Monday, October 31, 2011

Unfortunately...


This costume has been inspired by the past year, 
which was a series of unfortunate events.

"He's Count Olaf and he tried to kill us with a train."
~Violet Baudelaire~

Some years are like that.

But I hope your day is happy and full of singing elves.


WIWW #15

pleated poppy

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It...



One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse.  Have you done this before?  I highly recommend it as a family activity!!  It's so good to focus on giving!

Yesterday, the boys and I hit up Walmart and The Dollar Store.  



First, I prepared their hearts, because, if we aren't proactive, we'll end up reactive, and the whole situation will become unattractive!!!  We talked about how this was a mission to bless children in other countries who may not have ever received a Christmas gift before.  How will we bless them?  How awesome will it be that they will hear the Good News of Jesus through Samaritan's Purse and our little box?  This is not about us, it's about God's glory and blessing the socks right off these kiddos!

Next, we go on a crazy shopping spree.  We try to be good stewards and find as many fun and useful items as we can to pack our shoe boxes.  We look for all the best deals, and we make our dollars go far.  We shop for a boy and a girl.  This year we chose the 5-9 age range.  We spent an average of about $20 per box.

Then, we packed up our boxes... fitting and refitting everything in like a puzzle!  We usually end up using our own shoe boxes, because we just have too many goodies and need a little extra room.  We seal them up with a rubber band and label them for a boy and girl, as well as the age range. (Here's how to do it Scotty McCreery style!)

Here's what each child will be receiving this year...

World Animals Coloring Book, Crayons, 5 No-Sharpen Pencils, 2-pack of Peanuts Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, a Bar of Soap (in a baggie), Combs, Hard Non-melting Candy (in a baggie), a Jump Rope, a Pair of Knit Gloves, and a Spiky Bouncy Ball.

The boy will also receive:




A 5-pack of Hot Wheels Cars, a Yo-Yo, a Metal Harmonica with a little case, a Dinosaur, a T-Shirt, and a Henley Shirt.

The girl will also receive:



An Etch-a-Sketch Doodler, a Baby Doll, a Set of Rings, a Set of Bracelets, a Set of Hair Clips, a Button-down Owl Shirt, and a Button-down Plaid Shirt.

We make a donation online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ   to cover shipping costs for the box.  This also allows you to track your box, so you can find out where in the world it ends up.  My friend Rachel will be able to deliver boxes this year... I believe she'll be going to Serbia!  She's so excited.  Please pray for Rachel's safe journey.

Lastly, we pray over the boxes, asking God to bless these children and their families.  We ask that He will lead them to the greatest gift of salvation through His son Jesus.  We drop the boxes off at church so that they can get transported to a shipping center and flown out to some kids.




If you are interested in getting involved this year, November 14-21 is National Collection Week.  You can visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ or call 1-800-353-5949 to get more information on gift suggestions and drop-off locations!!  You will be so blessed by doing this!

Also, if you want to bless a child locally, Social Services and Foster Care Agencies often have special Christmas lists for their clients.  That's really fun, too!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fallish Photos

I seem to have lost my words.  Sometimes I have so many words swirling around my head I don't know what to do with them all.  I somehow organize them, and then I'll write and write.  But lately, my words have not come very easily.  Maybe I just don't have anything to say.  Maybe I don't know how to say what I want to say.  I just know that I don't have any words right now.  And I'm not sure when they'll come back.

So, for now, I'll simply leave you with some fall inspired photos.  Maybe you can give me some words to go with them.  A haiku perhaps?  Something tragic or comic?  I invite you to wow me with your spontaneous poetry skills. 









Fall is colors. 
~Jason

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our New Porch Resident



"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly. 
"Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy."  
~Mary Howitt

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Short & Sweet

WIWW #14
pleated poppy


Just a couple outfits I wore to church recently.  
No snarky commentary this week.  I'm too sleepy.

Cream Blouse: Calvin Klein via Goodwill; Skirt: Goodwill; Boots: ??; Belt: ??;
Earrings: Wish you could see... Lisa Leonard

Necklace: Thrifted; Jacket: Marshalls; Jeans: Gap, thrifted; Boots: Same

Are you having a good week?  
What's the best thing that's happened in your week??

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kicked off the Carpool



Last year, I was quite the hermit.  I spoke to a small number of friends on a regular basis.  Friends who understood my illness and were willing to come alongside me as I sought healing.

I'm starting to feel more and more like myself, and I have been challenging myself to rejoin the land of the living.  Fitting back into society and participating in normal things.   Seemingly insignificant steps, but rather large ones for me.  Steps that take courage and faith.

About a month ago, I joined up with a carpool with two other families.  I thought things were going well.  I did have a couple appointments I had made prior to joining, so I had to ask to shift a couple of my carpool turns.  But they said it was too confusing to the kids and that it just wasn't going to work out.  They would, however, still be happy to drive my son in the morning, which was very generous.

As I processed all this, I realized, I'd essentially been kicked off the carpool.  I allowed myself to get worked up over it and I cried on and off for three hours!  Three whole hours!  I felt like I was back in grammar school and I wasn't getting picked for the kickball team, or someone was having a birthday party, and I wasn't invited.  Oh, the drama.

But it went far deeper than that.  I began to struggled with feeling accused.

You are socially inept.

You're needs are not important.

You cause problems for people.

You can't be trusted with other people's children.

You don't belong out among people.

You are pathetic.

All these accusations sticking to me... covering me with their lies and condemnation.

But I am reminded in Romans 8:1 that "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

And John 8:44 tells me "... (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

I realized I was listening to the accuser and dwelling on his words instead of God's.  Have you ever had accusing thoughts in your head that begin with "You..."  Third person thoughts.  Friends, they do not come from you, they do not come from God, they come from the Accuser... the Father of Lies.  The one who is trying to steal, kill and destroy your life, not the One who is offering you life in abundance (John 10:10).  

So I am paying attention to my thoughts.  Taking captive those that come from the accuser and dwelling on the truth of God that sets me free.  Peeling off those lies and seeking His grace and mercy, as He continues to help me persevere through this trial.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Star Light, Star Bright



Last night, it was still nice and warm at eight o'clock.  I took a blanket and laid it out on the grass in our front yard, which happens to be the only place we have grass.  The kids brought some  pillows and stuffed animals.  We made sure daddy came along.  Sophie, our little pup, wanted to join in, too.  And we all got cozy under my pretty quilt.

There was a lot of giggling as we all gazed up at the stars.  It got a little bit loud, so Patrick said, "Hey, I can't see the stars with you being so loud."  Then there was more giggling.

There was talk of great balls of gas... and even more giggling.

Josh enlightened us on the scientific aspects of implosions and explosions, and God's orchestration of the universe.

We saw some "moving" stars.  They said they were planes.  I said they were strange alien probes from another planet.  They didn't buy that.

Jason and I sang "Twinkle, twinkle little star..."

There were some wishes made.

And then the children ran around like fairy shadows in the moonlight while Patrick and I got to cuddle on our own.

Moments later we were all cuddled up once again.

Jason said it was a very good night.

I agree.

Maybe we'll join the symphony of crickets with our own cacophony of sound once again tonight.

I like star gazing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fashion Insecurities

WIWW #13

pleated poppy


Here's how I deal with fashion insecurities.
Dress: Tommy Hilfiger Outlet; Jeans: Walmart; Belt: F21;
Necklace: Lisa Leonard; Shoes: Naturalizers

#1 Tunics are my friends.
These pants are super comfy.  I feel like wearing them everyday, but I don't have enough tunics for that.  And I don't wear skinny jeans without tunics, because that is just not attractive.  I was not really designed for skinny jeans.  I was designed for birthing babies with big heads.  So tunics to the rescue.

Cardigan: Target; Tee: Old Navy; Scarf: Gift; Jean: Goodwill; Shoes: Marshalls

#2 Fads in Moderation.
Vanilla and chocolate and a little leopard to top it off.  I like leopard, but I'm scared to wear it in large doses.  I have relegated it to my feet and the side of my glasses.  Tame leopard, not the wild leopard.  Just a little bit o' trend for me.

Shirt: Thrifted; Tank: Nordstrom Rack; Shorts: Marshalls; Shoes: 9 West Outlet BOGO

#3 Embracing my Awkwardness
We are having a bit of a hot spell here, so I whipped out the shorts.
Then I got my hair cut, which is the only reason it is looking smooth.  I curl my hair cause I can't make it smooth.  Then I went to the doctor, and I had to take my shoes off.  I was really embarrassed that my feet might smell, so I warned him, and he laughed.  I'm not sure if they smelled, but they were sweaty.  Today I embraced the sweat.  Tomorrow I will curl the hair.


Do you have fashion insecurities?
Do you fight them or work with them?

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Tricks


They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  But I don't think that's true.  I like the idea of learning new tricks.

The older I get, the more I think I don't have the capacity to learn new tricks, but it's entirely possible if I just try.  In this past decade I have learned to play the guitar a bit and to play piano by ear (instead of just reading the music).  I took up photography.   Last year I learned to crochet some pretty complicated things like hats and flowers and blankets. 

It feels good to do something different... to grow and learn in I way I hadn't imagined I could.  I tend to want to try new things in fall.  I never make New Year's resolutions, because I know I would never keep them for more than a week.  To me, fall is always the time for fresh beginnings... when I feel ready to take on a new challenge and stretch myself a bit.

So here's the new trick I'm going to attempt!

In the past 24 hours, God has led me to Romans 8 on three occasions through 3 different sources.  Usually it takes 3 times with me.  The first time I don't listen very well.  The second time, I consider looking into it.  By the third time, I know I'd better check it out, lest I get whacked over the head.

My friend said that she had actually memorized the entire chapter of Romans 8, and that it was so good for so many things.  Wow, that's incredible, I thought.  But I immediately wrote off trying to do that myself, even though I'd always wanted to memorize a big portion of scripture.  She's got a decade and a half on me... younger minds can retain better, I reasoned.

The more I thought about it this morning, the more I realized I really want to try this.  I might fail miserably, but I want to see if I can do it... to hide that much of God's word in my heart.  To see how it will change me.  I want this to be my new fall challenge.  Anyone want to join me?  Have you every tried this before?  Do you have tips?  I'll put the verses over in the sidebar as I'm learning them.  Hopefully I'll keep myself accountable that way.


Have you learned anything new lately?  
Is there a new trick you'd like to learn this fall?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Heavenly Helper

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
   From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
   who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2



This is my sweet little J-Bear, who loves the color orange and spiking his hair on crazy hair day.

I was so worried about him last year.  Over something kind of silly.
He was in Kindergarten and I was worried that he wouldn't get the reading thing down.
I was so consumed with working on my health, that I didn't get to spend the same quality time tutoring him like I did with Josh at his age.

I know this reading thing might not seem like a big deal to obsess over, but I used to teach first grade, and I know how hard it is when kids struggle with reading.  

And I didn't want him to have to struggle... not after the year we had.

So I gave it to the Lord.  Please teach him.  Help it to click for him. 

And He did help my little J-Bear.

I went to his school conference this week, and his teacher showed me his tests and how great he is doing in reading this year.  Just amazingly well.

It may seem like a little thing, but to me it is so big.
It is an evidence of God's grace to my family at a time of need.
The maker of heaven and earth helped my little boy when I couldn't.
When we needed something to come easily.
He cared about this little thing that meant a lot to me, and He has my little boy in His hands.

My crazy, cute little reading J-Bear.


Thank you, Lord, for teaching him to read.
And thank your for this little boy who stirs up laughter in my heart.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Permission Granted

 Train up a child in the 
way he should go;
and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6




This is one of those important verses one hears over and over again as a parent.  I always took it to mean training your children in the Scriptures (Ephesians 6:4), teaching them right from wrong, and most importantly encouraging them to trust in their Creator and walk with His Son.  And I think that is the most important meaning.

But one day, I saw it with a different emphasis...

Train up a child in the way HE should go. 

Not the way His dad or I, friend, or brother should go.

We have all been given such unique gifts and personalities to glorify the Lord with haven't we?  We are not meant to have the same life as those around us.  We don't all have the same mold.

My son Josh has a very unique mold.  He is thoughtful and sensitive.  Dogmatic and logical.  Creative and scientific.  All at once.




I was once talking to a treasured friend, and she was telling me how she sometimes felt like she was bragging when she told other people about her daughter's unique traits and abilities.  Her daughter was literally writing a period fantasy novel while she was still in grammar school.  Yes, it would be a bit difficult to humbly speak of her gifts without seeming boastful and inciting comparisons.  

But you know what I realized, she said.  My daughter has this brilliance and these giftings, and if I am trying to hide them, I am really putting a bushel over God's glory in her.  I want to celebrate how God has made her and rejoice in it without being arrogant.

That made so much sense!  Celebrating God's glory in other people, especially our children.  Permission granted.

So I wanted to take a moment to tell you more about Josh... not in a boastful way, but in awe of the person God has made him to be.  The way he is going as I train him up in the Lord.

Josh has an incredible mind for science, which can only come from the Lord, because it certainly doesn't come from his parents!  In the last couple of years, I have seen him grow in this capacity.  He internalizes scientific language and concepts with little effort, especially in the realm of physics, engineering, and technology. It almost seems as though he has photographic memory in this realm.




We are trying to keep up with him and give him the assistance he needs to grow in this area.  Practically, one of the things we did recently was to take an old entertainment armoire and transform it into a Lego creation station.  He has taken to using Legos to build simple machines, such as candy vending machines with levers, mechanisms, combinations, and keyed locks that actually work. He spends hours perfecting his machines and inventing more complex designs.



We also enrolled him in a Lego NXT Robotics class over the summer, and he learned how to build and program robots to complete tasks and compete in battles.  While it is hard for me to begin to comprehend what he is doing, his enthusiasm and understanding are boundless.  His eyes light up and I can almost see the wheels turning within his head.
I am beginning to see that we will need to provide him with the exposure and opportunities to grow in these and other scientifically related areas.  This is only the beginning.

So some questions for you, friends...

Do you have any ideas for me?  What programs should I look into for an engineering 11 year old with a highly scientific brain??

And what gifts do your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews have? 

How does God's glory shine in them?  

Permission granted to share freely!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Courageous

Lessons along the way

In anticipation of the film's release, Family Life Today did a series of interviews with the producers of Courageous, Alex and Stephen Kendrick (Facing the Giants & Fireproof).  During the interview, Stephen was asked, "What was the most courageous thing you've ever done."  I expected him to say something like becoming a filmmaker or saving some little kids out of a burning building a la Ponyboy in The Outsiders.  Instead, I was surprised at his answer.

"I went through a season of my life of depression, where I was battling with the Lord.  I was so overwhelmed that I felt like the God I was serving had abandoned me.  In the midst of that, I came to the place where I chose to cling to the Lord when I felt like He was my enemy.  It was very difficult during that time.  But my dad sent me something, and he said, 'The greatest test of faith is when you feel like God has abandoned you... will you cling to Him then?'  And Job did that.  He said, 'Though God slay me, yet will I trust in Him.'  And when you feel like God is against you and He's turning on you, you know, we look in Scripture, and he has promised us He will never leave us or forsake us.  But He will allow seasons of our lives when He is silent or He backs away.  That is our test of faith.  It's easy to have faith in the Lord when He's showing up and He's providing and He's involved in your life.  But when you feel like He is a million miles away and he doesn't care about you, you have to cling to Him then.  Jesus was so loyal to the Father, at the point of going to the cross, He said, nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.  After 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me'... a few moments later... into Thy hands I commit my Spirit.  To the same one whom He felt was forsaking Him.  I just tell people, when I look back, I don't know anything that was more difficult than that."
I can't tell you how much I needed to hear these words.  This week, my depression has been an increasingly unwelcome companion once again.   I can't seem to figure out this chemistry experiment otherwise known as Linda.  To hear Stephen's testimony... that battling forsaken feelings, yet trusting and having faith anyway, was the hardest and most courageous thing he'd ever done, gives me tremendous encouragement.

Because most of the time I feel like such a wimp.

But to think of it in this light... that it takes courage.  That I am making the right decision to fight for faith.  That this may be one of the hardest battles I will ever fight.  That God still keeps His promises.  That He wouldn't let me go through this test for no reason.  That others have fought this battle and emerged with Jesus, victorious.

These thoughts give me a renewed hope.  And help me remember what I am fighting for.

And I need that... everyday.

Thank you, Jesus, for knowing my heart and giving me this portion today.

(By the way... did anyone go out to see the movie?  How was it??)

 
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