Thursday, April 30, 2009

God's Work in India

If you have any time this week, please read this blog. I have been following Angie's blog since near it's beginning and if you want a really good cry...and I mean a really good one...go back and read her entire story of losing their fourth daughter, Audrey Caroline.

I share Angie's blog with you today because she has taken a Compassion trip to India and her posts are wonderful! Don't begin with today's post...go back at least to Monday or Tuesday's posts and see ALL that GOD IS DOING! It's neat to see first hand how the Lord is providing for the children/families through Compassion in this country.

Several years ago Mark, Ashley and I decided to sponsor a Compassion child from Peru. Alexandra, our Peruvian daughter, is such a blessing and encouragement in our lives. For $32 a month we are changing the life of another person and giving her hope for a future. There really isn't a price you can put on that. Maybe $32 seems like a "large" amount out of your monthly budget. I can tell you that there hasn't been one month that I have regretted giving that money to Compassion on Alexandra's behalf. Our family has also given to her on her birthday and at Christmas and I am always amazed at how well-spent our gifts have been. We are clothing, feeding and educating a child that would not otherwise have had the opportunity for this quality of care and she has been introduced to Jesus Christ and she LOVES the LORD. She KNOWS that ALL GOOD THINGS comes from HIM...including, us, her sponsor family.

So, yes, if you do not already sponsor a Compassion Child, then I encourage you to do so. I can't tell you how nervous I was about starting this relationship, but when you look at the faces of the children, you can not help but be heart-tugged. It's well worth your investment.

Ok, so I've given my "pitch" - maybe I'll call it a plea for those less fortunate. Even if you can not or choose not to participate by sponsoring a Compassion child yourself, please go and read Angie's blog posts. It's a behind-the-curtain peek into the WORK of the Lord which is always worth taking time for. Hope you enjoy!

PS...If you have a sponsored child, or decide to sponsor one after seeing Angie's posts, please, let me know. We can rejoice together! Yay! and Thanks!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Beat Yourself Up Monday!

**Update** Have you ever vented and then realized the spiritual truth after "marinating" on what you said/wrote.... Wow, my focus is so self-centered and my "strength" is birthed from SELF-reliance instead of reliance on the Lord. Yes, we've all had THOSE days, but who was I trying to please? Myself? Those around me?(Mainly my own unrealistic expectations.) Did I even once on Monday stop and ask the Lord, "What do YOU want me to do next?" Nope. What a shame. Often I don't even begin in the right place as I face the day. Oh, I'll have my devotions and then set my "spiritual stuff" aside and face the physical tasks that await, BUT I have a LONG WAY to go on abiding in Christ-leaning on Him through each moment of the day. I STRIVE so hard to DO instead of, in a moment of uncertainty, need, confusion, fear or whatever the stop (even if just mentally and not physically) and just ask for the guidance or clarity or whatever it is that HE knows I need. Yep, practicing the presence of the Lord in my life moment by moment...that's what I need most of all. Colossians 1:17 states it succinctly, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." ALL THINGS...

I thought I'd double post today. Hope you don't mind. :)

All day today I've been mentally beating myself up because I just couldn't get accomplished all I had set out to do. Of course, the list was a mile long and would actually take me a week + to finish it, but my mind was shoving that little reality tidbit into the abyss of self-loathing. (Don't worry, I don't plan to be this depressing much longer.) It was like running in quick-sand. The more I would move the more I seemed to be drowning in the "to do's" of the day. We've all had days like first choice - put on my "stack list" a book about life management. I know it's a good book; I've already read it a few times. Ha!

Anyway, I fussed, fumed, did a little yelling at innocent bystanders, almost had a good cry (that might have been more productive) and then ate. None of which seemed to rescue me from drowning, duh! In the few moments I had driving tonight, I realized that I was beating myself up for having given my time and energy away to a host of other people last week. Something I thoroughly enjoyed and wouldn't have changed. I cooked, entertained and chauffeured, but, no, I didn't iron, launder, clean, pay bills, plan the school week, buy groceries for this week or even purchase the items I needed for tonight's meeting in a timely fashion. I missed friend's birthdays - sorry, friends, if you are reading this - but I spent quality time with my sister-in-law who very soon will be moving literally half way around the world. I made the best choice last week and so this week I WILL NOT beat myself up for "being behind." Those daily/weekly chores will always be there, but the times to nurture our relationships may not.

So...when you are "behind" on things take a look around at the people you love and ask yourself, "Do they know by how I've spent my time that they mean the world to me?" Then just plug away at that endless list and someday...someday you will see light at the end of the tunnel.

In A Stack...Report # 3

First Mothers by Bonnie Angelo was a great read! The book covered each mother's influence of President's Franklin Delano Roosevelt to George W. Bush - all modern women of the 20th century. Although the book is 438 pages long, you can read the book one president at a time, about 40 pages long. This made it easy to read a little each night and enjoy the book for a couple of weeks.

The book looks at the "special mother-son relationships that nurtured and helped propel the last twelve American presidents to the pinnacle of power." There were good and bad examples. There were fabulous relationships and others that were quite strained within the context of these president's families.

One of my favorite passages of the book: p. 428 “Self-confidence…is fundamental to achieving success in any career, whatever the choice. Personalities may be unlike, motivations may differ, but the one who makes it to the top, the achiever, first believes in himself." And then a little further: "The boy whose mother made him feel that he was indeed very special usually had his head kept to its hat size by his unimpressed – sometimes resentful – siblings, by a critical father, and by the mother’s own instinctive balance of praise and discipline.” This book displays concretely how family dynamics play into a person's for thought.

I kept thinking as I read the book that there were a lot of good things to remember while raising my own son...influences of faith, hard work, hope, vision. It encouraged me to believe, as a mother of a 15-year-old son, that my job wasn't actually finished and that I still could have a profound influence on my son, hopefully, for his success in life.

If you enjoy presidential history, you will love this book. If your mom loves presidential history, I suggest giving her this book for Mother's Day. The book gave me insight into those presidents I did not agree with politically (based upon their life experiences)and gave me a little perspective on the changing roles of motherhood when your son begins seeking a wife of his own. I found this book to be thought-provoking, but upbeat and hopeful at the same time.

Ten Things I Wish I'd Known - Before I Went Out into the Real World by Maria Shriver was a fun read too. The author wrote the 125 page book after giving a similar speech at a college commencement. She wrote about the 10 things she wished someone had said to her when she was about to embark on a career. I found Ms. Shriver to be self-effacing, humorous and humble about her place in the world.

This book has a lot of good common sense and is shared forth-rightly with her own life experiences to support her points. I found the book to be engaging and I found myself often thinking, "Yep, I hope my college-age daughter will realize these truths." Although the book is written by a woman, the lessons are applicable to both genders...the points she makes are universal.

I wasn't sure I was going to admit that I was reading a book by a Kennedy clan member and a friend of Oprah, but I'm also not afraid to admit that everyone in this world has something good to offer...this is a worthy read if you're interested in the subject of life lessons. There are a few words that may offend the most sensitive, but overall, her life lessons are sprinkled with a lot of Biblical truths.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Our Week

We have had a busy week. The posts you've seen this week were written last weekend so I could keep up with my blog while my house was overflowing with worked! All I had to do was come down to the computer, change the time stamp on the post and voilĂ  I looked like I had spent time on the computer, when in actuality it was just a couple of you ask, why give my secret away? Because I survived the week and have "lived to tell about it!"

Tuesday - dropped Rhett off at Art class, came home to pick up the house and make a grocery list, picked Rhett up from Art class and made a mad dash to Walmart to buy Tara some birthday presents. (yes, on her birthday - really thinking ahead, aren't I?) After Walmart I dropped Rhett off at home to greet our out-of-town family coming in, ran to the grocery store (gotta' feed everybody), came home to a house full of family, made lunch, made cupcakes for birthday, wrapped presents, visited with family, made dinner, ate cupcakes & watched Tara unwrap a couple of gifts. Then we relaxed in front of the tv for the evening.

Wednesday - made pull-apart bread & scrambled eggs for big breakfast, cleaned up and then went to the mall to play indoors (raining!) and shop at the candy store. Then it was back home for a quick lunch, ballet, playdate with ballet teacher and kids, dinner and then off to Bible study for the evening. After getting home about 9:30pm, my sister-in-law and I stayed up talking for 3 more hours...not smart, but wonderful!

Thursday - my morning started at 6am retching over the pottie because of a migraine (should have gotten more sleep), hubby got an ice pack and I got another hour of sleep and the headache abated. Then it was a quick get-ready so my kids and I could go visit a co-op that we'd like to join next fall. We were there from 9:30-noon. (& it was fun!!) Back home to feed the kid's lunch, a late lunch out with sis-in-law while kid's were napping, back home to prep dinner & eat, watch kid's ride bikes, and a phone call from Ashley saying that she and a friend were on their way home to spend the weekend - so cranked out some laundry to change sheets, cleaned up the playroom, and put together the air bed, collapsed into bed!

Friday - big pancake breakfast, off to an amazing children's park (lots of traffic), back home for lunch, NC family heads for home, took a nap, baked a chocolate cake and wrapped more presents, Dad comes for dinner (table still full with Dad, Ashley & Amber), have our official family birthday party for Tara, put together a week's worth of food for Dad (Mom's out-of-town), watched a movie that Tara chose, stayed up late with Ashley & Amber chatting and watching taped tv shows, collapsed into bed again!

Saturday - girls slept in while the boys took a 10 mile hike, caught up on some laundry, went to the library, more grocery shopping, talked to Mom on the phone, enjoyed general lethargy while being entertained by the college kids. The girls went back to school about 8pm, the little girls went to bed and Mark, Rhett and I disappeared onto our computers until the electricity went out due to lightening. It was off to read by candlelight and enjoy the dark/quiet of the night before falling asleep.

We had a fun and busy week...just having a 1 year-old, a 2 1/2 year-old, a 4 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 7 year-old, a 15.5 year-old, and two 18 year-olds under one roof was excitement all by itself! But we survived it and had a fun week we'll remember for a long time! Thanks for coming, Sis! We loved having you! (you too, Ashley & Amber!)

Fun at the park with cousins!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crochet, Knit...What's Your Craft?

In the spring of 2006 I walked into my mother's house one day and saw a large box on the kitchen table. When I asked her about the box she seemed frustrated/annoyed and a little flustered. She told me about the contents of the box - skeins and skeins of blue and white yarn.

She said that my grandmother was working on an afghan for my brother, but never finished it before she died. That struck me as very sad, because from the time my brother was 8 years old my grandmother had lived on and off with our family until she died. She and my brother were probably the closest of any of us grandkids. She had completed afghans for each of her grandchildren, but since she had started with her eldest grandchild, she was just getting to my brother, the youngest one.

Mom continued to tell me that his blanket was about 2/3 done at the time of her death, but since she didn't know anyone who crocheted she had left it sit in the box for at least 10 years. She then learned that an elderly friend of the family who lived in FL knew how to crochet and she asked her if she would finish the blanket for my brother. The lady agreed. My mom shipped the blanket and the remaining yarn to this friend with the expectation of giving it to my brother right away. This dear elderly lady received the box and proceeded to "work." A short time later she called my mother and said that my grandmother had so many mistakes in the blanket that she had to rip it all out and start again. In doing that, it hurt her wrists too badly and she said she was shipping the yarn back to my mother. That was the box full of yarn on the table. She had begun crocheting a piece that was maybe 6 inches long, but it was a far cry from Grandma's own handiwork and a blanket 2/3 done. No wonder my mother was flustered. I burst out with, "I'll crochet it. It needs to be done by a family member." My mom looked at me with surprise and then asked, "Do YOU crochet?" I answered, "No, but I'll teach myself and get it done." I THEN got the Mommy look! We've all seen it...the look that says "Ok, dear, whatever you say!" (You may not remember it, Mom, but it's true!) I don't think she believed me. : )

I packed up my kids in the car and drove straight to the craft store and purchased a couple of books, needles, and practice yarn. Over the following weeks I poured over this book that taught me how to crochet lefthanded. (It has directions/illustrations for both lefties and righties.) At first I made coasters as practice. They about did me in...I've never hated coasters so much in my life! Then I made some practice swatches until I thought that I had a good basic understanding of crocheting. I had a feeling that I would learn a few more things if I made a blanket, but I didn't want to do the learning on my brother's blanket so I set out to make an intermediate skilled blanket. I wish I had a picture of that was beautiful. It was a cream colored throw that had a beautiful alternating open pattern to it, but I didn't take a picture of it before sending it off to my grandmother (other side of the family) for Christmas of 2006. I hope to go visit her in the Midwest next month so I'll try and get a picture of it then.

Anyway, after completing that first blanket I felt confident I could complete my brother's blanket. I had just three months to get it done if we were going to surprise him for his birthday. I had to rip out all the yarn since I was crocheting with my left hand and the elderly friend had been right-handed, but it was much easier than the first blanket so I felt confident in what I was doing. Here's a picture of the completed blanket, as Grandma had envisioned it.

I think Grandma would have been proud. And yes, my brother liked it!

After completing that blanket my husband and two older kids suggested that I make a blanket for a special lady in Peru. The three of them had been to Peru the year before on a mission's trip and Mark had worked in the kitchen with several very sweet Peruvian ladies. They all took very good care of him and he enjoyed sitting during their breaks and having coffee together. My big kids were going again in the summer of 2007 and one of the kitchen ladies was getting her house renovated by our mission's team. Our family thought it would be special if I made her a blanket as a house-warming gift. What an honor it was for me to serve this dear woman. I asked the Peruvian pastor's wife what colors I should use and she said in Spanish, "All of them! The more the better." So this is what I came up with:

It was bright and durable and made my whole family smile when we saw it. We were very excited about giving it to her. (I did get some crazy looks when buying that yarn at the store though!) Here is Ashley giving her the blanket for her new home.

(Re: the face paint-Ashley was in a drama, cast as Satan-that's a whole other story.

Now I am working on two "baby" blankets for my little girls and a gorgeous tri-colored blanket for my son. I crochet in spurts so it takes me a while now to get something done, but Ashley mentioned that she'd like to learn to knit so that may be a new craft we take up together this summer.

I highly recommend the book that I learned to crochet with as a great place to start. If you're interested in knitting, then you should check out Sarah's blog here. She's so talented, this girl!

Feel free to leave a comment and share what your favorite craft/hobby is! It was fun sharing my stories/craft with you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sweet Sentiments

Today my girls went outside and picked me two handfuls of dandelions. I got to pull out my mini vases and put flowers on my truly is spring! My babies are 6 & 7 years old and I thought, "it won't be long before they stop picking me flowers, coloring me pictures, etc." It may last longer than it feels, but time goes so quickly, doesn't it? I just want to enjoy the journey and each little sweet sentiment they shower on me. Love you, girls! xx00

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Circus Time!

I forgot that I didn't tell you about our surprise trip to the circus! On Easter Sunday we had my Dad and another family friend, Jim, over for Easter dinner. We ate a big meal about 2:30pm and just as we were finishing our meal, the phone rang. Some friends of ours had 8 free tickets to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The tickets were for the 5pm show and they wanted to know if we wanted to go. We quickly said "sure," cleaned up the dinner dishes and headed out to the circus. Not exactly your typical Easter celebration, but LOTS of fun!

The highlight for most of my family was the ball with the motorcyclists in it. They started with four cyclists, then added one more...really cool. Then they went over the top for a total of 7 cyclists. I thought Dad might go into cardiac arrest just watching. It was amazing!

The tigers are my favorite...they are HUGE! I'm a big cat fan! They are beautiful creatures. I'm looking forward to Heaven where I'll hopefully be able to walk right up and give a big cat a good rub behind the ears. That might be too much information, huh! Ha! This crazy man in the picture lines up at least 5 of these tigers side by side in a row and then turns his back to put his arms up to the crowd. Crazy, he is! I sure hope they're well-fed before going out there or he might look like a tasty snack.

Ringling Bros. has music, acrobats, high-wire stunts, motorcycles, horses, dogs, & elephants. They put on a spectacular show. Everyone who attended (several of our friends were seated around us) hadn't been in many years and they loved it! We had a great time by the surprise invitation and enjoyed an Easter circus performance. If Ringling Bros. comes to your area, take your kids. I think you'll be glad you did!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Girl's Weekend

We had fun visiting my sis-in-law, her family & my mom-in-law. It was just a quick 24 hour visit, but lots of fun! We arrived around lunchtime, ate a quick bite and then the girls went to a quaint little tea shop and had afternoon tea.

After entering the door of the tea shop there is a little dressing area where you can pick out hats, necklaces and gloves to wear while you are eating...yes, the obsessive compulsive in me grossed out, but I went along with it for the girl's sake and lived through it. :) We had a "lovely time," as Katie would say. I had the most delicious white chocolate raspberry scone! The chocolate could have been left out and it would have been even better. Sorry, off topic/wrong blog. Ha! Here's a pic of our time together.

(I look like a Bobbie!)

Then we went back to the house and tried to fly some kites. It was a little challenging, but loads of fun too.

After kite-flying we had a yummy dinner. I'll have to try the recipe and share it with you on my cooking blog. Then Grandma, my kids, and I went off to Walmart to do a little shopping while Steve & Kristi put their boys to bed. I had purchased a water bottle in Lynchburg that I LOVE and wanted to try and find another one. Our Walmart didn't carry the same design so I thought I'd give North Carolina a try and low and behold, I found a second one! Yay!!! So much effort for a $4 water bottle. After our little excursion, we went back to the house and enjoyed a night of chatting and laughing. After breakfast the next morning we headed back home so Rhett could make it back in time to go camping with his Dad and the Boy Scout troop this weekend. That's how we got a girl's Weekend!

The three of us got a stash of movies at Blockbuster, junk food at the grocery store and all camped out in my bedroom to sleep. After getting up late today, we've done a little picking up, but we're mainly keeping it low key and just having fun. There are lots of giggles while I write. It's always fun having a relaxing weekend. Maybe I'll get to a project or two...that bedside table is still waiting. :) Hope you have a great weekend too!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Have you ever just had a day where you felt blessed? Generally, I am more pessimistic than optimistic so when I have a day that I just feel like "bursting with joy" it surprises me. :)

Life is quiet at the moment (which usually means that something is just around the corner, right?), but I'm determined to enjoy it today. My house is clean, my kids are well, my husband is kind, my extended family is safe...Ha! I like how I put "my house is clean" right up there with all my family. It's just such an anomaly that the house is ALL THE WAY clean that I'm feeling blessed by it. Silly!

Tomorrow the kids and I travel to my sister-in-law's house for an overnight visit. My mom-in-law, who lives in CA, will be there visiting. I am SO looking forward to being with these women...two of my favorite in the world! I love being with them, because no matter what they are facing (and right now they are facing some big challenges) they face them head-on with grace and amazing faith. They are women I wish you all could know. Yes, we'll have a bunch of "monkey children" to look after while we visit, but the Lord has gifted us with some warm weather tomorrow so we'll put them outside and let them enjoy each other too!

Do you have a friend that you're thankful for? I received an email from a friend just telling me how much I encourage her. Why don't we tell those we are most thankful for how much they mean to us more often? I am so blessed to have friends who love me despite my flaws and forgive me when I have not been a good friend to them. Think about who blesses you with friendship and tell one of them how much they mean to you...and soon! You'll be blessed by sharing the love, I'm sure.

I'm so thankful for prayer. I love knowing that I don't have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I have friends who are facing the death of loved ones, family facing financial struggles, illnesses and giant spiritual battles. I have concerns for my children, my family's future and my own spiritual life. In ALL THESE THINGS, God is faithful.

Psalm 108:4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 117:2 For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.

We don't have to do life on our own! I can't imagine living without the knowledge that God has my life in His hands and if I entrust it to Him He will faithfully see it through to the end and beyond. I write I have a daughter who decided to clean her ears with a q-tip and now has two bleeding ears. That quiet didn't last too long, but I hope you'll, also, be able to see the blessings of today somewhere along the way!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Corner Clean-up!

Sometime last year I went to the website of a well-known author and speaker. On her website she kept a journal, which was very much like a blog. I read through several of her entries and came across a list of her favorite blogs. One of them was Sarah's. I really enjoyed Sarah's postings and have been following her blog ever since.

When I decided to begin my own blog I looked at several others for design concepts and one of the ideas I borrowed was Sarah's "On My Nightstand." She keeps a running list of the books she is reading on her sidebar. I decided that I would make my own version of that idea and since my books are stacked beside my bed I called it "In A Stack By My Bed." ( so creative!)

Well, a few weeks ago Sarah made some design changes and added a beautiful picture of a night stand to her sidebar. I'm assuming it is her nightstand and it's just inviting! I immediately wanted to clean up my corner of the bedroom and make my "stacks" inviting, as well. (My husband thanks you, Sarah!) I kept thinking about the process and where I was going to move some things, but it wasn't until late last week that I actually starting assessing the damage and cleaning up the corner.

I pulled all the books and magazines out from the wall and vacuumed up the dust bunnies. I then began sorting the books. I had books from the library in one stack, books loaned to me by friends and family in another and the rest were my own that I've purchased (mostly at Green Valley Book Fair.) BTW, if you live in Virginia and you haven't discovered the Book Fair...oh, my! You MUST find a friend and go! Your life will never be the same - ha!

Anyway, here's a picture of what was beside my bed:

My first thought was that the picture doesn't do it justice. I don't know how many nightstands it would take to hold all of that reading material. I decided to count the books...just as a laugh, as my boys were watching the psychosis unfold. There were (drum roll, please...)

71 books, plus the green bin and blue bag full of magazines.

I'm telling you it's a sickness. I literally sat back and was speechless. That doesn't happen often. The boys asked me what I thought and I seriously squeaked out a little noise...I couldn't BELIEVE it! 71! 71! I couldn't even read that many in a year (I don't think!) know what I did...scooted them all back around the nightstand base and gave it the best Scarlet O'Hara drama I could..."tomorrow is another day!"

BTW, I did not fail to notice the irony of the top book on the left that is titled, "Take Time for Your Life." Funny!

Obviously, I need a little more "noodling" (using my noodle to come up with a plan) and then hopefully, there will be a good ending to the story...with a pretty corner to boot!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Devotional Thoughts - Esther

While studying Esther, I've had a couple of interesting thoughts. These thoughts don't impact the story, but I've just wondered about a couple of things.

First, Hegai, the eunuch favored Esther as she was getting her beauty treatments before being presented to Xerxes. Beth Moore stresses that the Hebrew word for how Esther gained favored meant that she actively did something that impressed him. It wasn't just given to her (a finding vs. gaining idea.) Beth had us think about Esther's orphan status during part of our study and it got me to thinking that there had to be young girls that had been taken away to the palace who did not want to be there. Maybe they didn't want to leave family, maybe they had been promised to another young man and they were looking forward to beginning their own life with husband and children. Whatever the reason, I believe there were girls there who needed someone who had already faced loss (being an orphan.) I think we can surmise that Esther had wisdom and she possibly had compassion, as well. Maybe Hegai wasn't as impressed with her manners, speech or look as he was by her kindness and wisdom. What makes a physically beautiful girl even more beautiful? A beautiful spirit. How rare in any age!

Then two days ago I was studying the part of the story where Mordecai wouldn't bow down to Haman, even though it had been decreed by the King. Haman tolerated this behavior for some reason and we know this because it says "day after day" the guards ask him why he won't bow down. If Haman had the King as his back up why didn't he throw Mordecai in prison or have him killed at the first instance of "disrespect"? There had to be something that Haman was afraid of, so to speak. At first I thought, "Wow, Mordecai must have been pretty important - maybe they were equals to some extent," but the Scripture clearly states that Haman was put ABOVE all the other nobles. Then why was Haman hesitating? Did he notice that Mordecai had the ear of the queen? Maybe. But I'm guessing that Haman didn't have a whole lot of worry about the Queen's influence - look what had happened to Vashti. Women were not equal. "What else could it have been?" I wondered. Then it struck me that maybe HAMAN had NOT FORGOTTEN that Mordecai had saved the King's life. It's kind of hard to go into the King whining about someone who won't bow down to you when it's the guy who saved the King. I thought how ironic it would be if that were his reason for tolerating Mordecai's behavior.

Once Mordecai "shows his hand" and reveals that he's a Jew, then Haman must have thought he hit the jackpot. He schemes a way to be oblique with the King and take out not only the Jews, but also Mordecai. Problems solved! Later Haman builds the gallows specially made for Mordecai and the king has him lead Mordecai around like a noble for saving the King's life. I can just imagine Haman thinking, "NOW you just thought of it!" It was just adding insult to insult in Haman's mind, even just by the facts we actually know in the story. I know there are other details that have been left out and certainly we don't NEED to know them or they would have been given to us, but either way God's justice was fully born out on Haman in the end.

We think we can be so clever sometimes scheming for our own way. I had to admit in our Bible study group last week that I had been mean to someone by ignoring them. I had justified in my mind that it was better that I NOT stop in the church foyer to talk to that person when my husband stopped (and by the way, Mark was the one actually hurt by the person, not me directly), but actually, MORE GODLY to not stop and say something that would be wrong. I would use the excuse of going to pick up one of my children from their classes, but it was an excuse. In essence, I was just giving room for that hurt and bitterness to fester and grow and not being kind by walking away. I didn't realize what I was doing until Beth said, "What are you feeling threatened by?" Bingo! I knew I felt threatened by this man's influence over my husband. It took Beth asking me to look for a deeper answer and actually a friend calling it sin before I could even see it. Amazing how blind we can be, isn't it?

I don't know about you, but I'd like to be more like Esther. A beautiful creation of God whose spirit only makes me more beautiful. I want to be brave enough to have the Holy Spirit so transform my life, that I am not longer seen, but Christ who lives in me. Thank goodness He keeps working on us and never gives up!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mark Takes Care of His Girls

Yesterday the little girls, Mark and I went to church. On Palm Sunday the children of our church (lots & lots of them) go onstage and line the aisles and sing "Jumping Up & Down," waving palm branches. (I don't know if that's the actual name of the song, but that's what we call it.) Anyway, it is an annual event that get McLean parents to church 15-30 min. early so they can get their children into their respective classes and get a good seat up front, including us!

We had intended on going down to Lynchburg and enjoying Palm Sunday at Thomas Road where our oldest daughter sings in the choir, but Tara was DESPERATE to "perform" at our church. Tara has been participating (if you call it that) in this event for several years now and not once has she...jumped up & down, waved her palm branch or sang the song...not once. She stands there all "shy," as she calls it, and does nothing. Last year she actually scowled at the encouraging adult standing next to her. So I was not inclined to skip seeing Ashley so we could watch Tara "non-perform." She assured us that she would do it this time. So we gave it another shot.

We got to church and sat in three different seats (really!) trying to figure out which would be the best spot to see both of our little girls. (I'm telling you, it's a BIG deal at our church.) The girls came into the auditorium. Katie was too far away for her to see us, but we saw her. Tara was just a short distance away from us in an aisle and as you can guess, was just standing there. I snuck out of my seat to get closer to her. I wondered if she was just anxious to see us and not focusing on the song. There was an empty seat right next to where she was standing so I sat down and encouraged her to wave her palm and sing. She just gave me a shy grin. AHHH! I kept encouraging and she kept grinning. It just makes me laugh telling you about it. The song ended and off she went without ever once jumping, singing or waving the palm branch. When we saw her after church I asked her why she didn't do those things and she said, "Well, I'm just too shy AND I wanted to be up on the stage." Silly! Of course, the palm branches got put to good use in the car on the way home - both girls "pummeling" each other with the feathery leaves as best they could.

After we got home it was decided that Mark would take the girls and go pick up Rhett and a couple of his friends from their 4 day visit at Ashley's school. I got 8 hours at home by myself! It was a treat for the girls to get to go to college; they love eating in the cafeteria. They also got to see one of Ashley's friends, Captain Redbeard-a student with a red beard. He's very entertaining. Ashley loves having the girls there and shows them off to anyone who'll pay attention. I love staying it was a treat for all four of Mark's girls. That is the way to start a week, my friends! I got so much done...yes, I cleaned, did the laundry and ironing, but I also read some of the paper (never happens) and spent a little time on the computer. It was therapeutic, refreshing and fun!

That's a good man who puts the needs of 4 women before himself...and smart too! Love you, honey!

Two cuties ready for Palm Sunday!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stone Church History

A few months ago after my husband got a GPS for Christmas Mark found a scenic drive to Lynchburg. I wish I could take a video of the sprawling white fenced farms and vineyards for you, but in all honesty the video would be nauseating because of the curvy roads. Of course, the curvy roads only add to the beauty of the Virginia countryside as you wait with anticipation to see what will be up around the next bend. On my first drive to Lynchburg I spotted this stone church. I have been fascinated with it ever since. I have slowed to see it, annoying the drivers behind me especially when I can't quite remember which bend it's around. Yesterday, in the misty fog Rhett and I stopped to see this beautiful old building up close. The pictures don't do it justice. It's just beautiful and its setting is quaint. It's surrounded by a cemetery on two sides and someday I hope to be brave enough to get out and wander through the grave stones. There is so much history here. If you'd like to read about the history of this church or see even more beautiful pictures, please visit the church's website.
(As a teaser, I will tell you there is mention of a few famous people in history, including one of our early presidents.)
Well, those were the photos I was hoping to get to share with you. Hope you enjoyed!

** On a side note, I requested prayer re: a situation that was making it difficult for Ashley to come home on Easter. The prayer was answered and she will be able to come home for the holiday without penalty. Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Safe in the hands of God

My heart is bursting to share so many things with you.

The Lord blessed me with safety to and from Lynchburg today - about 6 1/2 hours of driving in the fog and rain.

Our family prays together in the van before we leave on a long trip of any sort, but in all honesty it often feels like a courtesy prayer. I'm not trying to be disrespectful. We truly do want God to watch over us and He ALWAYS has, even when there has been car trouble, but sometimes I think we take that safety for granted. Tonight my prayers for safety were urgent. I didn't want to drive back home. I wondered if it was because I was enjoying the college kids while sitting in the cafeteria chatting after dinner. I sat back and looked around the large room and thought, "I need to go home, but I don't want to." It struck me that it wasn't because I wanted to STAY there either...5 hours was more than enough of their fun and crazy antics. :) I worried that maybe I was anxious about leaving my son there for the weekend. I made my college-age daughter promise me to check up on him and make sure he was ok throughout the four day visit. Then as I drove off the campus I called home to tell my husband that I was leaving so he would know when to expect my arrival. He put my little girls on the speaker phone and I asked them about their day and then I asked them to pray for mommy that she would have a safe trip home. It wasn't a request I would normally make. I drove less than 5 miles down the road listening to praise music as loud as it could comfortably go and fear just gripped me. I prayed that God would get me home to my family. I tightened the seat belt and slowed to the speed limit, which I continued to keep for the rest of the night. If you know me at all...that's UNUSUAL!

A long time ago the Holy Spirit had prompted me to slow down around a very dangerous curve that I drove every day. Back then I drove with the attitude of invincibility, but I immediately braked to a crawl just as a semi truck came barreling around that curve into MY lane. I had the capacity to move off onto the shoulder because of the Holy Spirit's prompting and avoided almost certain death. I felt like something like that might happen tonight. I was genuinely anxious.

For a solid hour I listened to a playlist of my favorite worship songs and just enjoyed singing to the Lord in private. Then right about the second hour mark I popped in a cassette my mom had given me of Beth Moore talking about the passion of God. The past couple of weeks I have enjoyed some truths that Beth has "nailed home" for me in my Esther study, but she also has shared some thoughts/ideas that I found to be "out there" so I was curious to see what she would teach re: the passion of God. I made it through both sides of cassette 1 and side A of cassette 2 and had about 45 minutes more until I got home when I turned over cassette 2 to side B. What she shared about Jacob wrestling with God was profound in my life at the moment.

She said that Jacob was finally having an honest cheating allowed in this match up. He hung on through the night, clinging to God. When God asked him his name, he replied, "Jacob." He had to admit that he was the supplanter, the cheater. Then God gave Him a new name. She made the point that God wants to transform our lives-to give us new names, so to speak. He doesn't want us to identify with our old self, but to become new in Him. Jacob's tenacity, his hanging on, while God stripped away the old and made something new out of the man was critical to Jacob fulfilling His calling. Then she used other illustrations from the Bible, David being the most recognizable. He was anointed King and then sent to the "wilderness," spiritually speaking, while Saul was chasing after him and trying to kill him. David remained faithful and his tenacity, his hanging on to the PROMISES OF GOD, allowed God to fulfill a great destiny in him.

I sobbed for 45 minutes straight. Not little tears from a poignant thought, but true bondage-breaking, hope-inducing sobs. I can't truly wrap my brain around all the God is revealing to me and what He is trying to strip away (that I so desperately hold on to), but Beth shared how God is walking you through this time of destroying the old, not for Himself, but FOR YOU. He's not in Heaven just wishing we'd hurry up and obey so He can do His work, He wants to strip away our old man, and yes, have our obedience, so that WE have the victory. He lavishly loves us and wants to save us - not just from Hell, but from ourselves, our sinful nature. He wants to create a new woman in me. What am I hanging onto and why? What do I believe about God, truly, if I can't trust Him with my baggage?

I don't have the answers for you or for me. I just know that I desperately want Him to keep doing that work in me. That I don't want to be the old Angie; I NEED Him to make me anew.

Beth shared a side note about her daughter, Melissa, sharing as a young woman, how profound a certain truth had struck her in Psalm 23. As best as I can remember through the crying, Melissa said, "Mom, Do you realize that God forces my enemies to sit and watch me eat at God's banquet table where every good thing is given to me? My enemies have to watch as God anoints my head with oil. He is showing my enemies that I have all I need to fulfill my calling and have the victory."

How do we forget how awesome God is? How do we forget that in Him we have all that we will ever need? I believe tonight the enemy knew that the Holy Spirit was going to "nail one home," and he sure didn't want me to get the message. My drive, even through dense fog and curvy roads, was completely uneventful. I would like to surmise that it seemed the roads were emptier than I had ever seen them. I was safely in the hands of God, both in my car and in my heart. I hope that you too have experienced his loving care in your life.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

God Cares About Dryers & Root Canals

It has been a hectic couple of days. Before I left my house for the day on Tuesday I decided to throw a blanket in the dryer. My son was helping me out with this chore when the dryer started doing "the twilight zone" on him...beeping like crazy. I ran down to the laundry room wondering, "What is he doing?" He was staring at the control panel pushing random buttons to try and get the machine to quiet down. It didn't work. I unplugged the dryer, said a prayer and plugged it back in...nothing. I had a blacked-out control panel and very little time for a diagnosis. I ran to the electric panel and flipped the fuse back and forth (I had no idea!), but still no luck. The light was coming on in the dryer so I knew the machine was getting power; I just grabbed the dryer manual and ran Rhett to his Art class.

While sitting in my car waiting for Rhett I read the entire manual, hoping to find the section that said, "if you can't afford a dryer repair right now, just press this reset button we've hidden on the back of the machine and all will be well." There was no such section. :( I called the repair center and tried to communicate my issue with someone from India (I think.) She let me know that it would cost $70 for the repairman to come out whether I got anything fixed or not. Then she cheerfully told me about the $200 deal that I could pay on the spot and it would take care of all labor and parts for this visit, plus any I would need during the coming year. I let her know that I would need to talk to my husband and get back to her. I called Mark and gave him the low-down and he said if the control panel had gone out it would definitely cost MORE than $200 to fix it. We decided to let him take a look at it later in the day and wait until we had no other option.

I waited through Art and volunteered at the library before being able to get home to gather my remaining laundry (which mysteriously seemed to be hiding ALL OVER the house-we have to talk about getting the dirty stuff in the basket in the hall again). My husband had beaten me home and was tearing the machine apart trying to find that mysterious button too. :) He cleaned out the dryer's insides, but it still didn't like us. Then Mark said that he had read online that sometimes a control button gets stuck and if you just push a lot of buttons it might pop back on. Wow! We're getting desperate now, but it is $200. So with another little prayer I watch him go to town on the buttons and you won't believe it, it popped back on!! I got misty eyed and we started hugging and praising the Lord right there in the laundry room! I think we said lots of thank you prayers throughout the night and felt blessed to not have to drag a mini-van full of clothes to my mom's house. Dad would be happy about that too.

Later that night I had come up with a tasty meal that included grilled pork chops. As Tara was eating her meat she complained about a sore tooth. (one with a filling) I gave her a toothpick thinking she had some pork chop stuck in her teeth. A few minutes later she emerged from the bathroom with a bloody toothpick and still crying. What kind of mother am I? I got some floss and gave it a luck. She couldn't describe her pain very well so we suggested not finishing the meal and I gave her some pain medicine. She mentioned that it had hurt at other times, but she hadn't told us. I asked her to let me know whenever it hurt again.

Today on our way home from a piano lesson she complained about the pain again. I called the pediatric dentist and they said to come right over. We got there and found out she had broken the filling. Ok, I think. The dentist suggested taking an x-ray just to make sure everything was still good. Of course, it wasn't. She needed a baby root canal on the spot. I know I haven't blogged about the dentist before (there's a reason), but I have awful dental phobia. The dentist only had time right then to fix it so with a "good luck" phone call from Mark, I was the brave Mommy trying not to mirror the terror on my 5-year-old's face. Tara and I came through it just fine and she was excited to hear the dentist's suggestion of ice cream for lunch. Thanks, doc! Can't wait to pay for the next cavity. :)

I took her home to relax, ran to an over-due hair appointment, came home, ate a quick lunch, got my basement ready for ballet (the girls did that...I just did the yelling - quiet yelling!), tried to finish my Bible study homework for tonight (yes, even after yelling), made and ate dinner and rushed out the door to go study Esther. Thank Goodness for Esther! I was dished up a good side of conviction - rightly deserved, but I felt the better for it.

Home to more laundry so my son doesn't go off to "college for a weekend" (CFAW) in the same shirt he's worn for the past two days. Then I ironed for my boys and put some upbeat music onto my ZUNE to keep me awake on the long drives tomorrow.

We've all had days/weeks like I'm having. I'm just amazed that God knew I needed to spend that $200 on a little girl's sweet smile instead of a dryer. I'm thankful He provided the means to do it. He is sooo good, isn't He!

Talk to you again after I return from my trip...I'm hoping to get at least one great picture to share with you. Good-night.