Sunday, June 26, 2011

Give Thanks to the Lord...

Gratitude Monday is here again and once again I feel out of time to even come close to adequately expressing how good God has been.  But even just a glimpse will show the greatness of God.

"You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 118: 28,29  (you should read this whole psalm)

577.  The faithfulness of God proven over and over again in my life.
578.  God is my sure foundation and there is nothing more sure than His promises to me.
579.  A quiet home and energy to do a little housework while my preschooler enjoys meeting new friends at school.
580.  A day to not leave the house, get ready for our vacation, and play cars and trains with my preschooler.
581.  My baby's determination to learn how to crawl.  He is close.  :)  I am bracing myself!
582.  Rediscovering my sling and how to carry my growing infant on my hip in it.
583.  Our family's excitement for vacation with friends.
584.  Friends inviting us to enjoy a nice cabin on the river in Chattanooga (and sacrificing the master room for our family.
585.  The long drive going better than I expected with my two little ones.
586.  Hotel reward points providing a nice Hilton suite for us to break up the drive into two days.
587.  My husband's joy to be able to fish on the river often during our stay, and his restraint to be able to put it aside to help with the boys and fellowship with friends.
588.  Boys playing.
589.  Rocking chairs on front porches overlooking the Tennessee River and mountains.
590.  Children's museum (an amazing place)
591.  New City Fellowship (a very cool church)
592.  Worshiping with many cultures gathered under one roof giving a glimpse of how I believe worship will be in heaven, though our colors will be all the more brilliant in His glorious presence.
593.  A city that has rich culture, artistic expression, a historic city, and mountains.  I couldn't dream of a better place this side of home, though my husband would add an ocean coast to his wish list.
594.  That this list really is only a glimpse of all that God has done for me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

So many thanks, so little time.  I thought about just posting each photo as a thanks, but each one holds multiple reasons to be thankful, so many I can't list.  And then there are the things invisible that can only be seen with eyes of the heart.  I've had a full week.  Here is a small glimpse.

531.  Play date at the children's museum.
532.  Antique fire truck, child sized grocery store, and a pirate ship complete with kitchen and cannons.
533.  Imaginations of little boys to make it all come to life.
534.  Boys who are like brothers.
535.  Picnic lunch.

536. Andrew's first day of preschool.
537. His excitement and eagerness to get in and play with new friends.
538.  Packing his lunch.
539.  Backpack as a birthday present from his friends.
540.  School bus t-shirt and Life is indeed good.

541.  Growing baby feet.
542.  His fascination with the texture of grass.
543.  Baby sitting up.
544.  The feel of cool grass.
545.  God who makes all things grow.

546.  How my heart melts when my boys smile.
547.  This crooked little smile and the personality behind it.
548.  Six months old.
549.  Eyes deep and beautiful like the ocean.
550.  Holding, rocking, kissing, tickling, and cuddling this baby boy.

551. Celebrating a birthday boy.
552.  Parties in the park.
553.  Pinatas and the little ones who can't reach, but try anyways.
554.  Snowcones, cupcakes, juice, and various other sugar group foods and a day to splurge on them.
555.  Limbo, launching rockets, and stickers and chalk art.

556.  Nana in town for a weekend.
557.  Little hat to protect his little head.
558.  Beautiful sunny weather to enjoy the river.
559.  Fellowship with my church family with kayaks, boats, and rafts.
560.  Both of my boys' love for the water.

561.  The joy of discovering and exploring that little boys have.
562.  Seining for shrimp and fish.
563.  Little fingers trying to catch little creatures.
564.  How all of the children flock to our new pastor.
565.  A true family of believers.

566. "All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace." Isaiah 54:13
567.  The covenant of God for our family.
568.  The Keeper of the covenant and his infinite ability to uphold it.
569.  Our congregation who are family and help to raise our boys in the knowledge of Christ.
570.  God's grace to us to call us to himself, from darkness to life, and set us in the family of his followers.

571.  The provision of a pastor just in time for MD's baptism.
572.  Expectant hope of what God will do in the life of this little guy (and my other one).
573.  Confidence in Him to work in their hearts (and mine).
574.  Sweater vests and baby shoes :)
575.  Unbelieving family who attended the service and stayed for the preaching of God's Word.
576.  His ability to exchange hearts of stone for hearts of flesh.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


This week I have gone into complete survival mode.  The ironic thing about "survival mode" for me is that it is really no way to survive.  I'm thankful for the grace of God that holds me up when I shut down and pull away.

What led to this?  I think a week FULL of activity causes me to feel cramped and overwhelmed.  To deal with it I go into autopilot making it from one activity to the next, but just living on the surface looking for the day that it will ease up.  My life giving relationship neglected, this really is no way to survive.  It's a downward spiral in which I want to withdraw from everyone including my heavenly Father.

And speaking of father.  I honestly would like to skip this week... for some reason it's been especially hard and painful this year to remember my earthly father.  Praying for grace to forgive and grace to know true Fatherly Love.

In all this, I rely on Christ, who saves me from myself, lifts my head, heals my heart, and allows me to stand before God in His righteousness.

I have nothing to bring, but He has all that I need.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ongoing Thanks...

As I look through pictures from the week along with a few thanks written down,  I am happy.  Happy that I have been so blessed.  Though I am tired and worn out, God has been good to me.  This counting of gifts is once again an amazing reminder to take my eyes off of overwhelming circumstances that tempt me to lose sight and despair.  And to be honest, I have lost sight often even today.  Thanks to the grace of God that He always draws me back.  Thanks to Him that I truly am blessed and happy in Him.

511.  Water play
512.  Neighborhood wildlife
513.  A significantly decreased energy bill
514.  An efficient a.c.
515.  A dog delighted and happy just to be in my presence
516.  Trains lined all in a row, how my son usually leaves them
517.  God turned my most dreaded task of the day to the most joyful
518.  As far as the east is from the west...
519.  Job 23:10
520.  Playful boys in the fountains
521.  Reading Counterfeit Gods with my accountability group.
522.  Husband home.
523.  A fun family weekend together.
524.  That though I am often overwhelmed, nothing can overwhelm my God.
525.  He carries my burdens.
526.  Little Fire fighters.
527.  New Foods
528.  Pizza at the park
529.  Boys swinging
530.  Happy boys

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Teach me Jesus--that they would pursue God

Today I'm linking in with Christina at To Show Them Jesus as we continue to explore how to raise our children in the love of Christ.  Do you have any ideas?  We'd love for you to join us!

I'm on the last point of our family parenting philosophy:

A growing love for God and life of pursuing Him.  We hope that our children will grow to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind.  We hope to instill spiritual disciplines in them that will develop their relationship with our Father. We hope that what they learn from us grows into a life of pursuing God and growing in grace, that their time under our roof may just be the beginning.

The toughest part of raising our kids to know Jesus, is that ultimately it is out of our hands whether they believe and follow or not.  Our faith has to be in God who works in their hearts.  He hears our hearts prayers and aches for our children and He uses us to show His ways.  As I strive to share the grace of God to my boys, I trust God to do the hard work of transforming their hearts.  I don't want them to "be a Christian" because of who Mom and Dad are.  I hope they love Jesus because of their understanding of who He is and what He has done.

My children are still young, but I can already see God working in my 3 year old.  For several months we have been reading every morning as we eat breakfast.  Andrew wakes up looking forward to this time and always asks what we will read today.  Lately we have been reading My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts.  As we read I thought the stories might be a little over his head, but it's awesome to see God at work.  For each letter of the alphabet, there's a Bible verse with a story and questions of application.  We read one a day and review the entire list every day.  As we were reviewing recently, he started saying some of the verses from memory. WOW!  So cool how he can remember so easily.  Now, with the verses that we have been reading together, he has God's Word in his heart and I can talk to him about it during teachable moments throughout the day.  What an honor to be used by God in the shaping of this little guy and to watch as God is the strength behind all of the work.

To Show Them Jesus

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


When given the opportunity, I grab my camera and head out of the house after dinner. Most days by this time the demands of mothering leave me defeated and deflated. Getting out in God's creation refreshes my soul and renews my Spirit.

Today, would you come with me on our usual walk to a frequent spot where I’ve taken many shots of beautiful flowers. This day I’m drawn, not to them, but to what I’ve walked across to get to them.

Low to the ground below them lay humble beauty—that which we call weeds and pluck from the ground to preserve and manicure what we esteem as beautiful.

And he calls beautiful what the world tramples.

Come join me in the studio to join me in a walk with Him today.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summertime Thanks

486.  Stability of the Unchanging One.
487.  The righteousness of Christ
488.  He is my Healer and the lifter of my head.
489.  His mercies are new every day.
490.  The longing He has put in my heart for Him.
491.  Memorial Day, remembering and honoring.
492.  Cookouts with friends
493.  Minds at battle, playing chess

494.  Mahi caught by my man
495.  A nice dinner featuring said Mahi
496.  Baby's first time to feel the ocean.

497.  Friend who captured the moment for me.
498.  Brothers at the beach.

499.  Baby sleeping on beach towel.
500.  Half way to 1000!
501.  Grace to rest in Him and stop laboring in vain.
502.  An evening home alone to rest.
503.  A first birthday party
504.  My big boy jumping and swimming

505.  Beach ball, blow up boats, and rings
506.  The way swimming wears little boys out.

507.  A morning of sleeping until almost 7.
508.  An amazing lunch with my church family
509.  A new sermon series on Ruth
510.  That God truly is good even in the darkest of times.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And the walls come down.

As I sit to write this, I have no idea what direction it is going to take.  I just know that it is time to write something that's been on my mind and heart.  I think I've been waiting for clarity to be able to explain better, but that may not come for a long time. I know if I don't tell about this, in a way, I'm being untrue about who I am and feel my writing, sharing, photography, etc will be a little superficial.

So down come a few walls to give you a glimpse into who I really am.  It's risky to be vulnerable here, but I feel that this will be beneficial to my growth as I flesh things out in writing and also as you can join me in prayer.

From the time I was little I have lived one way even though inside I felt another.  For me this double life is almost instinct and as natural as a reflex.  I learned it early as a way to survive.  At home I feared for my life every night as a child, at school you would have never known what I went home to.  I learned how to smile through the fear and the pain and bury emotion deep inside as I lived what I perceived to be the "right" way to live.  This perceived "right" way to live has been carried into adulthood as now I still struggle to maintain a certain image about who I am.  If you know me you might be surprised by the pain that I hold.

About a month ago, I decided I needed to see my obstetrician, because emotionally things were getting out of control.  I have been down for a long time, but what sent me over the edge was an unrelenting rage that would come out at the littlest thing and with little warning.  I really felt I had no control, was the worst mother, and had no hope.  I thought I had Postpartum Depression, but my OB didn't think so.  She hinted that I might have another depression. She said that the anger I was having was due to hormonal imbalance.  She prescribed an antidepressant and changed my birth control.  I didn't really feel like she was taking me seriously, but was thankful to have the antidepressant.  I pursued counseling.

In about a week, I really started feeling better.  It was like I could see clearly and everything seemed so much more even.  I did not hurt so bad and could actually enjoy life in ways that I didn't even realize I hadn't been.  My rage also subsided.  In counseling we identified that I have felt depressed possibly my whole life.  But when the meds kicked in, she acted like the depression and anger were dealt with and moved on to talking about communication in marriage.  This is a big area for me to work on, but I also feel I'm not out of the woods with my emotional issues.

I believe that biologically, the medication is helping me.  But that is only one aspect of depression.  If I've operated out of depressive thinking all of my life, how now am I supposed to think?  This verse comes to my mind, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. " Philippians 4:8.
I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit and God's Word to show me how to live.  I also know that I don't know how to think this way and need help training my mind to do so.  It would be easy to slap a Bible verse on it and be done, but I think there is much more to it than that.

I ordered The Freedom from Depression Workbook (Minirth Meier New Life Clinic Series) to begin helping to retrain my mind how to think.  I was pretty sure I had depression until I started reading, now I am certain.  After reading only two chapters, I feel like I'm looking at a mirror as I read the examples and explanations.  I feel a strange relief as I can identify so clearly with this book.

Would you pray with me for God to get the glory in my heart?  It is a temptation to work hard on this to fit the image that I perceive is right, to live out of my perfectionism and distorted thinking even in searching for healing.  I must  remember who my Healer is and rest in His presence, trusting for Him to work in all of these means.

I pray as I lay my heart open before you, you are still pointed to our great Savior, who has come for bruised and broken sinners such as you and I.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Creative Expression and Unique Giftings (Parenting Philosophy cont)

Tonight I had a conversation with Matthew as I got him ready for bed.  Yes, I know that he isn't quite six months old, but this matter was of grave importance. :)

"Let's see, which pajamas do you want to wear?  Daddy's little helper? Nah.  The ones with the cute paw prints on the feet? Nah.  AH HA,  Here we go!  The basketball ones with 'Little Dribbler' on the chest and basketballs on the feet."

He's delighted at my choice, really.  

"Mommy played basketball.  It was Mommy's favorite sport.  I bet you will be good at basketball.  What do you say?"  I hold his hands, stretching his arms out wide to admire the length of his wingspan as I break out into song, "Basketball...we're playing love that basketball." At this point he does squeal and smile and delight.

I go on about the greatest sport ever.  You see, he does have long arms and is in the 96th percentile for length--just sayin'.

But then I tell him, "You can play anything you want as long as you love it.  As long as you love it and you serve God with it, I'll be happy if you are happy."

I'm sure I'm not the only one with these kinds of conversations.  We hope our children will love what we love.  We decorate their rooms (ours is sports fishing), we buy them clothes and toys, we tell them stories all based around our favorite sports, colleges, occupations, you name it.  

There is a chance that our children will follow in our steps.   They do have our genes and often look up to us and want to be like us.  However, they may chose another path.  Our role is to help them discover what they are good at, encourage development in that gifting, and teach them to serve God through it.  Colossians 3: 17 tells us that all things should be done for Christ, "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."  In addition we will teach our children that their gifts are reflections of God as they are created in His image.  We hope to foster a spirit of humility in our children as they realize that anything good in them actually comes from our Father and is to be offered back to him in service.

A part of our parenting philosophy is to help our children discover their unique giftings and to help them appreciate the unique giftings of others.  God gives each person gifts; talents and spiritual gifts to be used to glorify him.  To help our boys discover their gifts we will give them opportunities in many areas.  As they show interest in certain subjects, sports, arts, and activities we will provide ways for them to hone in on their specific interests.  In addition, we will pray for them and with them as God opens and closes doors revealing His will in their lives.Things that they may not show as much interest in, we will still learn about, appreciate, and support in others.

So just as we may watch a friend's piano performance with great admiration, we hope all of you will come watch as our sons lead their high school basketball team to the State championship. :)

I'm linking with other parents who discussing parenting and raising our kids in Christ.  Do you have any ideas?  Come share with us on Thursdays!

To Show Them Jesus

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