Monday, July 30, 2007

5 Minutes for Mom is Giving Away a 37" Flat-Panel LCD HDTV

Seriously! 5 Minutes for Mom and Best Buy are teaming up for this great give-away and you can enter to win, too. If you want to decrease my chances at winning and getting this great TV for my new home *sniff, sniff* follow this link for all the details!

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Moving Forward

Brian and I worked so hard last week! My forearms are sore from the scrubbing, sanding, and painting but it's looking good around here. There are so many spiritual lessons to be learned from getting a house ready to sell - I have in mind to write them down so I can share them here sometime. But I've no time to do it just now...
The kids are all home now, and are actually excited about the move. (Mixed with an expected amount of sadness.) The For Sale sign is in the front yard. And this week we focus on packing, as next week we'll be gone and soon after we get back we'll be closing on our new house and moving in. Can anyone say, Wow, this is going fast!!!

On another front, I did do something unrelated to the house last week. I had lunch with a woman who heads up a moms group so we could get to know each other a bit and discuss the possibility of me coming and speaking for those moms in the fall. We had a great time together. She asked me about my talks and I told her about one which I have yet to write, but which God has been laying on my heart for quite awhile. She thought it sounded great and asked if I would come in the fall to share my fist talk and again in the spring to share the one that's still in my heart, waiting to be written. I am so excited. Now I have a "reason" to write this talk and it may also be the motivation I need to complete my next book. (Which, for the record, received almost no attention last week!) Though I'm tired from all this *moving stuff*, I am still in love with God and excited about what He's doing.

Have a blessed day. (Or week...not sure when I'll post again!)

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's a Go!

I mentioned Sunday that I was open to the possibility God would give us a great new house by moving in the seller to accept our low-ball offer. Well, the seller countered and Monday we went to look at the house again to decide if we wanted to make a new offer. (Brian calls this negotiating process a dance. I didn't realize we were going to be doing the Tango!)
As I walked through the house, totally loving it, I asked God if this was the place He wanted us to live. When it came time to decide on our offer I was content to "risk" it by only going up a little bit. If we didn't get the house, I was trusting God was behind the decision. Well, the seller didn't budge on his counter offer and I was content, believing it to be God's answer.
Shortly after we told our realtor we weren't going to accept the counter offer, things started happening. They asked us to meet in the middle, and a host of other things from which I'll spare you the details lest my head start spinning again.
We were at the point of considering coming up a little bit more but were wondering, What if God was closing a door today and now we're re-opening it? I wanted this move to be God-led. I wanted His best. If His best was for us to stay right here, that was fine with me. And if it was for us to move, that's what I wanted to do. But we just weren't sure to how to know if this new line of negotiation was God moving, or us.

Ultimately we came up a little bit in our offer and before we called it in we prayed, telling God we didn't want this house if it wasn't what He knew was best for us. We asked Him to close the door again, if He had in fact closed it earlier in the day. We begged Him to protect us from doing something stupid. Then we called our realtor.
A few minutes later he called us back saying the seller wanted us to come up another thousand dollars. Yes, just one thousand dollars. We said, NO WAY. We had just asked God to close the door if necessary and there was no way we were going to move to open it.
Well, Tuesday evening we got the call that our offer had been accepted. We're getting the house! I can hardly believe it. The kids are each going to have their own bedroom. Brian and I are going to have our own bathroom. The basement is finished and will be a great place for the kids to hang out with their friends. It has a huge yard. And we're going to have an extra bed in my office (right now my "office" is a corner of the kids' playroom!) sooooo, anytime one of my bloggy friends wants to come to Michigan, I'll have a place for you to stay! *hint, wink*

We'll close on the house in a few weeks and right now we're in a mad dash to get our current house ready to sell. For the past two days I have been patching and sanding, washing walls, moving furniture and deep cleaning, sorting, and throwing away. Today painting is on the agenda. Today I am also going to call and get the kids registered in the new school district. It's hard to believe this is all happening, and so quickly. School starts in less than six weeks, and in that time we'll be getting this house ready to sell, settling into a new house, helping the kids get acquainted with their new digs and meeting new friends.
My posting here will surely be sporadic (I've been wanting to write this post since Tuesday night!) and brief, at best. I would certainly appreciate your prayers, especially for my kids as they adjust to new schools!
Thanks so much. I love you!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ Spouse Encounter

Oh, what fun. This week Annie is taking us back to the first time we met our spouse. She asks, Was it love at first sight? Or did it take a little longer... I love the story of how Brian and I met and usually make him tell it, but today I'm telling the story.

In all honesty, though I remember the occasion, I don't remember specifically meeting Brian the first time we met because it happened at a time when I was meeting lots of new people. It was September in 1989 and Brian and I were both freshmen at Western Michigan University, living in the same dorm.
The Resident Advisor on my floor talked to me about serving on the Hall Council and I agreed to be the Programming Committee Chairperson. I like planning activities and being involved and thought Hall Council sounded like a good way to do both those things. Little did I know how taking on that role would lead to a major life change for me!
One floor up, the Resident Advisor on Brian's floor talked Brian and his roommate (Jeff) into being Floor Representatives. This role wouldn't involve much commitment. They'd just have to choose a committee in which to participate and help out here and there. Brian had no idea this low-commitment activity would eventually lead to a life-time commitment!

So there we were at the first Hall Council meeting of the year. Hall Council consisted of three committees and at the first meeting, each of the committee chairs stood up and described our committee so the floor reps could choose the one on which they wanted to serve. Brian and Jeff chose to be on the Programming Committee, and that's when we met. So, you see, I was meeting lots of new people that night, which is why I don't specifically remember meeting Brian.
Here's the kicker - and the reason I like this story so much - Brian chose my committee, not because he was interested in planning activities for the dorm but because he thought I was cute!!! Nope. No real desire to make the dorm a fun and enriching place to live. He just thought the chairperson was hot! (Now do you know why I like it when he tells this story?)
Since Brian was on my committee I would stop and talk with him whenever I saw him working at the front desk in the dorm. I got to know him and thought he was a really nice guy. Eventually my interest in him grew and I slyly used our connection on the Programming Committee to spend more time with him. (Alone, even!) hee hee By November we were "an item" and the rest is history!
I'm so glad Brian's RA convinced him to be a floor rep. If he hadn't done that, who knows how my life would be different???
Please visit Annie for more Time Travel Tuesday fun!

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Welcoming Lap

OK, the kids are all in bed and all their bags are packed. Tomorrow morning at approximately 8:00 we're hitting the road to deliver them to their "good week" destinations. Elizabeth is going to camp, while Joshua and Matthew will be spending the week up north with my mom and dad. I just know this week is going to be filled with great things for each of them and I am thankful for the memories they'll be creating.
Back here at home, Brian and I will surely enjoy some time alone in peace. Of course, I am open to the possibility that God will give us a great new house by moving in the seller to accept the ridiculously low offer we've submitted, which would mean Brian and I will use this week to clean, purge, and fix up our house - taking advantage of a kid-free week. However, what I'm really hoping for is some time to focus on my current writing project.
Not sure if I've mentioned it here in my blog, but I'm working on a new book. This time I am writing a devotional in which I share stories of how God shows Himself to me through my children. Tonight I'm going to include one entry here for you to preview. I'm calling this one, A Welcoming Lap.

It was a cloudy, cool summer afternoon in northern Michigan. I had my kids and my niece with me and we were at a lake. Because we were up north and because they are kids, my little charges felt it a necessity to go swimming. I, on the other hand, being a reasonable adult, realized it was just too much on the cool side of summer to actually get wet. Let the kids swim if they must, but I was content to sit on the beach wrapped up as much as I could be in a towel, trying to ignore the goose bumps surfacing all over my body.
After a fair amount of running, yelling and splashing, Matthew left the water and approached me. He was feeling the chill of the air on his wet skin and wanted to wrap up in a towel so he could sit on my lap to soak up some of my warmth. I observed the goose bumps rising on his skin, listened to his chattering teeth, considered how cold he must be, and thought, No way!
I didn’t want Matthew to sit on me and get me wet, too. He was the one who made the choice to go swimming, not me. Hadn’t I made it clear enough at the start? I was willing to take the kids to the beach, but I wasn’t going to be getting wet! Besides, I didn’t think I had any warmth to share. Having Matthew sit on my lap would only serve to make me colder than I was already.
But he stood there and looked at me. Water was dripping from his chin and ear lobes, his little body was shivering, and his eyes spoke ever so softly, “Mommy, can I please sit on your lap?” What could I do? I had to let him sit on my lap.
As I opened my arms and welcomed (albeit reluctantly) my cold little boy onto my less-than-warm lap, I thought about how God accepts me. I come to Him broken and needy. I struggle with selfishness, irritability, impatience, and a lack of self-control. As much as I desire to be a reflection of my Lord to the world around me, I know I fail to do it. And He knows it, too. Yet He accepts me.
Isn’t it wonderful to know we don’t have to be acceptable in order to be accepted? God knows who He wants us to be. He who began a good work in us will see it through to completion. God knows the trials through which we’ll need to go in order for us to be mature and complete. He will bring just the right amount of adversity into our lives so we may become holy, even as He is holy. Yes, He has a vision of who we will be when His work in us is finished.
I so want to be the woman God wants me to be!
But I’m not there yet.
And God knows it.
Ever so graciously, God accepts us right where we are. He patiently and perfectly works in our lives so we may become more like Him. Our job is not to become acceptable. Our job is to trust in God and cooperate with His Spirit as He makes us acceptable.
Sitting on the beach with Matthew on my lap, I prayed and thanked God for accepting me onto His lap in any condition in which I come to Him. I don’t need to be dry and warm.

Your Turn:
Do you believe God accepts you just as you are, or do you sometimes think you need to clean yourself up so He’ll love you? If God accepts you as you are, and is working to make you into the woman He wants you to be, what would He say to you about how He sees you right now? What would He say about His vision for you? Imagine what His words would be, and write yourself a letter from Him. Then spend time in prayer thanking God for His love and committing yourself to cooperating with Him as His Spirit works to transform you.

God is so good! I pray you are encouraged today as you consider how much He loves you!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Jesus' Calm, Quiet Confidence, Part 2

Last week I wrote about Jesus calm, quiet confidence in the midst of difficult or uncertain circumstances. This morning I was reminded of His confident nature again, as I read Matthew 14:13-21 where Jesus feeds 5,000+ people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.
The disciples saw the large crowd and the small amount of food and wanted to send the people away to get something to eat. I can imagine them saying to one another, "We've got to send these people away to get food. There are so many of them and it's time to eat. They aren't even thinking about dinner, they just want Jesus to heal them. When they realize how hungry they are and that there's nothing here, they're likely to get unruly. What should we do? Let's tell Jesus to send them away - they'll listen to Him."
But Jesus simply said, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." (Mt. 14:16) Can you imagine the disciples' reaction? Matthew 14:17 says, "'We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,' they answered." I, however, would guess their response (if only within their own heads) was more like, "Are you kidding, Jesus? Five thousand people. Five loaves of bread and two fish. Do the math. It isn't enough!" Yet Jesus wasn't worried. He made it enough. No, He made it more than enough! Without getting upset or anxious Jesus took what the disciples had, gave thanks for it, broke it and gave it back, and it satisfied everyone. With calm, quiet confidence Jesus displayed His power again.

So, a few days ago, as I was thinking about how God is repeating this lesson to me about Jesus being completely and perfectly in control of everything, my mind started wondering...I wrote, Yes, part of me wonders if You are preparing me for something big - in which I will really need to know You are in control. (being sarcastic now)...As if I can handle the small stuff on my own and only need You for the big deals. O, No! I need You for everything, Jesus!
I realized my tendency to look to God for the "big stuff" and the implied notion that I don't need Him for the every-day-boring-run-of-the-mill-not-a-big-deal aspects of life. Not so, friends. God is involved in every boring detail of our lives and I am so thankful He patiently leads me and speaks to me until I "get it."

I closed my first post about this subject asking about the storms which may be brewing in your life. Today I remind us both that Jesus is just as present and powerful in the gentle breeze as He is in the storm!

Have a wonderful day!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ Camp!!!

Oh, yea! This week Annie is inviting us to travel back to summer camp. Annie asks, What is your favorite memory(s)from summer camp? My daughter is leaving for camp next Monday, and thinking about her experience to come brings back lots of fun memories.
I went to summer camp at Camp Greenwood in Gowen, Michigan. My first year of camp was when I was nine years old, just after fourth grade, and I loved it from the start. My mom told me she missed me so much that first time (It was a short camp, just four days/three nights.) and when she came to pick me up I almost made her cry because I told her to go home - I was having too much fun at camp and wanted to stay.
Seven summer camp experiences have filled me with lots of memories, but I'll try to pick just a few to share here, lest your eyes get tired from too much reading!

...I loved all my counselors, but especially Barbie. She was my counselor three years in a row. I sang in her wedding and we still exchange Christmas cards, twenty-one years after our last camp experience together!

...One of the years Barbie was my counselor she told us to bring buckets and shovels to camp, from McDonald's Happy Meals. She supplied the vanilla ice cream and Oreo cookies and one night at camp we made our own Cookies'n'Cream ice cream and ate it with the shovels out of the buckets - in celebreation of the Oreo cookie's 75th anniversary.

...It was at Greenwood I learned to play, "Honey, if you love me." This is how the game works: Everyone sits in a circle and the player who is It tries to get someone to smile by saying, "(Annie) if you love me, would you please smile?" The reply is, "(Karen), I love you, but I'm sorry. I just can't smile." And, of course, this line is delivered without smiling. Then the player who is It gets to lay it on a little thicker. eg, "(Annie) if you really, honestly and truly love me, won't you please just give me a little smile?" The reply, again without smiling, "(Karen) I do really, honestly and truly love you. But I just can't smile for you." Finally, the player who is It can touch the "victim" - tickling their chin or cheek, or holding their hand - and say something like, "Oh, (Annie), you're breaking my heart. Please, if you love me, pleeeease won't you smile for me?" In the same fashion, the reply would be something like, "(Karen) I surely don't want to break your heart, and I do love you. But I just can't smile for you."
If the victim is successful and doesn't smile, the player who is It has to try on someone else. If the victim smiles, he or she becomes It.
I now enjoy playing this game with my second and third grade girls at the end of Sunday school. Every week they ask, "Can we play Honey, if you love me?"

...I also have fun memories around the waterfront. Learning how to canoe, having the boys from one of the cabins come around and swamp all our canoes, the greased watermelon contest, and learning some synchronized swimming.

...Of course my favorite summer camp memory is when I was a counselor and Brian proposed to me. But that may be a visit for a future Time Travel Tuesday, so I'll save it!

Yes, summer camp is awesome. Thanks, Annie, for bringing us here! Be sure to visit Annie to read about other summer camp memories.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

A New Day

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. The are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Lamentations 3:19-24

I am so thankful for a new day, for new compassion and God's everlasting faithfulness. Because last night was a pretty rotten night.
My kids have been on a kick lately of doing a portion of a job and then stopping, saying, "I've done enough." They don't want to do one iota more of work than someone else. And if I ask them to pick up something which isn't "theirs" you can be sure there is going to be an argument. Needless to say, I am very tired of it.
I have even considered doing childish things to drive home my point that we're a family - and functioning as a family means doing things for other people and even putting away things you didn't get out or use last. I have thought about starting to make dinner and then saying, "I've done enough," and leaving the kitchen. Maybe when they're all really hungry they would get the point. Or maybe I could sort the laundry and then stop without ever washing, drying, folding, and returning everyone's clothes. When Joshua asks if I've washed his favorite shirt I would just say, "No. I've done enough." Maybe that would teach them.
Anyway...Last night after dinner my husband ran an errand with our neighbor but before he left, he instructed the kids to clean up the messes they had around the house. They started off OK, but it wasn't long before the I've done enough mentality took over. I talked to them about functioning as a family and even told them my ideas about how I could take on the I've done enough attitude, hoping if they just thought about it they would change their attitudes and work together.
Nice try, Karen.
Eventually the house did get picked up, but not before the kids did quite a lot of bickering - with me and with each other - and not before I was really tired of dealing with the arguments. Then Brian got home, asking, "So, how did clean up go?" Impeccable timing, dear.
When it was time for the kids to get ready for bed, the trouble continued. I will spare you the details. The bottom line is, I was in tears. I was resenting my kids for acting their age and I was upset with myself for having that attitude. In the midst of it all God was reminding me how much I love them and how blessed I am to have them, and I was a mess of mixed up emotions.

But this morning I woke up to a new day, with new compassion. I've been humming that song, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning, great is Your faithfulness, O, Lord. Great is Your faithfulness.
Yes. It is a new day. I am loved by God. And I love my children.
Have a great day!

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

God's Smile

Oh, so many things I want to share with you today. More about Jesus’ calm, quiet confidence; thoughts from the sermon I heard this morning; excerpts from the new book I’m writing. But those entries will have to wait. (Yes, you may consider this to be a preview of my blog this week…Of course, I am a woman and I reserve the right to change my mind at any given moment!) For now I have settled on talking about the sweet thing God did yesterday.
Brian and I and the kids spent the afternoon and evening yesterday visiting a friend of ours who lives on a lake. This friend is single and has no children so she was eager to share the fun of being on a lake with my kids. After the kids ran through her house and admired the space and the view of the lake, we all got our suits on and boarded the boat. (Though I honestly had no intention of getting into the water! It was just too cold, IMHO.) We rode around on the lake for awhile and stopped at one place to swim. Brian and Elizabeth got into the water, but the boys and I opted to stay dry. Another time Matthew got into the water, too, and as I visited with my friend I could tell Joshua wasn’t really enjoying himself. However, I was hopeful he would perk up when we went back to the house and he got to go fishing.
Upon our return, I found my hopes fading. Joshua was a bit cold, he was bored from waiting for everyone to be ready to leave the swimming hole, he couldn’t find any worms for bait, and he had a headache. (Which I’m pretty sure was a physical manifestation of his attitude and disappointment.) I helped Joshua look around for worms, but only found bugs, so he set off to fish with his rubber worms and other lures. However, the fish in that lake are not like the fish in the river by our house and they showed absolutely no interest in Joshua’s offerings. He was very disappointed and I was sorry for his frustration. I so wanted him to be collecting fun memories rather than regret. However, try as I might, I couldn’t do anything to help him.
Then, from out of nowhere, Elizabeth called out, “I found a worm!” Joshua ran off the dock to get his prize and promptly threaded it on his hook. I think he was back on the dock, line cast and ready, in less than a minute. This was all very nice, and I was so pleased with Elizabeth for finding that worm but in all honesty, I thought, It’s the middle of the afternoon and boats are going all over the water. What is the chance he’s going to get a nibble, even if he does have a real worm? Oh, me of little faith.
Just moments after I let that thought go through my head, Joshua called out, “There’s a really big fish over here!” I was truly surprised, as we hadn’t seen any fish all day. I started praying. God, I know this really isn’t a big deal. Catching fish really isn’t important. But if You would just let Joshua catch that fish, oh, he would be so happy.
I knew nothing major would benefit from such a catch. World peace would still be an issue. Gas prices would still be way too high. And chances are the debate over cloth vs. disposable diapers would continue. But I also knew catching a big fish would make a world of difference in Joshua’s day and I knew God could let it be if He wished.

He wished.

Joshua quickly and carefully walked off the dock, proudly displaying the very large Large Mouth Bass he’d just hooked. He relished in his feat for a moment before releasing his catch, since no one knew how to cook it and no one wanted to clean it. None of that mattered. Joshua was just thrilled to have caught this very large fish.
After the bass, Joshua caught several little Blue Gill and there was a noticeable spring in his step. His headache went away, too! Later in the evening, as we were eating dinner, Joshua was talking about how cool it was that he'd caught such a big fish. I told him I had asked God to let him catch it. He smiled and said, "Thank you." I smiled back and said, "Thank God!" He did.
Since Joshua was feeling better after dinner, he decided to join in on the other fun everyone was having - which included tubing with Elizabeth and Matthew behind the boat. Oh, did they ever have a great time! As I watched my kids bouncing over the water on the tubes, admired the huge smiles on their faces, thought about the new experiences they were having, and remembered that very large bass, I thanked God for the wonderful day we were having and His favor in the fish department.
I have a friend who would say God smiled at my family yesterday. He did sweet things and poured out blessings on us which were totally unnecessary. We didn't need or deserve any of it. I think the whole day was a sweet expression of His love, and I am so thankful for His smile.
How have you noticed Him smiling at you?

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Laughing with Purpose

As parents we're supposed to give our kids cultural experiences to grow them and make them well rounded individuals, right? Like take them to art museums and cultural festivals and symphonies? Do shows with Christian comedians count?

Last night Brian and I took our kids to church to see Keith Deltano. We explained to the kids that a comedian is someone who makes you laugh. They thought that sounded OK. When we told them there was going to be ice cream after the event, they were sold.
What we didn't know was that Keith would have such a great message to present in the midst of the laughter he brought to us. He shared about his past and what he went through with pride and prejudice - thinking he was better than that kid from the south. Keith was very funny and related well with the audience. He has been a sixth grade teacher and worked in ministry with kids, and while his presentation was enjoyable for the adults in the audience it was also totally appropriate and relavent for the kids. We had some good conversation with our kids about the content afterwards.

If you ever have the opportunity to see Keith in your area, I highly recommend going!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Jesus' Calm, Quiet Confidence

Have you ever had a season of being drawn to a particular quality in Jesus? I am always impressed by His compassion and patience. However, over the past couple of weeks I have been also noticing His calm, quiet confidence and am wanting more and more to emulate that characteristic.

When Jesus was a boy He stayed behind at the Temple in Jerusalem while Mary and Joseph, unknowingly, went on without Him. Discovering they were missing Jesus, Mary and Joseph went back to look for Him. Finding Jesus in the Temple Mary said, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxioulsy searching for you." (Luke 2:48) And Jesus responded (as I read it) very calmly, perhaps matter-of-factly, "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49)
And in Luke 4 when Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, I see Him - again - responding confidently as He relies on the Word of God.
In Luke 5 Jesus calls the first disciples and I am again drawn to His confidence. Jesus tells Simon to put out the boat, drop the net to catch fish (though the men had been working hard all night without any success), and when the men are shaking at Jesus' feet He simply says, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." (Luke 5:10b)
Finally, this morning I was reading Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm. In the midst of the storm Jesus was asleep on a cushion, not because He didn't care but because He simply wasn't afraid. In calm, quiet confidence Jesus commanded the wind and waves to calm down and they did just as He said.

I noticed when there was turmoil around Him (Mary's anxious words, Satan's tempting, the fearful fishermen, the furious squall), Jesus remained calm. He knew His Father, the Word, His mission, and His authority, and He had perfect confidence in them. Oh, I want to have that kind of confidence in my Jesus!
This morning I wrote, Lord, I believe You are able to handle the situations around me. And I went on to write them out. Some of them my issues and some of them other people's issues about which I am praying. I continued, Well, that's quite a list - but I know it doesn't overwhelm You or cause You to fret and worry. Thank You, Lord! I pray You'll move in me to bring me to the place of trust where I will be calm and have a quiet confidence because I know in the depths of my heart You are in control and will work out all the details.

I wonder what storms are brewing in your life today. May Jesus' calm, quiet confidence be yours and bring you peace today. Jesus, draw me close. Please make me more like You.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ First Car Experience

This week Annie is asking about first cars and early driving experiences. She asks, What was your first car? Do you have an interesting experience to share about learning to drive or about your first driving experiences?

Hmmm. My first car car was a Cutlass Ciera. I don't know what year, but I remember it was silver and had maroon interior. To be honest, I didn't care much. It was a car and it got me around. That's all I really needed.
What I do remember is my first experience driving in a car full of adults. It was also one of the few times I ever yelled at my dad...
I took driver's training during the summer and had just gotten my learner's permit. My family and I were up north in Gaylord, MI for the weekend at my parents' cottage, along with one of my high school principals and his wife. Saturday was grey and yucky so we decided to go into town to find something to do. Everyone thought it would be great practice for me to do the driving, and I agreed. Only, when we got into town I discovered the problem with this great idea. Being that it was a grey and yucky day, no one wanted to go to the lake so everyone decided to drive into town. Wow, the streets were very crowded.
I did alright with the four adults telling me when to stop and when to go, when to turn and when to straighten out. However, by the end of the afternoon I'd had just about all the "coaching" I could handle.
We stopped at a gas station to fill up and as I was getting ready to pull out of the parking lot I was a bit overwhelmed by all the traffic. I'll admit there were several times I could have made the right turn into an open lane, but I wasn't confident enough to make the turn without both lanes being clear. My dad kept saying, "You can turn now," or, "You could have gone there." Finally I looked at him and yelled, "I'll go when I am good and ready to go!"

He didn't say anything else for the rest of the drive.

It's hard to believe that all took place 20 years ago. I'm glad I got better at making tight turns. Saves me a lot of time now!
Visit Annie for more Time Travel Tuesday driving tales.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

My First Interview!

A couple months ago I received an e-mail from Carrie Lauth, of Natural Moms Talk Radio, asking me if I would be interested in doing an interview with her on her program. I immediately thought, Oh, that would be fun! I would love to do an interview. But before I accepted I thought I really should learn more about the program to see if I would be a good fit for them.
As I listened to other interviews and clicked through some of the links on the website I began to wonder if I would be a suitable guest. So many of the other guests talked about *natural* things. Organic foods, breastfeeding, eco-friendly tips, etc. I have no problem with any of those topics, but they aren't the focus of my book or the things about which I speak.
I talked about it with my husband (a.k.a. my Voice of Reason) and he said, "Hey, you're a mom and you get irritable. That's natural!" Carrie was sure the women in her audience would benefit from what I would share, so I agreed to do the interview.
A couple of weeks ago I sat on my bed, recording the interview with Carrie over the phone. It was fun and I'm so glad I did it. I am not sure if the women who normally listen to Natural Moms Talk Radio are Christians, but I am praying God will speak to the hearts of each one who hears my interview. Lord, You know each woman who will tune in to that interview and I pray You'll use my words to deliver hope. Be glorified, Lord!
If you would like to hear the interview (It lasts about 15 minutes.) you can link to it here.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Five Things I Dig About Jesus (a meme)

Continuing the meme started by John Smulo at Smulo Space.

John started a meme called Five Things I Dig About Jesus.

Here’s how it works:
Those tagged will share five things they dig about Jesus.
Those tagged will tag five people.
Those tagged will leave a link to their meme in the comment section of this post so everyone can keep track of what’s been posted.

You can go to Five Things I Dig About Jesus to see what other people have said.

Here are Five Things I Dig About Jesus:

1. His compassion is amazing. I read through the Gospels and see the crowds pressing in on Him, making demands, whining and complaining, “hearing” Him but not listening, and even following Him when He tries to go to a quiet place and pray. In spite of all this chaos, Jesus looks at them with compassion because they are like sheep without a shepherd. His compassion overflows and I absolutely love that about Him!
2. Jesus is so patient with me. I am like those sheep without a shepherd sometimes. I wander around wondering what to do next. I tell Him I want to be like Him and then I go and do my own thing until He lovingly and patiently brings me back. If I were in His position, I would have given up on me a long time ago, but Jesus patiently calls my name and He is making me His own.
3. Jesus is a perfect servant and He shows me how I am supposed to live. He left the glory of heaven to show the way here on earth. The Lord of lords and King of kings washed dirty feet and hung on a cross. He gave His very life that I might live. I am so thankful for His example and want to pour out my life for His glory.
4. Jesus never changes. Let’s be real. I am a woman with hormones like a roller coaster. I can’t depend on myself to think rationally most of the time. I am so glad that no matter what my state of mind or emotion Jesus is the same and I can count on Him and His truth regardless of where I am in my “cycle.”
5. Jesus is good, and everything He does is good. I know whatever is happening in my life He has allowed it and, even if I don’t understand, I can trust He will work all things for good.

Isn't He wonderful?

I want to hear what you have to say, so I tag Deborah, KarenW, Angela, Coach Jenny, and Annie.

Have wonderful day!!!

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Visit to the ER

I have a combined total of 27 years of raising kids - my kids are 11, 9, and 7 - and last night we had our first-ever trip to the emergency room. Considering my history, I think it's quite impressive that it took "27 years" for me to take someone to the ER.
When I was a pre-schooler I was with my mom at the grocery store, slipped and hit my head at the check-out counter, and had to go get stitches.
In kindergarten I slipped on the ice (on the way to ballet lessons, no less!) and fell and cut my head open on the porch. More stitches.
In first grade I was picking up a toy from underneath my dresser and when I stood up I hit the back of my head on the corner of the dresser. Stitches again.
In second grade I broke my elbow when I was "sledding" during recess at school.
In third grade my friend and I were playing kickball and as I was running backwards I tripped and fell, hitting my head on a pile of rocks. Yep. More stitches.
In fourth grade I fell during indoor recess at school and broke my finger.
Finally, in fifth grade I really did it. I was trying to fit in with the boys by riding bikes over a jump. I ended up with a concussion and was in the hospital for a few days following surgery to reattach my lip to my gum line. Now I have a pretty funky scar inside my mouth!
Can you understand now why I am so impressed with my children's lack of need for emergency room care???

So, yesterday we came to my mil's house to celebrate the Fourth of July. Last night I told the kids to all use the bathroom before we left to go see the fireworks display and that's when the excitement began. Joshua screamed for Brian and I from the bathroom and when I went in, I saw blood running down his forehead. We got him cleaned up and were debating whether or not he needed stitches when my bil came in with a bloody head. He'd had a little accident on the dirt bike. So now we had two heads possibly in need of stitches, and two guys who did NOT want to get stitches.
We bandaged Joshua's head and went to the fireworks, deciding to "wait and see" if further attention was necessary.
Being the worry-wart that I am, I kept watch on Joshua like a hawk. I wouldn't let him go on the playground, preferring him to just sit with me on the blanket. As time went on his wound began to bleed again and we decided he needed to get those stitches after all. So at about 11:30, after we'd gotten home from the fireworks, Brian, Joshua, my bil and I all went to the ER.
My little guy was so scared. It was all I could do to not cry with him. When the doctor told him she would need to give him stitches, the flood gates opened and he cried his little eyes out. At first the doctor gave him a topical anesthetic but he could feel her suturing him so then she injected one and that worked. I sat with Joshua praying and singing to him, doing my best to look in his eyes without looking at what the doctor was doing. I wasn't sure I'd be able to stomach watching her sew him up. Yuck.
Finally, about 2:00 A.M. we were finished at the hospital, came back to Grandma's house, and fell into bed.
This morning Joshua is feeling better. We have talked about our adventure in the ER and how, although it wasn't "fun," now Joshua has a memory to share with his kids the first time he takes on of them to the ER.

It was interesting to me to do my own reflecting about my response to this whole situation. Perhaps part of it was fueled by a quote I read on someone's blog yesterday. I don't remember who said it and I probably won't repeat it accurately but essentially, it said, "To be a mother is to choose to watch your heart walk around in someone else's body." When Joshua was hurting, I was hurting. When he was scared, I wanted to cry. My protective nature went into overdrive as I thought about how much I didn't want him to hurt anymore. The same little boy, who was driving me nuts with his complaining during the drive from Lansing to Holland earlier in the day, was now the object of my deepest concern and affection.
It is amazing to me when I think of how much love God can fit into this heart of mine. At the same time, I realize His love for me is far greater still. Though I complain about this or that circumstance, though I struggle to be the woman He wants me to be, though I am imperfect and broken, He loves me. Now that is amazing!
My friend, please remember today, He loves you, too!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Blogger Reflection Award

Awww, I love receiving awards, and Annie has given me this Blogger Reflection award.

I have shared before that it is my desire in this blog to be a source of hope and encouragement - especially to mothers - but really to anyone who happens by. I share about life, sometimes silly things just to make you smile (or laugh at me!), and about the things God is teaching me because I think His Truth is true for all of us. It is my heart’s desire to reflect God’s goodness and love to the world around me – including the blogosphere. So, thanks Annie, for seeing this in me.

Here are the rules for passing this award on: The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them.

1. Copy this post.
2. Reflect on five bloggers and write a least a paragraph about each one.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they've been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site

Here's my top 5 in no particular order:

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know…Penny and I first met in junior high school and lost touch after graduation. Over the past year we have become reacquainted and Penny very recently started a blog. I have been looking for an opportunity to tell you about Penny’s blog and when I read the qualifications above to share about a blogger who fills you with pride and joy I knew this was the time. Penny is a new mom and is in the beginning of a journey being wooed by God. I absolutely love reading about her journey and her thanks to God for His love. I truly am filled with joy when I read her posts.

Jenileigh’s Journey…I love Jenileigh, not just because she says nice things to me, but because she loves her girls so much. When I am feeling frustrated with my children I can visit Jenileigh and (after I giggle at the silly pictures) renew my perspective. Her love for her girls is infectious and helps me see past the petty frustrations and realized once again how blessed I am.

Irrational Love…I passed the Thinking Blogger Award to Jen some time ago, and am happy to give her this one, too. Jen loves God and shares the things she’s learning from Him on her blog. You cannot read her posts without having an ah ha! moment or the desire to pull out your Bible to read more.

As I read the original post for this award I saw we have permission to give this award to bloggers who have already received it, because “they deserve it as many times as it’s given.” So my final two awards go to bloggers who have been recognized already for their reflective blogging.

Karen’s Ramblings…Karen loves to read and she often includes posts on her blog about the books she’s consuming and how God is speaking to her through them, while she challenges her readers to seek Him as well. I love Karen’s heart for God and her desire to be used by Him. She is an encourager.

My Life As Annie…I have to say, “Right back at’cha, Annie!” Truly, I am blessed when I read Annie’s blog, especially as she shares about her experiences with Izzy. Annie’s love, patience, and servant’s heart shine through in her posts and really make me wish I knew her IRL and could spend time learning from her.

So there you have it, friends. My picks for the Blogger Reflection Award. What a joy it is to know you and share life with you over the blogosphere!

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Time Travel Tuesday ~ Wedding Edition

Ahhh, it's summer and love is in the air! And Annie is taking us back to our wedding day. She asks, What are your memories from your wedding day? Were you nervous? Do you remember walking down the aisle? What about the rehearsal dinner, anything special happen that night? This will be fun!

Brian and I are coming up on our fourteenth anniversary. We were married on August 7, 1993 and I can hardly believe it's been that long. At the same time I can remember our wedding like it was just yesterday.
Unfortunately our digital camera is broken right now so I'm not going to be able to include pictures for you. Boo hoo. Trust me when I say, we were adorable!
Brian and I paid for most of the wedding ourselves, so I didn't get in on much of the pampering that some lucky brides enjoy. I did my own nails, hair, and makeup, but somehow I still felt like a princess on that day. Probably had something to do with the beautiful white gown and the fact that everyone stood up when I entered the room!
We got a couple of good laughs during the ceremony - and no, I wasn't nervous at all! The pastor almost forgot to have us exchange rings and I had to remind him about it...which brought about a chuckle. The best one, though, was during his message to Brian and I. He said, "During our counseling we talked about many things. Brian and Karen seemed to know the answers to all the questions before I even asked them. Oh, they know there will be times when they will be irritable." Right when he made that statement - as if it were scripted and rehearsed - Brian and I looked at each other in "shock." The entire congregation erupted in laughter and Pastor Al said, "Maybe we didn't talk about that part." It still makes me smile to remember that moment.
Brian and I wrote and memorized our vows and at the end of the ceremony we talked to the congregation about God's love and faithfulness and how we wanted to mirror it to one another in our marriage.
At our reception - and this was Brian's idea - we "performed" our bridal dance. I choreographed the steps, we rehearsed for months, and then danced for everyone to Harry Connick Jr.'s song We Are in Love. I wish there was a way to, check that, I wish I knew how to format the video so I could post it here. I'm sure you would love it. Once again, you'll have to trust me - we were adorable!

The thing I can't get over is how young we were. Brian was 22 and I was almost 22. I thought I was so grown up and knew so much about life and love...Now I realize I knew almost nothing. One thing I did know was how to pick a wonderful man. I am such a blessed woman to have Brian as my husband. Thanks again, Annie, for a wonderful trip down memory lane.
Visit Annie to read about more weddings!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Please Pray!

Many of you know about Allie, the little girl for whom I've asked you to pray in the past. In case you're a bit new around here, you can find Allie's story here. I just got an update about Allie, and she needs all of us to be praying right now. Please click here for the update and join me in praying for Allie's miracle.
Thanks so much!

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