Monday, February 23, 2009

having fun...wish you were here!

Our trip has been fantastic! M has been a real trooper...such a good traveler! We've explored the resort, sang loudly at a FREE Phil Wickham concert and, of course, HIT THE BEACH!

When leaving the concert we were talking about going back to the condo to go to sleep. M said, "NO!" I said, "Daddy is going to go to sleep, and mama is going to go to sleep...what are you going to do?" He replied, "Eat pizza! Eat ice cream!" I think he is a teenager trapped in a 36" body.

The gift of using our friend's timeshare has been a blessing. The resort is gorgeous, and we love being near the beach. Believe me, we are REALLY enjoying our stay. I must say though that as I have walked the grounds, I've been a little heartbroken at the indulgence...the luxury. I've been asking God to not allow these finer things to numb my senses, harden my heart, and distort my priorities because, believe me, I like this stuff. The sparkling white linens, the lush gardens, the 100million channels on cable. I think God answered today in an email from dear Rebecca. She sent me this link. He's good, isn't He?

Here are some photos from today at the beach...

This poor seal must have been pretty sick to let me get this close (no zoom). He was right near the Lifeguard office, so I believe they called for help.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

post lite

Recently I've been serving up some pretty full-bodied posts, so thought I'd give you a "post lite!"

M bolted through the kitchen the other day (as fast as a toddler can bolt), and I asked, "Where are you going?" Without missing a beat, he answered, "Home Depot!"

I just got this new workout video and chose it specifically because it is broken down into five 10 minute sections. With M's nap being so short, I need a quick fix...I just do a section here and there. So far I like it and, while I haven't felt the "pain", I am seeing a little "gain." But the unexpected blessing in it all is that between the sections you have time to grab a handful of Robin Eggs Easter candy! You know, just in case you need some extra protein....because eggs are protein.

Pray Big for Your Marriage by Will Davis, Jr. is a book I am currently reading. LOVE IT! I seriously suck at praying, and this book offers the guidance I need. I know...praying should be as easy as talking to someone you love because you are talking to Love Himself, but it's just really difficult for me. This book is helping me be diligent in seeking God for my marriage.

Speaking of talking, I recently got a phone call from a CELEBRITY! Yes, THE Stefanie of Ni Hao Y'all rang me up the other day! Now let me say that I suck at talking on the phone (hmmm...notice a pattern with my rotten communication skills). For some reason I never know when it is my turn so I am either silent (awkward) or interrupting (awkward and rude), and I pretty much just hate it. was THE Stefanie of Ni Hao Y'all, so I sucked it up and answered my phone. Let me just say that she is even more gracious and wonderful "in person" than I imagined. PLUS, if you don't already know, she is headed back to China for her FIFTH ADOPTION (nine children total)...she is utterly remarkable.

Soon we will be trippin' out to CA for M's first time at the beach! Some dear friends have blessed us with their time share, so we are EXCITED!!! I used to live in San Diego, and I miss it dearly so going back gets me all hyped up...or did I just eat too many Robin Eggs?

Here are some pics I took this morning. M is just way too fast for me. He will not hold his head still for even a half-second. So I got some soft photos, but I really like them! He looks handsome in his outfit, which we bought while in Taiwan.

this is what i get when i say "SMILE!":

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 for mourning

I sat outside the church in my little black Scoupe and watched the raindrops trickle down my windshield in unison with the tears trickling down my cheeks. I didn't see the other car pull up across the street, but suddenly he got out and, with his groomsmen by his side, rushed into the door to escape the rain.

My heart ached.

I knew he didn't love me....not the way a girl with a wedding dress stuffed in her backseat wants to be loved. Nor did I love him that way I guess. But I got out of my car, carefully gathered my dress, and tiptoed through the puddles to the church.

Fast forward: Scott and I watched Fireproof the other night. There is a part where one of the characters reveals that, due to his failed marriage, he carries a scar on his heart. His statement lingered with me because I can relate.

Jon and I were married soon after graduating college. Chalk it up to the ignorance of youth...or the sin of prideful hearts...or a comedy of errors, but we then divorced a few months shy of our 4th anniversary.

A scar on my heart.

That is what sin does. It diseases the healthy. Corrupts the innocent. Cuts with a knife so jagged that a scar is inevitable...

but God.

When I became a follower of Christ, I was forgiven of all my sins, and yet I began to see the reality of my sins in a new way. Suddenly I viewed my marriage/divorce not only as an issue between Jon and myself but as an offense against my God. My selfish, prideful, bitter treatment of Jon was not only mean to him, but it caused anguish to my Savior, the One who paid for those sins. As eye-opening as this was, it oddly enough did not produce feelings of human guilt but instead of godly mourning...the kind of grief that doesn't camp out on your failures but moves to a place of gratitude and praise for His forgiveness for those failures.

May we mourn to think that we have pierced the Savior, that we have transgressed against a God so good, and a Redeemer so generous. -C.H. Spurgeon

but grace.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

I love this promise in the OT. God says that for those who truly mourn their sin, He will indeed comfort them. As those who accept God's forgiveness through Christ, no longer do we wear the ashes of mourning; by His grace He exchanges our grief for joy. God is faithful on His part; however, I think that often we are unfaithful in looking for the ways in which He imparts this grace. By acknowledging His favor and responding in praise, the last part of the verse becomes true in our lives...THAT HE MIGHT BE GLORIFIED.

A while back God showed me grace in the form of an email from Emily, Jon's wife. Upon learning of my mom's cancer, she wrote to extend her sympathies and encouragement. Since her mother is a cancer survivor, she offered the comfort that comes only from experience and the prayers that come from a knowing heart. We became fast friends because we're both so cool (the fact that I just typed that sentence proves otherwise) and because she always gives good mama advice (hmmm...the friendship seems a little one-sided, huh?).

Emily didn't have to email me, in fact, she probably had every reason not to...humanly speaking. Her act was one of unmerited favor...God's grace working through her. I see this as a picture of God giving "beauty for ashes." To me it is amazing that, while Jon and I had no interest in God while we were married, God had interest in us. While we didn't glorify Him in our marriage, He blessed us both with new godly marriages. We did not deserve His unmerited favor, but God abundantly lavished it on us...what joy!

This is grace. And it is soothing and healing and renewing.

Is your heart scarred? Do you mourn your sin? Go to God and let His sweet salve of grace cover your wounds. And then, in a garment of praise, glorify the Giver of all grace.

For the LORD God [is] a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good [thing] will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11

Sunday, February 15, 2009

grace (and some photos)

I mentioned in an earlier post that lately I've been reading a lot about grace. Not because I'm a super diligent student of the Bible but because God's been revealing to me the utter lack of grace in my heart.

Utter. Lack.

Yes, I have a nice little Compassion button on my sidebar, and I post about helping those in need, but we are talking about my heart...not my blog. I may write some posts sharing some of the stuff I've read about but, before I do, I thought it best to start with this basic post about grace.

Before I was a Christian, I had no clue that grace was a term even somewhat related to God. Oh, yeah, I had heard the song "Amazing Grace" a time or two but, at the time, I just thought it was a lame song and didn't really listen to the words.

I know that of the many hits this blog gets daily, not everyone who reads is a follower of Christ. So I don't want to just plow forward speaking in "Christianese"...I want to share what I didn't know before I knew Christ.

Grace is unmerited favor.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9

For those who follow Christ, the Bible says that our salvation is by God's grace, His unmerited favor, alone. This means that good deeds do not equal a golden ticket to Heaven. Not how much money you give to charity. Not how many prayers you pray every Sunday. Not how many little old ladies you help cross the street.

If you do a Bible search on the words "grace" and "peace", you will find that, when used together, the words are always in that order...grace first, peace second. Grace comes before peace in the Bible AND in our lives. If salvation was attained by works, then people would never know when and if they had done enough good things. If "getting into Heaven" was by deeds, just how many old ladies would you have to help across the street? What if you were one shy of the required number...whatever that number might be? I'd probably be so anxious that I'd bust into a nursing home, grab some unsuspecting blue-hair, sling her over my shoulder and run like the wind across the nearest 6 lane highway. Twice.

In regards to eternity, God's grace brings peace.

The grace is shown in this:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

God doesn't say that Jesus died for the "good people" of humanity or the ones who have gotten their act together. Nope, he died for us while we were sinners...we didn't earn it, we weren't worthy of was unmerited favor. Because our salvation is a gift of His grace and is secure in His righteousness (not our own), we live in confidence knowing we are at peace with our Creator. And He's not hanging a good-deed checklist over our heads.

But God's grace does not end there. We need His grace to daily live as a follower of Christ. Actually, that "daily" really means "every moment of the day." And sometimes for me it's even "twice every moment of the day" if that moment seems particularly when M is throwing down in the middle of the canned vegetable aisle.

God encourages us to come to Him...even when we find ourselves in the canned vegetable aisle staring in disbelief that such ear-piercing, eyeball popping, blood-curdling screams could emit from such a tiny mouth. God is the Giver of grace, and He will lavish His infinite supply of grace (and therefore His strength, compassion, love, patience, etc. for all issues of life) on His children when asked:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Here are a few pics I took of the A girls last Friday. They are as cute as can be, but I was a little bummed with the quality of my work, so I have asked for a DO-OVER!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the height of fashion

or maybe the depth?

praying for mamas

Yesterday I saw a Facebook friend at the museum storytime hour. Erin and her handsome son arrived just as the storyteller began speaking, so I gave her a little wave with hopes of chatting after the program. I noticed as we were breaking for the craft session that she had packed up her kid and was bolting toward the door. I caught up in time to say bye and, with a look of total frustration and without slowing her gait, she motioned to her son as the reason for her early departure.

Later over FB, she recounted the rest of their day...tantrums at the car dealership, tantrums at the grocery store, tantrums at daddy's office and, to cap it off, her little guy locked himself in the car when they arrived home! She was completely deflated and asked for prayer.

One thing Erin mentioned in her message is that she can feel when people are lifting her up in prayer. As I read her words, I remembered how I felt covered in YOUR prayers when I traveled home after my mom passed.

So I thought it might be nice if today...before you leave my say a prayer for another mama.

Maybe for a mama you know. Maybe for a mama you don't know...but God knows her.

Maybe for a mama who is struggling to raise her kids alone, or...

who just received a crushing diagnosis, or...

who has no money to buy food for her kids this week, or...

who is watching her child endure excruiating pain.

Or perhaps you may pray for a mama who has healthy kids, money in the bank, and a wonderful husband...but she just had a really tough day today.

Need words for your intercession? Consider using the following verses as a guide for your prayer:

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
Psalm 23:2,3

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me [by Your] generous Spirit. Psalm 51:12

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may be able to comprehend with all the saints what [is] the width and length and depth and height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14, 16-19

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

what's goin' on...

My friend, Tracy, was oh-so-kind enough to tell me that Feb 3 was Elmo's b-day. She's mean like that because she spends her days with like 15 non-related kids running around her home. Anyway, I felt compelled to add some kindling to the altar of idolatry that is burning in M's little heart and, so, a party for Elmo! Both Big Elmo and Little Elmo came, as well as Frog. We had a candle in M's waffle and sang with great gusto.

Things can get a little windy around here and, during this recent cold snap, the wind was working overtime in our backyard. Here are some shots of M putting the gutter back where it belongs.

Since right before M's birthday, things have been a little crazy. Or maybe I should say M has been a little crazy. He has carried his overachieving personality into his job as a two year old.

When poor Smooch visited, he was so very mean to her...she couldn't even breathe without him throwing a huge fit. Not exaggerating. So glad you spent all that money on a plane ticket, huh, Smooch? Thankfully the last two days have seen relief from the storm of Hurricane Big Two.

His sleep obviously doesn't help the issue. One night SuperScott and I decided to enjoy ourselves and stay out later than 7:00p with M. So we had a fun night at Scott's sister house playing with her Wii. As we were leaving, I proudly said to Scott, "This must be what other parents do...they just enjoy life now and then and let the baby go to bed later."

Oooooh, open wide, Miss are about to eat your words.

That night M was up at EVERY single hour of the night except the 3 o'clock hour...and every since he has been waking around 3 am.

Not quite as enjoyable as boxing on the Wii.

But I have been reading a lot about grace lately....because I have needed it so soon I may share some stuff that I've read...
Hope all is well with YOU!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

sunday night dinner conversation

"Poops come out Matthew booty." - Matthew

Saturday, February 7, 2009

M's book list

Currently the following books are getting some serious giggles out of M. Thought I'd share with you...

Friday, February 6, 2009

my love

If I had to explain to someone what it means to follow Jesus, I would simply point to my husband. I have learned more about grace, longsuffering, and sacrificial love from him than from anyone else. He is proof that people who surrender to God can, by the power of His Spirit, live a life that looks different from the that reflects the absolute goodness of God.

My humble husband does not like to have my camera pointed at him, and I try to respect that...but the other day I was desperate to complete a final assignment for my class and; therefore, I asked him to be my supermodel.

That night, Scott walked into the house after a long day of work. Before he could even get through the door, Matthew began pulling at him and yelling "HOT TEA! HOT TEA!" at the top of his lungs (it is their nightly ritual)...and I started pushing them both outside so I could snag some shots before the sun set. And Scott handled it all with the same graciousness that he always displays...putting the needs of others before his own.

Here are a few of the shots. They may seem super bright and grainy on your computer...because I shot in RAW for the assignment, I had to use an editing program that I am not familiar with.

Here is my unbelievably amazing husband.
My undeserved blessing from God.
My love.

kid sites

i haven't had a chance to check out all of the links but thought i would share this site because yesterday i actually found rocks in my dryer:


Monday, February 2, 2009

month o' love

Happy February! As I see the store displays of Valentine's Day decorations, cards, and candy (of course, the candy!), I can't help but think back to my sweet wedding day! I don't know that I have had another day in my life that was so absolutely peaceful and so gloriously perfect...even in the imperfections!

Yet I also think of how much marriage takes a beating when a baby comes into the picture. Romantic coastal escapes? Gone with the wind. Dynamic dinner conversation at a cozy table in your favorite restaurant? Flew the coop. Indeed the addition of a child brings a new look to the marital relationship.

And so...I'm asking for YOUR ideas/tips/tried & trues of how to celebrate the month o' love all year round. If your husband is as fantastic as mine, you sincerely want to make an effort to give your marriage the attention it deserves.

So share a comment, and share the love!

Not sure why my scanned photos always show up so small, but this is from our wedding day in Kona, HI:
edited2add: Funny! I have had more comments about the photo than tips on loooove. We were married on the beach in Kona by a super fun pastor who is connected with our church. His kids were the flower girls/ring bearer, his wife did the video taping, and a lady from the church VOLUNTEERED to take our photos. She said she was an "amateur" and just enjoyed shooting, so she wouldn't even accept the money we gave her...she donated it directly to the church. I think she did a wonderful job and will share more photos next month for our anniversary post!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

chocolate lovers have no pride

this is the way we eat our fruit,
eat our fruit,
eat our fruit,
this is the way we eat our fruit
so early in the morning!

You won't see much naked fruit at our house. Strawberries dipped in chocolate. Apples cooked in cinnamon and brown sugar. Bananas covered in peanut butter.

We're all about accessorizing.

Especially if the accessory comes in the one-size-fits-all milk chocolate.