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 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! :)