Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And Counting...

It came and went and it was good.

I am 40 and so happy to be!

We have had family in town this past week and I am so behind on emails, blogging, and laundry that I may never catch up.  Add this week with T-ball, dance recital prep, a basketball tournament, and...oh yeah, one more little event this week that has my heart in my throat:

My big girl is going to CAMP.

For a MONTH.

It was her idea.

Mama is nervous and missing her already.

She is so excited (and nervous) that she can hardly sleep!

We have packed and prayed and talked and prepped and the impending departure is upon us.

I am amongst yourselves.  :)

She is going to be surrounded by Jesus, immersed in God's creation, schooled in worship and dependence upon Him.

And I am going to miss her so much.

I am already counting the days until she is back home.

Will you pray for Katie?  This is a huge act of courage for her...something she wants so much but is realizing how LONG a month really is as camp approaches.  Please pray for her to know Him as she has never known Him before.  For friends who love and accept her for who she is in Jesus and for her heart to be brought to a new understanding of her worth in Christ as adolescence begins to make it's arrival.

And you can pray for me, too.  I'm going to feel like a limb is missing with her gone.

But oh, is she ever going to have the time of her life!  I am so excited for her, and so proud of my brave girl.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Birthday Wish




In one week (May 28th) I will be the big 4-oh and I can't believe how OK I am with it!
When I turned thirty, I struggled.  It took me by surprise because I had two babies and had been married for seven years so it was time...but as the last day of my 29th year ended my heart grieved for the youth that I feared I was losing.

Little did I know.

My thirties brought so much...3 more children, the joy of finally settling and putting down roots, and new awareness of God's presence and love and grace in the everyday.   This big world became small as God became immeasurable.   My children are healthy, I live in a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood, and my husband loves me.

I have everything I need.
I have almost everything I want.
I am blessed, ridiculously.

He has given me 40 incredible, grace-filled years.  He has loved me, been (incredible) patient with me, and shown me how precious each day is, how important it is for my focus to remain on Him, and Him alone.  When I falter He never fails to lift up my chin and cause my eyes to look upward into His.

So as this milestone birthday approaches, I humbly ask my friends to hear my wish:
DO NOT buy me a gift.

Instead, I want you to take your resources and bless...I want you to sponsor a child for my birthday.

I know that I am asking for a commitment, but it is for both the sake of you and the child you will sponsor.
There are millions of children living in abject poverty that wait for hope.  I have over 600 Facebook friends...and many of you may not realize the power that lies in your willing hand or in your prayers.  When you sponsor a child and witness their transformation, you will be forever changed.
As I turn forty, my heart's desire is to see as many of those kids as possible released from poverty and made aware of their worth and, in the midst of their redemption, for my friends to experience the joy of being used by God to truly transform a life!

My dream is to see forty children sponsored...40 for 40.  I know that is a lot, but I figured I can dream big and let God do what He does best.

As of today, two children have been released from poverty by precious friends who decided to give me this gift of eternal value.

Please, I beg you, pray about sponsoring a child.  Be willing to use my 40th birthday as the excuse to take the step of faith and sign up with Compassion, World Vision, Show Hope, or any other child sponsorship organization that you like.  Then leave a comment to let me know what you have done and the name of your child so I can praise God for using my birthday to lift these children out of poverty.

I want to grow old gracefully, people!
I need your help!

And thank you SO much for dreaming big with me!

This is one of our sponsored children before  she had hope.
Notice the distended belly and the lifeless expression.

This is her NOW!  After one year of sponsorship, she is not the same child!  She is tall, healthy, and beautiful...and she knows she is loved!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Driving home from a night out with Mommy, Gracie and Mari discussed who they would be excited to meet in Heaven.  I was grinning as I listened to their conversation:

Gracie:  I want to see Jesus...and Mary and Joseph.
Mari:  I want to see baby Jesus!
Gracie:  Jesus is not a baby anymore, he's a big boy now!

It thrills me that they are so Heavenly minded (Not all the time, mind you...but so much more than I was as a child.) and they they actually look forward to eternity.  There is this sweet joy that fills my heart when they talk about these things...that the reality of Heaven is tangible to them, that they get it and dream of it.

It thrills me and it challenges me at the same time.  God continually reminds me that I am a work in progress.  A mess being made clean.  He uses my children to nail down Truth in my heart that might have otherwise been overlooked.

In teaching my children I am taught.
In helping them learn to control their tongues, I am convicted.
In watching them love, I am shown how He loves.

Mothering this brood of five never ceases to be an adventure.  Sometimes the adventures are physical...exploring and learning about living in this family, in this world.  But often our adventures are internal...eternal.

I pray I will choose daily, hourly, to be Heavenly long for Home and Him.  I pray I will be like my children.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.  Mark 10:15

Friday, May 18, 2012

Danny Boy

You may recall my mentioning that we planned to get a new friend for Maggie soon...

I wasn't kidding.  

Allow me to introduce you to our new dog, Danny.

I love him.  
Maggie?  Not so much.
She is tolerant of him, finally.  He came home on Saturday (thus the lack of blogging this week.) and she immediately decided he was the  most annoying "boy" she'd ever seen and wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.
Danny?  Well, he just wanted to play.  :)

He is a two year old German Shepherd.  By German I mean German.  He was imported (for reals!) in September and has been fully trained as a companion dog.

That means he obeys, people!

He was given his name in Germany and, well, it so does NOT fit him that we decided to keep it!
I'm sure Samson or Duke or something like that would have been more fitting.  But Danny?

So the dear woman who raised and trained him comes to my house to teach me how to not undo all her work  keep him from scaring the neighbors work with him at home.
I feed him hot dog pieces as reward.
I smell like hot dogs and, well since it is 90 degrees these days, I also smell like a hot dog.

So why, you ask, did we go from a 15 pound nuisance to a 96 pound brute?
Did I mention he is fully trained?

It is truly amazing.  He does everything I say:  Sit, down, stay, heel, drop, come, etc. (all in German, of course...I'm sure my neighbors think I am fighting a cold)  It is incredible.  Oh, and he loves me.  When my dear hubby or the kids try to boss him around get him to do his tricks, he looks over at me like, "well, should I?" and I just laugh.

Because, at last, I have one male in this house who hears me the first time I say something!

Can I get a witness?

Danny has the best temperament I've ever seen in a dog...the kids can lay all over him and he loves it.  He is not aggressive toward other dogs, but will block a stranger from coming through our gate (found that one out on Monday...sorry, mister.) by planting himself firmly in front of them and barking until I tell him to down.  We all feel safer with him here.

I love him.

I said that already, didn't I?

A well-trained dog is a whole new world for us...and it is truly a joy.  He fits right in and we are having so much fun with him!

Just look at him.  He is such a good boy.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Had to share this...

Mari: Mama, why you keep calling all of us Honey?
Me: Because Honey is sweet and you're sweet!
Mari to Drew: Mama says we are sweet.
Drew: That means we are yummy!
Mari: That means we are food!

They cracka me up.

Oh, by the way, sweet Drew is at his first sleepover.
I miss him.
I can't believe he is old enough for this.

Betcha he will need a nap tomorrow.  I might need to snuggle him to sleep.
He is only five...he will still let me do that.
Happy sigh.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

To my mother.

She raised me up in love.

When life was hard and Dad worked all night, she kept us quiet so he could sleep 
and she loved us well.
She was at every game,
every recital,
every concert.
All of our friends knew, and they knew her.
They came to her with their proud announcements, 
because their moms were not there.
So my mama became mama to many.

Picnics and parks beckoned and she took us happily.
She listened to my adolescent chatter patiently and
made me feel like I was brilliant.
She was always my cheerleader, and still is.

Dishes washed and dried over conversation, as we looked out that little kitchen window, 
laundry folded in front of As The World Turns.
Green beans snapped and pecans cracked and we talked.
We talked.

My clarinet squawked and Duran Duran played way too loud,
yet she was patient and tolerant of the noise.
Somehow she taught me to put on makeup, though she rarely wore any herself.
And I thought she was beautiful
In my mind, I guess she will always be thirty-five.

Time is not kind and her knees hurt.  
Her back bends.
But her smile, it never changes.
She laughs from deep in her belly and it is contagious.
She radiates care and compassion and it draws others to her.
No matter where she goes, whether at home or at work, 
she is mama to many.

But first she was my mama, and I am so thankful.
So much of who I am and how I mother is because of her.
So much of my ability to love my children, 
to appreciate these days and not wish them away,
is because of her.

Mom, may you know how precious you are to Jesus
May you realize that, somehow, He loves you even more than we do.
My brother and I, we are so blessed.
Your grandchildren look at you with happy eyes because you
are all that a Nana should be...soft, loving, and always ready to hug.
You are appreciated, and you are loved.
Happy Mothers Day from your grateful daughter.

1000 Moms Project

A Doggie Gifted

When we first saw her, she was pitiful.  Shaking, sick, eyes infected and mangy.
The kids cried and begged to take her home, even though I had said I did NOT want a Chihuahua or any mix thereof.  Even though we had gone to the shelter "just to look" and "consider" a companion for our sweet, oh-so-obedient mutt.

I caved.

And lived to regret it.

She was sweet, I'll give you that.  But she barked.
And barked.
And barked.

Oh, and she left "presents" on the carpet.  In my husband's closet.
That really helped his bonding with her.


We bought "scat mats" that would keep her in the kitchen on the hardwoods, which worked.  But it also kept our older, oh-so-obedient mutt in the kitchen which seemed not quite fair.

But the little dog was sweet, I'll give you that.

For two years she lived here, until she apparently decided to become the neighborhood terrorist.
She began escaping daily, roaming the street and barking at every. single. person. who walked in front of our house.  We would try to catch her, and she would just run farther and faster.

She came home eventually, but I'm sure our neighbors hated us.

Finally, I approached a friend who has a wide network of acquaintances.  I asked her to let me know if she knows ANYONE who would want the terrorist  the nuisance the sweet doggie.

She called me at 8am the next morning.

The new owners picked her up at 1pm that afternoon!

A sweet young mom and her son had lost their dog to cancer.  Their dog looked identical to the terrorist the nuisancc our dog!  They picked her up and the little boy was so happy.
I was so happy.
The kids were not so happy.

But a few days later my friend was here with pictures and stories...and would you believe that dog has not had one single accident in their apartment??

We tried for TWO STINKING YEARS to housebreak that dog and she goes to their apartment and is an absolute angel!

It was meant to be, right?

Oh, and the kids got over it because our sweet oh-so-obedient dog can now sleep in their rooms again and awakens me every morning with a lick on my fingers and a cold nose against my arm.

Word to the wise.  Don't buy puppies unless you can commit to their training!  We have now learned a big lesson...older dogs are already trained and their personalities established.  Our older dog came home at four years old and she has been the best dog we've ever had.  She is a joy.  A family like ours, with lots of kids, just does not have the time to invest in intense training.  We will get another friend for our older dog soon, but no more puppies...not in this family!

Between the fish, the hermit crab, the guinea pigs, and five kids I would say we have plenty of excitement around here!  I do not need anything else with energy to spare...just a nice, calm companion who will lay at my feet and snore.

Which is exactly what my sweet Mags is doing right now.

Monday, May 7, 2012

And a little child will lead them...

Our church held a special prayer service on Thursday.
Our pastor gave simple instructions as we moved from the time of worship into prayer for our nation.

Thank Him first, then present your requests.

After a few moments of silence, voices raised all around us in gratitude.

I was in that place, "the zone" of prayer, focused and feeling His presence fill the room when a small voice broke through.

It came from just to my came from my Ethiopian daughter.

"Thank you, God, for my bed.
      Thank you that we all have beds.
           Thank you that I have new pajamas because I am getting big.
                  Thank you for my family."

Through tears I looked down the row of chairs to my little daughter whose face was buried in her hands as she spoke, lost in prayer and thanksgiving.

I took in a shaky breath to compose myself as I heard the sweet reactions of our church family.

I was awestruck.

She heard the praises being lifted and it was only natural that she would join...and the thought of being embarrassed or drawing attention to herself was not even a factor.  She prayed from her heart and she knew, without a doubt, that He heard her.

Oh Lord, that we would all find it so natural...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Praying today

If I look closely at the times in which we live, I can quickly become afraid.

What is right is counted as wrong, and what God says is wrong is now acceptable and even encouraged.

So much change in my lifetime that I never thought I'd see in a hundred years.

But if I look at Him, I have hope.

He lives.

He sets the days and seasons and has determined the times in which I live.

He has not looked away or lifted His hand from me, from us, from His children.

He will never leave us nor forsake us.

And it is through fire that we are refined.

Our country has happily turned its back on the one true God, but there is a remnant...a people willing to stand and believe and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Today, on this National Day of Prayer, don't forget to stop and look in to His face.  Pray for our nation.  Pray for Christians to rise up in strength and conviction.  Pray for a desire for holiness to sweep our hearts and homes.  And pray for the Lord to raise up leaders who will stand for Truth no matter what the trends or polls say.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My 1000th Gift

I have been counting for over a year, ever since reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp for the first time.  At first I counted sporadically, but in January I took the Joy Dare to heart.
3 gifts per day for a year.
My eyes have been opened to so many things of beauty, so many hard-to-swallow yet good and perfect gifts, and gifts unexpected.

On my list are names:  my children, my husband, friends and family and even the occasional stranger.  Places:  beaches, mountains, and fields of wildflowers.  Foods, phrases, scriptures, sights, sounds and smells all inhabit my gratitude journal.

999 gifts written.  What would the 1000th be?  Would it be obvious that it was meant to be the 1000th?  I prayed He would make it clear what the 1000th gift should be, because I felt it should be unique...different...a stand-out.

I went to lunch with my sweet friend, Margaret, today.  It had been too long since we had just sat and talked about all the things that matter to us, so that hour of conversation with her was gift number 998.

Our new chore pack system started a new phase today...lunchtime chorepacks.  Today the children did their chores beautifully, thus the chorepacks are gift number 999.

The mail arrived.  Gracie and I went to the front door to begin the walk to the mailbox.
I opened the door and it was like my senses were magnified a thousand times...
the breeze so warm, sunshine, floweres blooming everywhere, the rustling leaves of the tall trees as the wind blew, and songbirds so happy all around.

Of course!  Of course the 1000th gift would be extraordinary in it's ordinariness!   All of Creation sings praise to Him and He allows me to see!  He is near...oh, so near!  How perfect that His gift to me would be the reassurance of His presence in the everyday and simple things like a walk to the mailbox.

Glorious.  It is all to bring Him glory and I got to stop for just that moment and breathe it all in.

Thank you, sweet Father.

And the counting continues...