Did you like my title? That's how I feel. I am one big question mark. I have no idea what to blog about. I have officially hit writer's block after about 230 blog entries. It was bound to happen. I am also STILL working on this women's retreat. I had several books to read and I have had to change my lesson 3 times because my audience has changed 3 times. This has been frustrating, but I know good will come out of it at some point. The retreat is April 8-9 so hopefully when that is complete, I will come back refreshed with something to say. I finish my James Bible study on Friday and have bought a new study to do that I am really exciting about. Maybe that material will give me something new to share. We shall see... I will blog again one day....but today is not that day! Any thoughts on what I should blog about? Just curious!
We truly treasured our family time this past weekend, more so than any weekend that I can remember. Gene went on a mission trip to Nicaragua for 8 days and arrived home late this past Friday night. We were so thankful to have him home. The saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is so true. We stuck to him like glue all day Saturday and Sunday. He couldn't even go the bathroom without one of the girls following him and sitting by the door.
After doing life alone for 8 days I pretty much dropped every responsibility and just sat with him and talked to him about all that he missed while he was away. He talked to me about the life changing trip that he experienced, showing the three of us many pictures of his adventures. We talked, watched TV together, hung out in the yard together, grilled out, and had a family movie night. It was a great, great weekend.
I am so thankful for him and so thankful to have him home. I DO NOT like doing life apart from him. I know at times we have to be separated for mission trips and ministry opportunities, but I just do not like it at all. I guess in a way, if I have to look for a positive thing, it is a little empowering to know that I can handle the kids and all the responsibilities here on my own...if I had to. Of course, we didn't have any kind of emergency or sickness (Praise the Lord) so who knows exactly what I could handle without totally freaking out....but 8 days alone is a start.
I must say though, that I was never truly alone. We spent one night with my parents and visited them another time or two throughout the week and Gene's parents live within a mile from my house and they spent a good bit of time with the girls. I also knew that they were all just a phone call away. That is always comforting!
I also spent a lot of time praying. It is funny how much we pray when we need something from God or when we go through tough times. I needed God to bring Gene home safely and to protect him while he was on his trip. I needed his strength to walk me through each second of each day. I needed to sense his protection as I slept...or I should say tried to sleep, despite the night noises. All of that added up to praying without ceasing...just as the Bible tells me that I should do. Because I did that, I felt very close to God all week. Oh, to maintain that closeness. I want to want God like that every single day!
Here are a few pictures from one of our family days this weekend. And my camera is apparently about to die. It is fuzzy for some reason. My birthday is close and I think I will invest in one then. Until then....fuzzy pictures.
Gene, happy to be home
Gene playing with the girls...I couldn't get a good picture. They just would not be still. Gene bought a new grill. Squirrels ate through the tubing of our old grill this past winter and we knew that we would have to purchase one this spring. I think Gene was secretly happy about the squirrel incident because our grill was about 10 years old. We grill out a good bit and it is a necessity. To break it in we cooked out steaks...a great "coming home" meal.
The kids' meal...they love steak, the roll, and will tolerate a little of the baked potato. They will not eat salad though, so I made them a little fruit salad instead.
It is time for my next memory verse. I pick a new verse on the 1st and the 15th of every month and man do the days roll around quickly. I feel like I just picked a verse...oh, well.
This time I am going with James 4:14 which says, "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
Life seems so long doesn't it? I measure life in years and the years span ahead of me in an immeasurably length of time. But, my life is really just a vapor, like a puff of cold breath in freezing weather, compared to eternity. That is something that I know that I cannot comprehend this side of heaven.
Just a vapor...how would I live differently today if I truly believed that?
This verse makes me think of many different things. Of course, my family immediately comes to my mind. Am I intentional in showing my love for them? Love is shown by the time that I am willing to invest in the people around me. As a stay-home mom I am continually doing things FOR my family, but in my busyness, I tend to check things off my list and tell the girls I will read that book to them in just a little bit. Some days "a little bit" never comes. Reagan and Gracen do not just want me to do things for them or to just buy things for them. They want me. They want me to sit with them and do puzzles or color or read. One day, they will quit asking...one day they will be too cool for Momma. Today, I long for uninterrupted "me" time, but these days with little ones under my feet will be gone in a blink....like a vapor....here today, gone tomorrow. In just a few short years, I know that I will miss their unconditional love, their hugs, the way they climb up in my lap or simply reach for me. I wish I could grasp that concept and stop wishing the time away.
Life with little ones is hard. It is so easy to get into the habit of thinking "I'll do _____________ when they are older, when life is easier, when I have more time to myself", but in actuality, I am not promised tomorrow. I have to live my life to the fullest today.
What about Gene? Does he know how much I love him? I would like to think that answer is yes, but again, I show my love by my time. I don't always put him and his needs first. I don't always make time for the date night. I put the kids first because they scream their needs and Gene...well, he just doesn't scream. I wonder how many times he has gone to sleep feeling "second place" to the girls, when my marriage relationship should come first.
Come to think of it, in this blog entry, the paragraph about the girls, came before the paragraph about Gene....oops! I could have switched it when I realized that, but, hey...just keeping it real.
Life is a vapor! How will I be remembered after I am gone? What kind of wife was I? What kind of mother was I? What kind of Christian was I?
That last question is a big one. I am on this earth for one purpose and that purpose is to bring glory to God and to expand His kingdom. At almost 40 years old, I feel like half my life is over. That's because if I look at the average life span HALF my life IS over!!! I need to get busy...asking for boldness, looking for opportunities to share my faith, investing in people, and following God-sized dreams, stepping out in faith to what He might be calling us to do.
Certainly, I have a ministry right here inside my home. I have two girls who need to be introduced to Jesus and I take that seriously. But, I am still called to share my faith with a lost world around me. Again, it is so easy to think that I will do ____________ for Jesus when the girls are older, but I am not promised tomorrow. There are people that need Jesus today.
We all have one life to live and I need to get busy living my life TODAY, keeping in my mind that life on earth is only the dress rehearsal for eternity. I am just a vapor.
As I get ready in the mornings, both girls are usually running around playing. Sometimes they play really well together and sometimes Gracen has to go into her pack-n-play because she is in the mood to terrorize my home. This morning, I thought they were playing pretty well together. I was in my bathroom and the girls were in my bedroom. I could hear them playing and laughing. Gracen ran into the bathroom and then ran back out pretty quickly. Then after several minutes, I realized it was quiet....too quiet for two little girls. I went to find them and found this in my den...
And here is a close up in case you couldn't tell what it was.... pantyliners And if that wasn't bad enough, this was going on as well....Gracen was unwrapping these lovely things and sticking them to my den window. Oh, Lord, help me! I just want to get ready in the morning.
And here is Gracen standing in the middle of her mess, taking a television break. Doesn't she look innocent? Yeah, she will be in her pack-n-play tomorrow morning.
And, I apologize to my male readers, if I have any. I know you hadn't planned to see female products today.
I am still working on the upcoming women's retreat that our church is hosting in April. I have two books to read on my topics and then I have to work out my sessions. I also have two other books that I just want to read in my "free time". I need to spend some time "sharpening my sword" so to speak, so I still will not be blogging very often for the next two weeks or so. I really only have a two hour window in the middle of the day when Gracen is asleep. Well, actually that is a one hour window, because Reagan does "room-time" for an hour. One hour to myself from morning to bedtime goes really quick and I have to use it to study for these lessons.
I will leave you with this thought from my study in the book of James this morning. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and he will draw near to You. Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
I am so thankful that God promises in His Word that as I draw near to Him, He will in turn draw near to me. He calls me not just to draw near, but to come before Him and confess sin. As I "cleanse my hands", confessing my sinful actions, and "purify my heart", confessing my motives and desires, the distance between me and my God is removed. There is a closeness in our relationship again.
After spending time in His Word and praying this morning, He was continually on my mind. He did, in fact, draw near to me just as He said He would...imagine that!
If you are not having a daily quiet time, I want to encourage you to start today. It is pretty important if you want to grow in your relationship with Him.
Last night an interesting thing happened as I was kneeling beside Reagan's bed reading a devotion to her followed by our prayer time. Prayer times with Reagan are always different. We do not teach her rote prayers like "God is great, God is good..." because we want her to know that praying is just talking to God about whatever is on her heart. Sometimes she says the prayer, sometimes Gene or I will say the prayer after we have asked her what she would like us to prayer about, and sometimes one of us will start the prayer and she will just interrupt and start praying. That is what happened last night. I started to pray and she interrupted me right off the bat, saying things that she normally says...."Thank you God for my family. Thank you God for my home. Thank you for the food that I eat, etc. She stopped and got real quiet and I told her to go ahead and say what was on her mind and she said these words...."Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I have a dirty heart and I know that I need a clean heart. Will you give me a clean heart? My heart would be better if were clean. I would be better. I believe in You and I know you are in heaven and I believe you can clean my heart."
OH. MY. GOODNESS. The hairs on my arms stood up and I didn't know what to say or what to do. Her words came out of no where. No prompting or pushing on my part. We were not discussing clean heart vs. dirty heart. Our devotion was on Jonah and what God did to get Jonah's attention. After the prayer, I just hugged her and told her what a beautiful prayer that was.
I feel like I probably dropped the ball because I didn't announce that she was "just saved".
Parents help me out. Was that her moment of salvation? It sure sounded like the sinner's prayer to me....acknowledge that you are a sinner...tell Jesus that you desire to go a new way...and that you believe in Him and His power.
She hasn't mentioned it this morning and we don't want to push her by saying, "Do you remember that prayer you prayed last night? You have to make that public. Now you have to get baptized." We both think she will be a little persistent in bringing up those things on her own. Or maybe we will see a change her in little attitude.
But, I am wondering if I have even talked enough about "making it public through believer's baptism" for her to even think about those things....or is that my job as a parent to teach her what comes next. I don't ever want to push in this area and "force" her to take a step that she isn't ready for and then have her turn around at age 18 and realize that she was never truly saved. We see that all the time in youth and college ministry. That scares me.
I will say this, we have had a rough few weeks with Reagan. She is stubborn and she is very headstrong. She is sassy and has to have the last word. We got a call from her teacher this week sharing these same words. Her teacher stressed many positive traits such as being leader and standing up for what she believes in, but she also sees a pattern of sassiness and disobedience that she thinks needs to be nipped. I was told that parents have to "get to the heart and not just correct outward behavior". I wanted to scream, "THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM TRYING TO DO....HOW DO I DO THAT?" That answer is, of course, point her to Jesus because He is the only one that can change the heart. Based on these last two weeks we have discussed that these type of behaviors come from a dirty heart. So we have used the words "dirty heart" and "clean heart", but it has probably been about two days since we have used those words with her.
Oh, I am struggling here. Being a parent is hard. It isn't taking care of the physical needs that is difficult....feeding, bathing, clothing, etc. That stuff is easy. But molding a "character", building a spiritual foundation...those things are hard.
Any advice is appreciated because five-years-old seems so young. The booming voice from heaven would be awesome right now!
My memory for March 1st is 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
That is such an important scripture because every sin originates in the mind...every worry, every doubt, every sarcastic word, every negative comment, every materialistic desire.... When the thought enters my brain, I have a choice to make. I can let it out and act on it or I can take it captive and make it obedient to Christ. In my flesh, I let it out, but in the spirit, I can take it captive. This is exactly why daily, ongoing prayer is so important. I have to stay connected to the Spirit for continual guidance.
I am a born again Christian, the wife of a wonderful, Godly man, and a stay home mom to 2 precious daughters who give me purpose and drive me a little crazy. My husband serves at Shoal Creek Baptist Church as the Associate Pastor of Education and Youth. I serve right along beside him, doing whatever he needs me to do. I am loving life and being molded each day into the image of the Son, with a long way to go.
*For the reason behind my title "Stones of Remembrance" read the entry for January 5, 2010.