Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween!

I just love Halloween. Miles and Ella went to preschool today dressed as animals from the days of creation... on hand we had a lion and a butterfly.

Wednesday night after church we had trunk or treat, or as Elijah called it, pretend trick or treating. Real trick or treating is tonight in our neighborhood with his cousins...Anita and Lily, Ella and me - Ian and Lily were David and a sheep, Ella a cute little black cat, although Anita said she looked like an exotic dancer...

and here's Sheriff Woody, but unfortunately Buzz was too busy eating candy to pose for the camera...maybe tonight he can take a moment for me...
Happy Halloween, everyone!

Mom of Two's blog pimpin'

Erika at Mom of Two is one of my oldest friends. I remember well the first time I ever met her. I was going to be one of the new girls at our school in the 7th grade. I was under the delusion that I needed to try out for cheerleading. Yeah boy. Anyway, I had been looking at the faces of kids I knew I'd eventually be in school with in Kevin's yearbooks. I think I already knew them all by name. And Erika, for some reason, really intimidated me during cheer clinic that week. I can't say why. She was tall back then. (During 7th grade we all pretty much evened out.) By the ninth grade she had become one of my very best friends. I remember staying at her home and watching movies and doing egg white masks. She just always struck me as very kind and very logical, which is refreshing since I am not always logical. She gave the best hugs...

Check her out and find some new blogs to read, several of them also my great friends from high school.

wait on me

There was an incident this week, that I will not go into details about, that has made me stop to think. I am fine, but after a good number of tears I was left wondering... alright God, what do I do with this? Why did this happen? Are you trying to teach me something here, and if so, what? Could you just send me an email or call my cell next time? That would be much easier. Well, unfortunately, I've discovered that God doesn't email or call on the phone, although I sure wish he would. I did get from him though, that he wants me to step back. Once again, I've been trying to control every little detail, particularly of the lives of my children and the next 10 or so years of their lives. I want to decide, to know, to basically have my way. Well, as I found out this week, I can not always know, don't need to always decide, and that I need to continually give over my will to God's. This is one he's been working on me with for years. Within a years time, 3 years ago, I had a new baby, was planning a move to a different state, lost my dad quickly, decided we'd stay put here, became pregnant again. For about a year after that I lived differently, and better, fully realizing that I have very little to no control over this life. I even became o.k. with it. Then little by little my old self crept back in. When will I just get it? Every day of my life and of my children's lives are written in his book. He knows. He knows. I do not need to know all that he knows that is to come. I know some of it will be wonderful, and I'm sure there is some deep pain waiting out there. To know it all now would be too much and too distracting. So, my job is to love him, believe him, trust him, wait on him, pray to him and teach of him. Is that so difficult for me to do? Evidently. I'll give it all up and then I'll take it right back. Shheeesh, I am glad he has time to wait on me. I am quite the little project...

(Janae Dean)

So now you think you're ready
I know you've made your plans
I see you getting restless
Letting go of my hand
You're such a hurry
You say you have a song
Time has not yet come
With hope just carry on

Wait on me
Be still and know that I am God
Put your faith in me for I am here just
Wait on me
Its time to grow, now you can rest
I will show you when to wait on me

It seems like nothings moving
I know you wondering when
Be strong in faith, wait patiently
And know that I'm your friend
I know the things that you've been through
You call upon my name
I was there when you were hurting
And I won't forget your pain

I will renew your strength
And you will fly with wings of an eagle
So tell the world of my love
And I will bless your song again

Sung by Wayburn Dean. I can't find it on youtube. He came to church and sang this song back when Dad was sick.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

toilet troubles, asthma returns, my mom is leaving...

tomorrow to help my brother and his family move. And now you know why I have not been around here in the last several days. It's not enough that bathroom no. 1 is now without a shower, thus without a wall, and is pretty much unusable (as are the washer and dryer sitting in my kitchen due to the aforementioned trouble). No, let us see what else can go wrong. Enter bathroom no. 2. Leaky toilet. Quick fix!? No! Old house. They don't attach toilets to houses like this anymore. Waiting. At Mom's. The plumber has been alerted.

Next reenter Elijah's good old buddy - mild asthma. About 18 months ago, Dr. T declared Elijah's asthma "outgrown" (at least I thought that's what he said). Well, it's back. When you run a block and then cough wildly for 10 to 15 minutes or better yet, you vomit because you are coughing so severely, then I'd say you have a problem. So, two trips to the pediatrician, one weekend of Albuterol, a new Flovent prescription, 3 days of oral steroid, and an appointment for the flu shot (now, that will be fun!) later - a rediagnosis with mild asthma.

Sometimes I feel like saying (like Joey the kangaroo in a scholastic video we have) - "I have runned away!" But I won't. Don't worry. I'll stay put. I may feel crazy, old, tired, used up, and like I want to cry. But I'm not going anywhere. I did ask Jonathan for a vacation for an upcoming occasion, but then remembered I'd be getting my toilet reinstalled instead...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This particular political season has me a bit concerned. I, as a rule, do not watch the news. I don't like it. I don't have time for it. I'd just like the facts and no opinions (thank you very much), but I can't find that. So, I used to ask my dad and my husband political questions. Sometimes their answers were the same, and sometimes not, but I could find my place in the mix. I'd really like to beep my dad to talk this over. This election has become so heated, so ugly. I made my decision a long time ago, which has been cemented by what I have seen of a particular candidate, and by what he evidently (according to his own words) would have his daughters do if they "made a mistake" and became pregnant. Oops! Did I just give myself away? I value life. That's just the way I roll. Also, my discerning meter sounds off an alarm whenever I see that one guy...

So, what to do? Stress out? Fret? Add to my already anxious nature? My husband has been so encouraging in this. You who know him know that he is (usually) quite the level-headed one. He remains calm until given a very good reason not to. He is smart and he looks for unbiased information, and no I don't mean Fox News. So when I have become upset over this he has had the calm answers I needed. And he has been telling me what I know - God is in control. You just don't come to power without God allowing it.

Last Sunday we had a very dynamic guest speaker, Dr. Jerry Taylor from Abilene Christian. He was fabulous and Jonathan downloaded a sermon he gave last year sometime. After listening to it a few times himself, he sat me down last night and had me listen. It was just what I needed. I tried to write notes as I listened, so all of the following may not be exact. He's speaking to how Jesus is The Authority and Ruler and is based on Micah 6:6-8:

He came from the shores of up early one Sunday morning, declaring "all power in heaven and on earth is in My hands." Jesus has got the power! [So] we walk humbly with our God knowing that he had enough sense to start his work in us, and that he's got enough wisdom to bring it to completion. We do not look to Capitol Hill to fight our battles. We look to the One who sits high and looks low and who is still the Head of the church and we say Lord, come quickly! Lord, reclaim ownership of your church that we may be your people - be open for you to live in us and work through us to Your honor and Your glory. Let us follow Him all the days of our that place of love, of mercy, of justice. We will keep marching until we sit in that place where every knee shall bow and every tongue confess His holy name... Keep walking!
So, in this I found wisdom. It doesn't matter who wins this election. Them or us. Donkeys or elephants. Pro-life or pro-choice. White or black. Young or old. Finish the war or give up on the war. Taxes or no taxes. Female or male. My leader is Jesus Christ. He will finish all of this one day. And I'm more than sure there won't be any political parties in that place. Meanwhile, my calling in the middle of all this is:
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8

Friday, October 17, 2008

power cord woes...

have kept me away from blogging in a while. I really missed having computer capabilities and several blog-worthy things have taken place in the meantime. We went to the fair and invited Milesy along for his first time. He fell in love with the experience and keeps asking when we can go back. Unfortunately it was a little rainy that night, so we only had our camera phones. We just joined the rank of the rest of the world (being the people who already had camera phones), so when we figure out how to email fair photos to ourselves I'll share them. The boys had a blast together.

Elijah wore candy corn socks for Silly Sock Day at school - they studied the letter S that week.
Unfortunately (for me), Miles just had to wear silly socks to the Y and to his school also.

Next, to make a long story short, the kids and I stayed at my mom's last weekend due to Jonathan discovering that what we thought was a washing machine problem was a leaky shower problem. We got out of his hair as he pulled down wet sheet rock and pulled out a shower stall. I guess now we'll be forced to do that bathroom renovation we'd been planning.

When it was time for dinner last Saturday at Mom's I called upstairs several times for the boys to come down. Finally I went up to get them. They had been smart enough to lock the bathroom door, but not to actually shut the door the whole way. I found Elijah watching and laughing as Miles was pouring (and evidently had been pouring for quite a while) bubble bath into the sink. They both got into trouble and I explained to Elijah that encouraging someone to do wrong is the same as doing wrong yourself. He apologized and promised that he and Miles would pray about it alone later. Whatever, I thought. So, when it was time I tucked them in and we said prayers. I had forgotten about his promise to pray with Miles, but when I walked out I heard something like this: "God I'm sorry that I was foolish, and foolish means... I'm sorry I told Miles to do the wrong thing and that we both disobeyed you." He didn't know I was standing in the hall listening. I couldn't hear his definition of foolish, although I'm sure it was dead on. I walked away feeling so grateful. It reminds me of a Sara Groves song that says "...He loves the boy and He'll love the man..." and I pray that Elijah will always surrender to the tug at his heart that is his Father.

The next night as the kids and I were headed home from life group, Miles asked me from out of the blue "is Jesus our healer?" and then "is Dad our healer, too?" When I explained that although daddy is strong, he can't heal and prays for Jesus to heal Miles said that his dad "needed a few more powers."

A few days ago Elijah's school held their annual Family Fall Fest. I had signed up to help with the set up and after finding out, Elijah talked me into coming to lunch with him. We had a sweet little visit and I loved being up at the school. I'm about to start helping Ms. Jackson with AR testing on Wednesday mornings in Elijah's class. Hopefully he can handle my presence there without getting crazy...

Elijah at Fall Fest. He first wanted a red elephant on his face. Now, he "goes for Auburn," but unfortunately, elephants are his favorite animal and red his favorite color. I breathed a quiet sigh of relief when he decided on an upper case E on one side and a lowercase one on the other.

After a recent and unfortunate blowing up of a latex glove like a balloon at preschool, Ella has become even more terrified of anything inflatable. Now, she has no problem with already inflated balloons, but the little inflatable Sponge Bob Elijah got at the fair gives her the creeps. So when Jonathan and my mom showed up at the Fall Fest, Ella turned into a frantically shrieking puddle as soon as she set eyes on the ten or so huge inflatables. The inflatables that she was no where near. I had held Elijah off from them while I worked his class booth, so he and Miles were ready to get at them. Mom and I were left to handle a mad little Ella. For about ten or fifteen minutes she cried and cried. She tried not to look in the direction of the inflated beasts, but every now and then she just couldn't help it, and she'd become more upset. Luckily, a little melting and messy orange and chocolate cookie we found at the bake sale made things pretty tolerable. Then she'd just point in the direction of the evil that is inflatables and mutter something indignantly. Pure and simple, she hates them, but for a cookie she decided she could be in their presence.

The boys had a great time and Ella ended up having fun on the play ground, all the while thinking she's every bit as big as all the others. Elijah had so much fun he didn't want to leave. Jonathan and the boys ran into Ms. Jackson over at the inflatables and Elijah said to her, "thank you for my green apple today" to which she replied "baby, I didn't give you that green apple, you earned it." I love her. She was a bit scary at first, but I knew I'd see God's plan in answering my "give him the teacher he needs" prayers. She is it, and the more I get to know her the more I believe it. I'm excited about being able to help out in the classroom soon.

I'll leave you with a picture of one of the inflatables from Fall Fest. Scary, huh? I hope you don't have nightmares. I'm glad Ella doesn't read my blog - I'm sure she'd leave a really hateful and ugly comment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

greater than troubles

I think it was the first CD of Sara Groves' that I owned myself that came with a bonus feature of someone interviewing her. My sister (in-law), Katie, introduced me to Sara's music several years ago, for which I am so grateful for. So, in this interview she was responding to questions about and explaining the inspiration for the songs on that particular CD, The Other Side of Something. I think this one came out when Elijah was around one or so, so 2003ish. Anyway, something she spoke about in the interview really struck a chord within me, and does to this day.

Sara was speaking about the song What I Thought I Wanted, and explained that it came from a conversation she had with a mentor of hers.
I keep wanting you to be fair
But that’s not what you said
I want certain answers to these prayers
But that’s not what you said
She commented to her friend once that if she lost her son, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to handle it and look at God in the same way. Her friend's reply was "if God would not still be the God of your life in that situation, maybe he's not the God in your life now." Wait a minute. I had to really think about that one. A fear of mine, at that time when I just had Elijah, and still today with all three littles, is that I will lose them to death. I have to take captive thoughts about this, or they take control over me.

I heard about a local little girl who died at only four years old from a non-cancerous tumor on the brainstem. Her memorial service was held on Elijah's birthday last year. I know because one of Elijah's little friends couldn't come to his party because she was attending her other little friend's memorial. I felt such grief for this family I never met. I looked for her Caring Bridge site and was blown away when I found it. Such grief, sadness and such gratefulness, joy and faith. The mother shared finding the sermons of Dr. Tim Keller (Redeemer Church in NYC) regarding hope. I jotted this name down, promising myself to look into it. That was probably about 9 months ago. I looked into it today, and I am so glad I did.

Toward the end of this sermon Dr. Keller quotes C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed when he begins that "no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." After Dad died, I found this to be so true. About at the sixth month point, my anxiety hit the roof and I knew, knew that something bad was about to happen. To my mom, or my husband, or one of my boys, or to the little one growing inside of me at that time. I feared and fretted. Six months after you lose someone, it is glaringly obvious that they are, in fact, gone. So add to the other fears the fear of realizing I had lost my dad and the "how do we possibly manage without him" thoughts that filled my mind. Oh, let's just say, I was a mess. So, after all this, and what I have seen, learned, heard, felt and sought out since, I still wonder - could I make it without one of my babies or my husband or my mom or my brother, or... or...

This still after I know that we have new mercies every morning, exactly what we need to get through each day, if we will receive them. And after knowing the hope of reunion. It's not over. It wasn't goodbye. But sometimes it feels like it was.

Dr. Keller's sermon on hope reminded me of what I already know in my heart. I must choose faith now. Before pain comes my way, and it will come my way. By choosing ahead of time to believe Him in all circumstances we can make it easier on ourselves when those hard times come. He used these scriptures:

We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles. 2 Corinthians 4:17

Crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

So I rejoice and am glad. Even my body has hope, because you will not leave me in the grave. You will teach me how to live a holy life. Being with you will fill me with joy; at your right hand I will find pleasure forever. Psalm 16:9-11

Because I have lived right, I will see your face. When I wake up, I will see your likeness and be satisfied. Psalm 17:15
There are so many things I'd love to talk to my dad about: politics, parenting, getting along with people, making choices, the list goes on and on. I'd really love to talk with him about these scriptures. What would he say about the pain he endured, or leaving long before he would have chosen to? I want to hear what he'd say about the glory he is now a part of.

These words make a promise that, as Dr. Keller said, if we will "plant our tears," we will find a joy that changes us. He said that the kind of joy we really need is the product of tears. Avoiding the tears or dumping the tears or covering them up will not bring about change in us. If we take our pain and plant it, using it for good and allowing God to show us how, we will find true joy. He said we must put our tears in prayer to God for this to come about as we realize grace, have a vision of the cross and have assurance of the coming glory.

Keller also used the end of Psalm 39 as an example that God understands how we speak to him when we are hurt, when we are desparate:

I am like a visitor with you. Like my ancestors, I'm only here a short time. Leave me alone so I can be happy before I leave and am no more. Psalm 39:12-13
Jesus himself spoke to God this way on the cross. He felt forsaken. He accused his father of leaving him. God knows what this kind of hurt feels like. He wants us to trust him with our tears and our pain. Our fears and our worries. What an amazing promise that the troubles we have here, as bad as they may be, will not compare to the glory that awaits us. Glory awaits us. That's something to be hopeful for. And it's a hope that will not disappoint.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Veggie Tales Live

Yesterday afternoon Jonathan and I took the boys to Veggie Tales Live. I don't know about you, but around here we love ourselves some Veggie Tales. Elijah definitely qualifies as a fanatic, as he has been known to put a hat on sideways and hop around the house while answering only to "Jr." He also draws the Veggie Tales characters. And draws them. And draws them. Then he draws them some more. Miles and Ella are following right in line and really enjoy the videos. So, when we heard they were coming to town, we had to take the boys. Dora or Diego or Disney on Ice we can ignore requests to go to, because those would be painful. And I mean slow death painful. But I enjoyed Veggie Tales, and I think Jonathan did, too, although some of the actual people's dance moves were disturbing in a bad dancing kind of way. Bad moves, not lude (of course!). Don't tell Ella, but she just didn't make the cut this time.

I found this press photo on the web site.

Here they are as the Boyz in the Sink.
They wanted everyone to do the dance with this one, and although we did not, the sweet woman in front of us thoroughly got down. It was impressive, people.

Miles chose the pirate hat from The Pirates who don't do Anything. It's almost as big as he is. He's been wearing it while saying "aye, aye captain!" But I keep making him walk the plank.

Unfortunately they didn't have a Junior hat, so Elijah defaulted to the next best, Larry Boy. He wore it all day today. He had today off from school so he wore it at home. At the Y. At Pizza Hut when we met Ian, Anita and Lily. At the monogramming shop. At Publix. Evidently he likes it. We had fun.

Tonight we will rest, because tomorrow night we will take the boys to the fair. It's so much fun, with the exception of all the money flying out of the window... but it's totally worth the smiles on their faces. Oh, yeah, don't tell Ella, but she's not going to the fair either. Don't feel too bad for her - this is Miles first trip to the fair. She can go next year. Maybe.