Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas

My husband turned 33 this week. His birthday wasn't a big affair for two reasons - 1, he doesn't like it to be a big deal, and 2, I kinda forgot... Well, not forgot exactly, because I knew his birthday was the 28th, and I had already bought his present. Actually, I had already given him his present; he didn't want cake... So, on Monday morning, I didn't know what the date was and so I didn't realize it was "the big day". He's not thrilled about being 33, although I must say he's handling it better than I'm dealing with my upcoming birthday. I'm not looking forward to being... well, that old. :)
The kids had a great Christmas. We celebrated on the 23rd. We spent a quiet morning here - just the 5 of us. We opened gifts and just relaxed. The next day we went to the park and played and then went Christmas light looking in the evening. We had hor dorves both days and tried to keep things as easy as possible. It was definitely a change from last year... Nathan got a scooter and the weather was nice enough for him to actually go outside and ride it. It's a long ways from the snow we had the past few Christmases.
Presents this year included lots of "Littlest Pet Shop", a Webkinz apiece, some movies and Wii games, puzzles, Nerf guns... It was a lot of fun. As of today, I've cleaned up all the decorations with the exception of the tree. Its on the schedule for Saturday.
For New Years Eve, Lowell and I are going out. I am very excited about it!! We haven't been out in quite awhile and I've missed being 'just us'. I love spending time with my husband. I love that, after all these years (it'll be 14 in June!!) we still enjoy each other's company. We legitametly like each other. And I think that's special - and precious in this day and age. I feel totally blessed that my husband appreciates our relationship enough to nurture it. He makes us a priority, and I love that. He even dedicated me a song the other day... :)
This year hasn't been the greatest, that's for sure, but it has definitely had its share of blessings. We made the move to Arizona; my Masters program is coming along nicely; Lowell and I both have jobs; our kids are healthy and doing well in school... We are incredibly blessed and thankful for all that God has done in our lives in 2009. And we're excited about what He has planned for 2010~ :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Its Important to Laugh

Other cute-ness-es I had to share from cuteoverload.com :)
In the last picture, those are baby hamsters. He looks happy, doesn't he?? :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Perspectives

I love this season. I love the festivity of it all. For example, all the twinkle lights that brighten my commute to work; the completely irrational inflatable characters that dangle precariously from our neighbor's roof (ie the Santa on the motorcycle or the ice skating snowman); and the overwhelming smell of cinnamon that emanates from the holiday section of Walmart. However, more than that, I love the real reason for this time of celebration. I love that Jesus came to save us. I love that He knew what His 33 years would consist of, and that He chose to come anyway. I love that His beginnings were humble; born in a stable, surrounded by animals of burden, to a poor family with no ceremony or pomp and circumstance. The King of the Universe chose to came quietly and into the lives of the "lowest of these". Can you imagine how different it would have been had He entered the world as the son of a queen? Surrounded by servants and palaces of gold? Instead, Jesus grew up very quietly. He didn't have a job in the spotlight. To the contrary, he was a carpenter. I think this choice, to begin his life in semi-anonymity, makes it easier to accept that He could possibly love me. He wasn't afraid to sit with lepers or to be seen with prostitutes... He made it obvious that He wasn't ashamed of those He called His children and that, just because a person was ostracized by society, it didn't mean that Jesus would turn that person away. Jesus made it clear that He worked with a different set of rules and that He wasn't concerned with the outer person - His only concern was the heart of a person.
Lowell and I have had a chance to learn more about this lately in a decision that we've been trying to make. We have been on our knees in prayer about what path to take for the future of our family - seeking to understand God's will for our lives. And then we heard an interesting sermon... The topic was on God's perfect will versus His permissive will. To clarify, this is a belief that is very common in churches that says that God has a perfect will for each person - a very specific path that they should take throughout life, and that He also has a permissive will - the life that a person leads when they don't exactly stay on the path or make choices that aren't aligned with God's will for them. The pastor likened it to hopping from one lily pad to the next in an attempt to find the "right" path across the river. Then he explained the silliness of this belief, especially when applied to the hunt for a spouse. If, for example, a person chooses the "wrong" spouse - a person outside of God's perfect will, whatever children they may have won't fit into God's perfect will. They won't even have a chance - and, because they weren't ever supposed to exist, they won't have mates that are within God's perfect will either.. And on and on..
That being said, while I had never had it explained to me or had this label placed on it, I know now that I grew up in a church believing in the perfect/permissive will of God. I had been taught to agonize over each decision to be sure that I was living in accordance to the will of God; that I attended the 'right' college, made the 'right' job choices, etc... But then after listening to this pastor, I have come to question that belief. This pastor explained that God's concern is the heart of a man - not the occupation. God is not limited by the choices that we make. He can use us wherever we are, so long as our hearts are open and obedient to Him.... So, this has made our decision much easier... As long as we are following God's word and keeping our hearts pure and open to His direction, the rest is just details.
In my attempt at metaphor, I tried to compare this to our Christmas tree... The ornaments on the tree may be beautiful and the twinkle lights may be relaxing and hypnotic, but they can be moved about the tree without making much of a difference in its beauty. However, unless the star at the top of the tree is pointing heavenward, there's a problem. (Like the tree is falling over :)) So, yes, we have some decisions to make but the details are no longer so important. The focus for us now is that our hearts and lives are pointing heavenward - the rest is just colorful balls and twinkle lights.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Beginning the Holiday Season

As is our tradition, we decorated for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. We didn't get as far as I would've liked, simply because I was tired and had to work.. But we did get the tree up, got the lights all connected, and put up the balls. On my tree, the balls go on first with the bigger ones at the bottom.. So, the next day, we put on the ornaments. The kids had a lot of fun putting on each ornament and asking for the story behind it. Sometimes, they even told the story themselves. :) Also, I began taking pictures of our favorites so that I can scrapbook the stories behind our ornaments for future generations.. (And, more likely, in the event that they get dropped in a fit of over-exuberence) We haven't purchased a new ornament this year... We need to find one appropriate for our first Christmas as Arizonans.
Last year, I asked Gramma Hippo if she had some decorations from her family that she could pass down to us so that we could have something of hers... She gave us a collection of white porcelin angels. They are proudly displayed on the bookshelf in the livingroom. Also, we've been discussing what we could possibly do for Daddy for Christmas... I'm leaning toward a 'made' present rather than a bought one but I'm not opposed to a bought kit that we can use to make something. Any suggestions?

While I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet, we do have presents under our tree. The always prepared, uber-organized Auntie Leeda sent the babies gifts as well as Advent Calendars this year. They love opening each little window and are becoming very aware of the date!! :)

For the first time, it really feels like it might be close to Christmas here.. There is a pretty big storm hitting us right now - and its supposed to last for a few days. I'm so thankful. It was hard to get into the Christmas spirit with 70 degree weather. (I'm not complaining about the beautiful weather, don't get me wrong. But I appreciate a good thunderstorm.. Especially around Christmas.) Jillian agreed me with about the joy to be found in the rain today and insisted on going out to play in it. Shortly after these pictures were taken, I went into the garage and busted out the winter clothes boxes so the next photos of outdoor fun will find my children appropriately dressed, I promise! :) It has been fairly cold here lately - gotten down to around

35 in the evenings and the low 50s during the days... Not cold by any standard compared to this time last year, but once your body has acclimated to 110, 50 is freezing!! :) Even Lowell, who is usually quite comfy in freezing weather has mentioned the change in temperature. He's now wearing long sleeves. That was his only adjustment. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Babies

Just a few fun
pictures of my babies.
I adore them so! :)

I love their passion for life and their joy!

And I love to snuggle with them and hold their little hands.

And I love to hear their explanations of the world around them and to help encourage their curiosity.

I love their laughs and I hate their tears.

I frequently ask them if they know just how much they're loved... And then I tell them than they just don't have any idea. No words can express the love in my heart for my babies.

Schedule Changes

Very recently, I found myself struggling with the reality of our current situation. I am away from my children significantly more than I am okay with. I am not available to attend school functions and I miss out on their waking time at home. I was struggling with my financial need (and I believe, calling) to work, and my inability to be the kind of mother that I also feel called to be. At times, this responsibility I've been given as a mother feels like a weight so heavy that I almost can't bear it. Before I am misunderstood, let me explain that the weight comes not from the burdern on the work that I do, but from the weight of the love that I have for my children. I am so intent on providing for them, blessing them, protecting them, being with them, and trying my very best to raise them how God wants me to... The burden I feel is the pressure I place on myself to, somehow, show them how much I love them by being a good mom. This burden has been extra heavy as of late because I've had to abdicate some of my parenting to another as well as being left out of a couple of special moments because of needing to be at work. I was torn and I was miserable. And so I began praying. I cried out to God that I was unhappy and that I wanted to give my children more of myself but that I needed His help. And I sent out the word for a couple close friends to join me in prayer.
Fast forward to yesterday... I got a call from work asking me if I was still interested in switching to graveyard shift. Oh boy, was I ever!!! The position, for now, is temporary - only until the end of the year but I am rejoicing. This is the change that I've been praying for because our schedules will now allow me to sleep when my children are at school and to be awake and attentive to them when they come home. I'll be able to help them with homework and get them ready for bed. I can start reading bedtime stories again and I can be there for whatever school functions come up. I am so thankful and I feel so blessed. I was able to keep my two days off - Wednesday and Thursday, so that I am still able to go to school and have the same days off as Lowell. Now my prayer is just to make it permanent! Thank you to those who helped me life this up in prayer, and thank you, thank you, Lord for once again blessing me and answering my cry for help.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blessings

Well... As usual, we've been completely swamped. I've been working my own shift as well as a couple of others. A lot of the women at work are sick. And Lowell started work! (Thank you Lord!) This week, he's working Monday through Friday and then he will, blessedly, have the same days off that I do! :) He didn't even ask for it, it was just given to him. So, after this week, we'll be on the same schedule. On the subject of schedule, I've been praying about my schedule. I hate being away from my children. I hate it with all my heart and yet I know that I need to work that that I am supposed to be going to school. So, I've been trying to figure out how I can be employeed, a student and a good mother at the same time without taking up speed or something... I need to see my kids. I miss them terribly. And so Lowell and I have been praying about what to do. We have decided that I'm going to see about switching to the graveyard shift. I haven't taken it to my supervisors yet. I'll be doing that on Sunday but I would ask that you would all join me in praying about it. I am very grateful that we have my father-in-law here to help out but I can't let go of my responsibility to my children and, honestly, I just don't want to be away from them and missing so much of their lives. I have been spoiled up to this point and it is terrible having to distance myself from them.
On that subject, it has been even more difficult because the kids are sick. They missed the whole week of school and Chloe and Nathan are still both running high fevers. They have been consistently above 103 for the past three days so tomorrow will find us in the doctor's office being tested for H1N1. This is a source of stress, of course both because I am scared for my children and also because they don't have insurance yet... But mainly because I hate seeing them suffer. Don't believe me that they're sick? Grandpa Chug baked chocolate chip cookies, and neither Chloe nor Nathan ate any. These are pictures of my babies, my blessings, currently sleeping peacfully... I am so blessed. So very blessed. Spoiled, really... And I don't want to miss spending time with them. I'm tempted to go sit by their beds to check on them - just to reassure myself that they're okay. Actually, I think I may indulge myself... I often wonder if they know how much they're loved... How much joy it brings me just to sit and watch them sleep... So precious and so special. I'm going to go surround my babies with prayer and listen to my favorite blessings snore for a little while. G'night.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hands

The chance arose, recently, for me to share some of my story with a couple of the ladies at work... And for the first time, after I told them some of what happened, I didn't panic. I didn't freak out on the way home and I didn't feel completely stressed the next day. Also, at work there have been a couple of times where I've screwed up. And I've been able to come clean about it and move on - without stressing about needing to be perfect or wondering if I was going to completely disappoint everyone there...
It may not seem like much to you, but to me, these are huge accomplishments! These are signs that God is working within me and that I'm growing! I'm becoming better at controlling my irrational thoughts and worries... And I'm becomming more at peace with who I am. And I'm so thankful! These are things that I've been working on for years... I don't want to sound like I've got it down, check the box, close the file - but I'm getting better. And that's good enough for me!
I feel so humbled each time I see God working in my life. And I'm so very grateful for the knowledge that He's still working on me. Remember the song from when you were a kid in Sunday School? "There really ought to be a sign upon my heart; don't judge me yet, there's an unfinished part. But I'll be perfect, just according to His plans; fashioned by the Master's loving hands. He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars; the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be - He's still working on me." Funny how much truth can be held in a little children's song...

Cuteness

I found this at cuteoverload.com and I had to share... :) Too adorable!

Updates

Again its been too long. Too much time has passed since I've blogged and I feel overwhelmed at the amount of information I'd like to pass on...
My job is going well. I've begun to feel comfortable in the role that I'm asked to play as Family Advocate. I enjoy working to help these women become more independent and to help their children survive the transition with as little scarring as possible.
On the job front: Lowell very likely is going to be offered a job on Monday! :) We're very excited! Because of this exciting development and also just because he wants to, Lowell's dad will be coming down to stay with us for the winter. He was anxious to get away from the cold Olancha winter and will be very appreciated here as a live-in babysitter. Lowell will be working graveyard shift so he'll have to leave for work before I get home. Chug will be there with the kids and can also possibly help get them ready for school in the mornings. Because Lowell's job is on the far eastern side of Phoenix, we are going to look to relocate. We've been looking anyway at houses... It is very possible that we may buy a house in the very near future... Please be praying about this for us!! Anyway, this new job will pose quite a commute for Lowell from our current location on the far west side of Phoenix. My school and work are pretty centrally located, so I think my commute will stay the same, I'll just be driving westbound on the freeway instead of east.
The kids are good. Nathan presented a social studies project on India last week. Each of the students completed their project and then stood up in front of the class (and the parents who attended) and presented their information. Thankfully, I was able to make it! Nathan's body said that he was nervous, but when I asked him afterwards, he denied it. Irregardless, he did a great job! :) The teacher was very impressed with the quality of their work as well as their oral presentations.
Chloe is going to be singing with her class at the Fall Festival in Buckeye next Friday. I'm completely bummed that I am not going to be able to attend, but Lowell has promised to tape it for me. Her class is going to be hosting the goldfish toss booth as well as the picture booth and they'll be singing "De Colores", a spanish song about colors. Chloe loves school and is thriving. She's so smart and has shown great athletic ability! In PE when they race, Chloe only has one other girl who provides competition. And often, she beats a majority of the boys too! Nathan has even stopped racing her because she beats him every time. :)
Jillian is doing great too. She loves staying home with Daddy because he spoils her rotten. She's also learning a lot - both from us working with her and also from her siblings. She's mastered the concept of "counting on" which is a kindergarten (or higher) level skill. For example, if you're adding 5 and 6, before you've grasped counting on, you'll first count 1,2,3,4,5 and then 6 more. After a child has learned to 'count on' they will start with 5 and then count 6,7,8 etc.. She loves to add and has started grasping subtraction as well. She doesn't have all of her letter sounds down yet so that's what I'd like to work on next.
School, for me, has proven very trying these last couple of weeks. With the potential of moving looming on the horizon and with Chug coming down to stay, there have been a lot of extra projects to accomplish around the house in addition to my already jammed schedule. My homework has definitely suffered. There were a couple of mornings when I honestly should have been doing my homework, however, that I blew it off in exchange for a couple of hours of playing with my babies. And I don't regret it for a moment... That being said, I have decided to only take one class this quarter. With this being holiday season and with Lowell beginning a new job, there are going to be too many transitions for me to be able to do work that I will be proud of. And besides that, if I'm paying all this money for these classes, I'd really like to learn something!! :)
Last week we got a special visit from my friend Britany, her husband Stony and their neice Kizzy. We met at Grand Canyon so that Britty could see all the changes they've made. The kids played on the lawns and we just enjoyed some time together. It was way too short and I forgot to take a picture of us but it was still wonderful to see them! Hard to imagine its been 7 years since I've seen one of my dearest friends... Its another reminder of how important it is to take the time to stay in touch... And that's why I'm blogging now! :)
I appreciate all you bloggers out there - Diggie, Kristin, Moron, Britty, Leeda... I love feeling like we're connected even though hundreds of miles separate us. So thanks for taking the time because I really do love reading about your families. And thanks for stopping in to see what we're up to. We love you each and miss you all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hubby

My husband is wonderful. He gets the kids ready for school, picks them up, helps them with their homework, feeds them, keeps the cars running, cleans the yard, takes out the trash, shampoos the carpets, and washes dishes. And last night, I came home to a candlelight dinner for 5. He made a wonderful dinner, cleaned the house and gave me the opportunity to have dinner with my babies. I don't get to do that anymore and I miss it. Last night we talked about school, the kids' friends, problems, whatever... And we prayed together as a family. Its been awhile since we've done that too... I love hearing my babies' hearts for Jesus. And I especially love hearing my husband pray. What I blessing he is..

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blessed and Thankful

I'm so glad I went back to work today. I discovered, for one thing, that they have been horibly understaffed because there are a ton of people sick. More importantly was that I was able to reconnect with my residents. One resident came to me early in the night crying because she was so frustrated and ended the night crying in appreciation of what we had accomplished together tonight.
Also, I was able to spend time with my co-workers. All in all they are a great group of women... Tonight we got on the subject of 'been there'. For example, we can empathize with women in pain because we've been there. We may never have been physically abused, but all of us have felt betrayal by someone we've loved... And we may never have lived in a shelter, but we've been destitute at one time or another.
Talking about the things I've been through I was reminded just how blessed I am, just how much I have to be thankful for. Even sick and totally overwhelmed with all the things I'm behind on, I have soooooooo many things to be thankful for. And I feel blessed that I was reminded of it because it changes my whole perspective. I know that my husband would never hit me, but there are other issues that these women struggle with that and... but for the grace of God, go I! I have been at the crossroads of suicide and I've been at the place where I was completely relying on someone else for, well, everything. Those places are dark and they are anything but fun... But they have shaped the relationship that I have with God today. And they've shaped my relationship with my husband and my ability to help other people.
So, strange as it may sound... I remembered tonight just how thankful I am for those times. And, definitely, I'm thankful that I'm not going through them now! :)
I am so blessed, and I'm just thankful for the reminder.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finally Out of Bed

I am getting ready to go to work for the the first time in a week. I have had a terrible, horrible, no good, bad case of the flu. The stomach flu. I couldn't eat for four days and finally had to go to the doctors to get anti-nausea medicine. Yeah, it was that bad! I had muscle aches and sore joints... Ugh. Anyway, enough of that.

Today I feel much better. I still have very limited energy but I can eat and I'm going to work! I even had enough energy to complete a project that I've been working on and in the process, I had to take some pictures of my babies. I got them dressed up and posed... And out of this photo session comes a picture I need to share with you...
I'd just like to remind everyone that this is my 6 year old. My SIX year old!!! I know I'm her mom and I'm biased, but holy cow, she is gorgeous!! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

$3.50

I had to get gas today before going to work. I stopped at Loves, our local truck stop, and as I pulled up to the pumps, I couldn't remember what side of the car my gas tank was on. (I have my old car back!!! But that's another post) I figured I'd chance the driver's side and hope for the best. So, leaving my car running, I opened the door and peered out. My radio was still on and I'm sure other motorists could hear KLove playing songs about Jesus. I was right, the gas tank is on that side, and so I turned the car off and walked toward the store. I noticed a white truck sitting at the pump next to mine with a girl about 25 standing next to it. When I came out of the store, this girl approached me and asked me for gas money. She said that she was trying to get home. Here begins the dilemma. I knew that I only had a 10 dollar bill that needed to pay for my dinner... But I also knew that she had likely heard my music and I wanted to be a good example of Jesus here on earth. So, I told her that I didn't have anything... But I was still praying about it. I told God, "If I have any other money in my work bag, I'll give it to her." Digging around, I found $3.50. So, true to my word, I walked over and gave it to her. I explained that I found it in the bottom of my bag and apologized for it not being much. After I left, I didn't feel good about my situation. I was actually stressed because I had given her money. I didn't really believe her story about needing money for gas and I know that our family is really tight on money right now... So I began to pray about it. I felt like I had chosen to give instead of being led to give... And then God reminded me that I can't out-give Him. And then a song came on the radio, "There Will Be a Day". The premise of the song is that one day, there will be no more tears, no fear and no more dealing with the stresses of this life. God made it clear to me that I was doing the right thing and that there will come a day that I won't have to freak out about giving $3.50 to a girl at the gas station. I was gratefully crying listening to the song and feeling peaceful... Regardless of whether Lowell and I ever have a ton of money, or even if we live the rest of our lives just scraping by, God is with us. And He's meeting our needs. And I can be thankful that He is transforming me so that I care more about what someone thinks of "Christians" and of being a representative for Him than I do of what little money I have. Even if her intentions were not pure, I pray that my gift showed her that Christians are generous and if she really was stranded, I hope tonight finds her safely at home.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Only 1 Mouth

It's been so long since I've blogged, I feel like I'm too far behind to catch up... And yet, I'm not exactly what I've done during the past two weeks... :) I'm still going to school and work... And I'm a little overwhelmed. Taking two classes and working full time is a lot of work. Lowell and I discussed it, and he suggested that I finish out this quarter and then next quarter, I only take one class. Unfortunately because of how the school calendar is set up, once I'm signed up for classes, I have to take them or pay for them anyway... So it looks like I'll be doubling up next quarter too. Work is getting easier simply because I've been there about 5 weeks now and I'm getting more and more familiar with my job. Tonight was interesting because it was brought to my attention that someone at work thinks I'm "prickly". I would never, never think to use that term when describing myself. That being said, it is important, I'm learning to examine my behavior and to try to avoid becoming defensive. This is very, very difficult but I know that God's working on teaching me a lesson.
Another lesson that seems to keep presenting itself is learning that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. :) I really need to practice closing my mouth more. Not because I am saying something that is wrong or hurtful or even inappropriate but because I need to learn to be okay with silence, number one and number two, that I need to practice being a better listener. I was listening to myself tonight and I realized that a lot of the jokes that I make at work are sarcastic and that, maybe, someone didn't understand my intentions. So, I'm going to work on being more attuned to what is coming out of my mouth as well as attempting to limit the amount of talking I do... We'll see how it works! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Waiting

There have been some interesting moments in our lives lately... In this season, God is really teaching Lowell and I that He will provide. We aren't always comfortable and we aren't always spoiled, but our needs are always met. There are those days (and even weeks sometimes) when we have everything we could possibly need or want... And then there are days when we need. We really need. And those times can be scary. It is in those moments that I am reminded that all of this is His. Nothing that I have or that I take care of is really mine; I am only meant to be a steward of the gifts I've been given. In addition to this reminder, I believe that God is really stretching Lowell and I in our understanding of what it really means to rely solely on Him; to be destitute except for the goodness and grace of God. Today, we're not destitute, but we are without a second car. Mine is currently on the off ramp to Verrado slightly on fire. Or at least smoldering. It overheated today and it will need to go to the junk yard. That being said, I know that God will provide something else. It is just a scary time because I don't know what He'll provide and I certainly don't know how! So, we are in a waiting period for the next 16 hours or so... And that can be the toughest time of a crisis - the waiting... The wondering and the stressing about if God really will take care of us. "Are you sure He's going to meet our needs? I don't see how He possibly could..." And then, in the future, maybe tomorrow and maybe months down the road, we'll look back on these days and see His hand and see His mercy guiding us through these times. Because He doesn't leave us destitute. And He does meet our needs according to His riches. (And I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure His riches aren't running low like our economy here in the US.) So, tonight we'll wait and we'll work on resting in His peace and remembering that we have His promises to stand on. And tomorrow or sometime in the near future, I'll share with you just how He worked and how He met our needs. Because He will. He always does.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Hope

On the hiking trip I mentioned below, I took this picture... Looking up at the hill with the sun shining behind this lone cactus, for some reason I was reminded of the cross of Christ standing on the hill. There were three crosses on the hill where our Savior died, but this still seemed reminiscent of that scene. The desert was peaceful - completely quiet and serene. It was just a moment of silent gratitude and remembrance... The price paid was higher than we can ever imagine and the reason is just as incomprehensible. And yet, the story is true. God the Son came down and died a terrible death... All because He loves us. Hard to believe and yet life changing and beautiful. I hope the truth of His sacrifice has changed your life and brought the same peace I experienced that evening into your heart tonight.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our lives lately



I did something tonight that I haven't done in a while... I laughed until I cried. Why, you ask? Well, it had something to do with beavers, apples and deer poop. Well, mainly it was because of my husband. He's so stinkin' funny. :) There are times when he drives me crazy and times when he makes me weak in the knees... But, when he tries, he can always make me smile. After our laugh fest, I drove to Circle K and got us some ice cream and we sat in the back of the truck in our driveway enjoying the beautiful evening. We talked about pretty much nothing and enjoyed ourselves. These are special days, when I get to spend time with those I love most and take the time to realize how lucky I am!
I've wanted to blog now for awhile but it didn't seem like there was anything big happening.. Anything that was worth sharing with everyone... I also haven't uploaded my photos for quite some time, and now that I've done that, I've been reminded just how much we've been up to.

For example, we found a place nearby where we can go hiking. It is pretty secluded and there is a ton of area to explore. We walked around, looking at footprints and plants and keeping our eyes open for wildlife. We didn't see anything other than a lizard or two even though we brought our binoculars along for the trip. Next time, we're going to go after the monsoon because in the desert with water, of course, comes life.
Nathan had his walking stick and his flashlight that he wears on his head... Silly little one! :) Jillie didn't like walking, she was much more content riding on Daddy's shoulders and viewing life from above. That is unless she had the binoculars... She didn't quite grasp the concept and instead enjoyed using them for a different purpose...













We also decided to send the kids to the charter school after all. It was a very tough decision but, in the end, we made the switch. This was their first week at Odyssey and they are doing well. Nathan's teacher is very strict and I don't know how he's going to do with it... He was doing really well, behaviorally in his class at Bales but now he's been in trouble two days in a row for talking too much in class. I wonder if he simply reacts better to a more lax teaching style. On the other hand, his first grade teacher wasn't strict by any means and he was very talkative there as well. He says that he has made friends at Odyssey and that is why he's talking. I guess its a blessing and a curse. :) Now he just needs to learn the self-control involved with sitting next to friends.

Chloe loves school. She's easy to please and very flexible. We went to the open house held at Odyssesy when we were trying to make our decision and when we first walked into her potential classroom, she walked right up to her teacher and hugged her. Tomorrow she has to take a little lunch bag to school that holds 4 things about her and present it to the class. Tonight as she was choosing the four things she wanted for her bag, she said that she wanted to include her teacher's name because she loves her teacher. :) Isn't that sweet?? :) I'm completely satisfied about Chloe's situation at Odyssey... It is Nathan that I'm worried about. I'm sure it will all come together in time.
Also on the Chloe front, she finally, thanks to Mamoo, got a bicycle of her own! She picked out a green and orange bike. Technically, I suppose its a boys bike, but she likes it. And then she got a very girly purple helmet to go with it. :) And she's been riding it without training wheels. Lowell is working with her, and as he explains, "She does great once she's going, she just can't turn, can't stop, and can't get off or on." So cute! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trust

Without getting into specifics, God is sooooo good!!! We were really blessed today - at a time where things were looking very precarious, God stepped in and BAM blessing fell! Aren't we lucky to have a God who knows our every need and who loves us enough to look out for us!?!? I just wanted to take a quick minute and remind everyone how blessed we are and to encourage you that, if you're struggling, God knows and He is working - whether you see Him or not, He's actively working in your life and wanting you to trust Him. He is trustworthy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Updates

Ok, its been a week and I am really enjoying my job. There are still a couple aspect of my responsibilities that I'm unclear about exactly how to do them... I've been assured that they will come with time. :) I really like my co-workers and I think it will be a great place to work. One thing that is great - the company is restructuring and so, all of the employees are feeling a little out of sorts. We're all learning together.
The kids have been in school for 2 weeks. Nathan has finally stopped freaking out when he's is left and Chloe has always been fine. However, Lowell and I are not fine. We are really unhappy with this school and are seriously considering enrolling the kids into the charter school as planned. Well, they're already enrolled, they would just start school there at the end of this month. There are pros and cons both ways. But we are really upset about some of the things that are happening here at their school... Nathan is not thrilled about the idea because he finally got settled, but we are thinking that it may be for the best... I'll keep you updated.
I have this week off of school - I just finished Pharmacology and I'm going to start Intro to addiction counseling and Professional Ethics next week. I was blessed by being able to borrow the Ethics books from a girl who already took it. The next few weeks will be a little dicey with getting used to working full time as well as taking two classes instead of only one... Its all about time management, I've been told. We shall see! :) I think its going to be about stress management too! Nows the time for me to start practicing meditating on the Word, for sure! He is the Prince of Peace, after all!!! :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Work and School

I start work tomorrow. I'm a little nervous and completely excited! :) I am a little nervous about being away from my babies so much but I know that having the extra income is crucial to our survival. And I am completely confident that God has given me this job and so my time will be blessed. My schedule will be Friday through Tuesday from 3 - 11:30. So, I won't be home with the kids get home from school and they'll obviously be asleep when I get home.. The upside is that the kids have a half day on Wednesdays and so, one of my days off, I'll be able to spend a lot of time with them. Also, since I don't leave until 2, I will be able to hang out with them Saturday mornings and go to church with the family on Sundays.
One part of my job will be leading groups with the women who live in the shelter. Lowell loves to tease me by reciting the part of 28 Days (the movie about rehab with Sandra Bullock) "Together we're better, we're better together. Yeah, us!" Anyway, he thinks its funny. I will also be working with the children in the shelter. I'm sure I'll also be helping out with housekeeping, intakes and will have tons of paperwork too.
We didn't go to church today. Neither one of us slept very well... Yesterday we discovered a wildlife preserve about 10 minutes from home and so, today, we're going to go take some water bottles and sandwiches and go hiking around. Lowell said we'd take our Bibles too and we can read a story to the kids and talk about it; our own little version of church. It is a little cooler today, only around 100 degrees. Chloe is sitting next to me, reading Pinkalicious. She has grown in her ability to read sooo fast! She's quite astounding! :) Nathan is reading the Hardy Boys books but still does better when he's reading to either Lowell or I. There are quite a few vocabulary words in those books that he doesn't know and, if left to his own Now that he's understanding and appreciating the story, he really likes these books. I'm impressed with his reading ability too.
I finally found a program that will take Jillian and who has funding assistance available for us so that we don't have to pay for her to go to preschool. In about a week, we start all the application process and she can't hardly wait! I have one more class and then I'll be finished with pharmacology. My next class is Intro to Chemical Dependency Counseling and I'm taking Ethics online so, I'll be taking twice the class load and working too... :) Can't be too busy, can you? Intro to chemical dependency counseling is different from pharmacology because, right now, we've been learning about the physical effects of drugs and how they work in the brain - affecting chemicals and creating addiction. In this next class we're going to be studying different ways to treat addiction and addicts. I'm looking forward to it. In Ethics, we are (obviously) going to study the different ethical issues with being a counselor.
We're continuing to be blessed, again and again... :) I am thankful for all your prayers and letters! Keep em coming! We still haven't really gotten a social network setup here yet... So, I get a little lonely sometimes... Thankfully, my kids are never at a loss of things to do to entertain me. I just adore them, you know... they're amazingly wonderful, precocious and sweet. Blessings all around.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blessings

Watching the news tonight my heart is breaking. There are some terrible stories happening here in Phoenix - some that are making nationwide and world wide news... You may have heard about the little 8 year old Lybian girl who was gang raped by 4 boys ages 9 to 13... And her family is disowning her because their culture still supports the idea that rape is the woman's fault. She is currently in the care of CPS.
In the past month, there have also been 5 murder/suicides here in the valley. They have all been families with small children and all have been attributed to financial stressors. It breaks my heart thinking about those small children who lived the last moments of their lives in fear from the people who should be loving them more than anyone else. I can only remind myself that they are currently being rocked and held by their Heavenly Father who will never, never forsake them.
I know that the world is full of people who are hurting. It is my sincere prayer that God will use me to show His love to at least a couple of them so that they can be delivered from their life of hopelessness and into the freedom that comes from letting God be the ruler of their lives... The pain in the world today gives Christians a perfect opportunity to show the love of Christ by being His representatives here on earth. It is our job - our comission - to be loving and to reach these people who are hurting. Lord, open my eyes to hurting people around me and show me ways that I can bring a little love and a little light into their lives. And then when they ask why, I can say "Because Jesus changed my life and poured His love out on me, so I'm sharing some of it with you."
And to all you readers, I'm sending some love your way today too! :) God Bless!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Answered Prayer

Again I'm reminded that God is faithful... I spent the last three days in a terrible state. I had headaches, stomach aches... I was a wreck. I was completely stressed about this job decision. There were a few moments where I could see God's hand working and those times were greatly appreciated. For example, instead of asking me to work fast food, the gas station called me back and said they wanted me as a cashier. Now while that may not seem like a big deal, a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. One of the biggest struggles for me was knowing that I needed to get a job (because we have to have the income) but not wanting to sentence myself to a job that I would hate... (I worked at Subway in college and I hated it...) But I was determined to be faithful and to honor whatever gift of a job that God gave me. So, I viewed the transition to cashier as a gift from Him. The pay was exactly the same and the hours were too, but it wasn't fast food! And they also gave me until today to let them know. The other job, the one at the domestic violence shelter, was supposed to let me know today at the latest whether or not I got the job as a family advocate. So, today I called the New Hope center (the dv shelter) because I needed to let the gas station know my decision... I called at 1pm. They said that they would be calling my references this afternoon and would be able to let me know by 4pm. So, with butterflies in my stomach I waited... 2pm... 2:30... I thought for sure I'd have to wait until the very last minute... And the phone kept ringing and each time I would freak out... And it wasn't them... Until 2:45, I got the call. And, .... I GOT THE JOB!!!! Yipee-i-o!!! I feel soooo blessed and sooooo relieved! :) I know that I've been blessed with a great opportunity and I'm so thankful!!! Thank you for everyone who prayed for us during this search and this terribly stressful weekend. The pressure is off! If all goes well, I should start Friday. :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Adios Training Wheels

We've had a very exciting development here at the Casa de Trent. Chloe has learned to ride her bike with no training wheels!! I took her last night to the park and she just took off. She really didn't need any help, just a little balance and the reminder to keep her knees in and eyes on where she's going... She's doing amazingly! :)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Inverview

Well, this afternoon, I had another interview... And they offered me the job. It isn't a very good job, but I've been praying about it. And I've decided that my job is to do the very best of my ability on any job that I'm given. I told the manager that I would let him know by tomorrow afternoon because I'm still really praying for the other job at the domestic violence shelter. That is where my heart is. Of course, in my anxiety, I keep re-playing the interview in my head and thinking of answers that would've been better than the ones I gave... I wish I had been more serious on one question - about my abilities and familiarities with the computer - and I wish I had been more coherent on a couple of other questions... I should've taken my time and thought my answer through before I answered... Well, I guess if they don't give me the job, I'll use this as a learning experience. Anyway, I've been praying about it and I'm going to be thankful to have a job and I'm going to give it my all - whether its my ideal job, or fast food - do all work as if unto the Lord. So, Lord, when do I start?!? :)

The Job Hunt

Well... I'm looking. And I'm trying not to get discouraged. Although I must say that yesterday was hard. I had one interview Wednesday and two Thursday along with class Thursday night. And one of the interviews yesterday was for the job that I really want. Its being a family advocate at a local DV shelter. So, I'm really praying that I get this job... And I'm feeling the pressure of needing to get a job soon... It is weird having this pressure but its giving me a good understanding of a little of what Lowell experiences because he's in charge of providing for the family. I know that I'll be good at this family advocate job. I'm built for exactly this kind of position - I just hope that I portrayed that in my interview... We shall see... They said that I'll know Monday at the latest so I'll let you know. Until then, if you could be praying for me, I'd really appreciate it!! :) Thanks for the support!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Borrowed Energy

If you are a mother, you most likely use the shower like I do - as a chance to escape. No energy, I've learned, is ever created however, it can only be borrowed... So, when you get ready to unlock and open that bathroom door, if your house is anything like mine, you better be prepared to quickly make up for the break you just had!
Today, for example, as the steam cleared, I saw that a line had formed in front of the door. First, Jillie wanted to tell me that she loves me and that she's hungry. She was very concerned that I may have forgotten these important facts during the 15 minutes spent in my watery haven. It is quite common to have this conversation with Jillie:
"Mommy?"
"Yes Dear?"
"Um....... I love you."
"I love you too, Honey"
"Mommy?"
"Yeah Babe?"
"Um... I'm hungry."
"I know, Honey. You're always hungry."
"Hee hee... I know. (she smiles)"
Next, Nathan wanted to know if he could use green puff paint to turn his face into a camoflague mask. One stern look later, he retreated to his room. The Jillie jumped in again to inform me that she was 'soaking hot'. She didn't have any request, she just wanted me to know. As I tried to enter my closet and get into something other than a towel, Chloe shared with me that she was getting married. She put on a special dress and even a necklace that the prince gave her because when he sees her wearing it, he'll know that she loves him. She wanted my fake flowers to use walking down the aisle. Sure Dear, just don't use the vase. At this point, Nathan yells and Jillie comes running back in to tell me that she's getting married too but apparently her groom doesn't like to be kissed. Nathan swiftly follows complaining that "Jillie tried to kiss me! And I'm not big enough to kiss girls!" Now that I finally have underwear on, I come out of my closet and try to explain to Nathan that kissing your sisters doesn't fall into the normal girl kissing rules and that he should be glad that his sister loves him. Yeah, that goes over like a lead balloon. Finally all the children leave and I try to remember whether or not I put deodorant on yet... In steps my husband. Finally someone who won't want something from me... Then I notice that he doesn't look happy... It seems, that after living on the lam for 3 weeks, our cat has become very adept at catching lizards... And he wanted to share his new talent with us. Lowell is not amused and informs me that it is my job to retrieve said lizard that is now running around our kitchen.
Fully dressed, I'm off to catch a lizard, attend a wedding and get food for my ever-starving preschooler...
The 15 minutes of peace and quiet spent in the shower was worth it, though, right?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Answered Prayer

Very funny, Lord. :) We have been struggling all along to get our unemployment checks. Sometimes they come three weeks apart, sometimes 2.. And sometimes not at all. The last one we received was 8 days ago. Last night, we got another one. Right around the time I was trying to get creative on what I could make for dinner out of mustard, pinto beans and jello. And immediately I heard the voice.. "See. Just trust Me." I laughed. And I smiled. And I praised our Father who knows what tomorrow holds and holds each of us in His precious hands... So, my doubt and worry were quelched and I'm praying that next time I begin to stress, I'll remember today and remember that my God is big enough to move mountains and close enough to hear my prayers. And praise Him for it instead of worrying. :) I hope He has been just as evident in your life and that, whether this is a mountaintop time or a desert time, you remember that He is always faithful and able to all things... and He has quite a sense of humor. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yes, Lord

I went on a bike ride tonight to release some stress and to have some time to worship and to come before the Lord... It wasn't very long until He answered me. "How is it that you can be praising Me and how evident I've been in your life, meeting your needs and blessing you one minute, and then immediately turn around at the first mention of trouble and doubt that I can meet one of your basic needs?" Yes, Lord. I understand. So, I will stand on your promise that whatever I ask in Your name, You will do. You will meet our needs; I have faith and I have no reason to worry. Yes, Lord.

Playing with Daddy

Most mornings Lowell and Nathan go for a bike ride. They have been gradually increasing the distance they travel and are now going between 6 and 7 miles a day. Nathan got a new bike from Susanna, the lady I worked for, and is now much better at keeping up. This new bike is much lighter and has hand brakes instead of pedal brakes.
Today they were on their way home from old town Buckeye when they came to the railroad tracks and noticed that there was a train waiting. Nathan was really excited and so they detoured to follow the tracks. After a few hundred yards, the train still hadn't moved. They decided to give it just a few more minutes and just then, the engine fired up. The train took off and so they turned around and followed it. The engineer blew the whistle for them and Nathan loved it!! Following the train led them to a place where the tracks cross the road and there are a couple of small hills. (Lowell calls them whoop-de-doos.) Last night we had a monsoon, and so there were puddles everywhere. Nathan, in the lead, decided that he wanted to ride through a puddle that had formed in one of these dips in the road. What he didn't realize was that the standing water was about 2 feet deep and his little legs weren't strong enough to power his bike completely across it. So after teetering in the middle of the puddle, he lost his balance and fell. Completely covered in mud he stood up and ran out of the water. Lowell, struggling to keep his own balance between fits of laughter, said "You better go get your bike - I'm not going in there!" :)
This story also contains a "My Husband Rocks" moment... About 45 minutes after they left, I got a call from my wonderful husband. He said that they had heard a bunch of sirens and he wanted to call and let me know that they weren't involved. He didn't want me to worry. Isn't that just the sweetest thing!??!?! He also always calls when they reach the halfway point and start home so that I know when to expect them and don't get worried. I love that he is home and getting to spend so much time with the kids! I don't know a lot of people who would consider unemployment a blessing, but at least in this respect, I certainly do.
One thing that Daddy has spent quite a bit of time doing lately is teaching the kids how to use the computer. They have been mainly playing free trial games that Lowell finds but they have also been doing a little letter writing and learning where the keys are. It amazes me that my 4 year old is using my computer sucessfully and actually winning some of these games! She was thrilled too as you can see! :) Lowell is very patient with them and it is great that he can share something that he enjoys with his kids. He's such a good daddy. I feel blessed everyday! When I struggle with feeling like a 'bad mom' it is almost always because I'm too serious. I don't take the play opportunities that I should. I don't like to play Barbie and I don't like to sit and build train sets... I'll do puzzles, coloring and reading... But the actual imaginative play thing... I just don't do it. I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea that its a good way to spend my time. In these moments, in steps Lowell. I am soooo grateful that God gave me a husband who plays! He will play Dora, he'll build airplanes and fly them all over the house, he'll build forts and then tear them to pieces, he's paints fingernails and yes, he even, occasionally, plays Barbie. I remind myself, in the moments that I am feeling discouraged about my play-ability, that God made us a team. Lowell and I are the parents of these children. I'm not in this alone and because we work together, the kids get exactly what they need - serious sometimes and playful others. It seems silly and obvious but don't things work out so much better when we do them the way God intended?!!? :)
There are some new leads with the job market... I think we've decided for sure that the best option right now is for me to work and for Lowell to stay home with the kids. That would mean that I will "work and do school" and he'll do "everything else". I use quotes here because those are his exact words. We'll see how that works. :) The major pitfall I see in his thinking is that I may be judgemental about the job that he's doing and might be too critical of him. I hope this is not the case, and I've forewarned him. More importantly however, I've begun praying that my heart will be soft and sensitive to our new circumstances and will find joy in it instead of fault. Besides, it'll be nice to not have to do the dishes for awhile! :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sad

There are days where my emotional stamina is very low. I just don't seem to have the where-with-all to keep going. I was walking down the aisles in Walmart tonight trying not to cry. Lowell was playing with me and I was ready to either start punching him - really punching, with the intent to hurt - or burst into tears. Why do certain days end like today? I'm not sure... There wasn't anything that went really wrong today. I got a couple more "thanks but no thanks" emails from prospective jobs... But it wasn't anything that I can't handle. Nevertheless, I feel sad. I feel... like quicksand. Sinking. Slowly but surely sinking... I'm just discouraged and losing sight of the fact that God is in control.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Raining Blessings

I'm sure you've all heard the suggestion that people should take 10000 steps a day. I got a pedometer awhile ago, before we moved and I've started using it lately to see just how much exercise I'm not getting. I know that, with it being so hot, we've been indoors a lot and that means that I don't get a lot of walking... So, research has shown that I've been getting around 1/3 of the daily recommended steps. No wonder I haven't been losing weight. So today I took a bike ride with Nathan and I have 3000 steps already. It's only 11:30. :) I'm getting better! :) This week we went to the library. Nathan got some more Magic Treehouse books including one on the Civil War. He's been asking a lot of questions about the formation of our country so we've been looking for books that cover early America. Chloe picked books on dogs and Jillie just likes to play with the toys they have in the children's section. She likes to be read to, it doesn't matter what its about.
I have to share a blessing... Most of you know that before we moved, I worked with a lady who was post-polio. I took care of her house, took her on errands, helped with caring for her pets and basically did whatever she needed to be done... Most of my job, however, was to be emotional support. It wasn't always an easy job.. She was suffering from depression and was using a lot of alcohol. She was very lonely and isolated... But we worked together. And by the time I left, she was doing pretty well. After I left however, things started piling up and she got discouraged. And so she started letting things slide and ended up severely depressed... Then Lowell made his trip to Cali and stopped by. He took care of some minor problems she was having in the house and just visited a little. And I kept calling her. Waking her up and encouraging her long distance. And God worked on her...This past Sunday, she went to church. Got out of the house and got to church, by herself! She's been taking care of her house, cleaning up and getting things back together. She's been doing errands and taking her gradson to doctor's appointments. She gotten involved with a new senior center that is opening up where she lives... I could go on and on but I'm just so proud of her! And so thankful!!!! God is soooo good! And I'm so humbled and blessed that He used me to help bless her!!! :) :) :) Yeah!
Today we took the kids to Walmart. This summer they've been earning chore money and they've accumulated quite a sum. They've been great for the past couple of days and so we told them that they could use their money to get whatever they wanted. Chloe and Jillian got summer dresses and new flip-flops. Nathan got a new Spiderman web shooter, a truck and a car that drives. He was excited and the girls put on a fashion show... Such wonderful kids... Oh! Another blessing really fast - I got an email from a job to see if I wanted to schedule an interview... So... We'll see... :) So many blessings.... Let if rain, Lord!!!

Little Pictures of Life

I'm sure you've all heard the suggestion that people should take 10000 steps a day. I got a pedometer awhile ago, before we moved and I've started using it lately to see just how much exercise I'm not getting. I know that, with it being so hot, we've been indoors a lot and that means that I don't get a lot of walking... So, research has shown that I've been getting around 1/3 of the daily recommended steps. No wonder I haven't been losing weight. So today I took a bike ride with Nathan and I have 3000 steps already. It's only 11:30. :) I'm getting better! :) This week we went to the library. Nathan got some more Magic Treehouse books including one on the Civil War. He's been asking a lot of questions about the formation of our country so we've been looking for books that cover early America. Chloe picked books on dogs and Jillie just likes to play with the toys they have in the children's section. She likes to be read to, it doesn't matter what its about. Unfortunately, I still have homework for today so I've got to get busy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lessons and Meditations

I'd like to put a bubble around my boy. I think he is so precious... And so vulnerable. Up to this point in his life, he's grown up in a very sheltered environment. Now, living here, his potential for being corupted has skyrocketed. Already he has learned some new words. First came 'crap', which, admittedly, he may have gotten from me. Then came the day I heard "friggin'". Trouble sat on him hard that day. Some lessons have been difficult. For example, he's been learning to take responsibility for his choices. For example, when Jillian continuously begs him to give her a turn with whatever he is playing with, and he finally gets so frustrated that he just gives it to her. And then he whines and cries. I've been working to teach him that giving it to her was his choice. Even though she was driving him nuts, it was ultimately his choice. We've been working hard on personal boundaries all around. Nathan and I have also been working together at leaving responsibility where it belongs. We've been talking about how it is our job to do the right thing and to be sure to apoligize when we've made a mistake but then to let go of it, not accept guilt or blame that isn't ours. Its a tough job. And it extends to Jillian too. She's working on learning respect. She needs to understand that when her brother and sister say no, or when they ask her to stop, she needs to respect their wishes. These are the teaching lessons occuring here in our house. In addition to the regular, don't put the ferret in the toilet, no twirling on the kitchen table, and please, PLEASE clean up your room!!!
Personally, I'm working on being better connected in my relationship with Christ. I'm working on a lot of things. There are always at least 5 or 10 things that I want to fix about myself. Because my frustrations with myself never seem to end, and whatever progress I make toward improvement never seems to be enough, I've been trying to find a new way. I think my new plan is going to be this: Just stop trying. I'm going to stop trying to fix myself and stop focusing on myself entirely. I'm going to work to get my focus on the perfection of Him and off of myself. If I can see how wonderful He is and can understand better how He acutally dwells in me.. How could I see myself in such a negative light knowing that God is within me?? Even an ugly church is beautiful when the presence of God is there! I figure the same applies to me! The new plan is to focus on the new creation: "The old life is gone; a new life has begun" (2 Cor. 5:17) So, I'm working to get the focus off of me and onto the One who is changing me. And I'm hoping, along the way, to teach my children to put their focus on Him too.
I've also taken a recent interest in meditation. I've had a bias against the idea of meditation because whenever I think of it, I picture Buddhist monks and Eastern alternative healing. Then I was reminded that God commands us to meditate on His word. What does that look like exactly? I'm working on that one. Does anyone have any suggestions? I think the hardest part will be learning to quiet my mind. If you know me, you know that I'm not usually quiet. And if I'm not talking, it will be even harder to not think!! So, suggestions are very welcome!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Notes For Parents Going Back to School

How to know that you've been paying too much attention to homework and not enough to your children:
1. The kitchen floor and table are covered with Apple flavored cereal.
2. There is a rather large stuffed moose hanging from the doorknob wearing a crown, feather boa and carrying a gun.
3. Every now and then a little whiskered nose protrudes from beneath the couch to retrieve said cereal.
4. The house smells strangely of soap and toothpaste; the result of a toothpaste explosion and the subsequent attempt to clean up the mess.
5. My bathtub is full of Legos.
6. There is a construction paper trail of irregular black shapes leading to Nathan's bedroom.
7. The a/c is set to frigid while at least 2 windows are open to let in the beautiful 108 degree Arizona day.
8. There is a strange green striped alien on tv is singing an obnoxiously addictive song about a party in his tummy. Yummy.
9. All toy boxes are empty.
10. The laundry hamper has been turned into a fortress to be defended by the hurling of little plastic army men that now litter the hallway.
11. A corral for numerous Littlest Pet Shop animals has been made out of Jenga blocks in the cereal littered kitchen floor.
12. A Taylor Swift song is on repeat in the girl's room at a volume roughly equal that of a sonic boom.
13. Displayed on the foot of my bed is a large saucepan filled with a rabbit. The sign explains: Rabbit Stew.
14. There is much laughter, squealing and even more omnious, strange extended periods of silence...
These interesting episodes each greeted me today as I left my computer and went to put the kids to bed. Oh, and, my favorite, a plush snake suspended over the toilet seat in an attempt to scare Daddy. I must quit pushing my homework to the last minute!! :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Two Independence Days

The Fourth of July was a wonderful day! :) I love celebrating our freedom and I love being patriotic but there were extra fun elements to our day. We decided to go to the party in Tonopah because we figured it wouldn't be as crowded as those in Glendale or Tolleson. Come to find out, it was perfect! It was very small town-ish and yet the fireworks display was fantastic!! I was really impressd!! They had bounce houses and water slides for the kids along with bingo and music for the adults. Admission was free and the rides were $5 for unlimited! It was great! It seemed like a down-home 4th of July! :) And we met another family that has a boy Nathan's age who live close by and we traded numbers. I hope we can get together soon.
Today Nathan and Chloe took their placement tests for their school. Nathan did well because he can read above grade level. Chloe hasn't learned to read yet, and, at Michelson, was doing fabulously! This test however, asked Chloe to read and spell words will playing, house and learn!!!! I was shocked! The ladies proctoring the test mentioned that most of the other kids taking the test for first grade were overwhelmed and couldn't finish the test. They said that if she wanted to stop at any time, it was perfectly okay. I was so proud of Chloe. At one point, she broke into tears but she kept going. I asked her if she wanted to quit, and with tears rolling down her face she shook her head no and skipped on to the next question. She did so well. At the end, when she was finally completely overwhelmed (at this point, they were asking her to read complete paragraphs and answer questions about them) when she finally said she'd had enough, the ladies told her that she had done better than any other first grader and that they were really proud of her. I was proud too. Very proud. :)
Along that line, we had a very important event here yesterday. We finally went to a church. It is called The Rock and it isn't in a church building, its in the community center of a subdivision. The worship was crazy good! We heard an associate pastor speak because the real pastor was out of town. The kids program was good too from what I heard from the kids. They watched a new Veggie Tales movie, did worship, and played a game. When I went to pick them up, Chloe told me that she had to go talk to 'the girl' because this was her first time. I figured that they wanted to talk to the newcommers. Apparently, that wasn't the case. Later I learned that during the singing, the worship leader said a couple words and gave the kids the opportunity to accept Christ. Chloe raised her hand and prayed the prayer to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The worship leader asked that if anyone had prayed that prayer to come talk to her after service. So, Chloe, always the one to follow directions, went to talk to her. Chloe was given a little book that answers some questions and then the lady came out and introduced herself to me and told me that Chloe had accepted Christ. I was floored. I don't think I really said anything and I didn't say anything to Chloe about it for the rest of the day. I was processing. And dealing with my feelings... She's not my first baby to accept Christ. Nathan did it at Vacation bible school last summer. But this one was different for some reason. I think it is because Nathan is very verbal about his belief. Chloe is quieter and more thoughtful. I know that she was really touched and took her decision very seriously. So, this was a celebration weekend - not only of our nation's freedom, but also of Chloe's! :)
I can't even begin explain how my heart rejoices at knowing that my children love God. I pray for their little hearts daily that they will be protected from all the influences and dangers around them. I am so thankful that they are starting their lives knowing that God loves them and that their parents love them. I do love them... My little babies. Especially my little Chloe.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sleepy...

Why am I always tired? I'm exhausted from the time I wake up in the morning until bedtime again. Oprah had a mom's confession show on Friday... If I had been on there, this would have been my confession. I take naps. I let my kids play and get themselves something to eat, I let them make messes... All while I sleep. I am just so tired. And when I'm up, when I'm doing things, I don't really feel tired but the instant that I sit.. If I sit for just a couple of minutes, my eyes get heavy and my shoulders droop. If I lay down, I go to sleep.

I've tried going to the doctors. She did a full battery of tests and found that everything was perfectly normal. Then she asked the obvious question - am I depressed. The answer is no. But I have been questionning if this problem is psychological. My doctor also wanted to do a sleep study, where I go and sleep under supervision to see if I have sleep apnea or some other disorder. I don't think I suffer from sleep apnea. I know there is something wrong though for sure. I have nightmares frequently and I wonder if they play a role in my not feeling rested. I wonder sometimes if I'm just plain lazy, but I can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that I'm lazy enough to sleep. And sleep. And sleep. Even when I sleep 7 or 8 hours a night, I could go right back to sleep. I could sleep 24 hours and then sleep 20 more. There are some days that I feel good; I'm able to get things done and even sit without falling asleep instantly... But those days are not very frequent. Certainly not as frequent as I'd like them to be. Needless to say, I need to get this issue fixed. I need to find some way to feel better. Its my prayer that I can figure this out. And soon. Until then, I have been trying to get on board with the idea of giving up sugar completely because I think this might help... If it doesn't, at least it will help with losing weight. For now, I'm just thankful for the ways I've learned to deal with it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Success

Today was a fun day - we went to a nearby water park. Technically this park is for the residents of another housing tract but we visited it nontheless. The kids had great fun even though we weren't able to stay very long because they had a 4th of July barbque planned. We will definitely visit it again soon. The weather has been very water park friendly; its been around 105 each day. The overnight low is only around 82 or 83. There really isn't any reprieve from the heat. We are just beginning to enter the monsoon season. We have yet to have any rain here, but we're looking forward to it!! We watched a great lightning show last night on the way home from my first pharmacology class. It was off to the north, quite a ways away, but still beautiful! There was another lightning show tonight that we could see from our front yard. Lowell and I sat out in the back of his truck and watched the clouds light up from the inside out. Our next chance for rain is next weekend.

My first class was great. It is going to cover a ton of material, but I'm excited that I'll know so much when the class is done! This will be my first experience with this new professor; our first class was taught by Ellen, the professor that I had for my last class because our new prof is on vacation.
Speaking of vacation... I have to say that Lowell and I have been on sort of a three month vacay... Neither of us are working and while we certainly don't have a whole lot of money, we've been blessed with being able to spend a ton of time together! :) It was so wonderful to have him to help me set up our house; moving furniture is much easier with a man to help! :) In addition to the practical things, we've also been spending time together as a family. We even went to the zoo on Tuesday. The kids loved it. It was very warm indeed but the Phoenix zoo has added a couple of water parks. We didn't know about these new additions and therefore didn't have on appropriate clothes but this didn't stop my babies from getting soaking wet! :) I even got a little damp. I was the only parent playing in the spouts but I tried not to let that stop me from having fun. I did refrain from going down the water slide in order to keep some of my dignity. :)

It was a great day and I really hope to take advantage of more of these moments because they are fleeing fast. The time I have with my children while they're young is so limited... And yet I don't take advantage of them nearly as often as I should... So frequently I let cleaning or tv or other things get in the way. So often I get aggravated instead of seeing teachable moments or even finding joy in mistakes and silliness. When I'm laying in bed later, I feel so guilty about it- that I've lost these opportunities... I can only pray that my kids see how much I love them and that I learn, day by day, to see more joy in the messes and to let myself be in these precious moments with my beautiful angels instead of getting caught up in the unimportant.

For today, at least, at the waterpark, I was successful. We had a great time! Here's to the little successes! And to the little moments of joy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Appreciating My Baby

This is my baby. She is my angel and such a joy... And a source of much laughter. A couple of days ago, for example, we were walking in the evening and Nathan began discussing how the moon was only 'half-lit' and about who could be up in the moon turning off the lights. He said, of course, its Jesus up there. Jillie piped up with "Jesus lives in the moon!" Then she grinned like the chesire cat and said, "No, he lives in our 'tomachs!" I looked at her and burst out laughing. She grinned for awhile and then said, "oh, He lives in our hearts." I found it so funny to think of swallowing Jesus. :) She has also picked up the habit of slapping herself in the forehead. "Why did I do that? Uh." slap! She is so silly and laughing at herself all the time. As we walked to the mailbox today, she asked if she could open the box. I said, "Do you know how?" She answered with a totally confident, "Of course I do." Well, who can argue with that?? :) She is a blessing - such an incredible blessing that I am so thankful for! I love her spunk, her tenacity, her independence and her stubbornness. She is so smart, so beautiful and so sweet. I love my baby so much!! She believes that the five major food groups are Cheetos, peanut butter, cheese, sugar and chicken nuggets. She is impossible to please and completely without patience. She is picky and high maintenance. She won't even eat chicken nuggets unless they are in a purple box. McDonalds will put their nuggets in a purple box if you buy the 6 piece size but Burger King's 6 piece comes in an orange box... They will put them in a purple, smaller box, however, when you tell the kind people at the counter that you have a very cranky 4 year old who won't eat them unless they come in the purple container. :) This is also a good way to find out whether or not the food providers have children of their own. They are much more likely to look at you like you're nuts if they haven't been blessed with their own babies. :) Jillian loves to play with the animals, although she isn't very soft with them. She loves the water and is getting closer and closer to being able to swim on her own. This time is so precious and I am so blessed to be able to spend time with my babies. I'm also unspeakably thankful that Lowell has been able to spend so much time with them lately. He's making up for time that he lost in the past because he was working so much. It is my prayer that since we moved, he won't have to spend so much time away from his family. His family is the most important thing in his life - and I'd like to honor that and to show him how grateful I am to him for his support and devotion.

Lots of Blessings

We've had some great occurances here lately. For one thing, the return of our cat. We also finally got the results from Lowell's test. He did very well. And he's on the list for the position with the City of Phoenix. He isn't very opptomistic about his liklihood of getting the job because he thinks the job will go to someone already employed by the city, but I'm just glad that he got a good score and so will, hopefully, feel more confident in his hire-ability. A third big event was that I got my diploma in the mail. :) I actually feel like I've accomplished something now! I graduated Cum Laude!!! Woo Hooo!! I also had the last meeting of my first class. And, while I don't have my official grade, yet, I will definitely get an A in my first Masters class! :) Also, we got 2 ferrets for the girls. Their names are Creepy and Honey. One is brown and the other is, well, honey colored. The kids love them. Our next door neighbor loves them too! Instead of Nathan going over there every day, our doorbell has been ringing every morning at 8 on the nose. Cody loves to come over and play with the ferrets. His mom, however, hates them! :) She's completely grossed out by the little babies and thinks they are too rat-like.

Another wonderful thing, my sister-in-law, Linda, had her baby! She had a beautiful little girl named Kate Emily. Mother and baby are both fine. Lowell has also just recently made another trip up to California to get more of our things and our second car. It will be fabulous to have a second car! We went to MVD (DMV for you CA people) and got our AZ licenses and registered the car. It passed smog without a hitch and, for everything, licenses and registration, it was under $100!!! It feels a little more real - that we're living in Arizona permenantly - now that we have Arizona licenses.
I have been working more on the house. I've decorated Nathan's room and I've finally gotten our books set up. Before, I had our huge tv shelf stacked three deep with books and movies. Now, I've gotten everything organized and set up. Lowell thinks I'm nuts, but I saw one of those tv decorating shows and got the idea to put my books on the shelf by color... I know, nuts, but it really looks pretty cool. :) I made a couple of exceptions, like putting all of one or two authors together and sorting them independently. All in all, I'm really happy with it. Nathan is thrilled with his room and I also hung up some curtains in my bedroom.
The job market is still slow but Lowell hasn't really been looking. That will start this week, so please be praying. I've been struggling with the logistics of finding a job because my schedule is limited both by my school schedule and by the kids. Of course in the summer, the kids are home and so someone has to be here with them. The during the school year, the charter school doesn't have school on Fridays and they want to charge for Preschool for Jillian. I haven't been able to find a state program that offers free pre-school yet.. I'm still looking. Otherwise, I'll be working just to pay for day care and pre-school. The only way that I could work and not pay for those things would be if Lowell worked graveyard and watched the kids while sleeping... I really don't want him to have to do that.. But we will probably need the extra income. Also, he's worried, and I admit, I am too, a little, about when I start doubling up on my classes in the fall. Starting in September, I'll be taking two classes at a time. That will require a lot of work with homework and research... So, I'm really praying for wisdom about what I should do. Lowell could stay on unemployment, be a stay at home dad and let me work, but he doesn't like that idea. He wants to work. In an ideal world, I want to be able to be a scrapbooking consultant and work from home. I'd like to make scrapbooks for people, so long as I can find people and I can get over charging what I need to charge in order to make it worthwile. I've been doing research from others who've done the same thing. The spectrum goes all the way from $10 a page to $30 an hour to $300 or $500 a book. So, I'm not sure what I want to do... And Lowell is pretty sure that he wants me to work a real job first and ease my way into the consultant job. It makes sense because I need to have more contacts and know more people in order to make the scrap thing work but I don't know how getting a real job will work either... So, I'm praying, applying and waiting. And being thankful for the big and the little blessings that we experience so frequently.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Great Return

There have been quite a few interesting happenings around here lately! For example, about 3 weeks ago, we lost one of our cats. It was very sad... I walked around the neighborhood calling him two nights in a row and we always watched for him as we drove around. After he was gone about 4 days, we finally had to accept that he was gone. The girls have been suffering because Nathan has so many friends and fun things to do, so on a lark one day, we looked on Craig'slist for ferrets and found two of them for sale alone with a huge, expensive cage for less than the price of the ferrets! So, we called and then went out and got them. There was a little bit of buyers remorse afterwards because we didn't pray about it first and because it wasn't the smartest use of our resources... But we really wanted to get something for the girls to have especially for them. That's not the point of my story however, the point of my story is that, yesterday after being pestered by Checkers, my cat, for about a half an hour, I finally got up and let her out the back door. As soon as I opened the door, Indy, our missing cat, came flying in the house!!! It was a shock and the kids are thrilled!! He hasn't walked anywhere for the last 48 hours, he's been carried everywhere and he's has been petted to sleep at least 5 or 6 times. So now, Nathan has his cat back and the girls each have a ferret.
I also want to share a story about Chloe... I was standing in our walk-in closet looking for a new shirt because the one I was wearing was covered in Indy hair. I had my shirt folded up on itself so that the hair wouldn't get on all the clean clothes in the closet and I said "I need..." I was going to say I need a clean shirt but before I could finish my sentence, Chloe said, "I know what you think you need, but I think you're good just how you are." There are times when I pull up my shirt and pat my stomach and complain about how I need to lose weight. Apparently, that's what Chloe thought I was going t0 say. How very sweet and mature of her. :)