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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our School

I wanted to take this opportunity to brag a little. From day one, I have absolutely, positively been in love with my children's elementary school.

Seven years ago, we were on the market for a new home. Our funds were smaller, and we needed a lot more house for our money. Our family was growing and the current home couldn't hold us all. We had two children at that time, a girl and a boy, and only two bedrooms in the home. We had been renting previously, and decided it was time to purchase our first home.

Throughout the entire experience God was in the middle of it. For 6 months we searched and searched for a house. We were extremely choosy and couldn't settle for just anything. I knew our children would soon be in school, and we needed to find our perfect home dependent on the perfect school.

I had a friend at that time who worked within our school district. I asked for her advice and she told me about three really good schools. We had decided that a house wouldn't even be an option unless it was in the area we desired. The school was our biggest priority.

When we came upon our current home, before I even set foot in the door, I had to wipe tears away. I knew from the outside that we were finally home. I had an absolute peace in my heart. This was it. Our search was finally going to be over. After six long months, and 6 bids later, we walked into our home.

If you had made that same walk with us 7 years ago, you probably wouldn't have had the exact same feeling. The house was a fixer upper. All the floors needed replacing, and the bathrooms were very outdated. The tub enclosure was cracked, and the living room had avocado green carpet. If you walked in the kitchen you might have slipped on the linoleum tiled floor that was falling apart. The house to anyone else was probably ugly, but to me, it was an answer to prayer. God gave us this home! Someday I'll share some pictures with you, and show just how much a miracle the house was.

For me it was immediately love at first sight.

The whole point to what I'm saying here, God knows exactly what we need. At that time my daughter was almost 4 years old. She would be starting kindergarten the next year. I'm convinced the best part of our home is the school we are assigned to attend.

From day one at Meet the Teacher night, I was in love. Ariel's kindergarten teacher was amazing and I will never forget her. Every person that works in that school seems handpicked by God. I have never met anyone there I haven't liked. They all put you right at ease.

The school is very diverse which adds to my love of it. There are rich kids, poor kids, average kids, and all different race kids. The school is a wonderful blend of the world. I've been to a couple different schools in my life that are predominately one thing or the other. It doesn't work near as well. Everyone has something to offer, and it shouldn't matter what color they are, or how much money they have. I love the diversity of my children's school.

I could go on and on here, but that's not really what my post is supposed to be about. Another thing that has made my children's school so successful is the principal. The principal is a Christian, and I believe that makes all the difference in the world. Her influence on everyone is Godly, and there is an air of peace throughout the building.

Today I was especially touched by our school's principal, Mrs. Hedstrom, and I wanted to share it with you. A couple weeks ago, my daughter had a conversation with her. She asked Ariel if she knew she was allowed to bring headphones to the school to use while on the computer. When Ariel told her she didn't own a pair, Mrs. Hedstrom explained to her they were pretty inexpensive and mentioned a place she could find them for a low price. My daughter never said a word about this conversation to me.

This morning when I dropped Ariel off at school, I noticed the principal hand her a pink bag and I made a mental note to ask her about it later. I forgot, but was soon reminded as Ariel slipped into her seat in the car. It was the first thing she mentioned. Mrs. Hedstrom purchased Ariel her own pair of ear-buds.

I was so touched by this I cried. The principal is always drawing kids out and giving them special attention. She knows every kid by name and personal things about them. She remembers details from kindergarten about Ariel. I have always been so blessed by her attention. The school isn't huge, but there still are a few hundred students.

Our school is one of the many blessings God has placed in our life. It's more than being in the right place at the right time that we found this house. It's all about God's timing. He knows all these details and they always work out for our good. At that point I had no idea that it was going to be such a good school. I trusted my friend's word. Now I know that it is not just a good school but a God school. I am so thankful to God for providing a way for my children to attend.

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Yesterday Gabriel called my mother on the phone to set up a date for them to do Bible study together. I explained to him that he only needed to hold down the #3 on my phone, because Grandma was on speed dial. He tried it, and started yelling at me, “It’s not working! It’s only calling you.”

“Did you hold down number three?”

“Yes, but it's still calling you. It won’t call Grandma.”

I argued back at him, “It’s set to call Grandma. I don’t even have my number programmed in the phone.”

“It still says it’s calling ‘Mom.’”

I had a good laugh at this. I guess he thought the phone should have been programmed to say Grandma for him. I explained to him again that Grandma was my mom and it's my phone.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book of Colors

Earlier this week I had the idea of posting Zechariah's book of colors. I made it for him when he was a baby and I'm surprised it has lasted this long. It's truly a keepsake!

Teach your baby colors by making a book of colors with photos of them

make a book of colors for your baby
I am very happy to announce that Zechariah can see all the colors of the rainbow!!! There has been some discussion over the past couple of years as to whether or not he could see all the colors. We knew he wasn't colorblind in the typical way of red/green; we had suspicion of the blue/yellow. The thing about colorblindness, it's not always hereditary. It can be caused by a head injury. If you remember, when Zech was two years old he had a very severe concussion. He couldn't walk straight, he was throwing up all over the place, and I couldn't wake him up from his sleep. It was a very scary time, and I figured if losing a couple colors were the worst thing that happened that day, we would be okay. Things could have been much worse.

Our suspicions began when we would play a color game in the car. Every day we play; it's an ongoing thing. We look for all the yellow cars, and race to be the first to yell it out. We've been doing this for a couple of years and Zechariah had never found a yellow car. His brother and sister were always winning the game, and Zech was very frustrated. He would yell out, "Yellow Car", but it almost always was red, or sometimes white. He was very confused.

At his last physical exam, he was tested on his colors. He couldn't do it. The doctor suggested we call an eye doctor and set up an appointment before he starts kindergarten. Yesterday, he was tested and passed with flying colors. He can see!

The couple days before his appointment, I brought out his old baby book of colors. We tested him on that thing for hours and hours. When he began he was very confused and by the end I was certain he just memorized it. The day of his appointment as we were driving there, I asked Zech to find me a yellow car. He spotted a bus with a yellow stripe and told me, "There's a car with a little yellow on it." I cried. I knew he was going to be okay. He likes to scare me, but in the end God always comes through and it turns out to be nothing. Zechariah means, "God has remembered."

Making the color book was so much fun. I chose a few colors for Zechariah to be, and then asked for all our family members to participate. We gathered all different color objects, different color clothes, and different colored blankets. Each person chose which color they wanted to be, and we tried to include objects that you would associate with that person. After the pictures were taken, I went through and edited some more of the color into them. I painted walls with Photoshop, and changed things to match better.

When we were done, I printed 4x6 pictures, and laminated them together, front and back. Each page would open to a different color. On one side it would read, "Zechariah is Blue" and on the opposite side would be a picture of Zechariah surrounded by blue things. When the pictures were all laminated, we simply put a coil binding on them. The book has held up really well through the years. I can attest to the fact that Zechariah really did learn his colors from the book. It worked!

book of colors blue

white book of colors

book of colors orange

book of colors yellow

book of colors red

book of colors pink

book of colors purple

book of colors green

book of colors gold

book of colors grey silver

book of colors brown

book of colors black

For the last page of the book I thought it would be fun to add Zech sleeping in a rainbow. I lined up several different colored construction papers all around his body. I then made them brighter in Photoshop.

This is a great keepsake for any kid. My older two wish I would have made them one when they were babies!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

We've now figured out the mice had been feeding on my homemade rice bean bags from Zech's 4th birthday party. I guess I should have been storing them in a better location... instead of a playroom, in a basement. They ate through every single bag I had. Note to self, don’t store rice in beanbags, choose airtight containers.

And here's the funny part, you know you’ve been catching too many mice when your four year old son gets mad at the laptop and yells, "Could you hand me that mouse trap, PLEASE!?!"
(referring to the mousepad)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Treasure Trove

Merry Bookmas!

Bookmas comes not once a year but four times! Last night was Bookmas Eve and I could hardly sleep. I was so excited for today. I set my alarm for 8am and ended up not even needing it. I was up two hours early ready and excited to go get my books.

It was one of those mornings where you're just happy to be alive and all is right with the world. I'm sure that sounds a little superficial because it all centers around books, but it's truly how I felt.

This morning was the Bag Day book sale put on by our public library. For a measly $5 dollars you can fill your brown paper sack to the brim.

It's been a dream of mine to live in a house with a large library. I have always envied those who have them. This sale is making it possible, one bag at a time. Soon we'll need a bigger house to hold all our bookshelves! I love it!

The first set of books, I chose for a friend of ours. He wanted to be there himself, but got called in to work this morning. It was quite a challenge to find books he might like as he gave me nothing to work with. His only suggestion was adventure. Talk about difficult to come up with! I wanted to make sure to get him clean books, but also interesting to him. I hope he enjoys what we (me, my daughter, and a friend) came up with.

Here's my treasure trove of books:

Mary Higgins Clark - She writes murder mystery! She is not a Christian author, but writes very clean. There is never sexual content, and normally the swear words are at a small minimum.

I'm making good headway into collecting all of John Grisham's novels. I have always been fascinated by his stories, and now I have two more I haven't read yet.

When you browse the Bag Day sale you grab first and then think later. You don't want to waste too much time looking at what number in a series they are, or if you even own it. I brought a cheat sheet with me this time that had all the books I own on it. After you've read so many books, it's hard to remember if it's a book you actually own, or if it's just a book you borrowed from the library. I had to laugh when I was done. I thought I had found two books by Beverly Lewis that were part of one series, but in fact I found book number three of two different series.

I'm really excited about these books. There is such an overwhelming amount of books at the sale you can't be too choosy at what you find. I'm very picky about what I'll watch and read so normally I end up just getting books I've already read in the past. I don't usually find too many new ones that I haven't read yet, and that are Christian.

I'm taking a chance on these two. Last book sale I found My Sister's Keeper and found it to be pretty interesting, and for the most part clean. The great thing about this sale, you're literally only paying cents for each book, so it doesn't hurt too badly if you have to throw out a book or two. (I have done this on a few occasions. I refuse to read trash.)

I'm probably most excited about this book by Patsy Clairmont. I went to Women of Faith a few months back and Patsy was one of the speakers. I loved her. She has such a way with words and left me very inspired. I can't wait to read these books of hers.

Some more chance books... the first one, Linux Pocket Guide, was a gift for my husband. He does programming for a living so this really is beneath him but I wanted to get it just the same. I thought it would be nice to give him something that let him know I was thinking of him, and he could have a good laugh at it. I was pleased to find out he actually has a guy at his work that could use this book. I told him by all means, pass it on.

Three Cups of Tea struck me because of the name. I have only had two cups of tea in the past month and I'm craving my third cup. The day will come soon I believe. When I read the back of the book it sounded pretty inspiring so I'm taking another chance on it. This Bookmas seems to be one full of chances...

I almost bought myself a crock-pot cookbook a few weeks ago so I was especially pleased to find this among the piles of books. I've already staked out a couple recipes I'll be trying in the next few weeks!

And lastly, I loved the idea behind this Family Traditions books. It's full of practical things. I already know I'm going to be reading it cover to cover. It's full of ideas for each holiday and ways to celebrate together.

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, here's a small sample of their ideas:

The Book of Love:
Who wrote the book of love? You did. Buy an inexpensive blank book with a heart on the cover, or glue one there. Call it "The Book of (your last name) Love", and each year have every family member write one loving thing about every other member.

Valentine Tree:
Trees are a great centerpiece of ritual action because they grow and change like families do, symbolize life and hope, and can be easily but beautifully decorated for any occasion. Every year, the Dodge family buys a small tree in a pot, and decorates it with a string of tiny while lights. They buy red craft paper and cut out teddy bears and hearts, poke holes in their tops, and use thin ribbon to tie them onto the tree in their yard. If you do this every year, you could designate a special Valentine Grove on your property.

Red Food Night:
At the Straw household in Plano, TX, all the food for Valentines dinner is red. Sue Straw serves beets or red cabbage, mashed potatoes mixed with red food coloring, and either ham(pink) or pasta with red sauce. Red fruit might include grapes, raspberries, or strawberries. Even the milk is red. Dessert can be brown as long as it's chocolate and it's shaped like a heart.

Have-A-Heart Awards
Each member of the family gives an award to each other member for a special act of love or kindness. Buy round, fuzzy, ping-pong-ball sized pom-poms at your local craft store, to which you can glue little eyes and mouths and feet. Cut hearts from a piece of construction paper 4 inches square, and glue the feet to the paper heart. Write on the heart the name of the person getting the award and what they did. Perhaps one child helped a younger sibling learn to tie his shoes. Perhaps Dad earned his award coaching Little League last summer.

This book is full of ideas! It has everything from holiday traditions to fun things so you won't go crazy. It has daily, weekly, monthly rituals, and coming of age rituals. Bet time rituals, family night rituals, to pet rituals. Hello and Good-bye rituals. It's going to be fun reading through all the ideas!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crazy Hair Day

Today was crazy hair day at school! I'm always surprised at the amount of kids that participate. Practically none... My kids will use any excuse they can to act silly.

I had to get a picture of the back of the kid's heads. I don't think you could see the black color on Ariel's head in the first photo.

Gabe's head was my favorite! The principal went around taking photos of all the kids who dressed up their heads. Gabe was a lucky one who caught her attention, and she snapped a photo of him. Maybe he'll end up in the school's yearbook this year!

crazy hair day with stripes

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Death Toll

The death toll at my house keeps rising along with my anxiety. In the past couple of weeks we have killed 8 mice! This is beyond disgusting to me. I feel as if I'm a prisoner in my own home. Luckily they have all been found in the basement. There is no evidence that they have joined us upstairs where we do our living.

Still... 8 mice! I don't think in my entire life that has ever happened. I remember killing one or two each winter, but never 8. This is our first time to kill mice in our current home. We've lived here for almost 7 years, and have been extraordinarily blessed to have never shared a home with mice.

I'm ready to move.

In fact I've already looked at a few prospective homes... online. I cannot stand the thought of sharing my house. The basement is where we keep our washer and dryer. We have a very sophisticated way of depositing our clothes downstairs. We open the door to the basement, and give it a good throw. The clothes will fall in heap at the bottom of the stairs, and sometimes when little arms are throwing, they make it down one maybe two steps.

Laundry has turned into my worst nightmare. I will accidentally step on the corner of a towel, and jump over a foot in the air. I'm terrified the mice will run out of my laundry pile. Every time a shirt is inside out, I brace myself for a nibble on my fingers as I pull the sleeve right-side out. Only in the past week have I been brave enough to undertake my laundry alone. Last week Titus had to make a quick sweep of the rooms before I could descend the stairway. This week, I have my 4 year old son going down clearing the way. He's excited at the prospect of "rat friends". He loves Remy on Ratatouille.

Life has become practically unbearable. I know in my head my fears are a bit irrational, but tell that to my heart that won't stop pounding out of my chest. I can't cope with it. This morning we found our most recent two and I broke down crying.

I want my freedom back. I'm tired of piles of things sitting by the door waiting for a man to take them downstairs.

When we bought our home 7 years ago, it was the most we could afford. Over the years my husband has done very well with his job, and money has increased. I was hoping this was God saying, "Go ahead. Dream for a new home. It's time." My husband wasn't very convinced at the timing of my dreams. He found it very coincidental that it came about in the same weeks we were experiencing mice issues.

Isn't it so sad how our mind plays tricks on us? We don't even understand our feelings. As soon as he said it, I realized he was exactly right. I experienced my first very unwelcome visitor in our home and I was ready to move on. That happens in life too often. We give up when we should persevere. It becomes uncomfortable so we look for a new comfort place.

As I was searching the homes for sale, I was reminded of my deal with God. The past month we've been discussing contentment. When I say we, I mean me and Jesus. I made an agreement with Him two weeks ago. Our movies have really been starting to pile up. I've said it before, movies are my comfort. Some people eat, some people shop, some people sleep; I buy movies. If I'm having the worst day, or the best ever day, I will purchase a new movie. It's really become an addiction. We now own over 400 movies, and that's not including our TV series. (If you ever want to borrow a movie, don't hesitate to ask.)

God's been speaking to me about my movies. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a movie; it's all about the motive. What void do I sometimes attempt to fill? I started to turn them into a collection, an obsession. It wasn't even about watching them anymore, it was about owning them. I wanted to see them sit on my pretty shelves taking up room. In agreement with God, I'm practicing movie abstinence. I'm not allowed to buy any movies. We have at least 20 movies we've purchased over the past months and sadly year that we haven't even seen.

The whole point is contentment. What void am I trying to fill? Why do I obsess and collect them? As soon as all the new movies are watched, I will be allowed to purchase again within reason. I first will have to ask myself, why am I buying this? This all may sound really ridiculous to you. Everyone has their hang up. Movies are mine. It's only been two weeks, and already I have stopped myself several times.

I think the mice have been playing into my goal too. It's not just about movies here and being content with the ones we've already chosen. It's a lifestyle. I didn't see it until this morning. Discontentment can be a disease that spreads. I want to stop it before it has room to grow. I need to stop looking at my house and the mice as my enemy.

It wasn't until we were on the drive to school, taking our turns praying, that I realized not once did I ever bring my problem before God. I have complained and whined, cried and moaned over these mice, but I never asked for help. It seemed to me a very practical problem that we would need to solve ourselves. You put out traps, you kill mice. You don't need to bother God with something so simple, do you?

When the mice begin to take away from my relationship with God, you bet I need to bother Him about it. Why didn't I just go there in the first place? Before I get to the grumbling and complaining part, why don't I ask for help? If God knows how many hairs are on my head, I have no doubt that He knows how many mice are in my basement.

Not only does He know how many there are, He knows how long they've been living there. Just because it came to our attention a few weeks ago, doesn't mean it wasn't going on for much longer. Sometimes we need to ask God to clean out our basements before we are required to. It's so much easier to be proactive about things. If we were always looking in the dark corners, and clearing away the cobwebs we wouldn't be caught off guard. We would be ready to stand on our own two feet at all times.

"Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." -Ephesians 6: 10-12

I have found scripture to be the best way to fight the enemy. Whether it's an enemy we can see, or one that's just in our mind. Quote verses to yourself. It gets rid of all fear and doubt, discouragement, and discontentment. My favorite verse right now for my life has been, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-DISCIPLINE." -2 Timothy 1:7

Whether it's mice problems, or purchasing too many movies, I know I need God. I can't do it on my own. When I try, I fail horribly. It's only with the power of God that I can be an overcomer. I cannot let these mice define me. God has given me a spirit of power and self-discipline. When I'm starting to feel the need for flight I can remind myself that God cares about my problems. Where does the fear and discontentment come from? I know for a fact it is not God. Once you know and recognize your enemy it's so much easier to fight. In fact, it seems once you've identified it, the battle is already half way over.

God has given me a spirit of power and self-discipline.
I will overcome!

*UPDATE* The mice are all gone! We ended up killing 11 of them before we realized we were tempting them with rice. For Zechariah's birthday party this year I made rice bean bags. I kept them downstairs in the basement in the play room. Once we got rid of the bean bags, we got rid of the mice. We never had another one again, EVER.  I will never make bean bags with rice! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Yesterday morning we were off to a late start. Sometimes things just don't go as planned and we fall behind. Both of my older kids were using the bathroom as I yelled to them, "Guys we're going to be late for school and we don't even get to do prayer journal today!"

Zech answered me, "We don't care"

"Well, I care."

"I don't care."

I was beginning to get rather irritated at him and thought his opinion was irrelevant. "I think Ariel and Gabe agree with me. They care."

"We don't care."

"That's not very nice." I said in a very stern voice.

"Mommy, I don't care means 'yes'. Just a second is 'yes or no'."

All my frustration melted away in an instant. I had to laugh out loud. Zech is always analyzing my answers to him. Usually the question is, "Can I play on the computer?" And my answer always differs. It's either, "I don't care. Maybe. In a little bit. Just a second." To him they all have different meanings. So when he said he didn't care about doing the prayer journal, it was actually an agreement that he wanted to do it. I'm sure those things can be rather confusing to a four year old!

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Love You

One of my favorite Christmas gifts between my husband and I, was this fun day by day calendar called 365 ways to say "I Love You." We've been enjoying it together each day, and haven't missed many of the opportunities. I have been loving the practical, tangible ways that you can say I love you to your spouse. Sometimes words just don't seem to be enough and an unconventional thing done daily can mean the world.

Here's a recap of what we've been doing so far:

January 1st - Let "I Love You" be the first words you utter as the New Year begins.

January 2nd - Celebrate your significant other's accomplishments- big or small. Display awards and trophies for all to see.

January 3rd - Decorate your home with beauty- with inviting colors, flowers, music, warmth, and laughter- and love will always be there.

January 4th - When he apologizes, be quick to accept it and drop the matter.

January 5th - Write a love note on his car window with lipstick or soap.

January 6th - Give her a back rub after a stressful day at work.

January 7th - Send her a "love"-gram.

January 8th - Share a love poem that reflects your feelings for the one you love. From the pen of Solomon, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, or you- the meaning is the same.

January 9th

Write "I love you" in huge letters with sidewalk chalk on the driveway.

Only because I was writing this blog post, I peaked ahead and found some things to look forward to for this month ...

Share a cup of hot chocolate while you watch a winter sunset.

Tell your beloved- verbally or in a card- what you admire most about him or her. (Do it often)

Show support for her in front of others.

Pick up his favorite snack food and surprise him at work.

Take her breakfast. Even if it's just toast, coffee, and the morning paper- being pampered is always a treat.

Record her favorite romantic movie then splice over the commercials with footage of your own, sharing your message from the heart.

Maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses in your loved one.

The calendar was very inexpensive and so far has been a great investment. It's generically dated so that it can be used for multiple years to come. I'm sure this is something that could be made easily too! The point that I'm trying to make here: love your spouse. Make sure that you are consciously giving the effort it takes to cherish your loved one. Your relationship deserves the chance to flourish.

"The development of a really good marriage is not a natural process. It is an achievement." - David and Vera Mace

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What I Wish I had known...

Earlier this week I received an email from my husband's grandma. She was requesting my help as a favor. In a couple weeks she is in charge of doing a devotion at a young woman's baby shower. She titled her devotion, "What I wish I had known about motherhood before I became a mother." The favor I would perform was to email her back a few things that I wish I had known.

I thought about this a lot over the past week. There are so many things I wish someone would have told me. Practical things about childbirth and the month after, money savers on things a baby really needs, but mostly parenting advice. If only children came with a rule book and you simply looked up each answer to any problem. The only rule book I've found that's been infallible is the Bible. There are many practical verses to apply to every situation. However, you still must be pretty creative in coming up with how to apply it to your child.

I could have come up with many many things to share, but she only needed a few. It's so hard to narrow down the list. Here are the 4 that I chose to share with her.

My number one thing, I wish I had known how much my emotions would change. I will forever see tragedy and people in a different way, through a mother's eyes. I gained sensitivity toward the world. What if it was one of my children? How would I feel? I read a quote once and it's always stuck with me. "The decision to have a child is to recognize that your heart will forever walk outside of your body."

I wish someone had told me to trust my own instincts sooner. You will always have people: family, friends, even strangers giving you advice on how to raise your child. You know your child better than anyone around you. God has given a mother special intuition to know things in a more specific way. Listen to other people's advice, but ultimately do what you feel is the right thing to do. (I remember bringing Zech to the doctor when he was a baby and they kept telling me it was a virus and he would be fine. It wasn't until the 5th time going to the Doctor & ER, that I demanded they listen to me and run some tests on him. They found out he had a life-threatening blood infection. If I had trusted "other people's" advice, I'm convinced my son would not be alive today.) That's an extreme example. This applies to so much more. Be the parent that you feel called by God to be.

I wish I had known at the beginning I didn't have to be the perfect mom. Your kids will love you unconditionally no matter what. (I know this for a fact.) If you make a mistake, apologize; don't portray yourself as perfect. Kids will see right through it. But if you admit your mistakes, they will grow along with you, and love you all the more for being honest with them.

My last piece of advice, which people always do share with a new mother, is something that never seems to get through to them. This is one of those things you have to just live before you fully understand it.

I wish someone had told me how fast time would go by. You may feel like you'll always be taking care of small children, always be waking up in the middle of the night for feeding, always giving up everything for them, waiting on them hand and foot, but time will fly by. You will long for those moments again when they were little and you could hold them while they slept, nurse them all night long, and fix everything with just a kiss... It goes by too quickly!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

"Mommy, can you put my top roof on please?"

Kids have such a way with words. No matter where you go, as long as you have your coat you will always have a roof over your head!

Gas for Jesus

If your first thought is, "Ew gross," your mind is going to the wrong place. That is not the type of gas we're talking about here. Stick with me.

All day long yesterday I was in communication with God. He spoke to me in my dreams, all the way until I laid my head down on the pillow at night. The day had a theme, God's blessings and my faith in His provision.

I dreamt about my friend, Birgit, on Monday. I woke up still thinking about her. I was remembering the time I had been through looking for her, the frustration I had when I couldn't find her, and then the satisfaction I received when she found me. God really came through for me. I had a sense of peace about it, but at the same time there was unrest. I feel like there is going to be more to the story. I don't know what, or when, but there is unfinished business.

As I lay in my bed, I began to pray over her; a prayer of safety, of blessing, and encouragement. I longed to be used by God again. I didn't want it to be a onetime thing. I want it to happen daily even if it's just in a small way.

Later in the day as I was spending time reading my Bible, this verse stood out to me. I literally cried when I read it out of the Message Bible. "You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!" Matthew 5:14-15

I want to be a God color shining in this world. I am fascinated with the light. I know I've written about this many times before. But it's true. I want to be so full of God that it spills out of me onto the lives of other people. I seek to be contagious.

In the evening time I had to stop by Hobby Lobby to pick up something for my girl craft day the next morning. I wanted to browse the laminators and compare some pricing. I called my husband. He told me, "Get it." When I started to protest at the high price, he argued back, "I want you to buy it. Now!" I was convinced a little too easily.

As I was driving to my book study, laminator in the trunk, I was overwhelmed with God's blessings. This past year was above and beyond anything I dreamed possible. God financially blessed my family to the extreme. We have more money than we have bills and desires. In return we've been able to be extraordinarily giving, more than ever before. I believe the secret is this, you don't wait for the money to be there to give. You give and then the money shows up.

We started out the year in a tight place, where I counted every penny. In February, my husband was willing to step out in faith when challenged by our pastor to give more. The results have been astonishing. I cannot say this enough. GOD HAS BLESSED US SO MUCH!!

I was a block from the coffee shop and I knew I needed to pull myself together. The happy tears had to stop, though I still had a smile stretching from ear to ear. God is good!

I stayed a little bit later after my study to sit and talk with another friend. When we were done chatting, we made our way outside to the cars. We talked a little more, and then a man pulled up beside my car.

He said, "Are you from here?"


"I'm really embarrassed to be doing this. I've been stopping and talking to everyone. I need to be at work tomorrow." He took out his identification badge, clipped to his shirt. He worked at a jail near Salina, KS. "I'm on my way home from St. Louis and I lost my wallet. I've been peddling around. I think I left it in Emporia. I need to be home tomorrow. I tried calling the police and they gave me the number for the rescue mission. I don't want to stay here; I just need to get to work in the morning." He rambled on for several minutes. It wasn't clear what he wanted from us.

It was after he talked about needing money, that I stopped him and asked, "What exactly do you want from us?" I couldn't tell.

"I need 7 or 8 gallons of gas to get me home. I can pay you back later."

Without hesitation, I knew what to do. I pointed out the gas station on the corner, and said, "I'll meet you there in a minute." He was gone.

You must understand, it's 10:30pm, and we're standing in a vacant parking lot. It was a little unnerving. I was glad my friend with there with me. She climbed into the front seat with me, and we drove to the gas station.

When we arrived, he told me, "Just tell me when to stop pumping."

I asked if he had gotten any so far since he'd been asking everyone. "One guy gave me three dollars of gas, but that won't get me home. I've been driving around trying to get help from anyone who would."

I told him to fill it up. I ran my card as credit so I didn't need to put in my pin number. I took the receipt out quickly and stuffed it in my pocket. I had no idea if his intentions were good.

He was extremely thankful and asked, "Where can I pay you back at?" He started to take out a piece of paper and pen.

God dropped the words in my mouth before I had time to think. "God has really blessed my family so much, so I'd like to just give it to you. I don't need anything back from you."

He showed surprise, "are you sure?" as he thanked me repeatedly over and over again. "You have no idea how much this means to me. I don't know what I would do. Thank you so much."

I told him, again, "God really has blessed my family financially. It's a gift from God, for you. It's not me."

As soon as his car was full of gas, he was off in the direction of the highway. I think he might have shaken my hand. I can't remember.

You may think that was foolish of me, or crazy. You might think it was a scam. But I don't care. I knew that it was the Holy Spirit talking for me, and it was God prompting me to do it. Either way, the man heard that God cares for him. That is the most important part.

This is not your typical What Would Jesus Do thing. But it was a very powerful night for me. God was preparing me all day long. From the time I woke up, longing to be used by God, to finding the scripture verse speaking of "shining my light", all the way to the overwhelming feeling of being blessed. God knew exactly when I would need to be outside for that man to drive along and find me. He prepared my heart so that I would be willing to give. Thirty-five dollars given to stranger was a small price to pay for the satisfaction I was able to receive in knowing I was at the right place at the right time, with the right attitude, and the right financial situation. God is amazing!

What a great faith building way to start off the New Year!


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