Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Big Fat Blessed Life

I have always felt a little sorry for the Thanksgiving holiday - how it gets overlooked and forgotten and encroached upon by the money-making holiday of Christmas.   This year, it seemed like retailers pulled out the Christmas garlands before we even packed our swimsuits away.  

I feel that somehow we shouldn't start making shopping lists and wish lists before we've set aside time to give thanks, but this year I am guilty of doing just that.  

And I feel stressed.  And discontent.

And thoroughly sick of Christmas already.

I was reading the Parable of the Sower today.  It's a little challenging when you get to the part about the weeds of worries, riches, and the pleasures of life.  Who can get through life (or one day) without dealing any of those?  If you manage to get rid of all your riches and pleasures, you've got some worries!

But I think a big part of the answer is in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Give thanks always....

Because isn't gratitude a pretty good cure for worry and discontent and greed?

So, while some may say it's cheesy, I'm making a list of what I am thankful for:

I am thankful....

For my husband.  Pretty much the most wonderful, generous, and loving person I know.  And if you looked in the dictionary next to the word "honorable," I'm pretty sure you would see this handsome face.

I am thankful....

For my daughter.  

I am thankful that Grace is growing into a poised and thoughtful young woman, brimming with creativity and always excited to try new things.  I am terribly proud of the fact that she wrote a story about an answered prayer that changed our whole family and that it was published this year in a national magazine read by thousands of kids around the world. 

I am thankful...

For boys!

Here's a shameful confession from my past that is sad but true.  Once upon a time, when I just had one little girl, I thought that when we had more children they should all be girls.  

Thank you, God, for not answering that prayer.

I would have missed out on so much.  Like forts and wrestling and lego creations and prank wars and superheroes and homemade catapults and pet crickets (and stitches and bathroom humor and horribly smelly socks....) and a whole different way of looking the world that is full of adventure and daring and, well, dirt.   Now I sometimes see mothers of only girls and I really do feel sorry for them.

I am thankful....

For Caleb.  I am thankful for his sensitivity, his sincerity, and especially for the way he loves everyone.

Recently I took him to an indoor skate park that he had been waiting months to go to.  His friend was told he couldn't skate because he had the wrong shoes, so Caleb took off his own shoes and gave them to his friend so the friend could skate while he watched.

I am thankful....

For Joshua.

I am thankful for the way he runs through life bubbling over with enthusiasm, joy, and affection.  Everything he does has a little extra bounce  to it and he is always singing, humming, or dancing. I suspect that someday many people will be blessed by his songs and his words. 

Someday, we will realize that all that time spent doing tedious speech exercises every single day was worth it. 

I hope.   

And I am thankful....

For my full-time job of loving my husband and discipling my kids....because - with all due respect to the Peace Corps - sometimes this feels like the toughest job you'll ever love.  Add in the task of homeschooling and you get to add more pressure and the haunting fear that I'll forget something important and they'll accidentally grow up to be doofuses and it will be all my fault

I won't lie.  There have been times I have secretly wondered if I would enjoy my kids more if I let someone else teach them how to divide fractions while I went to the gym.  Or Starbucks. 

But I am thankful...

Thankful that God has given me a job to do that is just hard enough to keep me on my knees and that He shows me every day just how many resources He is willing and able to give me.

And I am thankful...

For a rich year of life that has contained more blessings than I could possibly list here.

  That my kids are packing their childhood with memories of camping trips, kayaking adventures, roasting marshmallows on the beach under a full moon, road trips, 

museum trips, book clubs and prayer buddies, serving at the local food pantry, dancing at weddings, 

and remembering honorable grandfathers at funerals.

 I am thankful...

For friends who will pray with me as often as they laugh with me. 

  I am thankful for all the places I got to travel to this year and all the people I got to go there with.

I am thankful....

For the beauty of this world and hints of the next.

For all the answered prayers, and all the ones that seemed to go unanswered.  That God is good through it all and that His thoughts towards us outnumber the sand on the seashore.

And I am so very thankful....

 For the manger, for the cross, and for the empty tomb. 

That mercy triumphs over judgement.

And that my name is known in heavenly places.

" cup overflows...." 
-Psalm 23:5

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Didn't Know Art History Would Look Like This

Every school year, I never quite get around to Art, and I always promise myself that we will spend time in the summer doing it.

And this summer, for the first time in five years, we actually did.

We painted upside down to understand what it must have been like for Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

 (And we often wondered why Michelangelo didn't put some clothes on the people he painted....)

Grace also wanted to try painting without her hands to better understand the work of disabled artists, such as Joni Eareckson Tada.

And then there was da Vinci.

And we discovered that you can't very well study Leonardo da Vinci without learning about some of his inventions (and maybe trying them out for yourself).  

Da Vinci had an incredibly curious mind and his goal was to make detailed drawings and notes of every single thing in nature.  His study of creation and how it worked gave him all kinds of ideas for  inventions.

Many modern inventions, such as the helicopter, the parachute, the snorkel, and the bicycle can be seen sketched out in da Vinci's journals. 

And fourteen years ago, this man 

was inspired to try out one of da Vinci's ideas and designed some special shoes that allowed him to walk on water. 

 He walked 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

Some people have a lot of time on their hands. 

Anyway, we had a little time on our hands ourselves this summer, so we decided to give it a try too.

We headed off to Lowe's to get us some styrofoam blue board. 

"Whatcha want it for?" The man at Lowe's questioned us as if women and children don't come in every day looking for large insulation products. 

For a brief moment, I imagined myself saying, "Oh, we're going to go home and walk on water." 

I decided instead to go with, "It's kind of a science project."

That seemed to satisfy him and he pointed us in the right direction.  

We all came home full of excitement and ready to walk on water. 

About an hour and 312 pieces of duct tape later, we were ready to go. 

Art teachers must have all the fun.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Snapshots

 This summer we put another 2,000 miles on our van while roadtripping through the West.

(always bring a Grammy along if you can)

Along the way, we honored the memory of my Grandpa,

Enjoyed time with lots of family,

 Found a little snow,

(It was totally dry and crunchy, but still...)
And did a little dancing.

We spent the rest of the summer, doing fun things like making the most of a monsoon flood in the grass,

Celebrating the birthday of my favorite person,

Sewing lessons,

And wrestling camp!

Some people think that boys and girls are pretty much the same.

Those people have never been to wresting camp.

What with all the grunting and yelling and slamming each other on stinky mats with loud thuds (and,  I might add, pinching and scratching, and wedgie-giving even though they're not supposed to...) and all  the tattoo-covered dads screaming their heads off on the side lines, I found the testosterone in the place to be stifling.

But my boys had an awesome time. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fun Ways to Keep Cool

 If you have both a pool and a trampoline in your backyard, it probably won't take very long for somebody to come up with a very fun (if not terribly safe) idea.

Safety is a concern, though, so it helps to have a responsible adult around.

And I stress "responsible."

Unless, of course, it was his idea in the first place.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


For some reason I don't quite remember, I formed a belief somewhere in my childhood years that 36 is the magic number at which a person officially becomes old.  I have no idea why I picked that number and although, as an adult, I have found no evidence or experience to support that theory, I find that it is still a conviction lodged deep in my mind.

Last year, I was shocked to realize that my husband was turning 36.  Good grief, I was married to an old man!

"Oh yeah," he countered, "Guess what's right around the corner for you!"

And so it was this week that I found myself facing official oldness.

I was happy to discover that, although I am now old, I still feel - and might I add look - quite young : ).

Still, if Joshua's card is any indication, I may need to work on my posture.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

World's Fair

In case I whined too much about it before, we had a really wonderful time learning about Indonesia.

Grace did the bulk of the research and writing,

But when it came time to present to others, Caleb really stepped up and showed his strengths in this area.

(I didn't get a good picture of that but just take my word for it.)

And Joshua - well in his words, "I da China guy who do nothing." But that's not entirely true. He did a lot of work on the salt map.

One thing we learned about that really impacted me was this:

How the Bible looks to nearly half a million Indonesians (and 340 million people worldwide) who do not have it translated into their own language yet:

Looking at all those blank pages and thinking about living an entire lifetime without ever having access to one word of God honestly made me cry.

We have been learning about William Tyndale, who gave countless tedious hours and eventually his own life to translate the Bible into a language that we could read. The Seed Company, where I saw the idea for the blank Bible, asks us to consider what we are willing to give up today to help with translation. They even have an app you can download that shows different things you can give up in order to fund the translation of one verse.

Unfortunately for Charlie, we decided to give up a professional dog grooming.

With the hot weather coming, it was time for our shaggy dog to have his first visit to a groomer. We called around one evening and were amazed at how much it cost. Unbelievable that they could charge that much just to trim a dog, we thought.

"You know, I really think we could do it ourselves," Phil suggested.

Never mind that we don't actually own any dog clippers, just your basic pair of scissors....

"But how hard could it really be?" He continued. "And with the money we save, we can translate three verses for a people group."

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Four and a half hours and 73 dog treats later it didn't seem like such a good idea any more.

Maybe Charlie will get his reward in heaven.

Or not, depending on your theology of pets and heaven...

As for us, we have the joy of being part of the gospel that is growing and bearing fruit all over the world (Col. 1:6), and the new-found knowledge that those dog-grooming prices are pretty much the best deal in town.