Friday, April 30, 2010

What Makes All the Pain Worth It?

I'm trying to shake this.  I really am.  I am trying not to be bothered and remind myself that it doesn't matter what people think as long as I know I am in right standing before the Lord.

It hurts.  It hurts so much to be falsely accused based on someone's assumptions.  I feel like every time I make progress of getting over the hurt something else happens and it is thrown back in my face again.

Now it is published in a book!  We were left unnamed, but anyone familiar with the situation will know it is my husband and I who are being talked about.  All of it is assumption...assumption of what we said to other people...of what we did...of our motives!  And it is all false.

I wish...I SO wish my FIRST thoughts were, "God forgive them, for they know not what they have done."  But, I guess I still have a ways to go before that is my first reaction. It took me about 7 hours to get there this time.  :(

I wanted to scream!  I wanted to throw an all-out tantrum and declare my innocence! 

But God said no.  He is still telling me the same thing He told me when it was all going on..."Be still.  I am your Defender.  Do not cast your pearls before swine.  Trust Me."  

Have you ever been in a situation like this...when God commands you to be silent and wait for Him to set all things right?

And obviously by her written words she doesn't know what she has done.  She and her husband have no idea of the wake they have left behind.  She speaks of being concerned that destinies may have been thwarted because of us.  No destinies have been thwarted because God delivers and restores the humble.  But, oh my, how souls have been wounded because of their words and actions.  I guess it's easier to blame someone else than to thoroughly examine oneself and hear truth.

That entire season was such a hard time to walk through.  It nearly tore my marriage apart.  So much division and they were used as pawns in the enemy's game.  (I wonder how many of us are used by the enemy and don't realize it.  Sobering thought.)

As hard as it was, I can truly be thankful for that season.  I came to know Jesus in a way I had never known Him before!  Other humans were around me.  Other people were there and cared about me, but no one could touch the pain that I felt.  No one and nothing could make it better.  

I felt the presence of God so strongly.  I had a peace that passed human understanding.  I never doubted God's plan.  But, I hurt like I had never known before.  And in those dark days, as I fasted and cried out to Him, the Spirit said to me, "There is NOTHING that you are experiencing that I didn't go through first."

The life of Jesus flashed through my mind.  I remember it so vividly.  I saw His loneliness.  I saw how He was surrounded by people...even people that truly cared for Him, but He was experiencing a level of hurt that no one could touch or understand fully.

He cried out for God to take that bitter cup from deliver Him from the gut-wrenching agony, but then submitted to His Father's plan.

I realized in those days that I had to make the choice to do the same.  He showed me what would be thought about me.  He showed me that in the months to follow, He would reveal things to my husband that would bring us back into unity.  He showed me that my husband would go through a very hard time getting over the separation of what he hoped he had, but in the end, would realize God delivered Him from a dream and not reality.  He showed me that we had not missed Him...that He had indeed directed us there to sit under these people for a season and it was to show us what not to do.  

In the months that followed, God even moved on people to speak very specific and accurate words of knowledge to us regarding the situation, and they confirmed what He had told me.  These people did not know...could not have known except by God the details they spoke.

It has taken me a long time to begin to trust again.  Even last week, as we were called to a meeting for leadership, I nearly had an anxiety attack just because it was called leadership!  Other people that came out of the situation are in counseling and still trying to enter back into fellowship.

The effects are far-reaching...and they don't even realize.  They have their conclusions and are so certain of them that they put them in print!  It makes me tremble in fear before the Lord for them.

People can say all the "right" things.  They can say what seems to line up with the Word.  And they can still be so deceived.

For a long time I judged the motives...not in a bad way, but to the good.  I made excuses for them like, they are just young...they just don't understand...they don't mean to.  In the end, God showed me that He never called me to judge their intentions.  He tells us to judge the fruit.

The fruit was rotten too often.  I knew it for a long time.  We were accused in this book of leaving because of offense.  If this wasn't so serious, that would be laughable!  If I had left because of offense, I would have left long before I did!  No, I can definitely say we heard the voice of God and He said, now is the time.  My husband even put out a fleece.  Silently, he asked the Lord that if it were really His will that we go, then our house would sell quickly.  It sold in 5 a time when houses were not selling well.

God has blessed our move.  We have been restored and healed...raised up and even honored.  The enemy has still tried to attack, but God has protected us.  We are thriving and what we are putting our hands to is thriving.  We are not striving...not grasping at straws...not struggling to hold on or make things happen.  I believe God blesses when we obey.  

God has now set us under people that know who they are and Whose they are.  They are secure and therefore we can flourish.  Their capacity to love unconditionally is amazing.  I know I can fall flat on my face and still be loved and treasured.  It is so not about them and so all about Jesus and agape love.

Why do I share all this?  Because I know that someone is experiencing this kind of pain and loneliness write now and it makes me ache.  And I desperately want you to know that if you will fall into the arms of Jesus, He will comfort you and hold you through it and you will know Him so much more.  THAT makes it all worth it.  To experience your Savior on that level is indescribable and you will not doubt His love for you.  You will understand humility in its rawest form, and you will learn what it means to trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do Not Hinder Them

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.  That verse is carrying me right now.   

I'm so very thankful that nothing surprises God and that He goes before me and prepares my way.  I'm so utterly grateful that Jesus' obedience tore the veil that separated me from my Father.  What would I do if I could not hear His voice and know that He has the big picture, even when nothing makes sense to me?

God has had me studying humility and peace in the Holy Spirit.  If I hadn't had my mind focused on Him and these two areas, what I found out yesterday could have messed me up badly!  But, all praise be to Him.  He had me prepared!

When we fix our eyes on Jesus and seek HIM earnestly, He will speak to our heart and lead us in the way of protection!  What a blessed gift!

The last time I posted, I spoke of the importance of giving children a chance to speak up and be heard.  That is so incredibly vital for anyone to feel in any relationship, no matter the age.  

I so desperately want my children to know they can talk to me about literally anything.  I don't believe there has to be a separation just because we are the parents and they are the kids.  That is a lie of this society and culture!  But, I think that will only become a reality if parents are very humble before their children.

In the book I read (Don't Make Me Count to Three), the author stated something that was such a blessing to me.  She calls readers to examine their beliefs and ponder this question:  Do we want our children to act like Christians or think like Christians?

She proposes that if we merely work on behavior modification and get them to act like Christians, we produce Pharisees.  However, if we diligently take them back to what God says about their behavior, they will begin to think His way...Christlike.

That challenged me tremendously, especially since God had me meditating on the verse that says only the Word of God can convict a sinner of his/her sin!  

With enough control and threats and even fear, we can control our children and make them perform the "right" way, but one day we won't be around to control them!  We must point them to the ONLY One who can convict their heart.  

We are to train them to hear the voice of God and follow Him.  If we act as controllers instead of loving teachers, we will embitter them.  That is exactly why so many "children" in churches have walked away...even fled for their lives I dare say!

I am so humble before the Lord right now, asking Him to help me discern, to be approachable, to be a good listener and truly hear people.  I CANNOT do it apart from Him!  My flesh wants to rise up in judgment.  My flesh wants to assume I know.  But, I have come to see that assumption is like deadly poison in relationship.

When we assume we know what others are thinking or what is going on in situations...when we don't take the time to humble ourselves and get the truth (EVEN IF IT CRUSHES OUR EGO), we become deceived...HORRIBLY DECEIVED!  We then begin to operate and conduct ourselves in ways that destroy, tear down, and rip people apart.  Often we don't even realize the wake we have left behind in people's lives.

Quite frankly, it makes me tremble in fear before the Lord!  When we choose to become parents, we are saying we will be in position to be a teacher.  This may come through biological childbirth, through adoption, even by taking a leadership position.  The Lord speaks very blatantly about how He regards the responsibilities of a teacher.  He says it would be better for someone to tie a millstone around their neck and be drowned than to cause a little one to stumble!   This should catch our attention as parents...and as teachers in any avenue!  "Little one" isn't referring to a small child, but any person who is young in anything.

I have watched many situations unfold where the leaders have acted out of hurt, fear, or pride, all the while thinking they know what is going on.  They don't humble themselves to ask the hard questions, or if they do, they don't truly hear what the wounded are trying to tell them!  Lord, help me, I don't want that to be me!  I don't want this to be who I am as a parent or a leader in the church!   I so desperately want people to know that I am approachable and when they come to me, I will listen as intently as I would want someone to listen to me.  

Seriously, so many people today are operating out of their own tormoil.  Things that they have walked through have clouded their eyes.  They deal with jealousy, fear, intimidation, etc...the list is lengthy, but whatever the issue is, it causes them to be misguided in their thinking.  The wrong thinking produces wrong actions and before you know it, other people are hurt.  Hurting people hurt other people!  It doesn't really matter at that point whether it is intentional or not.  The cold, hard fact is that it has happened!  It has been reproduced in another life.  It's such a devastating cycle.

The cycle will only stop when there is true humility and true interaction.  We can't be fake or superficial.  We can't say what we think are the right things to say.  We can't do what we think looks good to do.  We have to BE real with each other...not saying one thing while thinking another!  We have to humble ourselves to hear the truth about ourselves, even when it is from someone God has put under our leadership.  Likewise, we must humble ourselves and obey the Lord when He is telling us to speak up to our leaders, despite the reaction we may get.

Truth is truth and it usually hurts!  That is just the way it goes because we are all having our character changed to be like Christ's character.  It doesn't feel good to the flesh!  But, it is absolutely necessary.

There is little that hurts less in this life than being misunderstood, blamed, or lied about.  I know that my children will experience it at some point.  I know they will, at some time, be hurt beyond expression...and probably by someone who is supposed to nurture them and protect them.  I know I won't be able to do much to help them in that one will.  But, I pray, with all of my heart, that the example I live out before them will help them to find the ONE who can understand them through those times.  I pray they will know that Jesus can hold them and comfort them when no other human can touch their hurt.  I pray that they will know He can give them peace in the chaos, even when the worst is assumed about them.

EVERYTHING we go through, Jesus went through first.  He understands.  The Bible says that we should even count it all joy when we go through trials and when we are persecuted for His Name, for we are sharing in His sufferings.  And He also lets us know that after we have suffered a little while, we will rejoice with Him in Heaven.  

Jesus is coming back.  One day He will set all things right.  The truth of every situation will be revealed.  No one will be misunderstood anymore.  One day, we will walk together in unity, not suspecting the worst about one another and not acting out of our fear.  Oh what a glorious day!  But, until then, we live a world that is plagued with sin and death and evil, trying to destroy us and rip away our peace in every way possible.  

I want to be a person who is open and real in all my relationships.  I want to truly believe the best about everyone and not just say I do because it sounds good!  Even in my hurts, I want to realize there is another side to every story, and I don't know everything.  I want a soft heart that is willing to receive anything I need to hear about myself.  I want the Lord to help me not cause hurt to others by my words or actions.  

I want to TRULY love people.  I want to TRULY be humble so people, especially my precious children, can share themselves with me without fear.   

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Science with Dad

Learning how a submarine dives and making a Mentos fountain...then eating the Mentos!


Pics from Air Show and Fireworks

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"But I know if I die, I will be with Jesus," Garrison said.

There is nothing like the peace of God.  NOTHING!

The world doesn't give it, so the world can't take it away from you.  
It's amazing.  It's hard to describe and even harder to believe when you have never experienced it!  I am so very thankful that I can rest in my Lord.

Tonight I write to you from a hospital room.  My oldest son was admitted after a very eventful evening last night.  He got a headache and then tingling and numbness that radiated over his body.  His speech was slurred at times.  He was confused.
This happened in 2005.  The CT scan revealed nothing abnormal.  The diagnosis was migraines.  This happened in February of this year as well.  My husband took him to urgent care and told nothing was wrong.  Our family doc was furious about this the next day and was concerned.

Since Garrison had already had one CT, our doc was not wanting to jump the gun and give him another due to the high levels of radiation.  He asked me, as the Mom, if I was worried.  I said no.  So he said he would not order an MRI at that time if I would promise him to give Garrison a baby aspirin and take him immediately to the ER if it happened again.  I gave my word.
So last night, when it did happen again, we went to the children's hospital.  I was definitely concerned when my son was saying his name and sounded like a stroke victim...and when the doctor was telling him to point to his nose and he was pointing to his belly!

BUT...I still had God's peace flooding through me that He was in control and NOT at all surprised by our situation.  We had favor with the staff.  Garrison was well cared for.  In the midst of chaos, there was peace.  And, even Garrison had peace.  He was praying over himself.
He knows enough to know that even though Mom would move heaven and earth if possible, only God can really and truly move his mountains.  And even if God doesn't move them, Garrison believes with all his heart that God will show him how to climb them!

Do you know how it thrills my heart to see my boy call upon the ONLY ONE who can save him and deliver him and guide him?  At one point, he looked at me and said, "I'm not ready to go yet."  I didn't really know what he meant, so I said, "What do you mean son?"  He said, "I don't believe I have fulfilled God's plan for my life yet, but I know if I die, I will be with Jesus."
No, I don't want his time with me to be over yet.  But, wow...if I never ever teach him anything else, he knows what he needs to know.  He is assured.  He is set firm.  And even in the midst of a scary situation, Garrison knew he could trust His Master...even unto death.

When Garrison was three years old, I pulled him out of my parent's pool unconscious.  It was a HORRIBLE experience that took me years to stop dreaming about.  I tangibly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit right with us that day.  I KNEW He was there.  And why wouldn't He be?  I had called out His name the second I realized my son was submerged under water.
When I pulled him out, his eyes were rolled back in his head and they were purged with water.  He was so incredibly heavy and it took all the human strength I had to propel him upon the deck.  I will never forget how he looked.  My baby, lying there lifeless.

But, I wasn't ready to give him up, and I prayed over him the water came out of his he came back I held him and rocked him until EMS we rode to the hospital in the ambulance wondering if my negligence had left my son mentally he finally spoke his first word to a nurse at the hospital...and as he looked at me later that night and said, "Momma, I saw Jesus under there."

When Garrison was two weeks old, he was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism.  He was immediately put on synthetic thyroid hormone.  At his endocrinology check-up, when he was 28 months old and we were getting ready to move from WA to SC, the specialist told us that their initial expectation for Garrison was that he would have severe learning disabilities.  They didn't want to tell us that then and cause us to expect the worst.  This particular doctor had the wisdom to keep his mouth shut and let the parent's have hope.  They were astounded to tell us that he was well above his age fact, years ahead in all skill areas!

Don't tell me God doesn't still heal and work miracles.  Don't tell me God isn't real and doesn't show up when we call upon Him.

Does He always do it the way we want, when we want?  No.  

Does that make me sad?  Sometimes.

Since I walked in this hospital, my thoughts have been permeated with my friend Julie.  God was with her as her little boy battled cancer.  She heard her baby cry out to God for his healing and believe it would happen.  He had the faith Garrison does.  

Why has my son made it through all these things and Brendon is with Jesus?  I don't have any idea.  

But I know, that I know, that I know, that Julie and I trust God's plan no matter how much it hurts.  We have His peace in the storms. 

I think of Julie so often during my she is a homeschooling momma too and we both have three boys.  I cannot fathom one of them missing from my home.  I will never forget walking back into my house after the near-drowning and looking around thinking, "Everything in here is him.  How do parents go on living without them?"

As I walk these halls, I fight constant tears for the families here and for Julie who is still trying to walk her path.  I ached with a lump in my throat as I walked past all kinds of strangers holding their children.  They all have a that God knows intimately.  I wondered how many of them know Him as the Prince of Peace.  How do you get through these trials without Him as your Hope? 
I don't know at all why things go the way they go, but I am so, so thankful that I know the Lord personally...that I can be sure that He will never leave me or forsake me...that even though circumstances look so scary, my God reigns and He holds me still.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Will Hold Our Children?

Long day!  Infant baby girl crying and not sleeping...boys needing help with school...laundry needing done.  But now...

NOW...I am actually laying on my couch while I type my very quiet house.  Oh yeah, I hear the dishwasher and the washing machine and dryer, BUT no children at the moment.  No one is running through the house or jumping around or slamming doors!

My thoughtful Pastor came and picked up my boys for church because Tom is not home from work and Emma didn't get picked up until late.  How kind is he to do that!  I'm very blessed to be in the church family I am in.  These peeps have my back I tell ya!  

So what do I wanna say while I have a quiet moment to think...

Well, here is something that has been on my heart, and it goes along with what I have been blogging about...ya know, taking that time to really BE with your family?

I read somewhere a few years ago about family reading time.  I had NEVER even thought of doing that, and frankly laughed at the picture of what my boys might be doing while I was trying to read a nice, wholesome book to them!  :)  

But, I decided to try this because "they" (you know, those people out there who are deemed qualified enough to get something published!) said that it would help to create a love of reading in children.  I really do believe readers are leaders and leaders are readers!  People that take time to read are usually studiers and thinkers and learn to not just follow anyone blindly!  That is what I want for my children.  I want them to know what they believe and why they believe it!

It was suggested that I read them chapter books because it would entice them to want to keep reading more.  I should also say that I implemented this at a time when I was really stressed out.  My husband was working LONG hours, which left it up to me to make it through the whole day with them.  3:1...NOT good odds when you are the 1!

So...I gave the reading thing a try and wow, was I ever surprised!  They were riveted.  They couldn't get enough.  They would beg me to keep going!  And, I decided this special time would happen at bedtime because when I would just kiss them goodnight and leave the room, they would giggle and talk and you know what all else if you have kids!  I would end up yelling at them or spanking them and many nights I would end up crying in exhaustion.

We got a reading routine down.  I would read and they would settle in and actually be quiet because they wanted to hear!  Then, we would pray together and that opened the door to great conversations.  Again, I would read some more, and they would just drift off to sleep.  It was so peaceful! 

My sister-in-law was shot by her (now) ex-husband, and for a year, three of her kiddos came to live with us.  When I first told them that we all read together at night, the oldest two couldn't believe it and were not real excited to participate.  By the time they were about to move out, they were upset with me on the nights that we got in late or I was just too tired to read!

It takes some time, patience, and diligence, but I am telling you, it makes such a huge difference in the family.  I have been so blessed hearing the thoughts my children have...and we never go to bed frustrated or angry with one another on the nights we read.

We have read all kinds of things from biographies to history to science to devotionals and theology books.  Some of their favorites are books about sightings of angels and stories that seem too coincidental not to be God's intervention.

Currently we are reading Visions Beyond the Veil (our really, really, really good book I mentioned in another post).  It is about a group of Chinese children who were taken off the streets and brought into an orphanage started by a missionary couple.  The children began seeking the Lord with all their hearts in prayer and had all kinds of supernatural things happen...things that are credited by Scripture, but things these uneducated and newly-introduced-to-the-Christian-faith children could not have known about any other way than by divine revelation!

Three weeks ago, I began crying out to the Lord because of what I was seeing rising up in my boys.  Lying, deceiving, and disrespect for others.  I'm not willing to receive the lie of this world that "boys are just like that" or "children go through these stages."  No!  Nothing in the Word of God says they have to!  It says that all those dedicated to Christ can overcome because Christ overcame for us and gave us all His authority!  

I am not going to ignore these things in their life...things the world calls "mistakes" or "stages."  This is blatant sin and it is not going to rule my sons' lives if I can do anything about it!  So, I had to fall on my face and ask God for His help.  He loves my boys more than I do, and He wants their hearts more than I want them to be enamored by Him.

He spoke to me and said that once they taste of the supernatural, this world cannot hold them.  I just had this knowing that He did not mean they were to seek after signs, wonders, and miracles.  He meant they needed to taste of His tangible presence.  They needed to encounter Him.  They needed to seek HIM!

Of course I began to plead with Him to direct my steps and show me how to help them do that.  He again answered.  Sadly, I was ashamed when He led me back to a website He had shown me approximately two years ago!  It is Kids in Ministry International.  I promptly poured over all their recommended reading and ordered five books!  

I am absolutely astounded at what He is opening my eyes to!  The reasons why kids are not staying in the faith they are raised in...why we are so surprised that we raise them in church and they can't wait to get away from it!  

I am a BIG stickler about the difference between mere religious acts and the traditions of men verses a true relationship with the One True God.  I have taught my sons much about all different religions in this world...where and how they originated and what they claim.  They are well on their way to being able to defend their faith.

But, I have recently realized that I have to do more to teach them about how to grow in their personal relationship with God and how to know Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

This generation is crying out for the supernatural.  They are seeking it in all kinds of ways.  They were created to want need walk in it.  They are being filled by counterfeit satisfaction.  They are being deceived.

They ARE going to search, so we better be ready to direct them to the Truth.  We better learn ourselves and begin at an early age to guide them into experiencing the presence of God.  Anyone who has TRULY had a taste of His presence is never the same and is never fulfilled by ANYTHING else!  Anyone who says they have "tried" it and it didn't "work" for them or wasn't their "thing" has not experienced Him in Spirit and Truth.  

So I am learning, and I am leading my children.  I am determined that they will know Him personally.  They will never have to hang on the shirttails of my faith.  I believe they will soar past me and experience things I never have.  I believe they have everything Jesus says they have and they will do great things in His name...ALL FOR HIS GLORY...until the WHOLE world hears.  

The signs...the wonders...the miracles...are just what follows when we press into Him.  He longs to commune with us.  He wants to reveal His mysteries to His children.  We can't conjure these things up.  They are not magic!  They are His gifts...His blessings.    He yearns to pour out His Spirit upon them that will believe.  He desires for us to know Him in know all He can do.  But, history shows us that He doesn't bestow these blessings on just anyone.  He waits for those who earnestly seek Him...those who are the Chinese orphans, who for the first time, experienced true love in finding His salvation and wanted so much to know Him that they spent hours in prayer!

Oh that my children would cry out to Him and humble themselves, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways so He will hear their prayers!  

I have NO greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How You Doin'?

Evaluating...prioritizing...getting things in line.  It makes for a happier home!  It opens up the door for QUALITY time.

One of the things I discussed with my dear husband (after our blah Saturday) was that I feel like I parent alone at times.  Yes, he is home more now with this job.  Yes, he works hard and is a great provider.  Yes, he helps me with anything I ask him to help with...and yes, I am VERY grateful.  I truly am blessed by the husband I have.  I know that, and I try hard not to take that for granted.

But, what I needed my honey to realize...what I believe most wives want their husbands to that we would like to NOT have to ask!  We would really love it if our partner thought like a parent WITH us and stayed alert and diligent to the tasks at hand.

Sweet Tom...he always tells me, "I'm sorry babe.  I just don't notice it.  I just don't think about it."  The other day I just had to say, "But if our boys give US that excuse, it is not acceptable to you!"

I was the baby of my family and my mom worked hard around our house.  She would tell me to do something, and I knew that if I put it off long enough she would just do it for me.  Yep, seriously...I was that rotten!  (She should have whooped me good!)  As a result, I didn't know how to do a lot of things when I married at 19 and moved away.  Tom took pictures of me the first time I cleaned our toilet!   

Since those days I think I have worked hard to become a good keeper of my home.  My food is edible at least!  LOL  But, I certainly have had to TRAIN myself to notice things that need done.  I don't love doing it, but I do love the result of it getting done!  

I don't love all the time and effort it takes to be a consistent, caring parent, but I do love that my children are secure in our relationship and their home.  It's worth it!  

Saturday, I hit a wall!  I was exhausted and things were colliding together.  I didn't know how to even begin to tell my husband.  I struggle with not wanting to seem ungrateful and not wanting to put any more on his shoulders.  But I am homeschooling our sons and interacting with them CONSTANTLY!  

What it really came down to is I just need him to be a more active dad.  He's a good man and a good dad, but he isn't always attentive at putting the first things first...not because he doesn't care, but because he doesn't realize something is missing.  Our kids are not crying at his leg for attention like they use to.  But, I do see them acting out in ways that I think Dad's attention could help correct!

Tom wasn't angry with me for expressing this.  He WANTS to know how I feel and how he can help me.  He WANTS to be a father that connects to his kiddos!  (Thank God!)  So, on Sunday, after our talk, we took a family walk/bike ride and then he did Science experiments with them!

He can't do a lot of physical stuff because of his back injury.  He isn't an avid hunter or fisherman.  He's a computer/science/math guy!  So I said, "Don't try to be something you're not with them.  Do what you're good at!  Include them!"  

So they learned how a submarine dives and launched a diet coke into the air with Mentos candies...and they LOVED it!  I could tell by their laughs and smiles, but I also heard Trey say, "Thanks for taking the time to do this with us Dad."

Yeah...I was...I was saying, "Thank You Jesus!" on the inside because I NEVER want my precious husband to feel like I am just nagging him.  You can bet if I am going to say something to my amazing man, it is going to be for good reason and to benefit everyone, not just so I can put him down!  I hate being made to feel like I am a failure, and I don't want him to feel like that!!!

During our talk, I told Tom not to even take my word for it.  I told him maybe I was the one who was thinking something was lacking in his relationship with our boys, when perhaps he and the boys think everything is just dandy.  I told him to talk with them about it...ya know, ask them how they think he is doing.  He hadn't done that before Trey made the comment he did.  I think it spoke volumes.

I think we all need to do that with our kids.  I think adults don't usually give kids enough credit to know how they feel nor enough opportunity to speak it out!  I think I have the relationship I do with my boys because being home with them allots me many opportunities to just talk with them...about all kinds of things!  

So, that reminds me, right now I need to finish this up and get back to helping them with school.   We are in the midst of a really, really, really good book!  And, ya know what?  I think I will ask them how I am doing as a mom.  I'm gonna choose to humble myself and listen with an open heart to what they think I need to do differently...because when we give people a chance to speak up, they know they are valued by us.  (I'll let ya know what they say...even if it's terrible! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Did This...

We took time out to try to have a family day Saturday.  We TRIED to drop the "To-Do" list and enjoy Thunder over Louisville.  This is the huge event that kicks off the Kentucky Derby festivities.  

I love going to this kind of stuff.  Tom does not!  BUT, we work together to overcome these differences.

I am going to get real transparent here!  

I expected that Tom may get a little grumpy...and even that I would have the bulk of the responsibility with the children (which we took extra of...nieces and nephews).  That was fine.  I was just happy he was willing to take us!

We were supposed to be going with another family.  The dad and oldest son went, but the mom who is pregnant just wasn't up to all the walking.  So...I knew I wouldn't have another older female to hang with until my Mom arrived, but I was prepared for that too.

What I was not prepared for was what actually transpired between my husband and me!  I know some people air too much of their business and some people try to hide everything.  I want to be balanced!  

I will not pretend we aren't human!  I will not pretend everything is always peachy!  I also will not trash my husband.  I will be real (even if it humiliates me).

The poor guy who went with us asked me if I was okay.  I did the best to answer, but no, I wasn't okay.  No, he couldn't do anything (but wasn't he so sweet to care!).  I couldn't say anything until I had time to talk to my husband and we were NOT in a place to do that!

Yes, I was VERY frustrated!  I had all kinds of things flopping through my mind! can bet he was gonna hear about it later!

Well, by the time we got home I had run through the gamete of emotions and was exhausted!  My head was throbbing.  I just needed sleep!  I knew everything would look better in the morning.

And it did.  BUT, it still had not been talked about.  So off we go to church, and I did get myself right before the Lord.  As we were singing in praise and greeting one another, my Pastor even asked me to go up on stage and be in the "choir!"  (We don't have a choir...and if we did, I WOULD NOT be a good candidate for it, but he said, "Trust me!"  And...well, I do trust him, so I moseyed on up there.) I am up there (with some other suspicious folks who were "trusting" Pastor Gregg), I realized that not only had I let the sun go down on my anger, but in ALL that time of "thinking" yesterday, I had not EVER stopped to pray for my husband or myself!

Do you ever have those moments???  Do you ever have those times when you look back and just wanna kick yourself in the pants for not doing what a MATURE Christian should do?!!!

Sheeezzzz!  Am I ever gonna grow up?  Just when you think you've started making some progress in your walk, get reminded that you are still 5,000 miles short of the mark!

Where would I be without the saving mercy of Jesus Christ?

Well, Tom and I talked it all out this afternoon.  It's fine.  We both learned.  We will both do better next time.  We will both ask the Lord to guide us and help us.  As with most issues, it was misunderstandings and lack of communication.

The reason I am sharing all this is because when I really came face-to-face with the fact that I thought God wanted me to get more personal on this blog, I didn't want to do it.  AND do you know why?  Because I KNEW...I JUST KNEW when I did, the attacks would come...the falls would happen...and I knew that I would have to humble myself in front of everyone to be obedient to my Father.  AND THAT IS NOT FUN TO ME!'s okay.  I'm gonna get back up, dust myself off, and keep walkin'.  Like I said, we don't have it all right, but we have more right than we do wrong nowadays, so at least I can share what has helped our family.

Thank GOD for the supernatural impartation of agape love.  I will remain in Him, for I can do NOTHING apart from Him!

I will tell you more tomorrow.  My boys are waiting for me to read to them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just Stop It!

My thought for today is:  figure out how to stop being so busy!!!
I know that is SO MUCH easier said than done, but seriously, have you truly evaluated what all you do?  Have you looked at what is required verses what is wanted?
I believe it is Steven Covey who my husband quotes as saying, "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail."  I know organization and planning isn't a natural gift for everyone, but it IS worth the time and effort.  It DOES really work!  There is a great payoff.

There are tons of books and programs out there that can help you organize your home and your life.  Yes, it can be so overwhelming when you begin, but set small, achievable goals.  The more you see yourself obtain them, the more you will be spurred on to keep going.  Before you know it, your home will be organized!  Your life will be better.

I have had schedules for so many things along the way.  Many of those things are just second-nature to me now because I have been doing them for so long.  NOW, it feels very easy for me, but it wasn’t at first.  AND…now, I can relax with some of it because the discipline is in me.

I believe our God is a God of order.  He set an example...He brought forth creation with order.  He took chaos and set it into motion that ran smoothly and in a pattern.  His way doesn't fail, and when we model it, we will see success too!

Last year, God brought to my attention how much I was expecting from my sons that I never trained them to do.  Maybe I explained the task a little, but I never modeled it and worked WITH them until they had it down.  

I was exasperating my children…and in turn, exasperating myself!  But, I didn’t even realize it.

We must model the example God set forth for us.  We must discipline ourselves and train our children diligently.  AS A FAMILY, we need a plan and AS A FAMILY we need to work together to accomplish it in excellence. 
So today, evaluate your priorities and think about what is important to God.  What do you NEED to do; what do you want to do?  Really, make a list and see where your time-wasters are!  You might be surprised.  And if you come up with a good family plan, you will be amazed at how much time you can “recapture” in a day!

I’m always happy to help with practical ideas if you want to send me a message.  Getting organized brought so much peace to my household.  I think at times it got to my husband, but when we put our house on the market and it sold in 5 weeks, he was pretty thankful that I had stayed on top of things!  

Organizing just makes things easier in the long run.  Remember, God says in the Word that all discipline at first seems unpleasant, but in the end, there is blessing!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hmmm....A New Direction?

When I started this blog, my intention was just to keep our friends around the world up to date on current pics and happenings and funny stories about our family. Lately though, I have really had my heart burdened to encourage other parents here as well.  

I have been watching families struggle so much in the last year.  It makes my heart ache!  I don't at all mean that my family doesn't have it's own struggles, but compared to what I see some going through, we just really have something good going.  We have peace in the midst of storms.  We have true love for one another, and we really enjoy one another!   Most days I can go to sleep thinking, "This was a good day!"

I don't mean that I think we are better than other families...but it does seem that we have found something that not a lot of families, at least from what I am seeing, have right now.

So, as I have been praying for family after family, my heart has just become so burdened that I need to share what we have tapped into.  I certainly don't want that to come across as arrogant in any way...which is one reason I have held back posting anything like this for so long.  But, I also know that I must be faithful to freely give what has been freely given to me.

I must had a disclaimer however...if you do not believe in God and have a desire to live for Him, what I have to say probably won't help you!  

I have lived life both ways...with Him and without, and hands-down, my life is so much better with Him leading it!  I don't have any success in living life without Him as my Master, so I don't think I could help anyone that chose that path.  And, in all honesty, I truly believe that path leads to death, and I am living proof.  But now, I have found life...and life abundantly.  I know Who that came through!

Therefore, today, what I would encourage someone with is this:  evaluate your life...figure out Whose you are.

My Pastor, Gregg Jackson, said in a message last year, that we often say, "I am trying to find out who I am."  But, if we would just find Jesus, we would find out who we are!  When we know Whose we are, we will know who we are!

God created us by Him and for Him.  He knows us intimately.  To try to understand who we are and what we are supposed to do apart from Him is really fighting a losing battle.  That is why so many become frustrated and discouraged and even hate life.   The stress brings on sickness in their body, and they literally feel like they are on a spinning wheel that they cannot get off of.  And I don't just see this in non-Christians, but even in believers who have been in church for years!  You can be a church-goer and still not be a Jesus-knower!  

I am convinced (because I have seen it happen over and over again) that the more you press into knowing Jesus, the more you will understand yourself.  You will stop surviving and start thriving!

One passion in my heart is to help others know Jesus.  I know the difference it has made in my life and in my family.  I truly, utterly believe without Jesus, my marriage would have disintegrated and my children would have suffered terribly.  But, my husband and I made a decision to stop living for ourselves and instead, live to serve God and others.  

We both make choices every single day to lay down our wants and desires and bless each other.  We do the same with our children.  We look for ways to bless one another and our children.  We do it on purpose.  Instead of blaming and being selfish, we TRY to build the other person up.  This has created a wonderful cycle of both of us being loved and cherished and well as our children.

When you know Jesus, you know true love.  The deeper you know Him, the lovelier you become.  It's how He meant for it to be in a family, but it starts with one person deciding to make a change that will cause an effect.  It gets really hard for someone to continue to be mean to you when you are constantly blessing them!

So evaluate Whose you are today and what results that is bringing forth in your life.  If you don't belong to Jesus, why don't you try it His way?  It can't be any worse than what you are experiencing!  I KNOW it will only get better.  The struggles won't all disappear, but YOU will handle them differently!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Resurrection Sunday!

What a glorious day to celebrate faith and family!  I didn't even get my boys any candy because my mom gets so much.  Instead, they got science and art projects, which they enjoyed.  We went to our church, where Tom's sister, Erin, and her husband, Jason, spoke a wonderful message, reminding us that the cross and resurrection was not just for forgiveness but also for intimacy with Jesus.  Then we stopped by both our parents' homes.