Friday, December 18, 2009

While Visions of Sugar Plums Danced


When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina. I began taking lessons when I was 3, and didn't stop until I graduated. Then I started again. Now, it's not like I'm that girl who can do all those amazing things and everyone stops and gasps and stares. I just love it. It's one of those parts of me that will never go away, no matter how old I am, or how long it's been since my last class or performance.

One thing that was really fun to be a part of when I was growing up was the Nutcracker that our company always put on every other year. I had little parts here and there, over the years...nothing show stopping, but still I was part of the show. I knew the scenes and all the various parts. I could hum all the music and nothing pulled me away from sneaking a backstage peak at the pas du deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince.

This is the part where I tell you how mad I am that I didn't have a camera. And how I would have the perfect shot if I had. Her eyes were about to pop they were so big. And her little lips were completely still.

Last night, I was able to take my little girl, along with several of the girls who dance in our neighborhood dance program, to see the Nutcracker Ballet for the first time. Y'all...she was on the edge of her seat the entire time. Well, on the edge of my lap to be exact. She would lean her head to the side ever so slightly, as to not take her big brown eyes off the stage for a second, and hold her program up in front of her face to whisper back questions to me. These were some of the things I heard over the two hour span,

"Is he going to change with magic, now?" "What are the mice doing?" "Who WINS this fight?" "Does the Nutcracker get hurt?" "Are they going to a new place now?" "Mommy, I can do that!" "When do they start talking?" "That's really hard to hold their mouths closed that long!" "That's really hard on those 'tilts'." "I bet those costumes are scratchy!" "I'll never get bored of this!" And on and on.

It was such a precious time. Truly magical for her little heart, and therefore, for mine as well. We were each so blessed to be able to see this production. Some to have a dream set before them. Others just to experience a beautiful show. But for me, to share something so dear to my heart with someone I love so much...my little mini-me. She was awed and inspired...just as I was, those many years ago.

Thank you, kind sir, for treating us all to such a special gift. It is one that will be remembered for a very long time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Wondrous Gift

This advent time for me is always such a gift, though one that can easily pass by me in a rush, without notice, if I'm not careful. More than any other season, I believe that we have opportunities to hear about His coming. However, it definitely doesn't mean that it's easier to listen. With all our concerts, performances, events, music, parties, and not to mention shopping, we barely have time to send out cards, much less take time to actually listen for a silent gift that was given over 2,000 years ago.

The Christ child came in such a way that didn't force anyone to hear, and yet invited all to be a part. He entered into our small and finite world with such vulnerability. Needy, weak, and poor He arrived on a dark night, to a young couple who had no idea how to be parents. And yet, even though more than ever we are needy, weak, and poor, we seldom admit to needing Him. We rush about doing our things, and figuring out our problems, and sometimes stopping to offer a "please do this" prayer. I'm so quick to figure life out myself, and get my needs met however I can, as quickly as possible.

The other day as I was driving, I heard this verse of "O Little Town of Bethlehem"...

"How silently, How silently, the wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of His heaven.

No hear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in."

Lord, may I be a meek soul. May I stop and take the time to have you enter in. Not just during the Christmas Eve service. Not just when I'm irritated at the Christmas traffic. But, may I know how much I need you this Christmas, and always.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Never Saw It Coming

I know I haven't been around here very much lately. I have a great excuse, and a great new website to prove it...thanks to my creative and techno savy hubby. We still do this, and you still have time to get some of these if you need them by Christmas, but over the last several months, I have been given the opportunity to truly celebrate everyday life. With real people. In real settings.

This past weekend was one of them. I loved every minute of planning, brainstorming, and carrying out what needed to happen for this sweet couple to have their perfect wedding. After a very busy weekend of fittings, and calls, and placing people, and giving instructions, and pointing, and bustling, and smiling, and problem solving, and chatting, and hugging, and buying huge golf umbrellas (just in case), and crying (because I always cry at weddings...especially at the first dance) and laughing, and being a little sassy to the people who needed some correcting, and dancing with my itinerary, and directing, and being bossy, and running from here to there, and putting out fires...literally....I felt as if I was doing something I was made to do.

I've felt that a million times as a mother. But it's different feeling that way about a career. And I would have never guessed that it would be this. I never even saw it coming. That's the funny thing about God. He can give you your dream job, without you even knowing that it's your dream job. And show you what you're naturally gifted to do, and then let you do it. All this to say, I'm excited to announce Events by Design.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Trim Up the Tree

We got our Christmas tree last Saturday. This year my hubs really wanted to get out the trains. So after designing a double decker oval track, our tree went up in the middle of it. We decorated it last night, and tonight before bed, my daughter said,

"Let's sing Christmas carols around the Christmas tree. But we have to stand right around it, and we have to hold hands."

I don't know where she gets it from.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Light Has Dawned

She was totally resistant this morning to get out of the car. She did it, but with the saddest, longest face I've ever seen. I think it was probably the long break...and the fact that we had a fun visitor coming this morning. Something about her standing there with her long face, backpack hanging down like a ton of bricks in her hand, and brush in the other, still refusing to brush her hair, made me ask God for blessing for her. As I drove off, I just couldn't help but beg God for blessing of hope, joy, and encouragement for her. She might not know that it was God blessing her...it may come in the form of a hug from a friend, or a welcome from a teacher, or a smile from a classmate, but 'something, God...would you give her something of joy this morning', is what my prayer became. It reminded me of this passage,

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy...You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor." Isa. 9:2-3

I'm so thankful that when God gave Isaiah this prophesy about Christ, that it was a message of encouragement. That the reason why He was willing to give up His precious Son, was so that we could live with joy. That we could have our yoke shattered and our burden lifted.

My little longing for her, made me think about how great His longing for us must have been. How completely shadowed our lives are without Christ, and how God must have just yearned so greatly for us to live in light. So greatly, in fact, that He had to bless us. He had to send His Son, because He could no longer stand us to live in darkness. He could no longer endure us "living in the land of the shadow of death". And thus, "unto us a Son is given." (Isa. 9:6) So often in church, we start at that part, but the reason why He had to come, is told in those verses just before. So that His people could be rescued from that "bar across their shoulders. From the rod of their oppressor."

Even though my five year old little girl doesn't realize that's what He can do for her right now, my prayer is that one day, she will see. And that in the mean time, I can be a living example of living in "great light". What other way is there for us to live? We are those whom He has given that dawning of light! We are those whom He came to increase our joy. When I live in a place of fear, defeat, and worry, I only shadow the greatest light that has ever been given. It made me remember this post from a dear friend, written almost a year ago.

I'm excited to enter into this Christmas season with great joy, and once again remember the great light that was given for us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Morning Gift

The Lord is so near to those who call on Him. He caught me off guard as I was whisking around the kitchen and house, cleaning this, picking up that. And by His sweet Spirit, my attention was caught by a worship song that was playing.

I love that even a morning scratchy voice barely squeaking out the notes is still a "joyful noise in His ear."

I love that I can sit in front of my computer with my eyes closed and my hands held high in the presence of my God and King, and know that I'm worshiping before His throne.

How great is our God?! How awesome is His love towards us that WE can be called children of God.

In taking a minute to praise my true Father, I come into the very presence that I've been longing to meet with, even though I look everywhere else first. Lord, would you make my heart seek you first. Would you turn my eyes up to You, before things here. What do I have here??? On this earth??? Why do I look so intently here?? When You are life, you are truth. You are the Lover of my soul, and I am your Beloved.

A couple of years back, I got to go to an in house Derek Webb concert. He had just written the "She Must and Shall Go Free" album, and one of my favorite songs that he spoke about and played was Beloved. Beloved he shared was written for the "church" in America today. We as believers...who make up the Body of Christ here. So often, I forget how dangerous a place we as Christ's beloved are in. I am influenced by this need or that worry, or my ever changing schedule, and so distracted by everything going on around me. I easily forget He is everything. That...

"There is nothing more. No more blessings and no more rewards. Than the treasure of my Body and Blood. Given freely to all daughters and sons."


Beloved
by Derek Webb

beloved these are dangerous times

because you are weightless like a leaf from the vine

and the wind has blown you all over town

because there is nothing holding you to the ground


so now you would rather be

a slave again than free from the law


(chorus)

beloved listen to me

don’t believe all that you see

and don’t you ever let anyone tell you

that there’s anything that you need

but me


beloved these are perilous days

when your culture is so set in it’s ways

that you will listen to salesmen and thieves

preaching other than the truth you’ve received


because they are telling lies

for they cannot circumcise your hearts


(chorus)

beloved there is nothing more

no more blessings and no more rewards

than the treasure of my body and blood

given freely to all daughters and sons


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Every Good Boy Does Fine???

I played piano when I was little. For 1o + years. A few months ago, we were asked by some friends to house their piano until they had a little more room for it. My husband (who never had a lesson in his life but plays like he's one of those people who plays in a restaurant to create the perfect background music) has been wanting one for so long, so of course the answer immediately was yes! I took lessons faithfully from the time I was 5 until I was about 16. I went to competitions, and camps...you know the whole nine yards. So guess what I can play? One part of the last song that I was learning when I stopped playing. And because I was gifted at learning by ear, I always learned by ear. I hardly used sight reading at all, and I was terrible at it. So, I can't even pick up a piece of music and play.

Today, I went to sit down and read for a bit, and I really love reading hymns. As I was flipping through, I had a grand idea. I thought, you know, I should go sit down and play one of these! Well, then, I found "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" and thought, "Yea! I'll work on some Christmas carols, so that by the time Christmas is here, we can all sit around the piano, and sing like in Little Women!" Seriously, that's what I thought.

So I sit down and start to figure out the cords...and it's like I was reading Latin. I had to literally sit there and say, "Ummm....F...A..... C.... E. So that's.....ummmm......D!!" It took me 45 min. just to figure out the right hand. And that wasn't even going at the right tempo. My daughter kept trying to sing along, and she would have to stop because I couldn't keep up!! It was hilarious. But, hopefully, by Christmas we'll have at least one carol learned.

Just for the record, when your mother says, "You shouldn't stop taking. You'll be sorry when you're older," you should listen. Hello, Mother? It's "older" and I'm sorry!!!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Threes


You know the old saying, "Things come in threes?" Well, I don't know about that, but this one is totally three.

Today, he played with cars, sticks, and his new football. He made a basketball crush a pretty Polly, and then laughed about it. He threw a fit when I told him that he couldn't have a large tootsie roll right before he ate his birthday cake. And he chased his sister around with his doggies saying, "Ruff Ruff" even when she repeatedly told him not to.

But he still snuggled with me when he woke up from his nap. And he smelled his same sweet smell that he always smells like when he first wakes up from a deep sleep. I can't put my finger on what it is. It's just a sleepy smell. All warm and snuggly. Melt-right-into-me-snuggly.

I love him so much. And he's such a treasure. I'm so thankful that I get to have him for my little boy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Searching for Colors



This beauty is in my backyard. I'm always blown away by the colors of the fall. How in the world, can the leaves become so bright and beautiful right before they die? Yesterday, my son and I went exploring in the yard to find leaves for a project he's doing at preschool. We of course, found many more than we needed, just because of how breathtaking they are. We couldn't resist "picking" more and more. However, what I felt myself begin to look for were green ones. We had scads of red, orange, and yellow...but we needed a few greens to balance the bright colors out. As you are well aware, there are not many greens. So, when we would see one, we would say with excitement, "There's a green one!" As we were in the midst of hunting, something about looking for the green ones stood out to me.

It's as if the Lord was saying...

"Why are you looking for what's been here all along? They've been right here under your nose, but it's not been until now, that you can't find them, that you count them as valuable".

I don't know why it stood out to me. Maybe because I spend my life searching for "more" of what I've already been given in full. Or because I just try to get my hands on what seems out of my reach, only to find, it's been there all along. Either way, it was a message of hope. A message of fulfillment. A message of sufficiency.

A sweet reminder, that even though sometimes I search for things I don't have, that my Father is already there, and has always been there, even when I can't see. A gift to unwrap indeed.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Recap

We had so much fun this year...as every year, but as my kids get older, we get to "do" more with them. First we started by having our annual "Stephens Fest" with my sister and her boys. We (well, she) made cupcakes and the kids decorated them with fun halloween sprinkles. We ate pumpkin seeds, carved pumpkins, and then got ready for trick or treating.

Uncle Randy delivered JC's pumpkin dream with this awesome Batman emblem

As much as I wanted our family to all dress alike in cowboy attire, the kids just wouldn't bite on that idea. River was all about being a kitten, and she wanted me to be the Mama Cat.


Asher went back and forth between a cowboy, a knight, and spiderman, and then the day of, decided on a fireman. I mean, who doesn't want to be a hero?



The kids were cute all dressed up together.

Batman, The Fireman, and Little Kitten
with the big "brother cousins"


After trick or treating, we went to a free carnival with pony rides, jumpy things, and lots of fun times. We met with up with our friends, but after a quick hello really didn't see anyone! All the kids were off to do their own thing! This is what mine had in mind...


River has been more into horses lately, so this was a real treat! She even waited in line on her own accord (I told her I would save her place while she went to ride rides, but she declined the offer) for about 30 min!

To end out the night, we grabbed a bite to eat at Steak and Shake, and really stayed up "late"! It was really fun to complete the evening with a milkshake and fries! Here's Asher the Fireman rescuing Mama Kitty from a tree. Haha.


It was a fun night for our little family. And we were all thankful for the extra hour, the morning after!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Autumn Fires

I haven't been taking an intentional break from blogging, just no time lately to even think about new posts. I have, however, been absolutely blessed to have been in the company of good friends sitting around pleasant autumn fires the last two evenings. I came across this poem yesterday, and it seemed so fitting for these fall days.

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

~Robert Louis Stevenson (A Child's Garden of Verses)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fight...

The first time I saw the "Fight like a girl" slogan, I thought it was genius. What a great phrase and campaign for breast cancer. I often think about how many women have had to fight. Women I know, women I don't know. Stories I hear or read, or stories I tell. But I love to know that we can fight.

My first reality hit with breast cancer was when I was almost 11. It was the week after Christmas, and the week of my birthday. I had just gone back to school from Christmas break, and was called to the office. I wasn't quite sure why, until I saw my mom. She had tears in her eyes, and a look of urgency about her. She told me that my Grandma Betsy was about to pass away, and that we were going to say goodbye. It was a long drive, and by the time we reached our destination, my sweet grandmother had already said goodbye.

She had fought a hard fight. Twice with this enemy. There had been signs, but let's face it...this was 20 years ago. Women with pain or lumps, simply kept going. They didn't complain. They didn't go to the doctor to actually talk about symptoms, and heaven forbid if it had to do with their...shhh....breasts.

When Grandma Betsy finally did begin to fight, she had chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and probably more that I don't even know about, and still that wasn't enough. She was 59.

I remember not getting it until I saw her that day. Not realizing how real this "disease" called breast cancer was. But seeing her in the bed, I got it. I knew how much I wanted her to have peace. Rest. Victory. And she did. However, I wish that I could have celebrated with her still here. I wish that she had had a t-shirt that said "Fight like a girl!" For she surely did.

Today, I went into a shop for something, and one thing led to the next, and somehow the store clerk and I ended up talking about how both of our grandmothers had suffered through this disease. Hers had made it through two battles, and was continuing to fight. Mine had not. We chatted about the struggle, and desire to support others on this journey, or in this fight. Then, she asked me. She asked me if I had gotten a mammogram yet. I was so thankful to be in the day and age where a store clerk would have the guts to talk about this thing that in the past would have been hushed. Or where people would have ignored the lumps under their arms, just to simply keep face, and not be embarrassed. But instead, we encouraged each other in early detection, and confronting and possibly disagreeing even with doctor's advice, to be checked early.

Today's my Grandma Betsy's birthday. I wish that I could have been at a 79th birthday party for her. She would have sang beautifully and then blown all those candles out. She would have played a song on the piano with her bright beaming smile. And she would have had something dynamic and pink on.

Celebrate with me this month. Do it for someone you know. Do it for someone you don't know. But let's press on to always fight like girls. My little way of bringing awareness is trying to wear something pink everyday for the rest of this month. It helps me remember to
think of and pray for those fighting this battle now.

To help bring more awareness, check out any of these sites for great ideas and products.




Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Date Night

Have I mentioned here, how I love to celebrate life? Just kidding. So, lately, my Tuesday evenings are a really fun thing around here. Wanna know why??? My hubs and I have started a new tradition. (I'm making myself laugh out loud right now, just typing that.) "Tradition....TRADITION!" (Sing along with me! It needs to be my theme song.)

We do lots of laundry, but usually don't get a chance to fold it right away. We let it pile up into a huge heap (all clean thank goodness) on the sofa in the living room. Then, after the kids are in bed, we make coffee and watch Office reruns (and sometimes other shows like the Biggest Loser) and fold all our laundry.

Yesterday, I saw all of it in the pile, and I said, I may need to make tonight my laundry night. Hubby said, "Is it Tuesday?" Yeah, it's a tradition.

It's great to be able to actually look forward to doing laundry. And the folding and putting away is the most dreaded part, anyway. But not anymore! Throw the word "date", "coffee", or "Office rerun" in there, and WHAM! It's a new favorite.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Monday Kind of Tuesday Morning

It was one of those mornings.

You know the kind. You wake up late. Your husband has an early morning meeting, so you're on your own. Your kids don't want to wake up because they stayed up too late the night before. They finally do, only to be grumpy and whiny...and not to mention SLOW!!

You forgot to pack the kids lunches the night before, so you do it while reading the book that you forgot to read with your Kindergartner the night before. You don't have time to take a shower, because you forgot to get your aerobics stuff together and the stuff for your morning meetings. And to sign the papers in the backpack.

You yell at your kids for taking too long, and roll your eyes at your daughter's all out drama fit...about her eyes hurting and how she can't help but gouge it out with her fist. Then you try to be more patient by telling her she can "help it". That she "can do all things through Christ who strengthens her" because I'm demonstrating that so clearly.

You keep hitting start on the coffee maker, only to realize there's no water in it. Finally you put water in, but don't even have time to drink any. So you pour it into a to go cup, but because you're in such a hurry, you don't take the time to put the lid on properly. So you spill it on your white blouse as you're rushing out the car.

You're so angry by this point that when your 2 year old son is asking to hear his favorite praise song the second he gets into his car seat, that you yell, "NO, I'M NOT PUTTING IT ON!! I just need to talk to God!" Because you know, praising Him is the last thing you want to do.

You get your daughter to school late, and you're rushing so much when you leave the car pool line, you almost get sideswiped by a huge SUV. By this time, you're ten minutes late to meet your 8 o' clock appointment you've had set for a week. With your coffee stained shirt, sloppy hair and barely any makeup on, you confess that it had been a hard morning with a drama queen for a 5 year old. Fortunately, his response was a chuckle accompanied with, "We've all been there. I have 3 girls." You want to say, "Bless you!" but you know if you say too much of anything, you'll just start crying, so you just chuckle back.

Thankfully, the morning got better. I took a deep breath, finally had some of my coffee, vented to a friend who listened so intently and then prayed for me, had another appointment that went much smoother, had lunch with a dear friend who let me laugh at myself and encouraged me simply by being in her presence. I tell you, I couldn't have picked a better day to see these gifts. I mean friends. And in the midst of it all that I "happened" to run across this...

"I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

Yes, Lord, I will bless you. Yes, Lord, I know I didn't this morning, but would you help me. Would you send your Spirit through my pressed lips of frustration, and help me have praise continually be in my mouth. Help this mess of a girl, know your grace and your gifts today.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My Little Joy


When I was pregnant with Asher, we were excited to choose his name for it's meaning. His name means "happy; joy; blessed". That, he is.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


The other day, Asher and I were playing outside with bubbles, having a grand time. I was looking at him, and not really noticing much in the yard. Everything looked the same. Same as it always does...not much grass, nothing spectacular, just splotches of green here and there. You know...same as it always looks.


And then something compelled me to look up. And I saw this...




All the time I was standing down in my spot, I had no idea what was above me. I had no idea of the colors and the splendor of what was happening right above my head. (they're really much more beautiful and vivid than that, i just don't know how to take very good pictures.)

It reminded me of how our Father works. Sometimes we can't see what He's doing. We might not even know He's working at all. And then, maybe, we look up. And just maybe we see but a glimpse of His glory. The splendor of His majesty working in our midst all the while.

And all we have to do is look up.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Free


There is much to celebrate today...

In the midst of kids being sick...

In the midst of life being overwhelming...

There is a God who is not overwhelmed.

And a love that is not shaken by checklists and chores.

There is a place that I can hide away

And be.

A place that I can forget about the stuff

To sit at the feet and listen

To the One.

For only one thing is needed.

And I would like to choose the better.

I would like for it to not be taken from me.

I'd like to be like Mary today.

So easily it can be taken.

But not today.

Not now.

Maybe today, I could choose freedom

I could choose

To rest.

Seem simple?

Not for me.

Seem impossible?

Yes.

Thankfully, nothing is impossible

With God.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mums were Nestled all Snug in their Beds...

There are few things that I love more than celebrating. We've even changed our business phrase to "celebrating everyday life" rather than "creating for everyday life". It just seems to fit a little bit better.

So, to celebrate the start of Fall,
this past week I bought these beautiful mums,
and nestled them all snug in their beds.


I begged my hubs to go up to the attic and get down my harvest wreath that still smells wonderful with the eucalyptus that has been in there for 2 years


Filled some other fun jars with lots of Autumntime.

I changed out my seascape candle setting to be more earthy
(also this makes a great place for the kids to put as many acorns
as they want in there without them getting all over my house!)

And made my hubby another pot of vegetable soup.

They're not big things...just everyday ways to celebrate this gift called Fall that God gives us every year. What things do you like doing to welcome Autumn? I know I'm not the only one who likes to party! ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Will You Ever Turn

I had a wonderful weekend at the beach with a group of beautiful girls. A few of us that live in our neighborhood took them down to talk about real stuff. Relationships, sex, shame, forgiveness, redemption, breaking free from cycles of sin, were a few of the topics we discussed.
These are girls that have never seen the beach before, girls that don't know how precious they are. Girls that have suffered much more than I could ever imagine, girls that have struggled to fight to even remain alive.

As I dropped the girls off, and drove home, I saw two of our other precious girls, who are were walking down a dark street. Walking with two boys that had the look that they were up to nothing good. I turned around and went back. Even though it was late, even though it was dark, because I hoped so much that they would get in the car. That they would let me take them home. They said no, as they stayed in the shadows, and barely said anything at all.


Will you ever turn back

from wandering down that dark street,

covering your face

as one trying to hide.


Will you ever look back

and see all who love you

All who want you

To have a better life

Than the one you think you deserve.


As I see you walking

I think you're beautiful,

But you won't even look me

In the eye.


Will you ever turn back

And see how much He loves you

How much He holds you

In the palm of His hand.


He'll never let you go,

No matter how you run,

No matter where you hide,

He holds you fast,

He holds you sure,

And though you won't turn,

Neither will He.

He'll never turn back

From loving you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Set on Pilgrimage

I have this battle I fight every day. Well, several, if you really want to know the truth. But lately, the most common battle is an ugly five letter word. Guilt.

It causes me to do things like try to explain why I haven't done something a certain way, or to apologize for not doing something I think I should have. I end up apologizing to my husband, my children, my friends, my God.

It makes me feel like I've messed up before I've even begun.

It nags me to the point of giving up, but I don't because the threat of failure is too great.

The tricky thing about it all, is that it doesn't seem like guilt. It seems like truth and conviction. It spurs me on to do it right, and to do it better. However, therein, lies the defeat.

The other day, feeling weary from this familiar battle, I came across this...or rather, I was led to this...

"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,
til each appears before God in Zion."

I immediately breathed in the comfort and peace He was longing to give me.

Then I looked up "Baca". The Valley of Baca was never an actual Valley, however the word means weeping. I don't know about you, but I've seen many a Valley of Baca. And I honestly think that much of my striving is an attempt to avoid ever having to enter another one.

But, oh, to have those springs. To have those beautiful autumn rains cover me with pools of strength. I could just sit in them forever, like a child swimming in a cool pool on the hottest day of summer, not wanting to get out, even when their lips are blue and their fingers are all shriveled up. But so often, I forsake the pool, for a cheap attempt to get their on my own.

We are each on this journey, and even though many days my heart is set on pilgrimage, sometimes it's strength is in me, not in Him. I'm so thankful that he reminds me that it is not up to me to be strong enough, and not for me to do it right or do it better. It is up to Him, to live through me, to be my strength and to lead me even through the Valleys of Baca. To go from "strength to strength" till I appear before God, full of His own glorious strength, and nothing left of me.


Monday, September 07, 2009

Splashing Around




The days have actually felt longer recently. I know they're actually getting shorter, but at our house they don't feel as filled as they used to. I think part of it is just that I miss her being home, or the hours until I see her don't feel like they pass quickly enough.

On the other hand, I have really loved being able to spend such good time with my little man. Oh my gosh, I don't think I've ever seen such a cute boy. And oh, how he makes me laugh!! He is so funny. I truly cherish his sweet tender spirit and ambition towards life.

Today was his first day of preschool. I tell you what, though...after having to dive into Kindergarten, taking him to preschool felt like a puddle to splash around in, rather than an ocean to cross!

He walked in, and all I saw was the back of his head. I stood there for a few seconds waiting for him to turn around, and when he didn't, I quietly slipped into the hall, but felt a tad bit guilty that I hadn't said good-bye. I was thinking what if he thinks I just left him...without even saying good-bye! Clearly you can see that I'm the one in need of help!

Later as I talked to my hubby I told him how Ash had gone in, without one last hug, or one more look, or even a "I love you! I'll be back soon!" He very calmly said, "That's because he already knows it."

all ready for preschool

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Have A Seat


Even though I've been on the go almost constantly this past week, I've been thinking a lot about sitting. Watchman Nee has been reminding me of so many foundational, yet profound truths this week. I picked up Sit, Walk, Stand the other day, and I can't tell you how glad I am to be reminded to sit.

See, like most Christians, I have made the mistake of trying to "walk in order to be able to sit. Our natural reason says, 'If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can we attain without effort? How can we ever get anywhere if we do not move?"

Did you hear what says that? Our natural reason! That's what has me bent over backwards every day trying to accomplish something that has already been finished. Mr. Nee goes on to say,

"If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss EVERYTHING. For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE."

How many times have you tried to "do" your spiritual life instead of realizing that Christ has already done everything there needs to be done. I wrestle every day to let God have control, and to force myself to sit in Him. Sometimes I feel like He has to tie me to the chair just to get me to "sit".

"In walking or standing we expend a great deal of energy, but when we are seated we relax at once, because the strain no longer falls upon our muscles and nerves but upon something outside of ourselves. So also in the spiritual realm, to sit down is simply to rest our whole weight - our load, ourselves, our future, EVERYTHING - upon the Lord. We let him bear the responsibility and cease to carry it ourselves.

"Sitting is an attitude of rest. Something has been finished, work stops, and we sit. It is paradoxical, but true, that we only advance in the Christian life as we learn first of all to sit down."

I'm great at walking, but these days, I'm relearning how to have a seat. Won't you pull up a chair with me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Big Day!



Well, we did it! And when I say "we", I mean we!!! I think it may have been harder for me than her. I held back the tears until after she was in her class, and then of course fell apart walking away from her room. I wiped them away by the time I got to the "Boo Hoo Breakfast", kind of ironic, but then shared a few more with a friend or two.

saying goodbye to brother (and explaining how he won't see her "all day long".)


all ready to go!


one more look back

ahhh...the comforting arms of her teacher!

She loved every minute of her day, and came home beaming with accomplishment and success. And it was just the first day. And I've learned that the "good stuff" that I'll hear about the day isn't when I first pick her up. It's when we pack her lunch...I learned that her "friend has a boyfriend that she's going out of town to see. He's five...and he kills animals."

OK, the boyfriend thing was hard enough, but WHAT??? He KILLS ANIMALS??? Who is this kid?? Of course I only said, "Oh. Why does he kill animals?" To which she said, "I don't know. Maybe to eat them or something." I laughed. Then we talked about how we just want to be "friends" with boys, but not have them as our "boyfriend".

So, overall, even with a few tears here and there, it was a precious day. A day full of gifts!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ready...Set....Go?

The supplies have been purchased. The teacher has been met. We've gone to the open house. We've even pretended going to school with a pretend lunch all packed up. We've been counting down the days and now there's only one left. And there's only one thing left to do...

Go.

While I still haven't cried, I'm sure I will. And even though it still feels surreal and uncertain, Tuesday is only a day away. And she will wear her brand new backpack, and she will walk in her class. And she will begin a brand new adventure...on her own.

I think that's the craziest part for me. It's not that she's unready or too young. She's totally ready! It's that I don't get to be there. I don't have to be there. She will do it on her own, and I will get to watch and be amazed. It just seems like it's gotten to this point really fast.

As we drove home tonight, we passed by our local university. We saw families moving in their Freshmen college kids and grilling out in the parking lot of student housing. I told River and Asher that when they went to college we wouldn't just drop them off with their stuff and tell them "good luck". I told them that we would stay the whole weekend, and find out about the town they were in. Take them and their roommates out to dinner, and go shopping for their dorm rooms together. We wouldn't be an absent part in such a vital transition to that life on their own.

Something about having that conversation made me feel like we are literally going to blink and be there. Not dropping off at kindergarten, but at college. We'll be taking her and her roommate out for dinner and shopping for futons, not just her first Hello Kitty backpack.

And this is when I start to cry. And this is when it hits me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

With all of the coming and going these days, getting ready for big things for friends and family, I haven't had a lot of time to sit down and visit. Or go to the grocery store.

So this morning, I poured the cereal, topped with fresh berries...all ready for the milk. Until I realized...we were out of milk. I usually go to half and half when this happens, and just water it down to be a little bit more like milk. The kids always enjoy this and say loudly, "Coffeemilk!" In case I don't have either of those, usually I have vanilla yogurt. None of that either. Wanna know what they had for breakfast?






And they ate every bite.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Countdown Has Begun

When you only have 2 weeks until something, there begins to be a push. I start feeling like it's really getting close, and I know I still have a little time...but not much.

Yesterday marked the "only two weeks left" point until River heads off to school...not just preschool...or preK....the really thing...Kindergarten. We've started our planning...what she's going to wear, and what she wants her hair to look like. But we haven't gone school supply shopping, yet. I was tempted today at Target to go down that aisle, but Daddy wants to come with us, so we're waiting. I steered her the other direction before she could see all the exciting pencils, notebooks, and folders. I did let her buy paper lunch bags. Even though she has a lunch bag that she'll be using. I tried to talk her out of it, but there was something about getting them that just seemed right.

I started getting nervous two weeks before my due date with my babies, even though they were both almost 2 weeks late. I started getting really excited two weeks before my wedding with all the last minute details that were happening. I start getting really itchy two weeks before I throw a party or have an event I'm coordinating. I ALWAYS get really excited two weeks before Christmas.

There's just something about 14 days that seems so close, but feels too far away to grab hold of, and makes you want to enjoy every single day to the fullest. That's what I'm trying to do at least. When the tears start to fall, I'll let you know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What We Love Best


There is no way to say how much I needed our anniversary trip. I mean, I think it's been a full year since the two of us have been away together. And let me just say, that's too long. Last year I needed red roosters and antique shopping. This year I needed salty sea air and sand between my toes. It was perfect.

We actually had adult conversations without being interrupted. We got to hang out on the beach with no one needing anything. We swam really far out to a sand bar and rode lots of waves. We had a romantic ocean front dinner and had a delicious dessert (on the house since it was our 10th). We tried to remember things from our honeymoon (day by day), and I was very impressed with how much my hubs remembered...even what we ordered at the different restaurants! We took a late night walk on the beach. We laughed a lot. We watched a great movie. We slept in. We talked about our future. We drank coffee.

But more than anything, we just enjoyed being together. What we love best.

Friday, August 07, 2009

No Shadow of Turning


Well, we've made it. Past the wonderfully exciting, yet emotionally draining, first years. Past the hard five-seven year hump. Past the endless diapers and sleepless nights. And here we are. 10 years later.

The things that speak of our love for each other now are not found in big bouquets or "perfect" moments. Instead, they are found in the simple things...

our morning coffee mugs ready and waiting for us to start another day together


our hands overlapping for a few minutes here and there throughout the day


early morning snuggle sessions with each other


I know I mentioned this hymn the other day, but lately I've found myself singing it more often. One reason why we asked to have this hymn at our wedding was because of how true the words would be in our lives together. As we stood 10 years ago, holding hands in the front of a church, we didn't know exactly how we would see God's faithfulness, but we knew we would have no other hope but to trust in Him.

We have struggled before and will again. We have laughed until we cried many times. We have fought. I have yelled (not him so much). We have barely made it financially more than once or twice. We have loved and we have failed to love. We have journeyed through many days, and will continue on as long as we're alive.

Our marriage is standing strong, admist the storms that life would throw at us. But it's all because He is faithful to uphold our union. He is able to carry us through it all. And we will see how Great His Faithfulness is forever and ever. We will have "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!"

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!