Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who Needs a Puppy?

Maddie has always wanted a puppy, but my answer is always, "How about a brother instead?" So she puts her lips together in resignation and says, "Okay." Poor girl. I think a puppy would be a lot more fun for her, but we all have a lot in life, and hers is to have lots of stinky brothers.

Actually, though, I think she finally has the brother that meets many of her desires to have a puppy. Eeveryday when she gets home, he meets her wagging his tail, or at least with a grin on his face, in excitement. This latest addition is something else. Sam has us all wrapped around his little finger - even his daddy, and that's saying a lot. Everytime I see Chris enjoying Sam immensely, I'm taken back to the three day period after I told Chris there was another Bond on the way and he didn't talk to me about it for three days. Don't you love the blessings God gives us that we don't even realize we want?

Sam is a butterball if there ever was one. I think he misunderstood Thanksgiving. We're supposed to eat a Butterball, not become one. This boy is our only hope of having a football player in the family. He's a little garbage disposal whose purpose in life is evidently to help me as my metabolism slows down in my old age. I rarely get to eat all of my food because there's this little round puppy sitting at my feet begging for crumbs. Actually, he wants nothing to do with crumbs. He wants the plate all to himself! He is so sweet-natured and happy except when you're denying him food. Maybe he's planning to hibernate over the winter.

While he's good at cleaning up our plates and anything we might drop on the floor during a meal, he is equally good at destroying the rest of the house. Oh my heavens! He's a man on a mission. Once again, I think he's just trying to be helpful and get me to burn the few calories he lets me eat. I can't zip around the house and pick up things fast enough. I'm convinced Sam alone knows where the entrance to a black hole is. We're missing hairbrushes, coupon organizers, Christmas name it, we've lost it in the past few weeks.

This one is definitely a keeper. I think Maddie agrees. In a head to head competition, I think Sam would win out over a puppy any day.

I think I'll keep Luke, too. I just had to put these pictures of him on here because, well, I think it's self-explanatory.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pride: It's Not Good

Pride. I hate it. God hates it. I struggle with it. I’ve written before about struggling with jealousy and that issue stems solely from pride. It's all about me.

Lately, I find myself becoming jealous over, of all things, Godly people who seem to be having more of a spiritual impact in the lives of others than I am. Ha! How ludicrous does that sound? I don't want earthly things so much anymore, so I've got to be jealous of spiritual things.

Another problem for me has been the course of my walk with God. It seems it's been made up of short, intense bursts of light followed by longer, bleak times of utter darkness. Not exactly the whole being led by streams of still waters thing going on with me. I am passionate one minute and discouraged by the look on someone else's face the next. I am depending on others and my feelings to fill up my spiritual tank.

Yesterday, I had to throw myself at God's feet yet again and beg for Him to work in me. You see, I cannot change these things about myself. I know that there is sin involved and I constantly seek to replace it with God's truth, but I cannot loosen the grip of the bony, creepy fingers of jealousy that tug at my heart. It's a horrible feeling.

All of this grieves me so because I know my pride hinders my intimacy with the Lord and keeps me from bringing Him glory in the way I'm meant to. Oh, but He is good. It's amazing what He will do when we STOP and CRY OUT to Him. Why is that so hard for us? We just keep going, making ourselves as busy as possible or as entertained as possible to drown out the gnawing feeling in our souls that meets us around every corner.

As I sought Him, I read about the crucifixion. I saw in the Word how Pilate gave into the cries of the crowd. His relationship with God was affected negatively by others. That's not who I want to identify with. The pride of the Pharisees made them seethe with jealousy at the spiritual impact this homeless carpenter was having on the people who had previously revered these pious leaders. I definitely don't want to identify with those guys. Jesus was not their biggest fan. The person in the story I found myself wanting to identify with was the thief hanging on the cross beside Jesus. He was helpless and crying out to God.

I've found that the key is brokenness. Humility. Becoming poor in spirit. Putting ourselves in our proper place. "She just needs to be put in her place!" has never been more true about anyone than me. When we admit our weakness and ask Him to search and cleanse our hearts, guess what? He does! I was reminded of the simplest thing as I sought Him yesterday: He loves me! He wants to wipe out my sin and replace it with His joy.

I praise Him for the victory He has given me, is giving me, and will continue to give me.

I have had my view of God changed a great deal in the last few years...His holiness and the fact that He is all about His own glory is more real to me now than before. It's just that it sounds strange, and even wrong, to say God is all about Himself. He wants all glory and honor to be His and will share it with no one else. If we said that (which is what we say all the time when we sin), we'd be arrogant and prideful. But the difference is, He deserves all glory.

But building on that, I was reading an amazing book called When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty and the author was talking about knowing God and how the trinity relates to one another. "How the Father loves the Son. How the Son pleases the Father, not himself. How the Spirit reveals the Son, never himself. How the Son reveals the Father, never pointing to Himself. The Father begets the Son, the Son honors the Father, the Spirit reveres them both. It's a kind of divine 'dying to self.'"

Astounding! Even God Himself exhibits a death to himself. A humility. What shows more humility than leaving your throne in heaven, putting on stinky flesh, and depositing yourself in an animal's dinner bowl? That's the kind of humility I need. That's the humility I want. Because the poor in spirit are blessed. Those with a contrite heart have an audience with the Almighty. Count me in. Punch my ticket, 'cause that's where I wanna go.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The End of Thankfulness...Or Just the Beginning?

If you don’t know Chris, you might not know that he loves Mexican food. I would say it’s fourth on his list of loves: God, me, his kids, Mexican food. (Notice I didn’t actually ask him for his list, I just took the liberty of making it and putting myself second.) Turkey is not at the top of the list, so his mama did what sweet mamas do and got him his requested tamales for Thanksgiving. I suppose that would put her above the actual tamales on the list. (Note: I am not a sweet mama and would just make my kids eat what I slaved away to fix them. I'm thinking I might not make their top ten.)

The irony of it all is that as Chris shared his tamale dinner story with a Mexican student of his today, that student said that he had tamales on Thanksgiving, too. However, he was very disappointed in the menu as he has to eat tamales all the time and was hoping for some traditional American food on a traditional American holiday.This is nothing less than a prime example of the truth in the phrase: One man’s turkey is another man’s tamale. Or something like that.

My mother-in-law is quite the hostess. She made sugar cookies in the shape of turkeys, fully decorated and iced with the name of each child, to double as their dessert and their placecards. She also tried her hand at homemade ice cream sandwiches as a fun treat for the kids. My fun treat was sitting around being lazy for three days straight. Really, she puts my hostessing skills to shame, but that doesn't take a whole lot as I pretty much stink at it. If I remember to put a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom, it's a miracle.

It's easy to be thankful when there's so much to be thankful for. Well, at least it would seem that way. But sometimes it seems that I, along with many other Americans, am one of the whiniest people around. Having been inspired by a friend of mine and her thankful heart, I am seeking to make gratitude a regular part of my life. As the "season of thankfulness" draws to a close, I hope that seeking something to be grateful for everyday has become more of a habit for me. So, whether we're eating turkey or tamales, let's just be thankful for food. And, when we have nothing, we can be thankful that man does not live on bread alone, but on the very Word of God. Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Autumn Appreciated

The turkey is all eaten (thanks to a turkey pot pie I whipped up and Sam devoured), the leaves have all fallen, the Christmas decorations are up (in one of our most stress-free years ever!), snow is in the forecast (what??), and our thoughts have turned toward a manger.

But I cannot say goodbye to my favorite season without one last look at another fall that has all but gone. It seems I wait the whole year in anticipation of these few glorious weeks when the shadows grow longer, the days grow shorter, and nature brilliantly screams the glory of God. And before I know it, another autumn is only a memory. I'm sure its brevity adds to my fondness for it. It's the things which slip through our fingers so easily that we wish we could hold onto the most.

So, once more, I remember the crunching of leaves, the gentle breeze, and the inviting crispness in the air. I am thankful for more sweet memories, for dimpled smiles, for swinging bats, for leaves tossed in the air, and for arms full of pumpkins. I am amazed that somehow it is in death that the essence of life is appreciated and understood.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweet Victory

Yay! It happened! The decorations are up and no one is dead and WE WON! Not that football matters at all. Really. The whole game, I sat there with my stomach in knots (well, until we put the nail in the coffin, anyway), wondering why I had knots in my stomach over a game played by a bunch of college kids. I told myself over and over again that it is just a game for crying out loud, yet I still really, really, really wanted Alabama to win. I promise I'm not one of these people who live or die by the most recent game of football. Once it's over, I move on (unless it's an Iron Bowl loss, and then I move on about 30 minutes later), reminding myself that it's just a game played by college kids and I have eternity to look forward to (where Alabama always wins - just kidding!). However, in the heat of the battle, I care. For some strange, completely illogical reason, I care so much that I can't eat and I scream when Trent runs for a TD and I scream when Aub - I mean, whoever the other team is that we happen to be playing does something desperate like score with their defense or special teams, since that's obviously their only hope.

I felt bad for feeling so passionate about a game centered around a pigskin ball involving boys barely old enough to grow facial hair and who obviously think dreadlocks are an acceptable hairstyle. But I do know that football is not my god. However, God made us to be passionate beings, so it should be no surprise that we feel excitement or nervousness or elation when we participate in earthly challenges or competitions. It's the way He's wired us. We just have to be sure that our ultimate expressions of passion are spent on the things that really matter. It's not necessarily bad to show some heart when it comes to football or Pictionary or our kids' soccer games, but our displays of emotion over these things should pale in comparison to the REAL THING.

Last year as I studied Revelation, I found myself getting truly excited about the ultimate competition one day at a little place known as Armageddon. Talk about a passionate, powerful victory! If we get excited when our team pounds a few extra touchdowns down the other team's throat, how should we feel when our King simply speaks and wipes out the most powerful enemy we'll ever know? Amazing stuff! So my prayer for myself is that I'll be a passionate person, full of enery and excitement and life, but that the ultimate source and recipient of my passion will be Jesus Christ.

So, here's to an awesome Iron Bowl victory, which will hopefully set us up to play for the national title (when my stomach will again be in knots for 3 1/2 hours). And here's to the final competition of good and evil, where my stomach should be just fine, because I know Who the winner's going to be. (I have a feeling there'll be a few butterflies in that ole tummy just the same.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After

Luke was evidently confused this morning by all the Black Friday hype and thought I wanted him to wake me up at 5:30am so I could go snag some deals. He couldn't have been more wrong, but he was up for the day anyway. Fortunately, after 6am rolled around, Chris had some sort of Thanksgiving pity on me and got up with him. Chris's kindness, coupled with Luke's explanation of why he called for me at 5:30 ("I called you because I love you, Mama") were enough to curb that bad mood that would have ordinarily settled on me after being woken up so early.

Seriously, this whole Black Friday thing baffles me. It's been quite a while since 11th grade American History, and I cannot for the life of me remember where the Pilgrims and Indians fought their turkey hangover by battling it out over slightly underpriced electronics in the wee hours of the morning. Nevertheless, we spent Thursday morning waiting on the turkey to cook and poring over all the ads in the newspapers. The conclusion we came to (as I've done every year) is that there was no deal even close to amazing enough for us to a) get up at some ungodly hour of the night or forgo sleep altogether and b) fight some mad woman with pepper spray for. I mean, there was an ad for an Early Bird deal on Pillow Pets at the amazing price of $19.99. Have people lost their minds? That's the normal everyday price at almost every store in America, or at least in Alabama. I am a penny pincher and love to come home having saved $5, but I have my limits. And one of them is standing in line, in the cold, with a bunch of potentially crazy people, trying to get an item that may or may not be available when I actually get to enter the store - all to save a whopping $15 or some such ridiculous amount on a $150 item.

So instead, in nothing more than an effort to relieve a little day-after-Thanksgiving stir craziness, we took a quick jaunt to Dick's Sporting Goods and Target in the early afternoon, after most of the insanity had passed. And guess what...they were out of the item my father-in-law wanted and the three things we were interested in at Target weren't even marked down one penny. Black Friday, my foot. So, we headed straight back to the house to watch college football. That's clearly a more valuable way to spend my time.

Now that Chris has eaten his Thanksgiving Tamales, and I have eaten my year's quota of turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes (okay,well the potatoes are so yummy that my quota is much higher and I still have plenty of sweet potato eating left in me), it's time to turn our focus onward and upward. It's time for the chaotic mess known as Christmas decorating to begin. Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with the Christmas decorations. I love looking at them with the twinkly lights and music playing in the background, but I hate putting them up and taking them down. When we drag all that stuff out, it's like the house has suddenly shrunk to a size that would only be adequate if we were a family of mice, and I suddenly get incredibly bent out of shape and impatient, wanting nothing more than this giant mess to disappear ten minutes ago. It's nothing like the hot cocoa drinking, Christmas carol singing day I always envision. It's more like fighting a crazy woman with pepper spray at Walmart on Black Friday. Quite unpleasant. But, unlike Black Friday, knowing the price I'll have to pay, I always decide it's worth it to enjoy the aura of the Christmas tree(s). So, tomorrow, we decorate. (And, yes, I'm obviously full of the Christmas spirit and totally focused on the real meaning for this whole season.)

There's a little added pressure to the whole decorating plan tomorrow. Right in the middle of it all, there's a little football game that we'll probably watch. Now, the outcome of this game could determine exactly how Christmasy I'm feeling, so let's hope the right team wins, preferably in a blowout. Not that I'm being greedy or that football is important to me at all. It really doesn't matter. Really. No, really. But I'll need a little convincing of that tomorrow about 6pm if things don't go so well. But then I'll get over it and move on to the things that really matter. Or we'll win and the house will be beautifully decorated and we'll sip hot chocolate together while listening to some Christmas tunes and all will be right with the world. I'll take Option B, thank you very much.

Happy Decorating Day and Roll Tide!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Feliz Dia del Pavo

My tamale-eating husband would like to wish all of you a Feliz Dia del Pavo, or a Happy Turkey Day, which is just ridiculous since he didn't even eat turkey. I, on the other hand, ate plenty of Turkey Day food. Today, I'm thankful for teeth, a stomach, and a mother-in-law who is willing to slave away in the kitchen so that I can eat until I'm ready to pop. But never fear. My youthful figure is not in danger. Even though I had a rather large lunch, I had a small serving of fruit for dinner (that's definitely the food group that pumpkin pie falls into, right?) and I just skipped dessert altogether. Yes, even on this day of feasting, I am a model of self-control.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks for Nothing...or Everything

I am so sorry that I let all of you down by skipping my thankful post yesterday. I was just too busy being thankful to tell you about it. Or maybe it was that I was too busy devouring a book a friend gave me a few days ago. Either way, I know it probably left you unable to go forward with your holiday activities. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

Honestly, I'm finally running out of ideas for this whole thankful bit. I think today I'll go outside the box and be thankful for the hard stuff. It's time to step it up a notch and show a little gratitude for this cold I have, for the people in my life that rub me the wrong way, for the discouragement that's been stalking me lately, for the faults of my children and husband (though obviously there are very few), for the times when God doesn't give me all the answers I think I need, for the way we feel squeezed into our house some days, for the fact that we can't run out and fulfill all of our worldly desires. Today I will boast in my weaknesses and show gratitude for my trials, though they are small and few compared to most, because that's what brings me to a new level of intimacy with the One that I crave. I am thankful for the things He has withheld from me in order to give me more of Him.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I'm thankful for all the "bad things" I have and all the "good things" I don't have because that's exactly the way the good Lord has designed it.

Happy Day of Giving Thanks!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Praise the Lord, O My Soul

I'm thankful for God's Word and for beautiful music that brings us even nearer to His throne. And, more than anything, I love His Word put to music. Heavenly.

Psalm 146

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, my soul.
2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD.

You can go to the link below, then click on "Click Here to Launch Audio Player." Choose "Praise the Lord."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanks for Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that not only do I get to be thankful, I get to eat good food while I do it. Thanksgiving Installment #1 was today at my parents' house. The food was delish thanks to Nana, and the company was great. Who knew the funnest Thanksgiving activities would be zooming around the basement on the antique Roller Racer, watching everyone try to jump on the pogo stick, taking rides in the wheelchair, and watching Luke and Matthew chase each other with an Indian spear? Hey, we had to fit the whole pilgrim and Indian thing in there somewhere. Don't think for one second that we don't know how to have a good time. Emily thinks for Christmas, we just do it all again with strobe lights and disco music. Sounds perfect.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Roll Tide!

Today's thankful post is easy peasy. On this fine fall day, I'm thankful for fun grandparents who are willing to drive five hours round trip in one day so my hubs and I could go here...

I'm also thankful for friends in high places (or medium level places) who hooked us up with free tickets to a little-too-exciting-for-a-game-that-wasn't-supposed-to-be-exciting Alabama football game. It was fun to have a kid-free day and to revisit the place where the magic began. Good ole T-town. Lots of memories there for me and Chris, both good and bad. Let's see, I didn't care for the whole homesickness, lonliness, totally not fitting in part, but I'm a pretty big fan of the meeting two great friends (how pathetic does that sound?) and one great husband part.

All in all, it was a day that made me very thankful...that I'm not in college anymore, that I survived college, for my wonderful husband who I met in college, for a date with said husband, for another Bama victory, and for the fact that my life is not consumed by college football. 'Cause, man, some people's lives are consumed by college football. I'm also thankful for my cute scarf that I finally got a chance to wear and thankful that the two people who sat behind us at this game are not a regular part of my life. Oh my word. They tested our Christianity today, people. By the middle of the second quarter, I found myself longing for the relative silence that I would have in my own house with my four children talking my ears off. Seriously, my ears and my head hurt by halftime. I spent the whole fourth quarter praying for the strength to remain facing forward in my seat and not turning around and screaming, "For the love, will you please just SHUT UP?"

I know. This is not a sweet thing to think or say. I am evil to the core. But, seriously, I just endured what would be considered by many members of the CIA to be cruel and unnecessary torture. And so, I am thankful that I made it through the entire game without uttering a word to them...or hitting them with a blunt object and ending up in jail. I'm rather proud of myself.

And here we are pretending to be a footloose, carefree couple of lovebirds. (One of the two people I mentioned above may or many not be in this photo. I couldn't say.)

But I can say, Roll Tide! And even though my life is not consumed with college football, it would be pretty exciting to play for (and win) another national championship. We shall see.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sweet Days

This thankful stuff is getting hard! I know I have tons to be thankful for, but it's hard to think of another way to put it that is not totally boring after eighteen days. But I think today I'll be thankful for being in the fun, crazy, exhausting phase of life that I'm in. The two little guys and I went on a playdate today with our good friends Kerrie and Katherine, and as we pulled into the playing location, I was sad at the thought of the day when I won't have any little guys to take on playdates anymore.

Being a mommy to four little kids can be trying at times, to say the least, but I know I'll look back and know these were some of the best days of our lives. We're always eager to move onto the next phase of life. You know when you're nine, you can't wait to be sixteen so you can drive. And when you're sixteen, you can't wait to graduate and go to college. And when you're in college, you can't wait to get married and "play house." And after you're married a little while, you can't wait to have a sweet baby. Well, now I can wait. I'm just so happy to be 30-something with a sweet husband, a cozy house, a busy schedule, and four wonderful children. But life's not waiting on me. It's flying by, but I'm going to try and hang onto these sweet days for as long as I can.

(I'm also thankful for someone stepping in and doing quite a nice little job on yesterday's post. Told you I had a sweet husband.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Post - Thankfulness

As the normal writer of this blog is sleeping beside me, I am taking the liberty of hijacking her daily "thankfulness" post...since she obviously hasn't (or isn't) going to write one today. The pressure is on, especially since her blog is read by an internationally diverse audience. I also hope she doesn't get mad at me for doing this.

If you have spent anytime getting to know my wife (or reading this blog) you will know what an amazing person she is. I don't just mean that she is a great cook, or a great homemaker, or always has everything in order...but it's so much deeper than this. Before I get in trouble, I need to clarify that she is all those things stated above and so much more.

When I look at my wife I am mostly thankful for her sanctified heart. Her worldview on life, people, possessions, and even Bunko is viewed from the lens of a devoted Christ follower. I love hearing her talk about every detail of her day as it measures up to and aligns itself to God's word. It is a joy to my heart and an inspiration to live with someone who genuinely loves God and wants to be more like Christ. In a world of pretenders, I am thankful to be married to woman who is real and genuine. I love that she isn't always bubbly and let's me know the real her. And it's this real her that I'm madly in love with.

I hope that you are thankful for your spouse. Marriage is such an awesome gift...especially if you are married to an amazing person (like my wife). Be thankful for who you have...and take a moment right now to let them know how thankful you are for them. I'm serious...right now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Give Thanks to the Lord

Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise, and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it. Jeremiah 33:9

Our lives should bring God praise and honor when people look at them and see what He has done for us. So many times I am incredibly quick to point out the areas of my life where I think God could spend a little more time and so slow to give Him honor for all the amazing things He's doing in me. Today, I want to correct that.

Several years ago, Chris left the corporate world for the world of education, which means he left the ever-growing paycheck of the ladder-climbing world for the ever-shrinking paycheck of the government-run world. Really, though, he left behind seeking worldly security to be used by the Lord. That sounds all nice and spiritual, but it's been a tough journey as far as letting go of that earthly security and those worldly pleasures. I've talked about it here before...just the struggle it has entailed for us. I find myself complaining or playing the martyr about it all too often. I will still have tinges of jealousy when others are able to do things we can't do. I'm so quick to focus on the negative and whine to the Lord about something so ridiculous when compared to the rest of the world's struggles.

So, I want to do the opposite and tell what He's done in our hearts through this. First of all, He has slowly taught us to trust Him for our needs. He has faithfully put food on our table and provided money for all the repairs that are needed as homeowners and car owners. The money is always there, even if it's money I thought I was going to get to spend on something else.

Secondly, though, He has not only provided for our needs, He has changed our wants. Yesterday, I read in Proverbs "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." I had the audacity to think, "Well, it hasn't played out that way for us." Oh, how wrong I am!

I realized I was wrong last night. Chris and I are asked each year to let loving family members know what we and our children want for Christmas. Since we don't have a whole lot of extra - or any - money to buy large things that we want or even think we need, we usually reserve this time of year to ask for those things. We have been blessed so many times with being able to receive something we could never get on our own. But as we discussed our "Christmas list" last night, we discovered we could not think of ANYTHING that we needed or - get this - wanted. Everything we could think of seemed so trivial and unnecessary. I tried to think of things our kids need, but I could think of NOTHING. How is it that, when we make less than we've ever made (figuring in inflation - just want to be accurate) and have more people to provide for than we ever have, that we have everything we need and even want? We have "gained even more." It's impossible on paper, but it's possible in Christ.

My prayer for my life and for the lives of my children has been that this Scripture would be true of us: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strenth of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26) Today, I can say it's true. Now, I fully expect to be tested on this in the next hour, because that's how things seem to go, but I pray that the Lord will bind my fickle, wandering heart to Him. It's only by His grace that my desires are changed, so it's only by His grace that they can stay changed. I just want to give Him praise, honor, and glory for the great things He's doing with my weak flesh.

Today, I am thankful for the work God is doing in my heart.

Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever. Jeremiah 33:11

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Halfway There!

I can't believe the month is half over! This time of year just seems to fly by to me. As half of the month is gone, today I'm thankful for those rare occasions when we slow down long enough to do what's really important. Sunday afternoon, I put aside all those things which monopolize my days (like housework, laundry, cooking, and blogging) and went outside with the kids. It was a cool, blustery day. A perfect fall afternoon for leaf-collecting.

We looked for a variety of shapes and colors of leaves and put them in our bag. Luke was actually feverish and wanted to go home the whole time, but we drug him along anyway in the name of a picture-perfect afternoon outing. (You'll come and you'll look like you're having fun whether you're ready to pass out or not!) There's nothing quite like family togetherness.

We talked about how the seasons (the dying of fall, the quiet death of winter, and the life that comes in spring) relate to Jesus. I tried to get across the concept of how, in Christ, death somehow strangely brings life. Death to our selfishness and our pride leads to true abundant life here and forever. That's kinda hard to get across to kids, evidently. But I tried. The rest is up to the Spirit.

Then we took our leaves home and made something "alive" from something dead. We used the leaves to create animal drawings. Being the amazingly creative mother that I am (ha!), we got the idea of using old cereal and cracker boxes to create our animals on and then made them to stand up for display purposes. Because heaven knows we need a little more kid art displayed in our house.

This was a bright spot in our weekend of family strife. Evidently we could all use a little more practice on the whole dying to ourselves and living for Christ thing. Maybe this fun fall artwork will serve as a much-needed reminder.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

Monday, November 14, 2011

Today, I'm Thankful for...

...this spectacular view. I get to enjoy it everyday.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Girl

I'm thankful for my sweet, one-of-a-kind daughter. She's just amazing and, as you can see above, can do amazing hair. She's gotten into this new thing of brushing and playing with my hair all the time, and I love it!! I could sit there and let her brush it for hours. I've let her stay up much too late just because I was enjoying it too much to send her to bed. This picture above was probably the fourth time she's ever french braided my hair and I'm a little sad to say it probably took me 147 times to get this good. Now, she has done some really funky stuff and begged me to go out in public with it that way, but I just couldn't do it. My vanity obviously outweighs my devotion to my first-born. But I'll let her play and style to her heart's content in our living room.

Another new, and much more important, thing in her life is her hunger for God's Word. She's drinking it in, begging me to read it with her and, when I can't, just doing it on her own. I may be able to deny her requests to do my hair for public display, but I can't really deny her time together in the Word. I have to thank a friend from church for starting our own little Keepers at Home group. I know basically nothing about it except we meet once a month with our daughters, have a devotion and spiritual challenge (to read through the Bible, keep a prayer journal and memorize Scripture, etc.) and then teach them something "homemakerish." So far we've baked cookies and learned gift-wrapping techniques. And by we, I mean another mom prepared something fabulous, the girls giggled and participated in the activity, and I talked to whoever happened to be standing closest to me. Maddie is thrilled with the whole thing, and I'm thrilled that she's thrilled. I'm also thrilled to have friends (new and old) who want to spend time teaching their daughters the things that really matter, like how to pray effectively and how to make killer curly-ribbon bows.

I'm also thankful that I can give a decent-enough haircut to my husband and boys that they WILL go in public when I fix their hair. This has been a weekend of mediocre (at best) haircuts, but I still have one to go. It's what we do for fun after the kids go to bed. We're old.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On the Twelfth Day of Thanksgiving...

...the cheese stayed in the fridge. Today was a much better day. It's my favorite time of year, the bathrooms are clean again, the kids got to giggle and jump in a giant pile of leaves, and I got to eat cookies. What more could I ask for? A fever-free week? Doesn't look like that's going to happen as Luke seems to be a little under the weather all of a sudden. But it could be worse.

I guess I'm thankful for no major temper tantrums today by anyone living under our roof (including me). I'm also thankful for baked items such as chocolate chip banana bread, which I hope my small group enjoys in the morning. And I am super thankful for meals I don't have to cook, like the chili we enjoyed at Nana's tonight. Chris deserves a little thankful shout-out as well as he spend his entire Saturday helping some friends put a badly needed new roof on an elderly lady's house. What a guy!

I've got nothing but mucho boringness tonight, but there's one more thing I just can't leave out. I'm thankful that little Sam has had such an appetite lately that his belly and cheeks are not in immediate danger of losing their baby chub. His little footy jammies were so tight on his belly tonight. It was just adorable! Gotta get some rest so I can get all my squeezes in tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven: This Ain't Heaven

Today, I am thankful that this particular day is drawing to a close. I'm not one to wish away my life or my time with my children, but today was one long Calgon, Take Me Away moment. It's days like these that make root canals look appealing. About 1:15 today, I would have given anything to sit in a reclining chair staring at a tv surrounded only by people who want to be really nice to you (nevermind that that's only because they know they're torturing you and they're about to charge you $900 for it).

The attitudes in this house today would make the Wicked Witch of the West look like Pollyanna. We tried calm reminders, then firm talks, then outright meanness. I even tried throwing cheese and yelling, but none of it worked. (I would not personally recommend that tactic, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Or maybe it's horrid attitudes lead others to horrid attitudes. Don't ask me which horrid attitude came first.) So, at the end of the day, we tried bedtime, and that worked like a charm.

I'm hoping that tomorrow is simply filled to overflowing with thankfulness all around and that I'm completely perplexed about what to highlight in my blog because there are simply too many things to pick from. However, I'm thinking that lowering my expectations a bit might be in order. So, I'll just hope that all of the cheese stays safely in the refrigerator rather than taking flight. And if that does indeed happen, I will be thankful for it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Number Ten: Words

I am thankful that when the microphone is in my hand and all eyes are on me, God gives me the words. And not a moment sooner.

I am thankful for friends who are willing to mourn with others at a time when no words are adequate.

I am thankful for the Word of God which makes it possible for the first two things to happen.

I am thankful for a wordless moment with my sweet baby as I love him to sleep.

I am thankful that when I can't figure out the words, the Holy Spirit knows what to pray for me.

I am thankful for the moments when I get to speak encouraging words to others.

I am thankful for moments when others speak encouraging words to me.

I am thankful that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us so that those who mourn can find hope, peace, and comfort.

Number Nine

I am thankful for friends who remember to hassle me about missing a day of my thankful posts. You know who you are!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I lost track of time and now it's technically Wednesday. But that leads me to what I'm thankful for...a husband who will stay up late marveling at God's Word with me and praying with me. I'm also thankful for friends who are seeking Christ with their whole hearts and want to be true sold-out followers of Jesus. Somedays it seems like we're aliens in a dry and weary land...but, wait. That IS what we are. It can be a lonely road, but I'm thankful that I'm not truly alone on it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lucky Number Seven

I write the best blog posts when I'm driving in the car. All I need is a full-time secretary to follow me around and record them as it pops in my head. Or I suppose a tape recorder would do, but that seems a little weird and old fashioned.

There is so much to be thankful for today. Let me begin with the fact that my pile of laundry has been taken down to a size where I don't think it'd be able to take me in a head to head battle. Of course, it could always team up with the dust on my furniture and have a shot.

I'm also thankful for the amazingly beautiful day we had today. I found myself wondering, "Does God accept high fives, because I'd totally give him one for today. Good job, God!" And like any good mother would do, I carved a whole twenty minutes out of my day to take my poor, sun-deprived boys out into the backyard. I love fall and today was a fabulous example of why.

I (and probably my husband, if I had to guess) am thankful that my latest cooking experiment, which just happened to be dinner for tonight, turned out to be a step above edible. I've been wanting to make white chicken chili for sometime, but my desire to follow a recipe (much like my love for following well-communicated rules) would get the better of me. I had so many different recipes and was overwhelmed trying to choose the right one. I know I have a problem, people, but this dilemma kept me from cooking this meal all last fall and winter! So today I decided to live on the edge. I took all my cooking know-how, the ingredients I had in my pantry, and a sampling from the plethora of recipes I have and made my own concoction. A light shone from heaven, the angels sang, and a pretty decent meal was born. Hallelujah!

I'm going to have to throw in another thankful for Nana shout-out. She came and did her time as the juvenile detention warden homework helper/babysitter/playmate/cake baker while Chris and I went for a conference with Jack's teacher...which leads to my next point of gratitude.

I'm thankful that my kids do well in school and behave. It's so great to get encouraging reports about your kids where the teacher just can't think of anything negative to say. It kinda makes you feel like you're doing something right, though you know it's just the grace of God showered on two parents who need a lot of help. You also know that, with four kids, it's gotta end somewhere. Oh, dear.

It's late and I'm not going to be thankful that I stayed up too late for the 10, 234th night in a row when I have to arise and make Chris's lunch tomorrow. However, I do have to say that probably what I'm most thankful for about today is the fact that I didn't cry over spilled milk! Nana had not even made it to the driveway when Luke spilled an entire cup of liquid gold milk all over the floor and wall during an already patience-trying dinner. Jack was in the middle of an hour-long complaint about the raw hand life had dealt him, Chris was enjoying some precious peace and quiet (nevermind that it was because he was at the dentist), and I just wanted to eat my dinner, but the Lord saw fit to bless me with an unusual dose of patience and eternal perspective. Again, Hallelujah! Maddie just said, "Poor Mama" and Luke said, "I'll help you clean it up" and Jack (after a great discussion straight from God's Word) perked up, choked down his dinner (it wasn't a corndog, thus not on his favorites list) and played well with his brother and sister until bedtime. Miracles do still happen, people.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I'm thankful for too many things to count tonight. Spending a couple of hours with a mom and dad who just lost their baby girl will do that to you...make you thankful. So, I know I've already said I'm thankful for my kids, but I'm going to have to go with that one again. Not only was I faced with the grief of those parents tonight, but my Sweet Sam was spared from serious injury today after what I can only assume was a tumble all the way down the basement stairs. Some unnamed sibling opened the door, though we've been over the rule about never leaving it open at least a thousand times. When I saw the door open, Sam was downstairs crying but walking around the basement. I think he was more upset that he was down there in the dark alone than the fact that he'd had a rough ride to get there. Anyway, I'm one thankful mama tonight.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bummer (Thankful, Part Cinco)

Aha! You thought I wasn't going to make it today, didn't you? But you were wrong, my friend! It is 11:19pm Central Daylight Savings Time and here I am, ready to be thankful.

I won't lie. I was hoping to be thankful for a big Bama victory tonight. But, no matter. I am thankful that football is not the end-all, be-all of my life. It does not determine my happiness...for more than a few minutes.

Also on the thankful list for pillow and an extra hour of sleep. Ha! As if Luke or Sam are going to observe the time change. A girl can dream, can't she? And now I'm off to do just that.

Buenos Noches.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful Entry Numero Cuatro

I’m thankful for laughter and smiles, whether it’s gathered around a tiny table playing Phase 10 with friends in a cold room in Guatemala or listening to my kids’ antics at home. It really is amazing how quickly you can change your mood with just a little turning up of the mouth into a smile.

Lukey makes us smile and laugh a lot. Pretty much everything he says is funny. For example, did you know the kids got dressed up and went to the Fall Vegetable last weekend?

Luke is a lover of snacks. The kid who lives and breathes for snacks started running a fever today. (You see there was a gap of 1.5 days where no one in our home was seriously ill, and that was just too long. Luke’s turn was up; thus, the fever.) This child, whose heart is to snacks like paper is to glue, is not always a lover of meals. Since he hadn’t eaten his breakfast this morning, he was not allowed any snacks until after he ate his lunch. No matter how clear we try to make this and how many times we get him to verbally agree to the arrangement before we chunk his meal in the garbage, approximately one hour later, the whining and begging begin.

When little Luke found out he was running a fever and had been designated as sick, he came up with quite a plan. He raised his eyebrows, turned his big brown eyes up to me, stuck out his lip just the slightest bit and said, “Mommy, I think I will feel better if I have a little snack. Just a little snack.” Good one. Thumbs up for effort and excellent execution of the plan. Thankfully, it was a little past 11:00, so it was an acceptable lunchtime.

He peacefully ate his favorite lunch item, broccoli with ranch, and even ate his not-so-favorite lunch item, pb&j. I offered him a precious piece of the cake Chris and Maddie won at the church’s Fall Vegetable cake walk (gold star for me for picking out a DELICIOUS spice and apple cake with cream cheese icing) and he gladly gobbled it up. Lunch was cleaned up and I was onto doing laundry, when Mr. Big Puppy Dog Eyes entered the room and said in his most serious voice, “Mommy, cake doesn’t make me feel better. Snacks is what will make me feel better. Can I have my snack now?”

“Why, yes, Luke. You can.” Well played, son.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Thankful Post #3)

Dirty toilets, stinky laundry, a kitchen floor covered in crumbs, wrinkly clothes needing to be ironed. These are the things that keep me up at night. Well, nothing really keeps me up at night. I’m a good sleeper. But these are the things that plague me. Everywhere I turn, they’re there. Even if I leave the house, they are at the back of my mind, calling my name in a spooky voice, beckoning me to come back home so they can attack me and leave me for dead. They NEVER go away.

As much as I hate to admit it (and please don’t let the clothes or toilets know because they might step up their assault on my mind), I’m thankful for these things. If my toilets were always clean or the laundry baskets always empty or the floor always sparkling, it would mean that my home wasn’t teeming with four busy bodies that spend much of their time creating things for me to do. Come to think of it, it could also mean I’m a superfantabulous housekeeper or that I’ve trained my kids miraculously well, but let’s not go there.

Anyway, I’m glad I have four crazy, messy, sometimes stinky, always lively, sometimes sweet children. I never, ever, ever thought we’d have four kids. In my book, that’s sort of a lot, but we’ve decided to hang onto all of them, and their messes. I know they’ll be gone all too soon. But, looking on the bright side, at least my toilets and floors will be clean(er)…right, Chris??

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Decisions, Decisions (aka Thankful Post #2)

It's just so hard to narrow down all the things I have to be thankful for to one thing, but I'm going to have to go with something (or someone) who has really made a difference in my life the last two days...and the last 34 1/2 years. (I don't know if you realized it, but I just had my half birthday. Surprisingly, I didn't receive any phone calls or cards, but I'm just going to chalk it up to people being super busy with the holidays coming up and all.) So who is this fabulous person? My mom! (Awww...)

How can you sum up all the things regarding your mother that you are grateful for? Impossible! Even though I'm a full fledged grown-up now, I don't know what I'd do without her. She is so generous in every way possible toward me and my very loud, energetic, life-sucking family. (I mean that in the nicest way.) She is such a faithful presence in our lives.

Just this week, she has saved our family as we sat at the brink of starvation. Our cupboards were bare, unless you count three boxes of Life cereal, two boxes of Cheez-Its, and a slew of juice boxes. I planned on going to the grocery store Monday, but my sweet Sam woke up with a fever. His face was pitiful and all he wanted to do was lay on me and snuggle. Well, you're crazy if you think I'd drag that poor boy to H-E-double hockey sticks Walmart in that condition. So I ate a peanut butter tortilla for dinner, sent my family away for dinner, and called in reinforcements (Nana) so that I could make it to the store the next day. My children were so thankful for a real meal the next night that they ate homemade vegetable beef soup without complaining! (And I hate to make you completely jealous of the fact that she's my mom and not yours, but I think she left me some Nutella in my pantry.)

When it comes down to it, Chris and I have been blessed with some amazing parents. I mean, how many people can say that all four of their parents are wonderful, giving, loving, kind, wise people? Plenty of folks could say all their parents are nuts and really should be spending some time in the looney bin, but there probably aren't too many people in our blessed shoes. No wonder our children adore their grandparents. Who wouldn't?

I would love it if one day in the quickly approaching future, my kids would have the same opinion of me as I have of my mom. Hard-working, faithful, giving, loving. (Fat chance.) We don't often say it out loud, but our parents are amazing. I am definitely THANKFUL for all of them!


It is my intent to do a post everyday this month (though some may be super short) and share something I'm thankful for. Obviously, I have already failed as it's the 2nd and I didn't post anything yesterday. Can you say LOSER? But I'm going to make up for it and do two today.

God sent a little trial my way this week (little compared to the troubles of most of mankind, but a little larger as viewed through my completely selfish and spoiled lens), and I utterly failed in my first reaction. I did not count it all joy, I counted it all crappy crapness. But, He brought me around. Obviously, I need a little more practice at being thankful in all circumstances, so what better time to practice than in the month of Thanksgiving??

As for my first entry of thankfulness, I'm going with something I need lots of practice being thankful for...

I am thankful for God's answered prayers. Just last week, I made my prayer, "Lord, show us how to live on little so that we can give more toward Your Kingdom." Praise God, He is ever decreasing our income so that we can see how little we need but how faithful He is to provide.

In fact, we were able to outfit these little cuties for the Fall Festival without spending a penny!

In case it's not obvious, what we have depicted here is T Rex who just can't stay still, Woody and Laura Ingalls (or Little Bo Peep if you want to stick with the Toy Story theme) who know it's a lost cause, and Bullseye (and his rider) who have been excellently trained to stand still with a smile plastered on your face until some unnamed little brother will cooperate for a decent photo. I love these kids. :)