Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Joy Unspeakable

I am very happy to report that God has remembered my son again. Zechariah was very appropriately named. He is my son that shows me God's protection time and time again. Without God, life would be so different.

Thursday of last week started like any other day, but soon changed into a very different kind of day. Zechariah fell off the toilet. Sounds simple enough, and you wouldn't think this would do much damage. However, it did. Somehow, when he was going to the bathroom and fell, his penis got stuck, and was cut pretty badly.

I heard him crying from the other room and came to check on him. I didn't figure it was anything serious. By the time I got there, his tears had stopped and he told me in a very calm rational voice, "I fell off the toilet, and my penis is bleeding."

It was said so matter of fact that I didn't believe there was blood. I then did the thing that mothers never should. When I lifted his shirt up and saw how much blood there was, I gasped out loud with a sharp intake of breath. This set him off and he began to scream and scream. No matter how many times I said, "You'll be okay." He could only remember the look of horror on my face. He thought he was in serious trouble because of my reaction. In fact, he would not stop crying and I had to leave the room to call the doctor. I honestly had no idea what I was to do for him.

I was afraid it needed stitches but I wasn't sure how to go about this. Do I carry him into the hospital naked? Do I try to get a covering for him? I knew it wasn't especially serious, but I thought it probably needed some attention.

By the time I heard back from the doctor, I had calmed him down enough to very delicately apply some antibiotic ointment, and carefully pull up his underwear. With the promise of time on the DSi, the tears stopped flowing. Whenever the pain subsides so quickly, it always makes me question whether it really needs immediate action. I debated for two hours as to bring him in or not. He seemed perfectly fine and was running and playing again.

This kid is always so tough! When he broke his arm, I almost didn't bring him to the doctor. He adapts so well. We all need a little bit of Zech's stamina in our lives. No matter what has happened to him, we've always questioned the seriousness of it because he keeps a positive outlook. Even as young as 7 months old, when he had a very serious blood infection, I couldn't get the doctors to pay attention to him. Whenever they saw him, he was happy and smiling; symptoms they didn't believe a very sick baby would show. He is an example to us all! No matter what happens, don't let it take your joy away!

(While at the hospital, He asked me to take his picture doing the splits. This is a boy who never lets life get him down!)

The doctor had told me he needed to be seen in ExpressCare. After an hour wait, we finally had some evaluation. The doctor took a look at it, and said, "It appears much more serious than we originally thought, and you need to bring him over to the ER for stitches and proper pain medication." They were going to set him up right.

As we were heading over to the hospital, I have to admit I was a little frustrated. This entire day was not part of my plan. I had a really fun day at the lake figured out. We were going to use plaster of Paris to make all kinds of fun sandy keepsakes. I was irritated that this accident had interrupted my day. It seems like all my plans have been altered in some way this summer. How selfish I was! When the day was over, I was so thankful for God's protection for Zechariah. God holds us so tenderly in the palm of His hand.

Fortunately, my mom was with us, as we were supposed to be going to the lake, so she volunteered to take Ariel and Gabe to the library which is next door to the hospital. Zech and I were in for a very long wait. Even though they had called ahead, we still had another 3 hours ahead of us to go.

Through it all, Zechariah was as happy as could be. He treated the entire trip like an adventure. He doesn't visit the hospital very often, so he was happy to explore the areas we visited.


When we finally had our moment with the doctor, he took one look at it and said, it definitely needed stitches and the only way he would do that is if we sedated Zech. He explained that the pain would be over-the-top and he could not put him through it without Zechariah being unconscious. I thought this seemed a little extreme given the fact that he was still running around and playing like he didn't have a care in the world.

The alternative to stitches was simply leaving it alone to heal on its own, and applying some antibiotic ointment to it. He would also have to be really careful to not reopen the wound. This would mean no baths, showers, or even getting wet. Too much water can lengthen the healing process. Because of the area of the cut, it wasn't very susceptible to infection. The doctor also mentioned without stitching it, there was more chance of a scar, but this was still his recommended course of treatment.

I opted for the alternative. Zech had already been through a painful experience and I didn't want to put him through it again. We had our antibiotic ointment in hand, and we were on our way home. I don't know how this fact has escaped us until this moment; Zech is allergic to Neosporin. He broke out in hives all over his body, and his face started to swell. God still held him in the palm of His hand.

Zechariah never complained once about his pain after the initial hurt. He is such a tough kid. He's been through a lot in his life, and he has always dealt with it full of courage and bravery. He is such an inspiration to me.

We spent the weekend in Wichita with my husband's grandparents. The highlight of the trip for our kids is always to visit Riverside park with the computerized fountains. Zech was such a commendable little boy. We didn't want him getting more than his feet wet in the fountains, and he didn't complain a bit when we told him he had enough of the water. He sat on the bench waiting patiently for his brother and sister. He knew it was for his own good that he was taken from the fun and he went right along with it.


I think we can all learn a lesson from Zechariah. "Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. When Zech couldn't play in the fountain, he found he could play on the toys at the park.

It doesn't say we must be happy about everything that happens to us. Circumstances will always be out of our control; however, our feelings are not.

Find something today to be joyful about.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kids Think the Darndest Things

Right now my boys are obsessed with the Home Alone movies. They love to see the traps set and the bad guys walk into them.


As we were watching the movie Gabe asked me, "I wonder what Kevin really looks like?"

I was a little confused. "What do you mean? He looks just like that."

"No. I mean the guy who plays him. I wonder what he really looks like?"

"You mean now that he's an adult?"

A shocked Gabriel, "What? You mean he was really just a kid in the movie?"

After much debate back and forth, it came to my attention that Gabriel has never understood that children could have a job as actors and actresses. Whenever he saw a kid in a movie, he thought there was a grownup inside pretending to be little.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Lately I’ve been noticing that Zechariah says a lot of words incorrectly and I’ve been trying to teach the correct pronunciation. I don’t know if he’s having trouble hearing it, or if he just got so used to saying the words in a babyish way that he doesn’t realize it’s incorrect.

One that we have a constant struggle with is “computer”. He calls it the “pooter”. This is very difficult for him. I normally take it very slowly, and make him repeat every syllable. “It’s com-pU-ter.” With help, I can get him to say “com-pooter.” He still has difficulty with the U in computer.

This morning I was awoken by a very early riser. Zechariah has been getting up with his father, and he was ready to play. “Mommy, can I play on the com-laptop?”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vending Machine Prayers

It's been a hard day. I planned to take my boys swimming after a relaxing picnic lunch with their dad at work. Ariel was out of town visiting my sister in Colorado.

As lunch concluded rather quickly, we decided to take a walk in the area of my husband's work. For thirty minutes we traveled about, crunching the dry grass beneath our feet. The boys enjoyed climbing through tunnels which followed under the streets above. We saw an old building which housed a church. It was a hot afternoon, but it was fun just the same.

We were a few feet away from parting with my husband, and about to get into the car, when I realized my keys had fallen from my waist. I had shorts with an elastic waist band on and my keys had been safely tucked inside... or so I thought.

Somehow in the past thirty minutes, where we covered roughly a mile of ground, in a very haphazard direction, the keys had fallen to the ground. There was no good way to retrace our steps. My husband works on the outskirts of town where there are big open fields. It seemed to be an impossible task to find the keys.


Me, trying to be a woman of faith, stopped right at the beginning and said, "Let's pray! I know God will show us where the keys lay." This was serious business for my boys. We had just picked up the key to the swimming pool and it was on the lost key ring. Gabriel said a prayer that some person would find them and bring them to us in the same way that his shin guards were walked over to him in the past. I thought this was a great example again of childlike faith, however, I didn't hold out for it happening.

The longer we looked for the keys, the more desperate my prayers became. It's 104° degrees outside today. The temperatures are not very forgiving for a woman who has lost her keys and needs to find them. My boys were dying in the heat, not literally of course, but you can imagine the complaints that came out of their mouths.

After two hours of looking, I was defeated. I knew I had to give up. This went against everything in me. How was God going to answer my prayer if I just gave up? I was still certain the keys would be found. It was a large area of land we covered, but we were systematic about our search. The keys had to be found.

God promised me.

"You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!" John 14:12-14

I figured this wasn't a prayer that would hurt anyone if He answered. Surely, He cares about my keys, right? I hated to admit my failure. I felt like I had let God down. I wanted to have a great story to share. I lost my keys, but now they are found. The odds were against me, but God came through. Wouldn't that be awesome? Something worthy of praise?

Unfortunately, we get disappointed when our plans are not always God's plans. But really, what a relief! My brain is too small to hold such a big God, and I should be okay with that.

As we were making the trip back home, sunburned, tired, overheated, and crying about all that we were missing out on; God spoke. He didn't speak in a loud voice. He spoke through the Adventures in Odyssey we were listening to. The story had started on our way to the picnic, and on the drive home we listened to the conclusion.

There was a young girl, Donna, who was learning about the power of prayer. Her younger brother received a bike on the same day that he asked for it, so she decided to give it a try herself.

Donna prayed, "Dear God, if you really answer prayer make it rain on Monday so I won't have to go out for gym class."

Of course, we can look at her prayer and see the silliness, and see why God wouldn't answer her. But how often do we do the very same thing. We pray expecting God to answer just like a vending machine.

"A vending machine for prayers. You decide on your prayer, you push a button, and the answer comes out on the bottom. There's a button for just about everything. Money when you don't need it. Good grades on a test you didn't study for. The latest fashions. The newest toys. Popularity. What else should I add?"

"This is a joke, isn't it?"

"Is it?" Mr. Whittaker says, "I'll finish the machine. But it won't work. I'm doing it to make a point. We often think of God like a giant vending machine that will give us what we want if we just push the right buttons or if we put in enough coins. Or maybe if we kick it and shake it hard enough and long enough. God isn't like that.

"But he says He'll give us what we want if we'll believe."

"First we have to decide, what is prayer? It's talking with God. It's a conversation. We don't have conversations with vending machines. He wants to hear what you're thinking and feeling."

"We can ask, but He doesn't always do it."

"There's a very simple reason for that. Because He loves us. Every time we ask for something, you should believe that He gives your prayer His loving attention and response. That response doesn't always mean He'll say yes. Sometimes He responds by saying, 'No.' while sometimes He says, 'Wait.' It may not always be the answer we want, but He will answer. And He'll answer at a time that's right for us."


I knew I was guilty of a vending machine prayer. I put the coin in the slot, pushed the button, and waited. No, I didn't stand in one place waiting, but I was still expecting God to answer me just because I asked. I didn't see how or why He would want to say no. I thought I just needed to be diligent enough to keep on looking.

There comes a time when we must stop and wait. I don't believe God was asking me to keep my kids out in the hot sun any longer. It was time to go home and wait. Waiting can be so difficult, especially if you are a person of action. You won't catch me being lazy. I put my heart into whatever the job is that needs to be done.

It was so hard for me to walk away from the fields and admit defeat. I was the one who got me into the mess. My husband offered to carry the keys for me, and I was too stubborn. I told him, "I've done this before. I'm fine." Because the fault rested on my shoulders, I felt like I was the one who needed to fix it. Maybe I would give credit to God, or maybe I just needed to know I could do it? What a mess we make sometimes!

Right now, I am content to wait. All things on the key ring are replaceable, and we might very well replace them. But for a little while, I'm going to wait. I know that I am commanded at this moment to step away from the situation. God has my back. And I'm certain He has a reason for not showing me the keys at this exact moment.

The world is so complicated, and we have a God who understands everything about it. Maybe God did it for my protection? Maybe while we were looking for the keys, He was keeping me and my children from being in a situation that we weren't meant to be in? Maybe He was protecting my husband from harm? Maybe something will happen when we go to buy our new set of keys? Maybe there's a person we're supposed to meet or talk with? Or maybe He just wanted us to learn a lesson in disappointment and how to deal with it? There are a million different reasons for why things happen that we are never even aware of. God has got our back.

The important part is our trusting in Him. It's that conversation we're supposed to be having, not the putting our coin in the slot to get what we want. We have to stop kicking the machine expecting to get our treat. God really does want to know our thoughts and feelings. He cares so much!

Last night when I was studying my Bible, I came upon this verse. I knew it was a word for me. I stopped right then and there and committed it to memory. All day long it has been running through my head. It's given me comfort, and patience to make it through the day.

"May the words of my mouth,
and the meditations of my heart,
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Psalm 19:14

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Motives

Life sometimes can get me down. People let me down, but I have to choose where I'm going to place my trust. It's not always that people intentionally hurt you; it just happens. We all get busy with our own lives. We forget to remember others. It hurts to be forgotten and left behind, but it doesn't change who we are. God called me worthy.

"We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins."

Colossians 1:9-14

To some people, friends are more important than any blood relation you could have. To others, family means the most. If you're wise, neither should get before your relationship with God. Not always easy though, right?

We often desire someone we can see to meet our needs. We know God is there, however, it can feel like He's very far away at times. There are times when you need a friend to be there physically for you. To watch your kids. To help out with a project. To watch a movie. To just spend time with you... being there.

I've recently been a little discouraged by the actions and choices of those around me. Earlier this week God shed a little light on the subject for me. I found it extremely helpful, and wanted to share it with you.

Maybe you've had those same feelings of disappointment and hurt. The feeling of being let down, or taken advantage of. The feeling that people don't "get" you, or they just don't care. It hurts. In the words of my 4 year old, "That really hurt my heart."

A couple weeks ago, I paid a visit to the Goodwill store. My favorite! I always find the greatest things there for a fraction of what they are worth. Some people might eat when they're upset; I look for secondhand things. It's my weakness. This trip however, was planned for fun with my kids. I have passed on my love of "treasure hunting" to my children. We were having a use what you buy day. I love these days. Each of us gets 2 or 3 dollars to spend on whatever we want. Then we spend the rest of the day playing. We buy books, toys, movies, games. It's so much fun!

On this particular day, I found the entire BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) version of all of Jane Austen's books. An entire set! 6 movies in all! Talk about a prize! Some of these movies are very old; made as early as 1971. Many of these movies were televised series lasting as long as 5 hours. We're talking hours of entertainment.

Goodwill sells their DVDs for $3 apiece. However, I made a friend that day, and he sold them to me for $2 each. God is always good!

Back to my point that I'm trying to make. The first movie I made it through was Northanger Abby. Do you realize God can speak to us through movies? If you listen, you can hear His voice everywhere.


To give you some background, the picture above is of a young lady, Isabella, who is engaged to be married. She has just found out her fiancé doesn't have as much money as she would have liked, and it appears that she's on the lookout for a new man. We can only assume this is her motive. A militia man comes over and asks her to dance. One might think being an engaged woman, she would refuse the offer. As you can see from the picture, she seems more than willing to oblige him. Maybe even too willing...

Across the room, there is a judgment made between another couple. The woman, Catherine Morland, is the sister of the poor fiancé. And the man, Henry Tilney, is the brother of the militia man who asked the woman to dance.

Here is the conversation that struck me. Miss Morland, the sister, is speaking, "I suppose your brother saw Isabella sitting down, and fancied she must wish for a partner."

To which Mr. Tilney replies, "How little trouble it costs you to understand other people's motives."

"What do you mean?" a confused Miss Morland.

"Well, with you it isn't what would make so-and-so behave in such a way, it's what would make me behave in such a way."

This line made such a big impression on me. In the movie, Miss Morland, very naively believes the friend could not dance with the man for any reason but one with the purest intentions. It's what she would have done in the situation. However, the truth of the situation was, Isabella broke off her engagement to find a more suitable husband for herself, one with more wealth.

We always see things with our own eyes, through our own point of view. It's so hard to step outside of that. I am constantly reminded of this fact, and I love to hear it said in a variety of ways. I need the refresher.

So many times we feel slighted by a friend because we know our own intentions. We are only seeing the situation from our own motives. We know what would cause us to act a certain way, so we put that onto others.

Everyone has been raised so uniquely different. None of us are the same. Even those of us from the same family are different and have been brought up with separate feelings.

Something that seems huge in our minds maybe be small in others. I'll give an example for what I mean. To me, commitment is one of the biggest priorities in my life. I was taught growing up that a yes meant yes, and a no meant no. If you said yes, no matter how much sacrifice and dedication it took, you would follow through. For me to not follow through on something that I say would mean the absolute worst has come about. Nothing would keep me from it, unless I was feeling extremely malicious. You would not believe how many commitments I have kept even in the midst of anger. My word can be bondage, an obsession to say the least.

So on the flip side of that, if someone breaks a commitment to me, I feel as if death is upon me. I see if from my point of view. How could that person stab me in the back? It doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. To some it's just a word. It's like a maybe or a probably. There is room for negotiation.

We all understand and interpret our world differently. We cannot possibly assume that we all will react in the same way to everything.

So the next time that you feel slighted or treated badly, stop and think about it from all possible perspectives. For the most part, your friends and family are all doing their very best to love you. Their idea of love may be different than yours. We all have different weaknesses and temptations. While it might feel like it's done very intentionally and purposefully, that may not be the case for the person. We have to stop feeling from our own perspective.

"There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." Philippians 1:6

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kids Say The Darndest Things

I noticed Gabriel was working especially hard at our morning chores, and I felt like I should give him a little encouragement and thanks.

"You sure are working hard today cleaning up the house!"

His response, "I wanted to know what it would feel like to be appreciated and not useless."

"What? Have I ever told you that you were useless?"

"No. But I don't ever do anything, so I am pretty much useless. It feels good to be appreciated."

How right he is... about it feeling good to be appreciated!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

As we were leaving for church one morning, I noticed Gabriel had his shorts on backwards. I discretely pulled him aside, and told him he may want to visit our bathroom before we leave to fix the problem.

To which he replied, "Mom, we're going to church," As if that was supposed to answer the problem.

"The church doesn't look at the outward appearance, so I'll be fine. Nobody will laugh at me there."

If only that were always true...

“Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just Joking!

We had an afternoon full of laughter; it was wonderful! I took my children, along with my mother, to Barnes and Noble for a scavenger hunt.

Our favorite thing was visiting the joke books. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we purchased joke books for Titus and my dad. We figured they needed a good laugh.

I wanted to share with you each of the jokes we all chose.

From Gabriel: What side of the killer shark should you stay away from?
(The inside)

From Ariel: When do you go on red and stop on green?
(When you're eating a watermelon)

From my mom: What do you get when you cross a cat with a porcupine?
(An animal that goes meowch every time it licks itself)

And lastly from me: Knock, Knock
Who's there?
Allison
Allison who?
Allison to you after you listen to me. (Next time my kids aren't listening I'm so going to use this!)

And just for fun a few more from the book we found.

What do you call a cow that doesn't give milk?
(a milk dud)

What do you get when you cross a parakeet with a lawn mower?
(shredded tweet)

What do you call a very popular perfume?
(a best smeller)

Did you just pick your nose?
No. I've had it since I was born.

What did one math book say to the other math book?
I've got a lot of problems.

"A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired." Proverbs 17:22

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rindercella

Have you ever heard or read a good story full of spoonerisms? Sometimes my speech is full of them and it's not even intended. It's always done on accident!

If you aren't familiar with the term "spoonerism" it simply means you make an error in speech where corresponding consonants and vowels are switched.

Spoonerisms are not always done on accident. Sometimes the play on words can make a very stunny fory. Everyone is familiar with the story of Cinderella, but maybe not everyone is familiar with the story of Rindercella...

I heard this story as a young girl, and laughed till my sides hurt. If it's read properly, with the best pronunciation, it will literally make you laugh out loud!


Once apon a time, in a coreign fountry, there lived a geautiful birl and her name was Rindercella. Now, Rindercella lived with her mugly other and two sad blisters. Also in this same coreign fountry, there was a very prandsome hince.

Now this prandsome hince was going to have a bancy fall. And he invited the people for riles amound, especially the pich reople. Now Rindercella's mugly other and her two sad blisters, they went out to buy some drancy fesses to wear to this bancy fall. But Rindercella couldn't go because all she had to wear were some old rirty dags.

So, finally the night of the bancy fall arrived and Rindercella couldn't go, so she just cat down and shried. And she was kitten there shrien, when all at once there appeared before her, her gairy mudfather. And he touched her with his wagic mand ... and there appeared before her, a cig boach and hix white sorses to take her to the bancy fall. But he said, "Now, Rindercella, you be sure and be home before nidmight, or I'll purn you into a tumpkin!"

When Rindercella arrived at the bancy fall, this prandsome hince met her at the door because he had been watchin' all this time behind a wooden hindow. And Rindercella and the prandsome hince nanced all dight. And they lell in fove. And all at once, the mid clock struck night. And Rindercella staced down the rairs, and just as she beached the rottom, she slopped her dripper!

So, the next day this prandsome hince went all over this coreign fountry looking for the geautiful birl who had slopped her dripper. Finally he came to Rindercella's house. Well, he tried it on her mugly other and it fidn't dit. Then he tried it on her two sigly usters and it fidn't dit. Then he tried it on Rindercella and it fid dit. It was exactly the sight rize!

So they got married and lived heverly after hapwards. Now, the storal of the mory is this: If you go to a bancy fall and you want to have a pransome hince loll in fove with you, don't forget to slop your dripper!


 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sin: The Fat Lip

God speaks to me in the strangest places and times. He's always showing me things through my children.

Yesterday He gave me an illustration about sin.

So many times we think about sin as big, bad, and ugly. But often it's feels good, and seems like the right thing at the time.

It's not always even about that exact moment. It can be a symptom of a bigger issue, and we are deceived into believing it's about right now.

We may have people in our lives telling us we're up to no good, but we don't believe them. We are the ones right there feeling it, and dealing with it; we want to do, what we want to do.

It feels good; so it must be God, right?



Today Zechariah has a fat lip. He gave it to himself much to the dismay of those around him.

Yesterday we had an appointment with the dentist. Zechariah had his first cavity filled. The dentist went in and fixed the problem. But when he was fixing it; he had to numb Zechariah's mouth so he wouldn't feel any pain. God does the same thing for us. He sees an area where we've made some wrong choices, or bad things have happened to us, and He wants to reach in and help us out. He must first get to the root of the problem. This can be very painful, but He uses His powerful anesthesia while He works on us.

After the dentist was done, Zech came out into the waiting room with me. They told me to watch him closely because they noticed he kept biting down on his lip. This was going to result in much pain later.

I constantly would get on Zech for the biting; telling him how painful it would be in a couple of hours. He didn't care! He kept saying, "I like it. It feels good." and sometimes it was, "I need to get that gum off of there." He simply couldn't understand the numbness his mouth was experiencing. He interpreted the only way he knew how. It was a piece of gum stuck to his mouth, and it must be removed.

This went on for a few hours. They gave me extra cotton to put in his mouth, hoping it would keep him from biting down on his lip. It didn't work. He continually chewed the cotton like it was a piece of gum. It may have protected the lip a little bit, but it was still getting chewed every now and then.

The result was, hours later, he was left with a big fat lip. The picture doesn't even do justice to the pain he inflicted on himself. The inside is completely chewed up and swollen. He's having a hard time eating because his mouth won't open all the way.

I asked him over and over again to stop biting. I saw the blood dripping out of his mouth and understood the pain that would eventually come. Zechariah didn't understand and he persisted in hurting himself. No matter how many reasons I gave for not biting his lip, all he cared about was that it felt good right now. He couldn't see the long term pain it would cause him.

I'm sure you can already guess where I'm going with this. We have this issue in our lives, something so big we can't even fathom all the aspects of it. The wrong choices we make in our lives, the sin, is often a symptom of a larger issue. The sin is what we are doing to mask our pain. A lot of times, rather than deal with the original problem, we get a whole new set of problems.

And sin can feel oh so good at the time. People around us can see the path we're taking is going to lead where we don't want to go, but we are blinded by the immediate symptom that is staring us in the face. We want our quick fix to make us feel better. We don't realize the numbness is going to wear off and we're going to be stuck with a great big fat lip!

That's why God places friends and family in our lives. They help hold us accountable if they're doing their job right.

We need to be sensitive to those around us. We could be walking around with a potentially large fat lip. What if, instead of biting down during our numbness, we figured out what was really going on inside of us?

I'll use myself as an example. I've told you before, my weakness is my mouth. I use my words to hurt people, a lot of time, my own children. I have a short tempter, and I yell at them without much thought.

The thing is, most of the time, my short temper has nothing to do with my children. It's a symptom. Sometimes what's really going on is my feelings got hurt by someone else and I'm taking it out on them. Or maybe I'm worried about something that's coming up in the future and it feels better to yell. Or maybe I'm feeling guilty about something and I haven't confessed it to God.

When I yell at someone, because of some hidden pain inside of me, it's wrong. I need to deal with my numb feeling before me and my kids both end up with a fat lip. Our sin can cause others pain too. It's like the domino effect. I hurt them, so they hurt someone, who then goes on to hurt another person. We must be the domino that quits working. We need to work on ourselves before we inflict pain on another individual.

We must stop giving ourselves a fat, swollen lip. And if you see others around you who are biting down during their numbness, gently remind them of the pain to come. We must ask God to give clarity to our lives. He is the only true anesthesia.

"Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin's every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did." Romans 6:6-11

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Alphabet Hunt

It's been one of those days. Ever have them? Where everything seems to go wrong, and you're just in a bad mood? No matter how hard you try to do the right thing, stuff just doesn't work out. Say hello to my Monday.

I let the kids sleep in, which meant 11am for Gabe. 11am! We're talking most of the day is gone already. On the schedule for our summer fun we had planned to go to the Discovery Center, (our hands on children's museum full of fun and crafts). We finally make it there by 12pm, thinking we picked a great time. Everyone is gone to lunch. It won't be busy at all.

In fact, it was almost too quiet there. The parking lot was practically empty. Grr... It's Monday. Museums are always closed on Mondays. I didn't want to let it spoil our fun, so we all opted for our yearly trip to the museum trails for an alphabet hunt. The trails are open 7 days a week.

Everything was going to be great! We were looking on the bright side. The weather was beautiful, a little overcast, and nice cool temperatures. As we headed in the history museum's direction, I realized we left our bug spray at home. Normally, it lives in the glove compartment of my car for purposes such as these. However, we needed it over the weekend and it didn't get put away.

I was starting to get a little cranky, but still thought it would be fine. We would swing by a gas station; pick up some bug spray, maybe some bottles of water. Since it was lunch time I gave the kids the option of bringing McDonald's for a picnic now, or wait until after the hunt and we would get Hawaiian ice. They wanted lunch now.

Fine with me. I went to pay for my bug spray to find out it cost $10! Are you kidding me? $10 for bug spray! Grr... That did it! I could feel my temperature rising. I just wanted it to be an easy going Monday. Nothing that would require a lot of work on my part. And today was supposed to be our free day of the week!

As we headed to McDonald's I asked the kids if they need to go to the bathroom. Since it's Monday, we wouldn't be allowed inside the museum to use their restroom. I really didn't want to hear a yes. I wanted easy. I was thinking drive-through.

One yes. Not the end of the world, but I was feeling like we were headed in that direction. I took a deep breath and asked God for help. Nothing major had happened, but I was losing my patience very quickly. I wanted the trip to be over already.

Gabriel, my young man after God's own heart, reminded me to think about the good things. God was going to take care of us, and we were still going to have fun. This trip already had been fun for him.

I barked at him. "God doesn't always make everything good. Sometimes stuff just happens." What an encourager I was, looking at the bright side of things.

We quickly grabbed our McDonald's and were on our way. I noticed the clouds were looking a little dark, and asked God if He would please wait until we were done hunting. Zechariah answered me, "God said, yes!"

The afternoon turned out perfectly. God spoke to me through the mouths of my children. Sometimes adults need encouragement themselves instead of always being the encourager. It was beautiful to see how my kids responded to me. They certainly didn't let me feel sorry for myself. They changed my perspective.


We had an amazing afternoon together! During lunch we listened to our camp worship songs on my cell phone. One of them has fun actions, and we all got out of our seats and danced together. There is something so freeing about dance. We let loose out in the fields together and worshiped God.

After lunch Grandma joined us for our walk through the trails. Every year we like to take a couple hours and go on an ABC hunt. We find things in nature and take pictures. Each year we try to find something different than the year before. This is getting harder and harder as more years pass.

A is for Ant hill


B is for Bridge


C is for Creek


D is for Dead grass


E is for the Edge of the road


F is for Flowers


G is for Green Garbage in the Green Grass


H is for Hole


I is for Insect (It has been insect every single year!)






J is for Jump


K is for Kids


L is for Lacy Leaf


M is for Museum


N is for Nuts


O is for the letter "O"


P is for Pinecone (or some plant that looks like a pinecone)


Q is for the letter "Q"
Gabriel's "Q"

Ariel's "Q"


R is for Raindrops


Remember how Zech told me God said, yes. Well, it wasn't entirely yes. We had one point when we were on the trail where it rained. Luckily, we were in a tree filled area with a bench. The raindrops barely touched us, and the moment was rather peaceful. We took a break from our hunt and sat and listened to the soothing sound of raindrops falling on the leaves around. The moment was beautiful; aside from listening to my oldest son complaining about his dire need for water. He set out a cup to catch the drops but was rather disappointed when it didn't amount to anything. The rest of us enjoyed the rainfall.




S is for Straw


T is for Table


U is for Hanging Up on a Clothes Line (This was our favorite one!)


V is for Van


W is for Wagon


X is for nature's "X"


Y is for the letter "Y" (Made by Gabriel)


Z is for Zipping out of here! (Gabe's idea again. He was really ready to go home and get a glass of water.)


The day turned out perfectly! And as if that wasn't enough already, God had a bigger blessing in store for me. When we got back home, I checked my email as I often do when returning.

One of my favorite websites is Tip Junkie. I love all the crafts and information that is on there. On the 4th of July, they announced they would be giving away a Silhouette Cameo plus the Studio Edition Bundle worth $350. I've always wanted one of these machines, however, there was no way with those high prices I would ever justify buying one. I almost didn't enter because I figured it would be pointless. But something (God) told me, it never hurts to try. We should never stop hoping for things! When you stop hoping and believing for the best you are in for real trouble.

God is so much bigger than any hopes we could ever have. Always believe! I'm sure you can imagine what I'm about to say.

I won the random drawing! I was one person out of 1,966!! Those are some incredible odds there, but God still did it. The favor of the Lord is so amazing to me! I was sitting here discussing how big my cup was with my oldest son. His cup is about the size of a coffee mug. Mine is probably pretty comparative to his, however, God has probably filled that cup enough to fill my entire house, all 1300 square feet. I am overwhelmed by the blessings He gives. I never feel like I deserve it; yet He loves me enough to give beyond my simple imagination.

As my ten year old daughter would say, GOD ROCKS!!!! My day began rather ordinarily, but with God's touch, it has become extraordinary!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oriental Chicken Salad

My family has been eating this for years! I remember my mom making it when I was younger. It's easy to make, and tastes great! I am all about simple.

We made this for our friends last week, and got lots of compliments. Okay, the compliments were all from the same person, but who's keeping track? I figured it was reason enough for me to share it with all of you!


First you make the salad:

• ½ cup slivered almonds
• 2 tbs. sesame seeds
• 1 pkg. ramen noodles, crushed & uncooked (chicken flavored)
• Head of cabbage, shredded (Sometimes I cheat and purchase the already shredded package of cabbage. A purple head of cabbage makes the salad so much prettier!)
• 4 green onions, chopped
• 1 chopped, cooked chicken breast

Toast the almonds and sesame seeds in oven for 5 minutes. Let cool. (We have burned ours a couple times, and they still taste good.) Toss ingredients together; add chicken.

The Dressing:

• 2 tbs. sugar
• ½ cup oil
• 3 tbs. vinegar
• ½ tsp. pepper
• 1 tbs. salt
• Seasoning packet from ramen noodles.

In a separate bowl, mix together all ingredients of the dressing. You don't want to add the dressing until you are ready to serve the salad.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Kids Say the Darndest Things

As we were driving away from Wheatstate Camp, I texted my husband to let him know I was finally on my way home. One week can feel like a really long time when you're apart from your family. In truth, when I was gone the only time I remembered my husband and son that were left behind was during my one hour of free time. You are kept so busy. This is a good thing!

Titus told Zech, "Mommy's coming home today!"

"Mommy's coming home on this day?"

"Yeah, just a little bit after lunch."

"Oh yay, I missed her."

"I missed her too."

Zech thought about it and laughed, "We both missed her."

My first moments with Zechariah didn't go exactly as I had planned. He seemed mad at me and would hardly say anything except a quick, "I missed you." I get that from him every time I leave so I was hoping for something a little more heartfelt.

When it was getting close to bedtime, I finally got the response I needed. He was snuggled up to me in my bed. I told him he had until his dad came in the room, and then he would need to run to his own bed.

As we lay there together, he gave me a kiss on the cheek, put his arm around me, and said, "I thought you were gonna be gone forever. And number 2, I knew you were gonna come back."

I thought that was so sweet. It was like he knew in his head I would be back, but his heart was telling him something totally different.

Still snuggled together, I told him, "I missed being your mommy this week."

"Yeah, grandma was my mommy this week."

"Was she a good mommy?"

He didn't ponder this question for very long at all, "No. She said mean words to me."

"What did she say?" I was a little surprised at this.

"She said, 'you can't move there.' Then I didn't get to play the game."

You have to understand that Zechariah lives to play the game Trouble. I play this with him every single day, sometimes 2 or 3 games of it. He will even choose to play by himself. All you have to do is pick the color, and he will move all the pieces and roll the die for you. He's obsessed!

I guess when I was gone, he tried to play the game once with Grandma, and he was less than honest in the moving of his pieces. She told him he couldn't do it, and he was mad! So mad, in fact, that he threw a chair over. Needless to say, he didn't finish that game with her.

I had a good laugh about Grandma's mean words!


While we were snuggling some more together, he asked me if he could go to my class.

"My class?"

"Yeah, I like your class. Member, I went before?"

"Oh, you mean at church." About a month ago we used our class as a punishment for Zechariah. We thought he would be so bored by sitting with us in "big church" that he would be more than willing to obey so he could attend his own class. It didn't work. He liked the extra attention of sitting between mom and dad.

"You're my best friend. Am I your friend?" asked Zechariah.

"Yeah, we're friends."

"We are best friends. I want to go to your class and sit with my wife."

This got a laugh out of me, "You want to sit with who?

"My wife."

I had to ask again, "Who?"

"I want to sit with my wife. You are my wife because we're best friends."

After a wonderful week of camp, I was more than happy to come home to my best friends, Zechariah and Titus. God has blessed my life, and filled my cup to overflowing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Now What?

After something life changing like camp, you often are left with a hole when you come home. You feel different, but your life is the same. Something needs to change.

When I was sitting in one of the closing rallies at camp, the speaker began to talk about when she returned to her church, and the work she does with the children. She loves kids. The more she talked; I started to feel a jealousy creep in. I wanted that.

All my life I wanted to grow up and be a mom. Now that I am one, it's still my heart's biggest desire. I love children. All children. My own. My friend's kids. The kids at my children's school. There is something so rewarding in spending time with children.

You can be anyone with them. It doesn't matter if you're big or little, tall or short, skinny or fat, white or black... appearance has no weight with them. As long as you listen, be their friend, and show love to them, they will accept you just as you are.

During that closing rally, God started stirring something up in me. I didn't want camp to be the end with these kids. I wanted more time.

On Sunday, I went to church. God continued to speak to me; however, I was still feeling a little selfish. Working with kids is a big commitment. I didn't think I was going to be ready to make it. There's already so much I feel like I'm doing. How could God possibly ask me to commit to one more thing.

The sermon had three points to it. First, we must love those in front of us. This literally means anywhere you see a need. The second thing is we must be willing to serve those we don't have to. Service begins where obligation ends.

And the last point, the one that really hit home with me, give what you have. There are two kinds of people, givers and takers. Almost all of us believe we are the givers, when in fact, we take.

Worthless is not when you have nothing, it's when you're willing to give nothing.

Hearing a statement that had the word "worthless" in it really caught my attention. I had just struggled with that days earlier. God showed me my worth, and here I was fighting back saying, "I have nothing to give."

I was beginning to feel pretty selfish. God was asking me to give some of my time, and I was holding on to, hoarding it, as if it was mine to do with as I wished. I promised God I would listen to Him, and try to do what He said. Then moments later, I was taking it back?? Because it seemed like work?

So, I ran to our children's pastor and begged him to let me help out. Right? WRONG. I'm pretty stubborn sometimes. I just didn't want to make a commitment right now. I wanted to pray about it.

Sunday night was friendship group; more discussion on the morning's sermon, a time to dig in a little deeper.

"We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters." 1 John 3:16

Giving is a sign of what God has done in us. Our money, time & talents are all ways to give. Ouch! I was getting hit hard. Giving is a sign of what God has done in us? I had an awesome week where I came home feeling changed, like I was a new person. I didn't want my life to go back to the same exact way. I wanted to continue making a difference.

I have always felt called to work with elementary aged kids. I believe God hand-picked me for kid's camp this year, because this year it was time to start again. I've been feeling a pull in that direction for the past two years. Something happened, and I got discouraged. I let the enemy take away what I felt called to do. The sad part was I didn't even realize it. It had been sitting on the back burner for so long it had grown cold. I was convinced I was doing exactly what God wanted, yet I always felt like something was missing still.

I believe God's timing is perfect. He never pushes us. I totally stink at that. I'm not a patient person, and when I see someone struggling I want it fixed right here, right now. So what if you got barriers, I'm here to break them down. Aren't you glad I have no power, and that I'm not God? His timing is always perfect. He gets all the pieces and He starts putting them together one by one. I jump to the end too often. I start gluing them down thinking I have a 100 piece puzzle, when God has the masterpiece over 5000 pieces.

It wasn't until the end of our discussion on Sunday evening that I was finally convinced. I knew exactly what I needed to do for this moment in my life. I've already talked with our children's pastor. Steps have been taken; I have officially made the move to continue the work I began last week. I am so excited!

The most comfortable place you could ever sit is right in the middle of God's will. Have you ever been on the outside of His will? If you've ever been there, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. You can feel the difference. Life isn't the same there; it's full of discomfort, confusion, and heartache.

I'll leave you with the final two questions I had to answer on Sunday night. What are barriers you have that can keep you from giving? And how will you let the ideas of serving, love, and giving change the way you live tomorrow and next week?



Expedition Possible
Kid's Camp 2012
Worthless? Or Worthy?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Worthless? Or Worthy?

"I may be weak. But Your Spirit's strong in me. My flesh may fail, but my God, You never will. Give me faith. To trust what You say. That You're good, and Your love is great. I'm broken inside. I give You my life." -Elevation Worship

WOW! God always comes through for me. No matter how imperfect I am, God sees potential in me and He carries me through.

I learned something about myself this last week at kid's camp. My flesh fails me, and that is okay. Seems rather simple, huh? This was a huge lesson I learned! This post is going to be a bit more personal than the last two I shared with you. God got really serious with me, and I was at a point that I could hear Him, and listen.

If you remember, I told you everything we do at camp is worth points. That includes good behavior, showing up to things on time, the games we play, Bible reading and memory verses. It's all worth something.

For me at kid's camp, the competition was a little bit difficult. I didn't try to stress the points too much with my girls. I'm not saying we didn't try our best out there; we gave it our all! I tried to keep the focus off of winning, and placed it more on why we were there. The idea behind all the games was to have fun, not to find out who is the most athletic out of us. The idea behind the scriptures wasn't to see who was most spiritual, but to get God's word into our lives. I felt that we were succeeding by God's standards.

If you remember, I said this was a first time for me as a coach. I was a little overwhelmed by the end of the week just trying to keep track of all 13 of my girls. I was tired.

It wasn't until our last free time of the last night, when I remembered that I hadn't turned our points in yet. I never had time to do it each day, and I planned to write it down all at once. When I headed over to the office, I was met with an empty wall. The chart was gone!

Someone was in the office, so I explained to them that I was a new coach, and I needed to turn in my points. Was it too late? She sent me to another lady who was in charge. I went through the explanation again; could I please turn in the points for my girls?

Her annoyed response was this, "The deadline has already passed. You should have been paying more attention." Then she grabbed my piece of paper with all my information and said in a very stern voice, "This is totally worthless. Would you like me to throw it away for you? Or would you like to do it yourself?"

I mumbled something about keeping it for my girls, and walked off.


Oh my goodness! I felt like I was two inches tall. I messed up so big. I thought I was the biggest failure walking around that camp. My girls were all counting on me, and I dropped the ball. Why didn't I pay attention more? Why didn't I turn my points in everyday?

As the questions and thoughts kept coming to me, an entire week of emotions flooded me. I sobbed as I ran back to my cabin. Luckily, I'm the only one with a key, and the girls were at their free time where I'm technically not needed. I was trying to build relationships with them so I always followed them around all week during free time. This time, I took the time for myself and did what any normal girl would do when her feelings were hurt. I called my mom.

I was crushed. I felt like the woman had just called me and my girls worthless. It's amazing how the devil can twist things around. At the time, all that kept running in my head was, "you're totally worthless. Worthless. WORTHLESS." In actuality, it was the paper she was referring to, but my delicate feelings couldn't make out the difference right then.

It took me the entire night to push through this. I was back with my girls, and none of them seemed the wiser. I had a good cry, and I was able to stay in the shadows for the few minutes we were together so they couldn't see that something was bothering me. Only one of my girls was able to see my pain, and I simply told her I got my feelings hurt. Something she understood perfectly; I had already consoled her a couple times that week.

My mom had suggested I talk with the coach's pastor, Rick, but I never would see him walking around. The only time I had contact with him was during our morning meetings, and we were leaving camp the next day. I didn't think there was much of a chance of me running into him.

About 10 minutes before lights out, we heard a knock on our door. When I opened it, who do you think it was? There Rick stood, with a paper in hand, trying to get ready for our exit the next day. I pulled him aside, and explained what had happened.

He was so encouraging to me! He told me over and over again, thank you, for all the work I was doing. He assured me I was making a difference in these girls. I also got the reason behind the statement. He wasn't excusing her rudeness, but he wanted me to know what she was implying. If you remember, we are competing in super teams, not individual cabins. (I didn't know this at the time.) There was a super team that had basically blown all other teams out of the water they had so many points. She had already tallied things up and there was no way one cabin was going to change things. Knowing this helped a little bit. But I still felt the sting of her words.

I have struggled all my life with perfection. I abide strictly by the rules. I try to be perfect to a fault. This was no exception.

I had all my girls tucked into bed, and I headed off for a shower. I've said it before, the shower is my sanctuary. I have my most vulnerable conversations with God there. I cried out to Him that night. I sobbed, and asked Him why?

No one can make you feel unworthy unless you already believe it yourself.

I needed a God encounter, and I wasn't going to bed unless I got it. I asked God over and over again, "Am I worthless? Because tonight I sure do feel like it." It was in my brokenness that God showed up.

I couldn't put two and two together by myself, but God spelled it out. He showed me that, yes, that paper was worthless. It doesn't matter how I stack up to someone else, or how my girl's cabin stacks up to another one. What matters is our heart, and where it's at. I gave 200% at camp, and He blessed me for it. When I cried out about my worth, God simply dropped my name before me.

The previous week, I was at my book study with friends, and we were discussing what our names mean. My name is Amanda which means "worthy of being loved". I was simply speechless. The tears ran, and my heart mended back together again. Only God can do that! He can take what the enemy uses to destroy us, and He can turn it into something beautiful.

I am so thankful that my God is bigger than any enemy out there. My God can heal a broken heart. Who else can claim that? My flesh may fail, but, MY God, You NEVER will.

I've been saving this until the very end. This is the icing on the cake! I was still feeling pretty bad for the girls I had let down, but God showed me that I never let them down. So what! We didn't get our points. We did get out of the week what we were supposed to. We developed our relationship with God and each other more. That was the goal and purpose behind camp, remember?

When I was in my sanctuary, I asked God for one thing. Could He please prove to me in some tangible way that I was doing the right thing? That I didn't fail this week? It's all good to hear from Him, and feel Him in a personal way, but I wanted proof. Have you ever done that to God? Just asked Him to prove Himself to you?

During the closing rally at the camp, one boy and one girl is chosen to represent all the campers. This camper is chosen because they exhibited the fruits of the spirit this week.

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23

On Thursday, all coaches have to nominate a boy or girl from their cabin who they feel best exhibited the fruits of the spirit. I didn't miss out on this deadline! In my cabin we had two girls who did a phenomenal job. One of the two girls was chosen last year for this award, so we felt like we should choose the other one, which happened to be my daughter, Ariel.

Later in the day, all the nominees were interviewed individually by Rick and Tony (our worship leader). This ends up being around 20 kids chosen out of 400! They narrow that down, and chose first a runner-up who is given a half scholarship to attend camp the next summer. Then they chose the 1st place girl and boy who are both given a full scholarship to camp.

I was so proud of my daughter for getting nominated. She worked really hard! Some of the characteristics I saw her display were:

• She had a positive attitude and wanted to participate in everything. When she was sitting out, she would cheer on her fellow teammates!

• I never heard her complain about another girl, and no other girl came to me complaining about her.

• She loves worship, and prayer, and always prayed for her friends during altar time. She sits attentively in all the services.

• When we asked for a volunteer to pray, she was always the first to raise her hand.

• During devotions she would take notes. She got excited about memorizing her scripture verses and Bible reading.

• She always helped clean up the cabin, without even being asked.

• I never heard a single complaint all week long!


When it came time to announce the fruit of the spirit winners, I was so nervous. In fact, I was so nervous I didn't even want to videotape. I knew my daughter had done well in my eyes, and I was proud of her. She was doing a great job of following in Jesus' footsteps.

I'm kicking myself now for not getting a video. My daughter won the first place fruit of the spirit award!! It was then that God whispered in my ear again. You are worthy of my love. You did what I asked this week, and you made a difference in these girls lives. No competition could prove that to you. I don't lie, and I will never fail you. I cried like a baby!


Sometimes God proves Himself in ways we never would expect.


On a funny side note, I asked her brother later that day, "Did you see that Ariel got the fruit of the spirit award?"

"Yeah. And I'm a little confused because she is so mean. They must not have seen her throw that mud water at me!" Spoken like a true brother...

"I may be weak. But Your Spirit's strong in me. My flesh may fail, but my God, You never will. Give me faith. To trust what You say. That You're good, and Your love is great. I'm broken inside. I give You my life."

Thank you, God for mending my broken heart. Give me faith to trust everything that you say. Show me how to ignore all the words that have no meaning in my life. Thank you for calling me worthy. I love you.

Expedition Possible
Kid's Camp 2012
Now What?