Wednesday, April 28, 2010

They're not in Kansas anymore...

My parents drove all the way from Kansas to see us last week.  They didn't come during a holiday so they had to fit their sightseeing in around school, ball games, track meets, and drama class.

We visited Meadow Farm where Audra got to shear a sheep.  They were having a special day called "Sheep to shawl."  We got to see the whole process of shearing, carding, spinning, and weaving.
Of course Jacob gravitated towards the musicians instead of the sheep.
While the kids were in school, I took my parents to Belle Isle.  It's a small island in the middle of the James River that was used during the Civil War as a prison.  
This is what it's used for today.  We took Jacob and his friends there a couple of Sundays ago.
Here we are waiting for Jacob's track meet to start.  Did I mention that is was cold while they were here?
The race is on!  Run Jacob run! (He's the one in the middle)
I did manage to get help with a few projects.  My dad finished painting the bathroom...
and hung the antique telephone.  
My mom gave Audra some crazy pearl things that expand in water.  You are supposed to put them in a vase and add flowers.  We don't have any flowers so we (Audra and Will) just play with them.  I am finding them all over the house.
Will enjoyed having another person in the house to play with.
They taught us a new card game that everyone could play.
Thanks for coming to see us Grammy and Papa.  Come back again soon!
Who's next????

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Special day

Sometimes special days feel like days to be endured rather than enjoyed.  I have such a wonderful husband who went out of his way to make me happy yesterday.   He actually started on Sunday when he took Audra to the store to get the supplies to bake my birthday cake.  They came home with a strawberry cake mix (Audra's favorite) and Skittles (Audra's favorite).  I left the house so that I wouldn't interfere.  I wanted the cake to be their gift to me.  At one point I called home and Audra told me, "Dad just got back."  It turns out that they were following the directions just fine and then the dog wanted to go outside.  Richard left Audra by herself for a few seconds and told her to add 1 1/3 cups of water.  She didn't realize that the glass measuring cup she was using actually held 2 cups so she ended up doubling the amount of water.  When Richard returned from letting the dog out, he said, "This looks really runny.  Show me how much water you put in."  They had to start over and go back to the store for another mix.
The cake turned out great and the kids had fun decorating it with Skittles that spelled out "Mom" and with every other cake decoration they could find--ballerinas, candles, Goofy, horses, etc.  I took a picture with my cell phone, but I don't know how to transfer that here.  
I was having trouble deciding what I wanted for my birthday.  I finally narrowed it down to a new camera or new athletic shoes.  At the ASK race on Saturday my old camera finally quit so I said something like, "I hope I get a camera for my birthday."  Richard got a funny look on his face and said, "Well, isn't that interesting timing."  He had already bought a gift card for me to get the shoes because he figured the camera was working so it could wait!  I'm SURE I will enjoy the shoes.  They are the ones that are supposed to improve your posture and tighten your muscles just by putting them on your feet.  I feel better just thinking about them!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Marlo!

"Many women have done wonderful things, 

   but you've outclassed them all!"

   The woman to be admired and praised 

   is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves! 
   Festoon her life with praises!
(Proverbs 31:29-31, MSG)

Today we celebrate the day that Marlo was born for the first time.   On that day, the LORD knew where she would be and what she would need on this day. And the amazing thing is - He also knew what I would need and our kids would need on this day and has been weaving all our stories together in the most perfect way.  It was all on purpose.  There are no surprises with God, no mistakes.  God has never said "Uh-Oh" or "Oops, Sorry."   When you make as many mistakes and detours and goof-ups as I have, it's hard to identify with that.  When you've lived large portions of your life 'in-the-dark', it's hard to comprehend the kind of Person who is always in the light.  So, over time, you have to learn to trust Him.  

And if He gives you someone to walk through life with, someone to laugh with, cry with, ask questions with, get angry with, fight with, love with - then you thank the LORD - He's been doubly good to you.  So, thanks, Lord, for giving me what I needed.  Help me give her what she needs from me today and every other day we're together on this earth.  Help me give her 'everything she deserves."  Help me 'festoon her life with praises!'  

Marlo - let me go on record to say:  Next to following Jesus, marrying you was the best decision I ever made.  If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would.  All of it? All of it.   

I'll close with these lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman's "What I Really Want to Say" -- 

I say I love you, I say I need you
I try so many ways to say how my heart beats for you
I say I'm always thinking about you
There's no way I'd want to face this life without you
And even though these words come from deep inside me
There's so much more I don't have the words to say

'Cause what I really want to say
Is what the sun would
say to the sky
For giving it a place to come alive
But my words get in the way
Of what I really want to say

I know that sometimes my words can be as hard as stone
And sometimes my words have left you feeling so alone
So please forgive me and hear the words I'm saying now
I will spend my whole life looking for a way somehow
To let you know just how precious you are to me
I'll use the best words I know but I still won't say it all

It's like a tale too great to be told
It's something that my heart can only show
I'm gonna take my whole life
Just to let you know
What I really want to say

Grace & Peace,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Desert places

I was reading Joshua chapter 24 yesterday.  You can read the entire chapter yourself, but allow me to paraphrase what God said...
Long ago... I took... Abraham... I gave him Isaac and to Isaac I gave Jacob... and his sons went down to Egypt.  Then I sent Moses... and I brought you out ...  You saw what I did to the Egyptians at the Red Sea...
Then you crossed the Jordan and... I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build.
Sandwiched between God's mighty works are 10 little words.  "Then you lived in the desert for a long time." 40 years is a long time to live in the desert.  Sometimes we live in a desert for a long time--waiting for God to move us on to a better place.  When we are in the desert it's easy to idealize the past (So you want to go back to Egypt?) or dream of the future (Where is that promised land anyway?) and complain about the present.  The Israelites' desert experience was marked by a lack of trust resulting in grumbling.  It was only when it was over and they were entering the promised land that they acknowledged that God had been with them the ENTIRE journey.
It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our ENTIRE journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. (Joshua 24:17)
If you are in a desert place, He is there.  He has been there and He will be there for the entire journey.

I wonder how it must have felt
When David stood to face Goliath on a hill
I imagine that he shook with all his might
Until You took his hand, and held on tight

'Cause You were there, You were there
In the midst of danger's snare
You were there, You were there always
You were there when the hardest fight
Seemed so out of reach
Oh, You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So there he stood upon that hill
Abraham with knife in hand was poised to kill
But God in all his sovereignty had bigger plans
And just in time, You brought a lamb

'Cause You were there,
You were there
In the midst of the unclear
You were there, you were there always
You were there when obedience
Seemed to not make sense
You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So haven't I learned that my ways
Aren't as high as Yours are
And You alone keep the universe
From crumbling into dust
You are God and though we would
Not have understood You
There You were

Hanging blameless on a cross
You would rather die than leave us in the dark
Every moment, every planned coincidence
Just all makes sense
With Your last breath

You were there, You were there
During history's darkest hour
You were there, You were there always
You were the Victor and the King
You were the power in David's swing
You were the calm in Abraham
You are the God who understands
You are the strength when we have none
You are the living, Holy one
You were, You are and You will always be
the Risen Lamb of God

(You Were There, Avalon)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who do we think we are?

I am reading a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.  I do not recommend reading this book unless you want to be called out and challenged to live your life differently.  In the second chapter Chan asks the question, "Who do we think we are?"
Imagine that you are an extra in a motion picture.  You would watch the movie intently looking for the back of your head in a sea of hundreds of other extras.  Maybe your mom and your best friend would get excited about that 2/5 of a second you appeared.
But what if you rented out the theater and invited everyone you knew to see the movie because it was about you.  They would think you were crazy because it would be obvious to everyone else that the movie was not about you.
But isn't that the way we live our lives?  We think it's all about us.  We think that we are the star of the show.  We don't stop to consider that...

God created the world.
The people rebelled against God.
God chose a man named Abram to be the father of a nation.
God chose Moses, and Joseph, and other great men (supporting cast) and worked through them.
God judged his people because they refused to obey.
God sent his Son out of love for his people.
The Son of God died and was resurrected and went back to live with God.
God reigns on his throne in Heaven.

From start to finish, the movie is obviously about God.  He is the main character.  So why do we live as though it is about us?  Our scene in the movie falls somewhere between the resurrection of Jesus in Acts and the time when we will worship at His throne in Heaven (Revelation).  We have about 2/5 of a second-long scene to live.   The purpose of your life is to point to Him whether you are in the midst of good circumstances or bad.  It's not about you.  The movie is really all about Him.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

He Is With You

Audra got the new Mandisa CD for Easter, but I think I am enjoying it more than she is.  Maybe someone out there needs to be reminded of these words today.

There's a time to live
And a time to die
There's a time to laugh
And a time to cry
There's a time for war
And a time for peace
There's a hand to hold
In the worst of these

He is with you when your faith is dead
And you can't even get out of bed
Or your husband doesn't kiss you anymore
He is with you when your baby's gone
And your house is still, 
And your hearts a stone
Cryin' God, what'd You do that for
He is with you

There's a time for yes
And a time for no
There's a time to be angry
And a time to let it go
There is a time to run
And a time to face it
There is love to see you
Through all of this

He is with you in the conference room
When the world is coming down on you
And your wife and kids don't know you anymore
He is with you in the ICU
When the doctors don't know what to do
And it scares you to the core
He is with you

We may weep for a time
But joy will come in the morning
The morning light

He is with you when your kids are grown
When there's too much space
And you feel alone
And you're worried if you
Got it right or wrong
Yes He is with you
When you've given up on ever finding your true love
Someone who feels like home
He is with you

When nothing else is left
And you take your final breath
He is with you

("He is With You", Mandisa)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Road trip

I need to be getting ready for the next set of grandparents to arrive, but instead I am writing a paper for my class tomorrow, registering for football, and blogging!  I will do anything to get out of cleaning the toilet... unfortunately it's not going anywhere.
I just had to let you know that today is the day that Will has been looking forward to for months.  The third graders are taking a charter bus to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's house for those of you you are wondering what's the big deal).  At breakfast I said, "Yea!  You get to go to Monticello today!"  and Will said, "Yea!  I get to pee on a bus today!  My teacher says that she's not going to use the bathroom on the bus, but I am."
I hope the one hour bus ride will allow enough time for each child to use the "facilities".  Next year in 4th grade Will will get to visit historic Jamestown ride another charter bus.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Life

I was walking around the yard this weekend and came across this little sprout.  It's hard to see, but it's a little dogwood tree growing out of what looks like a dead stump.  And its not just growing, it's blooming.  Who would have thought that new life could come from something that seemed dead? Who would have thought that something beautiful could come from something so ugly? 
Thank you Lord for the reminder that you can make something beautiful from something terrible.
Thank you for new life. 
Thank you for hope. 

Here's another view of the baby dogwood.  You can barely see it to the right of the tree.  

Here's another sign of spring.  This is one of the 27+ azalea bushes in our front yard.

We didn't even know what these were when we bought the house--or that they would have flowers.

Here's another picture of front porch decorations/birthday present.

The white container on the left is a candle holder with butterfly cutouts on the side for the light to shine through.    

Sittie hung these plates while she was here.  They were a wedding shower gift from a friend of my mom's who received them at her wedding shower.  They depict the life of George Washington and they are perfect for our colonial dining room.  You can also see our tea pots.  There is one from our day at the Cowboy museum given to Anna by our friend Mary Beth.  There are two from the tea party the girls had at Ms Kay's house.  The candles are from Anna's memorial service.

Sittie and Pop also hung this mirror in the entryway.  The plan is to have a verse stenciled on the opposite wall so that it is reflected in the mirror.

Finally, we spent many hours stripping the wallpaper in the hall bath.  We tried several paint samples.  Can you tell which one I liked the best?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring has sprung

We enjoyed spring break this week.  The weather was warm and the flowers were blooming.
Sittie gave me an early birthday present by decorating the front porch with a new chair, flag, and flowers.

Will enjoyed checking out the Italian gardens at Maymont.  

We visited the tourist trap historical Michie Tavern.

We checked out the Rotunda at UVA.  It was very impressive.  Unfortunately we don't have a picture of it, only this picture of us looking at it.

What is Easter without a bunny kiss?

Two chefs in the kitchen--not too many!

The kids loved Busch Gardens.  I think this was Jacob's favorite ride.

A cheesy photo-op in the Italian section of Busch Gardens--wine anyone?

Thank you Sittie and Pop for coming to see us!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Listen Carefully

"Therefore consider carefully how you listen.  Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him."  (Luke8:18)
We read this verse in the car on the way to church last week.  It was the first time I understood that the "what he thinks he has" refers to truth and understanding, not "stuff".  If you hear truth, it must be understood and used, THEN it will be multiplied and you will understand even more.  If you go to church and fail to listen carefully, you won't gain a thing.   You will lose any truth/word that you fail to use and apply in your life.  God's word is meant for application, not entertainment.

"Mary sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said...'She chose what is better and it will not be taken away from her'..." (Luke10:39,42)
I am such a Martha--worried and upset over many things.  But Jesus tells Martha that "only one thing is needed".  All the things that Martha busied herself with would pass away--the meal, the house,  the chores.  Her sister Mary chose to do the one thing that COULD NOT be taken away from her--sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him.

'The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." (Deut. 29:29)
There are always going to be things we can't understand, but the things that God reveals to us, belong to us FOREVER.  They last.  They can't be taken away.  EVERYTHING ELSE CAN BE TAKEN AWAY.  Do you understand that?  Everything else is temporary.  Everything.

"Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants."  (Deut. 32:2)
Can you take the water away from the grass after it soaks down into the roots?  No!  The water refreshes the roots and causes the grass to grow.  Once it is absorbed, it cannot be taken away.  It's the same with God's word.  If you absorb it, apply it, use it, it will accomplish its purpose and it CANNOT be taken away  from you.  I don't know about you, but I need to know that there is SOMETHING in this world than can't be taken away.

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10-11) 
So then, listen carefully.  Use it.  Apply it.  Grow.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Preparing a place

Richard's parents are coming to visit.  The last time they stayed with us was 10 years ago when we were living in Cyprus.  I had just given birth to Audra (via C-section) a few days before.   I remember the night Richard went to pick them up at the airport.  Our friend Steve dropped by and washed our dishes.  That may or may not have been the only clean place in the house since I had just spent 8 days in the hospital.  This time I don't have a newborn to distract me so I have no excuse to not be prepared.  This has involved the usual cleaning tasks and some not-so-usual ones like taking down Audra's bed and moving it to the guest room, organizing the tupperware, and ironing the sheets.  The kitchen is stocked with their favorite drink and meals are in the freezer so we can spend more time having fun and less time in the kitchen.  The rabbit and hamster cages have fresh bedding.  The front walkway is swept.  We are as ready as we are going to get.  All that preparation got me thinking about the place Jesus is preparing for us.  I wonder what it will look like.  As nice as our home is on this earth, it cannot compare to what is in store for us.  So if you come see us, I will prepare a place for you.  It will be a symbol of what's to come...
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)