Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Year In Review - Updated


Our family newsletter went out late this year. It just was one of those years. We didn't start school until mid September (we usually start at the beginning of August), and so we couldn't take off our usual 4 weeks around the holidays unless we wanted to be schooling well into July. So, we only took 2 weeks off and that just wasn't enough time to do all we wanted to do. And since I was reviewing all of our photos from the year anyway, I went ahead and did another "Year in Review" video. It won't win any awards, but it will be fun to watch 20 years from now! 
It's about 30 minutes long. 
Enjoy!






 







Monday, January 02, 2017

Do I love His Appearing?

2 Timothy 4:8 says, "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing."

The phrase "loved His appearing" stands out to me this morning. Do I love His appearing? Always? Jesus appeared in the flesh and rocked the world. He spoke His mind -God's mind. He gave His opinion - God's opinion. He made known the heart of God - what was pleasing, what wasn't, what He desired, what didn't matter, etc. Today, I breathe the air of a culture that doesn't necessarily like to hear other's opinions of their choices, especially if they are critical. How do I respond today, when Jesus "appears" amidst my everyday moments through the Holy Spirit bringing to mind God's Word? How do I respond when His "opinion" rocks the current path I'm on (my plans & desires)? How do I respond when His appearing comes in the form of a fellow sinner reminding me of His opinion (scripture)?

Father, this year in 2017, may I grow even more in loving your appearance into my world. May I not resent Your opinion. May I see You as "here to help" and serve, and save, and heal, and grow, and transform me. May I LOVE Your appearing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Molly and Levi


 Molly has been working at All About Horses in Huntington Beach since February of this year. She works 4 hours a week after school, mucking out stalls and doing whatever other work they have for her, like helping students tack up their horses for lessons, etc. In exchange for her labor, she gets a riding lesson on Tuesday evenings! She has been doing so well and absolutely loves getting to ride.

This past lesson, she got to ride Levi. He is about 21 years old and was trained as a race horse. A horse isn't fully grown until about 5 years of age, but often times they are started racing way before that, creating lots of problems for the horses later on in life, when their owners decide they are "too old" to race. Fortunately for Levi, he has a job at All About Horses. He is a sweet boy who works in helping train young girls to ride and compete.

But yesterday, he got quite frustrated. Being ridden in lessons can create a lot of energy, and if they aren't able to "let it go", it can become overwhelming. Levi had not gotten to canter for a couple of days and he was ready to let out some energy. But Molly was instructed to "hold him in check" and only canter for a few paces before walking. After a few repetitions of that, Levi had it and threw Molly off! His hind legs went up, and she flew over his neck/head to the right, turned mid-air and landed on her bottom facing the horse. We all were so grateful she wasn't hurt and I was completely impressed with the level of professionalism that the staff showed. They demonstrated a true knowledge of Levi as well as Molly.

Levi was walked to another pen where he was able to let out some of his energy:
(If you can't view the video, try THIS LINK. You'll really see his "attitude" at about 39 sec.)



After he calmed down, Molly walked him around on a lead. Then she rode him around at a slow walk. 
I was so proud of her for getting back on 
(after seeing his earlier display)!

This was a much more subdued Levi.
(Again, if you can't view the video below, try THIS LINK.)


They then finished out the lesson back in the front arena and Levi was ready to call it a day.

What an ADVENTURE this has been for her!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Rylie






Well, this is our newest adventure!


This sweet little lady just showed up on our driveway the day of David's graduation and the day before our BIG graduation open house. It was like she picked us to be her family! she was clean and didn't look like she had been on the streets for long. she was very friendly and soaked up the attention and belly rubbing we willingly gave her. She also loved the shredded cooked chicken that Jonathan got for her from the crock pot which was being prepared for the next day's open house.



Hmmmm . . . what do we do with her? 
The kids of course were begging to keep her, but we knew we had to at least try and find the owner. Somebody must be missing this sweet girl!
So, we posted on a local neighborhood social media site, and we posted to Facebook. Then we got her set up in the backyard. We pulled out the small dog carrier we had and some old blankets. We already had a dog water and food set, so the kids and Sonya (Earl's sister) set off for the store to buy some food. How very grateful I am that Sonya was here when this all happened. She LOVES animals, especially dogs, and was an invaluable resource for us in thinking through what to do. 

The next day was our Open House, so we rigged up a place where we could contain her, away from guests and the food. We didn't know much about this girl, but we found out very quickly, she wanted to be where we were. She loves people and yet the crowd was a bit overwhelming. The kids spent a lot of the day holding her and showing her off.
 

 The following Monday, we took her down to a local animal hospital and had her checked to see if she had a chip. Nope! The kids breathed a sigh of relief. Then we posted to more sites to get the word out. Nobody called. The days turned into weeks, and the weeks have now turned into 2 months. She is very much at home with us and the kids absolutely love her (we do too!).

She looks and acts like a puppy, but we think she is an adult. She looks like she is part Chihuahua, but maybe have some Jack Russel in her too. She is FAST and can jump. She has a LOT of energy and is so fun to play with. The kids have spent a lot more time outdoors this summer! Her favorite thing besides being with us and playing . . . is having her belly rubbed. She will roll over on her back (almost continually) and pump her paws up and down begging for some tummy attention.

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She now has a name, a collar and a harness and the kids have been working with her to obey "walking orders". However, she definitely prefers her own backyard and people. When we are not available to play, she watches us from the window, or naps while keeping a very alert ear out for the door to open and let us out. She is going to be an outside dog and the wonderful thing is that she is so adaptable. She very rarely whines or barks. She just adjusts to her present situation . . . but is always SO VERY happy to see any of us who come outside.
Since we have a growing issue with coyotes in the area, we needed to find a long-term solution to keeping Rylie safe at night. We also needed to find a long-term solution for comfortably having her and Midnight (our rabbit) share the yard. Midnight is used to being able to graze the whole backyard all day. But Rylie and Midnight do NOT get along. So, we would have to pen Rylie up for a few hours a day to let Midnight have some time to graze and "stretch his legs". 
My sister's boyfriend, Brent, owns his own construction business and he offered to build us a fence (donated all the lumber and labor!) if we would help. So, we dug post holes and stained the fencing in preparation.



Then Brent showed up on a Saturday and "got it done"!






Rylie watched the whole process with interest.


We were truly amazed at what this man could do in a short 4 hours!! We are mostly done, but it is completely functional. We have since "fortified" it with some cinder blocks to keep her from digging out from the bottom. Eventually we will reinforce the bottom, finish the gate and also install a lean-to type roof to help keep her dry. Thankfully it doesn't rain much here in CA!


After Brent left, the boys went to work on building her a little platform.



She really LOVES her little place! She is content when we put her in and she has plenty of room to move about and play while Midnight has his turn in the yard.

It really is amazing . . . this whole thing. When the kids would mention getting a dog, I would comment that we tried and failed at the dog-keeping thing and if we were ever to have a dog, it would have to be a fully-grown dog and already socialized and potty-trained. And it would have to drop in our laps because we didn't have the funds to buy one. And there she was. On our driveway asking to be our dog! And the fact that she is small, doesn't eat much (or poop much!), and acts and looks like a puppy is just icing on the cake for us. The kids are just having so much fun with her!!

video video



Is there anything too hard for the LORD??

Monday, March 28, 2016

We're Fighting Again

This was a post I drafted a few months back. It was a little too personal to publish then. But I want to publish it, because it is the truth of where I live sometimes. And it's the truth that I need to be reminded of again and again. I'm past that part of my "road", but I'm confident that it will come across my path again. And oh how grateful I am for those the Lord has put around me who patiently forebear with me while I'm fighting and who courageously challenge me with the truth so I will continue to fight. If anyone reads this blog, can you relate to any of this? O, that my trials might be even remotely used to encourage another pilgrim to keep fighting to walk forward!
 

When you hear me say "We're fighting again", which of my relationships come to mind? Husband? Children? Extended family? Friends? Any of those would be true, sadly. Whenever you have two sinners in relationship, you will have conflict, and I am no exception. But that is not the relationship I was thinking of when I wrote my title.

I was thinking of me and Jesus. Does that surprise you? Oh, we're not fighting against each other. That fight was waged and won on the cross and in the empty tomb. No, I'm fighting against the lies about God that sometimes flood out of my sinful heart, reminding me once again that I'm still in the process of sanctification and that were it not for the staying power of Christ, I would not be following Him of my own accord. (Oh how my body groans to do away with this body of death and to be clothed with immortality!) I'm fighting to see God as He truly is. I'm fighting to stand once again in faith on God's faithfulness. I'm fighting to trust God enough to fully let go of my "life" - to truly lay down, to give back to Him, all of the good gifts He's given me. I'm clinging so tightly to them right now. I don't want to give them up. I don't trust Him. But I want to. And I'm fighting to.

And Jesus is fighting on my behalf. He is praying on my behalf that I will remain strong. He is interceding before the throne of grace on my behalf. "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).

So, on Christ my solid Rock, I stand. So help me, God!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Getting Perspective

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Photo credit: Emily Miles (Angkor Wat)

This morning, as I was cooking pancakes for the crew, I pulled out an old “journal” of sorts and found some thoughts I had written about one of Earl’s sermons (dated August 21, 2011). It has challenged me and encouraged me once again.

Last Sunday, Earl was teaching on Romans 8:26-30 and focused especially on verse 29 – “. . . those whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son . . . “

He used the example of a world where being a star basketball player was supremely valued and asked us, “If you lived in this world and you had the power to do whatever you wanted for those whom you loved, wouldn’t you want to make them star basketball players?”

In heaven, all things exist to glorify Jesus, and God, who has the power to do whatever He wants for those He loves, is conforming us to the image of Jesus. (Such a glorious and mind-boggling promise!)

As a parent listening to him teach, I couldn’t help but make application as a parent: What society do I call home? Do I consider myself a resident of heaven, temporarily living in a foreign land, but confident of finally being able to live there fully under all its rules and laws and values? If so, is that what I am preparing my children for? Am I leading them to value what residents of heaven value, even while living in a foreign land? (I know, I know, only God can incline a heart, but that doesn’t free me from my responsibility to teach and model – Deut. 6:6-9)

Perhaps heaven seems a long way off and I find myself just wanting to fit in here and succeed here because it is right in front of me. And I’m encouraging my children to do the same.

Or maybe I’d like to fit in both places. So I follow this world’s values until they conflict “too much” with God’s values and then try and apply as much of God’s laws as I can.

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Photo credit: Emily Miles (Angkor Wat)

Still really good questions to think about this morning.

This life is a pilgrimage. I am here for a purpose and only for a short while. Lord, what would You have me do today as I continue my journey? What are You trying to show me? What do I need to see and learn? Who am I to love today? I confess, I’m getting a little weary and long to take a rest (“Are we there yet?!”). Please give me the strength I need to continue to be about Your business and not just to sit down in the road, content to play with the rocks and stones in the dust. I need Your strength to continue on . . . and to rejoice along the way. I have young companions with me who need a good role model and an encourager. Help me to be a good leader as I follow You. And thank You so much for the abundance of other fellow companions You have provided to share in this journey with me. Yes, there is much to rejoice about, as I keep my eyes open and my feet moving . . . by Your grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Amen.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Slowing it Down on Sunday Mornings

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Back in June of this year, our church changed facilities. We went from meeting at a local elementary school in the morning, to meeting at another church facility in the afternoons.

And I am loving the new routine!

Sunday mornings now mean for me, slow-waking-up-mornings, leisurely lingering over a cup of coffee. The house is absolutely quiet until about 9am while we all are still in bed sleeping, reading, etc. I get our room to myself, as Earl is up and in his office enjoying his own quiet morning (which is no different from his M-F routine). I am not having to fight to keep my eyes open during my Bible reading or prayer time (like most weekday mornings when I’m up at 5:30 am). I now have quality as well as a quantify of time to spend working on Bible memory. It’s not a rushed morning.

And breakfast is at 9 am. Together. This is something that is also unique about Sundays. During the week, breakfast time is “every man for himself”. The kids usually eat together, after fixing their meal, as Earl and I have already eaten much earlier. But now, I fix a “special breakfast” that we don’t normally have. One week, it may be a crock pot breakfast casserole that I’ve put in the night before. Or we may fix crepes (One of our favorites!).

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It may be good old-fashioned pancakes. Or we may look up and try something new one of these days, because we have the time to do it now. (Saturdays are usually up and on to the day’s chores and activities.) At first, some of the younger kids would wake early and help me in the kitchen. But now that we are all settling comfortably into a new routine and the excitement of change is wearing off, they are enjoying staying in bed until called for breakfast. I enjoyed the company, but I equally enjoy the quiet morning time in the kitchen all to myself, listening quietly to some worship music and continuing my meditation of all that the Lord is trying to say to me when I take the time to slow down.

What is my heart and mind thinking on? Lots of things. I think back over the week and about those things that frustrated me. I talk with the Lord about what I was trying to hold onto; about what I was afraid of losing; about what I was afraid wouldn’t happen if I didn’t make it. I confess my fears about the coming week (Are you sensing a theme here?). I remind myself, again, of all of the promises He has made to me, His beloved child, about who He is, and what He has done, and what He will do. I seek to get in a position where I can see my life and days and circumstances from His vantage point. I strive to quiet my heart before Him. And I prepare myself to worship with the Body of Christ at Coast. I face my inability to love like He loves. I talk about my excuses and He gently reminds me of the Truth. I pray hard that He would grow me to love those around me as He would love them if He were here again in the flesh. I pray for open ears during the teaching time. I want to grow in my ability to live pleasing to Him. I ask for grace to not shrink away from His gentle rebuke, but to humbly submit to His chastening where needed.

And when my heart is quiet, I thank Him. I thank Him for this life He has allowed me to live. I thank Him for the people around me and for how He is using them in my life to love me and grow me. I thank Him for His presence and His help. I thank Him for His patience and gentleness. And the list could go on and on. That’s one of the things I love most about Sundays. Not every week, but many weeks I get to come into our time of worship after having already primed my heart. I didn’t always get a good chance to do that when we had to rush out the door at 8:45 am.

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Sundays have always been about church for me and Earl, and is true for our kids now as well. About 10 years ago, an older woman in our church gave me a copy of a book that has really resonated with me in how I feel about Sundays. I don’t agree with all that is suggested, but I certainly concur with the spirit and longing of the author. Listen to this excerpt:

“As a couple, David and I vowed to work together to restore our observance of the Lord’s Day, to seek to make Sunday the best day of the week, the high point, to struggle to establish this rhythm of the sacred in our lives as individuals and in our lives as a family. We wanted Sunday to become the joyful focal point of our weekly lives.

“Now it’s important to underline the word joyful. We did not want to slip back into an old legalism, that grim old joyless observance of the Lord’s Day with its killing can’ts and don’ts and won’ts and shall nots. That attitude has done as much to create a dread of worship as anything I know. It was against this kind of legalism Christ had to continually speak. In three of the Gospels his words of reminder and rebuke are recorded, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’ I wanted the kind of celebration in our family hearts that I read about in Isaiah and Deuteronomy: ‘If you . . . call the Sabbath a delight . . . if you honor it, not going your own ways . . . then you shall take delight in the Lord . . .”(Isaiah 58:13-14). ‘You shall rejoice in your feasts, you and your son and your daughter’ (Deuteronomy 16:14).

“So David and I moved slowly but determinedly into recapturing Sunday meaningfulness . . . We refused to schedule meetings on Saturday evenings. If we were traveling, we attempted to return home in time for church on Sunday. We curtailed our social activities; we reminded our teens, ‘Tomorrow is Sunday; be home early tonight,’ and we began to establish new family traditions to create activities that would encourage Lord’s Day appreciation. Not only were we going absolutely counter to the secular culture of society in which the weekend was viewed hedonistically and narcissistically, but we soon discovered that we were going counter to the secularized culture of the church where a full calendar was viewed as sacred.”           (Making Sunday Special by Karen Burton Mains)

It has been wonderful, I have realized, to get to slow down on Sundays. Really slow down. And I am finding that we are ALL appreciating the rest.

And in that slowing down, we’ve actually found the strength and energy to open our home more. We have a slow and restful morning, and then we are rested enough to host a family or two after the service in the evening for dinner. Dinner is easily prepared ahead of time and is just waiting for us. Sunday evenings have been sweet as we have shared it with other brothers and sisters. (Before, we would leave the house at 8:45 and not return home until about 3pm. Earl might be even later. We were wiped out by Sunday evenings.) Yes, it has taken some extra thought and planning to make these changes happen (breakfast, hosting for dinner), but I have found abundant grace and even on most days a joy in the doing. It’s still a work in progress.

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So, we are enjoying this new season, and the newfound energy to change things up a bit and hopefully grow a whole lot!

May He be honored and may we be filled up with more of Him and with fullness of joy!

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