Friday, November 28, 2014

The Giving of Thanks

It’s my word for pondering this past month (thanks to two dear friends).
It means, to give thanks.
It’s the same word used in the account of Jesus breaking the bread on the night before He was crucified. He took the bread and gave thanks.
He gave thanks for what He knew was going to crush Him.
He also took the loaves and fish from the young boy, which definitely wasn’t enough for the large crowd He needed to feed . . . and He gave thanks . . . and then it was MORE than enough.
He gave thanks for what wasn’t enough.
I’m so thankful for the life of Jesus and the example He set . . . for me.
I am learning to trust the Father (as He did) and to give thanks for what feels like a painful death (like He did), and to give thanks for what feels like incredible lack (like He did).
When I give thanks for what I don’t understand, praying for faith to trust His heart, somehow my heart begins to soften . . . and I didn’t even realize it was hard before. And my eyes begin to refocus . . . and I thought I was seeing so clearly before. And my fingers begin to loosen their grip on those hopes & desires . . . and I didn’t realize I was holding them so tightly, if holding them at all.

Yesterday, we had a house-full and it was such a fun day!
(My good camera needs some repairing, so I had to use my camera my phone. Grrr. Oops! Thankful I had a camera on my phone.)

It actually started on Monday, when Molly, Annie and I got together with some friends and learned their secret pie baking secrets. It was such a special time! We enjoyed sweet fellowship AND we now know the art of pie-making, complete with a fool-proof crust recipe.
The rest of the week, we worked on getting the decorations ready, while listening to “The Last Battle” by C. S. Lewis (radio drama).
Then the day arrived and it was time to get the food prepared and set the table!
The kids and Earl were SO helpful . . . dusting, vacuuming (even under computer desks!), setting the table, decorating, moving furniture, etc.
This year I tried brining the turkey. We had a 23 lb bird and we brined it in a cooler in the kitchen. It tasted absolutely so flavorful and moist!
Back when I was single and my mom was desperately trying to teach me some cooking skills, she bought me a cookbook and it has been so helpful. It has EVERYTHING in it!
We tried to be creative this year and bought some gold chargers at The Dollar Store. We then painted them with chalkboard paint and used them as name plates. (We will be redoing them before using them again. I found a tutorial that I desperately needed before taking on this project.)
My mom moved this past year and downsized considerably. She very graciously passed down all of the “feasting dishes”, including the turkey platter, and the gravy bowl. However, I still needed Mom’s counsel in making the gravy. I think I’ve got it now, Mom. But it would be good if you just helped out still, ok?
David has taken on the responsibility of carving the turkey now. And he does such a nice job!
What an enjoyable year this was!
As Earl and were talking, way later that night, we both were thankful for the privilege of opening our home to others outside of our family, and for meeting new people and hearing new stories.
And we all have our own story, don’t we?
My story is a story of a Redeemer who has been faithful and true. It’s a story that starts way back before the world was made, in the heart of the Creator, who planned to place me in this specific time of history, surrounded by these specific people and circumstances . . . all for His glory . . . and my unending joy.
It’s a story for which I am giving thanks.

Monday, October 13, 2014

David Turned 16!

It is just a crazy cool thing being in this season of life. We have 3 teenagers, almost 2 drivers, and we’re going through TONS of food and the house is constantly in need of straightening and cleaning. So, so, so different from the days of having 5 kids under 8 years old, who’s bedtimes were no later than 8 o’clock! No longer do we have blocks and dress-up clothes littering the floors and furniture, but now it’s physics books and laptops and really cool Lego creations.

But I digress. This post is really about a recently past Friday, when David invited 5 cool friends over to help him celebrate turning 16. I stressed in the planning (because basically according to David, there really wasn’t anything to plan), but I didn’t need to. The guys got here and they just had a blast hanging out and playing. And boy, do they still know how to play. This was the easiest “boy party” I’ve ever hosted!


He and his friend Elijah worked hard at preparing an arsenal of water balloons to enjoy.


They went quickly . . .


The wet boys then headed down to the park/school to play some soccer and Ultimate Frisbee.



The rest of the evening was spent consuming a massive amount of pizza and fruit salad and then playing games.


The next day, on his REAL birthday, we celebrated amidst life.

Donuts for breakfast:



Trying to get the perfect Facebook profile pic:


For dinner, we enjoyed some homemade beef stew and homemade garlic breadsticks, which David had requested. Then we helped him celebrate as he opened gifts and we ate ice cream sundaes.


On Monday, my sister came by to administer the “2nd Annual 16-year Old Hot Pepper Challenge”. On Emily’s 16th birthday, Gail came with a pepper and bet Emily $20 that she couldn’t eat it. Em took the challenge, ate the pepper, and David wanted his chance. So, Gail did not disappoint. She showed up with a habanero pepper!


Once he took a bite, I could smell it from where I was standing! Poor guy! The tears started almost immediately.

He made it about halfway through and then came the almost gallon of milk!



David got his $20 (considering he hates most raw veggies), and he and Gail ended as friends. Open-mouthed smile


Birthdays are fun to celebrate to be sure, but I must now speak from my mother’s heart. The older our children get, and the taller they look next to me, and the more they venture away from our home, and the more responsibilities they take on and opinions they own, I find myself looking at them in new ways, yes, but I also find myself more and more looking at them and desperately wanting to know how their hearts are doing before the Lord. And if I’m honest, that’s not something I can tell just by their behavior and choices. Why is this so important? It’s tempting to think it’s important because somehow our culture views children as a reflection of their parents. And in a way they can be. So, my desire for approval can tempt me to strive to see certain results, yes. But in those moments, when it’s just me and the Lord and I’m entrusting Him again with all that I can’t control about parenting (sometimes with many tears), and confessing my many fears and shortcomings, I’m reminded that the most important thing to me as a Bible-dependent parent, is to know that my children have a personal relationship with the Creator of their souls and their Redeemer! Because I know that nothing else - nothing else - will bring them joy and happiness and keep them safe. Truly safe. I want to know that they turn to Him with their fears. I want to know that they trust Him to help them with their weaknesses. I long to know that they have their sights set on an eternity with their Savior and Lord and that their heart’s desire is to please Him from now until always. I want them to know what it is to feel His pleasure and to share their joy with Him.

So, I watch them. And I listen.

I watch how they fight to find joy. I watch to see how they pursue growing in faith. I watch to see who they enjoy being around. I watch as they struggle with attitudes that hinder their relationships at times. And you know what? I find they are just like me in so many ways. And I talk to the Lord about them and I share my joys and fears, my concerns and thankfulness. I’m learning to trust the Lord more, just as they are learning to trust Him at the very beginning. Life truly is a pilgrimage, a journey.

And I’m truly enjoying the young people that He has put in Earl’s and my life! I’m enjoying our adventures and our conversations.

Happy birthday, David! We are loving the young man you are growing up to be! You’re doing fine.


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