their starvation. I bet they were surprised to find unimaginable wealth and food at their immediate disposal. After finally agreeing to share this good news with the king, we see the king put his officer in charge of the city gate.

Can you imagine receiving such good news in such dire times? I imagine the response created a mob-like atmosphere as everyone rushed out of the city in order to lay hold of the food and wealth. The unbelieving officer in charge of the city gate was trampled in the gateway and he did not partake of the Lord's blessing.

C. H. Spurgeon said, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity of making his own power to be glorious: his time to appear for his people is when their strength is gone. Unbelief is a sin by which men greatly dishonour and displease God and deprive themselves of the favours he designed for them."

When I first started studying this story a few months ago, I had to dig deep and ask myself if I really believed that within the span of only 24 hours, God could totally turn a dire situation into one of abundance. Could He really reverse something so big like that in such little time? Would He do it in my life? So, my prayer became something like this: "Lord, you are the giver of all good things. Whatever you have for us today, we receive it in faith. We believe that you can completely reverse our situation in only 24 hours if you choose to do so."

I got the below from, which I later realized was a summation of Spurgeon's sermon on 2nd Kings entitled, "Beware of Unbelief."

1. Unbelief dares to question the truthfulness of God's promise itself
2. Unbelief says this is a new thing and cannot be true
3. Unbelief says this is a sudden thing and cannot be true
4. Unbelief says there is no way to accomplish this thing
5. Unbelief says there is only one way God can work
6. Unbelief says even if God does something, it won't be enough

Whoa. I read those and apply them to whatever situation I am struggling with and am knocked over with the fact that I struggle with unbelief, even if I didn't think I struggled with it.

I am reminded of Martha who questioned Jesus as he asked them to roll away the stone so that he might bring Lazarus back to life. "But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." Her excuse of unbelief was a very practical one.

I am reminded of Zechariah, who was promised a son by the angel Gabriel. Being quite advanced in years, he replies, "Do you expect me to believe this? I'm an old man and my wife is an old woman." His excuse of unbelief was a very practical one.

My question to myself and to you is this: Are our practical excuses getting in the way of seeing God's glory and taking hold of the blessings that he has for us? Do we think that God can only work in one way that fits in our little box and if He doesn't work in that one way, then He won't work at all?

Do we want to see His glory? Do we trust Him enough to let Him do things His way? Do we believe?

"May divine love deliver our souls from this net of unbelief, which so easily entangles us."
(C. H. Spurgeon)

What are your thoughts?

The Alpha Male

I finally captured on camera what seems to be a nightly occurrence around here. I am sitting all comfy in my big chair and Eric sits down at the computer and we start to talk. Savannah, our 70 pound lap dog, decides that the alpha male is doling out some love and wants her share. So, she proceeds to climb into his lap, all the while going crazy with affection. It is the wildest thing! It only seems to happen when we are close to one another and talking. SHE GOES NUTS!

I just don't get it. I feed her. I give her water. I take her to the vet. I give her treats. And, yet she is so in love with Eric, it just cracks me up!

This dog thinks she is in heaven.
On a side note, I think I found my new running buddy. He has blonde hair, big blue eyes and is cute as can be. He is about half my height! His name is Sam and he is a motor! We went to an indoor walking/running track this morning and had a blast. It was my first time to turn his loose and it made me kind of nervous, because the place was packed. (It is still January and people are still doing good with their resolutions!)
Once I told him which lane to stay in, he did great. The boy ran for probably 15 minutes, which meant I ran for that long to make sure he stayed out of everyone's way. He is the best trainer ever! And I am betting that my new running buddy is going to take an excellent nap today!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Guest Writer Monday!! Introducing Kelli

Let me introduce you to Kelli. She is my sister in law by marriage, friend by heart, and mother to my only niece. She can sing whatever you put in front of her, write whatever needs written, and impersonate anything in the world. God has gifted her greatly and she is going to share her gift of writing with us today. I hope you are all blessed by her words and for goodness sakes, leave the gal some comment love! Happy Monday!

Knock My Socks Off, God

I confess that I’m entering 2010 in a bit of a dry spell spiritually. It’s nothing dire or desperate – I merely feel tired, fatigued even, and I am in desperate need of refreshment deep within my soul. It’s something that I let happen. I chose to ignore the spiritual thirst that grew by almost epic proportions the last few months of 2009. It was a plateau that I knew I was on, but I allowed laziness and business and life to pull me ever farther down the path.

And so I find myself now seeking God with a new fervor. I’m longing to be in His presence; to feel Him near me. And not in a givemewhatIwantGod sort of way. It’s more of a feeling that I just need to know He’s there. I need to sit still and just breathe deep.

I am not good at sitting still. Seriously – unless I’m lying on a sandy beach with the hot sun pelting down on me, I rarely ever stop long enough to be still.

That’s just further confirmation in my mind that we need to relocate to Florida – God’s country. Just sayin’…

Anyway, these last few days I’ve found myself timidly approaching the throne and begging God to show Himself to me. I even uttered the words, “Knock my socks off, God,” the other day. I did so with great reverence and trepidation.

Do you guys ever do that? Do you pray for God to move in your life, then open one eye and look around anxiously? No? I’m the only one? Oh…huh…

It’s silly, really. But I sometimes fear that by asking God to show Himself to me means that something bad is going to happen and I will have to learn to lean on God in a way that I’ve never had to before. It’s why I get scared to pray boldly. Because really, what I’m hoping deep down when I pray, “Knock my socks off, God,” is that He’ll do so by raining down mighty blessings from heaven.

As if He hasn’t already done that in my life. (eyeroll)

But, you know, I want the good. I don’t want any bad. I don’t want any pain. I don’t want heartache. And I fear that somehow my bold prayer means I’m going to have to endure hardship.

It’s such a selfish way to pray. When I read over the words I’ve just written, I’m reminded of Job talking to his grieving wife. A woman who had just buried every one of her children. A woman who was in the pit of heartache and despair – whose hands were still caked with the mud and grime of her children’s graves.

When, in her grief, she lashed out at her husband who was also deep in the valley or grief and was now covered in painful boils and sores inflicted upon his body in yet a second test. And despite his heartache and pain, Job was able to see clearly and speak wisdom to his wife.

“Should we accept the good from God and not trouble?” Job 2:10

What I’m really doing when I allow such fear to taint my prayers is telling God that my trust in Him has boundaries. I want to see you move, God, but only do so in the good. Don’t bring about any bad because I don’t trust you enough to reveal yourself to me in the valley.

In addition to revealing my complete lack of trust, I’m also showing my immaturity in the fact that I’ve put God into such a box as to believe that He is waiting for this cosmic moment when I tell Him I’ll trust Him just so He can pour out heartache. As if God only moves in the hard times.

It’s selfish and immature. And I publicly confess that.

And so I’m making a concerted effort to pray boldly and without fear, “Knock my socks off this year, God.” And I’m training my mind not to pray that prayer with any preconceived notions of how He might do that. Perhaps He will simply open my eyes to sin that needs to be dealt with. Perhaps He will restore relationships that need to be restored. Perhaps He will give me the strength to endure a hardship or the grace and humility to accept blessing.

Or maybe, just maybe, I will experience a renewed passion and thirst for Him that no one but He and I see in the stillness of our moments together.

That would be a beautiful, glorious thing yes?

So I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to pray boldly for the Lord to reveal Himself to you this year. And do so without assuming that you know how He will answer this prayer. May it be refreshing to let go of those preconceived ideas of who God is and how He works.

Knock our socks off, God.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An Image Reflected

"You'll be called Hephzibah (My Delight)..."
(from Isaiah 62:4)

*Hephzibah means "my delight is in her"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Upward Game Day

Let the games begin! I have to say that out of all the sports, watching my boys play basketball is my favorite. It doesn't have the ambiance of baseball games played on warm summer nights complete with snow cones, but as far as the actual sport goes, I just love me some kid basketball!

This is Eli's very first year and he came out with a roaring passion! The kid has some drive and is quite competitive. We just need to get him to have better control of the ball and stop fouling so much. He had a great first game, though. Cade had a game this morning as well and scored 26 points. I unfortunately had to miss it because I had already scheduled a one year old baby girl photo shoot. (I sometimes wish I could be two places at the same time!) You can see her here!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Photo Tip

This is my new favorite wall in my house! Isn't it just WONDERFUL? Well, OK, you may not be as smitten with my kids as I am, and that is OK. I just have to confess something: these prints are the first individual kid prints that I have ever had in anything bigger than an 8x10. AND. I. LOVE. THEM. Why on earth did it take me so long to figure out that "bigger is better" when it comes to print sizes? These are 11x14s.
I read something recently (by a pro fotog) that said you should never hang anything smaller than an 11x14 on your wall and I think she is on to something! So, here is my photo tip for you guys: GO BIG! Whether it is a picture you took or you are using a professional, make yourself go no smaller than an 11x14 for your fave shot. I think you will love the results!
And, I do apologize for my (incessantly) messy desk. I just wanted ya'll to feel right at home.