Monday, May 28, 2012

The Price of Freedom

Unbelievably thankful. 

A Week in Review

2011 VW Routan
Hubba in the kids waiting area of VW
We got a minivan!!!! :) I went on a "fact finding" mission to see about trading in our Jetta this week. We have long known that we need to upgrade to a minivan because we simply cannot all fit in the car at the same time with the Jetta. Day 1 at the dealership involved paperwork and talking to a wonderful salesman and test driving one of the pre-owned vans. There were three choices - two white and one slate. I HATE white vehicles and the slate colored one had 4000 less miles, cost $3000 less and wasn't white. The only downfall was that it didn't have the dvd players or the power lift gate. Huh, for $3000 I can buy a few dvd players and open my own trunk. :)
I left the dealership armed with info and ready to pray about our decision. I was able to convince them to hold the deal they had arranged for me for 24 hours to allow us to talk about it, pray about it and play with the finances. (On a side note, I was proud of myself for getting out of the dealership without signing anything! Those kids play rough!! :))    Day 2 at the dealership involved some more negotiations, more waiting and a lot of paper signing. And, I left with my van!!!!!  I was able to pick the kids up from school Thursday in it and completely surprise them! Their faces were priceless. :)
My handsome first chair
Thursday after school was Nathan's concert. The girls had their concerts on Tuesday after school. Everyone had a great time and they all did very well. Jillian had a special part doing a rap section of a song with 5 of her classmates. Chloe played the recorder in addition to singing. Nathan played the trombone and got recognition for being first chair all year long. I hadn't realized that there were monthly competitions where he had to defend his chair position and he won - every month!
The kids were also great about Hubba. During Chloe and Jillian's concert time, Nathan occupied Wyatt outside so that I could camcord their performances as well as just enjoy myself and relax a little. During Nathan's concert, Jillian and Chloe took Wyatt and were incredibly helpful. I felt very blessed to have such good helpers. The concerts made for very long days and the experiences would've been much different without their help. *I took pictures of the girls during their concerts but the pictures were just too far away to be any good, so unfortunately, this is the best one I have...  And here's Jillian watching Wyatt for me.
Standing by her best friend Macie
Such a good helper! And she looks adorable too!

Saturday the whole family volunteered at the Market on the Move at church. One Saturday a month this organization comes to various places around the valley and provides the public with the opportunity to purchase produce -- the offer is two boxes for $10. It turns out to be WAY more veggies than one family can use and so we get the pleasure of serving others, meeting new people, getting cheap veggies and sharing our veggies with our neighbors. This month we got tomatos, zuchinni, eggplant, yellow squash, cucumbers, honeydew melons, green and yellow bell peppers and big spicy New Mexico peppers. Chloe helped break down the empty boxes and Jillian helped me sort through the yellow peppers. A lot of them were moldy and needed to be tossed. The spoiled produced gets donated to local pig farmers and whatever produce isn't purchased is donated to the food bank. Its a great program and gave us an excuse to go somewhere together in the new van!!! :)

After Market on the Move, we visited with one of our friends and then went out to Dennys for a family lunch. Lowell loves to go out to eat. This is his favorite way to spend time together.... Nathan and Chloe loved that they got to eat pancakes for lunch. Jillian had pizza. Then we all worked together on the word finds, the crossword puzzles and the coloring pages on the kids menus. We had quite a wait for our food and even our drinks but we had fun passing the time together.  Well, except for Wyatt. He seemed to get a little bored as evidenced by the fact that he is completely laid back in his high chair. :) He seemed to be perfectly content this way however and watched people go by while drinking his bottle. Such a goof ball.
Sunday we went to church together. It has been awhile since we've been able to go... It seems like someone is almost always sick or we have prior commitments that fall on Sunday. I'm hoping for us all to be healthier so that we can go more often. I love our church and I miss it when we can't go. The kids really love it too, and I think Lowell even likes it a little. :)  
Sunday afternoon we spent time hanging out, lounging around, playing a lot of Mario Kart, laughing, fighting, and cooking veggies. Lowell was a great help being my "dicer" while I made tomato sauce from scratch (first time) and made freezer packets for other meals.  After dark, Nathan and Lowell had a "flashlight session" working on the car together where Lowell did most of the working and Nathan held the flashlight. Nathan loves whatever he's doing so long as he's with his daddy but I'm not sure who enjoyed it more. Lowell had been looking forward to it all day and was still talking about it today.
Monday we did a little more of the same... Lounging, Mario Kart, laughing, fighting... and more cooking. Today we made dinner together - hamburgers, onion rings, veggies, and guacamole. Chloe also dyed her hair for the first time. We got some free wash-out dye from a friend and so she is now a darker shade of brown. It was a subtle change, but she is excited about it. :) Nathan and Lowell worked on the car some more and Nathan even got to drive the Dodge -- ALL BY HIMSELF -- Lowell was in the passenger seat! Nathan did all the shifting completely by himself. That officially makes him a better driver than me. I think there's something wrong with that.                
Some of the neighbor kids came over in the afternoon and the kids played outside, rode their bikes, played with bubbles and, of course, played Mario Kart.   We also made a quick trip into town to pick up my computer from a friend of ours who was fixing it. Because he is a veteran, Chloe made him a "Happy Memorial Day" card. Very sweet.  He put it on his fridge.                                    

Lowell was kind of bummed earlier in the week about not being able to work this Saturday because he is trying to get all the overtime he can... We decided instead to turn this weekend into "Family OT"- spending all the time together that we could. What a great way to celebrate our freedoms - by loving on those closest to us and being thankful for all we have. Happy Memorial Day! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spring Fling

The kids recently had a fun filled evening at their annual Spring Fling fund raiser.

The older two volunteered to work their classroom’s booths and Jillian donated three 2 liter bottles of root beer to her class’ efforts. The kids had a great time and were incredibly blessed by Chloe’s teacher. Admission was free but each of the games cost a certain amount of tickets, or like most fairs, you could buy an unlimited wrist band. The bands were $10 each. I didn’t feel comfortable shelling out $30 and then paying additionally for food and the silly string corral. (That was one of the things they were insistent about doing.J)  We checked in with Chloe’s teacher for Chloe’s scheduled volunteer time of 5 o’clock and her teacher said she didn’t really need us; she had her son’s help and thought we should just go enjoy ourselves. And then she handed us three wristbands to use! Holy cow! What a blessing that was! J  The kids got to run amok and enjoy themselves to the fullest. They played on the huge slide, bounced in the bounce house, petted ducks, sheep, pygmy goats, rabbits and chickens in the petting zoo, hung out with friends and won a ton of candy and a lot of completely useless junk. J They enjoyed themselves completely. The girls even took turns participating in the karoke booth. They sang in front of the whole crowd. Chloe sang "Love Story” and Jillian sang “Teardrops on My Guitar”. Both are by Taylor Swift. 

As you can see by these pictures, we also decided that we could do face painting at home before going to the event as a way to save money. I had planned on drawing something fun on each other girls' faces but by the time I made it into the bathroom, they had taken it upon themselves to draw whatever they wanted. Oh well, they were happy and it still met the "saving money" criteria. I think next time, they'll let me do it though. :)

The Spring Fling was only the beginning of a very busy weekend. Over those three days, we did a major yard clean up, we went to McDonalds and played and used the internet, and Wyatt took his first steps! J We went to church and also got a new Wii (as part of the kids’ birthday presents) and, of course, after hooking it up, most of the rest of Sunday was dedicated to playing Wii. Nathan also got money for his birthday from Mamoo that he used to get new tubes for his bike and some cool riding gloves. Additionally, his dad and I got him new handles because the old ones were melt-y. This boy loves to ride his bike. And he really loves to ride with his Daddy. I hope they can get some time to go on rides this summer.

Birthday Party Weekend 5/11-5/13

Another busy weekend at the Trent household!! We had Nathan and Chloe’s birthday party on Saturday. There were only about 25 kids there, less than I was expecting, which turned out to be a very good thing because none of the mothers stayed this time! At Jillian’s party, I had four moms that stayed for the whole party. I guess from first grade to fourth grade there is a big shift, lol. We rented a large slip-and-slide with a pool. At first it was looking like it was going to be a bummer because the slide was too high. The kids couldn’t jump up high enough to actually slide all the way into the pool.. I was starting to panic but the kids improvised and made their own fun. They continued to run and slide half way down the length of the slide and then jump into the pool, or to start running already on the slide, or climb up on the side and jump around, or throw balls at each other while they were sliding, or to just play in the pool itself…. In the end, I had more than one child say, “This is the best party ever!!”. That was encouraging. J

Nathan had a lot more friends attend than Chloe which was a little bit of a bummer but most of the people who came from Nathan’s class were girls ironically enough, so Chloe had lots of people to play with. One of the girls from Nathan’s class who never played with Chloe was Keyani. She’s Nathan’s buddy. He likes her. And it seems like the feeling is mutual. J She did like playing with Wyatt though and I later learned that she has a little brother of her own.

One of the kids’ favorite parts of their birthday actually happened on Friday when we went to Walmart to get the favors. I hate spending money on those little bags of junk and I can’t afford to get nice presents for everyone so I decided to get those bouncy smallish-type beach balls for everyone. They could play with them on the slip-and-slide and then take one home too. Not knowing how many people to expect and wanting to be prepared, I bought all the balls they had – 38 of them. Chloe really enjoyed watching the faces of the people we passed in the store as they wondered what we were doing with two carts heaped full of balls. We played a game getting the balls into the house as well with me throwing one to Nathan, Nathan tossing it to Chloe and Chloe throwing to Jillian. Then we repeated the whole thing a second time, rolling the balls this time, to get them safely into my closet and away from the playful claws of the kittens.

We also worked hard as a family preparing for the party. We cleaned the inside of the house, did some yard work, baked two cakes, prepared the ice cream in the muffin tins, washed out the ice chests, and other various things needed to get ready... They were a great help and I know they had a great time. I was really impressed with the behavior of all the kids -- it was an enjoyable day for all of us. :)

Monday, May 7, 2012


Recently there was a story in the news about a woman who donated her kidney to her boss only to then be let go from her job. Within just a few days of the story gaining publicity, the woman demanded that her kidney be returned due to his apparent lack of appreciation.
Strange story, but it got me thinking about my view of God. (It sounds like a leap, but hear me out.) I believe that Jesus came to earth, temporarily leaving His throne in heaven, to live as a human and be humiliated and murdered as a completely innocent man for me. And for you. For free. To pay a debt that we cannot pay in order for us to be able to spend eternity with Him. Because that how much He loves us.  A freely given gift.
Even more valuable than a kidney.

At times, I view Christ as if He were this woman who felt like her gift was unappreciated and so demanded its return. I know there are days I am ungrateful for all Christ did (and does) for me. There are moments when I stomp my feet and demand that He give me what I want, when I want it. I act like His sacrifice wasn't enough - I want something different. And, in my flawed view of Him, I imagine that He gets mad and throws His holy hands up in the air and yells - "Fine! You don't like what I gave you, I'm taking it back."

This isn't the character of God. My God is incredibly patient and has promised me that nothing can separate me from His love. No earthly power, nothing that I do or fail to do, and nothing that anyone else does. Nothing. Nada. Zip. He promises me that I will always be His beloved and His child. (Romans 8:38)

So this angry "indian giver" picture I have of God needs to be updated. As you probably know, I've set myself on a journey this year to get a better view of who God is and who I am in Him. I'm having a controlled identity crisis you might say. To this end, I've been reading "Searching For A God To Love" by Chris Blake. One of the passages I read recently talked about the ocean.  He speaks of driving up the California coast and being able to see the ocean at various points along the drive. He is a much better author than I so I will let him tell you.

"Each view is distinctive. Each watery horizon holds a minuscule fraction of the great Pacific. You can't see all of the Pacific from any point, and each site differs from all the other spots along the coast - widely differing from the sixty-four million square miles of open water with an average depth of fourteen thousand feet - but it is the Pacific, nonetheless.
So it is with seeing God. We touch a minuscule fraction of His face; we cannot fathom the fathomless. But it is His face, and the more we follow the contours of His coastline, the more we plumb His deeps, the more we shall know the shape of His cheek, the touch of His fingers, the sound of His voice."

I'm working on getting a picture of God that more closely represents who He is. So far, I've learned that a lot of my thinking about God centers around whether or not I'm making Him "happy" at any given moment. If He's happy with my behavior, for example, He will bless me. If He isn't, ut-oh. I have learned that I don't trust the heart of God. I know the scripture -- "God works all things together for the good of those who love Him". For my good -- that could mean that losing my child or my husband or my leg could be used for my good. And another scripture, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." One part of the Bible describes God as 'One who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20)... My first thought - Able, sure, but likely to do something good for me, probably not. Or how about the verse where John says Jesus came to give us "life, and life abundantly" (John 10:10). The word used in Greek is perissos, which means “exceeding, going beyond, more than enough.” But this is God's definition of 'enough', not mine.

What it all boils down to, I've realized, is my belief that I know better than God. How humbling that is to say out loud. I believe that I can do a better job running my life than He can. My pride and my selfishness have reached an all time high here people. I am running amok and hurting myself in the process. Time to get a reality check. There is a God. And I'm not Him.

I'm not in control; I wasn't created to be in control. That's not my job. My job is to trust the goodness of Him who holds the world in His hand and to be obedient - to be joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, and self-controlled. That is what I should be striving for, not becoming the Commander in Chief. Heaven knows I would screw that up in a heartbeat so I should be relieved that weight isn't on my shoulders! :)

Through this journey, I'm seeking to learn more about my Commander so that it becomes easier to trust Him. I don't believe God is scared of or angry about my doubts and my questions; God is infinite and huge and way bigger than me. If I could completely understand Him, what kind of God would He be? If my puny little mind could grasp Him, how fully could I trust Him?

And that's the real issue -- trust. Trust is something that grows as a relationship matures and progresses. I'm learning about Jesus, spending time with Him, talking to Him, listening to what He has to tell me. And checking to see if He is who and what He says He is. Does He really love me? Can I put my future in His hands and know that I'm secure and safe? Will He ever leave me? Intellectually I've had answers to these questions for a long time, but its time my heart caught up. I'm falling in love with my Savior.

Join me?