Friday, February 24, 2012

The Bittersweet

This week I spent a few days walking down memory lane.

Only, it wasn't my memories that I was reminiscing.

Hannah and I had the privilege of helping my mom and her twin sister sort through over 80 years of lives well lived.  Back in December, my grandparents made the difficult move from the place they called home for the last 15 years to a small room big enough to hold two twin beds, two comfortable chairs, and a couple dressers. 

The most important parts of their life came with them when they moved.

Each other.

My grandpa and grandma have been together for over 60 years and have been an awesome example of love to their kids (6 of them), grand kids (22? of them), and great grand kids (way too many to count).

I loved helping my mom and aunt sort through clothes (found Grandma's wedding dress!) and several different drawers and closets that contained many memories from so many years (both for me and my mom and aunt).  For me, my greatest memories involve cups with wicker in them that we would drink Grandma's sweet tea from (I think originally they came from the grocery store where they would give them out as gifts), and little juice glasses (which I think originally held shrimp cocktail!) that we would drink OJ from on Sunday mornings, along with our bacon-eggs that Grandpa would make us.  Oh, and seeing their popcorn popper - Grandpa made THE BEST popcorn ever.  He would always have a batch ready for us when we arrived.

Why do all my great memories involve food?

I have to admire my Grandparents for their ability to hold on to those memories that mattered - there were so many things that their children and grandchildren would love to  reminiscence and smile over.  But yet, they didn't hold on to so many things that their home was a huge cluttered mess.  Looking back, I can always remember Grandpa and Grandma's house (first at the farmhouse, and them at their condo) to be a place of uncluttered calm. 

And yet, I kept coming back to the thought that although all these things are great and wonderful and fun to look through, we ultimately cannot take a single thing with us.

What will stand is how our lives were lived for Christ.  My grandparents have been following Christ for well over 60 years and they have shown by their lives Who (not what) they are really living for.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

15 years ago...

15 years ago today a slightly awkward 9th grade boy asked a VERY awkward 9th grade girl if she would go out with him.

The girl said "yes!"

There were some ups and downs, and some people doubted we would make it but...

Here we are 15 years later - working on 10 years of marriage, raising 3 rambunctious children, doing this crazy work of house-parenting teenagers.

Living life together.  Trying our best to glorify God through it all.

If I could do it all over again.....

Paul, I would still pick you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ready for the rain?

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Mercy Me "Bring the Rain"

About 3 1/2 years ago I was driving home and singing this song along with the radio.  As I was singing it I thought a little deeper about the words I was singing and asked myself,
"am I really asking God to bring the rain? Bring some tough times into my life so that I have a reason to praise him through the difficulty?  Am I really willing to take on something hard so that I can find God's glory in it?"

I decided right then and there that, yes, I was ready for that, and even said it out loud.

OK, sometimes it seems God takes awhile to answer prayers and other times, well, the answer comes right away.

Five minutes later I walked into our house where Paul told me he lost his job that day.

That began our journey toward that life that we are leading right now.  Living and working at Gateway Woods has brought some rain - sometimes sprinkles....sometimes thunderstorms with a little flash flooding involved.

We started working at Gateway a little over 3 years ago (our anniversary was January 12th).  Originally we had said about 3 years and we would probably be moving on.  Well, here we are, having passed the three year mark and still hanging in there.

I wish I could say that I kept that same attitude the last 3 years as I did that day in the car.  But sometimes I just want constant sunshine - no more rain!  A drought full of sunshine sounds good during those moments of flooding.

But, just like plants that can't grow without some rain, I don't really grow either.  Rain shows us how much we need our God.  How we need to rely on him through the sunshine and the rain.

Is there something in your life that you feel God is asking you to do but you are a bit fearful of the rain that may come with it?  

Well, if God brings you to it....He'll bring you through it.

Trust me, it's worth it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

OK, I really just want to go back in time for just a moment and smell that sweet newborn smell and snuggle that soft skin.  Sigh.  Then I'll be back, I promise.
 Two.  Years.  Old.
 Seems like she was just born and here we are two years later.  The Grandma's came over and treated us with their presence (and lunch!)  Thank you, Mom(s)!
 I made red velvet cupcakes and we sang 'Happy Birthday.'  Maddie managed to wait until we were done singing before blowing out her candles.
 Madeline, we love you, and are so glad you are a part of our party of 5.  You are in continuous motion, running everywhere, and love to explore every little part of your world.  You are always ready to give hugs and kisses and are sensitive to your siblings when they are sad.  You have quite the vocabulary for your age and make us laugh daily (and shake our heads sometimes, too) with the antics that your pull.  You already have a memory verse that you recite with glee: "Ceasing!" (Pray without ceasing.) and you are infatuated with everything Elmo (good thing you got two for your birthday!).  May you grow up in the knowledge of God and grow to know Jesus as your Savior, that your life may bring Him glory.  Happy Birthday, Madeline!