Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The greatest earthly gifts I've ever been given...



Hope you've had a blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Polar Express

We made a trek Wednesday night to take a ride on the Polar Express with Granny Sue. As may be obvious, it was a train ride based on the movie. This was the first year for this event to happen, and we really didn't know what to expect. The train was three passenger cars long, with an engine on both ends--one to pull us to the "North Pole" and one to pull us back home. On the way to the "North Pole", they played a recording of the Polar Express storybook and served cookies and hot chocolate. When we arrived at the "North Pole", Santa and his elves boarded the train to ride back with us and make the rounds visiting with the kids and giving them each a bell of their own.

Here are some pictures from our fun evening:

As you can see, pajamas were the "dress code" for the Polar Express!




I love that smile on his face as he told Santa's elf that he wanted a scooter for Christmas (whew! I'm glad he didn't say something totally off the wall that I had not heard up to that point!)!



Benjamin's reaction to Santa and his elves....

And Hannah's reaction to Santa and his elves....she would NOT get her face out of my side the whole time Santa and the elves were on the train. It was not until she saw with her own eyes that they had left the train that she would finally sit up in the seat!


I'm all about making memories this Christmas season....and this was a good one to add to our collection.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happily Ever After

Benjamin and Hannah were both playing with their pretend cell phones this afternoon, and for some reason both decided they were watching TV shows or movies on the screen of their pretend cell phones. I don't know if this stems from Benjamin getting to watch a show or two on my iPod on occasion or what. But anyway, I was going to help Hannah get her socks and shoes on while she was watching her "show," and as I bent down beside her, she looked up from her screen and said matter-of-factly, "Sleeping Beauty is dead."

To which I said, "Why don't you pretend to watch a show that is nicer and doesn't talk about dead people?"

Her very quick reply was to roll her eyes and with a bit of disgust in her voice say, "Prince Charming kissed Sleeping Beauty and they lived happily ever after." As if implying that this is what ALWAYS happens and why couldn't the story be a little bit different every once in a while.

All I could do was laugh.

And sigh that she already rolls her eyes that quickly and easily.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Day Life Changed

The day was November 10, 1998. It was a Wednesday. A mundane trip to a business meeting turned out to be the day my life was changed.

My business meeting was in a town about two and a half hours from where I worked. Fortunately for me, the road there took me through the town where the love of my life lived. That meant we would get to have a mid-week visit that might shorten the time from one weekend to the next, since the weekends were the main times we got to see each other.

I made a stop on the way to my meeting for us to visit. Maybe we had quick dinner plans before I was to go on to my meeting? I'm really not sure. Sounds logical anyway.

He was still at his office, so I drove to the church to see him. Having driven almost two hours to get there, my first thing to be taken care of after a quick hello was a visit to the little girls' room. When I returned to his office, he was no longer there. I thought maybe he had to go do something. So I sat down and waited.

Several minutes passed, and he still did not return. So I got up to investigate. After hearing a sound in the sanctuary, I headed there first. I found him sitting in one of the front few pews. As I started walking towards him, I could see out of the corner of my eye that the candles on the altar were lit--my first clue that something out of the ordinary was going on. The bigger-than-usual smile on his face was another clue. The next thing I know, I'm being escorted to the altar, where I am sereneded with an original song written by none other than the love of my life that began:

"I'll tell you what
I'm going to do
It's tie the knot
Yes, marry you..."

I can still hear him singing it to this day, nine years later.

Nine years ago today was the day my life was changed. God had sent Prince Charming into my life--and life would never be the same.

Mark--thank you for changing my life. I would say yes a thousand more times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Conversation

Here's is a conversation that just took place in my living room:


(Benjamin, playing the roll of football player, and Hannah, playing the roll of cheerleader)


H: You need to move over and don't run over the cheerleader. (hands on hips, I'm sure)


B: No, I'm playing football. (not giving her a second glance)


H: You need to listen to the cheerleader and do what she says. (in a little louder voice, with a stomp of the foot)


B: No, I'm playing football.


H: IF YOU TELL ME NO ONE MORE TIME, I'M GOING TO CALL THE PLUMBER!


I wanted to ask what the plumber would do about it, but I couldn't risk ruining the moment.


Oh, life with two preschoolers.


I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Heart, God, and a Teapot

It's very hard for me to believe that it is September. The summer started out so crazy with all my heart issues that it made the rest of the summer just zip by as I recovered and tried to catch up!

I realized that I never posted after going to my cardiologist appointment back in July. It went very well, and we were very happy with this doctor. I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, which is basically a valve in my heart that does not work properly all the time. It is a very common condition and easily treatable. I was given the option of taking a medication daily to prevent any future episodes or taking a medication when I begin having an episode. Because I am young and otherwise very healthy, I chose the as-needed option. I wasn't real keen on taking heart medication everyday at the age of 33. I'll now need annual visits to the cardiologist and occasional stress tests, but all in all, things are good.

I'm convinced that God has used this heart issue to make me slow down. There's nothing like a scare with the ol' ticker to make you sit up and pay attention! Exercise, diet, and stress-prevention all play a part in preventing future episodes with mitral valve prolapse. We do pretty well with eating a low-fat diet, but the exercise and stress-prevention were pretty hit or miss up until these recent months. I am now up at 5:30 am most every morning to have my quiet time for about an hour and then go walking for 30 minutes or so. If I didn't need sleep (ha!) I would be getting up even earlier because I would like to have even more time to do both of those things. But right now 5:30am is as early as I can manage.

I am also doing a better job of preventing stress and listening to my body when I need rest. I realize at those times when I get stressed out the most, I am trusting God the least. I also realize that the world will not stop if I lay down for 30 minutes after lunch to rest, and fortunately my kids are good and allow me to do this without having to worry about them turning the house upside down!

One of my favorite things that I've begun doing--and it's such a little thing, but I love it--is making myself a pot of tea in the wee hours of the morning. Not just a cup or mug, but a pot. I bought a cute little teapot and teacup set. Not anything fancy--just red pottery, red being my all-time favorite color. Every morning when I get up, I make myself a pot of tea and carry it on a tray to "my chair" where I meet God when all else is dark and quiet in my house. I have my tea while I'm reading my Bible, doing my Bible study and talking to God about my day. To me, it's a treat--something I do because it makes me smile to do so.

I'm learning to do more of those things that make me smile. They may not be significant or noticeable to others, but they make my heart smile and brighten my day. Like picking up a bouquet of flowers in the produce section of the grocery store and bringing them home to one of my pretty vases that up until now just sat in the china cabinet collecting dust. Fresh flowers never fail to put a smile on my face. How about you?

God is good. Life is not always. But God is.

Friday, July 4, 2008

First Time for Everything

Some "firsts" are exciting and you can't wait for the "seconds." Other "firsts" are far from exciting and you hope the "seconds" don't even exist.

The latter applies to my feelings regarding stress tests. I had my first last week. I survived, was told I did really well, but I hope to never experience the second--more for what it would mean was going on with me rather then the difficulty of the test itself.

I did learn that I do not like huffing and puffing and sweating in front of a room full of people. In addition to the doctor administering the test, there was the med student shadowing him, the nurse running the computer, the radiology nurse who pumped me full of radioactive material (lovely), and another nurse or two--all standing there watching me do this stress test thing. Someone suggested if I love it so much to join a gym, but at least there everyone else is huffing and puffing and sweating, too.

My test results came back great--thankfully. Now I await the cardiologist appointment on Tuesday, where he will look over all the various results from the tests I've participated in these past few weeks, including the echocardiogram, stress test, and holter monitor events. I'm ready to get that appointment over and done with and move on to the next chapter of life. Not to mention getting to stop wearing this holter monitor.

With all that has been happening with my heart and all these tests lately, it has forced me to take a look at how I live life. I've asked myself (and God) lately if there are things I can do better. Things I can do differently. Things I can not do at all. It's made me think about the time I spend with God and realize that it's not enough. It's also made me think about my level of trust in God with the daily activities of this life I'm living--and again realizing it's not enough.

So I'm working on this--how do I do a better job of living this life God has giving me, but living it in the way that HE wants me to--not the way I want me to. I've bought a few new books. I've started setting my alarm (most mornings) for 6 am so I have at least one hour before anyone else is awake in my house. And I'm asking God to make my desire for him greater than any other desire in my life.

I'm also working on scripture memory, and this is the one I'm starting with:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143.8, 10

When I start each day, I want my to-do list to reflect God's priorities for my life, not my earthly, human priorities. Isn't this a fantastic verse to help me focus in that area? I've said it over and over and over the past week. I've closed my eyes to put a visual picture to the words contained in these two verses. I've meditated on each sentence to think about what God is speaking to my heart through it. It has brought me so much joy to impress this passage on my mind, but especially in my heart, to look to God to help me align each of my days with His desires for me.

Maybe it can do the same for you.

I'll be back to share more with you about what God is teaching me. Until then, bless you!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Unexpected

I am 33 years old, and if asked, I would say I am in relatively good health. I try to exercise regularly, but in reality it's usually 2 or 3 times a week, though I do spend my days keeping up with a 3 and 4 year old. I do my best to feed my family healthy meals, with 98% of my recipes coming from what used to be "Light N Tasty" and is now "Healthy Cooking" by Taste of Home. I am well within my healthy weight range, and if I told you I was trying to lose 6 or 8 stray pounds, you would laugh at me and ask me where those pounds might be (being 6' 1" has its advantages!). I take my vitamins, drink lots of water, and try to limit my coke and caffeine intake.

So why did I find myself in the emergency room two weeks ago, hooked up to an EKG machine, after having a very scary and very strange heart episode? Why did I have to go back to the hospital a few days later for an echocardiogram, and will be going in two days for a nuclear stress test, and also am now wearing a holter monitor to record any heart episodes I have in the meantime?

Good questions. I'm really ready for some answers.

I certainly never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be dealing with heart issues at this age. And because it is my heart that we are dealing with, my stress level over the whole situation is a bit more elevated than, say, if we were dealing with a broken pinky toe. And I'm quite sure that stress is not helping whatever this heart situation might be.

So I wait. And wait. And in the meantime, I ask for your prayers.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Perfect Gift

Today is my birthday, and here is one of the gifts I received:



As you can see, it is a purple and yellow seashell, trimmed in gold and lots of "diamonds." It opens up to look like this:


The card on this gift said, "To: Mommy, From: Benjamin and Hannah."


You may be asking why in the world am I blogging about a purple and yellow seashell. I'll tell you why. Because this is the first gift that I have ever received that was 100% shopped for and chosen by Benjamin. Mark said there were several other items that they looked at, some of which were Hannah's vote to be the purchased gift. But Benjamin insisted that this is what he wanted to give me for my birthday--after all, he was certain I would LOVE it.


And you know what? I do. Not because it is something I would have chosen for myself, but because my favorite little boy in the whole wide world chose it JUST FOR ME. This somewhat gaudy little seashell is representative of my firstborn child; the one I look at and say, "he DOES look like me!"; the one who loves on me and kisses on me all day long; the one who is growing up way too fast into such a sweet little boy.

This seashell will occupy a very special place on my dresser and will soon have a little note tucked inside, reminding me of when and why it now occupies a very special place in my heart.

Happy Birthday to me.

A New Look!

Don't you love getting a new outfit? I know I do!! The only thing that makes a new outfit better is when it's a bargain--my FAVORITE way to shop!

I really wanted a new look for my blog, but I did not want to shell out any money for it--seeing as how my commitment to my blog has been less than stellar as of late! Lucky for me, I went here and got this cute new template! Don't you love it? Go check out Matie Kay's blog if you are interested in a new look for yourself--she's got some cute stuff!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Out of the Blue

I'm determined to write SOMETHING! It's been over two months since I've been here--phooey! I love keeping up with my blog, but it seems like keeping up with everything else has been consuming my time as of late! I guess I need to SCHEDULE blogging into my life; otherwise, it may not happen! This will be a quickie, but maybe I can get back into things soon!

This week has been an overwhelming reminder of how quickly time flies, especially with these two precious bundles of energy called Benjamin and Hannah! This was their last week at their Children's Day Out program, and Tuesday they had their end of year program and the first ever preschool graduation. Benjamin, being in the 4 yr old class, was a part of the graduation, complete with little caps and gowns and everything! Seeing this little man of mine in a cap and gown was almost more than I could handle. He was so handsome, did everything he was supposed to do perfectly, and just made me so stinking proud! There were lots of tears involved with the program and graduation, but fortunately I could hide behind the video camera!

Not to be left out, Hannah was wonderful as well. Prior to the graduation part of the program, the 2, 3, & 4 year old classes sang several cute songs, and Hannah performed as any other stage queen would! She loves to be front and center when up on stage, and she does not disappoint! She sings and dances with the best of them. Her personality is bigger than life sometimes and never fails to make me laugh. Okay, well, sometimes it fails to make me laugh and instead makes me want to scream. But it's at those times that I tell myself that these character traits will serve her well one day.

I'm a single mom this week, with Mark out of town for a church conference, so this out-of-the-blue post must come to an end. I have two kiddos in the backyard, still in swimsuits, that need a bath so I can put them to bed...so I can go to bed! I'm tired! It's weeks like this that my respect for single parents goes up tremendously.

I hope to be back soon and can hopefully post some pictures of the big end of school program and graduation! Until then...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Joy

This has been a fun week!

One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities that we as moms have is to teach our children about the love of Christ. So entering this Holy Week, I was determined to make sure I talked with Benjamin and Hannah about what Easter is all about and that it has so much more to it than chocolate bunnies and hunting eggs.

Monday morning, I sat down with the kids for a devotional time, something I try to do every morning that we are home. Imagine what went on in my heart when I asked the kids why we celebrate Easter, and Benjamin immediately began telling the entire Easter story from start to finish, in his own four-year-old language. I always wonder just how much soaks into their little brains when I read them Bible stories, and when they hear the Sunday School lessons, and when I just talk to them in general. Just listening to Benjamin retell the Easter story reminded me to keep on reading and keep on saying memory verses and keep on keeping on because it IS making a difference. It is so fun to me as a mommy to see my kids learning new things right before my very eyes.

Wednesday morning, we got ready and went to the church, where we met up with a group of others charged with the task of handing out flyers to as many houses as possible to invite our community to attend Easter services. I explained to Benjamin and Hannah what we were doing and why. Sometimes I forget they don't know that everyone doesn't go to church or love Jesus like we do. It's just the way of life they are used to, so they think everyone does that. So we got our assignment and headed out to our first street. As I was getting Hannah settled into the wagon with snacks and juice, Benjamin grabbed a flyer and said, "Let's go hand out flyers so people can praise Jesus with us at church." Again, imagine my heart at the sound of this! During all my explanation, never had I said anything about inviting people to praise Jesus with us--I just said we wanted to invite people to come to church with us and learn about Jesus. I love that his mind is grasping what church is all about!

We had a beautiful Maundy Thursday service at our church. It was very meaningful with lots of music and scripture and concluding with communion. I just couldn't help myself all through the service, though, because I wanted to skip all of that and just get to Easter morning! I almost felt impatient! I love walking into the sanctuary on Easter Sunday, with an almost electric atmosphere and singing "Up From the Grave He Arose!" What a celebration! Let's just get on to the good stuff! But as I sat there thinking this, my heart began showing me that this is no different than every day life. Just as we have to endure the pain of Maundy Thursday to celebrate the joy of Easter morning, we often have to endure the darkness and the hard stuff in order to appreciate and enjoy the light. We wouldn't know the bright sunshine dawning on a new day if we hadn't endured the darkness of the night. We wouldn't know that joy is so sweet if we hadn't tasted the bitterness of pain and rejection. To everything, there is a season...

May your Easter morning be blessed as we celebrate the Risen Savior!

Friday, March 7, 2008

I'm Still Here!

I have not completely fallen off the face of the earth, though it would appear that way by looking at my blog lately! Obviously, blogging has not been at the top of my priority list as of late, but I have missed it and am working to find its place in my schedule.

I have spent a lot of time and prayer lately figuring out exactly where my time needs to be spent. I know that is a hard thing for many women, and I am no different. There are so many things out there that beg for our time: husband, kids, other family, friends, church, housework, other work--and that's just the beginning and doesn't include anything that is set aside as "fun time" for ourselves. And it's not just "what" gets our time, but then you have to decide "how much" time that "whatever" gets.

One change that I am giving a try as of today is making my "sabbath" day on Friday. I've really tried hard the past few years to honor the Sabbath as God calls us to do, but I've also learned that He doesn't specify that it absolutely must be on Sunday. Sundays are often far from relaxing at our house, simply because for Mark, by nature of being a pastor, Sunday is a work day. Friday is his day off, so I've decided to make it my day off as well--to relax more, do the fun things that I usually don't allow myself to do during the week, and simply to focus on enjoying this life God has given me.

So my plan is to include blogging in my fun, relaxing activities for Friday. I'll keep you "posted" (ha--no pun intended!) on how it goes.

Life continues to happen around here, meaning both the good and the bad. But I feel much better equipped to handle it all on a more even keel due to the growth and change I've experienced over the past several months. God is good, and always works all things together for good. Thankfully so, or else some health and other "life" issues with my family (the family outside of my home) probably would have done me in.

Can some new photos make up for my recent extended absence? I'll give it a try...

Sunday Morning Finery


Sleeping Beauty


The Handsome Prince

Happy Weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2008

This Journey

I have been very hesitant to post lately. Not sure what to share and what not to share. This journey I'm on is a very personal one, yet I've promised God that I will share what I'm learning so that someone might be able to receive some encouragement from the bumps in the road I'm encountering. A comment I received today prompted me to go ahead and share some things God is doing in my life right now. And I want those of you who have been praying to see some of the fruit that is resulting from your faithfulness.

First of all, I continue to be amazed at the way God has worked through my blog. After posting about my battle with depression, I have received comments from bloggers that I've never received comments from before, never knew they read my blog, never read their blogs before, yet they leave me a comment to let me know they are praying for me. That is very humbling.

I have told a couple of people in the last few days that God is literally changing my life. Change is never easy, but when God is involved, what comes out on the other side of that change is so much better than what He started with.

On this journey, I've come to realize that perfectionism--something that has been a part of me for almost as long as I can remember--is very self-centered and shows a lack of trust in God. This was a hard realization to come to--one of those kick-you-in-the-gut kind of realizations. But yet the more I've processed this, the more I realize it is true. Who am I to think I can get everything "just right"? Who am I to think I know what "just right" is? What freedom there is in knowing I'm not always going to get it right, and that is okay. In fact, more often than not, no one is expecting me to get it just right except me.

On this journey, I am enjoying being a mommy so much more than I have been in past months. Not that I have been neglecting my kids or anything like that. But all too often, I would allow my to-do list--what I thought needed to be done, like keeping all the laundry washed, keeping the ironing caught up, keeping the kitchen floor clean, doing a little extra work with my business, etc.--get in the way of just sitting down to play a game. Or getting out a fun recipe and cooking up something fun together. Or sitting down to watch a movie with them and cuddling under a blanket. I am determined not to be a mom that looks back with regret because of what she didn't do with her kids when they were little. God is assuring me that no one else seems to be bothered by the crumbs under the table; no one is running around my house naked for lack of clean clothes to wear (they may be running around naked, but it's not because they don't have something to wear--not to mention any names, but she happens to be 2 1/2); no one is picking apart my wardrobe when I leave the house, so putting on that pair of jeans without ironing them will not cause the world to end; and going to bed because I'm tired and leaving the other 57 things left on my to do list undone is more than okay. (Not only am I enjoying being a mommy more, truth be told, my kids are probably enjoying being my kids more now, too.)

On this journey, I'm learning that taking time to take care of me is not just a good suggestion--it is imperative. I've given lip service to the importance of caring for yourself, but I haven't done a good job of actually doing it. And my body has been letting me know. If I want to live the life God has for me, I must take care of this temple and quit running it into the ground every day.

This journey is not over--actually never will be. I've got lots more progress to make. But I praise God for what he is doing in my life, and as He brought to my mind last night, "He that began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

When the New Year began, God laid a scripture on my heart that I have been clinging to ever since then. I've never had what some people call a "life verse" or even a verse for the year. But until God gives me another one, I will continue living with this one in my heart during this season of my life:

"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you." Joshua 3.5

Each day I try to ask myself what I need to do in order to more fully consecrate myself to God's service. What kind of junk needs to be cleaned out. What kind of attitude needs to change. What kind of thought pattern needs to be reversed.

Because one thing is certain--I do not want to miss the amazing things the Lord is doing.