Friday, June 28, 2013

Me and Mrs. Graham

I've been sitting here trying to think of catchy or cute way to introduce this post. There isn't one. Bottom line truth is - raising kids is HARD and often EXHAUSTING and THANKLESS. Life is DIFFICULT sometimes and the road just seems to wind on and on somedays and you wonder when all the CRAZY will end and you make it to NORMAL. This is where I have been. On that winding road stuck between crazy and normal. The impact of boxing up our home, stress over finances, and life in general has been a bit much on me and now I'm seeing it in my kiddos. Add to that the awesome blessing of having a husband in full time ministry - which means he works those "weird" hours and needs to be gone to serve the Lord. For this I am thankful, but will admit it is difficult somedays. I woke up yesterday feeling the weight of the entire world on my shoulders... my journal reads like this:

"I woke up feeling like a failure...I missed the 5am prayer {again!}, Ava woke up early and I was grumpy with her and I was crying by 8am. August has been crying 3/4's of our morning so far. It's my birthday week and I feel just plain ol' defeated. I'm tired of all the mess. Tired of boxes. Tired of being so broke. Weary of whining kids and bored with monotony." 

Aren't I a ray of sunshine? :) I know we all have those days, but I keep having them. To be honest I have felt so very alone in my bad days and wondering if maybe I was the only woman who really battled with life like I have been. Maybe that sounds silly...but I was wondering.

Wednesday night I made a pit stop at our church library to look for some fresh reading. Something challenging. I had been wanting to read the book, "It's my turn" by Ruth Graham {Billy's wife} and it was on my Amazon wish list - but, apparently it's super old and expensive. :) Who knew!? There on the church shelf was a copy. The rest of Weds night did not go well - I even had to leave the youth bible study time with my children screaming through the parking lot only 30 mins into the night. Blah. But I did get to start reading it yesterday, and oh my is it refreshing. Not only did that woman love the Lord with her entire life...she loved her ministry husband, children, and anyone else brought into her path. But ultimately what has been the biggest highlight of this book so far was her journal entry titled "Help". She was in the thick of raising 5 children while her husband toured the country evangelizing, often leaving her alone. These were here thoughts:

"Dear Journal,
Reading again from Exodus 33:12-16. This job of training five little Grahams to be good soliders of Jesus Christ is too big for me, who am not a good soldier myself. Feeling particularly distracted (or I should say overwhelmed and confused) this morning, I have been looking to the Lord asking, "Where, from here?".
Bill will be leaving soon for the San Franciso meeting. And I almost have a sinking feeling. Not altogether a left-behind and left-out sort of feeling, but swamped, knowing that all the things I have depended on others to do, I shall have to do myself.  
And things have not been going smoothly. There is a terrible amount of fighting among the children, ugliness and back talk from GiGi, and peevishness on my part backed by sporadic, uncertain discipline. I am not walking the Lord's way at all. I am doing what I feel like doing rather then what I ought to do. Three verses hit me hard: "She who is self indulgent is dead even while she lives" (1 Tim. 5:6), and "The fruit of the spirit is...self control." (Gal. 5:22-23). 
Self-indulgence is doing what we want rather then what we ought. I had always thought of self-control applying to temper or to drink. But what about the almonds in the pantry, the ice cream and chocolate sauce, the candy which I know will add unnecessary pounds and make my face break out? What about controlling my tongue? My tone of voice? Standing up straight? Writing letters? All these and many more need controlling. 
And I don't look well to the ways of my household. Children well taught even to brushing teeth and keeping rooms straight. Regular family prayers at the supper table. Children's clothes, kept mended and neat and organized. Getting ready for Sunday on Saturday. Well, there's no use going into it all. It just boils down to the fact that I am not being a good mother.
So I took it to HIM this morning, I want above everything to be the kind of person He wants. If He had His undisputed way in my I would be. Eveything would solve itself. The place to begin in here, the time to begin is now. And as I reread Exodus 22:12-16, the phrase that jumped out to me, which I had never noticed before, was : "Show me now THY way."

Wow. This could easily be a page from my own journal... time and again as I battle my flesh to win and love my family and serve the Lord. As I read this entry I just cried and cried and smiled and laughed. She got it and I'm starting to get it. It's in those moments where the growth happens and the Lord's grace abounds and the Holy Spirit guides. Ah, Mrs. Graham... I think we could have been great friends. What a timely blessing her wise and honest words are to this tired momma's heart.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June Happenings.

What? June is over this weekend? Yep. All 30 days of it come to an end on Sunday. True story.
Despite packing and paperwork and general life - we've managed to sneak in some fun, too. :) 

Here's a photo recap of June:
Beach Day @ Raccoon River Beach
More attemps at packing... if Lil' sister will have it. 
Church backyard BBQ 
Fishin' on fathers day
June showers... all.the.time.
And finally...
Lots and lots of time spent at all the great parks in IA! 
Here's to an equally wonderful July & August! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Homemaker Monday

Happy Homemaker Monday
It has been raining here all night and throughout the day today. Thunderstorms woke me up several times last night, and the muggy outdoors today made us stay in the AC for most of the morning. Summer is here! :) I'm hoping this dark afternoon and the lull of the raindrops will keep my girls napping long - I have a lot of packing to do. Honestly, it's not that bad...but, it's packing. Plenty of time for a quick HHM!

The weather:
Rain. Thunderstorms. More rain. Winds.

Right now I am:
Taking a packing break and feeling exhausted. 

A large part of me is feeling excited about the move, newness of all of that. Another part of me is thinking are we going to do this transition thing for 5 or 6 weeks before we get into our new place?! 

On my reading pile:
Taking a break from reading, but I do grab a few minutes in "Glimpses of Grace" every now and again. 

On my TV:
No TV. 

What I found while surfing the net:
Completely disgusted by CBS news write up about the "76 year old Grandma who writes porn". I thought NEWS was supposed to be about world events we needed to be aware of. I'm not sharing a link because it's not even worth your time. But know this - there is no such thing as "upstanding news reporting". {stepping down off of soap box now}

On the menu for this week
Monday - Salsa Chicken and brown rice
Tuesday - Flank steak & salad
Wednesday - Orzo stuffed peppers
Thursday - Peaches & cream french toast
Friday - Fruit glazed pork chops and dilly carrots
Saturday - Church wedding - the meals on them! :) 
Sunday - MY BIRTHDAY! So, who knows. 

On my to do list:
Oh, packing. Finish up laundry. Put clothes away. 

 In the craft basket:
Ha. no time.

Looking forward to this week:
Playgroup tomorrow
Coffee @ a friends house on Weds.
Empty house on Thursday to pack, while a friend watches the girls!
Birthday dinner with hubs on Friday
Saturday wedding
Sunday night girls night for my b-day. 

Looking around the house:
Yikes. Cardboard chaos.

From the camera:
At the pool party lastnight - my big girl and her now destroyed Tutu bathing suit.

On my prayer list:
Newly prego friends :) 
Packing and getting eveything ready for closing - house repairs from inspection results.
$ for closing. {ugh}

Bible verse, Devotional:
Nothing to share today.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cardboard boxes & Chaos

Oh I knew these days were coming. We've known a little too long, I think. Maybe that's where the procrastination set in... on one of those days where I sighed and went along in my day thinking, "oh, we still have a month to pack". I still have plenty of time but if I didn't feel like the walls were coming down around me THEN - I'm starting to NOW. 

The decorations on the first floor have all been taken off of the walls. It's bare and weird in here. Or, as my dear husband likes to note, "it looks cleaner". Nice. I've boxed up the books and a lot of the toys that were not being played with. Linens have been packed up with extra blankets and towels. Day by day this ol' house is looking more and more unfamiliar. I'm not as sad as I thought I'd be - but, I know tears will still come on the actual moving day. I'm just sentimental like that. 

My girls think this time is like a 2nd Christmas day - as they try to unpack the boxes I've so carefully organized and layed out. They particularly enjoying finding old toys made new again by being lost for so long. This is the chaos. I need them to be busy so I can pack, but their choice activity is doing the opposite of what I'm trying to accomplish. Ah, such is life. The Journey. 

This week for the FIRST TIME EVER my girls have started actually playing together in pretend. "C'mon sissy, let's go play house" has been said several times. My heart smiles when I hear that. I love how excited they get to pretend and it takes me back to days when I did the same exact thing. Have I mentioned lately how much I adore these girls?! Little sister is starting to hold her own ground and have opinions and big sister is taking the hint - it's hilarious. Two little personalities. 

Well, that's it for today. The mound of emtpy cardboard boxes is calling my name... Happy Friday, friends. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

These Beauties.

I have these amazingly gorgeous children. 
Sometimes when they aren't looking, I get all teary eyed in thanksgiving for them.
I'm so proud of them both. Even on the hardest days {and nights}I'm so full of momma love for them.
They are my people, my team. 

It's kind of humorous to me that we have 3 females living in this home. 
My dear hubby... bless him. He was raised with older brothers and one baby sister.
There have been days when all 3 of us ladies have been weeping or crying over something and he hasn't a clue where to even start. Ah, just the beginning my love. :) He's amazingly sensitive all the same. 

Summer is here and we are spending a lot more time doing the silly things in life. Picnics in the park, splash parks everyday, swinging and sliding at new playgrounds, riding bikes on the sidewalk, dripping ice cream down white shirts {ah}. 
I'm eating up every minute watching them learn how to be sisters. 

These beauties are just another perfect gift to me from my God. 
Feeling so thankful for them today.

*pictures by the ever so talented Katie Swanson

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

He knows me. He knows ME.

Our beautiful downtown
So I'm reading through this book, "Glimpses of Grace" by Gloria Furman and I know, I know, I keep mentioning it. But, I'm doing it again. This book is making a HUGE impact on me - through Gloria's writing and the truth of God's word that she weaves in... it's beautiful, convicting, and ultimately challenging me in new ways.

While it's not news that I have been battling and waging a real war of faith right now - I guess I never realized how important these moments can be. Like, for real, it is a real all out fight some days to sit back and have Faith in a God that I cannot see with my human eyes. Oh, I believe in God and I can see so clearly how He has worked and continues to work in my life. I feel the Holy Spirit working on me and through me - it's not a question of that. My war is more one of having faith in the promises of God vs. trying to do things myself all.the.time. That moving-mountains-kinda-faith thing. Ah, I want that. But every few days I find myself once again humbled before the Lord in tears asking forgiveness for my doubt and worry and fear - as if I trembling over bank account numbers and logistics is the end of the world. Seriously, I'm annoyed with myself. Then on a spiritual note - I just ache over feeling like "why can't I get this together?!"... mope, mope, mope. Pray more. Mope. Lord, WHY can't I trust?!  So, what a timely and encouraging reminder to come across this paragraph this weekend in my reading.

"Feeling futile over our inability to trust God when we're anxious should not be a source of despair. This is an occasion to worship! How great is God, who is so desirable and worthy of our worship that our hearts must feel empty when we know we're not full of his Joy! How merciful is Jesus, who gave us His righteousness and bears away our sin! If you have any sorrow, if you experience any reluctance over your hardness of heart, do not be discouraged. You would not feel that way if the Spirit of God were not at work in your life. If you were left to your own devices, then there would be no need to feel like kicking yourself because you know you're missing out on seeing 
and savoring God."

He knows me. He knows ME. My heart and it's wanderings don't surprise Him or annoy Him. He prompts me to worship Him because of my failures, give thanks for His mercy, and savor Him.
And I'll tell ya - that paragraph brought liberty to my very soul at the exact moment it was needed. I won't despair when my anxiety seems to rise and I'm done being disappointed with myself... because that's exactly the whole issue - eyes on self, rather then eyes on Christ. Must look up. :)

I'm a work in progress and I just shout out THANK YOU LORD for working on me. So, that's where I am today. It's a good place - not easy, but good. And you know - I think this whole day was just a gift to me anyway. The blue in the sky and an amazing sun was like a big ol' hug from my God. I see Him in those things. Beauty. A morning outside with my girls was just the ticket!

And...He knew I needed these two goobers, too. :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Let's do this.

Sitting here right now, at the end of another busy and full day of family and fun... I'm feeling oddly motivated. I have a kitchen and front room full of empty cardboard boxes, reminding me that July 18th is very near to us. Maybe that's why. Or, it could be the toys tossed here and there throughout our home. How many kids do we have!?  All the same, let's hope this motivation sticks around for the rest of the week. Let's do this moving thing.

The Lord has answered some very specific prayers in the last few days - which, I'll love to share all the details with you come Fall, once the rest of the story takes place. How's that for a teaser? {grin} But in short, we have found a place to live for FREE during our transition time before our new house is ready.  So many little things are falling into place and we so clearly see the Lord caring for us. Praise God! 

I'm having a fun time looking up new ideas for our new home on the ol' Pinterest site. Hubs and I agree we want to get in there and make it HOME right away. Considering we'll get in either late August or early September and already be FULL SWING back into youth ministry... it's even more good motivation. We cannot wait to open those doors up to our teens and people in our church! 

So, the ideas. Ah, it's fun. Here's a few I've dug up in the last few weeks. 

This first one is NOT the most exciting, admittedly. But for a lady who has NEVER had a coat closet at the entrance of their home - I'm going crazy excited over it! All things organized :) Just love the double level of bars in here, and the big ol' pot for umbrellas. 
And staying on the practical theme - this fridge organization will be happening, pronto. Dollar store frames with magnets on them. Genius. How nice 'n neat is that?
In the new place we'll have an actual mudroom/hallway/transition space coming in from the garage and back yard - I have all kinds of dreams for that space. Including the use of my HUGE pallet that still sits in the garage...2 years later. Geesh. Scratch the rainbow colors, but, the idea for coat hanging is pretty great.
And, while you are in there... how about...rolling crates. You know. To catch those outside toys, shoes, random toys straying from their homes, random things found in the van. I love this idea! 

Have I mentioned the deck outside? Huge. We so look forward to entertaining out there and watching our kiddos love a real yard. I'm seriously digging this idea for the outside area -
Anyone have any old barrels they want to get rid of? 

It's fun to dream and imagine. Now, keep praying us through. We have lots and lots to get done and a few more steps in this whole selling and buying process before we can even think about attempting the fun ideas. 

But I'll tell you one thing - we are learning daily what real trust and faith in the Lord looks like. Minute by minute. And, maybe I'll share more about that in the future, too. 

Have a wonderful week. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cousin Love

We had a special treat this weekend of getting to visit with cousins, aunts, uncles and even some time with Great Grandpa & Grandma.  Some highlights from our breakfast this morning...

Ah, these kiddos. :)

 And some time with their new umbrella and winter hat. Thanks Aunt Shan!

Auggie and Great Grandpa

A big ol' bunch of family! What a blessing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Here on 1st Street

I've been waiting to blog for a few days now. My heart and mind have been straying, and I have found myself beyond disappointed in my lack of faith. I know there is grace and that through trials our faith is grown - and I can tell you that the Lord has dealt with me so tenderly, and has proven again to be faithful even in the midst of my faithlessness. But... still been feeling disappointed. I want to be a woman of GREAT faith - an example to my children and encouragement to my husband. Honestly, in the last few days I've been anything but that. I've been so thankful for scripture and constant truth that is being spoken to me through it, as well as the love from my family and friends. I'm blessed to have them in my life.

This week has been better. And I'm learning and growing and thankful for it all. Here on 1st street, we've been busy. Rather then bore you with endless words - I'd like to give you a peek of our life lately through pictures. :)
Our incredible staff during VBS. Including my hunky man on the bottom left. :) 
VBS - my big girl listening to her teacher. 
FREE lunch at the local splash park! So thankful for this program! 

Add to this fun - the SALE of our home, a visit from Grammy and Great Grandma P, and playgroups. We've kept busy. 

Every bit of 2. :)

At times in the last 2 weeks...we wondered if the sun would ever shine. 
We are excited that summer is here! Keeping busy here on 1st street...for a few more weeks. :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just rest, sister

"When you just can't see how you can go on, or you notice that you have become obsessed or overwhelmed by your circumstances, cling to Jesus."  -Gloria Furman

It's like these very words were written down just for me today. As I continue to battle my flesh and mind - a very real war might I add - over the temptation to worry and fret. What you don't know is that we went to look at a house yesterday. A lovely, spacious, more then we even thought possible, house. Of course I loved the fenced in back yard completed by a swing set, landscaped everything, and amazing deck. Not to mention the finished space in the basement, extra living room {with fireplace!}, and that it's a whopping 2 mins from my husbands work. {grin} It's in exactly the right location and meets every single one of the things on our wish list - well, minus the fact it only has 1 tub.

The problem is always paying for things. Ha! Can I get an amen on that? I guess somedays I just feel so blindsided by reality - who knew things were so expensive?! So, while I believe with my whole entire heart that the Lord has His hand not only in the situation but OVER it... this little feeble and frail heart just wants to sit on the ground and cry like a baby with worry. And the thing's JUST money. I found myself obsessing over details and dollar signs and making everything line up just exactly so - in the meantime trying to keep my mind in tune to the fact that Christ rules and reigns and there is NO pressure when I rest in that. Lastnight as we climbed into bed after another long day of ministry and life - my eyes would not close, literally. While my body was exhaused, I couldn't shut down the ol' brain. My husband took my hand and we prayed short and simple prayers - for direction, for peace, for timing. And best of all... that if this was NOT what He had for us, that it would be made known. 3 hours later, after tossing and turning and plotting in the dark - I fell asleep.

It's a new day and the temptation to freak out is present. Even now I'm on the verge of being on the edge. So I cling to Jesus and the promise that He's in control and He knows my lack of understanding in all things - including having faith. I'm fighting hard and reminding myself to do what I need to and then, rest. Whatever your circumstances are today - I pray that you can rest, too. And cling to Jesus who knows our hearts.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy Homemaker Monday

Happy Homemaker Monday
We are in VBS mode around here this week - as we started up last night for this 5 day event. Busy! The kids are having a blast and I think the cool weather may be a blessing in disguise as we pack 180+ students into the church! I'm working in the infant nursery this week and always enjoy cuddling and loving on the littlest ones. :) BIG NEWS for us is... we sold our home! Our closing date is July 24th. Crazy. Right now we don't know what's next - but, we trust in the Lord and His direction for our lives. What a great hope. Happy Monday to you and yours. 

The weather....
Um, I'm freezing. It's mid 60's, breezy, but SUNNY! Summer clothes have been unpacked {it is June afterall} and there is no going back. Will just throw on some socks and a cardigan :) 

Right now I am....
Avoiding cleaning my kitchen. :) 
My friend Emily had a really great and honest blog post this morning about house size and hospitality. I so often get trapped into the same types of thinking... Check that post out here

On my reading pile....
"Glimpses of Grace" by Gloria Furman

Book of Acts in the Bible.

On my TV.....

Nothing. But, David Nevue's new album, "Open Sky" is out now and I'm happily listening to that while I type here. It's wonderful and SO relaxing! Take a listen here. If you are familiar at all with Ann Voskamp's blog - she uses the another of his records for her blog background music. :) 

What I found while surfing the net....
 Ladies... you MUST sneak a peak over at Domestic Kingdom. Gloria Furmans blog. I am loving her book and loving her gospel centered blog. Another link for that blog - here.

On the menu for this week....
Simple, kid friendly meals this week - tonight, angel hair, chicken and broccoli. The rest of the week will be a scavenge through the fridge week :) 

On my to do list

start packing :) 
tidy downstairs
make meal for some friends.
finish up study lesson for bible study tomorrow

In the craft basket....
almost done with my yellow, white and brown crocheted blanket! 

Looking forward to this week....    
My mom is coming in this weekend! 

Looking around the house.... 
I have a yummy yankee candle burning downstairs, hiding the smell of a kitchen that needs cleaning. That's allll  I'm saying. :) 

From the camera....
I cannot handle the fact that my baby is two. I love every second with her. 

On my prayer list.....  
Finding a place to rent
Saving up $ for the next house
VBS to go well, salvation for children
 Bible verse, Devotional...
So so thankful for the reminder in Acts 17 about the God we serve. 
24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Sunday, June 2, 2013

BIG news on this adventure.

Saturday evening we got the text letting us know that the offer that SOLD our house had come in. The number we specifically prayed about was locked in. Sold. Our house has been sold. It still doesn't seem real - especially as the dishwasher swishes, the living room is once again a sea of toys and blankets, and life is still normal. But, it's our reality. Our beautiful home on 1st street will very soon just be another memory in our book of life. And the adventures continue...

Right now we don't have a plan for the next move. We are praying about getting as close to our church and people as we can. We really do feel the importance in that - and are praying and asking the Lord for His clear direction, and we'll wait on that. There is a part of me that is SO excited to just wait and see. I kinda like this uncomfortable unknown...oh, the mystery. The realistic and planner type part of me knows we will soon need to look into a place to rent. ;) 

We have once again seen the Lord work in our lives and hearts in very real and specific ways. Join us in rejoicing! And, might I ask that you keep praying on with us?