Monday, April 30, 2012

Gift List #58-78

# 58 Sweet moans in the night that remind me of children sleeping soundly
# 59 A change of pace
# 60 A  haircut that reminds me of a little boy who is growing into his own person


# 61 An opportunity that is a complete gift from God
# 62 Hearing my son laugh out loud in his sleep
# 63 Listening to a man’s testimony of how he heard the Gospel while living in
       Communist China
# 64 Knowing the prompt to stay close to home was for a reason
# 65 Eating lunch as a family
# 66 Sunshine on my face


# 67 Getting to watch my Observer gaze in amazement at The Griffith Observatory
# 68 Safe travel into LA all by myself with kids in tow
# 69 The kindness of a stranger

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# 70 A moment to catch up on things as a family
# 71 The beginning of a weekend starting early
# 72 Birds of Paradise

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# 73 Taking the kids up a mountain for their first time
# 74 A picnic lunch in God’s classroom
# 75 Watching the (in)RL videos and feeling connection

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# 76 Worshiping the Lord
# 77 Togetherness that makes unfamiliar feel like home
# 78 Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

Joyfully sharing my gifts at A Holy Experience

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Tiny Word that Brings Huge Results

I have a goal that by the time I turn forty I will have seen all fifty states in the good ol’ USA. Right now I’m about half way there, and the other day I was thinking about how in the last eight months I’ve been able to check four states off all because of a tiny three letter word.

If you came to me last year and told me I would scratch a line through Mississippi, Alabama, Pennsylvania, AND New York in less than a year I would’ve laughed in your face very hard. Not a rude obnoxious laugh, but a “Are you kidding me?” kind of laugh.
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You see, I’m a stay at home mom who does normal a lot. My daily rhythm is pretty hum drum. I cook, clean, bathe, and feed my children. I’m like you, I’m striving to make sure I can do all the Lord wants me to do to guide my kiddos in the direction He wants them to go. But something happened about a year and a half ago that I had no clue would open doors which otherwise would’ve been shut if I had said no.
When I told the Lord I would start a blog, it was done with a cloud of fog laying before me. I had no idea where I would go with this blogging thing (and sometimes I still don’t), or what the future had in store. To say I was reluctant would be the understatement of the century.
I don’t consider myself a big blogger by ANY means, but what blogging has done in my life is bigger than I would have even imagined. The doors it’s opened for me have gone way far beyond what I thought it would when I jotted my first post.
It may seem really strange and weird to some folk out there, but I’m so very grateful for the world of blogging. It really has been one of those things that’s shown me how God can use anything and everything.

Not long after I got back from Pennsylvania my blogging friend, Melissa, invited me to visit her and her family in New York. I about fell out of my chair. NEVER would I have guessed that I would be going to New York City with a blogging buddy. NEVER!!!! I figured it would be something WAY down the road as an anniversary gift or something.  
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Before I knew it was making plans to jump on a plane to go east and eat the best pizza this mouth has ever tasted.
When I arrived in NY, I came through the baggage claim terminal and right before me was Melissa and her three kiddos greeting me with this HUGE banner. Immediately the tears flowed when all of us locked eyes.


I cannot tell you how excited I was to see all their faces.
On the way to her beautiful home she and I were a bunch of hens just cackling away, filling in the holes of where we are in our life. As Melissa drove down scenic hills filled with trees and lush green fields she asked what kind of wildlife there is in Texas. She didn’t even get to finish her sentence and a deer jumped out in front of her car. I sheepishly answered, “squirrels.”
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We went roller skating the first night with some of her girlfriends. We all dressed up in 80s clothes and make-up. I felt like a teenager all over again getting dressed up in blue eye shadow, almost suffocating from using aerosol hairspray, and rolling my pants up Zach Miller style. 

The entire time I spent with her family was as close to feeling like a queen I think I’ve ever experienced. Melissa is a fantastic host. Her husband is a phenomenal cook, and her kiddos are just plain cuties. 
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I was able to get a view into her life as a homeschooling mama. That was something I really wanted to experience because it seems like our family is leaning more that direction as my little boy gets further away from being little.
During my time in NY she took me to the city along with a friend of hers that lives nearby. We ate at Rockefeller Cafe, looked at as many sights as we could fit in during a few hours, and then ended the day with a Jim Brickman concert on Broadway.
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As we drove out of Manhattan I could see into the windows of the apartments that are lined up next to the highway. A group of people were watching the Grammy’s. I told Melissa and she called her husband to see if he’d start recording it for all us gals.
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When we got to her home we all scrambled into the house, put on our frumpy pajamas, and started to watch the Grammy’s. The entire time we cracked jokes at people who paid a lot of money to look really bad, but we did not make a peep when Adele came on because she’s just plain awesome
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Then something very sad happened, I had to get up the next morning and leave. Both Melissa and I left the same way we were when we first saw each other, a bit weepy and hugging each other so tight it was a bit hard to breathe.

It’s an adventure saying yes to the Lord because you never know where it will take you. Please know I’m saying this from many experiences when saying yes means you aren’t boarding a plane to fun and adventurous places. Instead, the Lord’s taking you on a journey to places a plane ticket can never buy, and He’s wanting to help get rid of useless baggage.

Either way, the yes is well worth the ride. And the souvenir is something that is a showcase for all to see and admire.
Is there something you’re needing to say yes to? Maybe the Lord’s telling you something that could be so very small, and yet it will bring huge results to questions swirling around in your head.
This weekend take some time alone with Him, and listen for what it is He’s wanting from you. It may just be your stillness with Him is the “yes” He’s been waiting for. Your yes is His opportunity do something big in your life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gift List #40-57


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#40 Well behaved and easily entertained children while on two flights
#41  Safe arrival to a destination
#42 Palm Trees
#43 Breakfast together as a family
#44 A solution to sleeping arrangements
#45 Perfect weather
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#46 An amazing park
#47 A picnic under a palm tree
#48 A grocery store that makes us feel at home
#49 Naps that helped everyone catch up on much needed rest
#50 Dinner on the patio
#51 A smooth cup of coffee
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#52 Sand under my feet
#53 Getting to watch dolphins play in the ocean
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#54 Meeting a sweet family at the pool
#55 Visiting a church that is making kingdom history
#56 Hearing a much needed reminder to take care of myself
#57 My son’s laugh- it’s contagious
Joining the community of people who are willing to join the Joy Dare at
Ann Voskamp’s blog A Holy Experience

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When You Feel Like You’re Falling Through the Cracks {or the ceiling}

We finally got our garage cleaned up. It’s been about a year long process. For some people it may have taken a few weeks, or even just a Saturday afternoon. It took us a bit longer.

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One of the biggest reasons it took so long is the crazy heat wave that came our way for a good three to four months this past summer. Another reason is around this time last year I got a little overzealous in an effort to clean it up myself, and fell through through the ceiling of my attic in the process. Yes! I fell through the ceiling of our garage, and it was absolutely NOT funny when it happened.

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I seriously thought I was going to die. I mean, I’ve had moments in the car when some events from my past flashed before my eyes, but I soon forget about the whole thing after I’ve thanked the Lord for His protection and purchased a diet coke from Sonic’s happy hour.

But the recovery process of falling through my attic took a few days, and let me assure you the lesson I learned is one that branded me for life.

I had asked for help from my husband, but at the time he was working long and hard hours at school. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to help because even he was getting irritated at the massive amount of stuff in our garage, but he sincerely did not have the time.

I had it in my mind that the garage was going to get done, even if I had to get up in the attic and arrange things to fit the garage paraphernalia myself. So I did!

One Wednesday afternoon I backed the car out of the garage, pulled down the attic door with the collapsible stairs and marched myself up right up those stairs. I wish I could say my excitement put a bounce in my step, but it actually was my prideful attitude thinking about how awesome of a job I was going to do without the hubster’s help.

The only thing is when I got up to the attic to move boxes around I noticed something. Those great and wonderful storage bins that I had worked on for many hours were turned around the wrong way. You know? The ones with the big fat labels taped to the side so I could see what was in them just by looking at the front. All of them. Turned around to where the labels faced the wall.

Man oh man! I was ready to turn those suckers around and just prove to the entire world that I was an organized mamma who had it together. And as I was thinking all that in my head I took one step forward and BOOM! I fell right through the ceiling.

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All of my one hundred fifteen, please know that is NOT true, pounds on a piece of sheetrock. Right through the ceiling.

Thank the Lord my armpits just happened to catch the rafters going across the attic as I was falling because by the time I stopped falling one leg was caught in a bunch of wires and the other just freely dangling. Three fourths of my body had completely fallen through the ceiling and from the chest up I was still in the attic. And no sirreebobby, there are no pictures to show you what I looked like.

When I came to realize what just happened I was screaming like a crazy woman who just fell through the ceiling. Our garage door was still open so my neighbor heard me and ran to my aid. My husband who, thank the Lord, happened to be off from work that day to catch up on school work, was in the house. He had no idea what I was doing. He came into the garage from inside and started looking around for me. Get that? Looking around. Not up. He was under me, and couldn’t see me until I started to kick my loose leg. He immediately looked up, and his face was priceless.

Both my husband and neighbor helped me get untangled and place my feet on firm ground. I was a wreck. I had bruises all over my ribs and legs. But the biggest bruise was my ego.

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Once everyone got calmed down and I was confident I hadn’t broken any bones the questions started.

“Why weren’t the tubs put in the “right way”?”

“Why couldn’t you wait for me to finish this school project?” 

Mr. and Mrs. Ugly were coming out. What can I say? We’re a family and we love each other, but our humanness is our biggest flaw. 

Not only did we have the garage mess to clean up, but also a big fat whole to patch up in the ceiling. I. ME. I had made a bigger mess out of something that would have, and eventually did, been fixed with help.

Does this story sound familiar to you? I’m not talking about falling through the ceiling. I’m talking about when life is a mess, and instead of relying on the help that is available, we take matters into our own hands and the result is an even bigger disaster.

What about when we’re trying to fix someone else? We see the disorder and in an effort to put things back in their “rightful” spot, hearts get severely damaged. And when we’re talking about people, the repair work goes beyond what you can find at Home Depot.

I’ve done this so many times. In myself, friends, family and obviously garages. I’ve learned, and please know I’m still learning, that seeing a mess is a good thing. That’s the work of our Friend, the Holy Spirit. He reveals those things, it’s His job. What’s not good is when we try to do the work that can only be done by Jesus.

Life messes require help that go beyond what I can do as an individual. It takes the Lord, and the support of people who you can trust.

By looking at our garage today you would never guess that it took me falling through the ceiling to wait and be patient with, one of my biggest helpers, my husband to clean our mess. He did something I could never do and created a storage bin organizer. We built it together. All of us, kids included.

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Now, I walk into my garage and it’s relatively in order. The mess is cleaned up. I can find what I need. The labels are showing. It’s almost as if we are using our garage with the designer’s purpose in mind.

I’m ready for that to be my life as well. How about you?

Linking this up to: Michelle’s Thought Provoking Thursday

Friday, April 6, 2012

Some of Our Favorite Easter Books 2012

I’ve done several things this year to keep my kids a little more interested in the Easter season and why it is incredibly important in our home.

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But of all things that we do my favorite thing is to snuggle close to my babies at night during their bedtime routine and read them story after story about Easter. They seem to be a little less squirmy and they smell all sweet from fresh baths and lotion.

I usually tuck Lilly, who is two, in and “swing” her in her rocking chair every night.

Next to her rocker is a stack of books waiting for us to dive into.

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I love this collection of books in particular because they are board books. Lilly can pull them off from her little desk, which she does quite often, and look through them on her own without tearing them to smithereens. Sometimes I will catch her just sitting on the floor in her bedroom looking through all the pictures in these books.

Here’s the list of books in the stack starting from bottom to top: Watch Me Hop, Baby Duck (I’m not finding this on Amazon but it’s published by Priddy books), Biscuit’s Pet and Play Easter, Easter Bunny are you for Real?, The Easter Story, The Story of Jesus.

Most of these books have few words and bright pictures. They keep Lilly’s attention fairly well. I like to keep a lot of books handy because if she gets bored I have several readily available so I can continue reading for quite some time.

While I get Lilly settled down for the night, my husband is having some “male bonding time” with our four year old son.

Next to Joel’s bed is a night stand that has a drawer full of books waiting to be read by “daddy”. It’s like a sacred stash that only they can read together. 

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Books going from left to right:
I Need an Easter Egg
Have You Seen My Ducking?
The Bunny Book


Because of Joel’s age and attention span he can handle books with more words.

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Books pictured: (top) Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (bottom) The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings

Not every book is read in one night, but it’s a nice collection to read through for several weeks leading up to Easter.

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Every morning as breakfast comes to a close we usually will read The Jesus Story Book Bible. Love. That. Book. We also love the Golden Book version of The Story of Jesus.

A dear friend of my family’s gave Lilly The Legend of the Donkey’s Cross as a present for her first birthday. She’s still a little too young to appreciate the meaning behind the story, but Joel was completely intrigued when I read it to him this year. It’s great for Palm Sunday.

I know it’s past Palm Sunday, but I wanted to give you our book list because I have a bit of a trick when it comes to buying books that correlate to holidays.

I buy a lot of my books after the season at Barnes and Noble. They mark most of the seasonal books down to 50% off after the holiday, and if you become a member you get an extra 10% off. That’s more than half off a brand new book. Using that advantage has helped us create a larger children’s library which is something I feel can NEVER be too big.

Books that weren’t purchased at B&N, or Amazon are books that I collected through being a teacher. They are the ones that if our house caught on fire I’d grab them in an instant. Okay, I really wouldn’t. But they are wonderful books that I consider classics. 

Here are some other great sources for books from some bloggy buddies of mine and ladies I’ve come across through my search for Easter ideas this year:

Amanda at My Heart’s Desire (this is one of my bloggy buddies)
Amanda at Impress Your Kids
Janna at Mustard Seeds

Do you have any favorite Easter stories you like to share with your children?