Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hmmmm . . .

. . . AJ just asked me if he could take his CD player with us to the New Year's Eve party we're going to. I told him as long as he has earphones he can.

He said,"Well, duh Mom! I can't take the BIG one with me!!!"

Why NOT? You don't mind torturing ME with it!!!! Shouldn't we share the Veggie Tales with ALL of our friends?

Hmmm . . . is there a way to add songs to my blog? That way all of you could enjoy Veggie Tales!!

(Help! I think I'm going crazy!!!)

A Note to Michael W. Smith

Dear Mr. Smith,

Are you aware that the Veggie Tales are trying to assume your noteable position as the fine singer of "You Are Holy?" Personally, I don't think they do it so well, but I just thought I'd warn you that your song is being warped by things that should be in my refrigerator crisper. I'd be concerned buddy. If word of this gets out, there will be no Worship Again, Again CD for you! We'll refuse to buy it for fear the Veggie Tales might get hold of it! So if you own the rights to this song . . . or any others, you'd better think twice before signing on that dotted line again!

Very sincerely,

P.S. By the way, thanks for giving them "Friends" too. I'm ever in your debt. Want to spend a couple weeks with a 6-year-old Veggie Tales song nut? Maybe it'd make you think twice about selling those produce-aisle-crooners rights to any other songs!!!

Where ARE my earplugs?


Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! I have heard the Veggie Tales sing "Forever" about a thousand billion times now! And do the HAVE to sing "Better Is One Day in Your House"? I really loved that song. It's almost as bad as having to listen to them sing "Friends" back in March when AJ got the camping CD. But now? They're singing praise songs!!!! What WAS I thinking before Christmas . . . er . . . I mean . . . what was Santa thinking? He and I are going to have to have a talk.

Or maybe I'll send AJ to entertain him with Veggie Tales sing High School Musical.

OK, now there's another hot button for me. (We watched HSM on DVD about thirty times in the first three days we had it!)

Somebody SAVE me! I need a chick flick! . . . And a portable CD player with headphones for AJ!

For Christmas I Got:

  • to have my kids with me again Christmas Eve and Christmas Day--without even asking for it!
  • four days of uninterrupted quiet before Christmas
  • two special nights with my bestest friend (we talked until 2am one night! No kids to interrupt!)
  • time for lunch with more friends
  • lots of rest
  • time to scrapbook with another best friend
  • the opportunity to take other kids shopping for their parents! (What fun!)
  • a very enjoyable visit with my dad's family (aunts, uncles, cousins, oh my!)
  • answers to a couple specific prayers
  • lots of conversations with my sister
  • a clean house (OK, it only lasted until Christmas Day, but it was fun for a week)
  • not many pictures, but LOTS of memories
  • a visit from my other sister and two days and nights with my niece!!!
  • a few extra pounds (I think.)

I think I might return the last one, but I'll keep the rest!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Encouragement for My Cousin

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young--
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:1-3

Dear Lauren,

It was such a delight Christmas day to spend time with you. Your new baby is so sweet. As you told me how hard it has been, having three very young children . . . how very overwhelmed you feel, it brought back memories of what that was like. I was fortunate that mine were spaced a little farther apart, but at the same time, it was still exhausting. One of my dear friends has told me that as our children grow we go from a stage of physical exhaustion to more of a mental/emotional exhaustion. With my oldest nearing his teen years, I can already see how true this bit of wisdom is. What will I do? I still have kids in the physically exhausting phase too! But this is not about me; I was reminded of a piece of wisdom I gleaned early on when my children were small, and I wanted to share it with you.

I read the above verse in a book that I loved when my children were smaller. It seemed then that no matter how hard I tried, "quiet time" never was. Not only did it very rarely happen, but even when it did it seemed someone always got up early, was sick, or decided not to sleep at night. The very thing I most needed to survive--God's quiet, strengthening presence--seemed to constantly evade me. Didn't He want to be with me? Why couldn't He just make them sleep?

In the book Meditations for Mothers by Elisa Morgan I read this:

The psalmist envies the birds who nest daily in the temple and therefore enjoy a daily presence in God's dwelling . . . . Mothers are among today's faint of heart who long for time with God.

This book is about taking a tip from the swallow in the psalm. She
built her nest in a place near God's altar. She lived where God lived. We
moms who long for God don't have to go somewhere special to find him. We can
speend time with God
when we build a nest near him and then enjoy everyday moments in it with him.

Lauren, what I have learned is that to survive these years, when you most need God's infusion of patience and sacrificial love, you needn't have lots of regular time away from the kids with him. Instead, build your home life around Him. There have been many days (so many!) that I missed my personal quiet time, but because the kids and I were in a habit of reading together from His Word, I was fed as I fed them. As I prayed with them, I drew close to Him and they learned to pray from me. I have learned how to better disciple someone through discipling my children as we lived life together.

That's not to say you should give up on your personal time with Him, just don't get discouraged or frustrated when it frequently doesn't happen. He can make you aware of His presence, teach you, and allow you to enjoy His company in lots of ways if you make Him part of your daily routines with the kids. Sing praise music as you feed and rock the baby. Read Bible stories in the morning to the little ones (read directly from the Bible--you'll be amazed how much they can get!). Memorize verses or a catechism or confession with them. (We used the Westminster Confession of Faith-Children's version.) Play LOTS of music as you go through your day and pray about everything from the quarrelling they are doing to the boo-boo they just got. Explain to them what you are doing when you meet someone else's needs, and as they get older, let them help come up with ways to care for others in need.

You are in a wonderful place to witness, disciple, and draw close to God. When I think of working outside my home, it is the freedom to spend time with Him at my whim that most makes me want to stay home. Although you feel completely inadequate for this job of mothering, please know that it is in this very weakness that the Lord's strength shines through. Remember that "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11) He cares very much for your work as wife and mommy, and wants you to do a great job with these little children He has given you. Beyond what you are able to do physically or otherwise, He will personally teach, lead, love, correct, and nurture them.

Take heart my cousin! I have watched Him faithfully keep all His promises to me. He has given me a hard life, but it has been an amazing life too! I know that He will do the same for you. You know that I am here anytime you need me, even if you just need a cheerleader. I love you!


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Beyond Imagination

My friend Crystal posted this verse on her blog:

Isaiah 9:6-7 "For to us a Child is born; to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be calledWonderful Couselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."

Once again the Lord reminded me that this peace He has given me will have no end, because the Messiah's reign will have no end. There will come a time when the Lord's justice will be perfectly dispensed, and after that nothing will remain to cause strife or conflict. For now He waits for those who will come to Him to come. In the meantime, we are given the peace of the Prince of Peace to live in now. Nothing that I got today for Christmas can compare with that.

One of the things I love about Christmas is all the goodwill and patience people have for one another. I read an interesting comment a couple days ago which suggested that this is part of the promised blessings that the angels proclaimed at Jesus birth: "Peace on earth, goodwill to men." It thrills my heart to imagine the time when all of my relationships will know that kind of peace, and in fact, the entire world around me will live in peace as our Savior rules. It will be like Christmas all the time, every day, forever! Wow!

Come, O Lord! Come soon!

From Our House to Yours . . .

. . . we wish you a Merry Christmas. We are having another "white Christmas" Florida-style. (See this post for my description of last year's white Christmas.) I'm a little nervous tonight about leaving the outside lights on with all the wet, drippy snow (rain). The temperature is supposed to get up to a chilly 71 degrees. And it'll be rainy, so it will feel much hotter. I'm sweating already! (Maybe it's the fleece pj's the kids got me!) Of course, it'll be cold the day after Christmas. (OK, 60 degrees, but to us, that's cold!) Ah, well . . . at least there's the snow. (I'm turning green thinking of those of you in snowy places up north right now!)

Each year, it astonishes me that as I read the Christmas story yet again, I see something new. It is truly evidence that the Word of God is alive and relavent. It always moves me to spend time thanking God for the rich blessing of His only Son who took on flesh to become a living sacrifice for me (and you too!). The cost of this sacrifice is beyond my comprehension. I can't imagine choosing to live outside my middle class American suburb for longer than a few years (with furloughs to bring me home), much less leaving the glory of heaven and leaving behind the glory of being God to live 33 years with mostly ungrateful mere humans. Without forgetting this incredible gift, every year I ask God to make me aware of other little gifts that He gives to me. Since I don't have parents or a husband to spoil me, I turn to God to be better than either of those, and to show me the richness of His gifts.

This year I planned our Advent season well, but failed to follow through with my plan. I got lost in the trip to South Carolina that the younger boys and I took, in enjoying my time off from school a little too much, and in the busy-but-unproductive activities of the season. I neglected my First Love. But in His sweetness, He used some hard things this last week to draw me back to Himself. In an e-mail newsletter yesterday He reminded me that He is Prince of Peace. He came to restore peace between God and man, between man and man, and within each man. He came to restore peace in my soul. Today, the noise and clamor that I have felt for weeks now inside are gone, and as I surrender again to the Prince of Peace, I find peace. What a great gift!

So it is in the rememberance of this lesson that I wish you peace this Christmas. If you do not know what it is like to belong to the one, true Living God, and to enjoy a friendship with Him that brings hope and peace, I invite you to read the book of John in the Bible and to decide who this Jesus is. If you are one who believes that He is the Son of God, but you are feeling discouraged, hopeless, or like a failure, I urge you to ask Him to make Himself real to you and to draw you back into His love. I have yet to see Him not answer this prayer for me, and I love the fact that we celebrate the remembering of Christ's coming just before He gives us a fresh new start in the new year. With Him there are always new beginnings, and over time there is always productive change. May you and your family delight in Him this Christmas, and I am praying that He blessses you beyond your wildest dreams!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just Another Example of Military Intelligence

I saw this at the recreation of a Vietnamese base camp, and wondered if this was a genuine detail. Having grown up a military brat, I actually suspect I know the answer.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

War Games and Such

We had to walk down a long pier to get to the carrier. The boys told me they had to climb up numerous flights of steep metal steps on the outside of the ship to get to their berths. I, on the other hand, slept in officers quarters quite near the hanger. They slept in berths stacked five-high. I shared a room for four with one other woman.

One of Stephen's favorite things to do was to play in the cockpits of the airplanes. He and AJ also rode in a flight simulator, and they LOVED it. (I'd have tossed my cookies!)

Look out folks! He's now armed with more than a capgun or water pistol. And he's dangerous with those!

For some reason, this entire trip inspired poses of warfare and battle. Can anyone explain that to me?

Designed by a Big Boy!!!

Last weekend we went on a Cub Scout trip. I am convinced that the whole idea was planned and designed by men who were once little boys and haven't forgotten it. We went to Patriot's Point in Charleston, SC. While we were there for two nights, we slept aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown. We were able to explore much of the carrier, plus a submarine, a battleship, and a Coast Gaurd cutter. We also took a short excursion to Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.

I was less than enthused about the trip. I had heard from those who went several years ago how cold it was, and I anticipated so much climbing and walking that it would be confirmed how out of shape I am physically. In addition, I'm finally starting to have more stable days when it comes to the anxiety and panic attacks I have suffered from, but both the driving and the stress of long trips tend to kick it all up again. In spite of my reticence, I reminded myself that my two little boys were thrilled we were going, and I worked very hard not to complain, not to say no to anything, and to enjoy the trip and being with them. I was not disappointed.

It was actually a great trip. On the drive I listened to some teaching CD's which really challenged and encouraged me in my relationship to my beloved Jesus. I spent time talking to Him about all kinds of things, and asked Him particularly to help me sleep, remind me to take my meds, and to give me the stamina to keep up with the boys. I was also desperately in need of His strengthening of my trust in Him to take care of the boys because they slept with the other men and boys in the guys berth, and so they were out of my sight and care from Taps until after Reville. As He always is, Jesus was faithful and relieved my stress and worry. I slept great, felt great (except for sore, tired feet, but I can deal with that at Disney World, so I figured I couldn't complain about it), and woke every morning even before Revillie to take my meds.

Being with the boys was just the best. Their excitement and enthusiasm was delightful. And I am convinced that the whole concept of this trip was designed by men who hadn't forgotten that little boys love to steer, push buttons, flip switches, climb, pretend, and imagine. The boys did enough of it, and brought home their overflow, dressing up in army gear and playing war for days afterward. I took about a billion pictures, so it was really fun for me also--to have new subject matter to photograph.

The funniest part of the weekend was Sunday when we finally left. Girls may cry because they can't get their hair combed just right, or because somebody makes fun of their new dress, but boys cry because they gotta leave the ship! And mine did. Proving, of course, that it was a great trip. I'd even do it again. (In a few years!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Key to My Heart Is Not Enough Anymore . . .

. . . so tonight I got Josh his own house key. Doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal--except to Mom. It was actually a very pragmatic decision, since I am occasionally out of town without him (Oops, no. He stays with friends--but he could come home to feed and check on the dog. Save me kennel fees.), and with youth group and Boy Scout camping it is possible for him to end up at the house when I'm not yet there. It shouldn't have been a big deal. But it was. He BEAMED!! I took him to Home Depot, and let him pick out the snazzy key he wanted. He chose the one with flames running down it. The moment we were out of checkout, he couldn't wait to put it on the chain around his neck.

Of course, I freaked when I got home and the kids were already inside before I came and unlocked the door. Surely a burglar broke in the house. Nope! Just my twelve-year-old . . . and his new key.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Boy and His Pig

Everybody likes the ginuea pig, and he certainly doesn't lack for attention, but Stephen has a special love for Nibs. And although the boy would NEVER DREAM of kissing a girl, he will kiss a guinea pig!

We have the bug . . . but not the hum bug!

Well the kids have it. Every other sentence is about Christmas lists, or the decorations, or when are we going to start baking? Stephen actually asked me tonight when I was going to start wrapping presents! I asked him if I could get the bazillion boxes of decorations out of my living room and kitchen first!

I am glad they are so excited (just don't know how we will make it four more weeks!). I am struggling to be excited. I do love Christmas. I love the colors and the lights, the smells and the taste of hot cocoa on a cold night when you're sitting in front of the glowing tree. I love the anticipation in the boys' eyes when they dreamily ponder what each present might be. It's just the family part I miss. And the pressure of all there is to do is a little more than overwhelming right now. But I'm glad I have the kids. They keep me moving forward. I realized last night how much fun I was having decorating the tree, then felt a twinge of guilt when I realized that the only reason I had jumped on it was because the boys were begging me to do it.

You know, I wish I could be a kid again. I wish I could go back to the days when it was all so simple and fun. I remember as a teenager, forsaking TV so I could just lay in the living room and look at the tree. The boys plead for nights to spend the night sleeping downstairs near the tree. I used to be like that. Now I just prefer my bed. Because after a hard day of decorating, shopping, and baking? I'm beat!