Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Five

Today I am abundantly grateful for:

1. Godly teachers
2. Homemade peach cobbler
3. Long bike rides
4. Laughing with friends
5. Late night talks with Tim on the deck

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three Things on Thursday

1.) My husband grew up doing construction because his Dad is a general contractor. Even when we were dating Tim and I would often drive around looking at houses, and it's a pastime we still enjoy today. So it's no surprise that our kids enjoy it, too. They loved the Parade of Homes this year, and we all get excited when we get a chance to walk through a house still under construction. We speculate about what the rooms will be like, how the homeowners will decorate, and whether they will have a good view.

So the other day Nate and I were driving around a new neighborhood waiting for Emma to finish her piano lessons. As we slowly cruised down the street, I heard Nate say, "Holy cow! That house is kinda HUGE!" (I couldn't stifle my giggles.) Hearing a two-year-old and eight-year-old comment on houses is hopelessly cute!

2.) I've been reading a book called "Romancing Your Child's Heart." It's an excellent book that encourages parents to "out-romance" the competition (There IS competition for your child's heart!). It's made a BIG difference in our home and my parenting. I find that I am way more patient, and I have way more time to engage with Emma and Nate. We embrace the moment more often and have enjoyed lots of trips to the park, walks, bike rides, cuddles, books and just silly time together. It's especially cool to see my children responding with positive behavior and kindness to one another. I would highly recommend this book to any parent.

3.) Did anyone hear there was an earthquake in Colorado a couple days ago? Maybe not since the Virginia earthquake overshadowed anything else newsworthy that day, but I find it interesting that several websites say these quakes are not uncommon in the southwest part of our state. I did not know that! Read more here and here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Best Vacation EVER!

We are a water skiing family! We love the lake, so when the opportunity to spend a week at a lake house came up we jumped on it!

It was a dream come true and the best vacay we've ever had! We invited lots of family to come with us (the lake house could sleep over 20 people) but everyone couldn't make it. We got to share it with my parents, my brother and sister-in-law from Florida, and my aunt, uncle and cousin from Texas.

I had special shirts made for the week - along with a fun welcome bag.

There was lots of this - relaxing on the deck.

Lots of game time!

Music time!

Trampoline time!

And of course time on the water!

We hiked to this lake and the 300 foot waterfall, which you can see on the mountain in the background.

Cliff Jumping!



The whole fam!

This was one of the many amazing views we had all week!

It was such a great week that no one wanted to go home. Before we left we decided this vacay was worth repeating next year! And all those family members who didn't come this year....well, they are already anticipating their chance to join us next year.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Five

Today I am thankful for:
1. Play time with Emma and Nate.
2. Laughs with friends.
3. Inspiring music.
4. A good night sleep.
5. Breakfast with my Savior.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three Things on Thursday

1.) I'm not a coffee drinker...neither is Tim. We didn't even own a coffee maker for a long time, but I actually bought one several years ago so we could offer our guests coffee. In the wintertime we use it to heat water for tea and hot chocolate, so it didn't surprise me at all when Nate saw a coffee maker in a magazine this morning and he said, "Oh look! A hot chocolate maker!"

2.) I love biking! Nate and I can be found on the trail 4 or 5 times a week. We have a fun routine where we ride for 3 miles to the bike shop,go inside and look at all the cool new bikes, have a snack at the picnic table, then ride 3 miles back to the car.

It's a pretty strenous ride with 3 miles of constant uphill, which amounts to a 1,000 foot increase in elevation. So I'm usually feeling pretty good about our ride and my ability to pull an extra 50 pounds (Nate, trailer, toys, snacks and whatever else Nate deems necessary). I'm no Lance Armstrong, but I do alright. I've never been passed by a runner or skateboarder - well until this week.

This guy came cruising by us on an extra-wide skateboard. His legs must have been 6 feet long. He was alternating pushing with his left and right foot, and he zoomed past us like we were crawling! Ummmm....that's just not right. What else can I say?!

3.) Pinterest. What is it about this website that is so addicting? I don't get it...but I am completely hooked. If you're not on (and you need more ways to waste time online), let me know and I will send you an invite.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to school - ALREADY?!

Emma wanted to start the school year with a new haircut, and she opted for a much shorter cut this time. She's been growing out her bangs for well over a year now, and they were finally long enough that - with this cut - her hair is all one length. I love it!

For us, the new school year always begins with a fun tradition - opening the "Schultute" - the night before the first day of school. (Click here to see previous year Schultutes and what it means.)

It was a beautiful morning - the first day of 3rd grade! We were up so early that the kids had time to play in the backyard.

Emma purchased her own outfit for the first day of school. She was so proud to spend her own money! When did she get so big?!?!

Emma with her 3rd grade teacher - Mrs. Menke.

Nate wishing Emma a good day.

As Nate and I pulled out of the parking lot, I was very tearful. I love having Emma home in the summer, and another school year means she is growing up way too fast! Nate and I spent the morning at the park...then rushed over to get Emma (thank goodness for a half day) and we all headed to the pool. Overall, the first day of 3rd grade was a great day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beautiful God

Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days I've experienced in a long time - simply because it was wrapped in tremendous peace.

For many months - too many to count - satan has attacked me with anxiety. Anxiety about any and everything. That's been his tool of choice, and I hate it! I've been engaged in an ongoing battle for my peace and joy as I seek to claim those gifts, which Christ has given me as His child. The enemy is just messing with me. Messing with me because he knows...God is on the move in my life!

About 6 months ago I began sensing that God was calling me to make some changes. Over time He has slowly revealed those changes to me. (I think it's been slow because He is graciously giving me time to adjust to the idea of letting go of things that I am deeply involved with.) In the beginning, I was skeptical at best. But now...well, now I am very comfortable with the idea. Like an old comfy robe - releasing those things to God feels good. It feels right. I feel enveloped by His perfect peace as I take the next step into a big unknown - a world uncluttered by the projects and commitments that have stolen my time for many years. I feel more free than I have felt in a very long time. I like this new place.

This new place isn't just a place where I have let go of things. It's a place where God is replacing a super busy calendar with times of rest, times of intentional living and an assignment directly from Him. (As God would have it, He also told me to keep this assignment between us for the time being. So God and I - we have a little secret. Heehee)

But here's the point of this whole post. Yesterday was the culmination of God calling me to this new assignment. I finally felt total peace. God had spoken so clearly to me through His Word and through our morning church service. Tremendous peace finally consumed me, and I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be - right in the middle of God's will for me. Then I woke up this morning.

We went to Emma's school this morning to meet her 3rd grade teacher and see her new classroom. It was exciting to see old friends - for both of us - and we enjoyed catching up with friends we hadn't seen all summer. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I realized that tremendous peace (which I had walked into the building with) had now left me. I was anxious. Why? Because the enemy was trying to detour me from the assignment God had given me. He was taunting me with thoughts like, "All the other moms...See what you'll be missing...You won't have any friends...Just this once..."

I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who stepped in and reminded me of the verses God had shown me this very morning. "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be. My father will honor the one who serves me." (John 12:25-26)

At that moment I realized that taking on my new assignment will not be an easy one. There will be opposition - from satan and from people - but God is my strength. My call is secure. He will see me through. He restored my peace and reminded me that every battle must be fought with the full armor of God and the sword of the Spirit. Thank you, Lord, for the gifts you give us! We are not alone. And we are not without the things we need to live a victorious life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God wants you to know this

As I wrote this post in my head earlier this week it was a much different story than what I am about to share. There's one reason I am sharing this story with you...because God wants you to know He is ever-present and He hears every prayer you utter. That's the very thing He taught me over the course of two days.

I took my kids to the dentist for a check-up, expecting a quick in and out so we could get on with our day. You see, eight months ago Emma had four of her teeth "sealed" to prevent cavities. Imagine my surprise when the dentist told me that all four fillings had fallen out and Emma had cavities in each tooth in addition to a new one in another tooth! I was shocked to say the least.

Emma was visibly shaken as well. Since her last appointment she has been so diligent at brushing well and flossing each night. We were both speechless.

The dentist explained "this never happens" and he believed it was a bad bonding agent that just didn't adhere. He said he'd "make it right" by resealing the teeth free of charge.

Then he checked Nate. I was told Nate had three cavities! Three! Two of them were in teeth he didn't even have 8 months ago. I was flabbergasted. How could this be?

I was so shaken by the time we left that I had to take several deep breaths before I even started the car. I prayed all the way home and asked God for wisdom. The dentist was suggesting procedures for Nate that I was not comfortable with. I needed more advice. A second opinion.

As soon as I got the kids settled with lunch I called my own dentist. After a lengthy conversation with the receptionist, I had scheduled an appointment for the kids to see my dentist the next day.

I took Emma and Nate to see my dentist, which turned out to be a much better experience. For one thing, the environment was so peaceful and the staff was so good with my kids. (Contrast that with screaming kids and indifferent staff in the other office.)

My dentist checked Emma and Nate's teeth - twice. I told him exactly where the cavities were, and he checked and rechecked them. Then he said, "I just don't see it. I don't see any cavities." {big sigh of relief} He suggested Emma have her 4 teeth resealed. On Nate he did find one small beginning of a cavity, which he said he could fix without any type of anesthesia. It would be a quick, painless fix. I thanked him profusely and we headed home.

Of course on the way home I was so thankful I had taken the kids for a second opinion. I quietly thanked God for leading me in that direction.

A few hours later
After lunch Nate was napping, Emma was watching a movie and I was reading a book. All of a sudden, in the middle of my reading, I very clearly felt the Holy Spirit ask me, "Don't you remember the prayer you prayed last night?" The thought stopped me in my tracks. I thought back to last night when I was laying in bed completely overwhelmed by anxiety from the day. I had prayed just before drifting off to sleep.

My prayer sounded something like this...

Lord, I want to ask you to heal my children's teeth but I don't know if you do that kind of thing. Is it silly to pray such a thing? Do you answer prayers like that? Help my unbelief. Forgive me for doubting you.

I immediately felt the Lord telling me to pray and ask for what was on my heart. So I prayed, "If it's your will, please heal Emma and Nate's teeth. Please heal the cavities in their mouths."

Now sitting in my rocking chair reading a book...I knew without a doubt God had answered my prayer. There was no other explanation. My own dentist knew the pediatric dentist I had taken my kids to and he had nothing but high regards for the man. (It should be noted that I, too, believe the pediatric dentist is a good doctor.)

At that moment the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that God answered this "small" prayer of mine so I would know with complete certainty — He hears every prayer I pray. And He answers those prayers. Sometimes right away. Sometimes differently than I would like. But He is always with me. I am never out of His presence.

And I knew that I had to share this wonderful answer to prayer with my family — especially my children — and with my friends because it's a simple truth that He wants every believer to cling to. He hears you. He is moved by your prayers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Scavenger Hunt Lesson

This morning the kids and I had planned to go for a walk, so I decided to make a picture scavenger hunt to keep them interested (and to ward of complaining - not that my kids ever do that). ☺

It was fun to look for all the items on the list and discuss variations of the pictures. With Nate I especially worked on his colors. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "What color is that sign?"
Nate: "Red!"
Me: "What color is the tree?"
Nate: "Green!"
Me: "What color is that dog?"
Nate: "Salt!"
Me: "What color is Emma's shirt?"
Nate: "Dark!"

I love seeing things through my kids eyes. I can be so "in the box" at times that I appreciate the lessons my children teach me. Today I am thankful for big lessons from little people.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday Five - Saturday edition

We just returned home (last night) from our week-long vacation at the lake house. It was an amazing week, which I will be posting about shortly.

Being on that trip and having such a wonderful time created so much gratitude in my heart. So I am revisiting "Friday Five" because I don't want to miss sharing the thankfulness I felt on our vacation.

Today I am thankful for:
1. A log home on the lake
2. Family that loves to spend time together
3. Mountain hikes and waterfalls
4. Singing around the campfire
5. Playing in the water

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Five

Today I am thankful for:
* Getting to see family from out of state
* God's healing for my sick children
* Choices
* Inspiring books
* Evening talks on the deck with Tim

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Colorado Biking Theology

If you live in Colorado, I find that it is essential to have a well-thought out biking theology. The reason? Elevation!

Not long ago a friend of mine in Oklahoma posted her running log, which included a commentary on great dislike for the "hills" she had to run. The small print noted there was a total change in elevation of 30 feet. It still makes me giggle. I think there's a 30 foot elevation change from one end of my driveway to the other. Well, maybe I indulge the truth...but not by much.

Elevation in Colorado is serious business. All of my bike rides include an elevation change of no less than 1,000 feet. I can't even run around my neighborhood without descending or ascending several hundred feet in either direction.

So biking theology = good idea! Mine is very simple. Go uphill first. This makes perfect sense to me. If you bike uphill first, enduring all the strain and tough work of long hills, you will be rewarded at the end of your ride with a fun, easy, downhill coast. There are several cliches that come to mind that fit this theology. "Work hard. Play later." * "No pain. No Gain." * "The difference between try and triumph is a little umph."

The interesting thing is that about 95% of the bikers I pass on the trails do not share this biking theology. That is — they go downhill first, then uphill. It makes for an interesting ride. As I dig deep and pedal uphill, hoards of bikers fly past me — going downhill — all smiling and greeting me with a cheery "Good morning!" I huff out a "Hi" or "Morning" trying not to expend too much precious energy. I rarely smile.

(Side note: I would think it would only take one bike ride with the incorrect theology to realize a change was needed, but this does not seem to be the case because I continue to be the odd biker on the trail...going the "wrong" direction first.)

Oh, but the tables do turn; and I am the better for it. As I come flying downhill, I pass all those cheerful bikers but there is a vast difference in their countenance. They no longer shout cheerful greetings; they rarely smile or even look up. I, on the other hand, become Pollyanna on the trail and share joy and happiness wherever I pedal — downhill!

PS. My daughter and I tested my theology this morning when we rode our bikes to her piano lesson. It was a quick 15 minute downhill ride to get there. We were smiles and giggles the whole way. The ride back was a very steep (probably the steepest in town) long uphill...and it was hot! It took us 45 minutes. We were grumbles and sweat the whole way. That's not a ride we'll be doing again — at least not any time soon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Venting or confessing over a not-so-clean kitchen

Most of my friends know that, for me, Mondays are cleaning/laundry days. I spend the whole day cleaning the entire house and doing all the laundry. My philosophy is this: I don't want to be a slave to housework. So I do it once a week. That's it! By the weekend the mess is usually driving me crazy, but I force myself to let it go and not make my family uptight with my deranged need for spotlessness.

Now during the summer, I allow other activities to intermingle with cleaning day. We go for a bike ride or spend a couple hours at the pool or venture to the library. The goal is to still have fun with my kids while accomplishing my goal of cleaning the house once a week.

Today was just such a day. I even spent an hour reading in the hammock (one of my favorite summer activities). The house was finally clean and it was time for me start dinner. I was just beginning to pull all the ingredients out of the fridge when I felt a "shower" of soda on me. To my utter surprise and horror, I turned to see a soda can that had been dropped on the floor - spewing ALLLLLLL of its contents ALLLLLL over my newly cleaned kitchen. From top to bottom. From one end to the other.

I'm not gonna lie. I saw red! I couldn't speak! I stood there holding back my wrath with every ounce of self control I could muster. "Please go downstairs and do not return until I call for you." That's all I said but I was also thinking, "You better thank your lucky stars I've been learning about self control and didn't open a can of...." You get the picture. I can honestly say I have never been that angry at one of my children. (The anger arose from the disobedience that led to such an awful accident...not at the accident itself.)

I didn't even know where to start. Not only were the cabinets dripping with soda, I was dripping with soda. As I wiped down the cabinets and floor I thought about my reaction.I was thankful the Holy Spirit closed my mouth. Goodness knows that's not always the case. I've been studying and praying for days about living a disciplined life. This was my first big test...and dare I say I passed? No. I didn't pass, but I didn't fail either. There was a supernatural control that rose up in me, and I was able to keep my anger and venting inside. But I fumed on the inside...maybe a little longer than necessary. Will there be a day when I don't react on the inside so strongly? Will grace ever fully take over my heart and mind so that anger isn't even an option?

Do you know people like that? They just never get angry? My husband is one of those people. I'm certain that in the past 16 years that I've known him, I've seen him get angry. Once. But the truth is I can't even recall it. My memories of him are full of times when he had the right to be angry, but he responded with grace and patience instead. I wish I were like that. I'm learning that a disciplined life allows grace to take over. That's what I long for. More fruit of the Spirit in my life. More of Him. Less of me.

I've made way worse mistakes in my life. And the price tag was much higher than a dirty kitchen. This simple truth alone should allow me to be more grace-filled and forgiving. Lord, let it be so.

* The names of the guilty in this story have been withheld to protect their identity. ☺

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Five

Today I am thankful for:

1. Water parks
2. New friends
3. New opportunities
4. Smell of rain
5. My health

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Three things on Thursday

1.) Earlier this week I got to meet some bloggy friends! Thanks Meredith for making all the arrangements! It was a beautiful day at the park, meeting new friends while the kids played. I'm looking forward to doing it again and including more local bloggers, so let me know if you want to join us.

2.) I'm reading a wonderful book by Elisabeth Elliot titled "Discipline: The Glad Surrender." This book is deeply insightful and challenging. I am already planning to read it again when I finish because I find it to be so deep and engaging. Here is just one of many wonderful quotes: "My burden is light," Jesus said. It is the addition of burdens God never meant us to carry that weighs us down. Learn to say no.

3.) I've succumbed to weariness this week. The truth is I've been fighting it with daily (continuous) prayer, but my soul is weary. I have four friends and one family member currently battling cancer, and another is being tested for it in days to come. There are no words....

I've watched several other friends and family members battle this awful disease. The journey is long and difficult. The outcome uncertain. I find myself being more thankful for the good health I currently have. The enemy of my soul tempts me to fear that I'll be next. The Lord gives me words of encouragement to share with those people in my life going through the storm. All I know to do is cling to Him, trust in His sovereignty and seek His wisdom and guidance. (And, perhaps, refer myself to the quote in #2 of this post.)