Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FOUR!

It is hard to believe!


This little one became this not so little one...


Who has always loved to smile and laugh...


And has always played hard...


is now FOUR!



Happy Birthday, my dear one. You are a joy, a challenge and you never cease to amaze me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Lies-Part Two

So do you buy it yet? Have we put a box around Christmas and said "This is it! This is the time of the year for goodness, love, peace, joy and giving to those in need!"?

Have you taken the step to radically adjust the way you live so that the love you show at Christmas is no different than the love you show in March?

I am working on it. It is hard. It is hard to love others and to be uncomfortable and to give up my time and my stuff. And just when I started to think I had a little legway on it, I came to realize I had fallen for a second Christmas lie.

Lie Two: Christmas is a season.

This lie is strongly tied to lie number one, but is still distinct in itself. Lie one says that Christmas is special and thus we should love more, give more, rejoice more. Lie two says that this love, giving and joy should be limited to a time period between the end of November and the beginning of January.

The tree is gone. The ornaments are packed. The New Year is here and it is time to move on!

Have you noticed what goes on sale around the New Year? Fitness and diet items. The New Year is the time to focus on yourself, shed those extra holiday pounds, and make some resolutions to better yourself. Did you catch it? Did you notice that as the calendar flipped from December to January, we no longer are focused on others, but on ourselves?

We have allowed ourselves to buy into a lie that the love and joy and kindness of Christmas is to be limited to the Christmas "season." But we all know that families still go hungry, children don't get birthday gifts and so many are incredibly lonely far after the last Christmas carol is sung.

Can you imagine if the love, joy, and giving of Christmas did not end when we turned the calendar in January?

What if soup kitchens had to turn volunteers away in August?

What if families who were struggling to eat got help in May?

What if parents who could not buy their child a birthday gift received toys in October?

What if we lived life as if there was no such thing as the Christmas "season"?

Christmas Lies-Part One

I heard a story this week of some people who wanted to celebrate Christmas by giving to others and went to serve at a soup kitchen. They were turned away by three different soup kitchens because the number of volunteers exceeded the need. That is amazing to me, but why do we only hear stories like that around Christmas?

Lie One: Christmas is special.

We have come to believe and expect that as soon as Thanksgiving is over (or Halloween for some of the earlier celebrators), life is different. People are often more cheerful and are willing to give more of themselves or their possessions to those in need during the Christmas season. Words like joy, love, peace, and giving become a regular part of conversation and seem to be a regular part of life for a brief moment.

It as if the clocks strikes midnight on the day after Thanksgiving and the whole world enters into a special Christmas twilight zone. Regardless of our motivation, we have allowed a box to be put around Christmas that says this is the time of the year to be good and the time of the year to love others and the time of the year to celebrate what Jesus has done for each of us.

You see, even Christians have fallen into this trap that Christmas is special. How many times did you read, hear, say "Jesus is the reason for the season" this Christmas season? Come June or July, how often do you read, hear, say, "Jesus is the reason for my very living and being?"

In contrast, what if we lived life as if Christmas was not special? Notice that I am not saying let's live every day as if it were Christmas- I don't think that is the solution at all, because you see every day is not Christmas, but every day is a day to be kind and loving and joyful and peaceful and every day is a day to celebrate the gracious gift God has given us in His son.

What if we loved God and others so much throughout the year that you could not tell any difference in our lives come Christmas? There might be some extra greenery in the house, different music on the radio and more cookies in the kitchen, but our love of God and our love of others would not change any, because we were already loving with every iota of our being.

What if we gave to others, not because it was Christmas, but because we have been given much and just want to share with them?

What if we loved others, not because it was Christmas, but because they were made in the image of the God who loves us so deeply?

What if we lived with a deep seeded joy, not because it was Christmas, but because we have been given one more moment to breath, to hear our kids laugh and to relish in the extravagant grace of a loving Savior?

What if we lived life as if Christmas is not special?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Review

There was a certain calm before the storm.

Then the kids woke up!

Caleb got a shotgun- which he has proudly announced to everyone who has come within five feet of him since then. Can I tell you we have gotten quite a few funny looks about this? Our fifth graders thought we were C.R.A.Z.Y. for buying him a shotgun, until we clarified that it was a nerf shotgun.

Nathan got a vacuum which he has drug around all over the place since then. I would love to be able to claim the status of top-gift giver in this little guy's life, but alas, this great gift came from our sweet neighbors.


Kind of funny, but to be expected, that Nathan seemed to enjoy playing with the newspaper he absconded from the recycling bin as much as any of the toys.


Overall, I can say I have truly enjoyed and been blessed by Christmas this year! Hope the same can be said for you and your family!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Snowflakes on noses and sledding on hills

Lunch at Chick Fil A and buying books at Goodwill.

Having all of my Christmas shopping done.

This is has been my day of fun.

When the crowds grow,

when the traffic is slow,

when I am feeling mad,

I just think of why we have this special day

And I don't feel so bad!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Much Fun

We have had a blast in the snow this weekend!

Caleb really enjoyed sledding on the same wooden sled his daddy used when he was a little boy.






Nathan's response to his first experience with snow was typical Nathan.

He took it in stride, seriously contemplating "What is this cold, white stuff and why did mommy dress me like a fluffy marshmallow?"


"Not to mention, why am I wearing this funny looking hat?"


Nathan seemed to enjoy the sledding though.




And Daddy got his workout in for the day.

Even Sky got in on the fun.


What a fun way to spend the weekend before Christmas!




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How Strange...

How strange...

To ride in a car in complete silence...without answering questions such as "What is a sleigh?" or "How does a septic pump truck work?"

To be able to go into Walmart, get everything on my list and get out in less then thirty minutes...usually this takes at least an hour.

To eat lunch peacefully...without jumping up three or four times, picking up spilled food or wiping grimy hands.

To have a complete conversation with my fabulous husband over said lunch...without interruptions explaining space shuttles, sledgehammers or any numerous other topics of interest.

Life felt very strange (and quiet) this morning as I was able to leave the boys at our church's Parents' Day Out. I cannot express how thankful I am for this opportunity. It is strange, but I really think that time away from my kids makes me a better mother. It was a much needed chance to regroup and be refreshed.

My time away was just strange enough that I was grateful to ride home chatting with Caleb about the hibernation habits of bears, skunks, beavers, cows and Santa.

Strange, huh?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Das Not Funny Friday Mama, Did You Know?



It is Friday again! It has been too long since I had anything to add to the Das Not Funny Friday shenanigans. Make sure you click on the picture above to get some more good laughs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Caleb: Mama, did you know Christmas is Jesus' birthday?
Me: Yup buddy, that is right.
Caleb: And we will sing him Happy Birthday and everything?
Me: Sure we will.
Caleb: I will be four on my birthday. How old will Jesus be?
Me: Uhhh...really, really old.
Caleb: Older than four?
Me: Just a little bit older than four.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Caleb: Mama, do you know what comes after Monday?
Me:Tuesday.
Caleb: After Tuesday?
Me: Wednesday.
We repeat through the week a couple of times.
Caleb: Mama! NO! You are just saying the same thing over and over.
Me: Caleb, that is how it works. God made seven days and they just keep repeating.
Caleb: Well, I don't like that. I am going to pray to God to change His mind and for Him to make some more days.
Me: You do that, but how will we know when it is the certain day to go somewhere?
Caleb: I will pray to God and He will let me know.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Caleb: Mama, did you know there are countries where people can't go to church?
Me: Yes, there are.
Caleb: They go to jail for going to church.
Me: Yes, that is true. It is sad isn't it?
Caleb: Hmm. Don't worry! I have it under control. I will just go to these countries and shoot the mean people with my spitball gun. That will fix things.

If it were only that easy....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That's All Folks! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sick Fun

On Sunday, David stayed home with Caleb, who was not feeling well, (He is doing much better now, thanks for asking.) while I went to church with Nathan (who is now sick with croup).

Deciding not to waste the morning, David and Caleb had Sunday School at home.

They sang songs...Jingle bells, jingle bells...

King Caleb took a census of all his animals.... 1 Gerby, 1 Lamby, 1 Baby Salem Bear, 1 Hee Haw, 2 Ducks, 1 Pog Pog the Dog Dog, 1 Pad Pad the Bear Bear... (to name just a few)

They read the Christmas story from the Bible and had a craft...

Meet Moo-ary, Moo-seph and Baby Gerbus.

Now was that a fun sick day or what?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Of Two Types

Two very different nativity sets grace the shelf that sits across from my front door- one of wood, roughly carved and one of delicate crystal, radiantly reflecting the lights of the nearby Christmas tree.

The more I think on it, the more these sets represent to me the fullness of Christmas itself.

Jesus, the Word, the Light of the World, Prince of Heaven, Holy, Perfect, Radiant.


Jesus, with us, becoming flesh, a carpenter, who knew hunger, thirst, and pain.


Jesus, inexplicably of two types, but yet the one and only one for which our hearts yearn, the one and only one who will transform our lives, the one and only.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Countdown

I truly love this time of year. I love the smells, the sights, and the joy that comes with expecting Christmas through the eyes of a three year old and a one year old.

Our tree is now up and decorated (at least the top half). We only had one casualty in the Christmas decoration department as we put it up. I thought the ball was plastic, but when it hit the ground, it shattered like glass. We double checked and everything else is fairly unbreakable. While at first Nathan seemed to be interested in the tree, bringing me ornaments he collected off of it, now he just seems to regard it as a part of the house.

Caleb is daily asking me how long till Christmas (and his birthday since they are so close together.) We made an advent chain to help us count down the days. Each ring has a verse on it that we will read in the evenings to remind us the true reason we celebrate Christmas. (I am not that creative and got the idea and verses from here if you want to use it too.)

I hope you are having as much fun as we are preparing for this special time of year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

That Kind of Day

Thank you for the encouragement after I had one of those days yesterday! Today has been that kind of day and has been much better...

That kind of day when...
No one from the Biggest Loser shows up in my dreams.

That kind of day when...
Caleb and Nathan have been a true joy to be around...even though the whining/incessant chatter/head bonking continues to occur.

That kind of day when...
The sun is shining, God's creation is singing His glory and there is just enough of a chill in the air to remind you that Christmas is near.

That kind of day when...
I get to meet with and study God's word with a great group of women. And we had brunch! YUMMY!

That kind of day when...
My mom's headache is somewhat better. Though she is still quite tired and I have a feeling this is going to be a long road to get her headaches under wraps again.

That kind of day when...
I get to fix a good meal for my man, who was kind and gracious last night in taking us out to eat since I had such a hard day.

That kind of day when...
I get to read great blogs reminding me that the worst days will never outweigh the best days, that God loves us, Oh how He loves us, and that His grace is truly amazing.

Thank you friends for helping me have that kind of day!

Monday, November 30, 2009

One of Those Days

I should have known it was going to be one of those days when...
Jillian from The Biggest Loser visited me in my dream as I woke up. I tried to explain my tight pants with such excuses as having no time to work out, just a season of life with two kids and needing to compensate with daily doses of chocolate and the eating of the yummiest pecan pie ever for Thanksgiving. She just stared at me, smiling with her all knowing smile, as I gave excuse after excuse (at least she didn't yell at me.)

I should have known it was going to be one of those days when...
Caleb's vocal box has been stuck on whine 70% of the time today, with arguing taking up 20% and his incessant normal chatter the remaining 10%.

I should have known it was going to be one of those days when...
Nathan bonked his head the third, fifth, seventh time. Each time, crying as if the world was ending and mommy's hugs were the only chance of salvation. (I have to admit though, I do enjoy the snuggling that comes with bonked heads.)

I should have known it was going to be one of those days when...
It is a Monday, a rainy Monday nonetheless.

I should have known it was going to be one of those days when...
My mom called saying she has a SEVERE headache and there is really nothing I can do to help, but pray. (If you think of it, will you join my in praying for her? Her headaches seem to increasing in severity and frequency again and I am a tad bit worried.)

I should have known it was going to be one of those days when...
All I, the non-runner, wanted to do was put on my tennis shoes and run far far far away for just a little while. (I have since worked out using my Wii Active Sport and have to say the endorphins are definitely helping me have a better outlook on life.)

I guess I should have known it was going to one of those days when...
I closed my last post with...
Rejoice Always!
Pray without ceasing!
In everything give thanks!

I guess it is just one of those days when... I have to work extra hard to live that verse out.

Yep, just one of those days.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Rejoice Always!
Pray without ceasing!
In everything give thanks!


(Just think, if a one-eyed, feather-losing, wattle-impaired turkey can do it, so can you!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Have I Told You Lately?

Brothers are fun.




Very fun.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is God's Love Enough?

Is God
love?

In the dark and the hate and the days and the nights
In the questions and the doubts and the hurts and the fears


Is God
love?

In the beauty of the rose and the song of the jay
In the laughter of a child and the warmth of a mother's arms


Is God's love
enough?

Healing the broken, comforting the bruised, feeding the hungry
Calming the heart beating out of control and drying the ever-flowing tears


Is God's love
enough?

For you to be fascinated and drawn by the One who endlessly pursues you
For you to see beyond me and my failures, to see the One who never fails


Is God's love enough
for you?

To be forever changed so that loving your enemies sounds less and less crazy.
To be convinced more and more that it is not about you anyways.

Is God's love enough for you?

-Inspired by What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff? By Shane Claiborne


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Won't You Wrestle With Me?

I thought this was an incredibly thought provoking and challenging article. I am still wrestling with it and some of the implications (theological and practical). I wanted to share thinking you might want to wrestle a bit too...

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?


By Shane Claiborne, founder of The Simple Way, a ministry to the poor.

From Esquire.com

To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it's that you can have great answers and still be mean... and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our "Gospel" is the message that Jesus came "not [for] the healthy... but the sick." And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God's Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven." On earth.

One of Jesus' most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan... you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I'm sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine... but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: "The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you." And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about "dirty theology" — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man's eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, "I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you." If those of us who believe in God do not believe God's grace is big enough to save the whole world... well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,

Shane

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

They Are Listening

In case you didn't know they are listening, and more often than not, they are also repeating what they have heard.

Sometimes the things they hear aren't that great.

Case in point: Caleb muttering "Stupid line," when the line at the bank is excessively long or a new favorite song, "Poo Poo Butthead Poo."

Sometimes they are listening when you least expect it.

Case in point: One of Nathan's favorite past times recently is to carry around his little shoes, leaving them in places I would never think to look. One day this week, after putting one of his shoes on him, I was roaming the house in search of the second shoe, loudly asking "Where is your shoe Nathan?" Nathan looked at me and simply bent down and patted the one shoe he had on his foot. There was his shoe. Not much help, but so very cute.

Sometimes the things they hear are fabulous.

Case in point: "Mama, I want to be a Barnabas to Gerby. I will rejoice when he rejoices and cry when he cries." The sermon on Sunday was about being a Barnabas to someone. Barbabas was the man who stood up for Paul after his conversion and introduced him to the apostles. He was one of the best friend's Paul could have. Gerby is one of Caleb's favorite stuffed animals and Caleb has determined he will be Gerby's Barnabas forever.

And then sometimes the things they hear (and say) just blow you away.

"Bite Bite Bear (another stuffed animal), this is a Bible. We read it and go to church to learn about God. Did you know that God loves you? Did you know that God loves you even when you do bad things Bite Bite Bear?"

I guess I am glad they are listening...most of the time!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanks for Nothing

Originally, this post was going to be to let you know that things have been quiet this week and that nothing is going on here, but then I started to think just how thankful I am for the nothing that is going on around here.

So here is my thanks for nothing...

I am thankful I did not drop Nathan at the playground on Monday. I was walking through the parking lot carrying Nathan, when my ankle gave out, I fell, Nathan did a full flip in the air and I caught him by the leg, his head mere inches from meeting the asphalt. I am thankful for the pure maternal instinct that took over and for not having to visit the ER with his cracked skull.

I am thankful for a warm, dry house. Fall is here with a vengeance! Cold, rain, wind, more rain. Part of me really wants the sun to come out, but part of me really enjoys days like this when I can curl up with a good book, a cup of hot chocolate and just relax while the wind howls away outside.

I am thankful that David is on his way home from Orlando this afternoon and it looks like he will be getting on an earlier flight than we originally thought!

I am incredibly thankful that we are healthy here...at least for the moment!

And speaking of health and on a somewhat different note...

I was reading Luke 8 for CBS this week and got to the story of the man possessed with a legion of demons that Jesus cast out of him and into a herd of pigs. The pigs rushed off a cliff into the lake where they drowned.

One has to wonder if this was the first recorded account of the swine flew.

Get it, Swine Flew? Ha ha ha.

I know you laughed and if you didn't, hopefully you will at least smile at this mad cow I caught roaming around our place on Halloween...

Monday, November 9, 2009

One More Time

So my sweet little ONE...



Who just turned ONE...



Wanted to share ONE or two pictures...



of ONE great birthday party...



So sweet that ONE.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One

I have ONE sweet boy...

Well, really I have two sweet boys...


But there is ONE special boy I would like to mention today...


He is a crawling ONE...



A walking ONE...


A happy ONE...


A very cute ONE...

Gotta love this ONE...


who is ONE today!

Happy Birthday little ONE!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know....

Officials estimate 14,000 to 17,000 people have been brought to the United States with the promise of jobs, only to be intimidated, held against their will and forced into prostitution or debt bondage.

North Carolina
has become one of the top states for human trafficking.

The U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking estimated last year that annual profits from trafficked, forced labor is around $31.6 billion. Some experts say it is now the second-largest illicit business in the world after drugs.

Human trafficking impacts a variety of people in a myriad of ways: A father of two from Nepal who thought he was going to America wound up in Iraq, forced to work at a U.S. airbase. A 14-year-old Ugandan girl kidnapped by rebels spent nearly eight years in captivity as a sex slave and human shield. And a young Venezuelan woman lured to New York by the man she loved wound up in a brothel his family was running.

I can tell you I did not know. I did not know that Charlotte has had several brothel busts in the last few years or that some of the migrant workers working in and around NC might be here against their will.

I can also tell you that I did not know that I could make a difference in any of this...

Until recently that is. Now that I know, I can make a difference...

I can pray, for this fight is rooted in the depths of evil and is not against flesh and blood, but the evil ruler of this world. (Ephesians 6:12)

I can support great organizations such as Run 4 Revolution. (And I am so not a runner!)

I can spread the word to others that slavery exists and is rampant in our modern society.



So now you know and now you too can make a difference....



(The first words highlighted in each fact is the link to the specific site from which the information came.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Won! I Won!

Woohoo! I (who hardly wins ANYTHING) won!

I won a giveaway this week and wanted to give a shout out and a huge thank you to Ms. Meredith over at Surcees!

Looking for cute and unique Christmas gift ideas? Check out Surcees for some really neat ideas.

I chose the superhero cape and think it might just be a part of Caleb's Christmas or birthday gift.

For another AWESOME FABULOUS SPECTACULAR giveaway, check out The Making of Mom this week for your chance to win a deluxe edition of the Jesus Storybook Bible....and all for a AWESOME FABULOUS SPECTACULAR cause!

Be forewarned though, I will be entering and I am on a winning streak! So far I am 100% for winning blog giveaways...this month!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Anything

"Of course I would do anything for God. Look at what I have done so far. Just watch this, I am sure Jesus will commend my efforts."

I wonder if something similar to this went through the Rich Young Ruler's head before he asked Jesus the question of inheriting eternal life.

I wonder if he was shocked when Jesus said there was one thing he lacked. I can almost imagine him clearing his throat as he choked in disbelief.

"Not that. I will do anything for God, but THAT. Are you sure I am lacking? Look at what I have done! Please, not that!"

It is so easy to see the faults in this guy, to point at him and say, "Poor thing, he couldn't give THAT up. If only he knew what he was missing..."

But, as my pastor aptly pointed out yesterday, we all have a little bit of this guy inside of us. We like to be in control of whatever THAT is. We then become over confident and proud of THAT. When God asks us to show THAT to Him, we quickly and pridefully display it, but when God asks for us to put THAT in His hands, we grasp it tighter than ever before.

For me THAT would be my boys and my parenting of them. Several months ago, I read Crazy Love by Francis Chan and was challenged to ask the question, "Am I willing to say, whatever it takes God, do it for Your glory?" I prayed then for God to show me if there was any part of me that is unwilling and He was quick to point out, "What if I asked you for your children?"

No worries now. I have no plans to make Caleb carry the sticks up the mountain anytime soon. (Plus, David made me promise, if I ever did, I would talk it over with him first.) But, am I willing to trust God with the lives of my children? Am I willing to surrender them to God?

"Of course I am. I would do anything for God..." Sounds a little someone we know, doesn't it? To be honest, while I want to say that with my entire heart, I am not sure I honestly can say it with my entire heart. For example, I can get in quite a snit when David's parenting ways diverge from my ways. I know now this shows that I am not fully trusting God and that I am still striving for control over THAT He has asked me to surrender.

In the end, I do not think we really know how fully surrendered we are until God calls us in the specific moment to trust Him. The Rich Young Ruler thought he had it all together till God asked for THAT one thing. Failing to surrender, he turned away from God, heartbroken for eternity.

My hope and prayer is this...while I am not yet willing to surrender, that God is working in me to help me be willing and when that moment comes, when He asks for THAT to be placed in His hands, that I would wholeheartedly open my palms up to Him and say "Whatever it takes God, it is Yours."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The "H" word

"Nooooooo!!!" The wail ripped through the crisp autumn night air, followed by passionate sobs, punctuated with "No! No! No!"

A scene from some scary movie? Nope. It was Caleb, as he learned that his darling pumpkin would rot after we cut it into a Jack-O-Lantern. This fact of life seemed dreadfully unfair to his three year old mind. "I don't want my pumpkin to rot!! NOOOOoooooOOOO!"



Can you see the puffy eyes and heaving chest as I tried to get a before picture? Caleb was truly upset and did not want his pumpkin to rot! After a conversation about Christmas trees, burn piles and compost piles, Caleb calmed down enough for us to carve his pumpkin. He greatly enjoyed the gooey "guts" and in the end seemed to be okay with the fact that his pumpkin has a limited shelf life.

I have to admit that for much of my Christian life, I have met Halloween with just about the same enthusiasm Caleb did his rotting pumpkin. Most years, I have simply ignored Halloween's existence, only making note of it after the fact as I bought up clearanced candy.

I have never been comfortable with the spiritual darkness of Halloween. While most of the modern traditions are just good-hearted fun, Halloween still has some dark uses and connotations that should not be ignored. According to the Bible, witchcraft, sorcery, etc., are to be greatly avoided and are nothing to play around about.

That being said, this year, I have not been able to ignore the H-word. Caleb has embraced the idea of dressing up, carving pumpkins and doing the Halloween-thing. He has asked me daily for about two weeks, "When is Halloween again? I want to be a shark, no a cow, no a builder, no a fireman, etc." (Much of this I owe to the Froggy's Halloween book. Not to mention, Caleb running around singing about showing people his underwear as part of Halloween. Greeeaaat.)

So for much of these two weeks, I have been thinking about and praying over just how our family is going to deal with the H-word. So in all this thinking, praying and talking with other moms, God led me to a really interesting article on the topic of Halloween. This article mentions that as Christians, we should think of ways to redeem Halloween for good.

Redeeming for good that which is not good? Sounds just like something God would do...

I pondered this idea as I went to bed a couple of nights ago and came up with the idea that we could redeem it by taking Halloween goodies to our neighbors, instead of the traditional trick-or-treating. David reaffirmed this idea by mentioning the next morning at breakfast that he thought we should take candy to our neighbors on Halloween. (Great minds think alike, especially when God is at work!)

So, that is our plan so far for Halloween. Caleb will dress up in whatever costume he finally settles on and we will go take goodies to our neighbors. (Hopefully not showing his underwear to any of them.) We might even hit up a local trunk-or-treat, but that is yet to be decided.

How about you? How are you redeeming the H-word this year?


Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn't put it out.
John 1:3-5 The Message

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin' Pickin'

Last Friday, we spent our morning at a local pumpkin patch with a group of people from our church. It was a lot of fun and Caleb has already put in a request to return next year!

Both boys had a blast and smiled a lot, although they look so very serious in this picture. I think they just wanted me to put the camera away, so they could get back to the pumpkins!


Nathan was in awe at all the big orange balls and did his best to pick them up and crawl all over them...

We were excited my mom got to go with us too. After a cute storytime, we all took a BuMpY hayride. Caleb quickly announced that was his fAvOrItE part.
It was a great way to spend a beautiful fall day and a fun time had by all!

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