My favorite time of the year has always been fall. I love so much about it, but especially, since having kids, I've loved the annual trip to the pumpkin patch. Thankfully, a nearby church in our area hosts a pumpkin patch each year as a fundraiser. This year was year number eleven for our family to visit it. Our oldest was only ten months old the first time we went. I have treasured these picture so much every year, although it is getting harder each year to get my son to cooperate for pictures. We usually start our trip with a lecture in the car about how we WILL smile when mom says to. Of course, we still have to go over this rule several times during our visit. Just wanted to share here one of the pictures from this year. Obviously, my son was ignoring the rule in this one. That's okay, these will come back to haunt him one day. :}
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Today my baby turns 7 years old. I can’t believe how that sounds….to think my youngest child is already seven!!!! God has richly blessed us with three beautiful children. I am fully aware of what a treasure they are. I know that some struggle with having kids for years and never see that dream come to fruition. I know some have lost one of these little miracles and I am thankful for each day God gives me with all three of them.
On October 15, 2001, God gave us the blessing of becoming mom and dad to a little boy. I knew right away that this bond was different from the one I have with my girls. I can’t really explain it. I don’t love him more, just differently. He has always been such an easy, laid back kid. He goes with the flow, does not cause much trouble, is generally polite and easy to please. (Yea, don’t you wish you had one of those!) I am amazed at all God is doing in his young life. He’s smart and cute and has a magnetic personality, or at least seems to, based on the kids who want to play with him. I love his beautiful, big brown eyes, infectious laugh, and toothless grin. I love that he wants to hug me every day and tells me he loves me every chance he gets.
I think I’ve had a harder time watching my son turn from baby to little boy to big boy, knowing one day all too soon he’ll be a young man, looking for his place in a man’s world. I love watching all these stages, but am also sad knowing one day very soon, he won’t look to me for comfort or attention. And one day he’ll give his heart to another woman….and she better be really nice to me!
But today, I will celebrate seven. Seven years of joy, hugs, and love from this amazing little boy that calls me mom!!
Monday, October 13, 2008
I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie the “Bucket List” or not, but we watched it several months ago and it really got us thinking about what we want to do in life. The premise of the movie is two men who are terminally ill decide to fulfill all the things they want to do in life before they die. I know, it’s a little morbid maybe to think about, but really, if we never write down the dreams we have, how will we ever see that some of them at least come true. John and I have been talking about some of the things on our own bucket lists, but we’ve also talked about starting a family list. Maybe not of things we want to do "before we die", but just of life dreams. Things that are easy to fulfill, things that will take some work, planning and saving, and things that are likely to never happen but are fun to dream about. So, what’s on your bucket list??
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Several weeks ago, a friend of mine who is brand new to homeschooling, asked me how I answer people who ask me why I homeschool. That’s such a great question and one I asked as well before we started this journey. It is a question that does not have a right or wrong answer and is different for everyone. I told her the basic reasons I give. Here’s why we homeschool.
1. The week I believe God began working in my heart to homeschool, a good friend of ours reminded me how little time we actually have left with our kids. That thought rolled around in my heart for several days and one day, I felt like God spoke into it and told me I could homeschool. I had always admired people who could do it, but never really thought it was for me. I was wrong! I do believe God lead us to homeschool for the first reason of really being with our kids. We have time with them in ways we never could have otherwise. We were so tired of the eight hours of school, then 2-3 of homework, and rarely having time for conversation. When we saw things in their lives we needed to work on, it was put on the back burner while we finished a project or homework assignment. Now, we stop and deal with a character flaw immediately. No more burners!
2. We are able to talk about God’s word and this wonderful world He created every day. Basically, we homeschool with a biblical perspective. Honestly, I don’t use the Bible during math. I am sure there are ways to incorporate the Bible in every single thing we do. I don’t….but I know they are getting FAR more than they ever would have gotten on the road we were headed down.
3. I am now in tune with exactly where my kids are educationally. Whereas before, I had no control over what they learned, the pace they learned or what they needed extra help in, I now know everything they’ve learned and heard in a day…which makes us all be able to talk to each other more intellectually. I know what they need to work on or where they can work more quickly to move ahead instead of waiting for 20 classmates to catch up.
4. It’s truly amazing. I can truly say I never imagined getting to be part of something so incredible with my kids. We have fun learning each day. We have lots of challenges, and some tears occasionally, but we laugh, we are amazed together and we experience wonder in all God is showing us all the time.
5. My kids are getting to have a relationship with each other I don’t think they could have had otherwise. Does that mean they are perfect angels with each other….yea, right! They still argue and fight daily. But they also help each other, learn from each other and play together through imaginations that are expanding because their world is expanding.
6. Are they getting enough social time? Are you kidding!!! Anyone who knows my kids, especially my eldest, knows this could never be a problem. I’ve sat amazed at times while at friends houses in the way she gives adults instructions. My kids have a blast with each other and they treasure the times they get to spend with friends. No, it’s not every day and I do have to be intentional about it, but I think they value this time a little more now. Plus, they are getting to participate in activities only available to homeschoolers.
7. We are committed to homeschooling year by year. This means I have never felt that God had called us to this for their entire schooling. We are praying about it each year, but so far, we are all very happy and would not trade what we are doing for the world!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I’m so proud of my son! He’s in his fourth season of playing baseball. He started at the age of three with t-ball and played again the next two years. We took a break last spring after being exhausted from basketball season, but promised him we’d try fall ball for the first time. He’s now playing coach pitch. He absolutely loves it.
Now, when I sign my kids up for things I enjoy knowing all the costs up front. I paid for baseball, believing that would be the only cost incurred. However, I was soon to be educated on the needs of a six year old coach pitch player. Apparently, the same bat that worked for t-ball is no longer suitable for coach pitch. It is also now a necessity, at least in my son’s mind, to own batting gloves. And the ball glove that has not stretched nor shrunk really needs to be replaced by a larger glove, even though the size of his hand is no bigger. New cleats were also in order since the night he wore his old ones to practice, he came home with huge blisters on his feet. What a great mom I am!!!!
So, I reluctantly agreed to some of the new purchases, and other’s we mutually agreed to wait on. I’ve learned after nearly 14 years of experiencing the inner world of a man, that men need different things for every sport. How rich I would be if I could just come up with a shoe that worked equally well for basketball, running and golf. Because of my 14 years of training, I am slowly accepting the fact that every new venture my son takes on will likely involve a new this or that since the old one just won’t do. And though this may cost something, he sure does look cute in his uniform, but don’t tell him I actually said that. I am not allowed to point out how adorable he is while he’s up to bat, or that he’s just too cute standing on 1st base. At the field, I am serious business and only point out things about his technique, or what a great job he did batting. I try not to comment on the sounds and smells I find in the dugout. But no matter what, he’s still my baby and he always will be.
Monday, October 6, 2008
About eleven years ago, God began to tug at our hearts regarding church planting. John was in seminary and I was working at a church that in its short lifetime, had already planted over a dozen new churches. I had always considered church planting to be something people did in Africa in huts. Though this can also be true, I was far from understanding all God was up to right in our backyard.
We finally decided this was what God had called us to and began the process of seeking a place to plant. This was not easy, knowing God could have sent us anywhere, and we were trying hard to be open to that. About that same time, our future sponsor church was praying about supporting its first church plant and the pastor happened to be one of John’s best friends. They began praying about whether this was the right place and partnership. I am so thankful it was.
I will never forget the last Sunday at our church in Texas. I remember standing near the back, probably because I was holding our first baby, who was only about five months old, and listening to the music and wondering how long it would be until we were able to stand in a room full of people and worship like that again. I felt in some ways that it would be forever.
Those first few months were not easy. John began knocking on every door in our neighborhood, then in surrounding neighborhoods, meeting people and developing relationships. It was hard for me, because I was home with a baby and knew no one.
A bible study started in our home in early July and by September we were able to move to an office building. We had about 40-50 people attending at that time. Those months were hard on me since I was now also pregnant again with our second child, a huge shock just after getting settled in our home. I was the only childcare worker for a short time and would barely make it through the morning service before I was sick again. But we knew even through the difficult days, God was up to something much bigger and better than ourselves.
A few months later, our public worship services began in an elementary school. Of course, we came into this whole thing with a vision and really big dreams. I believe those are two different things….we had a vision that God wanted to use us to reach our area, but our dreams maybe did not always line up with that. We thought we’d see a church birthed over night, with hundreds of people within the first few weeks. We soon realized we had to let go of some of those “dreams” and trust God with the vision He’d given us. The first few years seemed painstakingly slow at times, but God was truly changing lives and families. People came and went during that time. We grew deep relationships, some of which exist today and mourned over the loss of some of them.
After what seemed like an eternity, God blessed us with our current “permanent” location. We were thrilled to finally have a home base for ministry. God grew our character through difficult steps, through mistakes we’ve made, through things we’ve gotten sort of right along the way, and through the advice and teaching of so many Godly men and women. I can’t say it’s all been easy or that it’s always even been fun. I can say we’ve honestly NEVER thought about throwing in the towel. We’ve believed the vision God called us to since day one, trusting Him for every step along the journey. There were times we did not know where the next dime for ministry would come from. There have been huge faith steps along the way and at times, we’ve shuffled along in faith rather than taking big leaps.
It’s unbelievable to think it’s only been ten years. Sometimes, we feel as if we are just getting started. At other times, it feels like a lifetime. The only way it really becomes real to me is when I look at my almost eleven year old and remember how tiny she was when it all began.
Having grown up in a Baptist preacher’s home, I’ve known the joys and challenges of living in a minister’s family my whole life. And yes, around my senior year in high school, I believed God called me to be a pastor's wife long before I ever met John. As a kid, we were in some churches full of wonderful people who loved the Lord, and who often showed their love for us as their pastor and family. However, we were also in places full of darkness where there were few if any shows of gratitude. In fact, we were in some places all of us would love to forget.
That’s why I can never fully put into words how much it means to me to be in a place that really cares about its pastors. We’ve never looked for or expected any kind of "appreciation." In fact, based on my experiences growing up, I’ve been shocked to see that it can exist. But our sweet church body has blessed us tremendously time and time again just with sweet expressions of love all along the way. I have to admit it is a little hard to accept and we feel a bit undeserving, but it is deeply humbling. Most of us are used to receiving gifts only when we are in need or on a special occasion. This month, our church is digging deep in the way it shows love to us. We know it’s a sacrifice for them. But we are so honored by their love. Thank you North Point! We love all of you guys so much and can’t wait to see all God has for us as a church the next ten years.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I’m enjoying a beautiful, cloudless fall day outside on my deck. I love hearing all the birds chirping, especially now that we have bird friendly backyard thanks to several new bird feeders and baths for science projects. The kids and I have really enjoyed becoming birders lately and trying to name all the new wildlife around us. In the distance, I hear lawn mowers running probably for one of the last times this year, kids biking on the walking path, and the sounds of several tennis games being played on the courts just outside of view. All my windows are open and my house seems to be saying thank you as it drinks in the morning air, refreshing itself after a long, hot summer.
I love this time of year. I have since I was a kid. I love the changing temperatures, the awe I feel as I see the changing colors and the change in my family. Everyone seems to be able to breathe a little deeper, taking in the freshness of cooler, shorter days.
That’s what I love about God. Every time I breathe in his word, it refreshes me. Every time I take a look at all He’s done for me, I am awed. I never walk away from receiving a little more of Him and not be changed.
Yesterday I had the incredible opportunity of spending the afternoon with my favorite person on the earth….my husband. We had about four solid hours on the boat together, without kids. The weather was gorgeous, a little warm, but a nice breeze. He fished for four straight hours, I read for four and occasionally we had a little conversation. That’s what I love about us. We used to think we had to find all kinds of things we both loved to do and could only do those things. The problem was, our interests and tastes are often very different. But I love this place in our marriage, where we finally accept the differences and rejoice in them. We know we can both be totally content being together, yet enjoying our time from two different perspectives.
I enjoy my time with God in a similar way. Sometimes, it’s unfortunately all about me. What I need, what I want, what I did not get. But He patiently listens, and talks to me in quiet whispers, waiting for me to shut up and listen. Other times, I’m just still, listening. Sometimes He’s also quiet and we can just enjoy that time together, soaking up the beauty of our time together. Other times, I am desperately pouring my heart out to Him, crying, begging for help and answers. I don’t always get the answers I am looking for, but I am always comforted.
Enjoy today….take time to smell fall, see it, feel it, take it all in. God is so good!
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17