Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas 2008

We did Christmas on Christmas eve because Lowell has to work Christmas day. It was a good day - just the five of us. We did a big dinner, family get together thing on Thanksgiving so it was kind of nice to just have us today. Lowell played with the kids, picking them up, throwing them around, and loving on them... It is so wonderful to see them with their dad. I love how much they adore him - and how much he adores them. I can't begin to count how many times he just marvels at how blessed we are; at how cute they are, how smart they are, and how much he loves spending time with them. Tonight, Nathan broke into tears because he doesn't want Daddy to go to work tomorrow. This isn't the first time he's done this, he really doesn't like to be without his dad. And we don't know how to deal with his sadness. We've explained to him that Daddy has to go, that he misses the kids too... But Nathan's tears are still so poignant and touching. He's a very emotional kid. And very attached to his father. I'm so glad they had today together...
The morning began with the kids sitting in their places and Lowell passed out a present apiece. Then Jillie opened, Chloe opened and then Nathan. I took pictures and videotaped a little. The kids were really happy with what they received. Mamoo got them bubbles, among other things and Lowell and I got the girls a couple of dress up dresses. Before long, the girls were in their dresses blowing bubbles at each other and twirling. :) Auntie Leeda and Uncle "Brad" sent the Mousetrap game and Kung Fu Panda. And they included a very fun present - the bubble wrap! The kids jumped on it until each section made a loud POP! and then we could finally move on to the next presents. :) We played Mousetrap together in the evening (Jillie won) and I am currently writing with Kung Fu Panda in the background. :) Thank you Auntie Leeda and Uncle Brett. Hopefully next Christmas we can be together! :)

The girls got Barbies, the dress-up outfits, a couple of stuffed animals and some other things... Nathan got a big truck, a remote control truck, a dirt bike figurine and a Webkinz bald eagle. My favorite present was a set of magnetic dress-up figures for Chloe with about a hundred different skirts, shirts and outfits for the little dolls. Mamoo also got the kids coloring books and crayons. Gramma Who and Grandpa got the kids a VSmile game and controller and UNO Attack. (Lowell and I had fun with Uno attack in the afternoon! :)) Gramma GG got them some great books including a cook book especially for cooking together with the kids. And Gramma Hippo got adorable clothes, Legos and some babies. My kids all love art! The big present this year was an easel. Lowell had a ton of fun assembling it, of course, while I fixed breakfast. The rest of the day was filled with relaxation and lots of fun.
I read "Small One" to the kids at bedtime. If you haven't read it, its the story of an old donkey and a little boy who loves him and yet has to give him up. I was choking on tears reading it because I was ridiculously emotional. But, in all reality, what do I have to be sad about? I'm loved by the creator of the earth. I'm blessed with three beautiful, healthy children and a husband who loves me. I'm hoping to spend Christmas day scrapbooking the real meaning of the day... Christmas is the birthday of Jesus - the day that the Son of God came to earth as a man. He chose to leave heaven and come down to this place - this world of sin, anger, hate, violence, pain and disappointment. And not only that, He chose to live among us and endure the same life that we do each day. Christ lived in a world that hated Him. And He came as a helpless infant on Christmas morning 2000 years ago to begin a journey that would eventually lead Him to the cross. Aren't we lucky?
The kids got a ton of toys. And they did such a good job. They were so thankful - they gave hugs and hours later, they were still saying 'thank you'. They were patient and they shared. Well, for the most part. :) I'm so blessed. I have kids who are thoughtful and realize that its not all about them... I think I've got the three best Christmas presents ever! :) I hope your Christmas is as blessed as mine!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wintery Weather

It has been snowing outside non-stop since about noon today. We already had about an inch on the ground from last night. The wind is picking up and my front yard is turning into a winter wonderland. Its been a quiet Sunday - just the kids and I. Lowell had to take my car to work today so we've been without a vehicle although I doubt we would've been able to get out in the snow without chains anyway. The kids have spent most of the day playing and watching a few cartoons while I have spent the vast majority of the day working on Lowell's christmas present. The kids have helped a little but I still have a long way to go! :) At least if it's not done by Christmas, Lowell works the 25th and 26th, and his birthday is the 28th. :) So I have a little leeway. Since Lowell reads my blog I won't go into detail now... But I'll be sure to share photos and his reaction after he gets it!

Chloe had her very first sleepover night before last! She went to Samantha's house (just a mile or so up the road) and had a great time! She didn't miss us at all until mid morning Saturday. She is the first one of the kids to sleep over without the other two. And she's the one who I knew wouldn't have a problem. :) She's definitely got a mind of her own. There is a girl at school, for example who has taken to Chloe but who she isn't very fond of. A few days ago at breakfast, this girl came up and asked Chloe if she could sit by her. Chloe said "No". And that was that. :) I'm proud of her... Samantha was supposed to come here and spend the night last night but her parents got stuck in the snow down the hill after going shopping and never made it home until late.

Oh, news! I got a new camera yesterday! I'm still not sure completely how to use it because it does so much... My other camera finally died.. And I was devastated about going through the Christmas season without my camera. Lowell has been saying that he's going to buy me the camera that I want for my birthday but it's too expensive for right now. So I got a little cheap camera to carry around in my purse for the interim! I love new toys! So, I'm going to try to take some snow pix and load them here... We'll see how it works! :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Early New Year's Resolutions

So I just spent my afternoon watching the first two High School Musicals the first one while I walked/ran on the treadmill (Yeah me!!!) and the second while I worked on Nathan's homework assignment - helping him make a wreath. The movies reminded me that I really had the perfect high school experience. I was popular, I was friends with a ton of people; I was good at school - studying came easy; I was co-captain of the cheerleading squad; I had an older boyfriend who spoiled me silly; and I was a bona-fide beauty queen! I mean, what more could you ask for? And I miss those days. I miss the ease and all the fun. Responsibility sure puts a damper on things, doesn't it? I've been noticing that I need to take more joy in the life I have now instead of comparing it to "before" and to the lives of others. I have so much to be thankful for. But still I'm discontent. Isn't that how it always is? At least that's how I am - selfish. I struggle against my selfish nature because it really dampens my joy. I've heard that the first step to discontentment is comparison... Well I love to compare. I love to see how my life compares to other peoples; how my kids compare and even how my body compare with other peoples. I'm sure I've mentioned how Lowell and I "show" each other how the other one looks. Anyway, I know it's early, but I already know what my New Year's resolution will be - I'm going to stop comparing my life both to the lives of others and to 'what used to be'. It's going to be a big challenge so I'm starting early. First I'm going to just start being aware of how frequently I compare and what situations led me to comparison so that I can begin to get an idea of how big a monster I have to tackle! :)
I've identified a lot of behaviors that contribute to my comparing problem. One is that I am very detail orientated instead of being long-term, whole issue focused. For example, when there is a mistake made, I just see the mistake, I don't see the whole picture. I'm definitely too much of a perfectionist. Also, I never quit thinking and analysing things. I really need to get my head to shut up - or at least to start thinking about other things. So, I'm going to try to identify when my head is just meaninglessly wandering and getting into trouble and either start reciting scripture to myself over and over or I'm going to sing worship songs. So, that's the to-do list. I'd better get started! :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another personal revelation

So I realized today after some serious personal reflection that I want to be fat. Notice I didn't say that I like being fat - I just want to remain fat. Why on earth, do you ask... Well, because I know me as the fat girl and it is the crutch that I use. I'm not happy with myself and I'm not happy with where I am as an individual - I can blame all of that on me being fat. I can use it to explain my insecurities, my laziness, my less than stellar preformance as a mother, my anxiety, my hesitancy to go after the things that I want in life.... A lot hinges on me being fat. And if I wasn't fat, I wouldn't have that to fall back on. I wouldn't have an excuse... And that terrifies me. So, I really want to be thin - I want to be healthy and attractive. But at the same time, I'm more safe when I'm overweight. Make sense? So I'm working against myself. I so desperately want to lose the weight but I also sabaouge myself in order to keep myself safe. So, in addition to working on exercising more, I need to work on developing my confidence based on things other than my appearance. Time to start working on that...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blessings

Our Thanksgiving was great. I cooked and after I got over some initial anxiety, all was well! My grandma came up and helped with some of the prep and also made her signature cornbread. We had our 5, my grandma and my dad - that was all. But it was good. The kids love their grandpa so much and my grandma is really concerned about missing the kids after we move to Phoenix. It was good for her to be a part of our day and also of the decorating we did on Friday. My only regret was that I gave a stupid prayer. I wish I would've been more thoughtful about the things I'm really thankful for, and not so concerned with people liking what I had cooked... So, to make up for that, I'm going to share what I'm thankful for here. Nathan - he just wants to be good. Yesterday we were frustrated with the kids not listening as well as they should and so we were talking about going back to taking away toys when they don't listen. Because Nathan hadn't been listening, he went, on his own, into his room and started bagging up his toys. It was so sad and so sweet... I cried. So we went in and talked to him about how his heart is what we're concerned about - we want him to have a heart that will follow our instructions but obviously his heart wants to do the right thing and we're so proud of him. Such a sweet boy. Chloe - she is so smart. Lowell and I were playing a trivia game yesterday and the kids joined in. Granted, I'm sure most of her answers were guesses, but some of them, she legitimately knew! She got a ton of questions right! Her teacher marvels at her reading ability and her ease at working with any of the kids in her class. She often gets paired with some of the more difficult kids because of her ability to be consistently helpful. Also, yesterday we went through the kids' toys, paring down to get ready for Christmas and also trying to reinforce the lesson of sharing. Nathan was really struggling with parting with his toys but Chloe jumped right on board. She kept giving and giving and did a really good job chosing toys that other children could enjoy. I was really proud of her. Her generosity also rubbed off onto Jillian who really doesn't care about possessions. She caught the giving spirit and they both created a huge pile of things to take to the shelter. Jillian is a joy and always keeps us on our toes. She has such an attitude and is completely passionate about how she feels. She isn't just happy or just upset - she's all the way, 100% thrilled, or 100% ticked! She is not very willing to try new things and has perfected the temper tantrum. And yet, there are times when she will come up, totally unexpectedly and say the sweetest thing or snuggle up and love on me. And her voice is irresistible! She is just the sweetest thing! She's adorable and precious!
And then there's my husband... I am so spoiled. My husband loves me. He loves me when I'm cranky and when I'm lazy. And he loves me even though I'm hugely overweight. And he is still being vocal about it. He still writes me love notes and still tells me that he thinks I'm pretty and that he thinks I'm pretty special. (See, I've got him pretty well fooled! :)) And he makes an effort to do things that he knows I like... He supports me in the things I enjoy and he keeps me focused on reality. He keeps me from being overwhelmingly selfish and he reminds me that the world doesn't revolve around me. :) He appreciates the work I do with the kids and reassures me that he could never do the job that I do. I'm so blessed. We don't have a lot of money. We don't have a beautiful house. I don't have the perfect job or perfect friends of even perfect children or a perfect husband but I am so blessed and so thankful for the people who God has brought into my life. So many blessings! :) Thank you, friend, for being one of them!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Giving Thanks...

I first began this post with the thought of sharing the little details of our lives lately... I've come down with another cold; Jillian stuck a floride tablet up her nose at preschool; Chloe's best friend spent the day with us yesterday and the kids were witnessing to her; Nathan made pilgrims and indians in class, as well as clay molds of his hands; Lowell needs prayer for the coming winter months of long, cold days and the burnout that inevitably follows... And then I found this website and I was distracted... http://aholyexperience.com/2008/11/getting-through-hard-times.html Wow... I have been struggling daily with anger and sadness... First I'm angry at how my days are so filled with need. The needs of others - all around me I hear, "I'm hungry", "I need help", "Where's my...", "What's for dinner?", "Did you...", "Can you...", "Go get...", ... The demands and requests are seemingly neverending... And I feel empty. I don't feel like I have anything left to give. And I'm selfish - I don't want to give anymore! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE! And then I'm heartbroken when I'm alone in the car, after dropping them off at school... remembering how curt I was. How I didn't take time to kneel down and wrap them in my arms and tell them how much I love them... How I didn't whisper a prayer for them to get them through the day at school... How I wasn't a very good example of Christian love... How I could've done better. And then I get depressed. I'm already sad and overwhelmed and then the shame compounds it. It feels like a never ending cycle. But maybe this website offers a reminder... and a solution. My focus shouldn't be on my strength or my ability to give - it should be on who He is and living with His power. My eyes shouldn't be on my performance as a mother but my goal should be to turn their eyes to Christ by having mine there as well. I'll never be a good enough mother on my own. This job is so precious and so important to me... I'll never do it well enough on my own. But through Christ, I can have strength and patience. I can love with His love and not with my own feeble version of love. When I try to admit to others that I'm just tired. I'm just tired of being a mom and just tired of giving, I often hear "Don't you love your kids?". The guilt the comes from that comment.... Anyway, of course I love my kids. It is because of how much I love them that I've pushed myself this far... It is because of how hard I try to be everything for them and to do everything with them and to give them every opportunity that I've become so exhausted. I haven't taken the time to keep myself fed. I was blessed by our vacation to Phoenix. Our marriage was definitely refreshed. But my own soul is still withering. I haven't fed my soul in... a long time. It's been quite awhile since I was in my Bible and not sitting in a pew at the same time. So, I'm going to find a few minutes to set aside for my Lord... And I'm asking for prayer for discipline. And for joy... for a refilling of my tank so that I can start giving again with a joyful heart... I am praying for gratitude and joy when it seems that there is little to be thankful for... Strangely enough, if I would only take the time to look, there are soooo many things to be grateful for. Lord, open my eyes to the beauty, the gifts, the miracles that You place in my life every day. I pray that my first thought in the morning will be one of gratitude and one that acknowledges You as the giver of life, of strength, of love and of joy. I am so thankful for my family. You've given me a husband who is amazing... He truly is my hero. I've been so blessed with a man who I can rely on, trust completely and who I can be myself with... Who knows me inside and out and loves me anyway... One who knows the importance of telling me that he loves me, and one who does the little things that show me his devotion... I'm so spoiled - even if I can't get a dozen roses a week anymore. :) (http://www.frommetees.com/ ) I've got a trio of kids who are so smart, so healthy, and honestly so good... And who love you as only children can. You've blessed me, Lord. Remind me of that... Show me beauty, don't let me take my life for granted, Lord. Today and every day, I am so blessed, even in the times when life seems hard... You never leave, Lord and that is the greatest gift ever - the gift of Yourself. Thank you for Your love, Lord and help me to show it to my family and to others who You bring into our lives. Thank Your for continuing to love me even though I'm such a slow learner. :) You are amazing, Lord. Abba. Father. Daddy. Alpha and Omega... Yahweh. Elohim. Adonai. Jehovah. El Shaddai... I think I'll be re-reading Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy.... Until next time, I'll be praying that you know our Heavenly Father too, and that His joy will enter your life and bless you. http://aholyexperience.com/2008/11/getting-through-hard-times.html

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yeah! Music!

I am soo excited! I've been trying to a while now to get music here on my blog! And today, I was finally successful!!! You can find them at the bottom of this page! Most of the songs that I've chosen have stories that go along with them... Others are just ones that I love. The one by Kenny Chesney is a song that Lowell and I have shared... I don't know how I've saved him, but I guarantee that Lowell has saved my life - saved my sanity on more than one occassion! :) And I am so dependent on his love. I adore him. The song by Dan Seals is the one that Lowell dedicated to me. It is so very him... :) And I love the message of it. There is one song, however, that I haven't been able to find in order to put it on my list... I'll update you if I can figure it out! :) Until then, enjoy! And any suggestions for more music, let me know!

VACATION!

It seems to have been forever since I blogged! :) We have been so busy! This past weekend however, we were amazingly, wonderfully, blessedly busy! We went on a road trip. Just Lowell and I. This is the first time that Lowell and I have gotten away since we had kids. Yep, that's right - it's been 6 years since we had a weekend to ourselves! I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it was! I was also amazed at how much work goes into getting three kids packed and lined up with babysitters and food, clothes, jackets and homework; getting them on and off the bus, and leaving a note for my 85 year old great grandma to tell her how to use the stove and microwave, what to fix for meals, bedtimes, etc.... And then there was the issue of getting a fire started in our wood stove! :) Friday morning at 6:30am we left the kids off with our friend Shara who got Nathan and Chloe on the bus for school. Jillie stayed with her for the day. Then Katie met Shara at school and took all three of the kids to her house in Sonora. (Important note- Both Katie and Shara each have three kids of their own) Katie kept them Friday and Saturday and brought them to church on Sunday. Then she gave them to my great grandma, at our house, on Sunday afternoon. There were so many logistics! :) But it was sooooooooooooooo worth it! And I greatly appreciate the people who made our get-a-way possible!
We rented a car and drove to Palm Springs on Friday. Then we got up (at 3 am) and drove on in to Phoenix. We shopped and drove around and just had such a good time... Then Saturday night, we went to Abby's wedding. She was a beautiful bride and looked sooo happy! Sunday morning we had breakfast with some friends and then toured the neighborhoods where we are looking to move. We narrowed down our search and made connections with a realtor. So now we're better prepared to find a house and jobs. We're so excited to move!!!! Hopefully February... But we'll see... Then Sunday night we drove - well, Lowell drove, almost all night. We had a leisurely breakfast and took our time coming home... It was soooo wonderful! I have to say I'm a little sorry to be back to reality!
On the drive down, Lowell kept saying how much he missed the kids. On the way back, he kept saying that we need to do this more often! :) I agree with both!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Independence Day

My kids are growing up. Last week, Nathan rode the bus for the first time. I was so sad... He was thrilled, of course, but for some reason, I felt very sad about his new-found independence. It was one of those moments when you know something, but then in an instant you really know it. When Chloe and I went to Subway today she kind of shocked me. She knew exactly what she wanted to order and what she did and didn't want on her sandwich. I realized that they are definitely developing different personalities... Nathan doesn't like mustard, loves ham sandwiches and PowerRangers and wants to be just like his daddy. Chloe loves veggies and anything considered healthy, she hates being dirty and doesn't like to do manual labor. Jillian still believes that the two main food groups are peanut butter and cheese although she has branched out into pancakes, eggs and some rice; she is so smart and adores school but especially loves the social connections she has made there. When Nathan grows up he wants to be either a fireman, policeman or an "Army". Oh, and he wants to be in the Olympics. A gymnast. (That kind of bothers Lowell... :)) Chloe wants to be a doctor. Jillian wants to be Sleeping Beauty. :)
This morning we had our weekly DJ session. Daddy was on YouTube playing music and the kids were dancing all around the house. While I was videotaping it, I was struck by how different the kids are in their body language, their talents and their opinions. I've known since they were born that the three of them are very different, but seeing them develop personalities and preferences is both exhilarating and somewhat sad too. At least I know that I'm doing my job, right? They're growing up, and they're growing up into very thoughtful, intelligent, loving little people. What more could a mom ask for?
"There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings." - Hodding Carter

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good weaknesses?

I recently read an explanation of a verse that had always stumped me. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9. I understand that through my weakness, God's power is shown and that I need to be weak in order to turn to Him but I've never quite gotten why grace was included in the same sentence as God's power. This is how Karon Phillips Goodman explained it in her book "Grab a Broom, Lord... There's Dust Everywhere!"
"God gives us one primary job - knowing Him - and our ability to do that job hinges on what we see as a weakness. This is not a mistake; its His design. We must know God to do His work, and we must experience God's grace to really know Him, and we must need His grace to experience it. He made us needy so that we could accomplish what He wanted in only one way - through Him."
So, instead of my weaknesses being flaws - as I so often see them, my weaknesses are actually a gift from God - an example of His grace. He allows me to know Him through my need for Him. This understanding came as quite an epiphany. I don't know about you, but the idea that I was created weak by an all powerful God, just didn't make sense. And I hated (ok, hate - not totally over it yet! :)) how weak and prone to failure I am. It does make it a little easier when I can accept that I was made this way and that God knows I'm going to fail. I'm created and destined to fail. Not very positive, and yet kind of freeing at the same time.
Along those lines, I've got a situation that I'm struggling with... There is a person in my life who I have pretty well written off. During Lowell and my "dark days" a few years ago, I turned to this person for support and some practical help. I was rebuffed and sent packing. This person is not a believer and some have suggested that because of this fact, I should forgive and repair the relationship. Regardless of their status as believer or not, I feel hurt. I've never received an apology - nor do I expect one because I believe this person wouldn't see any wrongdoing on their part. So, I'm stuck. I know that I'm supposed to forgive but forgiveness is something that I'm working on in a lot of arenas of my life. I honestly don't think I know how to do it... And honestly, I'm not sure that I'm ready to forgive... I'm still angry and I don't desire a renewed relationship with this person. Any thoughts?
On a more positive note, Linda and Brett came up to visit last weekend! For those who don't know, Linda is Lowell's sister and Brett is her new husband! The kids loved spending time with their Auntie Leeda and their Uncle Brad. They were only able to spend the day with us and I was left wishing that we could be closer... I love spending time with them, although I must admit that I spend a lot of time trying to be sure that Linda likes me. I try to have a clean house and well-behaved children and I try to be witty and intelligent. Ever noticed how when you try to do your very best, it often ends up backfiring?? :) Well, C'est la vie... And, more importantly, they announced that they are 2 weeks pregnant!!!!! :) She'll be due in June and they are going to find out what they're having ASAP! :) Linda said that will help with the huge name choosing task. They are going to be such great parents! I hope we are able to be close to our nephew or neice! :)
While they were here, we went to Big Trees State Park. They are the outdoorsy type and so Lowell thought they'd enjoy it. They did, of course. Linda had been there as a child and this was Brett's first time. The kids held hands with Linda and Brett and Nathan was our 'tour guide'. He visited the park on a field trip last year and remembered most of what he had learned. :) Personally, I was looking forward to having another couple around who likes to play games - if only for a day! I love board games and there aren't many other couples around we can get together with who enjoy them as well. Linda and Brett are game people! :) I'm sad that we are moving farther away from them instead of closer but I am hopeful that our new lifestyle in Phoenix will enable us to visit them in Oregon and also that they will be able to come stay with us for an extended period when we have our own space.
Our own space... Wow.. I can't wait. Thank you Lord for giving us this opportunity and I pray that we will honor you with our choices, our decisions and with our finances. And I pray that our kids are as happy with the move as we are!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Uncle Bread and Auntie Leeda


Today was a good day. Auntie Leeda and Uncle Brett flew down from Oregon last night and spent the morning with us. Linda is Lowell's middle sister; Brett is her husband. We love spending time with them and we don't get to nearly enough. We walked around Big Trees State Park and looked at lots of pictures. And Brett and Linda announced that they're expecting!!! :) They've only known for about a week. They're both really excited and they'll be wonderful parents! Our kids certainly loved them! :) As we walked around the park, Linda was pulled back and forth between Jillie and Chloe who had ahold of her arms. Nathan loved telling Brett about the different trees and they all loved how both Linda and Brett were willing to listen to all their stories and to look at all of their artwork. Linda is due some time in June. They are going to find out what they're having - boy or girl - because otherwise the name choice process will be too overwhelming. Lowell, continuing his very helpful suggestions from when we were expecting - has suggested Pike Scott. So they'd have Pike S Peake. Isn't he goofy??
Lowell and I have been tossing around the idea of me finding a night job. I bought a local paper on Friday and found a job that sounded awesome but then discovered that the closing date for applications was Thursday. So I'm going to call on Monday and see if they will accept a late application. It's a county job, so I doubt it but we'll try anyway. Its working with substance abuse recovery for Tuolumne County and its a 24 hour program. Things with school have gotten complicated again with how the loans can be dispersed... So the result is that I can't take my last two classes until January. This puts starting graduate school back to next fall... which is probably better because of the moving timeline. As of right now, we'll be moving as soon as the kids get out of school. But who knows - that could change at any moment! :)
Chloe loves school and she's got some little girls who really like her, some who even call here to talk to her. She has two or three really close friends whereas Nathan plays with everyone - not favoring anyone. Chloe seems to play with kids who need her. She likes being able to help; last year it was the little deaf girl and this year its a little girl who's really extremely, painfully shy. She is very smart and just a wonderful little girl!
Jillian is very smart. Her preschool teachers say that she knows more than any other of the kids in her class. I'm sure she has big things in store for her!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Challenges and Blessings

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
Especially if you are raising a precocious 6 year old. I've been challenged lately by all of Nathan's questions. It seems as if he just can't stop talking. He is either telling me how something works or why something is the way it is, or he's asking for an explanation about something he's witnessed or heard about. This is true of everyday life and of the spiritual things. I can't even begin to tell you all of his questions about heaven but I do want to share a conversation we had a couple of days ago. We always tell our kids that we love them, countless times each day and sometimes we joke about just loving them a little bit. Then we laugh and tell them that we love them bunches and bunches, forever and ever. After such an exchange, Nathan asks, "Mom, do you love me more than you love Jesus?" I, hesitantly, honestly answered "No, I don't." He was shocked and said, "You don't?"
"No," I said, "I love Jesus more than anyone."

"Why?" Nathan said.

Interject a quick "Help, Lord!!" prayer...

"Well, because Jesus loves us the best. He is the best at loving and He asks for us to give Him our best love. He requires the very best that we have to offer because He deserves the best."

Nathan still looks confused.

"See Buddy, that doesn't mean that I love you any less. As a matter of fact, it means that I love you more. One of the awesome things about God is that when we give Him all our love, He gives it all back and even more. And the love that He gives us back is even better than what we give Him because we can't love as good as He can. So after we love God, we have even more love and even better love to give to our families and our friends. By loving God first and the best, He teaches us how to love more and better."

That satisfied him for the time being. I can only pray that the next time he questions something, 'll be willing to put in the necessary prayer and attention that I need to in order to give him an answer that is Godly and age appropriate. It's work but I love seeing him grow in knowledge and love for God. These are the times when motherhood is such a blessing. :) For now, I'd better get better at reading my Bible so that I be prepared to answer my kids. And anyone else who God brings in my life... Lord, prepare my heart to be sensitive to the needs of others and to be listening to your Spirit when you are nudging me to speak Your words. I love you! Amen.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Autumn in Calaveras County

Our family is heading into a potentially very stressful time. On one hand, Lowell will be making more money and we'll be more financially stable. In order to accomplish this however, requires that he work a lot of overtime. Being home alone with three kids day after day can be very difficult - especially when cabin fever starts to set in. The kids really miss their daddy when he's gone and likewise, he misses them. Their relationships with their dad are so precious; they adore him. I'm very lucky to have a man in my life who is such a good father.
At the same time, our living situation is changing a little. For the sake of family privacy, I don't want to go into too much detail but I'm definitely nervous about it. On the other hand, I've been struggling with accepting myself. I need to get where I can be confident and at peace with myself regardless of the opinions or comments of those around me. I need to stop craving the acceptance and validation of others so desperately. This new wrinkle in our life is one that will either cause me a lot of grief or will teach me to get over my need to please. Maybe this will accomplish both. :) I'm praying that I will remain close to Christ so that I can tap into His strength to get through this latest challenge.
I've also been approached with the opportunity to counsel a family on the verge of separation. While it seems to be an awesome chance to help someone, I'm also terrified. I don't know that I'm capable of counseling. The family is very aware of my limited schooling and that I'm not licensed yet. I've researched the ethical concerns and, legally, so long as they are aware of my credentials and I'm not advertising myself as a licensed counselor, there isn't anything wrong with it. On the other hand, I believe that counseling carries a huge responsibility and I don't know that it is personally ethical for me to carry that responsibility without being fully trained. On the other hand, these people want me to help them. I've been praying for an opportunity to use my passion and I'm fully willing to admit when I'm in over my head. With all that said, I'm still terrified. I haven't commited to the job yet and I'm not sure what I'm going to do.
What I have been doing is working in the school quite a bit. My volunteering has kind of taken on a life of its own. I'm in Nathan's class Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Chloe's class on every other Thursday, Jillie's on the other Thursdays and Wednesdays I kind of get a day off. I say kind of because I'm available for whatever I'm needed to do. For example, I've helped in the library and I've stayed extra days in the classrooms. When I'm not in school, I'm cleaning my house, reading, hanging out with friends, or catching up on some projects. I'm scrapbooking a little bit and trying to get more into card making. I'm working on a Christmas present for Nathan's and Chloe's teachers. I can't give presents to Jillie's teachers, its forbidden by the state. Obnoxious, I know. Welcome to California.
Our moving to Arizona is looking like it will be summer. On one hand I'm bummed because I can't wait to be on our own. I can't wait for us to be independent. On the other hand, I'm going to miss our friends. And Lowell has a lot of work to do here at the house before we leave. It would be very stressful for him to try to accomplish all that he needs to before December. Also, I really like the school the kids are in and I would hate to go through the stress of finding a new one and moving them in the middle of the year. There are many things about our life here that I really enjoy but I know that God wants us to be in Arizona. Some days I just get bummed about missing everyone...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Wonderful Website

I have to take a quick moment and share what I just discovered. It is a website called http://www.cuteoverload.com/ It is adorable, as it's name suggests, filled with pictures of animals. I just wasted about an hour finding loveable little ones suchas these... Aren't they absolutely superb??? :) Some of the pics on the site are obviously photoshopped, but most of them are origional. There is also a lot of video including an incredible one with two otters. Definitely worth checking out. I put it on my favorites list! :) We all need a few reasons to smile these days, so take a minute and appreciate all the beauty that God has created. The Bible says that if men don't worship Him, even the rocks will cry out because He demands praise. Can you imagine these guys praising God??? :) I think this guy is already getting started! :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Very Busy Month

We have been a very busy tribe lately. Lowell has been busy helping some of our friends; one of them moved and a couple of them have needed his help mechanically. Some exciting news is that his friend who moved had a trampoline and didn't want to take it with him so, now we are the proud owners of a huge trampoline. The kids have gotten really good at doing cartwheels and sommersaults as well as some semi=dangerous flips. Lowell loves it when they roll around and get crazy hair from the static electricity. :) The kids absolutely love everything about it and our house has been overrun with kids lately! :) Steve and Stephanie have come down for dinner a couple of times and their girls all love to jump on the trampoline - even Ashley who is 20 months old! :) Our other friends, Matt and Shara have come over as well. I love being able to get together with their family because the adults get a long really well = Lowell even enjoys talking to Matt!! (Lowell's not much of a socialite. :)) And they have kids who are the same ages and the same sexes as ours. Nathan plays with Carson, Chloe with Jaycee and Jillian with Kyla! It's a wonderful combination. Shara and I are trying to get something together at her house later this week because the kids just love to be together. We're so blessed! :) I'm glad that I'm making connections with other families because winter is coming. When winter arrives, Lowell will be working 14 and 15 hour days. It will be very helpful for me and for the kids to have friends t0 visit so that we don't miss Daddy too much. I've been really appreciating Daddy lately. He's such a goof ball and so much more fun than I am. The kids just love playing with him and his antics are great for comic relief. His childish behavior is almost irrestible and while I sometimes find it incredible annoying (when I'm feeling superior and stuffy) most of the time its such a joy. I love hearing the kids laugh and I love that he is willing to get down and really play with them. I tend to get really caught up in the cleaning and teaching and rules. Lowell is my balance. I'm truly grateful for him! :)


In addition to lots of playing, we've also been working! Nathan just got Student of the Month on Friday! :) He was surprised and thrilled. At the beginning of the year I noticed that he was never raising his hand to answer any questions in class even though I knew he knew the answer. So I bribed him a little to get him to learn to raise his hand and how he can't stay in his seat! He jumps up with his hand as high as it can go and he gets disappointed when the teacher doesn't call on him. :) He loves the opportunity to show what he knows. Chloe has been tackling her "homework" with gusto. She is listening to the work I do with Nathan and learning a lot of letter sounds and even some of his sight words! Jillian still loves her school. Her favorite thing is that she knows the kids. She tells me "That's Leslie's mom", or "There goes Pablo". She loves that she's connected to a group. I am still working at the school 3 or 4 days a week. I really enjoy being so involved with what the kids are doing. I like knowing what they're learning and how they're learning it so that I can reinforce it with my own "lessons" at home. I try to make life a learning experience, but sometimes I'm just too pooped! :) I'll probably have to cut out one of the days at school when I start classes again at the end of October, but for now, I'm going to take advantage of my freedom. And I've started reading again. Until recently, I hadn't read a novel for pleasure in about a year. I've missed it! With Nathan learning to read, I also wanted to demonstrate to him how much fun it is to read. We're still packing... Slowly but surely. Lowell is working on getting our cars ready to make the trip to Arizona and I'm going through our whole house weeding things out and paring down wherever possible. We're trying to move as little stuff as possible and we're planning on furnishing our house with yard sale and garage sale finds. I love to go to garage sales and Lowell is being really sweet about it! :) He said that he promises to let me go yard sale-ing every weekend until we get the stuff we need. :) That might be too much, even for me! :) Of course, one concern with being busy is that we tend to leave God out of our lives. The busier we get, the easier it is to leave out prayer time or Bible time. I know I'm completely guiltly. This week our pastor has challenged us to read for 5 minutes every day from the book of James. Seems sad that I have to struggle to budget 5 minutes of my day to my Heavenly Father but its a step. And I'm getting better! :) I just need to make today better than yesterday and accept that God knew I was going to fail, He knows how imperfect I am and He's okay with it. In fact, He's glad that I need Him so desperately. I, on the other hand, am glad that He is so completely trustworthy and capable. We are so infinitely blessed! :) So, I'm going to go read James before I have to start on dinner. God Bless!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We're All Learning


I'm very excited about school being back in session. Nathan is loving first grade - he's learning to read, and it's so exciting to hear him sounding out the words. He gets points for each book that he reads and he's in competition with another boy in class to be the first one to 10 points. Each book is only worth about a half a point, so that's a lot of reading! :) His teacher loves him and has told us that we're not allowed to move! :) I finally broke down and told Chloe's teacher that I was dying for some feedback about her. She said "She's incredible bright, she leads by example, she's got middle child confidence... She's a blessing". Honestly, it was a relief. I didn't expect her to be having any problems, but its still such a relief to hear that she's not struggling. I want them to love school and to love reading. I'm trying very hard not to push Nathan in his reading. I'm trying to model how much I love to read and its actually been great for me because I've actually read a couple of novels in the last week instead of being immersed only in textbooks! :) As I write, Nathan is laying on the floor reading a Dear Dragon book. It's such a joy to hear him.
At the same time, I've been noticing that I'm getting a little frustrated lately. I'm not content being "just a mom". I've heard all the cliches and I've seen all the cross-stitched pillows, but I just don't feel like I'm... fulfilled. I know, with my head, that I'm doing a good thing being with my kids... Lowell asked me what he can do to help. I asked him to give me more kuddos. But now, thinking about it, this only happens when I see him doing 'grown-up' stuff. Adult things that don't include kids. Like tonight, for instance, he's at his friend's house. They work on his car and drink a couple beers and talk and laugh until the wee hours of the morning... And it makes me jealous. I don't have anything that is comprable to that... I need to start a late night scrap club or something where we can get together once or twice a month to scrapbook... I wonder if there would be a desire for that kind of thing... And I wonder where I could have it... My house is almost certainly out of the question unless it was just people that I know really well... You'd only understand that if you've seen my house. :) The problem with that kind of stuff is getting people who are committed enough to make it a priority and actually show up every time. Anyway, I think I need something so that I don't feel like I do nothing other than correct kids, repeat myself a million times a day, and pick up the same dirty laundry, dirty dishes and jumbled pile of toys over and over again.

I am so thankful for how I've been feeling this week. I haven't struggled with my "issues" nearly as much as I have in the past. I've also had an epiphany that may seem silly to some.... I woke up one morning, Sunday actually, with the realization that I am not a victim. My attitude is one of power now, I feel like I am actually kind of in-control of my emotions for once in a long while. This may be partially because I haven't had to really deal with anything in the past week. I'm waiting to see if I can 'deal' and cope for good... I'm trying to accept my past, whatever it is, and move on without going through any more agony. The real test will come when I'm tired, emotional and vulnerable and when something really stressful comes up. When I'm at my weakest is when it becomes a true issue. In weakness, He is made strong, right? :) He offers His grace without strings, our only job is to accept it. We must get over ourselves and believe that the God of the Universe accepts us and loves us and even wants to use us in our dismally unperfect state. Even more so, He created us imperfect. If we were perfect, we wouldn't need Him. We are created to be an example of His perfect love - we must only allow Him to do it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Moving and preschool and bears, Oh My!

Did I mention that we have a bear? He's not really ours, but he seems to like us. The feeling is not mutual, I must say. So far, the bear has spread trash around the neighborhood and has caused property damage including breaking out my car window! Unfortunately, he has also been blamed in the disappearance of 7 cats. I only mention this because last night I had the terrible experience of hearing one of those cats. Screaming... And it was horrible! In the summer months, our bed is on the back deck, which on a normal night is heavenly. Last night unfortunately, being outside allowed me to be awoken by the sqeals and horrific meows of this kitten. It was really hard to go back to sleep! Mr Bear has gotten close enough to the house for he and Lowell to have a couple of close encounters with each other. On one occassion, Lowell scared the bear, and on another, the bear scared Lowell. Both times, the bear was within 15 feet of our front door. His routine was so predictable for awhile that we were able to catch him on video tape. We've called the necessary authorities, but they are hesitant to do anything. Lowell is hoping that he can run into him again so that we can take a bear-skin rug to Arizona with us. :) For about a week we had some serious issues with the kids being scared of going anywhere near the windows or the door. We finally convinced them that the bear only comes out when they are sleeping and that both Daddy and Jesus would protect them. :)

I got some wonderful news today! Jillian has finally been accepted into preschool! She was so thrilled and I am ecstatic! It has been 3 weeks since this process began and I was really getting frustrated. Yesterday I went to talk with the supervisor again and was told "she's really close", "we just don't know yet", and "I can't tell you yes or no and I don't know when we'll have a decision made".... I was livid! So, I threw a little temper tantrum and told them how ridiculous their system is and how mind boggling it is that they think they can treat people like this! I was very calm and very honest... :) And very proud of myself! I spoke my mind in a situation where, in the past, I would've just fumed. And then today, the phone rang and, viola, Jillian has been accepted! :) Life lesson huh? If you aren't seeing results, just throw a little tantrum and see what happens!?!? :)
These are the pictures we took on the first day of school. :) Aren't they cute?!?!
Nathan is really liking his 1/2 grade class. He's been placed in an accelerated reading program and now he's excited about maybe doing CubScouts. Chloe is really liking Kindergarten and is just kind of floating along. The first few weeks of kindergarten are all about crisis management for the teachers. Thankfully, Chloe isn't a crisis; she's totally adjusted and thrilled about going to school every day! They are getting so big! I'm really happy that I'm able to spend so much time in their classrooms! I get to see them learn and grow. It's hard to imagine that it was only a year ago when Nathan was where Chloe is now. They learn, one step at a time, and I'm amazed at how smart they are! :) It would be nice if we could all give ourselves the freedom to learn one day at a time instead of pressuring ourselves to be perfect all at once.
I still don't have any idea on a firm date for when we're moving... We have gotten some suggestion that, as of right now, we're leaning more toward December but things tend to change from one moment to the next. I'm feeling a little anxiety about having everything ready, moving in the middle of winter and in the middle of a school year, and moving during the last couple of weeks of my classes!!! Nevertheless, we are anxious to get to Arizona and to get started on the rest of our lives! :) And I know that God will give me all the strength I need to get through this. He has definitely shown Himself more than sufficient. He has been very faithful with these last couple of days too... I've been making some progress is dealing with the other issues.. I'm giving myself the freedom of time. One step at a time, right?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Not Alone

Usually I hesitate to blog when things are not going wonderfully in life. In all honesty, I've completely avoided blogging when I'm struggling. I've always wanted this blog to one that brings glory to God and encouragement to those who read it. However, today I realized that only transparency and truth bring glory to God and that people are more likely to be encouraged by a person who is willing to say, 'I've been there' than one who hasn't struggled. Today, I was at the lowest point I've been at in quite awhile. I was crying; not the 'ow-I-hurt-my-finger'-crying, but the 'crying-so-hard-I-can't-speak-or-breath'-crying. I was sobbing. My heart was broken because I hurt the man that I love most in this world. Actually, I heard the depth of his pain and the severity of what I have done.
I have been so wrapped up in my own pain - actually, the process of avoiding my own pain, that I have spent a great part of the last 8 years hurting my husband. And today, it finally became too hard for him to suffer in silence. He told me about how difficult its been for him to express his love for me and to have it be "inconsequential" to me. He has offered me nothing but stability and love but I've still pulled away. I've been unable to accept his love. I don't believe that he really loves me even though his actions definitely say that, indeed, he does. I have never, ever cheated on him, but I've sought the approval and affection of other people as a method of boosting my own self-esteem and as a way to convince myself that I'm worthwhile. My past has convinced me that I am not worthwhile. His heart is hurting because he thinks that his love should be enough for me. What he gives me should be enough to allow me to accept my past, deal with my hurts, accept myself and move on. But my actions have made him believe that he's not enough, no matter what he does, it's never enough. Unfortunately, he shouldn't have to be the person filling the void in my life. I need to accept myself and I need to let Christ heal me. But I've been scared... And, honestly, I don't know how to even get started... I don't know how to truly forgive - either myself or someone else, and I don't know how to deal with a past that I can't face.
Tonight I asked myself what I'm so scared of... I lived through it, so what could be so hard about facing it... And I got my answer... I am afraid that I might be somehow to blame, that I may have encouraged it, or that I may have even liked it. Don't think I'm nuts, keep reading... As I was sobbing, instead of having a little angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, I had a counselor on one shoulder and a little girl on the other. I was counseling myself as I was facing this question. The horrible answer is yes, I probably did enjoy at least some of it. This is the saddest, sickest part of sexual molestation because God made those parts to be touched and fondled, and for it to be enjoyable! That was His intent and when abusers use it against kids, it is incredibly confusing for them. For me. And I'm just now beginning to face it.
Just beginning. That was the problem today. I've had 12 years of support and love from Lowell and yet I really haven't made any progress toward healing. I've been avoiding and abusing my husband in the process. All this time I've either been deluding myself into believing that my actions didn't bother him, or I've just been so selfish that I wasn't paying attention to who I was hurting. I believe it to be a combination of the two. And hearing about it tonight - hearing about the pain I've caused him was horrible.
Without wanting to sound like I'm belittling his pain, because I'm absolutely not, I am thankful for today. I took a big step today toward healing. I faced the answer to one question. And I realized, as Lowell said, that I'm allowing my past to contine to hurt me because I'm allowing those nights to steal my todays. I'm not the mother that I want to be because of my anger issues, and I'm definitely not the wife I want to be. I need to do something about it.
More than once I've been on the floor begging, pleading, demanding that God heal me. I've cried and negotiated and pled my case. Now I've come to accept that He's not going to remove this thorn miraculously. But He's not going to abandon me either. He's going to walk every difficult step with me, and probably going to have to carry me quite a bit. But I am going to go through it. I am going to accept what happened to me and I'm going to forgive both my abusers and myself. And I'm going to get better. God is going to be there with me every step of the way during my own personal healing and for the healing of my family. And, Lord only knows why, but Lowell is going to be there too. I need to accept that. He really does love me. I know I don't deserve it, but its being offered and I'm so thankful. I'm humbled and blessed and scared. But I'm not alone. Thank you, God, I'm not alone.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Search for the Truth



How different is the person I am today from the person I was 10 years ago? How about 15 years ago? How different are you? I know I've matured (well, as little as possible! :)) but other than that obvious change, how else have I changed? This question comes because I'm trying to write about myself as a young teen. I want to meet myself as a 12 or 13 year old. I want to know how I thought, what I believed in, who I loved and why I loved them. Its funny to think that I don't know myself but I don't remember being that person. When I look back, it is with the eyes of a 27 year old - from the outside looking in. I can't step inside myself and feel the angst of being a tween. I've noticed this about all my memories - I don't relive them, I observe them. Is that normal? I wish I could relive certain moments. But then there are those moments, those memories that I avoid with every ounce of strength I have. These "special", horrible memories are the reason I'm trying to again be 13 actually. I'm working on remember innocous details about my life then so that I can also try to remember things from the past that I've been trying to avoid for 18 years. I'm not sure this is a good idea, but I'm doing it with a lot of support and prayer. And I really feel like its time. I've had a lot of confirmations from outside sources and I've been given peace about the whole thing. I know that God is with me and that through Him I'll be able to face what I fear. And I'll be able to use these difficult months of healing and these terrible moments of grief for His glory and for the benefit of others. I'm not looking forward to the coming journey, but then who looks forward to pain? What I am looking forward to is knowing that on the other side lies a healthier me, a better relationship with my husband, a better mother to my kids and a great story to use for empathy in my practice.


One step in this journey involves talking to people who knew me then. I don't trust my memories explicitly and so I want outside validation. Barbara Kingsolver said "Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin". And Aldous Huxley said "Every man's memory is his private literature". I've been doing a lot of studying about memory and how much it can be manipulated and how much it can be trusted. My husband is great about keeping me focused and reassuring me that I'm not losing my mind. He keeps me grounded and centered on Christ through this process... Without his influence I don't believe that I'd be able to successfully address the things that need to be brought to light. Just another example of how blessed I am. :)


On a lighter side, I decided today that it's a little ridiculous that the profile picture I use for everything is over a year old. I avoid photos. No, that's not true, I ADORE photos as long as I'm the one behind the camera! :) So, *gag* I decided to update my profile picture today. I took 33 pictures of myself and deleted 33 of them... :) Nathan finally took one that I semi-like and so, I'm being brave and posting it. Another benefit of this process... I may finally learn to accept myself. Lowell and I were talking last night about my inability to accept his love for me and I finally connected that I can't understand him loving me because I don't love myself. It seems obvious now, but that truth had elluded me for a long time. :) My life makes me laugh some times... I think Christ is really working to make me a good therapist... I've been able to experience a whole lot of things in life that will allow me to empathize with a lot of people. :) There is good to be found in everything!


"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I will delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am made strong." 2Corinth. 12:9-10

Sunday, August 3, 2008

So much to be thankful for

My husband has definitely been having a rough time lately. His family situation is disrupted and confusing. His work situation has left him feeling belittled and taken advantage of. He has been looking for another job but since he still hasn't found one, he has begun to doubt himself and his ability to succeed. His heart sincerely desires to do what is right and his flesh rebels at the unfair, corrupt world we live in. He struggles to remain right while dealing with people who only desire to hurt him. Between walking that line, trying to support a family, dealing with feelings of regret and self-doubt, I can only imagine the weight that he carries. I try to encourage him to turn his focus to Christ, I try to remind him that being thankful for our many blessings is the antidote to despair but in times of great distress I'm afraid that his anger gets the better of him. He begins to feel wronged and hopeless. I sort of know where he's coming from because of my own struggles with depression and despair. Thankfully, I can now say that God is healing me. I am not 100%, but I don't know if I ever will be. Right now, I'm thankful for the improvement! I'm blessed by my medication and by the strength that He provides through prayer, through His word and through worship. I'm not taking a Bible class this quarter and I miss it so much! I miss the accountability that comes with having to report to a class about what I'm reading. But more so, having direction about what to read and what to look for when I'm reading. I think that has been what's missing from my personal devotional times. I feel blind when I open my Bible. I don't have a direction or a purpose other than just to be with God. (Which is certainly a noble goal on its own!) I just feel like I got so much more out of my Bible when I was reading and really studying a topic; comparing book to book or author to author. It is my prayer that I can find a Bible study that stimulates me like my classes did. Or that I can find a Bible book to follow that directs me so that I can do it on my own. I certainly feel a difference in myself now versus when I was deeply involved in my Bible on a daily basis. I know that I benefit from spending time with my Lord, but I think I can be of more help to my husband too when I'm deeply rooted in the Word. I desire to be the wife that I've been called to be, and I know that will only happen through hard work and the grace of God. On that note, I think I'll go look through the many reference books I have and see if one offers the kind of study I'm looking for. Does anyone have any suggestions? God Bless!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer blessings



Summer is such a beautiful season. I love the sunshine and the chances we have to do things as a family! This last weekend, we went to Chucky Cheeses in Modesto. We had a really good time and while the kids slept in the back seat, Lowell and I just drove around laughing and looking at scenery. A few days later we went to Sonora and stopped at a new park we discovered. It was beautiful and the kids had a wonderful time! While I pushed the kids on the swings, Daddy chased them around the play structure. We've also taken a few trips up to the top of the pass to go hiking and exploring. This picture was taken on one such trip when we were watching a lightning storm. On the 4th of July, we went to the celebration at Kautz, a local winery. The kids had so much fun playing on the bounce houses and the slides. There were jugglers that were really good and live music. After the kids ran around for awhile, we chose our spot and got comfortable. Lowell and I watched people - one of our favorite passtimes, :) and the kids ran on the grass. It was such a beautiful day and we had such a good time as a family. After the awesome fireworks were over, we walked out to our car. Of course, there was a parking lot nightmare as all the cars tried to leave at once so we put the kids in the car (where they promptly fell asleep) and we sat on the hood of the car and just relaxed... We talked and laughed and again just watched people. It was so nice! :) Its been a long time since Lowell and I had a chance to just be together. We've been making a point of spending time together and really getting closer. Its been such a blessing because this time in our lives has been very stressful. We have found ourselves in the middle of some family issues. Lowell and I are fine but some other members of the family are struggling. I can only pray that this time will bring them closer to the possibility of knowing Christ and bring Lowell and I closer to each other.
Lowell is looking for a way to earn more money. He's either looking at another job or somehow getting more money from the job he's currently at. We've really been praying about it, and now we're waiting on God's timing.
The kids are good. They are enjoying summer - especially Wednesdays because we go to the pool every Wednesday! We ride the "towny bus" (county bus) to Murphys and spend the day at the pool. It makes for a very long day because we stay at the pool from 1 to 5 and then have to walk back to the busstop but the kids have such a good time! And I enjoy it too! I'm really impressed at all the progress they've made! They all have floaty bathing suits to keep them safe. Nathan has pretty well learned to swim and Chloe isn't far behind although she still has a little issue with getting her face in the water. She's getting a lot better! :) Jillie doesn't quite get the swimming concept yet, and she doesn't want me to let go of her when she's not in her floatie. :) I'm really impressed with them! Nathan has even learned how to dive!
I think these are all reasons why summer is my favorite season. I love being able to spend time as a family creating memories that the kids will take with them forever. The most important thing to me is to raise kids who love the Lord and who are firmly rooted in family. I pray that these moments, these days, are the building blocks for kids who are secure and happy - and who know that they are loved.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lord, grant me peace


The day has finally arrived... I received my letter from the DMV today regarding my drivers license. It has been suspended indefinately as of June 14th. I prayed before I opened the letter that I would be prepared for it's contents. And I've been praying for peace all day. It hasn't really sunken in yet because I can still drive for a couple of days... And I haven't been couped up in my house for 10 or 11 days without a way out... I'm praying for strength for those days. I called the DMV to ask them how long it would be taken away and how I could get it back. They told me that I need to get a doctor's clearance and that as soon as I do that, I can drive again. So, now I'm just hoping that I can get my doctor to agree to it. I completely understand the place they're coming from. I don't want to drive if I run the risk of hurting someone... But I don't think I do. I really don't. But, I'm in the process of learning that God knows more than I do. I'm learning to sit in His presence and know that He is God. I learning peace. I have been reassured in lots of smaller things lately (and some bigger things! :)) and so I'm just going to keep reminding myself that the same God who took care of me through the past couple of months is the one who will take care of me now. I am going to have to get creative in how I get out of the house. I'm hoping that we can master using public transit (which around here can be a joke.) With three kids and a half a mile walk to the bus stop, it outta be interesting. I think the biggest problem will come with my attitude. If I fall into the "why me" and the "I'm suffering soo much" traps, then I'll really have a problem. I don't want to get depressed. I really want to be able to come through this saying that God held me, and I knew He would. I want this to be a story that I can use as testimony later... Lord, just help me get through it!

Monday, June 9, 2008

School's Out (for some of us, at least)

Well, this week has been interesting. We've had a lot of extra things going on here at the house. I've been helping Katie (my friend) move and because of that, my kids have been spending a lot of time at her house and they love it! So everyday they've been asking me if we can go to Katie's house. :) Last week was the last week of school... Nathan is officially a first-grader and Chloe is ready for Kindergarten... It is hard to believe that the whole school year is over. They had a great last week of school with tons of fun things to do everyday. Chloe's entire last day of school was spent at the park near her school. They played bubbles and playdoh, they painted rocks and, of course, played on the equipment. On a side note, while we were at the park, the San Francisco 49er cheerleaders were there doing a photo shoot. That was interesting for all the mom's of preschoolers who weren't anywhere near prancing around in a bikini... :)
Anyway, we've also had a company that has been coming up and hauling off a bunch of garbage and old cars from the property. It's been great to have things leaving, but a lot of work too. In addition to cleaning up the outside of the house, I've been trying to go through stuff inside... If we're going to be moving in the relatively near future, I'd like to have things ready. Also, my mother has shown back up. She is staying with my great-grandmother in West Point. I don't know how long she's staying or even if I'll see a lot of her... It's hard to tell with her.
The two things that have really made the most difference on how busy we've been are my classes and some family issues. There has been a family emergency that we've been dealing with for about a week that has taken a lot of time and emotional energy... It doesn't directly concern Lowell and I or our kids so I won't mention details here, but our family could definitely use some prayer.
School is very busy! I've been contemplating whether or not I should really pack in the classes and try to graduate at the end of summer but I've just learned that I have another class to take, so I'm going to have to push it to fall. That's okay with me because then these next two semesters won't be nearly as stressful. So, as long as nothing else comes up, I'll graduate after a fall quarter... I can't wait! It will be sooooo nice to be done! I don't know how soon I'll start taking classes towards my MFT certificate but we'll just take that one day at a time. Just like everything else... God gives us enough strength for this day. So, I use the strength He's given me and stand firm on the fact that His faithfulness is made new every morning. (Lam. 3:23)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Updates



Memorial Day 2008 We've had a lot of rain this weekend and so it
hasn't been the traditional Memorial day with barbques and swimming. Nevertheless, I've been trying to treat Memorial day for what it is - a day to remember those who have sacrificed for us. My son loves people in the military, he wants to be an 'Army guy'. Lowell wanted to join the military too right out of high school but his parents didn't want him to. I can't watch a tribute or even a movie about those in the military without tearing up. I am so grateful for their service. God bless them and their families!
Loaves and Fishes update: Today is Tuesday and because of the holiday weekend, we haven't been able to get propane yet. Lowell came in today and said that the gauge is on 0%, completely down to the bottom. And yet, we still have hot water...

And so, I'm praying... After I talked to the propane companies around here, looking for the cheapest price, we now have the issue of having to have our tank inspected. A couple places want to charge between $65 and $75 for this. I found one who will do it for free, but that puts us another couple of days away. I have to wait for the technican to come out and clear our tank before the delivery can be made. So, I'm hoping to have the inspection on Wednesday and then I'm really praying for a delivery on Thursday. I'm also praying for some more money to come in on Wednesday. God has been so faithful, but yesterday, I really got shaken. I don't know if it was hormonal or something else, but I have been optimistic and at peace for so long, and then yesterday I just cracked.

I'm so grateful for all the blessings we've had and I don't know why His faithfulness in the past month (and longer) isn't enough right now... I think my disheartedness has more to do with the fact that in the past couple of months, I've finally found a friend over here. I have been desperate for a girlfriend that I could visit with, one who is in kind of the same place I am in life. And one that I can be comfortable with. And I finally found one... Yesterday I was helping her move. She's moving to Sonora. To those of you who don't know this area, that's about 40 minutes away. It may not seem like that much, but if I lose my license in the next couple of weeks, it may as well be the moon. And with both of our busy schedules, i'm doubtful that we'll see each other much. I think that really has more to do with my sadness and stress than the propane. I'm sad too that it only took that one thing to break my string of faith. I want to be confident and optimistic again, but I just feel sad and bereft.

Lord, this is such a little issue in the greater scheme of suffering. I don't have to look very far to see people who have issues much greater than ours. I am not going to pray to have my faith restored, because I never really lost it, I'm just living in my emotions right now instead of living in Truth. So, what I pray for, is peace for my emotions so that I can have a clear view of the Truth. Truth that You have never moved, You aren't far away from me, even though it feels like You are, and You are still holding me close. You are every bit as capable today of meeting our needs as You have been yesterday and forever, and I apoligize for letting my emotions cause me to doubt You. Forgive me for my doubt and restore peace within me.

Again I'm reminded of East to West... "I can't live by what I feel, but by the Truth Your Word reveals..." So, as soon as I'm done here, that's where I'm going. Back into the Word. I hope you'll join me. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Loaves and Fishes



Ok, I know its just a TV show but I have to admit, I love American Idol! I love music and I love the idea of having a dream come true for someone... Especially if that someone is the humble, honest, great singing variety of person - like DAVID COOK!!!!!! I'm so thrilled for that man! And I can't wait to buy his CD! :)
On another note, do you know the story of the loaves and fishes? Its a story in the Bible where Jesus is preaching on a hill to thousands of people. Hours go by and the people are hungry. The disciples come to Jesus and ask how they are going to feed all 5000 people. Jesus asks how much food they have and the disciples discover a small boy who has 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish. After Jesus blesses the food, He tells the disciples to begin distributing the food. When they have fed everyone, there is still food left over - enough to fill 12 baskets! This story is recounted in all four gospels in the New Testament.. So what does this have to do my blog? Well, for the last 3 weeks, I've been praying that Jesus will recreate the loaves and fishes miracle in our lives. About a month ago, we discovered that we only had about 13% left in our propane tank. Our hot water and our oven both run on propane. And we don't have the money to refill our tank. So, I started praying for God to stretch it out. We are being conscious of our usage, but there's no way we could go a month on 13%! And then we had some unexpected bills come up, and so we didn't have a lot of money for groceries. So, again I was praying for loaves and fishes. "Lord, please take the money I have and stretch it. Help me to use it the best I can to buy as many groceries as I can and then stretch the food as far as I can." So, now tomorrow is the day we get paid and can finally afford to fill the propane tank again. And we still have hot water and I just cooked breakfast on the stove this morning... It is amazing to me. A small miracle. We don't have much food left in the cupboards, but we haven't been hungry! God is just so good. I don't know how anyone can say that He isn't active in the world today. Honestly, there is no way that our propane could have lasted this long...
Struggling financially is not fun but I have to say that it is a wonderful way to get my focus back where it should be. When things are easy, it's easy to think that I'm doing it on my own. I'm making it work. It's easy to forget that Jesus "gives all men life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:25). And I couldn't do it without Him.
I don't know whether David Cook knows it or not, but he is very blessed! God has really been good to him! :) He's a really talented boy and I hope he knows to be thankful... If he doesn't know Jesus, even though I'm definitely not the famous winner of a national TV show, I'm even more blessed than he is :) Thank you Jesus for caring about me and my family. We love you!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

East to West

Casting Crowns - East to West
This song affects me every time I hear it. Even when I'm not struggling with my sinfulness, it grabs me because I'm always amazed at how my God loves us. Even if my sin is not overwheling me, I am still humbled. These past weeks have been incredibly full of the presence of my God. I've felt His hand, His reassurance and His love so frequently... And, I promise, these have not been an easy few weeks.. But it certainly hasn't been long since I was drowning in the realization of how sinful I am and just how often I fail. It is quite frequent that I find my focus on myself and my performance instead of the object of our faith - Jesus Himself. He lived perfectly so that I don't have to. My salvation comes in loving Him and thus, obeying Him. And thankfully, the Word is full of reminders that God knows we're going to fail and yet we can "confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy." Hebrews 4:16 This song reminds me that my sin can't control me - it's been cast away - as far as the east is from the west. See what you think...

Here I am Lord and I'm drowning in Your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me; I yearn for peace and rest.
I don't want to end up where You found me and it echos in my mind; keeps me awake tonight...
I know You've cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before you now, as though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way..

Jesus can you show me
Just how far the east is from the west?
Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
Cause You know just how far the east is from the west -
From one scarred hand to the other

I start the day - the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drown out by the storm I'm in
Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way..

Jesus can you show me
Just how far the east is from the west?
Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
Cause You know just how far the east is from the west -
From one scarred hand to the other

I know You've washed me white, turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night
I can't live by what I feel, but by the truth Your Word reveals
I'm not holding onto You, but You're holding onto me
You're holding onto me

Jesus, you know just how far the east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
Cause You know just how far the east is from the west -
From one scarred hand to the other.