Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #85

I just crawled out of a serious laundry pile. Sadly, it was overtaking my room. (No comments necessary from my parents! *smile*) I am so happy to be reclaiming my room, making it a haven again. I wonder if I am the only one that tends to take every unfinished project or pile of stuff that didn't get properly cleaned up to the master bedroom. We have had company for the last 3 weekends (and a some time in between) and my bedroom was a serious disaster. I focused on my guests and we all had a fantastic time. I am thankful for that! And, I am thankful that the room is being reclaimed. Now that I got that out (a little blog confessional, I guess), let me share what's filling up my Thanks Tank.

1. Sense of Smell: My house is full of the aroma of banana bread baking.

2. Spring Flowers: Aren't these just lovely? My mom bought these bulbs for me about this time last year. They bring a smile to my face every day.

3. Car Carts: Sometimes I have to go to the store with the kids in-tow. I try hard to plan my shopping when I can leave the kids at home with my husband. Every so often, mostly because of bad planning, I have to take 2 or 3 with me. I am thankful for car carts. We had to make a trip today and cart kept everyone happy. I took this picture a few weeks ago on my cell phone. It was Elsie's first time "driving" with Thomas. (She was all over it and all over Thomas!)

4. Smiles: Smiles are universal. This post touched me this week: Universal Language. After you check that out, be sure to check out the rest of the Pensieve blog. Robin is posting this week as a Compassion blogger from India. Her words are powerful.

5. Miracle of Birth: I held a newborn (3 day old) baby last night. He was still in the hospital due to an infection. He is beautiful. His mom and I talked about how amazing it is to give birth. We marveled at our Creator and how he made it all possible.

6. Sharing: I love it when my kids share. Look how lucky Elisabeth is (this was taken on that same shopping trip). We - I mean, they - didn't get Starbucks on today's trip.

7. Surprises: I am thankful that my parents came to visit us. We had a delightful time. One of the highlights of their visit was getting to go on a double-date with them. Actually, the best part was when we surprised my parents. My mom overheard me talking to my husband about the plans and she assumed she would be watching the kids while we went on a date. Her expression was priceless when I told her I was making arrangements with our babysitter to go out with them.

Although my thankful list on my notepad is long, that's all I am going to share. That's all I have time to share. It's time to get the crew ready for swim lessons.

One more note (mostly for mom and dad), I am happy to say, the master bathroom is clean, too!! (Really!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Deceived by Complacency

As I sat in my car at Wal-mart a few weeks ago I noticed a man pouring something into his gas tank. I was checking messages on my phone when I noticed him. I don't know anything about cars, really, so seeing him pour something in his tank caught my attention.

What he did next surprised me and I have been thinking about it off and on since.

When he was finished emptying the container, he dropped it and kicked it under his car. Then, he got in his car and drove away.

It's one thing to litter. It's another thing to kick trash under your car, as if to hide it, and then drive away.

I was stunned by the hilarity of the situation. It also irritated me.

As I picked up the empty fuel booster container and took it to the trash, I found myself thinking, "Don't judge him, learn from him."

I have been considering the situation for weeks, trying to figure out the lesson for me. I have to admit I have had a terrible time evaluating myself compared the man at Wal-mart. My disdain of his actions made it hard for me to look for a parallel in my life. Did the man leave Wal-mart feeling good? Was he satisfied because he was taking care of his car? He gave no thought to his surroundings. He did not consider the absurdity of kicking his trash under his car and then driving away. He did not think about or care about who might be watching him. At some level, he was deceiving himself. He may have convinced himself that he was being responsible. He may have been so self-absorbed that he didn't think anyone was watching.

I need to be more honest with myself.

Am I so self-absorbed that I do not pay attention to the needs around me?

I often deceive myself.

I can take care of my children and fail to provide basic needs for myself like rest and proper nutrition.

I can spend ample time counting my blessings and forget to spend time thanking God.

I can convince myself that I am a caring person when I have not tended to the details of reaching out to others.

I can spend too much time feeling blessed and too little time cultivating a giving heart.

To others, my wrong-doings may seems just as obvious as the man littering.
Without question, I am an open book to God. He knows my heart better than I do.

I was focused on the ignorance I saw at Wal-mart. The treasure from that moment is realizing that I am not always honest with myself. Too often, I go through my days in a state of unrecognized complacency. The beauty in the trashed parking lot is the renewed desire for me to keep chiseling away at the selfishness of my heart.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Family Circus

It has been a circus around here. We have had so much fun lately that I anticipate my kids claiming to be "bored" in a few days. My parents have been here for a visit. They live across the country and we get to see them once or twice a year. It will be hard to see them go when they leave in the morning. During their visit, we were busy with lots and lots of exciting activities.

Here's a sampling of pictures that show what we did during the last 10 days:

Fishing with the Cub Scouts

Trip to the Portland Zoo

Thomas's Birthday

Jonathan's Birthday
(Yep, he had to have the same cake as Thomas.)

Bike Riding without Training Wheels

Swimming at the Community Pool

Combined Friend Party for Jonathan and Thomas at the Community Pool
(Ice Cream Sundaes and Presents followed by Swimming)

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Race

Trip to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)

In coming days, I'll posting lots more pictures of each event on my family blog (Owen Home).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thankful for Motherhood (Thanks Tank #84)

When I was pregnant with my son, I remember feeling overwhelmed. Motherhood loomed and I realized I could not be prepared for it. I anticpated not being able to handle being a parent. I feared not being adequate.

I had no idea how full my heart would become. I didn't know the joy that would be mine as a mom.

My oldest child was born 8 years ago today.

Here's a picture of me with my son when I was getting ready to take him home from the hospital.

Here's a picture of me and my "Jonnie Angel" this morning before he left for school.

He sure was a sweet baby.

He had a sweet smile this morning when he got a new Pokemon shirt.

Lately, he seems to always have his head in a book.

He really enjoyed books when he was a toddler, too.

Today, I am remembering what it was like when I became "Momma." I am thankful that I am a mom. I am thankful for my children. I am thankful for the fun of celebrating birthdays. That's what's filling up my Thanks Tank today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4 Years of Cuteness

Four years ago today, I welcomed my 3rd son.

He says he is not 4 yet. He insists that he is not 4 until he gets to eat his cake. We will have his cake right after dinner. When he said he wasn't 4, I said, "That's cute." He adamantly replied, "I am NOT cute!"

This boy makes me smile constantly.

Here I am with him right before we left the hospital.

Here I am with him first thing this morning.

Here's my "sunshine" laying sweetly in his cradle.

Here's the little man that thinks it's not your birthday until you have your birthday cake.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Job Requirement: Language Translator

I love the unexpected skills I have aquired as a mother.

The other night at dinner the boys began talking about video games. My 3 year-old started talking about the game with the idiot in it. He was so excited. Yes, that's right he was ecstatic about the idiot.

"The rabbit game has an idiot in it!" "It really does!"

We recently got the Raving Rabits Wii game and there was no doubt that was what he was talking about. My husband and I are looking at each other and back at our son in disbelief.

My husband says, "That isn't a nice word."

"There is an idiot in the game and it is so cool. It is funny!!"

Suddenly, I got it.
My translator mode had switched on.

"Ohhhh, is there an Indian in the game?"

A look of relief settles on my son's face.

"YES! That's the word I was trying to say."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #83

I have a terrible cold. I couldn't smile at the day this morning. I couldn't stay in bed, either, though I really, really tried. I am walking around in a cold-induced fog. It isn't pretty. I am not a picture of beauty. But, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Here in the Northwest that is a big deal. It's Thursday and I have a thankful heart. This last week was a busy week in my house. A lot happened. As I think of the week, I realize I am very blessed.

Here's some of what is filling up my Thanks Tank:

1. Good Medicine
One of these two things made me smile this morning.

My husband was good to bring them both to me. I do not like liquid medicine -at all. He got it anyway and held the coffee hostage until I took the medicine. They both worked wonders for me.

2. Sleep
I went to bed early last night. I slept hard.
Here's my little man asleep on the couch yesterday.

3. Friends
We had friends visit us this last weekend. What a joy! There is nothing like enjoying good company, good food, lots of laughs, and celebrating the joy of Easter. I could write a book about how much these friends mean to me. I am thankful they made the trip. We had such a great time with them.
Here are the kids right before the Easter Egg hunt.

4. Resurrection Power
I am thankful for the power that comes from Easter. Easter is not over. We aren't celebrating the day anymore but the power from it continues. I am focusing on God's grace right now. He gave us grace so we can give grace to others.

5. Meeting with Principal
We met with the principal of the school about David's peanut allergy on Friday. It was a good meeting. I didn't realize how much energy I had invested in the meeting until I felt totally exhausted afterward. I plan on posting about our journey with the school.

6. New Responsibilities
Speaking of the school, guess who is the new PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) President for next year? That's my new responsibility that I alluded to a few weeks ago. I was elected on Wednesday of last week. I am honored and excited about the responsibility. I would have been a part of the PTO even if David didn't have a severe peanut allergy. However, I am keenly aware that this allows me another way to build relationships with the teachers and staff.

7. Date Night
Seth and I went on a date Friday night. To say we don't go out often is an understatement. We enjoyed our company. We went out with 3 other couples. We spent the time sharing stories and laughing. The laughter was refreshing.

8. Unprompted Sweet Sibling Moments
When I gave Elisabeth her basket on Easter morning, the boys crowded around her and excitedly showed her the goodies. It was precious.

Take time to be thankful today. You will benefit from it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pulling Weeds

I have been pulling weeds.

I had pulled on these weeds before only to hear the jolting snap of the stem breaking. When you quickly pull at a weed without digging deeper or loosening the soil. The weed snaps. The roots stay in place. The ground looks good. And yet, you know. Within weeks, that weed will be back, probably even stronger.

My heart was softened by the rain. The showers of blessings that I recognize each week in my Thursday Thanks Tank loosened the roots of selfishness and discontentment.

My heart was conditioned just right. I stopped staring at the flowers and noticed the weeds in my life.

I needed to dig deep.

I have been absent from my blog for much of the last few weeks. I took time off during the Lent season so I could focus on growth. No, no, no - not really. Although that sounds great with the weed analogy. I took time off so I could focus on God. I took time off because blogging is a hobby that I enjoy. I missed it. And, when I did, I spend extra time reflecting, reading and praying. I worked on some "weeds" in my life. I pulled some. I am still working on others.

I am happy to be back.

Whether you see me on a regular basis or you simply know me through my blog, I hope that you see more grace than unkindness, selflessness instead of selfishness, serenity instead of discontentment, and prayerfulness instead of worry.

In other words, I hope you see more flowers than weeds.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Celebrating Life

I am celebrating life today.

I also dressed up a little sweetheart in pink.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Moved by Pain

Last week my son built a bird house at cub scouts. He was beyond thrilled with the project. He used great enthusiasm as he grabbed his hammer and began to pound in the nails. His face had a look of determination. It was harder than he expected to get the nails to go in the wood.

For one piece of wood, he prepositioned the nails and tapped them in ever so slightly before put the wood in place and began to hammer.
He started with the nail at the top of the wood. With his right hand and all the force he could muster, he hit the nail.

His left hand that was holding the bottom of the hammer went right into the bottom nail.

It hurt.

His face displayed a look of surprise and pain.

He grabbed that hand and squeezed it.

I rushed to him.

My son was in pain.

This morning I participated in a prayer vigil at my church. At one of the prayer stations, there were nails. I held a nail in my hand and thought about the price that was paid.

I picked up the hammer. It was heavy in my hands. I hammered the nail into a board.

The sound of hammering echoed in the empty church.

My eyes filled with tears as sadness took over my emotions.

I cannot imagine the pain.

I cannot imagine seeing my son pierced by nails. I was humbled remembering how my son's self-inflicted pain bothered me.

The hammer and nail at the prayer vigil were powerful reminders of the pain that was endured for me. They were powerful tools to move my heart and focus my mind on the price that was paid.

What an amazing love from the Father!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #82

I have been thinking about Easter. I have also been thinking a great deal about my friends whose husbands are being sent to the middle east.

As you know from several of my posts, I have been remembering the events and feelings that I experienced when my husband was being sent to Iraq. I was proud of my husband and his mission. He had my full support.

But, it was tremendously difficult.

I remember vividly the feeling of dread as the deployment approached. I remember the heightened emotions. I remember crying. I remember clinging to each happy moment we had as a couple and as a family. I remember planning out the last month of our time together. I was really careful with the details of the last week. I remember approaching each day as if it was the last. Oh, I didn't want it to be the last. I couldn't fathom that. I also couldn't ignore the danger of the war zone where my husband was going. And so, each passing day drew me closer to something that I didn't want. I didn't want the separation. I couldn't imagine the pain. I just knew that it was going to hurt. It was going to tear me apart.

I dreaded deployment day with an intensity that I had not felt before.

This week I have tried to imagine what Christ must have felt the week before being crucified. He knew. He knew what was coming. He knew the cross was part of the plan. He was aware of the plan from the beginning. He didn't desire the pain.

He knew it was going to hurt.

He was aware of the price. He did not want to be separated from God. He was willing but prayed for another way. I cannot fathom the magnitude of his grief. I cannot understand his willingness. I cannot comprehend the intensity of his feelings.

I remember the dread I felt when my husband was about to go to war. It left a profound ache in my heart.

I think about how Christ might have felt in the still of the nights the week before his crucifixion.

He could have choosen another path. I am thankful that he didn't.

I am thankful that Christ went to the cross so that I can have a relationship with God.

That's what I am thankful for this week.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #81

Thank you for stopping by. My hope is that my thankful list prompts you to spend time being thankful. This Thanks Tank list that I make each week keeps me grounded in gratitude.

I am thankful for:

1. My son's excitement about his faith. My oldest son was baptized on Sunday. This was a special day for him, as well as our whole family.
Here's a cropped picture of him at the very end of the baptism. Check out the link for more pictures.

2. Lessons in unselfishness. I am thankful that this week I had the opportunity to see the benefits of giving to others. I often succumb to the deception that I will enjoy my treasures more if I cling to them. I learned that giving of my heart can make treasures even more meaningful.

3. Playdates for my kids. My kids have played with kids from 3 different families this week. Wow- they have had lots of fun! I am thankful for the playdates and that the kids all got along well.

4. Honesty. Someone was brutally honest with me this week. It felt brutal. They were right. I was wrong. I am thankful for the honesty. Sometimes, I tend to hide what I think to avoid conflict. I am thankful for the honesty of friends and how that helps me grow.

5. Family that misses me. My extended family has made it clear that they miss me. I am thankful that I am loved and missed. I am thankful that they love me so much even though we are miles and miles apart.

6. Books. I finished a couple of books this week. I have enjoyed a few quiet nights reading. I liked the smiles my husband and I gave each other as we were reading in two separate spots in the family room.

7. Changes in Perspective. Yesterday I spent much the day feeling a bit down. There were several reasons for my mood. One little thing that was affecting me was the cloudy, rainy weather that is pretty constant here. Then, last night, I went for a brisk walk in the wind and drizzle. Suddenly, the raindrops and wind felt refreshing. The blowing clouds were impressive. I gained a new perspective on the grayness that lives outside my window.

8. Pretend play. I am thankful for pretend play. I love watching and listening to my kids play. They love to dress up. We have been having a lot of dress up days this week. Here are a couple of pictures (which were actually from a week or so ago).

9. Being witness to the power of a servant's heart. I am keenly aware of how one decision can be powerful. A few years ago when my husband was deployed, a friend gave me an incredible gift. My sister was touched by the gift and decided to serve a friend in the same way. Now I am passing on the gift to a friend where I live! What's more, I found out yesterday that my sister started a ministry as an operation of her MOPS group. They are blessing 6 military spouses right now! Three years ago, my friend made a decision to act. Her love is now blessing people all over this country. I am thankful for her (beyond words) and I am thankful for the stark reminder that taking action can make a difference in ways you cannot even imagine.