Monday, January 31, 2011

1000 Gifts: In the Bleak Midwinter

Yes, it's still winter.  How I long for spring!  Ready for warmer temps, new blossoms, fresh cut grass, and being outside.  And while I wait, I count my blessings until we get there. 


fresh baked monster cookies

watching the kids of a friend while she attended a meeting

6 kids from 12 years to 3 months - cuddled on the couch enjoying a movie under cozy blankets

continuing to memorize Philippians

the sweet smile of an almost four month old


an extra car for a week

the pass sticker on our van for a clear inspection - Praise the LORD!

books from the library - learning and preparing - fresh veggies here we come!

ordering seed packets

sushi with the girls - YUM!


a hot shower

a Christmas bonus - blessings unexpected

reading with my boys during lunch - Eric Liddell, Henry and the Paper Route, and countless others

daddy coming home from work

breakfast for dinner meals

new books for mommy

the joy of learning

Godly counsel

the bald spot on a four month old from rubbing his tiny hairs away

the hair fringe of a four month old

boys in bed by 8 pm

treasuring hunting on the weekends - kids finding treasures - silly bands, shiny stones, action figures, skateboards - in small boxes hidden among the everyday

being outside for a long chunk of the day to walk, hunt, breathe, bask, laugh, and remember that warm weather is just a few months away

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Major Homeschool Project: #2

A long time ago, like back at the beginning of the year, I started a journey of doing "fun things" that tied in to our lessons... remember the archaeological dig?  Back in August?  Well, we kind of got side tracked when we really got into the swing... and then there was the baby that I had in October - which really threw me off.  I seemed to get into the "check it off the list" mode, instead of the - this is really fun to do and they are still learning mode.

BUT now we are back!  Last week while learning about Crete we also learned about an island that was inhabited called Thera.  Thera was a volcanic island... obviously, the people had to leave when the volcano began to erupt.  The people living on Crete left also because the two were so close together.  Crete was covered in ash, and the crops had all died. So the inhabitants left also.

So as a project we created a volcano.  A little plaster of paris, a little paint, a little water, some baking soda, food coloring, vinegar, and dish soap - and of course, two VERY EAGER BOYS to get into all of it and viola!  Instant volcano!

Here are photos of the lastest project!!! Hooray for homeschooling!

Here's the decorating/painting part!  Both boys got to take turns painting the volcano... all we had was brown... so that's what we used... good thing the only color we had wasn't blue or purple... that would have been odd.

And here is the FUN part... the EXPLOSION!!!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

1000 Gifts: More of Life

 Over a year ago I began a journey of counting 1000 gifts.  Every Monday making a list of how God has blessed me... a running list of graces.  The gal who began the whole journey wrote a book coming out today, if not, very soon... about how to count God's graces, and why to count God's graces... to look to the blessings that are just that, as well as the hardships that the Maker turns into blessings...and my list goes on...


~ A challenge:  Hiding the entire book of Philippians in my heart in 2011 with our church family!

~ another stretch of 7 hours of sleep

~ ice cream sundaes

~ a few hours of time to clean on a Saturday

~ clutter free rooms

~ homeschooling in jammies

~our littlest man singing in church - even after the music has stopped

~ homemade ginger cookies

~ an impromptu change of plans to say good-bye to a friend going on missions

~ rainy days

~ my mother-in-law teaching me how to be an excellent mother-in-law by example

~ a friend's sweet reminder "No battle. No victory." 

~ a new Bible Study

~God speaking

~ laying it down

~ "You can be as wrong as wrong can be..."

~ a new book

~ Every morning You are faithful...

~ creating a new compost bin

~ library books and a new challenge - gardening

~ reading about champions of the faith with my boys

~late nights - all is quiet- dreaming boys, sleeping husband, thankful mom

 ~ counting to 1000 and beyond - gifts of grace, mercy, and joy that the Father has so lovingly bestowed on this sinful creature... the one He loves out of none of my merit... except that He created me and I am His!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is YOUR calling?

What is YOUR calling?  This is a question that I have been pondering for some time now.  My calling... what has God intended for me?  What has He asked of me?  What does He have for me?  

The reason for the introspection is just that I have been thinking these questions because a great friend (D.) just left today, with her family, for a hostile part of the world.  So hostile that it is only known by a few exactly WHERE she is going.  A few years ago her husband felt the calling to missions.  Being the submissive wife, D. went along with the calling.  And as a committed follower of Christ she said, "Oh yeah.  We'll go somewhere like a third world country and tell others about Jesus.  Somewhere like South America or Asia.  It'll be fun."  I remember her telling me that she was excited about the prospect of going to these places.  Places that didn't necessarily have a reputation for hostility toward the Gospel of Christ.  But God didn't call them there.  To those places.  God called them to a place of hostility.  Even extreme danger!  WOW!  

I think of her and her family.  Her husband and four children.  YES!  FOUR CHILDREN!   In a country HOSTILE to the GOSPEL!  Could I do that?  Could I live that?? They are so willing to follow what God has for them that they have sold all of their belongings except a few things and are moving, at least for the next three years, to this place.  All for the love of a Savior.  THE SAVIOR.  The Savior who loved us so much that He died for us... took our place on an ugly cross.  He took the HOSTILITY of sin and bore it on His very own shoulders so that we could have a friendship... a relationship with GOD.  

They, D. and her family, are going so that those who are hostile to the Gospel, might have a chance to know it and receive it. They are going with the HOPE that strangers may come to know JESUS who died for them... 

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”    How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

      “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
      Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Romans 10:11-15
Wow!  How much do I love friends?  Enough to feel uncomfortable?  How much do I love strangers here in the States?  Enough to receive a bit of ridicule for my beliefs?  How much do I love foreigners living in countries hostile to the Gospel of Christ?  Enough to lay down my life?    

John 15:13 says this, "Greater has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."  D. is laying down her life.  She is willing to give up her life.  Her life in suburbia.  Her life of comfort.  Her life of safety.  Her life.  So that she and her family can tell others about Jesus' love.   I always considered that laying down your life meant dying.  It doesn't necessarily mean that.  It means surrender.  Surrendering your comforts. Surrendering your income. Surrendering your safety.  Surrendering those things that I hold on to so tightly sometimes.  D. is going.  She heard the call. She is obeying.  May I be so obedient when I hear God calling.  Whatever He asks of me  - I desire to do it because HE IS SO WORTH IT!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Friendships of Women

Many years ago my father-in-law loaned a book to me... or maybe he gave it to me... I'm not sure which.  I still have it.  If it belonged to the library I would owe a HUGE sum of money on it by now.  But, I digress.

The book, entitled The Friendships of Women, was a great read.  It described how God created women to be relational - emotionally and spiritually, showing us a true picture of who He is.

As I was headed out of town last weekend to visit my longtime friend, AKA  BFF - I considered her place in my life... as well as the other women that I consider family.  There are not many, but those that the Lord has placed there are so special for so many different reasons.  It's actually funny when I think that the Lord placed these wonderful women in my life... because I couldn't have done as fantastic of a job as He did.  And typically, just when I think that things couldn't get any better and that all is right with the world, He up and moves one to remote places where I can't chat with her regularly  (That's what I get for living in a military town. :) ) or allows her to somehow not be as primary in my life.  But as He moves her, and I weep and mourn over the loss that I am feeling by watching another special friend move away - He drops another right in my path... not to take the place of the one that has left - but to build a new relationship to hone me in a different way.  Just like a stone has many facets - if one of the facets isn't buffed and rubbed in just the right way it won't show it's brilliance to the fullest extent.

Each of these women hone me - to encourage me to shine brilliantly.  Each one has different strengths and weaknesses... each has different talents and dreams.  And just like a puzzle - each one fits me "just right" in certain areas - challenging me to be who God intended for me to become.

As I reflect on each of these girlfriends, I realize how much I am loved by God Himself.  He specifically chose each one of these women to be in my life at this time... He knew I would need each of them for talking, laughing hysterically, weeping, confiding, receiving admonition and advice, and just being.  They challenge me, check on me, encourage me, and pray for me.  And as I just finished visiting BFF - I praise the Lord Almighty for all of the ways He shows His love for me... specifically today, for the relationships of precious women who I consider special friends.  To those women - I love you more than you'll ever know.

Monday, January 3, 2011

1000 Gifts: New Year Blessings

It is good to give thanks to the LORD
         And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
    To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
         And Your faithfulness by night
Psalm 92:1-2

With much thanksgiving I continue my list of blessings too numerable to count...

* a road trip weekend to see friends who are family

* the energy of a four year old boy

* playing outside in the fresh air

* a trip to the National Zoo

* worshiping together

* high fives during the greeting instead of the customary pleasantry of a handshake

* chili dogs with cheese, homemade doughnuts, Star Wars pancakes, and all of the other goodies from the weekend

*  the point in life when staying up to ring in the New Year isn't as important as the tired feeling making the eyes heavy

* "I wish you could stay another day."  and "I wish we didn't have to go home."  heard the whole weekend long

* watching boys grow and mature - from wee babes to tall 12 and 10 year old young men 

* the sweetness of a friendship with young men known since infancy

*Chops playing with a Lollipop - making dinner in a new pink kitchen

*introducing the newest member of our clan to them

* silly jokes that make little sense to grown ups - "What do you call a man that's made out of a cannonball?"

* a challenge to RUN without weights that slow us, avoiding the sin that halts us - for the purpose to glorify the ONE who is WORTHY

* finding freedom in the word "NO"

* a picture of grumpy faces having no fun and then the real photo

* good-byes with the promise to do this type of fun weekend adventure again soon

* a good bye hug from a big girl with a big smile who wouldn't come near me at the beginning of the weekend

* a safe trip home through rain and traffic 

* the "back to routine" of this first full week of January 2011 - school, work, church, and life - remembering that our God is not a God of chaos - but a God of order.

Praise God from Whom all blessing flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!