Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pondering Passages

Hebrews 12:1-3

This was another familiar passage of scripture.  I've probably read it 100 any good church girl.  However....I've certainly never pondered it.  If you asked me a week ago what it meant I would say it meant lots of Christian saints have gone before us and set an example for us to follow and we need to follow them focusing on Jesus and it will be worth it....or something like that.  And while I don't think that would be a wrong interpretation of the passage I also don't think I would have gotten nearly the depth of the passage that I did by simply camping out in the passage and asking questions, seeking answers, and praying through it.

So the first thing to catch my attention was the
Pastor has trained me to ask every time I see a therefore..."what is it there for?"  So the chapter before is the famous "Hall of Faith" passage.  It is talking about the power of faith and what the Lord could use ordinary people to do by simply having faith in him.  I think the people mentioned in chapter 11 AND the other saints that have gone before us along with Jesus and God.....make up "the great cloud of witnesses".  It's like our life is being witnessed.  What we do does matter.  I can almost hear them cheering us on.  Encouraging us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles...."

Did I just say EVERYTHING that hinders?  Would that include facebook? How about TV, or reading novels, or blogging?  YIKES!!!  I think it could.  It could include lots of good, fine things.  It DOES NOT say to just throw off SIN.  OBVIOUSLY we need to throw off sin, but what else hinders me from living this life of faith?
MAKES ME THINK......I'm not just supposed to NOT sin...I need to actively THROW off EVERYTHING that hinders me in the race.

"and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us"
There is a race marked out for ME.  A path for my life.  And I don't just need to figure out what it is and start it....I need to persevere.  That is the hard part for me.  I've heard perseverance described as "a long obedience in the same direction".  If I am being honest....I must admit.....sometimes I get bored with my life.  I mean it goes: wake up, breakfast for 7, pack Randy's lunch, clean, school, Lunch for 6, clean, veg out, more school, more clean, maybe play with kids, cook dinner for 7, get the picture.  However I need to persevere.  I lose heart.  I lose focus.  I forget my purpose.  My life is actually MUCH more then the list above although very often it seems like it is not:.  The truth is I am training disciples.  I hope that they will ROCK their little corners of the world one day and make a difference for while yes the chores and duties are definitely mundane and boring.....the BIG picture and the "race marked out for me" is REALLY not mundane.  It is not at all boring.  Eternity is at stake.  My job is to PERSEVERE.  Keep on keeping on.  I don't want to just start down the right path....I want to FINISH STRONG!

"fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him....ENDURED THE CROSS"
Everything seems so much more trivial and manageable when I fix my eyes on Jesus and what he endured.  I just have to endure until bedtime!  :)
He endured being falsely accused, the shame attached to death on a cross, the pain, being scorned, being abused, being spit on.
"Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
How can I possibly lose heart?  He truly poured out his life.  He poured it so fully and so freely and how often do I pause and "consider him?"  What an encouragement it is in the dailiness of life to fix my eyes on Jesus. 
It really is all about Jesus!
ALL about HIM.

Keep Pondering!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What I Love!

In honor of Valentine's Day....I thought I'd list a few things that I love.

I'm not listing MY PEOPLE: whom I obviously adore, I'm not listing my beloved friends or this is a people free list.  BUT for the RECORD PEOPLE.....including God and Jesus ARE my most FAVORITE!

With that said....I will begin:

1.  Books!  I am a recovering new book-aholic....the smell, the sound of the spine cracking....ahh makes me want to run to the bookstore.  However....with 5 kids and no money....I am learning to love the library. 

2.  My church.  Which technically breaks my disclaimer because a church is people....but I could not help myself.  I REALLY LOVE the church. (especially mine :)

3.  The sunshine.  Bright and Warm.  Longing for Spring.

4.  Homemade things.  I mean seriously....could there be a cuter hat?  Thank you Kellie!

5. Diet Coke...shhh don't tell anyone.  I AM SO MUCH better then I used to be....but it is slipping back into my life with more frequency....ugh.  It really is love hate.  I do love the caffeine and bubbles!

6.  Planning.  Especially school.  I love to research, dream, and plan for the next school year.

7.  Digging.  I'm really beginning to enjoy working in the yard (in the spring and summer)  I really like flowers.  Especially when they start from bulbs and cool!  I don't really love cutting the grass....but at least I have THE BOY who does!

8.  Pictures.....they help me remember!

9. is such an awesome way for me to record thoughts, feelings, plans, one day I can remember what we did and how I felt and our life at this season.

10.  Co-op....again it's people....but I thought I might be able to slide this one in :)  

I would love to hear from you....What things do you love? What makes you smile?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big News!

NO....I am NOT Pregnant!  Whenever I announce that I have an announcement that is what everyone expects it to be!

I am however VERY pleased to announce that after 8 weeks of very hard work THE GIRL has completed Level 1 of her Reading Therapy!!!!

You may be asking...."So?  What does that mean?"
Well thank you for asking.....It means she now has enough Phonemic Awareness skills (ability to hear the sounds) to become an excellent reader and speller!  YIPEEE!!!!

I know.....big deal.....everyone learns to read.  Perhaps.....but it IS a big deal.....because I can assure you not everyone has had to work as hard as this sweet girl to learn to read.   AND NO she still can't read and should still not be asked to read.....but now at least she can hear every sound she needs to be able to read.  AND I AM SO PROUD OF HER!!!!!  LOVE MY GIRL!  EVERYTHING with language has been a struggle for her....from speech, to hearing sounds, to articulating her feelings, to writing, to reading, and to see the pride on her face when she finished the first set of lessons was PRICELESS!

If you are interested in the system we are using (I've had several questions about it)
It is The Barton Reading and Spelling System which is an Orton-Gillingham Influenced Simultaneously Multisensory Explicit and Systematic Phonics Program

So tomorrow we start Level 2: Consonants and Short Vowels!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Defining Day!

I definitely could not let today pass without blogging.....but it almost did!  Our phone and computer have been out ALL day!  But alas as the day closes I can blog.

February 10th has got to be the most defining date in my life.  Yes....without a doubt if I had to pick one would be today.

For those who don't know my February 10th story....I must share it. Ever since I was a little girl all I wanted to do was grow up, get married, be a teacher, and have a bunch of kids.  Well....although my life looks very different in reality then it did in my dreams....I must say God has truly granted the desires and fulfilled the dreams of my little girl heart.

11 months after getting married I was shocked to find out we were expecting a baby.  9 months later on March 3, 1998 my lifelong dream of being a mother became a reality.  I gave birth to a precious little boy.  He's not so little anymore!  I didn't know then but the Lord was going to use that sweet boy to help mature a very young and very immature girl.  I often wish I could take a crash course in motherhood and then have kids and raise them perfectly.  Unfortunately that is not how it works.  Motherhood is truly on the job training.  After having THE BOY I all the sudden realized I was responsible for another life.  I took that responsibility very seriously.  Randy and I had fallen out of church attendance and suddenly we realized we needed to get back into church.  We became regular attendees and would show up every Sunday but other then that I was not growing at all spiritually.  One Sunday at church I heard about a women's Bible Study that was written by some lady named Beth Moore.  I had never heard of Beth Moore, but I heard that they had a nursery....and as a young mom who knew no one else my age with babies I decided I'd go and maybe I'd meet a nice kid for THE BOY to play with.  I joined that Sunday night Bible Study for all the wrong reasons but I am so glad that I did.  The Lord used Beth Moore, Linda Reyner (who facilitated the study and invested her life and prayers into me...have I ever mentioned how much I love the Reyners :)), the women in the study, and most of all the enormous amount of time I began to spend in His Word to light a fire in my heart.  I began to grow and to mature in my relationship with Christ.  I was so excited about what the Lord was doing.  I couldn't wait for nap time each day and to be able to sit at my kitchen table.  I would spend 2 hours each day just pouring over the word and talking to God.  It was a sweet time of enormous spiritual growth in my life.  I didn't know then but looking back I know the Lord was preparing me for the darkest storm of my life. 
So....Randy and I decided after having this delightful little boy that we were really good parents, and should definitely have more kids :) Now I am showing how naive I truly was.  So we immediately started trying for number 2.  Finally, after a year and a half we found out we were expecting another baby.  We were elated.  The pregnancy was progressing normally until late in the pregnancy at a routine ultrasound the doctors became concerned about our baby's growth.  They continued to do weekly ultrasounds and finally diagnosed the baby with Intrauterine Growth Retardation.  Which simply means the baby was not growing properly.  He was way to small.  I was put on strict bed rest and told only to get up to go to the bathroom.  To a tired mom of an active toddler I must admit my first thought was YES! Vacation!  I quickly realized this was not going to be a fun time.  After the first few days I was ready to get up.  But I didn't.  I just lay around day, after day, after day.  I spent many hours in bed doing Bible study and Bible reading.  During my reading of the Psalms I came across a verse that said, "When you are on your bed be silent." It really stuck with me.  At first I think I simply appreciated the humor in it-after all I was definitely on my bed.  However in the months and years to come the Lord would often bring that verse back to mind.  I was asked to share what the Lord had done in my life several times in the years following our loss but whenever I would begin to pray about it the Lord would always bring that verse back to mind with a firm sense that I was to WAIT.  The Lord was not done teaching me what he wanted me to learn.  So I waited....for about 5 years and then I was freed to share.  If I had shared the first time I was asked to do so I wouldn't have known the end of the story.  Now I do----so he has freed me to share about his amazing goodness.

I will never forget the week of February 5, 2001.  That Monday I got my sister to take me to the doctor because I was not feeling the baby moving.  The doctor checked the baby's heartbeat and assured me everything was fine and sent me back home.  As I lay on the couch I waited and waited -I just wasn't feeling the baby move.  I waited all day Tuesday and Wednesday and late Wednesday night decided to call the doctor .  Randy was scheduled to leave on a business trip the next day and I was so nervous that something was wrong.  The doctor asked me to meet him at the hospital.  We headed to the hospital and immediately the nurses started searching for a heartbeat.  They searched and searched.  I knew something was wrong.  It was taking too long.  They tried to smile and acted upbeat as they ordered an ultrasound and called for the doctor.  When the doctor arrived he did an ultrasound and confirmed our worst fear.  Our baby was dead.  February 7, 2001 marked the beginning of the deepest and darkest and most personal pain I have experienced to date.  We wept and wept.  The doctors induced labor that night.  I labored all day Thursday, all day Friday, and then on Saturday, February 10, 2001 I gave birth to a precious, tiny, baby boy.  He was absolutely perfect.  I will never forget the silence in that room.  You could have heard a pin drop.  I just wanted to hear that baby scream.  I prayed the doctors would find a shred of life.  I prayed that God would breath life into that sweet boy.  He didn't.  He never made a sound.  He was dead.  I couldn't believe it.  My heart broke that day and I knew there would forever be a hole that ached for that precious little boy.  There was a knot in his umbilical cord, which had cut off vital nutrients and oxygen thus causing him to grow so poorly.  The doctors assured us it was a freak accident and that it would never happen again.  We named him Matthew.  His name meant A gift from God.  Over the years the Lord would begin to show me what a gift that sweet boy was.  I will love him forever. 

God used Matthew to teach me how to comfort hurting people.  I am more capable of loving hurting people because I have been hurt.  I am not afraid to talk to people about their grief.  I am not afraid to mention their loved ones name and tell stories about their loved one-because I know that it doesn't hurt them-it helps them to heal.  Everyone is afraid to talk about a hurting persons departed loved one except the hurting person.  They like to talk about their loved one and they like to know you remember and that you care.  I never would have known that if I hadn't lost Matthew.

God used Matthew to show me more of himself.  I learned that God truly is good all the time.  I learned that God's character does not change with my circumstances.  He is good today and he was good 10 years ago when he took our precious baby.  It is comforting to know that I serve an unchanging and always good and loving God.  I may not have known that if Matthew had not died.

God used Matthew to draw me into a closer relationship with Himself.  God gave me a verse in Job chapter 1 verse 21, "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away may the name of the Lord be praised." It became my mantra.  It was a verse that I said over and over again simply willing myself, regardless of how I felt to praise the Lord.  It was not easy.  It was so painful.  I knew after Matthew died I could very easily turn to God or turn away from God.  I am so thankful the Lord drew me to him.  Otherwise Matthew's life would have been in vain and his loss would have been for nothing.

Slowly God began to teach me to feed on his word and he began to slowly and to painfully heal my broken heart.  My heart no longer feels physical pain, but it did for YEARS...when something is broken it hurts.  However a scar remains.  I heard an illustration years ago of our hearts being like a vase and God, if you are a believer, is like the bright light inside the vase, and that if the vase (our hearts) get broken the cracks or scars left behind are where God's light shines the brightest.  I am thankful that we have a God who uses the cracks in our heart to bring glory to himself.  He doesn't just break our hearts and leave us that way.  The pain he allows in our life always serves a purpose.

As we began to heal we also began to long for another child.  I prayed often for a child and finally after what seemed an eternity.....1 1/2 years later we found out we were expecting another baby.  This child was another gift.  I could not wait to have another baby.  My arms ached to hold a child.  I prayed many times for this child to scream.  I did not want another silent delivery.  I long to hear a baby wail!  Then on May 10, 2003, the day before Mother's Day, our first daughter was born at 1:43 in the morning.  I am here to tell you that our God answers prayers.  That sweet baby girl came out screaming and continued for 3 years!  If you know her today she is very quiet and reserved....but she did not start that way!  God is good!  Another thing God taught me is that he is in control.  The doctors had spent the 9 months of my pregnancy with THE GIRL assuring me that it would be absolutely unheard of for me to have another child with a knot in their umbilical cord.  Well....THE GIRL also had a knot in her umbilical cord....and around her neck.  From this I learned that God allows whatever he wills to happen.  The umbilical cord knot did not kill Matthew.  The Lord as painful as it is to realize had planned for Matthew to die just as he had planned for THE GIRL to live.  The Lord gives and the Lord takes away may the name of the Lord be praised!

We started trying right away for baby number four.  After all it took me a long time to get pregnant.  When we found out we were expecting in July of 2005 we were very excited.  We were also very surprised when we found out we weren't expecting baby number four but BABIES four and five.  We could not have been happier.  Our babies were due to arrive on March 8, 2006.  I had a very uneventful pregnancy so on February 9 after a day of baby shopping I was quite shocked to see my feet were as big as tree trunks and decided I should probably call the doctor.  I thought it was probably nothing and that I was just over reacting but better safe then sorry.  The doctor wanted me to come in and told me to pack my bags "just in case".  So we rushed to the hospital about 9:00 pm on February 9 expecting to be sent home in a few hours.  After running some test the doctor diagnosed me as being severely pre-eclamsic and said he needed to do an emergency C-section.  So after a flurry of phone calls about 11:30 pm on February 9 they brought me papers  to fill out and began to prep me for the C-section.  As I prayed for my babies health the Lord kept assuring my heart that he did not bring me this far for nothing and he kept reminding me that he was good and that his grace would be sufficient.  Then he reminded me of one more thing that absolutely floored me.  I was at the same hospital I had been five years before.  These babies were about to be born and their birthday was gong to be February 10, 2006.  That date means nothing to most people but it meant everything to Randy and I.  I said, "Randy do you know what day it is?"  His jaw dropped and I knew that he knew.  Three of our five babies would be born February 10.  God is so good.  He is a personal God and he cares personally for his children.  He knows us and cares about the smallest details of our life.  THAT IS MY KIND OF GOD!  So at 12:19 am on February 10, 2006 TWINKIE BOY was born followed one minute later by TWINKIE GIRL.  They both weighed over 6 pounds and were able to come home from the hospital with me just 4 days later.  Some may think that God blessing us with 2 at once was his way of replacing the one he has taken, but that is not so.  Matthew will never be replaced, but the Lord has shown His goodness and blessing to us and we are so grateful.

So I thought I knew the whole story.....but God had a little cherry to add to top off our family that I had NEVER planned on.  We were satisfied.  Our lives were full and when the twins were just 5 months old we found out we were expecting....BABY number 6.  Yes we do know how it happens!  Yes I was on birth control!  BUT.....I was also on an antibiotic for an ear infection.....which is apparently what happened!  So I can assure you NOTHING is too quiet in our lives anymore. 

Now to my Pondering.....I did ponder this week.....and in total God fashion......the passage was perfect!
Philippians 3:8 was the passage I was praying 10 years ago when God began this work in my life. 

" What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ"

In the months before we lost Matthew I had been begging and praying that I could really KNOW Christ.  I didn't know what the cost would be, but I must say: It has been worth it. 

I will close with the words from Psalm 30, which is truly my testimony, " You have turned my wailing into dancing.  You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God.  I will give you thanks forever."

Happy Birthday TWINKIES!  I LOVE YOU BOTH!!!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Party Animals!

The Best Word to describe this weekend.....was PARTY!  We had quite a bit of partying this weekend.  It sure was fast....and fun!
Saturday we celebrated "The Twinkies" birthday!  They will be 5 on Thursday and so we had the family and our neighbors, who my kids think are family, over to celebrate.
We decided on a farm theme this year.  I had a lot of fun making their cake.  It was actually very just took a bit of time.

I couldn't resist making a birthday sign!  Not the greatest art work....but I do love to color :)

The highlight for them was the balloons!

The cousins

and the neighbors!
We sang happy birthday...

The menu the TWINKIES picked: hot dogs, chips, and baked beans.
Simple=Happy Mama!

THE BABY snuggling with Pa.

TWINKIE BOY is checking out his new toy while Daddy and THE BOY talk football with Grammy.

Daddy Joined in the fun with a rousing game of Pin the Tale on the Donkey!

THE GIRL and THE BOY both had friends birthday's to go to.
THE GIRL went to a fun dress up party for a friend from her dance class.  She got her hair and makeup done.  She said it was a lot of fun.
THE BOY went to a dance for one of his friends (a girl) who was turning 13.  He had a good time.
The crew suited up and headed for Aunt Rhonda's!


THE BOY and Daddy spent most of the game standing in front of the TV

They danced for us a little!

They cried a little!

They cheered a lot!

They posed some too!

Lots of excitement.....

BUT....we all know how it ended....maybe next year!  It was still a great weekend and this is one pooped party animal!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Win or Lose?

I've had a really full heart lately....and I haven't been sure how to express it.  However as I pondered today (not Shay pondering....just my own mental self pondering) I came upon a realization that I think touches the iceberg of some of what's going on.

I am competitive.  I would think that probably comes as a surprise to many.....but those close to me probably not so much :)  I guess I've known this about myself...but never really thought about the implications.

I am fierce when playing card games or board games.  I won't even let my kids win (I think it's mom won't even let her grandkids win :) and definitely not her kids).  We make them EARN it. 

I am a bit (okay a bunch) loud when cheering on my Odyssey, or guitar recitals, or basketball games or_______________________.

I think everyone enjoys a win....but what about when you don't win? 
What about when you pour your life into your kids and do everything you can not just to cover the basics....but to pour ALL you have into them....and they can't read?  Does that equal failure?
What about when you spend HOURS working with somewhat obnoxious loud, know-it-all smart, borderline rude exuberant middle schoolers and then are critiqued by well meaning people?  What about when you come up with endless fun, engaging, educational activities and spend hours playing, reading, and snuggling your preschoolers and then they fight, want Daddy, and are board.  What about when you don't work out enough, or sleep enough, or eat healthy enough.....does that equal failure?  What if you don't socialize your kids enough?  What if you do too much and don't leave enough margin in your life?  What if you mess up?  What if you are too hard on your kids?  What if you aren't hard enough?  What if they don't "turn out"?  What if they do?  Who gets the credit?  Is it because I did good enough?  Am I responsible for them "being a success" or "not turning out"?

Why does it feel so good when your 8 year old daughter scores 24 points in her basketball game and has 15 rebounds and 3 AMAZINGLY good assists  (my girl has mad skills) and so bad when her 3 year old cousin can read better then her (OUCH)?
Why does it feel so good when your 13 year old son can ace a geography test and rock out on his guitar and so bad when he misspells a simple word or writes illegibly?
Why does it make my heart swell with pride when my little ones show unexpected kindness to one another and yet make me look for a rock to crawl under when they throw a tantrum in the front of the church or hit me on the head on the way out of Mama's house?

I think there are several reasons.....
1. We have so much invested.  Our lives are literally poured into the little ones.  We love them so much and so much is at stake.  We like most parents just want the best for our kids.
This is so good.  However is all ease and all success really what is best?  What kind of kids would we have if everything was easy and everything was wonderful and everything was a success?  They wouldn't know much about grace.  They wouldn't be very humble.  They wouldn't be very patient.  They wouldn't be very tolerant.  They wouldn't be hard workers.  They would probably have some MAJOR character flaws.  So in fact I may need to be grateful for the shortcoming and the inadequacies and the struggles for they are indeed working out a character that would otherwise be lacking.

2.  I think we (I) make ourselves (myself) too important.  I think if they can't read or write neatly or be kind and obedient then I have failed.  It can be embarrassing.  People are judgemental.  We will be judged.  Accurately or inaccurately.  People will see where the shortcomings are and they will pass judgement and that can be difficult.  How often do I think...."they will say...."see she should not homeschool"  or "did you see how her child behaved" or "that is why you don't have 5 kids"......"How often have I judged someone else on a little snippet of their life?
Instead of labeling myself  or someone else a failure.....I could use it, and teach my children to use it, as an opportunity to grow.  They can learn perseverance, character, discipline and I can learn to be patient, humble, and gracious.  Why does it have to so hard?

3.  I think we (I) are (am) competitive.  Which can be fine to an extent. be the winner (which feels great) means there must be a loser (which hurts).  I do think it is important for kids to learn to win graciously and lose graciously. I think its important to know that we have strengths and weaknesses.  I think most often much more is learned from failure than from success.

Why is it then that I long for a success only journey for my kids?  I long for them to make right choices.  I long for the easy path....when so often real growth, real character, real relationships, real intimacy with Christ requires the path filled with potholes and thorns and wrong turns and even danger.  Ahhh.....what I really long for is for them to KNOW Christ.  I just wish this knowledge came with sunshine and roses. 
Shay has the Puritan prayer on his blog that states my heart so well:

If it be consistent with thy eternal counsels,
the purpose of thy grace,
and the great ends of thy glory,
then bestow upon me the blessings of thy comforts;
If not, let me resign myself to thy wiser determinations.

This is my prayer for me and for my family....but I must say even as I pray does make me nervous.

Learning as I go..