Saturday, July 23, 2011


I am overwhelmed. In the course of my normal day at work, I log on and off of the computer numerous times. It seems like each time I logged onto the Internet today, I was struck in the face by a new disaster. Granted, some of them happened in the past two or three days, but the sheer amount of bad news was overwhelming today. From the horrible attack in Norway to the sad news of yet another celebrity overdose to more drama about the debt situation to innumerable sex scandals and allegations of impropriety and improper acts with children... There is also the incredible heat wave, another earthquake in Japan, reoccurring cases of huge groups of animals dying, car accidents, train accidents... It just goes on and on. And that's just the national news - that doesn't include all the smaller scale disasters that are happening in my backyard...  It is, well, overwhelming.
I am extra thankful that tonight is church and that I can refocus on the power of our all-powerful, God who is in control of everything - disasters included.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pray Without Ceasing

This was the topic of church this weekend. A small, simple verse but one that can be potentially overwhelming when we think about how to live it out. As I sat listening, I began to think back over my day... Had I really gone an entire day without praying??? Then I remembered that I had sent up a quick prayer for patience because I was going into a meeting with a resident who has a tendency to talk. And talk. And talk. I did not, however, follow up with the "Thank you, Lord" prayer after my meeting. He had definitely heard my request, because the meeting was long, but I was focused, patient and understanding. During church, I sent my belated gratitude up to God and wondered how many other blessings I had received during the day that I was either too busy to acknowledge or if I was feeling entitled or ungrateful and didn't take time to give credit where it was due.
During the message at church, we were given three ways that we can fulfill this command to pray without ceasing (1Thess. 5:17). The first was to use our world: what we see, hear, smell and taste, as stimulants to gratitude. The sunset - Thank you Lord for creating such beauty for us to appreciate, for creating the sun to provide us with warmth. A yummy lunch - Thank you Lord for providing me with the resources to make this food and for these people to share it with.
The second prompt was to pray about what God can do in my life. I can take opportunities during the day to pray about my life and the lives of my family - for health, for safety, for spiritual growth, for wisdom, for guidance... For a new job, for a regular sleeping schedule, for freedom from bullies, etc. This is the time for me to present my requests before God with the knowledge that His Will will be done and with the appreciation that His plan is better than mine. :)
The third way for us to pray continuously was to pray about what He can do in the lives of those around me. I can pray for those in traffic with me, for the family across town who just had their house burn down, for the residents at work, for my co-workers, for my extended family... This is the category that never ends. For our President and governmental leaders, for those still suffering in Japan and Missouri, for the other children at my kids' school, teachers, pastors, friends, and on and on... This alone would take up all my time if I were paying attention to the situations that present themselves as opportunities for me to pray.
So, I prayed. I prayed a quick prayer asking for forgiveness for all the things I knew were in my heart that I should have brought before the Lord. I realized that during the school year, each morning when I dropped the kids off, I said a prayer for them - for protection, for boldness and for them to remember to be kind and loving. I would also pray for the safety of their teachers and classmates. Since school ended, I haven't had that ritual that reminded me to pray each day. This is my opportunity to return to that fantastic habit.
*On a side note, Pastor mentioned some things that he prays for and one of them was very powerful. He said that each day when he comes home, he touches the heads of his children and quickly prays for healing of whatever emotional scars they received that day. I thought that was so powerful... Thank you Ryan Nunez for that encouragement and parental guidance! You rock!

So, today I'm praying. But first, I'm praying about praying. I asked God to open my eyes and ears to the moments where I can/should lift situations and people up to Him. I prayed for a heart of gratitude and worship. Thank you Lord for my church and for providing me with the resources to get there this week. Thank you for my job and for the opportunities I have, each day, to love on people and to show them grace and mercy. Thank you for my coworkers who are so supportive and encouraging. Thank you for.....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Minions

My older babies at the park -- July 2011.

Lowell's New Toy

Lowell and his friend have decided to take the plunge and buy a scanner. This "toy" will allow them to work on the computer aspects of new cars. It is definitely an investment - I'm not even going to mention the price tag on this thing - but it is one that will be necessary for them to work on their side jobs and hopefully be able to start a business together. It is currently living in my dining room right next to our hutch and I think its quite amusing -- according to my father in law, my decor has become Snap On red. :)
It really is quite an incredible machine. There is the scanner itself, a computer monitor and printer, all the cables to hook it up to all the various models and makes of cars and a drawer of storage for all the "extras" that can be purchased. Absolutely amazing and I'm thrilled for him.

Latest Pictures

Just looking adorable

Sleeping while the other kids play at the park
Watching fireworks in the back of Daddy's truck

Fouth of July with my Honey!
Getting ready to go watch fireworks

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Experiences

I start my practicum tomorrow. I'm going to be "shadowing" other students for the first couple of weeks but then I will be getting my own cases... As of this morning, I'm really excited.
This was our first week parenting four children without any help. My mother in law went home on the 6th. I am very grateful for all that she did for us and that she was willing to take 6 weeks out of her life and give them to our family. When she left, I was in the shower with our cat who had been in another fight and was bleeding from his face so I didn't get a chance to tell her good bye, much less thank you. So Who, (that's what I call her) thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!  You are very appreciated and the kids already miss you! :) **Side note - the cat actually likes taking a shower and has started healing nicely. He usually stays home for a couple of days after a big brawl, but I'm sure it won't be long before he ventures out into the pugilistic world once more...
So far we've survived and we're doing pretty well. Thursday Lowell watched Wyatt for a couple hours while I took the bigger kids to the pool. We had a blast!!! I actually jumped off the high dive. Woot woot! There was definitely a moment where my stomach feel into my toes as I stood on the end of the diving board, but I couldn't let my kids know that I was scared because then they would hesitate too, so I just took a breath and jumped. :) It was surprisingly fun and I might just do it again next time.
Most of the day I spent working with Jillie, reminding her of all the swimming that she learned at the end of last year. By the end of the day, she was going down the water slide and even thought about the diving board... When I told her that I was going to dunk her under water in the 8 feet section and she would have to show me that she could swim to the edg before she'd be allowed to jump, she decided against the diving board. She was content with the water slide.
Chloe alternated between the water slide and the diving board. Last year, she was too short for the water slide and too scared of the diving board so Thursday was a day of firsts for her. And, in true Chloe fashion, she went straight for the HIGH dive instead of starting off with the little one.No hesitation whatsoever - just right off the end. Her only complaint - her bathing suit didn't stay where it should be... :)  At one point in the afternoon, she was standing with me in the shallow end and we watched a girl about her age do a back flip off the diving board. Again, Chloe being who she is, without a word to me she marched over to the diving board and did a front flip.
Off the high dive.
Into 14 feet of water.
Without asking. 
Its always the quiet ones. :)
I mentioned to her when she swam over that she should have asked first, but that she did an awesome job. She just smiled and said "Ok."
Nathan spent most of his time rough housing with a friend from school but also took a few jumps from the diving board. After he heard that Chloe did a flip, he wanted to try it but changed his mind - maybe next time. :) I think we're going to go again next week and I'm really looking forward to it!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Verse of the Day

Philippians 1:6 
...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
I've clung to this verse recently. For the past year, I've really struggled with what I like to refer to as my "issues" and the fact that I am still dealing with them when it seems to me that I should be past this point and already over them.
I have come to realize that God is working - even though I am not "cured", I can certainly see His hand in my life and my circumstances. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not held up, disciplined, encouraged, pushed or blessed by Him. And all of these come from love.
Recently, I have been overwhelmed by blessings. For example, my ability to control my thoughts and emotions can only come from Him because I am showing great restraint and optimism amidst difficult situations. In the past, discouragement would have taken hold. I have been able to come through an unexpected pregnancy, a huge upheaval in our schedule, sleepless nights, losing some of our income (although this struggle is just beginning and hopefully will be short-lived), the added stress of a new baby, the week in the NICU.... and so many other challenges - without succumbing to anger, frustration and depression. I have been able to laugh, stay positive and motivated and be encouraged about the future. All this I know comes straight from God because I don't see how it could be possible without Him. I am so thankful!
This is not to say that I don't have difficult days. God promises us that He will never leave us or forsake us, not that we'll have an easy, pain-free life. I think the key is that I'm embracing the power that comes from finally knowing who I am based solely on whose I am and the freedom that comes from that identity. For most of my life, I've been able to find worth and value either through my successes or through the approval of others. People are fickle and success is never guaranteed and neither are sufficient. I always came out wanting more. Once the initial self-esteem boost wore off, I would need to either excel at something new, or find someone else to appreciate me. It was a constant search for a new source of approval. And it was exhausting.
Knowing that my worth comes simply because I was created in God's image and that He loves me unconditionally gives me the freedom to simply be myself and to learn to be okay with myself as a work in progress. Previously (and sometimes still) I needed to be perfect in order to be worthy. This doesn't allow for learning anything new. We all know how dreadfully we often fail at something we've never done before... Not being able to try something new dramatically limits the ability to experience life. Sheesh.

This verse specifically has been very comforting to me because it reminds me that God is working on me and that, while the work isn't finished, He promises me that He won't give up, no matter how badly I screw things up. I am guaranteed success - eventually. The struggle has been letting go of the need to be perfect. So, I am learning to be comfortable in the midst of the process and to appreciate the positive change that has come already.

Next week I will begin a new adventure - I start my practicum on the 11th. I will actually be seeing clients and they will be paying for my services. That's a little intimidating. :) To help me avoid freaking out, I'm reminding myself of what I've accomplished...
*When I started my current job as an advocate, I didn't know anything and now, I'm great at my job.
*I didn't know how to be a Jobs Coordinator a year ago, and didn't even have anyone to teach me.. But by the end, I was great at that job too.
*When we had Nathan, I didn't know how to be a parent and now, 9 years and four children later, I still don't have a clue what I'm doing, but I've learned a lot along the way. :)
I hate starting something new, but I'm going to focus on the positive outcome that I know I'll eventually reach. Either I'll learn to be a good counselor, or I'll learn that I'm not cut out for that job. Even if I'm terrible at counseling, there is a purpose to me learning that lesson because God is working on me and will use this experience to bring Him glory and to bring me closer to the person He has created me to be. If I have to fail a few times to accomplish that goal, I guess I can handle that. :)