Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Tri-State Converges

We started out as a handful of newlyweds, early 20's, still working our way through school.

Paul met Keith through an on campus Bible Study and it was found out that they were both getting married within a few weeks of one another.

One thing led to another and soon we were meeting on Tuesday nights, working through the Word, challenging one another, and helping each other navigate the path of married life + college.



We did that for 2 straight years.  I think the only time we missed a Tuesday was for Christmas break.


I have thanked God countless times for these precious couples He placed in our lives.  God-honoring husbands and wives who have brought about some pretty sweet, Jesus-loving children as well.



Thankful that nearly 13 years later we can sit down and pick right up where we left off.




We now live several hours apart from one another: Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.


Thank you, Davis's, for hosting the converging of the Tri-State.


We were barely 5 minutes down the road and the kids were asking when our 3 families could get together again.

Soon, honeys, I hope very soon...









Friday, May 22, 2015

The end of yet another thing

 
Yada, yada, yada, time goes so fast.

O blah dee, oh blah da, life goes on.

We've all heard it.

Because it's true.

But we are still amazed by it just the same.

It was just yesterday that we were bringing Owen home from the hospital, starting on this journey of parenthood.

And already we are seeing our youngest graduate preschool, teetering on the brink of Kindergarten. 

All 3 of our children will be in Elementary School.

Hold me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Finding direction

It used to come to me a little easier.  I had these thoughts tumbling around in my head.  So many things that I was trying to keep straight.


The only way for me to organize it was to type it out.

Post it here.

My writing has fallen off quite a bit in the last several months.  I couldn't quite pinpoint what the cause of it was.

Writer's block?  Busy schedule?  My life lacks inspiration?

Perhaps a bit of all of that.  But I think the biggest deterrent...

Pressure to perform.  Keep up with Joneses.

I starting writing this blog to first post pictures for the Grandmas.  Owen was an only grandchild on both sides, the grandmas couldn't get enough of him, so I obliged.




Then it evolved into a soothing balm, therapeutic healing, as I would write of the struggles of parenting teens.



And my audience grew from 2 grandmas to a wider scope of readers.

And while I have always strove to keep things authentic, and only post when I have felt the Spirit compel me to, lately I have become a bit gun-shy with recording my thoughts.

And then there's the comparing.  That can just get us into trouble.  Should I do more frequent posts like other blogs I've read?  They are so eloquent.  I feel frumpy.  Theirs is humorous.  Mine feel so blah.  And now I feel like I am back in high school.

Ultimately, I want this blog to do three things:

To be a record for my kids to look back on some day.  I want them to read the thoughts of their mother, the thoughts that she had towards them, the struggles that come with striving to walk in the Light.

To encourage other Believers in their Walk as well.  Realizing that we are living for One Kingdom, while having to reside in another.  And to give hope to those who are still searching.  The Message is there for all to hear.

To point all things back to God.  To give Him the glory for the great things He has done.  Even the hard things that are put into print here can be seen as good things when held up to the light of eternity.  He has the greater picture.  He knows how each of our stories end, because He wrote each of our books.

None of this pressure to perform is coming from anybody by me.  Sadly, I am getting in my own way again.

So, I hope you are patient with me as I work through this process.  I hope I don't lose you to the flashier, cooler, trendier things.  I hope there is something among these posts that has spoken to you, that has shown Light where Darkness used to be.
 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Lifesong Mission Moment - May

Michael and Suzanne say they're just an ordinary family. They help out with homework, share family dinners, and try to keep their schedule straight. While this ordinary family started out with three children, God has been leading them on an adventure...

Through a study of Isaiah, God spoke to Suzanne through His Word, piercing her heart to "seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:16-17) This was the start of a four-year journey leading Suzanne and her husband, Michael, to Ethiopia 3 separate times to adopt 6 precious children.

How in the world could they afford this?

Through the love, support, and generosity of their local orphan ministry, they received matching grants through Lifesong to help fundraise to meet the financial cost of each adoption. The dollar-for-dollar matching grants acted as a catalyst, encouraging others to give, while raising awareness of God's great love for orphaned children. As He had before, God graciously provided:

 

"Through each expensive overseas adoption, the renovation to our home, numerous medical issues to take care, and buying a 15 passenger van to fit us all, God has provided, without fail, and we have no debt from any of the adoptions." --Michael & Suzanne.

What a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness to those who trust and obey His Word, showing that He, as only He can, can do extraordinary things in ordinary families.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

I wish I could say that I have always appreciated the hard work that teachers do.

But, unfortunately, that is not the case.

During my years as a student, they were certainly taken for granted, no thought for all the prep work and time spent outside of the classroom.

The classrooms just come looking that way, right?  With all those posters and creative bulletin boards?

I didn't think about all the homework assignments, tests, project, quizzes that had to be prepared before ever giving them to the students.  They just took them right out a book, didn't they?

I mean, I know they had to spend time grading tests and homework, but they could get that done in about 30 minutes after school was done for the day.

Done with work at 4PM?  Getting 3 months off in the summer and two weeks at Christmas, plus all those other random holidays? Psh.

But that was then.  Sorry, teachers, I was a self-absorbed, naive student.

I've had a few other lessons taught to me since then.

I became thankful for teachers about 6 years ago, while a Houseparent at Gateway Woods, when I realized that their work allowed me to have a few moments with my toddlers.  About 6 hours of breather before heading into hours of supervision, behavior management, and mentor talks.

My appreciation grew as I started to send our own children off for school.  We have been blessed with awesome teachers for all 3 of our kids and I am so thankful to have God-fearing teachers to partner with when it comes to our kids education.

And now this year my appreciation has grown by leaps and bounds, for I am now married to a teacher.


We heard that first-year teaching is hard.  Really hard.  And it has proven to be true.  It's a tough schedule to hold with a family to boot.  But of course, Paul does it without complaint.

I just did the math.

Paul puts in a 12 hour day, getting up at 5AM and not stopping work until 5:30PM (I put in 30 minutes for drive time, but no meals because he eats while he works).  He then takes a break to hang out with the kids and I - which I appreciate more than I can express!  He then puts in another 2 hours after the kids go to bed.  He works weekends, too, putting in about another 11 hours between Saturday and Sunday.  Lesson plans, grading papers, answering parent emails, answering student emails, etc, etc.  Muliply that time, times 38 weeks (August to May minus 2 weeks for Christmas break, which in actuality, he worked all of Christmas break too!) and you get 3078 hours.

3078 hours. In 38 weeks.

A person who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year puts in 2080 hours.

And though I know he will continue to get up at 5 AM through the summer and put in a few hours of work before the kids wake up, let's just say we are all looking forward to the summer.

So, teachers, I know Paul is not the only one doing these crazy hours.  You do SO much for such little pay.  But you didn't get into this for the money did you?  It's those 'self-absorbed, naive children' (like I was once!) that you care about.  And that is what makes you great teachers.  I hope you feel appreciated by your students, their parents, your principal, the School Board. Because you have one of the toughest, exhausting, frustrating jobs in the world.  Thank you.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

April Lookback

I've lauded and praised the attributes that October holds.  And though October holds a special place in my heart as the best month of all.  April is runner up.

 Birthday flowers! Paul and the kids surprised me at work with a bouquet.

Though flowers don't hit full blown until usually the end of the month, I love the emerging buds and green leaves popping through the earth.  The quiet celebration of the end of winter.  Which crescendos into a shout of hallelujah by the time May hits.  Praise the Lord.

April often is the holder of Easter, though it has to share with March every now and then because it's nice like that.

And, though it held more excitement 20+ years ago....it also has my birthday in it.  Meh.


With that, April was a month of celebrations.  We started with my birthday on Maundy Thursday, along with a Seder dinner which will become a yearly tradition in our family.  It was a special, sweet time with our kids, and I loved that it fell on my birthday this year.  We did go slightly off tradition and round out the meal with a birthday cheesecake.  We celebrated our Savior's Resurrection a few days later, thankful that all the grandparents could be with us for Easter Dinner.  Hannah also joined in the celebrating, turning 7 toward the end of the month.


 So, I secretly was crushing this outfit, and wished I had it in my size.  Don't judge.

We got together with both sides of the family to celebrate March and April birthdays with one and April and May birthdays with the other.  I tried my hand out at a few handmade gifts, and though they aren't Pinterest worthy, I don't think they are a Pinterest-fail, either.



We enjoyed the ability to be outside without layers upon layers of clothes and started weeding and mulching and that fun stuff.

 Previous 3 photos courtesy of Hannah and Madeline

April was packed with soccer, added school responsibilities for Paul, and various other things pulling us in several directions.  It's a struggle for us Introverts, Paul and I, to be out and about for days upon end without quiet evenings at home to settle ourselves.  But, at the same time, we are thankful to be useful to others, and in service for the King.  It just makes those quiet evenings so much more sweet.


Looking at May's calendar, it's just about as crazy.  But for now, I tip my hat to April, Favorite Month Runner-Up, and march into May, breathing deep the scent of Lilacs and thankful for the sun that comes up every morning, along with those mercies.  Because, well, without those mercies, there really is not reason to celebrate.

And now, the rest of April...



 The kids discovered their homemade sprinkler with a training-wheeled bike and a puddle.  They caught me in a good moment and I didn't go into instant frustration mode.  Thank you, Lord.  Instead, I grabbed the camera.




  Some of the food from our Seder dinner. The lamb dish I made turned out really good for not making it before.  It most likely will make an appearance next year.




 Part of the ceremony is that the mother is supposed to hear a white veil or head covering.  I didn't remember that detail until we had already started eating, so I used the towel that the matzah was wrapped up in.


 And, because I seem to have started a monthly posting of my chalk wall, here is April's. Madeline's teacher is so creative and all 3 artworks are by Madeline made at preschool.  This lady is awesome.  We are both going to miss her next year.