Monday, November 24, 2008

My Big Boy, Joshua


November 24, 2008

Happy FOURTH Birthday, Joshua Caleb!

I cannot believe you, my oldest, is FOUR years old already! No more baby! And talk about some big milestones this past year!

Joshua, little buddy, you have grown so much. I am so tickled by you sharing your thoughts with me and the endless questions you throw our way.

I can almost hear you begin a question with, "Umm, excuse me, Mommy?"

I love when out of the blue you run up to me and ask, "Mommy? How you doing?" and then after I answer, "Oh! That's good!"

I am moved when you ask me, "Ooo! Maybe we can read about that in Circle Time!"

I giggle when you say, "Ooo! Maybe we can do school today!?" refering to tracing letters or numbers.

But sometimes, Joshua, it's not what you say but what you do that most brings me joy. You are such a wonderful little boy!

I love when we go grocery shopping or to the library and you look out so well for your younger siblings. Indeed you keep better tabs on them than I do sometimes! I am so thankful for how you follow directions and constantly desire to care for your brother and sisters and fullfill your role of "big bro."

I love watching you as you read or watch something about Jesus. It is so clear to me that you really want to know more about the Savior.

I love how you move closer to me to snuggle on the couch. You are my big boy but you aren't too big to be close to your Mama!

I love how you inquire about why some people don't go to church or where is so and so's wife or the ideas you come up with to express kindness to others.

So, you are officially my big boy. No diapers. No special seat. No naps. You can do so much by yourself and as a help to me. I love you, Joshua Caleb. I thank God for allowing me to be your Mama!

And, just so we have a record of it, here are some of your favorites:

color - green

dinner - chicken nuggets or hot dogs (not salty ones!), french fries, green beans, apples, and cake.

breakfast food - oatmeal (not instant) with cinnamon, brown sugar, and apple sauce

story in the Bible - "when Jesus was born" or "Jesus on the cross"

thing to do - build with every toy, blanket, stool, and book you can find

funny phrase - Hi, Paloma! Hi, you little Chef!"
Happy Birthday, Joshua!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Loss

I have not experienced loss like so many others I know. For only reasons He knows, the Lord has chosen to not have us experience the loss of children.

I never struggled getting pregnant.
I never experienced the pain of loosing a baby I either carried in my womb or in my arms.
That pain seems unimaginable.

Friends from our old church in MD, the Castros, lost their five week old baby a couple of weeks ago. It reminds me of how many people are walking around filled with the pain of loss.

If that would be you, can I enoucourage you to check out THIS. It's from the Castro's blog. And if led, pray for them. These are hard days for them...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Need A Recommendation: Blender? Mixer? Food Processor?

I need help.

I killed our blender, my mom-in-law's blender, and our mini-food processor trying to make almond butter.

What would you folks recommend?

What do I need? What would I like?

Need to make almond or cashew butter OFTEN since the boys have peanut allergies. Buying the already made butter is very expensive.

Would like to make creamy soups but that is not a need.

Would be nice to knead bread and mix dough but I do enjoy kneading bread by hand.

Thoughts?

Here's what I'm seeing as some LONG-TERM options:

-the Vitamix blender

-the Bosch mixer

-a coffee grinder (no specific ones found via my research)

-a food processor (though I'm not sold on Kitchen Aid or Cuisinart since they've failed me b4)

Okay, give me your ideas! This will be a purchase we need to save for but I am eager to know what others know and think.

My Testimony (from the Strands meeting)

I was asked to share my testimony at the last Strands of Grace meeting (our church's women's meetings). It was so sweet to remember my testimony. I thought I'd share it in case it would encourage anyone else.

And, Charity, girl, if you happen to stumble across this blog, may you be encouraged to press on and share the amazing news of the Gospel! I love you, sista'!


The Power of Intentionality: How Friendship Can Rock Someone’s World and Glorify God

Ken Sande says we can glorify God by four things. Trusting God. Obeying God. Imitating God. Acknowledging God. I put a slight spin on that to help me remember that I can glorify God in whatever situation He provides. The acronym is TOIL.

Trusting God.
Obeying God.
Imitating God.
Looking to God.

That is toil. I’d like to share with you how toil – the hard work - of my old roommate, Charity, rocked my world and glorified God.

TRUST GOD - I was in need of salvation & Charity TRUSTED GOD to do His will in my life


- I was lost, never heard the Gospel, never read the Bible, didn’t even own a Bible
- I was struggling with sin and miserably entrenched in it
- I was lonely, “looking for love in all the wrong places”

The first thing Charity did was trust that God placed me in her life. I know this because years later she told me that she “prayed for a roommate” right before meeting me. Charity trusted that God would provide opportunities for a relationship that pointed me to Him! She didn’t get caught up in where I was but focused on where God was simply joined Him in the work He was already doing.

OBEY GOD – I needed Charity’s friendship & she OBEYED GOD by allowing it to happen

- Charity lived transparently in every way, sharing her life story, helping me see that being Christian wasn’t about following a bunch of rules but being in relationship with the Savior. She humbly showed me how prone to sin she was and how desperate she was for Him.
- She INVITED ME to ask questions, go to church with her, attend Bible Study with her
- She LOVED ME by challenging me in my sin, speaking truth to me, and asking tough questions, and even giving me my first Bible
- She LOVED OTHERS in a way that I couldn’t understand, as she eagerly showed God’s love to people from all walks of life.
- She SHOWED ME HOW INTIMATE HER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SAVIOR WAS by praying in such a personal way that I knew she knew God as her Daddy
- She LIVED DEPENDENTLY IN HIS STRENGTH though she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis the end of our 1st year living together, she was thankful and joyful

To give you a few specific examples of how she lived by faith, she would pray at meals when we ate out, would pray before driving somewhere as her car was unreliable, she always gave God credit for those seemingly “little” blessings in life. She was not ashamed of her Savior.

IMITATE GOD – Charity imitated God and I followed her example

The Lord used her as she imitated Him. I wanted what she had.

- I wanted peace as she had
- I attended a Bible Study and not long after going, on March 9, 1997, I confessed my sin and gave my life to Christ.
- Because of her example of reading God’s Word EVERY day, I desired to read His Word for myself. By God’s grace, I read my Bible daily for 21 days in a row. The streak of reading the Word and journaling continued for 135 days. Her encouragement was priceless.
- Charity’s gracious example has affected me to this day. Having a Quiet Time in the morning is the priority. I have missed days but even on those days I am so aware of not quieting myself before Him that (more often than not) I at least cry out to Him for a moment. And He always provides me that moment!
- I value accountability b/c of her loving example. I know I cannot live the Christian life in isolation.
- She showed me by example how critical it is for me to be a part of the body of Christ through the local church! Though I chose not to attend her church, she attended my Baptism, watched me dance on the praise team, and attend other special events with me. She knew her role of mentor wasn’t over though I was saved!

LOOK TO GOD – God sharpened both of us through our friendship

- It wasn’t until William and I married that I can recall us switching places, the mentored doing the mentoring. I would like to really stress here that it is critical that we are on guard for our pride, thinking we know just what God has in store. I can remember William and I sitting across from her and her husband and me trying to exhort her in a particular area. It was the first time that really stood out to me that our relationship really had taken on a new level. I was reminded to look to God and ask Him to reveal how I might better love others, be a gracious sharpener, and humbly receive other’s sharpening.


God used Charity’s TOIL, her trusting, obeying, imitating, and looking to God, to show me the hope of Jesus. God used her intentional friendship to change my life forever, for which I give Him all the glory!

Monday, November 17, 2008

SEVEN

Today William and I have moved into our eighth year of marriage as we mark SEVEN full years of marriage.


What can I say? I LOVE being married to my man!


Did you catch that, Pops? I love being married to you.


Check it out. Here's what our years together have looked like:


1st year of marriage - 2001-2002 - one word descriptor: TRAVEL.

Do you remember how much we traveled? We traveled to NJ, NY, MD, and PA for our honeymoon and so you could meet your black fam. We traveled to your folks place so I could see where you grew up. We traveled to FL for our 3 month anniversary. (Remember that family-style all you could eat fried chicken place! Ooooo!) We traveled to TX when your Grandmom passed away. And, of course, I was finishing up in that psycho job traveling all over the midwest.


2nd year of marriage - 2002-2003 - one word descriptor: DOCTRINE.

We moved to CLC and were introduced to good doctrine. Sound doctrine. I think that was the first time I even heard the word before! That year we were sensing the need for a strong, Bible-believing and teaching church and the Lord led us to just the place He knew would stretch and grow us.


3rd year of marriage - 2003-2004 - one word descriptor: RISKS.

We took some leaps of faith this year as I offically RETIRED from teaching and we moved from two incomes to one. We still had debt. We were in the process of buying a condo. And we'd soon find out we were expecting our first kiddo. We probably looked crazy from the outside (okay, we always look crazy.). We even tried to sell that Subaru and move to one car. I believe we got bikes from Walmart so I could peddle my way around! (And to think I've only ridden that bike a handful of times!)


4th year of marriage - 2004-2005 - one word descriptor: PARENTING.

It all started during this year of marriage as we had not one but two kids by the time our anniversary rolled around! Remember how psycho I was as a parent then? Yes, I still am but there has been much growth, right?! Can you recall all those comments I'd get from people about having 2 kids so close? Gotta love those discouraging comments by people. But they haven't turned us off to wanting more. Are we crazy? Maybe but at least we're unified!


5th year of marriage - 2005-2006 - one word descriptor: MONEY.

Tough times, no? Debt, debt, debt, health insurance costs, public assistance, MIRACULOUS GIFTS, MIRACULOUS PROVISION, change in how we viewed money. Began budgeting. Began paying debt down.


6th year of marriage - 2006-2007 - one word descriptor: CHANGE.

You had FOUR jobs this year of marriage and a period of joblessness! We went from condo owner to renter to single family home owner. We sold a home. We bought a home. We added another kiddo to the fam. We changed states. We changed churches.


7th year of marriage - 2007-2008 - one word descriptor: BIG!

We got the big stove for the big house. (Another story for another blog entry!) We find out our front door is really big. We see just how much of a big job our old house is. We officially (in our minds at least) became a big family as we welcomed baby #4. And our bellies keep getting big!


What will the 8th year of marriage bring?


Maybe this:


Whatever it is I'm so glad we'll be doing it together! I love you, Hubby!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Excuses and Work

I hate excuses.

Saw an article in our local paper not long ago about how often people lie regarding why they call in sick. Here is the article.

For most of us, there really are no sick days we can take and just chill. Sure, we can have periods of rest, retreats, and even vacations. But even in those wonderful respites there IS work involved IF we do it in a way that is pleasing to our Savior.

But that TOIL also has GOOD in store for us!

Proverbs 14:23 says,

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Well, enough "talk" for me. No more excuses! Time to get to work... and to work as unto the Lord! I want to profit much!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Need Prayer

My perspective has changed. Once again. Lately I'd been complaining with potty training the Big Girl. I hated she wet her pants over and over again. She'd run out of pants all the time.

Well, pee ain't nothin'!

She moved from wetting her pants to pooping in her pants. And I'm talking four days in a row. And one while Ms. Lee was babysitting! (BLee, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) So, my new thinking was poop was the worst.

Well, for the last couple of days we've been battling puke. Pee and poop ain't nothin'! Vomit is the worst!

If you would, please, please pray for our fam. I've got a stomach like iron but even I am fighting the nausea. Today has been the toughest. Trying to care for kiddos (one who's sick and another who I've got to nurse) while I feel like I'm going to lose it is very hard.

Thanks!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Happy Birthday, Saraina-bug!



November 5, 2008

To my precious Saraina-bug,

Happy Birthday, little ladybug! I am so amazed that you are only turning THREE YEARS OLD! You are such a vocal child that I can often forget just how little you still are.

There are many things I’d like to highlight in this birthday letter to you but I’ll limit it to just three different reasons why I am so thrilled and thankful to the Lord God for allowing me to be your mommy. Shall we begin?

First, you are such a worshipper. You almost always have a song in your head and a dance in your feet. You bring me such joy by bellowing out your melodic voice and the way you always get a kick out of showing others your moves. For the record, I can hear you now saying, “Mom. Mom. Mommy! Look at me. Look at me!”

The second thing I’d like to highlight is your remarkable ability and joy in playing alone. Whether it is playing with the little people on your old cloth diaper that seemed to be attached to you or how you’ll grab a Bible and sit (or stand, for that matter!) and read it, studying each picture as you suck your tongue, you are not one to get upset with having to spend a little alone time. That is evidence of the Lord gifting you to not be so easily fearful. Sweet girl, thank Him for making you that way!

The final thing I’ll share in this letter that makes yo’ mama proud is how quick you are to seek forgiveness. Little Lady, I am reminded of how wonderfully beyond my comprehension it is that God is already at work (and has been!) revealing Himself to you and drawing your little heart. O how my greatest desire is for you (and your siblings) to accept THE MOST important invitation, to see your sin and say YES to Jesus. He desires that you know Him personally yet He already knows all about you for He created you!

Thank You, Lord, for already working in our Sweet Saraina. Draw her to Yourself. May she count EVERYTHING else loss compared to knowing You, Jesus.

I love you dearly,

Mommy
And here are a few pictures to share...







Monday, November 03, 2008

the Election




I'm excited to vote tomorrow. It is a privilege but also my duty. And I'm talking about my DUTY as a woman who professes to be a follower and disciple of Christ. One of our pastors did an exceptional job reminding our church why we need to vote from 1 Timothy 1:1-4.


And with that in mind, I am voting for life... yet MY HOPE IS IN CHRIST. Not in ANY politician or political party, for that matter.


Regardless of your thoughts on the election, go and VOTE. And here's a little perk for you. Go to the following link for info on how to get FREE STARBUCKS COFFEE, FREE BEN & JERRY'S ICE CREAM and a FREE KRISPY KREME DONUT just for voting!


And after you vote, take comfort knowing that Jesus reigns and His kingdom will not end! Hallelujah!