Foundations and…yardwork?

I would like to begin with a confession.  Always a good place to start, right?  I was memorizing Hebrews 12:1-2 this week, and I started to type it from memory, and there were so many errors in it I am just going to call it a work in progress.  So, I’ll keep working on it, promise.

I still remember my previous memory verse (my mommy mantra), “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1 – does that make up for it a little bit???

How about:

“So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the message about Christ.” Romans 10:17

This is correct from memory!   But, I can take no credit for it – considering I had a lot of help from repeating this verse about 1000 times at Vacation Bible School this week.  And singing it in songs.

Many times.

With lots of awesome, amazing kids.

I had the honor of being a fourth grade leader this year alongside several Godly and strong women.  We are different ages and stages, from high school to having high schoolers, but God knows what He is doing when these things come together.  He is so purposeful in the details, it just blows me away.  And, this week God gave us the gift of new foundations being laid in young hearts.  It was such a privilege and a blessing.

One new foundation in particular stands out to me because it involves a young man that my husband and I have gotten to know over the past year.  He is very smart and a quick learner.  He can be stubborn and unresponsive.  He can be defiant.  He has even developed a reputation for this in his young life.  Over the last 12 months, though, there has been a transformation in him.  He has developed a desire to participate, to answer questions, to learn.  He is also not just striving for negative attention, his heart has been softened.  And, this week he made the decision to give his life to the Lord.

I wish I could describe what an honor it was to get to be a witness to him standing up for Jesus.  To listen to him praying with a humble heart to his Savior.  What a gift it is to see the bigger picture of this past year, to see how God has been drawing this young man closer and closer to him, seeing him soften until he was ready to make the ultimate surrender.  To know there is an even bigger picture – years of family, teachers, the body of Christ working and loving this little life and planting seeds that have been fertilized and watered and resulted in the most important decision he will ever make.  He has chosen the sure foundation:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’  (1 Peter 2:6, referring to Isaiah 28:16)

So, I just want to brag on God.  (and, please click here to see more bragging from some wonderful people!) God, who doesn’t have to give us the opportunity to witness the harvest, but sometimes does reveal a glimpse, and what a huge encouragement it is.  Encouragement that no matter how small our role may seem, they are all significant and perfectly coordinated by the Master Gardener.  The apostle Paul wrote about these roles in 1 Corinthians 3:6 – “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”  Even more, it makes me get fired up and motivated.  Because we know, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”  (Matthew 9:36)  We need to be working the fields in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our prisons, and in all the nations.  Keep it up, God WILL have the harvest!  So, that’s my verse this week:  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9)  We don’t always see the results of a little sprinkle of water or the dropping of the tiniest seed, but seeing just one little bloom can give the encouragement to get out there and do some serious yardwork!

Lucky 13

Yesterday, Richard and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary.

Thirteen is just a weird number in terms of anniversaries.

For some reason we put a lot of weight on the paper and precious stone years like 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, etc…and neglect poor number 13.  For me, I have been looking at this anniversary as if our marriage is becoming a teenager.  Now, I don’t have a teenager.     Yet!  But, I am getting close (and some days she can make it seem VERY close!).  And, I was a teenager once.  What I haven’t blocked out, I remember.  And, I know some teenagers kinda well…like, my precious nephews.  Let’s face it.  It is a time of ups and downs…inside and outside of our bodies.  I don’t know what the next few years hold for our family.  But, I know we have a God who will love us and take care of us no matter what.  And, I know that my twenties and my thirties have been my best years in life yet, so if we experience any growing pains in our marriage over the next several years, we still have so much to look forward to!

I’ve never gotten to celebrate our anniversary in the blog before, so I thought I’d put up some of our vintage wedding shots, because I love having fun with the scanner.  And, it’s my blog…so, I can!

And, this one is mandatory.

And, finally, this next picture, which is one of my favorites.  Everyone in this picture is either a grandparent, parent, sibling, or sibling-in-law.  (of which there was only one at the time)  You can see why we might not have many pictures of this whole entire group.  As a matter of fact, this is the only one.  Another cool fact you probably never knew you wanted to know – I had the honor of sharing my wedding date with my first grandmother to my left.  Unfortunately, my grandfather was ill and was not able to travel to attend the ceremony.  They are no longer here on this earth, but they loved Jesus and each other, and were married for over 50 years.  I love the fact that we share in some of that legacy on our anniversary!

Thirteen years of dinners together.  Family vacations.  Three apartments.  Four houses.  Four cities (one of them twice).  Babies.  Toddlers.  Girls.  A Boy.  Saturday morning pancakes.  Football games.  Christmases.  Easters.  Beaches.  Mountains.  Lakes.  Deserts.  Friends.  Weddings.  Funerals.  Sickness.  Health.  Thin times.  Abundant times.  Better.  Worse.  Even better than before.  Thirteen years of amazing.

Happy anniversary, my love.

Foundations II

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

I typed that from memory!  This past week as I focused on this verse, I found that the more I thought about it the more easily applied it was.  And, the more I thought about it, the less intentional I had to be in thinking about it.  By the end of the week I was thinking about it before I even got out of bed in the morning.  Joshus 1:8 says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  I have always thought to myself, ‘I have millions of things on my mind at once, how can it be I can meditate on the word full-time while also remembering piano lessons, scheduling girl scout events, what I’m going to make for dinner, how I need to prepare for our upcoming visit with family, making time to clean the house, my grocery list, who I am carpooling with this week, whose Birthday cards need to be mailed, how I can be creative in motivating my pre-adolescent to stay current with her math and writing, blah blah blah….’  ( a thrilling glimpse into my deep thoughts)  What I found is that after I intentionally meditated and applied the word for a few days, it became like a background thought for me in everything I did, and so it was applied to everything I did.

Did I mess up?  Don’t be shocked…yes…there was one morning in particular this week I woke up to the lovely sound of sibling arguments at 6:45 am.  Who has the energy to fight at that time of day???  I mean, Mama had not even had her coffee…so, I was pretty harsh with the kiddos.  Did it stir up anger?  Not quite, but the harsh words stirred up some pretty deflated looking faces because their little hearts are still sweet and soft.  The sadness on their faces after I reacted in an angry tone is something that will easily translate into hardened hearts and anger later on in their lives if that is my consistent reaction.  Even though there were a couple relapses into letting anger rule my reaction, I was greatly encouraged to see the results of gentle answers in behavior and response, especially in a few discipline conversations I had with my oldest in dealing with her attitude and responsibilities over the summer.  I also had a lot less mommy-guilt at the end of the day.  So, overall it was a great success.  That is how powerful the word of God is.  Even though we aren’t perfect in the implementation, God will still show us big results if we put forth the effort.  And, we will be prosperous and successful in God’s eyes.  Maybe not the worldly results we want sometimes, but it is the kind of success that lasts forever.

This next week I am putting up a double verse challenge.  My personal verse is an encouragement verse.  Next week is Vacation Bible School, and that can just be an exhausting week.  It is such an awesome opportunity, though, to speak the word of God into young hearts and work alongside some wonderful laborers.  Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The second verse is the actual theme verse of VBS, Romans 10:17, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

This will be a lot more challenging, but I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of it!

The Inspiration Thing

Sometimes I need a little help being motivated to get up and do the thing.

Whatever ‘the thing’ might be.

It could be a ‘worship thing’.  Through the inspiration of His beautiful creation, how can we not want to worship the heavenly artist who can paint sunsets in our backyards…

or cowboy scenes, right across the street from our ultra-suburbia sub-division. (sometimes I have to pinch myself that I live in a place like this):

It could be a ‘parent thing’.  Sometimes a sweet smile or discerning question renews my energy to train these precious God-given gifts in the way they should go…

My family is an inspiration, too.  My sister has been blogging a daily bible study of the book of John this summer at Sanctified and Southern Fried (click on it to link to it).  It’s summer vacation, she has four kids, but she is doing ‘the thing’ of digging in the Word.  And, helping us sometimes-less-motivated people do the same.

There’s the ‘love thing’.  I am inspired by my friends who are going all over the world to share God’s love, as well as the ones who do it in their homes and at the grocery store.  These sweet friends have hearts for the world.  They also have hearts for encouraging me.  (and calling me out, on the , umm, oh-so-rare occasion I need a little of that)  What’s more, they will fly 2000 miles to do that.

Since moving to Colorado a few years ago, I have also had the great honor of becoming friends with such a diverse group of beautiful women in my church and neighborhood.  God has put these ladies in my life to inspire me with their servant’s hearts, their love and devotion to their husbands and families (including crockpot lunches after long days at church on Sundays when I’d rather eat out), and their patience in frustrating circumstances.  They are living out Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another,” and inspiring me to do the same thing.

Some of  my new friends are a little older and wiser than I am.  Even though they are decades of wisdom and experience ahead of me, and I learn so much from them, we speak as girlfriends.  They inspire me with ‘the Titus thing.’

God Almighty gives us inspiration at every turn so that we cannot miss who He is, and so that our hearts will long to surrender to Him in every ‘thing’ we do.  As if that were not enough, He is so good, He even empowers us to do it!

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13)

Foundations

I love living in the wild west.  There is definitely a learning curve to home ownership out here, though.  One good thing about the high altitude, there are no cockroach problems.  Having grown up in the south, where they are your constant 2-inch tenants that don’t pay rent, I just don’t miss the nasty things.  Blech.  On the downside, there are major soil problems here in Colorado.  Problems like expansion, sinking and settling.  The only issue we have experienced personally was some minor settling, under our front porch, and we were blessed that it didn’t affect the structural integrity of our home’s foundation. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to enrich the lives of those of you out there who are ignorant of a lovely process called Mudjacking.  If you’ve never heard of it, be prepared to be fascinated!  Or, not…  but, if you’re so inclined, I’d also like to hit on a spiritual condition I’ve been experiencing lately.

First, the weird, clayish, impossible-to-dig-a-hole-in dirt out here sinks over time with some liquid catalyst…like rain or snow.  It could look like this:

Please note how the soil has sunken a couple of inches below the base of the porch.  Fabulous.

So, to fill it back up with dirt they drill holes in the concrete

Then, they insert a mud-filler thingamajob…

Which pumps a mud/limestone/miracle mix from the truck and fills up your sunken spot.

Then, your porch looks more like it ought…with some perfectly appropriate concrete to dirt contact…

No more void.  It is a good thing.  We were fortunate to have such a minor repair.  Often, when the dirt expands or contracts from the foundation it causes cracking and structural damage.  Now, that sounds like something I can relate to.  ‘Cause I am me, and I look for weird lessons in everything.  And, the earth below me has felt a little shaken lately, and I must admit it has left me feeling a little shaken.

Let’s begin with defining a good foundation.  In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus describes a solid foundation, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who build his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (vs.24-27)  Sounds like rock is the better foundation choice over sand.  Practically, what does that look like in the life of a person?  It begins with the only rock or stone that was intended for eternal purposes.  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”  (Isaiah 28:16)  Jesus the Messiah is the precious cornerstone.  Once we trust in Him, we evidence our foundation in two ways.  First, in hearing His words.  But, it is not enough to hear…even the guy on the sand was a hearer of the Word.  Hearing the word just puts the rock below the porch, but it doesn’t mean there’s any concrete to rock contact, if you get my meaning (like in the first picture above)  It is still just sand.  When the storms of life come, we will go down with a big crash.  Our foundation is solid rock when we put feet on our faith and start doing what the Word says!  If that is our daily practice, then we will not fall.

Lately, I have let my ‘busy’ness overcome what should be my priority, which is time surrendered to listening to and being alone with God and His word.  I am letting this ‘stuff of earth’ push and compress and separate me from my foundation.  On top of that, if I am not even hearing his words, that makes it exponentially more difficult to put them into practice.  My detachment from a firm foundation has resulted in a lot of stress about little things that I am ashamed to admit have even been stressful…little things that are blessings and not even storms.  Like family vacations, children’s activities, computers…  (we could probably have a whole conversation on that last one, but for now, for these purposes, computers are a blessing.  say it out loud, it helps)

The solution? Filling up the void with some good words.  Committing to doing that regularly and consistently.  Then, doing what they say.  Putting them into practice.

I’m going to try a verse a week.  Memorizing it (with my handy, dandy new index card holder – thank you, Darlene!) and being intentional about doing it.  I am choosing something I struggle with sometimes when dealing with my children, who are perfect angels, except when they are not, especially on summer vacation – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  (Proverbs 15:1)  I hope to update you with my successes in this area, and since this is rather one-sided accountability, I promise to share my failures as well.  I’d love for you to walk through this exercise with me and share your results, with the same verse or ones of your own choosing.  It might seem like back to basics, but that is where the foundation is found.

Spring Scrapbook

These last few weeks have just flown by, and in the middle of that my computer hard drive crashed (3rd time in 3 years…)  So, while I am getting used to a new computer and an already-speeding-by summer, I wanted to put together some of the highlights of our spring.

Picture it:  100 plus kindergarteners on a field trip to the Denver Aquarium.  Throw a 3 year old William in there.  Most peaceful, relaxing day of my life…not.  But, they sure do love those fish!  It was worth every crazy moment:

Martha Claire is in a Daisy troop that I am leading with another mom.  These girls are just plain adorable, every minute is an adventure with them.  We had our end of the year meeting at some of the farms across the street from our neighborhood.  The girls had a wonderful time terrorizing some poor, unsuspecting chickens and feeding baby cows.  The highlight, though, was definitely the beautiful horses.

Martha Claire had a big day at her Kindergarten graduation.  I can’t believe this magical year is over, the year of the kindergarten carpet.  For some reason, it is a big deal to me when they graduate to the “desk” style of 1st grade…once you go desk you don’t get to go back to the spotted carpet…sigh

For the record, her hair was in the headband when I sent her off to school.  Had to get my obsessive mommy comment in.

I feel better.

Memorial Day weekend we got to watch Marfy perform in her ballet recital.  Our sweet framily came to show their support, and afterwards we were surprised with some beautiful weather and got to grill and chill outside, it was so much fun…

For a minute there this was looking like the ‘May of Marfy’…

Now that we are on the June side of things and looking back, it really was a fun and fast spring.  God’s blessings to us are many indeed.  I am looking forward to the adventures this summer holds…

Mad Scientists

Martha Claire came home a few weeks ago with the school science fair application, determined to submit it.  So determined, in fact, she had brought two of the application packets home, just in case the first one spontaneously caught on fire or got sucked into a crazy wind vortex before we had the opportunity to turn it in.  She had also, on her own, checked out a book on magnetism and electricity with experiment ideas in it (with a little guidance from the science teacher).

The girl is in kindergarten.

She’s a little motivated.

We read the book together and she decided to build her own compass by magnetizing a needle and floating it on water.  She did it all herself, and then dictated the procedure and results for us to type up.  Then, she put her board together with glue and paper. 

Caroline, however, made no mention of the Science Fair until the day the applications were due.  Then, perhaps spurred on by the enthusiasm of her junior sister, she decided that she not only wanted to participate, but she wanted to be judged as well (which is an option for 4th and 5th graders).   She chose her own project…shocker, it had to do with exploding sodas.  She worked through the research and hypothesis on her own.  Except for a little help during the procedure (luckily Dad stepped in to be the official bottle opener) she did the whole thing on her own.  I am so proud of her, because she is her own girl, and very pre-adolescent, and she often struggles with motivation to go above and beyond what is required.

She had a lot of fun in the process.

Fast

shutter

burst

photos

are so

cool!

Dad

got a

little

messy,

Caroline struggled through some of the typing and creating the finished presentation, but she did the work, and…

She won first place!

I’m so proud of these mad scientists!