Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Top 10

As I prepare for Thanksgiving this year, I felt it appropriate to post my top 10 things I am thankful for...only to find out I had already done so a couple years ago. After reading my list, I realized,  I haven't changed a thing. So here is a repost and an amen to my list from 2010. Enjoy!

 I know I am a silly girl, but I think we should take time out to be thankful daily and not just one day a year. Regardless, at least we all take time to really think about just what blessings we have this time of year. So, today I am thrilled to be able to count my top 10 blessings in my life at this time.

I am thankful for~

10. Chocolate and chai tea....simple and yummy!

9. A home that is filled with laughter and love more than heartache and hurts. Not saying we never hurt each others feelings, but I am so thankful our family has more times of laughter than of tears.

8. Friends who love me and support me in all my endeavors. Not only supporting me, but pouring their lives into my girls hearts! I love that my girls have supports from all around them in all areas they are involved. Those women in my life at co-op, girls' dance classes, church, small group, scrapbooking buddies, lifetime friends...I adore your hearts!

7. Generous in-laws who have shown me that stuff is just stuff

6. Sunrises and sunsets that remind me of what a Mighty God I serve

5. Sister and brother who still giggle with me over our childhood jokes and also that we support each other in our endeavors regardless of how different we all are. No judgement, just love. :)

4. Parents who showed me the way to Christ and loved me enough to teach me that the best gift they could ever give me was to love each other well. I am grateful my parents did not try to be my friend when I was younger but were my parents who loved me enough to discipline me and teach me to do things the "right" way. :)

3. Being blessed to be called Mommy~ a word I never thought I would hear. I am thankful to have two beautiful girls who bless me with laughter, joy and love daily. These girls have a love and knowledge of God that I am in awe of daily.

2. Being married to a man who I adore and adores me. Having a marriage that is never taken for granted and where we see God's hand throughout. I am grateful Matt understands this woman's heart.

1. Having a God who loved me enough that He laid down His life for mine. While I was still a sinner, He died for me. He did if for you too.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fill 'er Up!

There have been times in life where I have had an abundance of time to do what I desire when I desire. There are likewise times where I can't seem to find time to think! This season in my life is more like the latter. I have found that during those times I start to feel a bit overwhelmed but recently God allowed a friend to speak some wisdom into me and I walked away so blessed. Life is good because I could hear her words and I thought I would share. 

When discussing my situation with my sweet friend, I poured over all that I felt God was leading our family to do right now...school choices, support friends, serve others, office, home, etc. As I laid more and more things on the table between us, she stopped me. Gently she asked me with all these things, what needs to be poured out so I can give all I need to with joy? What? She said to make two columns...one for things, people, events that fill me up spiritually, emotionally etc. Then the other was for things, people, events that drain me. What or who truly sucks the life right out of me? I had never considered that just because I like someone does not mean we make a good team as friends. I guess I always thought if our kids were the same age, did the same things,  enjoyed playing...the adults would just figure it out. But she really challenged me to consider that there are people who pour into your life and make it richer. Those are the people we need during this time of transition with the office, school, home etc. And we need to be those people to others. We can not pour into others lives when we have so many "straws" in our own life sucking it dry, whether that be activities or people. 

I knew to adjust the activity load but I had not considered the people. So it has me thinking....where do you run for comfort? Calm in a storm? My first place is straight to God, but then it is my husband, closest friends and family. Beyond that, I must ask myself are the casual relationships I have pouring into my life or draining me? If they are not adding joy and calm to my crazy life, this season may be about learning to set healthy boundaries with my time, friendships and talents...no matter how hard that may be! That does not come easy to me. I like people! I like having fun and giggling with whoever is around but that does not mean I need to bring their drama etc into my already full plate. I see the wisdom of this and am trying to figure out what does drain me most and where do I turn in those moments. I also find myself trying to figure out if I am that person who is draining others...and if so, how can I adjust my actions, words to not be that for them. I have to admit that I had never thought of going through my relationships in this way. I just love on them all and deal with what it brings I guess. But now I see the fruit of these words. I see I am more calm. I am at peace. I find joy in all I am doing because those I have surrounding me on a daily/weekly basis are people that truly pour into my life and vice versa. What a great gift at a perfect time of craziness. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lessons Learned

When you speak about the lessons you have learned well in your life, I bet you don't list the ones learned at the side of a 10 year old. Yet, there was a time in my life where a 10 year old boy taught me many lessons and I have never forgotten those sweet moments or lessons learned.

In honor of my student, Chris Mortell, who passed away this week, this post will be a sweet tribute to him and those lessons learned so long ago. He may have only be 10, but he had an amazing faith and no shame about sharing it.

So here we go, top 10 things learned at the side of Chris Mortell:

10. Little things matter most. Chris loved playing with my fingernails or holding my hand as we walked through the school. What sweet memories those are today.

9. The brain is fascinating and should never be underestimated! Chris may have had developmental delays due to brain cancer treatments, but that boy would memorize entire movies! He would sit almost trance like and recite them word for word. That was my first clue into how he learned best! I figured if a boy can do that, he can learn to read and do math facts! :)

8. Never underestimate the power of a sibling.  Chris has a twin brother, John. Due to the school they attended, they were blessed to be in class together. I was Chris' assistant for two years and was able to watch this dynamic duo in action. John was highly protective of Chris and very encouraging. Chris wanted to do what John did. John was his motivation. So, when Chris didn't want to do something, I just might have mentioned that John had done it and BOOM! it was done. :) I will never forget John coming to me and asking if we could talk to the class about Chris. So we did. I remember having Chris go on a walk to wake him up before lessons. John and I sat the class on the floor, read a story, "Leo the Late Bloomer" and talked about how everyone was made with differences. If we make fun of all kids with brown hair and say they can't do whatever because they have brown hair, how would that feel. It amazed me to watch this brother take over the talk with his peers about his brother. We had no issues with kids making fun of Chris the entire time I worked with him. John is to credit for that, in my opinion.

7. Not all people share the same passions and can still be friends. Chris adored Halloween, the ride at Disney Tower of Terror and the Goosebump books. I, on the other hand, really don't like any of those things per se. I am more of a Winnie the Pooh, Christmas/Easter, classics kind of gal. However, I adored this little guy and we had a sweet connection until the end. I still giggle at the almost horror he felt when he realized I had never read a Goosebumps. His reaction was so cute.

6. Some people may see angels in this lifetime. I recall a time when I was going through some yucky infertility treatments. Nothing was gong our way. My siblings were all expecting their first babies within six months of each other and every day I walked into work sad, until I saw Chris. His smile lit up a room...and my heart during that time. There was a time where Chris was seeing double vision at times. I know some people will say this experience was just that. However, for me at the time, I needed to hear his words. We were sitting there working. Chris was staring off just above my head. I kept trying to get his attention and he shushed me, saying,"Sh! Mrs. Miller...you have angels all around your head. They are beautiful." Now, I don't know what he saw. Probably the double vision, but at that time and when I think back of what was happening in my life....I wanted to believe that little boy saw what he said. The comfort of knowing I was being watched over was beyond words.

5. A family can be the biggest cheerleaders, support, friendships you need. Chris' family is amazing. His parents never stopped fighting for him and what he needed. His sister was the same way and even more so after becoming a doctor herself. She knew what to try and helped keep him with his family a bit longer, according to his mom. I have never met a family who is more upbeat, positive and thankful in my life. I pray that I am able to take that from this time of life and pour it into my girls.

4. A faith in God is not optional....well at least not to Chris. :) When he was 9, I worked with him and two other kids. One of the others shocked Chris one day in saying he didn't go to church and he didn't believe in God. The reaction Chris gave should be what happens when I hear of those who are still not believers....he wept. I had to shut down the lesson, take a walk and talk with him and to the horror of most administrators....I prayed with him. :) We shared a faith in God and I knew that. I knew that would bring peace. But to him, the trees and sunset spoke of God so how could this child not believe?!

3. One smile can truly lighten up a room. As I said before, Chris was in my life during a very dark time. I was never so happy to see that kiddo smile at me. But it didn't just stop there. When he walked in a room, his cherub face would grin as he walked to his seat and he held the attention of the class. They could not get enough of that smiling kiddo. I agree!

2. Never underestimate the ability of someone with special needs. Chris was proof to me that often we try to put limits on people due to what we think they can do. Chris busted out of every limitation placed on him from other people. The fact he lived to be 27 is proof of that. Chris was able to learn his math facts and read. He did learn to write stories. Chris did things people never dreamed he could. I was thrilled to get to witness some of that.

1. The sound of one sweet voice is music to your ears. Chris had the sweetest voice. Truly it was precious. He sometimes had trouble with his l's and r's so I became Mrs. Miwwer. I loved it. Last summer,my girls and I were cleaning out the school closet and I ran across an audio tape of Chris reading to me and answering some questions. We listened and all were just smiles. His voice and the way he interacted with me on the tape was just sweet. I put that tape away until I heard of his passing. I pulled it out and listened once more. This time with tears running down my cheeks...but still rejoicing that this sweet boy was in my life at all. That tape was music to my ears. I passed it on to his mom because that is who needs to have it but I did tape it first.;)  There is just something about his sweet spirit that lifts your mood when you hear his little voice.

While I head off to say good bye to my little buddy, I can't help but giggle at one of the other memories of working with him. When I started teaching, I guess I called everyone sweet pea a lot. Chris was taken back by this and one day asked me why I called him that. I told him I just called all the kids I work with that and his reply...:"Well then, I am going to call you cupcake!" And he did. Every time I would ask him to go do his work or time for a morning walk to wake up,  he jumped up and said, "ok, cupcake!" Been a long time since I heard him call me that but it is one thing I will never forget.

So long sweet pea! It has been a joy knowing you and calling you friend. We will walk together again one day.
Love you,
Cupcake. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Words of Truth

Ok, get the laughs out. I actually have something I want to share with you from my heart about this girl...this young lady who did not know her own worth until much later in life. This girl who chose to listen to the cry of the world more than the cry of her God. This girl with big hair....who is me.

Lately, I have been involved in many conversations with many teen girls about their heartache or despair over either a boy being unkind, breaking up with them, not noticing them, etc. I also have had conversations with moms of teen girls whose hearts are breaking as they watch their girls struggle to figure out who they are in God's eyes and to determine if they will find their worth in what the world says is important as a teen or if they will listen to that same call to follow God and wait on Him.

Oh to have a chance to sit them all down and talk to them. If only they would hear the wisdom that has come from living the life and choosing to follow the worlds ways. Why am I so passionate about pouring truth into my own girls and their friends? Because I chose the wrong way at that age. It is the way that leads to heartache after heartache. The way that leaves you feeling empty and unworthy of love. The way that has you doubting your beauty and comparing yourself to others. The way that leads to deep heartache.

If I had a chance to speak truth into my own 15 year old self today, what would I say? Oh boy! Sweet girl, you are created for big things! God knit you together in such a way to glorify Him with what you do. So what do you want to do to bring Him glory? What? You don't sing well...good. That is not for you. You don't dance as well as others. That's okay..that is not what you are to do. You aren't as pretty as others...oh, He disagrees. You, sweet girl, are beautiful. You have His eyes to see the pain in others. He gave you his tender heart to be compassionate and loving when you feel otherwise. You feel you are not as smart as others? That is a gift He gave so you can be a better teacher and understand the struggle your students will have to face daily. I see in you a future of great moments with God and when you decide to turn your focus off this world and fully focus on God, you will be a force to be reckoned with for sure! Turn your focus to Him and not worry about what the world says. You are enough with out a boy in your life. You are beautiful and precious and honored in His sight. You have been created for a purpose and that is not to be used by others and tossed aside. You are here to glorify your God. What a mighty calling. Your life will be one of heartache, some you can't change, others from choices you made. But what I know today is that each experience God takes you on will give you the strength you need for the battles ahead. Cling to Him when it is tough and know His way is the only way.

Those words seem so easy to say, so easy to write. Yet I know when I was 15 I would not have listened, sadly. Some of those choices to not listen, to put up barriers and walls to those who spoke wisdom into my world, thinking I knew it all....still haunt me today. For now I am still known to some as that stubborn kid. What I think is amazing to share is that stubbornness did turn to a faith to be reckoned with....one that stands alone sometimes. One that makes others feel uncomfortable and while that is not my goal, it is the path God has set me on. A path to glorify Him at all costs.. This time, I am choosing to walk it. Then, I did not listen. I did not hear the wisdom of my elders. And I paid dearly.

 So for these girls who have heartache, sadness and feel ignored by boys.....wait. Wait for God to show you His perfect plan. Wait for the right guy to sweep you off your feet because his faith is so strong you can't get beyond it. Wait for the time to be right and the right guy notice you. Don't try to gain the attention of some "ok" guy by cheapening who God made you to be...wearing tight, revealing clothes, being too made up, doing things you don't want to do....wait. While you wait, focus on where God wants you to serve Him, how God created you and what is beautiful about that! You are worth the wait! God is worth the wait.

Stepping off the pedestal now......

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Bell Sheep

I have been reading an amazing book by Elizabeth George called Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart.  I am getting great ideas and truly remarkable confirmation on some of the ideas we have used in raising our two gems this far. One thing she has really got me thinking on a lot is the thought of being a "bell sheep" to my girls. What? I prefer to never be compared to any farm animals thank you! :) But as I read further, suddenly, I could not stop thanking God for making me the bell sheep for my girls. Let me explain. 

A shepherd will watch for the sheep that stays closest to him naturally. The one that hears his voice and responds immediately. The one that feels his presence and goes to be with him. The one that walks beside him wherever he goes. Then he will place a bell around that sheep so to call the other sheep to him. Do you get that? He places a bell around the sheep to beckon the other sheep to follow the shepherd. Amazing! I am thrilled to say that this momma will be beckoning my girls to their Good Shepherd in all we do. I am so happy to have that visual picture in my brain as I think about what I do each day. Am I leading my girls to the shepard? Are my words? Are my activities? Do I speak to them about their shepard? Do I run to Him and show them that is where their safety remains? I pray as my girls follow me, they are lead directly to Christ.

I have to say....I've never looked so good! LOL!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Walking Through Life With Friends

The Perkins and Miller Girls

This past few weeks has been a truly humbling time in my life as well as such a time of faith building. I have witnessed things I never want to see again. Talked about things I never wish on my worst enemy and experienced things I will never forget. In the midst of those experiences, stands a stronger faith that God is sovereign and amazingly gracious. Let me explain a bit more.

On June 25th, I received a phone call from a dear friend of mine, Kim, around 10pm. She was emotionless as she explained that her sweet husband had been in a terrible car accident earlier that day and she was on her way to Toledo, Ohio where he was lifelined to a hospital there. My heart sank once I realized she truly was serious. Her lack of emotion at that time made me think she was trying to pull a prank on me until I realized she was in shock. She was in wife mode...got to get there...not thinking about herself at all. I called a friend who would pray with me through the night for Derek and Kim. I sent emails to friends who knew them and asked for prayers. And then I waited....I read scripture...I prayed....I texted her to keep updated on what was happening. It became apparent to me very quickly that God wanted me to be by her side. So, the next morning,  I asked my husband who naturally told me to go. So I called her and offered, she accepted and I left that day.

The next few days are so foggy in my mind. We spent hours in a waiting room with people we do not know. All of which were a part of this horrible "club" called ICU. The hopelessness in that room was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I knew why God sent me. I was to share the hope we have in Christ and remind Kim to hold strong to that when she feels those waves of emotion rise...which they will...and they did. I do not know how to explain the feeling of watching a friend at death's door. I do not know how to explain the feeling of watching the wife of a friend at death's door. Truly, the experience has changed how I look at the relationships in my own home, with my siblings, other friends. I won't go into detail about what happened each day, as I truly can not recall what happened when. I will share some of the amazing God stories later in my blog as we continue to walk with these friends on the journey God has called them to take.

But one thing I know for sure is that nothing here on earth matters when you are sitting in that room waiting to hear if your husband will make it through the night. Nothing matters when you are waiting to figure out if your man will ever be the same...or will your girls ever have their daddy again. Nothing matters when you ache for the touch of his hand, the smell of his sweaty running clothes, the laugh that echoes the house. Nothing matters when you realize that God may be asking you to lay it all down for Him. The ache is real. The ache is deep.  The ache permeates every cell in your body and your body fights it.

What I know matters at that moment is a faith that holds fast. A faith that remains firmly rooted in scripture. A faith that binds hearts together with the Almighty and bids Him to come reveal Himself to you as you deal with this new ache. A faith that God is not just going to show up but He will do as He promised and He will be found faithful. A faith that no matter how ugly the emotions, God will walk through this with you and send you those who will walk with you. God is truly showing me what it means to be a friend who loves unconditionally. A friend who digs in and gets dirty with emotional junk or whatever is needed. A friend who loves at all times...just like we are asked to be.

As I pray over this situation and see God's hand all over it, I stand amazed at the strength of my friend, Kim. In her, I see God's grace and mercy exhibited in human form. She stood beside her husband's bedside, reading scripture into his ear, talking to him consistently...beckoning him back to the family.She was a rock when she was with him.  He held on to her every word. There were times of tears running down as she read scriptures to him or told stories about the girls. We saw a grimace of either laughter or crying at times. He connected to her on a spiritual level and fought to be back with this family.

Kim has been a role model for me as she walks this journey. She is not done. She is not perfect. She is angry at times. She gets upset at why this had to happen. But she is real. She lays it out before God and gives it all to Him.. She seeks comfort in Him alone. I felt we were living the Bible story of Moses and the Amalekites all over again. (Exodus 17) As long as Moses kept his arms up, they would defeat their enemy. So he kept them up but grew weary. When he was weary, his friends held his arms up to defeat that enemy. Truly, Kim held Derek's arms up when she was with him. She helped him defeat this injury and continues to do so. However, when she is away from  him, it is our turn to hold her arms up to defeat the enemy and keep her fit for the next battle. I am honored to hold her arms up.  

 I pray for her to have the desires of her heart....her sweet husband back home in full capacity...to hold her, laugh with her, talk to her about life and be the daddy to those girls he adores. I want her to have her best friend at home and I pray God will give her the desires of her heart quicker than we ever dreamed. However, if that is not His Will, we will continue this walk beside our friends no matter where God leads us all.

This song was shared with me by a friend of Kim's. 
Kind of perfect for what we are walking through. 

A Belated Tribute for Father's Day :)

Life around here has been crazy busy so I am so behind in posting on here. However, I figure it is never too late to take a few moments to update this thing and let those I adore know it! :)  I am blessed to have two sweet men in my life to honor on Father's Day, my sweet dad and my precious husband. This year I am just taking some time to honor my dad....the first man I ever loved. Here is a post I wrote about him a few years back. It all still stands true! Love you, Dad!

What is it about walking down memory lane that is so sweet? Maybe it is taking the time to really remember those moments we cherish. Maybe it is the photos we have not seen in years that allow the emotions to flood back in and cause our hearts to swell. I'm not sure, but I do know that I love Wednesdays for this very reason.

Today's walk down memory lane for me has no official photo, yet it is so vivid in my memory. I am the middle child in a family of three children. I am the first girl. My dad was my hero most of my life. He still is a man I admire greatly. I have since learned that my heavenly Father is the only one I should hold up to the standard of true hero, but as a child, my daddy was number one.

Some of my favorite memories as a young girl are of time spent sitting on my dad's lap, playing games with him, listening to him talk like Donald Duck so long it made my sides hurt from laughing and watching him with my mom. Above all else, my favorite memory of my dad as a child, will always be walking or dancing on his feet before bed. There did not need to be music, he would either hum his own or our laughter would be enough. My little sister would be there as well, since we shared a room. We would take turns hopping on his "enormous' feet and going for a swirl. How safe I felt standing on his feet, in his arms, while we twirled or stomped up the stairs together. The joy of that moment is precious to me still to this day.

Fast forward 30 years or more, I still adore my daddy and the relationship he has with my mom. I still love spending time with him playing games. I still fall to pieces laughing hearing him talk like Donald Duck. However, there is no more dancing on his feet as I would seriously cause the man pain! So where do I go for this same feeling I once had as a young girl? I run to my heavenly father. I picture me jumping up on His feet, holding his hand, wrapping my other arm around him tightly and twirling with delight. The safety returns. The joy sweeps in. I pray I never get "too old" to dance on my Abba Daddy's feet nor to remember how that makes me feel. As I walk down memory lane today, I am grateful for the Daddy I was given on earth who took time to show me a glimpse of God's love in the way he loved and tenderly cared for his little girl. This dance is for you, Dad.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sweet Friends

Doodle has a natural gift for "playing" with younger kiddos. She just loves to escape into their imagination world with them and help them create wonderful places to visit each time they play. This comes in very handy as she is babysitting more now. She loves playing with the kids and not just sitting there telling them what to do which is a gift and a reason she is called often to watch friends' children. There are several kids who touch her heart, one little guy who has dimples that never end and is way too cute, another who loves to show her  the new moves she knows from ballet and many others. However, there is one little girl who has a tugs her heartstrings everytime she walks into a room and hears the little girl squeal her name and come running! 

The two of them are ten years apart and in normal situations that would seem odd. But the blessing of homeschooling your kids is that they learn to be with all ages and not feel odd. Doodle knows she is a role model to the younger kids she plays with and she takes that seriously. 

She loves helping them learn more about how to treat each other and how to follow God in all they do. I am grateful that Doodle takes her role seriously and that she already has little ones who look up to her. She works hard to be the role model that leads them straight to the foot of the cross and to Jesus. I am honored to watch her and see how much she truly does shine for Him. 

It is fun to watch your child be the helper now. It is also weird. I remember her being the little girl looking up to an older friend not all that long ago. But now, it is her turn. I am thrilled to see her being such a diligent little special friend to many of the kids she babysits. I am also thrilled to see her enjoy being that special friend to one little girl right now who thinks she hangs the moon. :) As she begins a new venture...teaching some of these sweet girls ballet this summer, I can't help but think there will be even more little girls looking up to her and I have to say, I totally see why...she amazes me too! (but I tend to be a bit biased! :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mom's Legacy

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I would take time to post about my mom. I am thrilled to have had a mom who loved me enough to tell me no, make me tell her where I was and had the audacity to call to double check! I am thankful I had a mom who loved me enough to teach me manners, hold me accountable when I was wrong and let me feel the sting of wrong choices. I am thankful I had a mom who made me try new things and not stay in my comfort zone all the time. I am thankful I had a mom who loved  me enough to be my mom when I needed it and now my friend! I am thankful I had a mom who taught me how to be a better mom today. Thanks mom! I love you! In honor of you, today I repost this earlier post all about your precious legacy! 

Originally posted March 18, 2009

This is my beautiful mom with my Gram.

I think some of the most precious memories for me with my mom as a child would be: walking with her,listening to her read, and watching her pray. Let me explain more.

When my mom walks, the woman walks fast! You have to keep up. But I remember very vividly her getting ready to take off and always her hand would come down and she would take our hand into hers. Off we would go at the speed of light! Truly, she walks fast, always has and always will I think. She knew we couldn't keep up without her help. She didn't want to leave us behind either.
My mom taking her grand-daughters arm to guide her down the stairs.

My mom's gentle guidance allowed us to meet her expectation. Just having her hand helping me, let me know I could make it. I also remember holding her hand through church and playing with her long nails. There is something about your moms hands that just bring a sense of calm. Isn't that true for us now? When we are feeling fearful, worried, sad and we go to our heavenly Father, when we begin to feel His hand on us our in our situation we can feel the calm seep in.
Mom holding hands and walking with her 8 grandchildren on the beach.

Secondly, hearing my mom read to me was precious to me. I remember sitting up on her lap and rocking away the day as she sat and read story after story to me. That made me think, would I do the same for my kids? Would I sit in that chair long enough to give my child the security and enjoyment they needed before my hopping up and running off to do a chore?

Later on, my mom made memories without meaning to by reading books that have great meaning in my life still today. At Christmas time, my mom read to us the story A Certain Small Shepherd. It was a story about a boy who could not speak becoming a shepherd in the school play. Sounds simple, yet when my mom read the part where the boy speaks for the first time, didn't matter if it was the first time or the 15th, she would tear up. Same thing happened when she read, Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charlie? I sadly recall making fun of her at that time and regret that. For in those moments of tenderness, we saw a side of our mom that was often not seen through daily life. You see, now as a mom, I totally get that I have to be the strong mom all day long in order to get the things done that need done. But when you get lost in a story, or a certain situation brings you to tears, we show our kids the tender side of ourselves that they need to see. God does this for us as well. Yes, God is our Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Mighty and worthy of great praise. Yet in the same breath, he is also our Abba Father, who is tender and loving. We need to show both to our kids as well.
My mom still enjoys reading to her grandchildren.

The one thing I remember most about my mom to this day would be her prayer life and growth throughout the years. When I was little, my mom was a different woman that she is now. Through obedience and seeking God, she changed right before our eyes. There was a time when I was probably a teenager or right around there, when my parents grew in their faith tremendously. During that time, I recall vividly walking down the stairs each morning to find my mom on her knees before the couch, face down in the seat, praying. At that time, again, I regret joking with her about falling....but now, how precious. This memory is a vivid reminder to me of where she was able to get her strength and tenderness. Without God, she would not have been able to do her job as a mom. I thank my mom for many things. Most of all for showing me as a young girl that time with your children is more important than chores, guiding your child through life begins with a hand reaching out, showing tenderness allows our kids to see a side of us that they need to know and most of all that we are never so close to God that we should stop growing.
My mom having all of us circle around and pray before leaving the beach.

As a mom myself, I think I hold these things more closely now than I ever have. I know there are special memories of my mom with me that I don't want to share with the world, but I am so grateful that I had/have a mom who was invested in her children and was willing to show this young girl how to be a mom who loves God first. Now, I get to be the mom reaching for my child's hand as we walk, tear up in stories, and pray continually. Thank you for showing me the way, Mom.
My favorite picture of my parents: walking the beach with all 8 grandkids.
My mom holding the smallest ones hand, so she can keep up. Precious!

Update:After posting this today, my girls and I went out for a walk/bike ride. Doodle and I walked while Bean rode her bike. She took the camera with her in her little basket in case we found anything fun. While she was riding behind us, she snapped this picture. While I am never excited about getting my picture taken, I really don't like to have it taken from this angle. :) However, it reminded me of what I just wrote about. Here we are holding hands, talking and walking along. Just like my mom did with me. Thanks mom!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Are You Speaking My Language?

Recently, my husband has taken over the office from his dad, who owned it for almost 50 years. This transition in our life has been a blessing but also has brought many new things to deal with and learn together. One thing I noticed right away is Matt brings more of the office home with him now. He wears it on his face...I know that sounds weird but I see his concerns in his eyes. He doesn't share all that is going on but I know he worries about keeping everything going and not "sinking the ship" so to speak. It is a lot to carry for a guy. So, as his loving family, the girls and I decided to be creative and celebrate him one evening. We cleaned up the house, made a nice dinner, put scripture on note cards around the house to help him remember what is true. We posted notes of encouragement around the house to remind him who loves him.  The girls drew on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, welcoming him home. They even posted a poster on the door with all the things they love about their daddy. All of that was great to do together with my girls.
 My sweet man looking relieved and too cute. :)

Upon his arrival home, he looked over the stuff, said thanks, gave the polite kisses and headed out to mow. I stopped him and was almost offended at his lack of response. When I questioned his response later, his words stuck with me...and he meant them with all the respect in the world..no disrespect at all, but he said, " I love what you guys did. It was great, but that is your love language, Janie. If you want to lessen my stress, mow the grass for me. That is a way you could show  your love to me right now." (which is what I asked him by the way..."how can we best show you we appreciate what you are doing and we love you")

Hmmm....most women and even I would have as a younger wife, would be angry at his response and his gentle reply. However, after almost 21 years of marriage, I was suddenly hit with that awareness that he was absolutely correct! I am very good at leaving notes around for him or calling/texting him what is going on or how we feel about him. That is because it is MY love language...words and touch.

He is a guy of service. His heart is to serve others. Any of his friends could attest to the fact if they need something done, Matt is their guy. He shows love to his family and friends  by doing things for them. He goes to get gas in my van when it is late at night so I won't have to. He picks up dinner when we have had a rough day and he knows I am wiped out. He takes the girls out and lets me have a couple hours of quiet when he sees that look in my eye each spring with homeschooling. He sends me out with my friends and takes over stuff at home when he knows I need to laugh. He will drive anywhere for anything to get whatever we need just because he loves us. So, when he is mowing the grass, doing yard work, folding laundry it is not just a task to check off the list for him. It is his way of displaying his love for us.

So, with that revelation, what did I do? I started mowing. And if you know me at all, you would know I HATE mowing. I only do it out of the pure dedication and love I have for my husband. And now with the lack of our riding mower....my love has a stronger chance to bubble up as I push the entire lawn. :) With every pass of the mower, I try to spend those moments praying for Matt. You know what, that makes it worth it. I still hate it but when I realize how blessed he feels in coming home to it being done and I see some of the weight off his shoulders right now...well, I am happy to do it. (And happy to teach the girls how to do it too)  Now I should say I am praying God shows up in a mighty way and fixes our riding mower though! LOL! Until then, you will see me walking back and forth. Don't be offended if you wave and I don't see you or you yell and I don't hear you. I will be praying for my man...and claiming every single thought to remember that while it feels like a chore to me, in his language it is pure love. :)
This is love to my sweet man...may not be my language but blessed to be able to speak his. :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Honoring Your Parents

I know we all have heard one of the commandments is to honor your mother and father. That is one I think all of our parents are quick to teach us as a child. :) But this past week, I was able to join in as one of my daughters sweet friends was able to honor her sweet mom by throwing her a surprise birthday party.
 Her mom is a dear friend of mine and I adored being able to spend time with her daughter and watching her work. It amazed me at how much detail this 10 year old little girl went into with the planning. When I picked her up to go shopping for things, she had a list ready. She knew the stores she needed to hit and what she wanted. When I dropped my oldest daughter off to "babysit" for her birthday dinner out with her husband, I actually was getting her out of the house so we all could decorate. Even in decorating this little gal had plans and knew just what she wanted to do. It was precious. 

 She had the balloons ready. The cake ordered from a mutual friend and we had purchased plates and such the day before. So everything was set up and then she waited....or maybe more like paced. :)

 She could not wait to see her mom's face. She kept looking out to see if they were returning from their special dinner. And when she finally saw their van, she greeted them on the street! :)

 When mom finally got out of the van, she was so thrilled! She had no idea and was truly blessed by all the people that were standing in her garage. At first, I was so happy to see her joy and excitement but then I shifted my glance to her daughter.
 There stood a sweet girl gazing at her momma with such adoration and love that it truly touched my heart. I know this picture doesn't do that moment justice but both of my friends girls were totally captivated by her at that moment.
 When she finally got to hug her mom, the total unconditional love she felt showed across her sweet face. I was truly touched and so happy to have been a part of this sweet fragrance of a child's love and honoring a parent.
 A few things I pulled away from this little life lesson:
   1.) Whether we realize it or not, our children are watching us and learning how to honor one another by what we teach. This young girl displayed back to her mom what was taught to her. It was beautiful. So, am I displaying such grace and love to my girls?

  2.) I loved the way this sweet girl looked at her momma with such adoration and respect. How are my girls looking at me? What do I need to erase from my life to allow more moments of honoring my parents and girls? Am I teaching them to honor one another?

 3.) Most of all, do I look at my Heavenly Father with the same longing and love as this young girl looked at her momma? Do I yearn to run into His arms and feel that peace and comfort only He can bring? Do I honor Him with all I do?

I am sure there will be more things I walk away from this sweet moment, but I know one thing for sure...if any of my girls' friends ever ask me to help them with doing something to honor their parents...well, you can count me in!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Visiting with Kay Jay

Once upon a time, I actually was a student at Ball State University. At that time, I met a sweet friend across the hall, Kay Jay. We had great times talking into the wee hours and coloring with new crayons and books during finals week.

As time went on, we both met our sweet men, got married and off we went. I always wondered what happened to her and many years later, I was walking through a homeschool convention and there she was! Cracked me up! It was a breath of fresh air to see her and reconnect. I feel that way every time I get to spend some time with her. Recently, Kay Jay's family has moved. Luckily, they moved close to where we stayed on Spring Break. So, I got to spend the day with my friend and meet her precious children, finally!  I walked away thrilled to know that time may change some things but the things that matter stay the same. I am so thankful to have such heart friends all  over the place that when we see each other we just pick up right where we left off. Thanks for hosting us for lunch and swim time, Kay Jay! I hope you enjoy the sweet pictures of your little guy and his new gecko friend. :)

 Sweet boy loved the gecko the girls found on a noodle.
I love the look on his face as he shows his mommy what he found! Precious!
The little gecko had a mind of its own...which made the little one a bit curious. 

I loved getting to hang out with all the kids and KJ. :)

I realize I will not see my friend until next Spring Break most likely, however, I also know through facebook, email, texting, we are walking through life, serving our Lord and raising families who do the same. I look forward to spending time catching up with her again...until then.....we make her guacamole! :)

Spring Break 2012

The girls and I returned to Destin, Florida with my entire family for Spring Break this year. My sweet husband has taken over the dental practice so he could not join us at this time. We are praying he will soon be free enough to leave with us, but for now, we are grateful for all he does so we can go with family to such a beautiful getaway. Since my man was not going, I hated the thought of driving myself down there, so I grabbed a ride with my parents. ;) Love that! I really enjoyed the time with my girls and parents on the way down to our first stop in Tennessee. We had just lost our dog and were all feeling a little sad, but the calm music and rainy day helped. 

My brothers girls with mine sad about no bus to take us
 to the beach the first night for a beach walk. :(

Once we got to Destin, we were in a condo with my brother's family. It was really a nice week together. I felt so good leaving knowing that we all had been given a sweet time together to reconnect. Sometimes we all get so busy in our own lives, we lose track of each other and that always makes my heart sad. However, I loved getting to joke around with my nieces and nephews on the beach and around the condo.  I am grateful to have parents, siblings who get that spending time together is more important than any gift they could buy for us. We truly adore those moments of just us....sitting around talking, laughing, doing life. 

My sweet nephew digging in the sand...love this kids laugh!!!

 I tend to be the resident photographer for our family so I enjoyed getting to take some shots of our sweet crew hanging out through the week. I loved watching the kids taking night walks....
My brother's girls with mine again on successful night walks. :)
 ....being silly...

 ....hanging out with their parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents and cousins....
 Moments like this are why I adore these trips: Daddy and daughter walking along

 Oldest nephew looking more and more like a 
man and less and less like a boy. Love him!

My sweet girls

 I loved the day the girls and I went to a beach by ourselves too. While we enjoyed spending time with everyone, there was still a sweetness about being there together with no one else. I love watching my girls play together and nothing soothes my soul like the ocean waves hitting the shore line. I think with each wave that rushed over my feet, I was washing away the worries that were there. I felt nothing but peace. Truly a gift.

 The last day we always try to get a picture of all eight cousins lined up in front of the ocean. Sadly, this year it was raining and for some reason, the kids didn't want to stand in the rain. Huh...go figure! :) I think these pictures grab my heart more every year as the kids get closer to leaving the nest. These eight have no idea how much they are prayed over, planned for and loved. One day, my prayer is that they will all still find time to meet up for some fun time together...and just maybe it will be all lined up by the beach in honor of Nana and Poppy. :)

And of course...before they leave, I surely hope they will circle up for prayers as we always do before hitting the road. I am blessed to be a part of this family. No matter how hard life may feel sometimes, I always know they are on my side and love me in spite of our differences, which there are differences. We don't always get along perfectly, but we do love each other and want the best for each other. I pray our kids see that loving each other means work and not taking each other for granted, saying sorry when you are wrong or forgiving when wronged. I pray they see in us the fingerprints of Christ and want to share that wherever they go. 
What I pray my girls think of when they remember these trips: 
a family that prays together. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sweet Rocky Road

Let me tell you about my precious dog, Rocky. When Doodle was about a 15 months old, we decided it was time to bring a new dog into the mix. We had a Golden Retriever that had only lived 5 years and passed away when Doodle was 6 months old. We were not ready to replace him  right away for many reasons. But when the time came to fill our home with another pet, we were a little more picky this time. One of Matt's patients told him they had one chocolate lab left in a litter. This one was suppose to go to a family member but it fell through. He was older, 11 weeks, so he was cheaper. Hmmmm.....older..cheaper...my kind of puppy! :) So, we all went to meet this puppy and we fell in love right away. How could you not...look at that face! 
 Rocky has been through baby after baby laying on him, toddlers pulling his whiskers, tail and ears, poking his nose and various other spots and never has he ever nipped at any of them. All the cousins have lovingly attached themselves to Rock at one point or another. He quickly became a favorite play toy at our house.

Wherever our girls were....you would find Rock not far behind! That dog would sit on the floor cuddling, help with homework and get in the lake to swim with his girls. 

 Recently, we had to make the toughest choice a pet owner has to make. After many months of watching him go downhill quickly, we knew it was time to say our good byes. So we made the call to have the vet come out to our house. Once the call was made, we told the girls, who knew it was coming. They spoiled that dog endlessly that day. He had more peanut butter sandwiches that day than he had in his entire life! It was sweet. They decided we all should sleep in the living room together that evening. So we set up camp but not before  the girls and Matt dug a hole in our backyard to bury our cherished friend. The entire time they were out there, he sat on the deck watching as if to say to them, I like that spot. It was killing me.
 That same night, he found no comfort and stayed up all night. The only time he didn't pace or whine from being in pain was when I would pet him. So that meant, I was up all night as well, petting my sweet furry boy. As I got teary-eyed, he would "kiss" my tears away. That made things worse and yet sweeter. I knew by morning that we had no choice and it was so time.
 The girls were told what would happen and asked what they wanted to do since they were old enough to make that decision. Both of my girls wanted to be there when their sweet pet left them. And so, just as we do all things around here....we all four circled around him, prayed and said our good byes.
 The vet came to our home which was easier for us for sure. It didn't take long to go through the process and there were points that I feared we made the wrong choice in letting the girls be in there. I was thankful Matt's sister was there to help with the girls when needed. However, any fears I had were totally subsided as I watched my strong girls carry their puppy with their daddy back to the hole they dug the previous night.
 Some would say that is odd, but I will tell you the grieving process stinks and if you can make it easier by going through it together..head on...well, I have to tell you, sweet Rocky knew he was loved right to the end and I have never been more proud of my girls. They handled all of it like champs. They have not tried to mask their sad days, but we cry and move on. We do not pretend that he never was...we talk about him. I often find myself calling him to come get a mess I have made on the floor only to realize...he is not there. Those moments will pass, but it still brings a tear to my eye. I think we have taught our girls how to grieve together and that loving does not come without loss at times. But those losses do not stop us from loving.

As for me, I miss my dog. I miss getting up every night to let him out, sometimes several times a night. I miss comforting him and being comforted when having a bad day. I miss hearing his toenails on our wood floors. I miss hearing him making the rounds at night to check on all of us. I miss letting him out and seeing walk around the fence line every morning as if marking his territory. I miss his sweet kisses...cuddles and "smile". Most of all, I miss seeing my girls cuddled up on the floor doing school with their buddy sitting by them or sitting on the deck with them on either side. Miller's Rocky Road....you will be missed and you were so loved.
 Rocky on his last day with us....so sweet. :(

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