Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Days

This morning at church when my little friend Hannah rolled by me, I noticed her Bible poking out of the backpack attached to her chair.  It was the same size as mine and had a butterfly on it.  I grabbed it and said, "Look Hannah, your Bible has a butterfly on it and mine does too!"  She thought that was cool.  Then she looked up at me and asked very sweetly, "Do you want them to kiss?"  I thought I might melt into a puddle of sugary sweetness right there in the hallway.  I said, "Oh yes!  I do want them to kiss."  So we kissed our Bible butterflies together then went on our merry way.
Loved it.
Love kisses.
Love butterflies.
Love little girls.

Beth Moore came to Richmond this weekend.  I wanted to go, but I didn't have anyone to go with and I really didn't think I should spend the money on a ticket when we have so many extra back-to-school expenses this month.   But, I told God that if he would help me get a ticket, I would go.  On FRIDAY I found someone on Facebook who knew someone who knew someone who had an extra ticket for sale.  I made tentative arrangements to find this person outside the coliseum and buy her ticket.  Then another Facebook friend connected me with a group of ladies who were leaving from the church.  Once I made the commitment to go, life got crazy.  I need to get groceries.  The kids had to be three different places.  I was running around all day getting everyone where they were supposed to go.  Richard was going to have to leave work early and I remembered thinking that it would be easier to stay home.  But somehow I made it to the church on time and while we were waiting for the rest of the group, one of the ladies said, "I don't know what I'm going to do with these free tickets."  EXCUSE ME?   "I don't have a ticket," I said.  They looked at me like I was a nutball, "You don't have a ticket?  What were you going to do?"  My plan to find a friend of a friend of a friend in a sea of 9,300 Bible toting women was not sounding too good.  "Here, just take this one."  REALLY?  A FREE TICKET?
I went.  I worshipped.  I met some new friends.  I was blessed.  Thank you God!

Last Week
Last weekend we spent the night at Virginia Beach.  These Oklahoma landlubbers had FUN.  Here are a few pictures of our vacation...
We enjoyed a seafood dinner on the beach.  Richard and Jacob got the lobster special.
Attack of the killer crab legs!!!
Will caught the moon during our walk back to the hotel.
We woke up to this.  Everyone else slept through the rain while I sat outside and enjoyed the view.
"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God.  How vast is the sum of them.  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand." (Psalm 139:17)
Thy power throughout the universe displayed...
The sun came out--sort of--and we set up camp on the beach.
We built sand castles...
Rode the boogie boards...
Hunted for sand crabs...
And fed the birds.  They would actually swoop down and eat the cheetos out of our hands, but my camera wasn't fast enough to catch them.
We had a great time.  Wish you were here!

Monday, August 23, 2010

R.I.P Pip

We said goodbye to the smallest member of our family this morning.  Audra's hamster Pip had been going downhill for a few weeks.  I hated checking on her every day to see if she was still breathing.  When I told Richard how hard it was for me, he said, "I'll do it."  And he has.  Every day.  Taking that burden off me was one of the nicest things he has done because I know it was hard for him too.  Watching and waiting for someone/something to die is hard.  Even though it was "just" a hamster, it brought back memories.  When we didn't know how many more days we would have with Anna, we would wake up every day and check to see if she was still breathing.  Only then could we relax and thank God for another day.
If you are not counting your days, you should.  The Bible says,
"Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)  
It also says,
"As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more." (Psalm 103:15-16)

If you are breathing, thank God for another day, realize that it is a gift, and make the most of it.

The REST of the story....

Even though Richard has been checking on Pip, it was Audra who found her.  We had just returned yesterday from an overnight trip to the beach.  We were still unloading the car when we heard Audra crying.  She had gone to check on Pip as soon as she walked in the door.
When I was putting her to bed last night Audra said, "That sure was a bad way to end our vacation."

Friday, August 20, 2010

New schools--again

We are enjoying the last few lazy days of summer.   On September 7 we will kick-off an exciting year.  Jacob is starting high school and Audra is starting middle school.  The other day we were at the high school paying Jacob's band fees and I said, "Oooh!  I am so excited about high school--all the football games and activities--it's so much fun!"  Audra said, "Aren't you excited about middle school?  Isn't it fun too?"  I didn't say this, but I was thinking, "Ummm, no.  It's not very fun.  It's a difficult stage of life and you will just have to get through it."  What I said was, "OF COURSE middle school is fun!"
Even though school hasn't started, we have started fall sports.  Jacob joined the cross country team so he has practice every day at 7am.  (Run Jacob run!)  Will is playing tackle football so he has practice every night at 6pm.  (He looks so cute in his pads and helmet.)  I am the football "team mom".  I'm thinking it must be a  lot of work since none of the returning moms wanted to do it so they recruited the new mom.
One year ago today we spent our first night in Richmond.  We made it through a year of "settling" and are now looking forward to a year of "building"--building relationships, responsibilities, and reputations.
Press on!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Worst Day

I have a notebook that I started in 2006.  In it, I write down the kids' answers to a variety of questions.  I spend time with each one individually and ask things like, "Describe your perfect day.", "What do you want to be when you grow up?", "What are you afraid of?", and "What's your favorite food? (song, movie, etc.)"  This year I added, "Tell me about  the the worst day of your life."  Will's response was, "The day Anna died.  I remember going to breakfast.  I remember you coming to the Nuthman's to tell us she died."  I wasn't surprised by his answer because that was one of my worst days too, but I was surprised by Audra's answer.  I thought she might mention Anna's death or her funeral, or perhaps moving far away from her friends or even having to start a new school half-way through 5th grade.  No, she said her worst day was, "The day I was too sick to go to Hank's first birthday party."  Hank is the four-year-old son of a friend of ours and I don't remember his first  birthday, but evidently it was a pretty bad day for Audra.
I hope that whatever is happening in your life right now, that today is not your worst day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Believe

I just got off the phone with Santa.  SERIOUSLY!  We took Anna to North Pole City to meet him on November 3, 2007.  He has been trying to get in touch with us recently to get our permission to use Anna's story in a book he is writing.  What is interesting about the timing of the phone call is that yesterday morning I was walking and praying...
"Lord, I know you want me to share the things you have taught me, but the thought of writing a book is overwhelming.  Maybe I could write an article.  Would that be okay?  But what part of our story should I tell?  It's too long for an article."
Right away the thought came, "You could write about Santa Dan."
"Yes Lord, I think I could write about our visit to Santa.  I think I could write about how that came about and what we learned about Anna, about Santa, and about Jesus.  That's a good story."
Then today I got an email saying that Santa was trying to call me.  After he told me what he was doing, I said, "I'll send you my version of the story if you send me yours."
Did you know that Santa Dan has not only not forgotten Anna, but he actually took a picture of the butterfly she painted to a store to have it made into a pillow for his sleigh.   The owner of the store  recognized Anna's painting and said, "I know her.  I know her family."  It was Pat from Image Arts who has made tiles, cards, cutting boards, ties, etc. for us (and all the other Art With A Heart families).
So hold me accountable.  Ask me if I've finished started the article.  Pray that I will be faithful with what I have been given.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

One year

We are getting ready to celebrate our one-year anniversary of being in Virginia.  We have come a long way since last summer when we were packing/moving/saying goodbye to our friends and family.  Perhaps someone told us that it would be hard to move across the country, but we must not have been listening.  We thought it would be an adventure--a fresh start.  And it has been, but it has also been much harder than we anticipated.  The only thing that kept us here during those first few months (besides the fact that we sold our house) was knowing that it was God's plan for us to be here.  And except for being so far from the people we love, it is a wonderful place to be.  I remember on Anna's birthday we were so sad and we were wanting to be with people who knew her and could share our grief.  We were driving in the country and I sighed and said, "It sure is pretty here."  Some days, that was the only positive thing I could think of to say!  The hard days have gotten fewer and farther between, but when they come, I still look around and  say, "It sure is pretty here."  We are looking forward to our second year--trusting that this is where God wants us, learning to love the people we are with, and thankful to be in such a beautiful place.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Letting go....letting God

Romans 8:28-29  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 
 We have all heard that God works all things together for good. When Anna died I thought, "This is not good." I had to let go of my idea of what was good and look at God's idea of good.  God's goal for us is to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.  That is what he calls good.  I confess that being like Jesus has not always been on the top of my "to do" list.  My life is consumed by things I am involved in, the difficulties I face, the hardships I endure, the choices I make.  But those things are only important in light of God's ultimate goal for me--to be conformed to the image of Christ.

This issue came up this week in a class we are taking for parents of teenagers.  If you have a teenager you know that the experience can be challenging and frustrating.  I realized one of the primary reasons for my frustration  is that I have been trying to conform my teen to my image.  I want him to be like me.  I want him to like the music I like.  I want him to run cross-country because I ran cross-country.  I want him to join clubs, wear preppy clothes, and get all A's, because then I would be comfortable.  But guess what, he's not like me.  He doesn't like the music I like.  His clothing choices are edgy.  He's not interested in student government.  His grades are okay, but he would rather spend time with friends than study.    He is not me and he is not supposed to be me.  My primary goal should not be to regulate his behavior.  That makes me a policeman.  My ultimate goal should be for him to be conformed to the image of Christ.  That can't be done by checking things off a list (clean room--check, homework done--check, in bed by 11pm--check).  

Paul Tripp says, "The rules-and-regulations approach that focuses on keeping the teenager 'out of trouble' will ultimately fail because it does not deal with the heart.... we may well be trying to produce what only God can produce as he works to change the hearts of our teenagers.  What we need to do is trust his work as we seek, in restful faith, to be instruments of change in his redemptive hands."

And so I face these high-school, not with fear and trembling, but with faith that God is at work conforming my son to the image of his Son.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gifts from God

I was reading a tribute to Sono Harris (who passed away on July 4) by Randy Alcorn.  In it he quotes an email she wrote to encourage him during a difficult season of his life...
"These trials are simultaneously burdens God gives to keep (us) utterly dependent; and thorns which pin back the veil that hides His face.  In a fallen world, they are gifts."  Sono Harris
Think about it.  Our trials are gifts that keep us dependent on God and allow us to see his face.  Wow.