Did anyone catch the plate numbers on that truck that ran over our family? Oh....there it is.....
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Did anyone catch the plate numbers on that truck that ran over our family? Oh....there it is.....
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
What is this, the computer Grinch or something?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Last night, Jamie once again challenged gravity and the vulnerability of growing bones. As if her last stunt (taking a leap off of the coffee table in an effort to fly--only to land face-first on the tile floor and left with a split-open top lip, a bloody and bruised nose, and a loose tooth) wasn't enough proof of her fearlessness, she found it necessary last night to see what would happen if she ignored Mom and just went ahead and let Morgan throw her around. Well....if she hadn't woken up this morning with an only slightly tender arm, we'd be heading to the hospital for x-rays today. She went to bed last night with her little teeny wrist splinted and wrapped in an Ace bandage, because after her rather rough encounter with the floor (and the weight of her own body and Morgan's as well on top of her wrist), she couldn't move it and spent almost four full hours in tears.
This latest injury was probably the closest we've come to actually having a broken bone--well, at least with Jamie. Jon has had close to a dozen ankle sprains to his record, and our health clinic didn't even bother loaning us the crutches--they just GAVE them to us. We've been expecting a break for a long time; it's just not happened yet. But it's only a matter of time.
Perhaps Jamie needs to be outfitted with full football padding? Hmm, does that even come in a 3T?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Maybe sometime after Christmas I'll have tons of pictures and fun little anecdotes to share...but for now, I wish you all a Happy Holiday season and I'll see you sometime around the new year!
Friday, November 30, 2007
Jamie's face and the floor...also do NOT play well together.
For future reference, self, use the nutcracker and avoid splitting your nail halfway to the cuticle, and keep Jamie OFF of the coffeetable!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
"One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy."
~ Elisabeth Elliott ~
I do my best thinking in the driver's seat. Maybe that's one very big plus about living in Germany; I get plenty of opportunities for some good meditation on the Autobahn! Sure, the good, hard, intense studies can't be done going 100mph, but what better time to fill one's mind with the deep thoughts of God and His purposes than while navigating the busy highway surrounded by people who would rather leave you in their dust than be courteous? It's very calming....although I still detest rush hour traffic!
Oddly enough, I've learned some very valuable lessons from my hours of driving. One of the most important is related to this week's quote. In the US, we have an understanding that the left lane is for passing...but we don't always see people using it for that purpose. Too often, you get one yahoo who wants to get in the left hand lane and slow everyone down by doing JUST shy of the speed limit and remaining blissfully oblivious to the growing line of annoyed drivers behind him. Here in Germany, we don't see that very often. Perhaps a lot of it has to do with the fact that if you linger too long in that left lane, you are going to be blown off the road by a teeny little Audi or Porsche bent on breaking the land speed record, but it's mostly because you can actually be ticketed here for driving in the passing lane. It's the LAW, and Germans do take their driving laws to heart! At any rate, though, that passing lane is not where you want to just take up residence for any extended period of time, because it not only impedes faster drivers, but you just don't need to be going THAT fast for so long. Driving at a high rate of speed can impair your reaction time, and it surely affects your concentration.
Similarly, living life "in the fast lane" like so many Americans are doing nowadays can stretch one's concentration too thin. Life starts to get blurry when you're constantly bouncing from one activity to the next, and the purpose of life is often the first thing to fade. I have been embarrassed when driving sometimes I get so stuck on passing a slow driver that I miss my exit or a turn or even my destination. We do that with our harried schedule as well. We may fully intend for our flurry of do-goodness, of running hither and yon with school activities, youth group activities, extracurricular activities, church work, ministering to those who need help, and just day to day life that we lose sight of what we were trying to do in the first place.
It's time to slow down. Put our emphasis on the things of God, but let HIM dictate what those things should be...not what everyone else around us expects of us. It's okay to be in the fast lane for a little while so we don't run over those around us who are just a tad less active, but life shouldn't be lived in the fast lane. There's too much to miss--maybe even our destination!
This week's In "Other" Words is being hosted by Sarah. Visit her blog To Motherhood And Beyond to read her thoughts and link to other participants!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Hey, I guess stranger things have happened.
At any rate, here's a nice, little posed pic for all of my cyber (and of course, real-life) friends and family--both God-given and hand-picked. Yes, it's a Thanksgiving 'miracle'. All seven of us are looking directly AT the camera, and JON IS SMILING!!!!!! Need I clarify that the photographer was a rather attractive 18-year-old girl who is new at church?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Leave a comment and I'll link you up below!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
To "meet" some other Wordless Wednesday participants, go here.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
"Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible--terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved."
~ Hannah Hurnard ~
This quote is so incredibly timely that I almost had to laugh when I read it! My blog break (to scrapbook, honest...and believe me, I've got a LOT to show for my time "off") was much-needed, both for my house's sake (can you say DEEP clean?) and for me to finally get the chance while Pete was home for more than two hours to sit and just scrap. I've got TONS of pictures to put to paper, and of course I just *have to* include a story with each one. Funny thing is, the very thing that I've been dreading that has kept me from jumping headlong into this task was a very valuable lesson that God's been trying to teach me for a long time. And, interestingly enough, it is the main idea behind today's quote! Go figure.
My purposeful extended scrapbooking session was prompted by the realization of a rather "small" anniversary. I was sitting at Burger King the Saturday before last eating lunch with my two-year-old when a teen couple sat down next to us to share an order of fries. I had to stifle a giggle when the young girl asked her beau what he wanted to do for their anniversary, since they'd been together "so long"--surely a six-month anniversary warranted some serious celebration, right? So as the two of them discussed movies and fancy dinners and maybe even jewelry (?!?), my mind wandered back to when Pete and I were younger. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that November 4, 1988 was the day he asked me out. It seemed HUGE back then, but relatively insignificant now in the grand scheme of marriage, enlistment, babies, financial strains, deployments, and the REALLY big issues of life. Nineteen years. Our relationship is actually older than Pete was when we got married! Hitting the craft store after lunch, I realized that I'd not even completed srapbook pages for our high school years, so I determined to remedy that situation and get some scrapping done for once, even if it was painful to look at any of the pictures that brought up bad memories.
My mind has unconsciously recorded a timeline for the ugly events that went on in Pete's life that affected every facet of our married life several years ago, and like it or not, I can't help but see that timeline in the pictures we have. I know what was going on behind the scenes, and it's HARD to come to grips with the story behind the pictures. But the interesting thing is, even though my mind's eye can still see those things, when those memories play out in my mind, there really isn't any ill will left for him. When I look at that sweet face, I see the man I love--not what he's done. I never thought I'd be capable of forgiveness to the degree I have forgiven him, and I never expected to understand so fully the depth of what "true" love really means.
When you're sixteen (or even thirty?) and your view of love for a new object of affection is skewed by chemical reactions in the brain, that "crazy in love" feeling is all you see. You overlook obvious character flaws and even some pretty severe behavioral misdeeds because your beloved is just....perfect. You can overcome anything together--scale any mountain, tackle any problem, and "love" will be enough. Counselors of just about any faith will tell you that this flitty adolescent view of love is immature. Of COURSE it's immature. It's not based on a choice. So inevitably, reality sets in and the warts appear. Flaws become targets for our magnifying glasses of criticism, and every little thing our beloved does suddenly takes on a gravity that can bring 'love' crashing down like the Hindenberg. What's truly sad is that some people never make it past this. They never get to the point where the love found in 1 Corinthians 13 takes over. Their marriage never experiences that agape, unconditional love that blots out the ugliness.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
True, enduring marital love is a picture of the type of relationship Christ has for His church. It is not a love that dwells on problems, imperfections, flaws, or unmet expectations. It is a love that seeks to do good to the object of affection, with no expectation of having the sacrifice returned. It is the ultimate Photoshopped picture of perfection, and I am SO thankful that God taught me this lesson now while I'm still 'young' so I don't spend too many more years wasted on mourning the loss of that teenage fantasy. It's amazing to know that I have something better, and that it has nothing to do with how "perfect" my marriage is!
Bonnie is this week's In Other Words host--visit her Ink It Blog to see what she has to say about the quote she chose and to view other participants' blogs.
Friday, November 9, 2007
All of my pictures are now out of those icky, toxic static-cling pages that held them in albums. They're in boxes. Not exactly a perfect home for pictures, but hey, one step at a time, right? Hey, there's only so much I can do with the supplies I've got, ok???
Ooh, I did hit a crafter's paradise last Saturday, and I'm still kicking myself for being so frugal. I knew the craft shop in Hanau was closing down, and their big "blowout sale" was going on, so I stopped in. I found a few things I'd wanted to get, but had no clue how their sale was being run, so I only got a handful of 'must have' items and headed for the register. A few tag templates, another alphabet template, and I FINALLY got the gumption to buy one of those cool pigment Petal Point inkpads with eight colors. I figured I'd take my chance that it'd be marked down from the $14.95 price tag. Um....it was. I picked one of their random sale stickers out of their Fall Sale pumpkin and got my discount--80%!! Wowsers!!! All of a sudden I was wishing I'd gotten more!
I did complete a few more pages--one from high school (yes, I am THAT far behind, wanna make something of it?), one of the lovely little one-bedroom apartment we lived in near the gate at Redstone Arsenal in Hunstville when we finally left home, and a couple from Jon's first year. I'm getting there.
And today, my first 'online' day, what am I doing? Gathering idea lists for Grandma for Christmas. Fun. I can hardly think of anything to blog about!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
But ya know what? I'm most excited about that scrapbooking club. Pete has been fussing at me for a long time to do something for "me" (maybe he's got just a TAD bit of guilt for all the BMW/Porsche/motorcycle stuff he's brought home these last few years?), and I finally figured out what that was. I am just bored stiff with the same three packages of plain scrapbooking paper that the PX's carry, and I purposely avoided Michael's with a passion (it was like avoiding dessert, y'all....this was NOT an easy task) while we were in the States, because I just KNEW I wouldn't be able to fit everything I wanted to bring home with me in that suitcase! So yes, we spent well over $300 on the kids while we were 'home'. Me? I got myself ONE outfit that was on sale at Wally World for $14. Hmm.
Hurry up, Mr. Mailman! I needs me some paper!
Ok, 'need' was a little much. But I AM a bit bored.....
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
"The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian."
~ A.W. Towzer ~
Jonathan was seven years old, and had just gotten his first "big boy" set of Legos--a detailed set of teeny little parts that were supposed to create a very intricately designed race car. He was beyond excited and was chomping at the bit to get started on his little creation. He'd been working for two or three years already with the slightly larger and less "fun" Legos meant for smaller children, and this graduation to advanced construction and assembly made him feel ten feet tall. He was, however, a little too excited to follow the instructions that came with the package; and after I offered a little encouragement to maybe pay closer attention to what the instructions said, he expressed a very disgusted disapproval of my "help". After all, Dad didn't need instructions to put together the bookshelves that we'd purchased a few weeks prior, and he'd let it slip that "real men don't need instructions". In jest, maybe, but to a seven-year-old boy, Dad's words about what made a "man" were gospel!
I went about my business and left Jon alone, figuring it was maybe time for a little object lesson. Just as I expected, half an hour later the boy was in tears, yelling across the house that his creation was "broken" and that it was "stupid" and "didn't work". I very calmly asked him if he'd read the instructions yet, and he said he didn't need to--he had a picture to work from! Of course, at that point, all he wanted to do was throw it across the room and never touch it again. He'd lost interest in trying, so I let him go play in the backyard while I dug the instruction sheet out of the box and took on the challenge of assembling a race car.Half an hour later, a very sweaty little boy came back in and stopped dead in his tracks, wondering how on earth his "broken" set of Legos somehow became a working car, right there on the kitchen table. "Simple," I told him. "I followed the instructions." He didn't believe me, so I took it all apart and sat down with him to follow the steps in order and to the letter. We re-created a perfect replica of the picture on the box, and believe it or not, it worked PERFECTLY. To this day, he still rolls his eyes a bit when I ask him if, during the assembling process, he has consulted the instruction manual. However, he knows that there are some things he can't just "wing it" with, that if he wants the final product to be perfectly assembled and in the working order that the designer intended, he has no choice but to follow the directions given by that designer. There just isn't any other acceptable way. He CAN use a little creative license, but the finished product will be different, every single time.
This is one of those 'religious' issues that has me stumped. Maybe I'm just too much of a purist, but I just can't understand sometimes why folks would think that anything less than strict adherence to God's instruction booklet would produce an acceptable result. I've talked with people who will see a particular truth in black and white on the pages of the Bible but discount it in favor of "pastor says" thus and such or "well I've always interpreted that to mean" whatever. Why would we do that and still expect God's plan to work as He designed it? Why is religion the only facet of "truth" that we believe is up for debate?
I was listening to my 'Wow! Hymns' CD this morning on my way home from taking Pete to work, and the song "Trust and Obey" was playing. How timely, no? In the quiet (haha) solitude of my empty-except-for-me minivan, I was able to really stop and meditate on the words I've sung probably two hundred times in my life:
"When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way. While we do His good Will, He abides with us still, never fear; only trust and obey."
Are we really so bold as to believe that we can put our faith in a God we don't fully trust to determine His own plan? Do we truly trust God enough to obey His Will in its entirety or are we only willing to accept the truths that mesh with our limited understanding or the agendas of men who have gone on before us? If God says it, are we truly willing to accept it and live it? Are we really, as we sing, willing to walk in the light of His Word and cast off fear to trust and obey Him?
I'm reminded of the Family Circus cartoons that appear in the comics every week, and the antics of the little boy (Billy, is it?) who can never seem to go from point A to point B without taking a hundred little sidetrips in between. It's funny, but not comical when you consider how many people live their spiritual lives chasing after all those little sidetracked rabbit trails in search of meaning, joy, happiness, and fulfillment. The danger lies in never actually getting to point B; sometimes in the search for human meaning, the objective (which SHOULD be living a life in line with God's Will) becomes blurred and we can lose sight of what we were actually aiming for in the first place. Satan is crafty and he's very good at what he does; he puts things in front of us that "feel" more right than doing what truly IS right.
The most frightening passage of Scripture to me is Matthew 7:21-29:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out deomons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
I can only imagine what it must have been like to be in the crowd that day, hearing the words of the Savior who would eventually give up His life in the most perfect example of love and obedience the world has ever seen, but I know that now, thousands of years later, reading that passage fills me with a fear of God that sparks within me the desire to know everything I can about the Will of God. I want nothing more than to purge myself of my own opinions and fill my heart and mind with the perfection found in God's Word. I don't have time for interpretations. I couldn't care less about what religious "scholars" opine about the doctrine of the day. I have no patience for manmade theologies, because I don't want to be counted among the number who will stand before the Lord Jesus and be told to depart because He never knew them. I want only to have my foundation built upon the One who speaks with authority.
Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent. Do Bible things in Bible ways, call Bible things by Bible names. Nothing else but the very Word of God can produce the result He had in mind when He designed it. Sure, we can practice creative license, but we can't expect the same end product. The end product of creative religious license is to be numbered with those whom the Lord will not "know".
In "Other" Words is hosted by Debbie at Chocolate and Coffee this week; why not take some time to blog about this week's quote, leave a link, and see what others had to say about it?
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
|You Are Bert|
You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you
You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil
How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others
I had one of those experiences last night and this morning.
Just as Pete and I finally settled into bed and shut out the world, and just as I was slowly drifting off to sleep, an odd sound permeated the silence. An eerie little voice...but where was it coming from? Outside? No, certainly no one had a toddler out at that hour! Maybe it was just my imagination, I thought. I asked Pete if he heard it, and he didn't. I settled back in to my little silent world, and there it was again just a few minutes later....what on earth???? "Pete, did you hear that?" Snort, shuffle, shuffle, sniff...."yeah, I guess so. Tell the girls to go back to sleep."
I checked on the girls. They WERE asleep, all three of them. It wasn't Jon and Kelsey, they were holed up in Jon's room doing today's algebra assignment (yes, algebra at 1am, is that a problem?), and besides, their voices were deeper than what I had heard. Surely it was my imagination. Go back to bed, already!
Ten minutes later, I heard it again......"heeeheee, wooooooOOOOOOoooooah."
Okay, this is getting creepy. Wait, what was that? "Elmo needs a streeeeetch!" You gotta be kidding me, ELMO??? Who is playing with Elmo at this hour? Maybe one of the girls is laying on him. I walked into the girls' room to seek out that annoying little Muppet, and found him laying ON TOP of the toybox, with nothing triggering any of his little speech buttons. And as I reached for him, he uttered one more shrill little "woooooooOOOOOOooooooah" before I even had a single finger on him, and I quickly snatched him up, dragged him to the living room and tossed him in the darkest, coldest corner I could find! Eek, what a creepy little toy!
If that weren't enough to keep my heart racing, I had to wake up at 6:30 this morning to Jamie's little face, eye-to-eye with mine, standing at the edge of my bed just STARING at me with the creepiest "Children of the Corn" look I've ever seen. She didn't say anything, just stared. I knew screaming would NOT be the proper response...but you know that scene in every scary movie where you just *know* something awful is going to happen? This was one of those scenes.
I think Jamie may have a future in horror movies, co-starred by Elmo. Eek.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Kelsey: "What does a cow say?"
Kelsey: "What does a dog say?"
Jamie: "Ooof, ooof" (she's never heard a dog say anything that started with a w, so "woof" doesn't fly)
Kelsey: "What does a car say?"
Jamie: "Vroom, vroom"
Kelsey: "What does Mama say?"
Jamie: "No, no"
I rest my case.
Well, no, not really. After all, I've got so many other wonderful examples! I'm not too much different from other "mean" moms when it comes to meals (yes, you WILL finish your meal or you get no dessert or snacks) and clean rooms (if I can't walk through it without stepping over something, the floor is NOT clean), hygiene (if I can smell you, there's a problem!) and common courtesy (no, that older gentleman is not a "dude", you will address him as "sir"); of course my kids think they have the strictest parents who ever lived. Nothing unusual there, I guess.
My real mean streak started a few months ago when my teens were caught doing all manner of misdeeds. This wasn't really small stuff, some of it could have been pretty severe, and it kept escalating till they saw my REALLY 'mean' side. It began small, with a $500 phone bill because Jon couldn't seem to figure out that Mom wasn't kidding when she said the German phone service is one of the reasons he cannot call his friends just "whenever". He thought he could hide the midnight phone calls to his girlfriend (even though he's not allowed to be on the phone after 9pm...just one of those common courtesies that the kids define as "dumb"), but alas, EVERY phone call is logged on our phone bill, so we knew just who was being called! He really didn't like us taking an entire Taco Bell paycheck, and he certainly didn't appreciate the fact that we suspended his allowance indefinitely when we got yet another extreme phone bill the next month! He thought he was safe buying a prepaid cell phone with his earnings, but hmm...I made him charge it overnight in my bedroom so I was assured he wasn't abusing the "no phone call after 9pm" rule. To date, he's lost ALL phone privileges, and he's lost the cell phone HE bought...since oddly enough, as soon as his minutes ran out, MY prepaid cell phone disappeared and when it was "found" (in his bedroom), it mysteriously had almost fifteen dollars less on it than when I had put it on the charger! You abuse it, you lose it. Mean? Yup, and proud of it!
Oh, I wish that were the only example. See, he and Kelsey really blew it with some of their hoodlum behavior...and as a result, we took away every video game they (or is that WE?) own and....drumroll.....SOLD IT. Gone. Forever. No more fights, no more arguments, no more gimme's, it's just gone. I hear about that almost every week. How it's not fair, that they're the only ones they know who don't have video games, you name it...
Then there's the clothing. I actually left each of the teens at home on separate Sundays because they had a fit over me telling them their attire was inappropriate. Don't like my standards? Oh well. Life stinks that way. You can't dress appropriately, you stay home.
I do have further proof of my meanness, though. Kelsey would say I'm the meanest mom in the world because I literally won't let her have ANYTHING to do with her friends. Nothing. No contact, no phone calls, no letters, no emails, no MySpace, nothing. Why? Because her 'friends' are rude, disrespectful little punks who showed her how to sneak out, drink, and do drugs. Nobody needs those kinds of friends, and I'd much prefer a lonely child whose worst influences were her parents. Oh, and Kelsey also tells me that none of her friends had any chores. I'm apparently the only mother in Germany who requires her kids to do dishes, laundry, and scrub toilets.
I'd rather be "mean" than have alcoholic, drugged-out, spoiled rotten kids. Anyday.
Guess what? I plan on being meaner with my younger kids than I was with the first two!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"We women must realize how visual men are, and because of that we should wear modest clothes. Not because we don't have the right to wear what we want, but for the benefit of the spiritual life of our brothers in Christ."~ Heather Arnel Paulsen ~ Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart
I've been meaning to participate in the last few In "other" Words Tuesdays, but something ALWAYS comes up. Go figure, today I have nothing but time. And every time I look at the quote that Loni chose, my mind drifts far from the intended focus. Odd how that works. I've tried probably ten times to find something new and thought-provoking about the idea of modest dress and the intent of the heart vs. the misdirection of the eyes, but you know, there are so many more eloquent writers out there who have written volumes both in blogdom and in print about the issue of modesty. My eye, however was drawn straight to the title of the book the quote was taken from. Emotional purity is something we don't hear much about, and while I'm not able to browse the shelves of a Christian bookstore over here to see what is on the shelves currently, I'm intrigued to find a copy of this book to see what Ms. Paulsen has to say on the subject. Having come straight out of the fire quite recently, though, I do have some thoughts on what it means to me and why I believe it's so vitally important to today's Christian.
In all honesty, I believe with all of my heart that the modesty issue wouldn't be an issue at all if our minds were truly emotionally pure. Why? Well, look at what the word "pure" means--free from contamination; without any additives or revisions. Spiritually, a pure mind would be free from anything other than the motives of God. No "opinions" that justify ignoring scriptural truth, no denominational or societal biases. Just the mind of God. What place is there for arguing the gray areas or "how far" is "too far" when it comes to dress, behavior, or thought.
The world sees the mind of Christ as a chain, binding God's people to a set of rules that restrain. But the truth is that when one has been washed clean of sin by the blood of Christ and left behind worldly concerns to adopt the mind of Christ, it is a freedom that the world can't imagine. The "rules" don't matter anymore, because someone who has denied self in favor of the Will of God will not have their own motives overriding God's.
Back on topic a bit, I tell my teens while discussing modesty both in dress and in behavior that we can't ultimately be responsible for what people *SEE* in us, but we are most definitely 100% responsible for what we *SHOW* them. Does the mind of God dictate our dress, our speech, our attitudes, our reactions and our actions? Are our emotions pure, unspotted by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life? If not, can we call ourselves true ambassadors of Christ?
Monday, October 22, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Dani loved, loved, LOVED her cake...more so than any of the others have. WOW what a mess! And to make Daddy the happiest Daddy on the face of the globe, right in the middle of an amazing University of Alabama vs. Tennessee football game, Dani shocked us all by saying her first "real" word.....in response to the rest of the family yelling "GO BAMA", Dani picked a winner......her very first real word was "BAMA!"
Roll Tide indeed!
Friday, October 19, 2007
If I were a dog, I'd probably be a Golden Retriever. I'm loyal to a fault, intensely protective of "my" people, and I can go from lazy to hyperactive in no time flat! Oh, and I shed!
Soup: What does the color purple make you think of?
Purple? Hmm, it'd have to be scrapbook paper. My latest favorite color to do anything scrapbooky in is purple!
Salad: Approximately how long does it take you to get ready each morning?
Main Course: How many cousins do you have, and are you close to them?
Dessert: Take your initials (first, middle, last) and come up with something else those letters could stand for. (Example: SFO = Sweet Funny Otter)
If you haven't heard that song, go listen to it somehow. Hey, if I can manage to figure out how to get one of those music doohickeys on my blog, I'll let you listen here, but for now, you're on your own in cyberspace. At any rate, it's a very thought-provoking song that speaks of the fake happy face we put on around church folk in an attempt to make everyone believe we're just "fine" and are as strong and righteous and happy and well-adjusted as everyone else. Thing is, is everyone else "all that"? And why on EARTH is there any artificialness (yes, I invented yet another new word) going on within the Lord's Body???? Isn't that the one place where all the masks should come off and we should be just "us"? Is real life truly too messy for fellowship?
For the most part, Christians are a "happy" bunch. At least that's what you see on Sunday mornings. But what's almost funny is seeing folks in their element, living real life. It's SO much different in most cases that you really do wonder who the people are who are sitting in the pew next to you worshipping God "in spirit and in truth". What's THEIR truth? Can we handle the truth? Can we really display the love of Christ by facing real life WITH them, or does it make us uncomfortable? We manage to handle physical illness pretty well--we know how to make sure freezers are full of casseroles or mailboxes are full of cards (whether we actually DO it is another matter entirely, but that's another soapbox I won't pull out just now), but what do we do when we know someone is dealing with something that is challenging their faith and turning their hearts upside down? All too often, we invite them to a fellowship meal or to go out to eat, or we invite them over to our house for a day full of idle chitchat that makes us feel like we've "done" something but doesn't really do much more than force them to be artificially normal for a few more hours?
We need to cut the act. Knock off the dramatics once and for all and (forgive me here, I'm going to quote Dr. Phil) "get real". What is the church really here for if not to offer help for ALL of life's ailments? Of course God is the one who does the healing, but if His people aren't in the business of ministering to one another, are we doing our commission a disservice by absentmindedly forcing people into false okay-ness?
We got some great news a few days ago; one of the men we've barely known in the church here (because he's only started attending regularly a few weeks ago) told Pete that after a long and nasty separation, his wife will be returning home to reconcile. This man and his wife have been on our prayer list for as long as I can remember; they have been having problems for the entire time we've known him, and we've never even met his wife. Thing is, we were discussing marriage and divorce in our Bible class last Sunday and this poor guy...you could tell he was very obviously hurting. This opened a festering wound for him and poured salt all over it. But what really hit hard was looking around the room and noticing how many of the mature, Christian adults who couldn't handle his questions. They gave the curt, scriptural answer and left it alone. Nobody could look him in the face. People almost rushed out of the room after that class was over, leaving him to sit there and gather his belongings in a painful silence. Maybe it was the fact that it takes us twice as long as everyone else to gather our belongings, or maybe it was that I was hurting FOR him, but I hung around a bit just to let him know that I knew just how hard it is to accept what we know is right. It IS hard. It's not always as cut-and-dry as we want to believe it is to be righteous. Sometimes what's right really does hurt. It cuts deep, it bleeds, and it is incredibly painful. But we can't just hand people a Band-Aid and expect that being right is going to make all the pain go away, because it doesn't. Sometimes we have to sit there and hurt with them. We have to get dirty; we have to get our hands all over their bloody wounds if we're going to be God's instrument here on earth that will help stop the bleeding.
News that this family was going to reconcile did something to me that I have never experienced before--it brought me to tears. GOOD tears, but tears nonetheless. And suddenly the vagueness of what God was preparing us for through all the trauma a few years ago started to sharpen. We barely know these people. We don't know the whole situation, but the little details we do know let us in to a world that we have visited before--pain. Life is ugly, sin is ugly, selfishness is ugly, and what it does to families is horrendous. But the news of reconciliation isn't the end of it. This may make everyone feel better, and it moves this family up a bit on the prayer list to "a prayer answered" status, but it doesn't help them to just let them go now. NOW is the hard part. Now they need what we needed in the past and never really got--the permission to be in pain without putting on a mask to make those who didn't know what to do or say feel better. That is what builds relationships. It's what strengthens the bonds of fellowship within the church. It never really did me or Pete any good to sit with our happy-face masks on during the worst time of our life. It didn't help us heal any. It made people feel better, though, to "see" that we were doing okay. But they didn't see what was real. We never truly gave them the opportunity to minister to us, because we learned how to hide the pain all too well. Problem was, there were only a few people who ever really peeked their faces behind the masks to see what was behind it all--it was that minute handful of people that got the real story, and it was those people to whom we were bonded through the hard work of repairing hearts and relationships.
Random thought time--plastic has an interesting quality about it--it's hard to get things to stick to plastic. You can't get Saran Wrap to adhere to a plastic plate. You can't paint plastic furniture very easily. Tape falls right off of plastic. What of "plastic" people? There's nothing to grab onto; nothing to "bond" with. So if we have shallow, happy-face-wearing, "I'm fine" relationships with our fellow Christians, do we really have a bond? The blood of Christ is an amazing glue to bond hearts, but what if they're coated in plastic? Interesting.
Anyone who gets a Christmas card from us this year will see that we are forgoing "pretty" made-up family photos in favor of "real" ones. We will not be wearing our Sunday best, we will not be hiding scratches and pimples with cover-up makeup, and you know what? If it's blurry or someone is making an ugly face, well, that's just going to have to stay. Because that's what life looks like.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
There isn't really anything incredibly striking about this passage, but when I came across it while flipping through to another passage, it caught my eye and my heart. It speaks very loudly to where I am today and it makes perfect sense that God would use it to re-emphasize what was already on my heart.
My grandmother's body was laid to rest yesterday next to my grandfather, who passed away fifteen and a half years ago, and they are buried not far from the graves of my great-grandparents. Two generations of faith, whose bodies are gone but whose love and faithful service to the Kingdom live on forever.
When we got the news several weeks ago that Memaw was nearing death, it was not really a surprise, but what did kind of catch me offguard was a sudden feeling of isolation--not only geographically, but spiritually. The reality that those in my family that are counted among the faithful is dwindling to a mere handful was something that can't quite be explained, but it just didn't feel good. I wasn't praying for God to ease that feeling, but He did anyway! Within just days, we not only had $4200 in plane tickets provided to us (without costing us a single dime), but we also had $500 for incidental travel costs granted to us. The way the Lord provides for us through the Army never ceases to amaze me, but this time...well, when we got on that international flight in Frankfurt and saw that our flight attendant was a man we go to church with here in Germany, I coudn't help but laugh and say in prayer, "Ok, Lord, I get it...this is ALL You, and now You're just showing off!" That trip was not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination--we got "stuck" in the Dulles airport after losing a checked car seat and missing our connecting flight; we ended up arriving at our destination (still three hours from my parents' house, mind you) at midnight, totally worn-out...but God wasn't finished taking care of us. We got TWO hotel rooms for less than what one should have cost--all through the special deal with the USO and the mercy of a sympathetic hotel night manager.
The rest of our trip was freed up to concern ourselves with the more weighty tasks of saying goodbye to a grandmother who, quite frankly, everyone expected to pass away before we even hit the ground. But she held on, and over the course of our eleven days there, she drank in the sight of the great-grandchildren at her bedside. She seemed to perk up and come to life a bit, and was even doing well enough to speak a few precious words to all of us the day before we left. I got an "I love you too", which was more than enough to soothe my grieving heart even before she passed on, but what she told Pete was just the icing on the cake. She mumbled a few things about taking care of us when we get home, but when it came time to say goodbye to the last of our family members to walk out of the room, she said simply, "Have faith".
That was simple, but so profound. She passed on, leaving behind a legacy of faith, and her final words echoed the teachings she and generations before her had left for us. And in all of that commotion, in that whirlwind trip, we saw just a teeny snippet of the faithfulness of God to provide for us, and we got to see firsthand the victory over death that we have through Christ's blood. Memaw's body failed her and her mind wasn't always "there", but her soul and her spirit were wholly intact and ready to meet the God she loved.
That heritage of faith is not just important to me, it's what I live for. It's not just a part of my life, it's my ENTIRE life. It's that heritage of faith that I want to pass on to future generations, and it's the very reason I seek to see things through God's eyes. For that heritage of faith in the Lord and His covenant through the sacrifice of His son I am thankful. For the generations that went on before me, I am thankful. For the opportunity to be an instrument of God for the good of the Kingdom, I am thankful.
I truly meant to blog about the very emotional homecoming of Pete's unit within a day or two of when they came home, but here it is a month later...no time like the present, right? I'll leave out the twenty or so pictures, though!
The picture above was taken as the 1st Armored Division Band played to pass the time between when "our" guys' buses arrived and when they actually marched across the field to their awaiting families. It was totally unstaged, I promise. And yes, my kids do naturally now find it quite natural to stand either at attention or parade rest. Part and parcel of this whole Army family gig, I'm afraid, but I won't apologize for it by any means. Why? Because my children are learning patriotism and respect for our country...and if that means they pick up on a little military protocol, well that's just gravy!
This homecoming was a bit odd for us. It was the first time WE weren't welcoming a soldier home, and it gave us an interesting perspective. We were able to sit back and just take everything in. We were able to feel the pride swelling in our hearts for our soldiers without fitfully searching the crowd for our own. We were able to really take full notice of the outpouring of love that surrounded us. And it was WONDERFUL! It was the blissful moment where all political opinion about war and our place in this world and the global responsibilities our nation has just disappeared. This was just a group of people who accomplished their mission and returned home to their families after a VERY long separation. Nobody on that field cared about anything other than their soldier.
Being a military family is not easy. Being an Army wife is HARD work. It isn't just about "standing by your man". Being an Army wife means that you have to balance being a single parent with having a husband out there....somewhere....who will come home and want to fit back into your life. It means you have to know how to work well without him for Lord knows how long, but be able to know how to step aside and let him take the lead the moment he's back at home. It means you need to know just about as much about how the military works as your husband does, and you have to be able to accept insecurity as a way of life. It means you can't really have true roots, because as we all say, "Home is where the Army sends us", but your heart is in five or six other places with your best friends, your family, and a deployed or "in the field" hubby. It means you don't really get to paint your living room.
And best of all, it means that one day when the stress has gone on for far too long and the loneliness has overtaken you to the point of numbness, you will stand on a field with hundreds of other family members and feel your heart leap from your chest as a military band plays Stars and Stripes Forever and you see that huge formation of green and brown march toward you. It means you stand tall and proud, because the soldiers on that field are yours.
Welcome Home, 596th Maintenance! We missed you!
I regret not getting a picture of Morgan in a dress my Mom made twelve years ago for Kelsey before it just got to be too small for Mo, but now that I've got a Grandma-made dress on Morgan and Jamie, I wanted to make SURE I had it documented! Of course no picture lately seems to be complete without our little 'center of attention', so there Dani sits in a (*gasp*) storebought dress while her sisters model Grandma Nette's handiwork. I'm amazed (as was my Mom) that the dresses have held up as well as they have! There is some yellowing, but they're in great shape for dresses made over a decade ago!
This first shot is a bit...well, not great. But the others, let's just say I'm having fun playing with my digital pics! Yes, as a matter of fact they DO look like little angels! False advertising, maybe, but hey, what little girl truly IS all angel?