Saturday, March 31, 2007

Wherever the Wind Blows

Today I have been around people drifting in the wind. Drifting off course by the winds of the world. Drifting farther and farther away from their high callings in life.

I was at a local church's consignment sale, and paying my total to two mothers about my age. I was purchasing some books. When one of the women commented on what great buys I had found, I casually said the books were going to be used for Homeschooling next year.

"Oh, I could never do that. And, I would never want to. I get enough of my children as it is."

(Now, my son, Mason is standing beside me as she says this. What do you think he was thinking?)

The other lady quips out, "I would never be with my kids all day long. It's so tiring. I'm glad to send them off everyday."

To which the other responded, "Yeah, I don't know why anyone would choose to spend all day teaching their children."

Grappling for words that would convey what was in my heart, I said with loving conviction, "Because it's so rewarding."

I wanted to admonish these two supposed Christian women. Their words revealed their hearts. How sad. Our children are a blessing, not a burden. If anything in my life is worthwhile work, it is the time and energy I invest into their lives.

Another Christian friend I spoke with today is comtemplating decisions about which full-time job to take for the next school year. She had been a stay-at-home mother who began working part-time a few years ago. This past school year she started full-time work and comes home constantly stressed out and anxious. This year, she has had numerous issues with her oldest son - some very concerning.

At the same time she is talking about which job to choose she is also sharing how desperate (yes, desperate is the appropriate word) one of her boys is for more time with her. He has some medical issues that, up until recently, were undiagnosed. Because he was not an easy child, my friend had bought into the thinking that sending him to live somewhere else was the answer to the problem. (Where in Scripture does it say that our children will be easy? Or anything else for that matter? God is BIG ENOUGH to walk you through it!)

She kept saying, "I just want to do what is best for my son...He needs his me...He comes first...But we need my income for a new roof (Doesn't God promise to supply your every need? Has there ever been a time in your life when He hasn't?) mom will say that she was able to work full-time, and that just makes me feel so bad (Is your mother the example you attain to or is it Christ?) husband says he'll support whatever decision I make (Excuse me, mister, could you lead a little? Or, is it easier just to be passive? Since you two are married, isn't this a decision that both of you have interest in?)...this is a job that I really want to take to see if I will like it (yes, that is a quote - 'to see if I will like it' - when there is a child struggling daily with his place and purpose in this world)...the people at this job need me (I'm sorry, what are your priorities again? Because you just said your son needs you??!!) "

I do believe in her heart she wants to do what is best for her son, but the voices of the world are the dominating factor in any decision. She is not grounded in her identity in Christ and the high calling that He has ordained in her life. It never entered the conversation that she wanted to do what "God wanted her to do." To be in the center of His Will for her life.

Don't get me wrong. I am not at all opposed to her working. It just seemed to me that her expectations were on the son to "adjust" to whatever decision was made instead of truly seeking God for what would be best for him. I didn't hear any willingness to sacrifice. Thoughts blowing around instead of seeking God for assurance and direction.

The winds of the world blowing in my ear, too. Can I stand strong? Or will I too be swept away into a worldly way of thinking? I pray not.

Everyday, God reveals the need to help our children know their purpose and direction in this world. If their feet are not planted firmly on the rock and their moral compass not aligned with God's direction the any wind from any one at any time could take them off course.

Lord, for our children, I pray that their sails will be set and your guiding wind will continue to propel them toward their True North.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Quotes on Parenting and Motherhood

Just a few of some great quotes out of the book I am currently reading, "The Shaping of a Christian Family" by Elisabeth Elliot...

The process of shaping the child, ...shapes also the mother herself. Reverence for her sacred burden calls her to all that is pure and good that she may teach primarily by her own humble, daily example.
- Elisabeth Elliot - The Shaping of a Christian Family (how powerfully TRUE!)

Love means sacrifice. Each member of this family, in one way or another, has to learn to give in, give up and give over for the sake of the rest.
- Elisabeth Elliot - The Shaping of a Christian Family (I posted it on our fridge the day I read it! I have had the boys read it out loud to me on several occasions!)

My parents dedicated each of us to Him, recognizing their children not primarily as their offspring, much less as their possessions, but as souls entrusted to them to give back to God, confident of His power to guard and keep what they committed to His care.
- Elisabeth Elliot - The Shaping of a Christian Family (Each of our children are HIS, and God has specifically chosen us to model HIS love to each of them.)

Failure to carry through when something has been forbidden may not be called lying, but when a child knows he can wheedle his parents until they give in, he is being taught - "programmed" - not to trust their word. If a child asks why about something he has no business knowing and the parents fabricate a reason instead of straightforwardly tellin him he does not need an answer, they are instructing him to fabricate...Truthfulness is the foundation of faith.

My parents did not think it a good thing to explaing all of their reasons and actions to us when we were small. It is an unnecessary waste of time, for one thing, for the reasoning rarely satisfies the child anyway, but more importantly, it makes it difficult later on for the child to accept what God says without explanation. He must learn to trust the person, to believe the word, and to let the matter rest there, even when reasons are hidden, a hard but vital lesson for the rest of his life.
- Elisabeth Elliot - The Shaping of the Christian Family
(Whoa! How our parenting choices can affect them for all eternity! Help us and teach us, Lord! The next quote also demonstrates this Truth...)

Parents, expressing love for their children by physical warmth and tenderness, greatly contribute to their children's later comprehension of Refuge, Strength, and Helper as attributes of God. The parent's faith in His perfect love and perct sovereignty lays the foundation of the home in which the child is growing up. Their object for him is happiness and fulfilment, exactly what God wants for us, according to His "hidden wisdom, his secret purpose framed from the beginning to bring us to our full glory...'Things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love him." (1 Cor. 2:7,9)
- Elisabeth Eliott - The Shaping of A Christian Family
(What an honor to reflect God to our children in this way!)

The Odor Of Boys

I wrote this today after walking into the bedroom that two of my boys share! UGH!

As I walk in their bedroom
And breathe through my nose,
I wish the air could be filled
With the scent of a rose.

But, as I take in the air,
My nose hairs are singed -
Because with the "odor of boys"
This air has been tinged.

The odor is pungent -
I feel a little faint...
It makes me feel worse
Than whiffing some paint!

Oh head...
It's spinning about -
This smell is worse
Than spoiled sauerkraut!

"Breathe through your mouth,"
I command my thoughts.
"Find where it's coming from,
Before anything rots!"

Yes, my boys have an odor
It's certainly TRUE!
Today I found the culprit,
It's their STINKY SHOES!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Remembering Dates

Dates etch so easily on my mind.

I must have inherited it from my Mamaw though because she can quote every birthday in the family...her siblings, children, grand children, and great-grandchildren - Amazing! Being able to remember dates can be a wonderful thing!

Dates that are significant in my life and bring smiles...
each of the boys' birthdays, the anniversary of the day I met Reid (which is also Franklin's birthday), our wedding anniversary, and, of course, Christmas...

There are other dates that come by every year that cause me to remember difficult things...
in July, it's the anniversary of Reid's mom's death...on September 11th, it's the anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy and of my grandfather's October, I remember the horrible car wreck on the Savannah January on the day that is also Mason's birthday, it's the anniversary of my diagnosis with cancer...and, this next February forward, I'll remember Ansley departure from Earth. I'm not listing each specific date here, but the exact day is forever known to me.

As is today...

March 29th, three years ago, Ansley received the news that it was cancer. "The C word." Colby and Graylyn stayed with me while she went to the doctor.

I remember when Todd and Ansley arrived after hours and hours of waiting. We hugged and cried and cried and hugged.

No one really knew what to say and, for a time, the air was filled with "what the doctor had said...what the next steps would be...chemo options...etc..." Then we fell, literally, onto our knees and we PRAYED!

Prayers filled with emotion, soaking all four of our faces with tears silently dripping to the floor.
Holding hands with each other, bowing before the throne of God - begging for Ansley's life - and yet, the ultimate prayer being that the ultimate outcome of her cancer be what would "MOST GLORIFY HIM."

I remember each of us praying for the salvation of her father...Ansley specifically asking God to use this to draw her father close and make her Dad one of God's children. I remember praying for Colby and Graylyn and the realization that God was weaving the testimony of their own life. I remember, honestly, feeling like Todd would have the more difficult road to travel as he would be forced to watch someone he loved so dearly suffer...Oh, how hard that is!

Todd and Ansley both somewhat naive and protected from fear of what laid ahead. After facing this with both of our own mothers, Reid and I were fully aware of the suffering journey they could possibly now be beginning.

With Mom's bone marrow transplant, and the horrible final months for Reid's mother...we knew how hard this could be. Watching pieces of someone actually die before your eyes...visits to the hospital where you simply sob and sob walking out...placing some shoes into a box and having your mother-in-law say from the bed, "I hope you can use those shoes"...the shell of someone you love withering away to under 100 pounds.... Cancer is horrific in so many ways. However, if your eyes are fixed on Christ - He does sustain you!

I read "Streams In the Desert" this morning, March 29th, and my entry header read, "the day Ansley received the news - read this on the living room floor."

After our prayer time, I read the entry out loud to Ansley and Todd. I won't go into the details, but, suffice it to say, it is a meaningful piece to me.

"What do you want me to do with this, Lord?" I prayed. (Truthfully, I didn't want to spend all day "reliving that day" in my mind.) God gave me His heart and turned my focus onto another grieving soul.

I went and bought 2 Easter lilies because of the passage in Streams in the Desert, a balloon for the "promise of blue skies," PEEPS Easter candy for the knowledge that the sun will "peep" out from behind the clouds, and I filled 16 plastic Easter Eggs with God's Promises for my friend.

I drove over to her house expecting to simply leave this all on the front porch, but God was so SWEET to give me some time with her. I gave her the Easter lily, PEEPS, and balloon while her children and Braden his the eggs for a "Special Easter Egg Hunt." My friend smiled and giggled as she found the Eggs and read each promise. I needed to see happiness and joy. god provided. It was so nice to feel like my pain could be directed to encourage someone else.

I drove home and placed MY Easter lily on the porch. The buds are still closed. I bought them both that way. I know the buds WILL OPEN and BE BEAUTIFUL in God's perfect timing...and there will be "blue skies" ahead for my dear friend, and for me.

It's been a special day, and one I am thankful for. March 29th will always have significance in my life.

"Consider the lilies of the field..."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Weston is SEVEN

Here are some pics from the wonderfully memorable RACING party that we had afterschool on Weston's birthday. Weston wanted it to be an ALL BOY PARTY...It was!!
The boys ran fast and GOT VERY WET in the numerous water races!!

Below you will see photos of Mason & Weston in the "Carefully Carried Egg Race," Franklin in the "Don't Get Soaked by the Sponge Race," Braden in the "It's Leaking, It's Leaking - All Over Me Race!" and Braden catching his Egg in the "Traditional Egg Toss." What a FUN day!!

3 Year Old Memories

Three-year-old Braden keeps us smiling as he communicates in typical three-year-old fashion!

Here are some quotes from this past week:

As we talk about colors, Braden's favorite, by far, is "Lellow."

On night at dinner, Braden informed us that the "moon comes out when there is a 'wotta' dark."

Cantaloupe is always a favorite at our house. It makes me smile when Braden asks for "more antelope."

The Bradford Pear Trees are abundant in our yard. As Spring begins they are COVERED with white blossoms. However, after a couple of weeks, the blossoms begin to fall. When the wind blows, the blossoms can fall and fall...and fall. Our driveway was literally covered with white blossoms yesterday. Braden looked outside while the wind was blowing and said excitedly, "Look, Mom! It's snowing!"

Braden is learnind different animal sounds. His newest is, "Cock-a-doo-doo-doo!"

Last night, the boys had ice cream for dessert. There were only two choices...Vanilla or Moose Tracks. Braden very sweetly asked, "May I have some 'Moose Trash' please?"

In talking about some of his three year old quotes, I had to include a picture of a "three-year-old play day!"

While Braden was supposed to be helping his brothers wash the car, I looked out the kitchen window to find him playing in a MUD PUDDLE - COVERED in MUD! This moment had to be captured on film!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Old teeth, New teeth, No teeth

These pictures crack me up!!

As of today, Braden hasn't lost any teeth out of his mouth. Yet, his mouth appears empty!

Weston seems to be losing a new one every two weeks. The new tooth coming in seems HUGE compared to the others! He is so proud of his snaggle-tooth hole!

Such a reminder that they don't stay little for long!!

Streams In The Desert

"Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Streams in the desert...Because I have given streams in the desert, To give drink to my chosen people." Isaiah 43:19-20

Yesterday I was in the desert.

I grieved all afternoon for many different things. It seemed as I began grieving the loss of Ansley, I began to realize other losses and longings in my life to grieve as well. I cried...and I cried. I cried out to God.

It was as if I'd been hit by a Tidal Wave of grief that continued to swell bigger and bigger in my heart. However...God provided Streams in my desert! He pulled me up and out of my grief into the joy of the love that He has for me!

Some of the ways God answered my cries:

DESERT - The suffocating loss I was feeling for Ansley...

God provided a time for me to share with my dear friend Tracie. One of the only people here in Knoxville that I feel can begin to understand my grief. She has experienced loss in her life to a severe degree. She understands...She knows...

I called and left her a message to pray for me. She immediately called me back. She listened. She shared. Her words directed my heart to the Father. And, SHE PRAYED FOR ME!! The time of prayer was the turning point of my day.

DESERT - Grieving my relationship with Reid...

As I hung up the phone with Tracie, I realized that I had (as Tracie very subtly and gently pointed out) not given Reid the opportunity to share in my pain. As ONE in marriage, I needed to share with him what I was feeling. (Truthfully, I should have actually talked to him first, but I believe God walked me through conversations in the proper order.)

Anyway, I called Reid and asked him to pray for me. He did. I shared with him many of the things I felt I was grieving. I shared that since returning home from Ansley's service on Feb. 18th, I felt as if we had drifted further and further apart. I MISSED HIM! I LONGED FOR HIM! I WANTED TO BE UNITED WITH HIM!

Reid heard me. He hurt for me. He prayed for me. How precious to begin the process of restoration of our relationship.

DESERT - Feeling alone in my grief...

It was now time to pick the boys up from school. Upon entering the van, Mason immediately asked me what was wrong. He could tell I had been crying. I simply said, I was missing Ansley. He understood.

He came home and started his guitar lesson with Kenny. HE RECORDED THE SONG HE WROTE FOR ANSLEY! How beautiful! What a gift to me from the Lord! He played and sang...sang and played. Mason wrote the chords for the music and the words to the song! I felt so blessed to just stand and listen. Swept away in joy for the impact Ansley had made on his short life, and unbelievably grateful that Mason has been able to express himself through music.

The song, if I do say so myself, is quite good.

The chorus says, "I want to thank you...for being Christ to me...for being Christ to me..." Wouldn't we all wish that to be the impact we have on another life??

How precious for God to give me that sweet gift, and realizing that this is a blessing that could not have come without the grieving process.

DESERT - Wondering if I would ever experience the depth of friendship I had in High Point with a friend here in Knoxville...

One of the sweetest memories I have with Ansley is reading "Streams In The Desert" by LB Cowman. Reid gave me the book on Valentine's Day 2004 during my own cancer journey. The older boys were staying with Wendy and Adam and our 6 week old Braden was with my dear Aunt Connie. I was forced to send them away because of my inability to care for them as my body prepared to receive treatment. Anyway, it is a precious book to me.

When Ansley was diagnose with Breast Cancer, I gave her the book. In the front of it I inscribed the following:

"Let me hear of your loving kindness in the morning;
For I trust in you;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul.
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I take refuge in You.
Teach me to do your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
And in your loving kindness, cut off my enemies
And destroy all those who afflict my soul,
For I am Your servant."
Psalm 143:8-12

As Ansley and I journeyed on the suffering road together, I continued to refer back to these verses. "Teach me in the way in which I should walk...Teach me to do your will...For You are my God...For I am Your Servant..."

I continue to cling to God's promises in this passage. God will "teach me" in these current places of pain where I have not traveled before.

The passages in "Streams In the Desert" are about a Godly perspective suffering and persevering in them. Ansley and I would call one another to say, "Have you read Streams today?...I thought about you today when I read the passage....You need to read Streams in the Desert today. Everything is about what you are dealing with...Remember the passage we talked about last night? Well, that same passage in Streams for today. You have GOT to read it!!"

When Ansley and I went on the cruise this summer, one of the greatest memories from that trip was the day she stayed in bed. We talked about so many things. And, I read aloud different passages from "Streams in the Desert." Many days were marked with specific milestones of her journey...the day of diagnosis, the day of her mastectomy, the day of beginning treatment, etc...

All throughout my own copy I have many of the same notations, and also notes about my own struggles and trials. So many of which were intertwined with Ansley's. I can remember reading different entries and feeling like I was reading them for Ansley and how she would receive the words written. Then calling her and telling her to READ IT!

This book was so significant in Ansley's life that it was one of the items chosen to represent her life at the service. Kelsey placed it on a table along with some other things (her cloud shirt, the EAR shirt, smell-good sticks, etc...) outside the sanctuary.

All of this to say, the book has immense meaning and significance to me, and I have passed it along to others struggling with difficult circumstances.

One of the people I shared it with was Tracie. I remember giving it to her the first day I went to her house. (I even think I spelled her name wrong when I inscribed the front of the book.)

Back to the desert of wondering if I would ever experience the depth of friendship I had in High Point with a friend here in Knoxville...

The phone rings...I answer...Tracie says, "Have you been reading your Streams In the Desert? You have got to read March 14th!"

Honestly, I nearly dropped the phone. These were words I had only heard and shared with Ansley in the past... I am awestruck by the answers God gave me this afternoon.

It was God's STREAM IN MY DESERT! What a sweet gift from God!

I went and read the passage. One of the lines says, "Do not be afraid to enter the cloud descending on your life, for God is in it." How I experienced that this afternoon.

I actually made a new notation in my copy of the book. I wrote, "Tracie Ancelet called and asked me to read this. Today has been the hardest day yet since Ansley's passing. How sweet God is to let me taste some of the sweetness of friendship with someone else."

DESERT - feeling isolated from my friends in High Point...

I was feeling like I had lost everything from the 11 years of my life in High Point. I had not spoken to Amy in over a week. Yet, in our last conversation we both promised not to let so much time go by before we called. I was missing her!

She called.

We both connected on our feelings, because we were both feeling exactly the same thing. And...WE LAUGHED!! Oh, that felt SO good!! It's Amy's way!! She always makes me LAUGH!!

We talked about my move to Knoxville. Was I really supposed to be here? Should we move back? Then she asked "How did I know we were supposed to be here?"

I said that I needed to be "out of the way" so that Kelsey and Ansley's relationship could be what it was supposed to be. And, for Ansley and Todd's relationship. (Although I didn't say it, I know our move was also for our marriage and for healing.)

Then Amy said that she and Glenn were doing great. I told her that I remember God revealing that to me at the Women's Retreat. I needed to be "out of the way" so that Amy could stand on her own faith. Not mine.

I realize my response was more about the changes in High Point than actually knowing our place here in Knoxville. I know Reid and I are still figuring that out.

The time with Amy on the phone was "balm to my soul." It was so sweet to reconnect with my "sheltering tree." My precious friend!

DESERT - What is my place here? Am I making a difference anywhere?

Questions that plagued my thoughts. I didn't feel "I" mattered in anyone's life.

Then, I walked out to the mailbox.

Becca sent me a card. I cried when I read it. Her words were soooo humbling.

She said, "I believe you are an answered prayer because I sought the Lord for a long time, asking Him for a friend, a Godly woman who would encourage me in my walk with Him and in my marriage. God is good and lovingly answers prayer.Thank you for your honesty and insight. My marriage and life in general are now centered on God because you chose to mentor me. Love, Becca"

I was soooo humbled. God chose, in His goodness, to use me (???), in my brokenness, to answer a prayer in Becca's life. I am overwhelmed. I know any goodness that comes from me is only the LOVE OF JESUS infused in my spirit. Not me! How grateful I am that HIS love, HIS grace, HIS insight and HIS wisdom are found the words I have spoken to her.

What can I do but fall at the feet of my Savior and thank Him for his goodness.

Becca's walk has INSPIRED ME! I love that she shares her struggles, and her openness about the temptation to go the "wandering way." However, God has given me His eyes to see her as an OVERCOMER with His strength and power. How thankful I am that God has given me a front row seat to witness all that He is doing and will do in her life. Truly, I am honored.

A quote by Edward Bulwar-Lytton she included in the card states, "A good friend will sharpen your character, draw your soul into the light, and challenge your heart to love in a greater way." May we do that for each other in the love of Christ!

God used Becca's words to answer my prayers and cries out to His throne. Thank you, Lord!

DESERT - My unfulfilled expectations of family since moving to Knoxville...

I thought when we moved to Knoxville that I would see my family A LOT. I thought we would "live life together."

In some ways that has happened. In others, it has not. It makes me sad.

However, in God's goodness, and in answer to the prayer I prayed, God gave me such a sweet time with Wendy on the phone. Her heart is one I soooooo admire!!

She lives for the Lord in ALL areas of her life, and God has always used her words to encourage and sharpen me as a Believer. It was the same last night.

I shared my heart and she encouraged. I know she felt my hurt, and hurt alongside me. Wendy is always so faithful with her words.

Up until now, I have not had as much time as I would like with her, but even if that does not change, God showed me again today that she is always there for me. Her discernment in speaking comes from Scripture - not words of this World. I am thankful for that!

What a blessing for God to show me the gifts He has given me within my own family!!

DESERT - Again, my relationship with Reid...longing to be ONE with him...

I was waiting for Reid to come home last night.

Oh, I longed for him to come in and hold me tight. Just a tight hug for his wife with puffy raccoon eyes. His wife who was at the end of herself emotionally from such a wonderfully painful day.

I think I looked out the window 6-7 times after 5:30 just waiting to see his white Maxima in the driveway.

Finally, Reid came home. What a comfort to rest in his strong arms. Just holding my fragile state within his embrace. I NEEDED THAT!

To be in Reid's arms made me feel so safe. My own protective shield. My own place of refuge and safety. In my opinion, resting in the "shadow of God's wings" must feel something like that. Safe. Secure. Protected.

We enjoyed a nice dinner and later that night we talked. We talked and shared in ways we haven't since the returning from Ansley's service in High Point. He heard my heart and I heard his. It was wonderful.

I felt like we were ONE. We were UNITED! We were CLOSE!

What a blessing to have Reid for my husband! God uses Reid's life witness to speak to me in so many ways. Such a Godly man, who goes faithfully to his knees each morning to pray for me. Wow!

Yesterday was full of incredible blessings, but the greatest blessing I received was last night when Reid shared with me the verse he prayed for me yesterday morning.

Reid lifted me up to the Throne of Grace and prayed the following verses over my day:
"Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Streams in the desert...Because I have given streams in the desert, To give drink to my chosen people." Isaiah 43:19-20

In answer to Reid's prayer, God filled my day with Streams in the desert! How great is my God!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

One Month Ago

At 7:15 am, exactly one month ago today, we received the call from Todd that Ansley had entered God's presence. Because we were all still at home, Colby was able to tell Mason and Franklin the devastating news.

I can still remember sitting in the floor of our kitchen crying. So numb... so surreal...

Over the past month, many emotions have stirred in my heart...sadness, indifference, numbness, and mostly loneliness and the longing for a friend like Ansley.

However, I must say that when I feel this way, I am convicted of my selfish nature and selfish thoughts. The Lord has been so good to me. For I do have friends that I know care. I have relationships with people on a daily basis that share their hearts, and I am glad. I have other special friends on this Earth to help me in the hard times.

I think I just miss the immediate sharing that I had with her. She could speak Truth to me and I to her. She made me laugh at myself instead of making me feel guilty when I failed. She helped me keep things in proper perspective and would always help me keep my eyes on Christ.

Since her death, I have found myself almost "pulling back" from others that I would normally would not. I have found myself quickly and purposefully changing the subject is someone wants to know how "I" am doing. I have found myself living life in a daze to some degree.

And, I am frustrated with myself for not taking the time to write to Todd, Kelsey, Colby, Graylyn, and Terry. But, there is just a part of me that doesn't want to. I know that is something I need to do, but I am avoiding the hurt.

There are days - like today - where I just don't want to face the reality that she is gone. I am so thankful she is in the presence of God, but truly I miss picking up the phone and just hearing her voice. There is a void there. I still have pictures of us around the house, and every time I see one, I have to tell myself, "She's not here anymore."

I realize that God gave me a gift during the time that Ansley was in my life. A TRUE friend. I realize that there will NEVER be another Ansley. But I need to allow myself the possibility that there may be another close friend sometime down the road. And, I don't need to minimize the friendships that are already in place.

Finally, I read a BLOG today of someone also coping with personal loss. It validated my feelings in some way. I have appeared to be "doing good" from any outsiders perspective, but I can acknowledge the pain. It is real. I hurt. I am thankful that I have a Savior who know it personally, and who will carry it if I allow him to do so.

God is my Great SUSTAINER in this grief.

"Grief is like the waves of the ocean...It ebbs and flows."

Monday, March 12, 2007

You're UGLY

Another life lesson for one of our boys this week...

Mason was placed in a situation where some other children said some cruel things. "Your haircut looks bad," and "You're UGLY!" stomped on his little heart.

He started the Sunday morning crying at church, but was afraid to tell us why. He held it all in until we returned home that afternoon.

Reid listened and shared with Mason that he was made in the image of God, and beautiful in His sight. Reid and Mason talked for a LONG time and Mason was a different child when he emerged from the room. Reid had spoken TRUTH into him and gave him back the confidence the cruel words had taken away.

Oh, we want to protect our children from the cruelty in the world. Sadly, I am learning that they will not always be shielded. Although difficult, how thankful we can be for these learning experiences. These are molding him into a young man with compassion and understanding.

I am so thankful to have a husband who teaches TRUTH when circumstances like these arise. Instead of telling a Mason to reply with another insult, Reid is using it as an opportunity to impart wisdom and understanding into a young heart. Instead of shrugging it off, Reid is taking the time to listen.

How thankful I am to have such a wonderful husband and father to our boys!

Never Enough Time

There are so many things I want to do...and so many things I probably need to do that I can't seem to fit into my schedule.

Working out, cleaning the house, finishing laundry to where it is ALL folded AND put away, having more quiet time with the Lord for study and prayer, more lunch dates with friends to develop those relationships I so desire to build, more quality time with Reid where we can talk about us & dream about our future, and, yes, even blogging...

I can't seem to fit it all in. However, TODAY, I have just started reading the "FLYLADY" book. So far, all of her suggestions seem doable. That in itself is promising. I actually cleaned my kitchen sink today. (Her first RULE!)

Anyway, I thought I would designate the day with a BLOG. In a week when I look back, I will either be encouraged that I am making progress OR chastising myself for not improving my habits. We will see...

Reid and I have pretty much decided to Homeschool next year. I realize that I have got to have a structured plan to get all of the household chores accomplished. My prayer is that we can find a system to work for our family! All of the boys are willing to help as long as I am specific with my expectations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Funny Sayings

Yesterday we enjoyed some laughter as our boys continue to master the English language and figure out the correct words to say in different siutations.

Weston was hit with a stomach virus on Saturday night. "Yuck" was coming out both ends - Gross!! Anyway, Braden seemed to have a touch of it on Sunday. He came out of the bathroom and said, "Mom, I went poo-poo pee-pee and regular pee-pee."

We also laughed as Braden talked about the "red movie" at the dinner table. He kept saying "The Increbidles."

Finally, Mason and Franklin were having fun with each other and Mason was pinching Franklin in the chest. (I suppose it is a "guy thing.") Franklin was running around saying, "Mom, tell Mason to stop pinching my pupil!" We had an anatomy lesson to learn the difference between pupil and nipple!

Oh, the joy of boys!!

Life Lessons

Some life lessons are hard to learn...

And, as a parent, some life lessons are hard to teach...

This has been my experience over the past week.

Our second grade son, Franklin, has made the choice to "cheat" on an Accelerated Reader reading contest in school. He has taken tests on books that he has not read, and has even admitted to "looking onto other computers." Unwise choices...

Franklin has been in FIRST PLACE for the entire second grade at his school. Because the school is so large, it has been a big deal to receive the recognition at the Awards Ceremonies. Franklin has "beamed" each time his name was called and he received applause.

Thursday night, his teacher called to let us know of the problem. Although, she had addressed it with him, Franklin did not change his behavior. There had been no consequence.

However, on Friday, Reid and I realized the severity of the situation as we looked at a report that stated Franklin had taken 229 Accelerated Reader tests over the last six weeks. What!?! 229 tests?!? Talk about being "blown away."

Reid and I wanted Franklin to realize the seriousness of the situation. We wanted to address this as Christian parents molding a child with Christ-like character and integrity.

We had a long talk on Saturday about honesty, lying, deception, cheating, and the consequences of sin. It was a good talk and Franklin seemed remorseful and receptive to the correction.

Franklin had to write a letter to his teacher apologizing for cheating. He had to withdraw his name from any recognition or awards associated with the AR program. And, what he liked the least, he is required to read for 20 minutes here at home every day through the end of the school year.

This has made me realize how I like to treat my own sin. Do I continue to do things that I know are sinful until I must face the consequence of those actions and choices? Isn't that where we like to think we can stay?

If my remorse over my sin only strikes me once there is a consequence, then I have the wrong view of sin!! May I be mindful of my own heart. May my motives and my choices be honoring to the Lord in every area of my life.

Hard lessons...and I am also still learning!