Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten Thousand Joys

O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.
--Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sabbath Invitation

Almost nine years ago, a friend gave me a book that I have read several times and have given it as gifts even more-- No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo.  It has been out of print for several years which is a shame but it’s a treasure to those who have it.  Although, I have gleaned much from the book, the most life-changing has to be her thoughts on the Sabbath.  It was the first source, other than the Bible, I had ever read that highlighted the commandment and encouraged families to practically exercise it.  I was fascinated......intrigued and challenged.  I had often wondered what taking a Sabbath rest really meant, what it felt like and looked like in this millenium and thought that surely it didn’t mean to sleep all day-- even though that sounds really good to me at this particular moment.  When I reacquainted myself with the Old Testament Scriptures from Exodus and read that if anyone worked on the Sabbath, they should be put to death, I decided to sit up a bit straighter and pay attention to the print in front of me. 
In His faithfulness, God gives us a vision of obedience and the blessing that accompanies it.  Here’s the picture He gives us through the prophet Isaiah,  “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.  (Isaiah 58:13-14).  Read it again.  Wow.  Really?  All that?  Why would I deprive myself, my family and NOT observe the Sabbath?    
When I think of rest, I think of words like order, delight, stillness, peace, quiet.  I think of times of lingering, savoring and refreshment.  I have to make room for these seemingly mysterious times in my life because “stillness” rarely just happens in a typical day or week.  Apart from bedtime, rest is elusive, therefore, I have to be intentional in carving out a time for my family to experience true rest.  
For me personally, as a wife and mother, observing the Sabbath has placed a rhythm in my week.  David Maines refers to it as the “rhythm of the sacred”-- and if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am ALL about rhythms and things that are familiar and repetitive.  The simple rhythm: spending 3 days anticipating and preparing for the Sabbath (physcially and spiritually) and then 3 days savoring what He did in our lives on the Sabbath.  Practically, that means by Thursday, I am setting my sights on having the house cleaned, the meal (plus dessert) planned, and our family ready to experience rest together.  By sundown Saturday, practically, my goal is to be finished with weekly tasks or at least be ready to lay them aside-- easier typed than done but absolutely important.  No one ever has all boxes on the Master List check off, but we need to be willing to set the list down and enjoy the freedom freedom in that “putting aside”.  Spiritually, it means I have been anticipating being with Him, resting in Him and praying about what to share with the children after the meal.  Around 6:00 our official Sabbath begins as we sit down to a set tableWe light candles, join hands, sing the Doxology and pray, inviting God’s Presence to fill our home and meet us during our Sabbath rest.  Dessert is always served whether vegetables have been choked down or not.  There should be a lightness and a joy surrounding the meal, therefore, don’t set your expectations too high if your table is surrounded by toddlers.  We are slowly implementing a simple, structured time with the children after dinner.  At this point, it can be as simple as a question like, “How have you seen God at work in you this week?”  I can’t wait for the times as they get older when we can discuss the Scriptures more in-depth and hear about their relationship and interactions with God. 

And that is how our Sabbath begins.

We all miss it when we don't get to have it and the children truly look forward to it.  Julia said the other day, "I just love it on the Sabbath when I have had my bath and am all clean and I can smell dinner in the kitchen.  I just love that feeling."   
In America in 2010, we deprive ourselves of very little................ except rest.  Our families and our own bodies are starving for it.  So give the Sabbath a whirl at your house.  I invite you to try it.  Find freedom in it and take your rest.  You will wonder why you waited so long.  
You will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
So be it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


B's stadiums just got a little more complicated and little more difficult to store......

It's a work in progress, but I love his ideas.  Now, if we could just put this much effort in to our grammar lessons.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I get it wrong a lot.  I make a big deal out of things-- good and bad-- that won’t matter the next day and sometimes even the next minute.  But every now and then, I get it right and highlight the significant.  A couple of Saturdays ago, “now and then” came around and we celebrated the day Julia asked Jesus into her heart.  We did it small and simply in our dining room with a few friends.  My intention was to include friends of hers that I believe are in her life for the long haul, granted God leaves us in Fort Worth, and Moms that I believe she will look to when she needs someone other than me.  I think every year may look different-- some of the same faces, some different faces, and most likely, some faces I have yet to meet.  Some moms may be moms of boys or moms of grown children who become women Julia loves and trusts as life goes on.  Some will be ladies that Julia meets through life apart from relationships I have nurtured.  The celebration may be in our home, someone else’s home, at a restaurant, on a blanket under a tree or around a picnic table but the main thing is, I don’t want it to pass without making something of it.  

We kept our “tea” to an hour and each girl and Mom had a few words or a chosen Scripture to share with Julia.  She was affirmed by her friends in areas that are paramount at this stage of life and I loved that one shared that she would have “long life” because of it.  The Moms blessed me by blessing Julia with reminders of what a kind Shepherd the Lord has been to her by placing her in our family and how her inner beauty is what makes her beautiful.  She was encouraged in “quiet deeds and bold actions” to proclaim the name of the Lord.  She was also challenged in regards to her special story of how God brought her to our family and that she can be confident in Him because of His perfect care for her.  
It was quick but oh, so sweet.  In fact, it was so fast that I wondered later if it meant anything to her-- more than a fun time to see her friends.  And then a friend sent me this:
If you and I had been present [when the earth was formless and empty] to view the earth, we might have had the impression that because we could not see any evidence of God's activity, He was not doing anything. Yet at that very time, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (Gen. 1:2, NIV). He was actively preparing Planet Earth to receive His Word and be transformed into a place of beauty and purpose. (Anne Graham Lotz)
I pray that He, Spirit of God, is hovering over her and preparing Julia to receive His Word, shared by dear friends and that Julia will be transformed into a person of beauty and purpose.  So be it.

Now, THAT's significant.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

little things

 I am feeling a little nostalgic today.  It's the kid's fault.  Maybe.  When they were itty, we had a Fun Friday "habit".  If we were in town, I would strap them into their car seats and head to story time at Barnes and Nobles.  We started before Brighton could walk, so with him on my hip and Julia's curls bouncing ahead of me, we would make our way to the "Thousand Acre Woods" in the back of the store and join other Moms in need of a little adult distraction.  Nancy and the other sweet ladies there would serve up Goldfish in little paper cups to toddlers on miniature benches, read a colorful picture book to a rowdy crowd and hand out a toddler-friendly craft, some of which are still framed in our learning room.  Simply fun.

As much as we loved the smell of fresh coffee combined with brand spanking new books, the morning out (there's something very satisfying about putting on make-up before 10 am in that life stage), the Goldfish, and the story, I believe the next phase of our Fun Friday is what brought on the squeals of happy anticipation.  Popcorn and cheese for lunch and SCREEN TIME!!!!  Of course, there is a back story here.  I didn't just randomly come up with that-- it was premeditated and VERY purposeful.  Even five years ago, I had trouble with coming up with lunches.  Popcorn and cheese seemed reasonable to me especially if I placed a big bowl of fruit beside them.  Friday lunch--- check!  And the screen time?  Well, I let them watch, not one, not two, but THREE little shows!  Oh, they were in heaven.  Mesmerized.  Their eyes would be straight ahead with their hands going from bowl to mouth, mouth to bowl.  It was awesome.  I had a whole hour and fifteen minutes to do whatever I wanted!
Every now and then, we have one of our Fun Fridays.  We don't load up for the Barnes and Nobles.  They'd look a little out of place at this point.  We read our own books, get out the popcorn popper and needless to say, watch something other than Miffy, even though I miss that little rabbit.
We were able to do it last week and this still happens- of their own accord.  (I have no idea about the baseball helmet and don't ask me about the sanitary conditions of my cutting board.)

So, today, I am grateful-- grateful that we have the memory of those Fun Fridays and that still it is fun for them.  It's the little things, right?  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boy Birthday #7

The grin when all the attention is on him!

Getting the ball down the lane any way he can

This picture explains exactly why I had Julia's  friend join us at B's party.

I learned by year 3 that children don't care for homemade cakes!  Actually, they only like Crisco based icing. 

Laser Tag was the biggest hit.  Even Julia is wanting a Laser Tag birthday in a few months.  And Jeff, too.