Friday, December 28, 2007

Little Suprises

We had a very sweet and full Christmas. My favorite gift this year was a letter from my sweet husband. He called it my Christmas letter and wrote in it all those things he wants to say, but often does not say. It made me cry and I felt very loved. My favorite gift that we are giving is some cobblestone pavers that have either the kids hand print or footprint on them. Their grandmother is an avid gardener and I think she will love them. The best gift for the kids was a trampoline that has already provided enough laughter to make it worth the price.
So after preparing for Christmas, doing holiday baking, and scurrying around getting thoroughly exhausted, we have said goodbye to my brother and his sweet family and I spent the day yesterday washing cloths and preparing to leave for New Mexico to see Trace's family. I think it was midnight last night when I commented to my husband that "with 3 kids we really needed to look into getting some extra luggage. I mean just look at all this stuff I have to pack". To which he replied "well, it is ten days". Panic set in...Did you just say 10 days? I thought we were coming back in one week, next Friday. Come to find out that the plan is to come back on that Sunday. I cannot blame my husband, that was the plan all along...and come to think of it I think I knew that at one point in time. However, I had gotten Friday stuck in my head. One week is a long time with 3 little kids (especially when the baby is just recovering from RSV...I did consult with the doctor about going on the trip and he gave an OK), but now we are adding 2 more full days. 2 days should really make little difference, but wow, I was overwhelmed. At that point, I decided to just go to bed and do the rest in the morning, after all we are going to be there for an eternity, why does it matter if we leave an hour or two late.
You know, I used to comment on how some couples communicated so poorly. I mean how could you not talk about certain things, well with baby number 3 our communication went out the window. Suddenly, life was too full to talk about everything and my memory was to fried to remember anything so why even bother talking about it. I guess God wanted to show me that I have no business concerning myself with how much other couples communicate and I will never judge people for forgetting to tell there spouses some details, no matter how much they may need to know them. Our vacation plans are pretty relevant to me and you see how much I knew. Well, I really should be packing right now so i better go. I very likely will not get a chance to post for the next 10 days so the few people who read this just know I will check in if I can and I will return in January...Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I had such a sweet time with the Lord this morning. I decided that I wanted to read the Christmas story and spend some time reflecting on the reason we celebrate Christmas...the birth of a baby that will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

God does not cease to amaze me. I read and was amazed once again by His goodness. I think the thing that keeps hitting me this year is that He did not have to do this. He did not have to come, but in His goodness He chose to come, to be mocked, to be tempted, to be hated, and to be murdered. I just can't separate these two events. He came so He could die. He came to redeem His people. He came to display His glory and His splendor!

Can you imagine being Mary? Have you ever really pondered this. She was obviously a young girl of great faith. We know this by the way she responded and believed that she would have the Lord's son. She experienced so many great things and people spoke great words about this baby who would be born to her. An Angel appeared to her and called her favored one
(Luke 1:28). The angel said this baby would be called great and the son of the Most High (Luke 1:32). Elizabeth saw her and said she is blessed among women and called her the mother of her Lord (Luke 1: 42 an 43). Mary was so overwhelmed by these experiences that she broke into song praising her God. A little later we hear Zacharias speaking of the Christ who will born and says the Lord has raised up a horn of salvation for us (Luke 1:69).

Then the day comes for Jesus to be born, to have His humble earthly beginning. He was born among the animals, He was worshipped by the lowly shepherds who reported to Mary and Joseph how the angel had appeared to them and said I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:10-14).

And how did Mary respond to these strangers who brought this news...she treasured these things in her heart, and pondered on them (Luke 2 :19). A few days later, Jesus is taken to the Temple to be circumcised when they met Simeon. The Holy spirit had revealed who Jesus was to Simeon and he spoke saying "my eyes have seen your salvation" ( Luke 2:30).

I don't know why all these things were said, but I wonder if part of the reason was not for Mary. Can you imagine hearing such a clear message from the Lord about your child? She must have felt overwhelmed by the presence of our Lord and the words that had been spoken to encourage her. She must have known deep connection with the Father at this time. She was just a simple girl and God had shown His favor on her. I wonder if much of this was not to prepare her for the suffering that she too would experience. After all this encouragement Simeon goes on to say that This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too. (Luke 2: 34-35).

This may have been her first glimpse at the suffering the future would hold for Jesus, and as his mother, for Mary. She is told that a sword would pierce her soul also, but in the Fathers goodness He had prepared her. She was favored by God and the scriptures tell us so often that those who are favored, those who are chosen are called to suffer. And she would suffer...she would see her son murdered in a violent and awful way. She would be so torn and hurt in her flesh...but she had this experience this bold encounter with the Lord to fall back on! We can see how the Lord was Mary's Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). How has He been this for you this year? These are the things I will, like Mary, ponder in my heart today. Will you join me?

I will leave you with a few pictures from Aidan's Christmas play at school. He was Joseph and the play was so adorable! It brought tears to my eyes to see the way the Lord is writing His word on these kids hearts. I also put a couple before church yesterday. Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Memories in the Making

We have been busy with the holidays for the last week or so. I have not had much time to post about our activities so I thought I would post our life in pictures. Here goes nothing...

Making chocolate covered pretzel sticks...Does anyone have a better tip on where to put these to let them dry?

Please note the sprinkles in the chair. This is just a small sample of what was on the floor. Is baking with kids really worth it? And please tell me why anyone would ever invent white tiles?

All Aboard! Before boarding the Polar Express Train. Such a good time!

Are they not adorable in their matching PJ's, even if they aren't Christmasie.

Getting our tickets stamped, just like the movie. They loved this part!

See how tightly he is grabbing his ticket. I really think that he thought he would have to go up front with the engineer if he lost it. They kept close watch on the tickets for us all.

Baby Love!

Santa is on the train, where?

This kid was nuts for Santa, He was madly screaming "Santa, Santa" over and over. I am not sure my kids knew what to think of him

Our bells! When we got home Aidan said this was his first gift this year, but Becca quickly corrected him and let him know it was not a present, it was just a bell.


The Boys and the bell

Our red train as Becca says.

We had such a good time singing Christmas carols and drinking hot chocolate on the train. If you get a chance to do this you should. It really was fun...just riding the train was neat. Merry Christmas. More pictures will be coming soon, you can count on that. What is there 5 days till Christmas...Crazy!

Much Love!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Rest...even in the Holiday Season

In our community group this past Sunday we studied Psalm 127 and I found a new favorite verse that I have been meditating on.
It is Psalm 127:2 and it reads in the NLT:
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.
And the NIV says:
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep

What a beautiful picture! God has been so good to teach me about rest lately. He has done this in so many ways, through books, and different verses in His word so it would make sense that this verse jumps off the page at me. Sense having baby number three, I so often feel exhausted. I love my kids and I would not desire my life to be any different, but I get tired. I get burdened by my daily tasks and it is hard to do them with a cheerful heart. I also feel sometimes like I spend all my time meeting the basic needs of my family and that I don't do anything of significance. And this is where the enemy attacks my thought life. I think what I am doing does not matter, that it is not significant in God's Kingdom, but then I remember that as Psalm 127:3 says, that children are a gift of the Lord. These 3 beautiful children are what God has given me on a daily basis to invest in for the glory of His kingdom. Sometimes I think that it would be so rewarding to have a specific "ministry". To have some people in my life that don't know Jesus, but really want to, and to get to spend time encouraging them and watching them grow in their faith. And then I remember...GOD HAS GIVEN ME THREE OF THOSE PEOPLE IN MY VERY OWN HOME. I don't have to go seek them out, they live with me, they are 3 of the most special people in the whole world, as far as I am concerned. When I have this perspective, my heart is more aligned with God's and I can serve them, love them, cuddle them, and even discipline them with a cheerful heart. I get to talk about Jesus with these 3 kids as much as I want and they are excited to have these conversations. They are excited to learn and like all human beings they have hearts bent towards worship. As I point their little hearts to Jesus we get to worship together. I have Aidan who loves to try to understand big concepts, like the Trinity and Satan. I have Rebecca who points out the wonder of God's creation by taking note of the pink sunsets and the stars in the sky. And I have Andrew whose precious smile and laughter can bring joy to any situation. We get to sing to God to our hearts content. God's good gifts provide me a place to serve Him, a place to worship Him, and with the right perspective give me a cheerful heart that is able to rest in Him.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
God has shown me lately that when I am feeling burdened it is because I am working hard, spinning my wheels so to speak, based on my own burden...For His burden is light and His yoke is easy. When I sit as His feet and let Him teach me He provides rest for my soul.
By the way...This post was supposed to be about the unexpected ways God gives us time and rest, but as I wrote this is what came out. I guess this was what I needed to blog about today.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Busy with Christmas

Since I left you with such an air of negativity on my last post I wanted to update you real quick. In less that 48 hours I have decorated the mantel with my small Santa collection and put out our nativity set and a few other decorations ( now if I could only get the empty bins put away...ahh one thing at a time). I have gotten invitations out to our neighborhood cookie decorating party and brunch that we will host. I have baked some things for my husbands work holiday lunch and I did a craft with my kids and 2 other neighborhood kids. We made mini nativity sets (Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus). I think they came out really cute and it was so fun to get to share with these precious kids the meaning behind Christmas. Then, they got to take them home to their houses and proudly display them. They were excited about it and I pray that it brings many questions and godly conversations into those homes. I would say a lot can change in two days...thanks for letting be a grump for a day, I am feeling much better! Here a few pictures of our craft project.

Kids and their Nativity Sets

Busy Crafting

my little artists!

And how can I leave out the most adorable baby around?

Also, I have been meaning to share with you a post my friend, Hannah, did. If any of you are interested in some ideas of fun things to do with your kids she has lots of ideas. Go here and check it out. She also talks about how they have decided to celebrate Christmas...The whole, should we do Santa issue. I don't think there is a right or wrong on this issue, I think that is an individual family decision. She shares what they have decided and I will tell you where we are. Santa is part of our culture. Our kids will hear about him. There is just no getting around that so this is what we decided, we don't push Santa. We don't threaten with Santa and we don't make a big issue of Santa coming or not. We talk about Jesus and the reason for the Christmas and we answer questions or have conversations about other things as they present them. My husband has said it well by saying we want them to think of Santa much the way they think of Superman or Spider man. They are fun pretend characters and we see nothing wrong with that. We play along with Spider man conversations so why not play along with this. We just want our kids to really focus on Jesus and we have found so far that since we talk so much more about Jesus than Santa they are much more concerned with that as well. Kids see where our hearts are and they tend to follow suit. I am not sure what I would say if my kids flat out asked me if Santa is real, but I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there. My guess is I would pose the question right back to them and let them lead the conversation. I may not have described this well so if you have questions or comments I would love to hear them. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bah Humbug

I have a confession to make...I am trying to muster up the Christmas spirit and it just is not happening! I don't know what my deal is, but I am finding myself extremely hormonal and tired lately (No, I am not pregnant!). I usually love Christmas! But this year, I just can't seem to get excited about baking, shopping, and wrapping presents. I think it will come, but right now I am more concerned with surviving the days. Lately it feels like survival takes all the energy I have. However nobody, including myself, likes a scrooge at Christmas so...I decided I will admit my feelings of defeat this holiday season and simply get over it! I am complaining right now for the next few minutes and then I will suck it up and have a good attitude! My kids are huge gifts in my life! HUGE!!! I cannot say that enough, but lately it has felt like they are trying to make me cry. Everything we do is hard. We have to make 10 thousand trips to the potty everywhere we go. We always forget something that mom has to go back inside to get or else choose to listen to much crying. Obedience is a once forgotten characteristic. The laundry is winning the battle at my house right now and I want nothing more than to curl up with a good book and hide from the world and my kids for a day or two. However, I do realize that this is not an option so this is what I have resolved to do...I will finish putting up my Christmas decorations today! I will listen to Christmas music and sing loudly. I will begin working on my Christmas letter very soon and I will pick out Christmas cards or try to get a good photo (not an easy feat as I have mentioned before). I will make some lists and plans. I will set aside several baking days, even though I do not want to bake and I will even invite the kids to help me. I will get busy with the holiday traditions and I will do it with a smile and a happy heart! I know that joy is contagious so if I simply fake it...maybe it will rub off on me as well! Off to turn on the Christmas music and decorate the house a little more...Merry Christmas, no more Bah Humbug for me!

Monday, December 3, 2007

What do I hunger for?

I am relatively new to seeking God through bible study and really trying to discover what the bible says. I am relatively new to the idea of seeking to live a life that glorifies the Father. I am new to many spiritual disciplines. So let me begin this post by saying I do no fast. I have never fasted. I have never even been taught the purpose of fasting. I have never heard someone talk from personal experience about fasting. I never got it and I was OK with that. I mean if no one really talks about it they either must not be doing it or else it isn't that significant. I have heard people talk about fasting a few times, like when we were looking for a new Senior pastor for our church or when some missionaries where trying to decide if and where they should go. But for the average person, it just did not seem all that necessary to me. It must be something for the spiritually elite.
I just recently began reading the book, A Hunger For God by John Piper. God is really challenging me with what I am reading. It says on the front cover that the book is about desiring God through prayer and fasting.
I started reading this book at the recommendation of my husband. You see, I have problem with balance in my life, in many areas, but I am specifically referring to the balance between prayer and bible study. I tend to be either prayer heavy or bible heavy, but I usually am not doing both well at any given time. I am currently doing a scripture heavy bible study so I have been leaning on the bible heavy side. I decided that I needed to pick up a book on prayer so I picked up Priscilla Shriers book titled He speaks to Me. God did meet me through that book and the scriptures I was studying at that time and He worked to quiet my soul and to help me increase my understanding of resting in Him(but that is for another post). I knew when I was done with that book that I desired to continue to read on the spiritual discipline of prayer. When I mentioned this to my husband he recommended this book by John Piper. Even though I wasn't all that excited about the fasting stuff I decided to read it and figured I would learn something. I am a little over halfway through the book and God is challenging me. I thought I would share some of the quotes that I have been thinking on.
*** The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable and almost incurable. Page 14
***If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestations of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world, your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. Page 23
***From time to time we need to test ourselves to see if we have begun to love his gifts in place of God. Page 45
***Fasting is a way of revealing to ourselves and confessing to God what is in our hearts. Where do we find our deepest satisfaction - in God or His gifts? Page 58
***The question is: having tasted the goodness of God in the gospel, how can I maximize my enjoyment of him, when every moment of my life I am tempted to make a god out of his good gifts? Page 62
***The absence of fasting is indicative of our comfort with the way things are. No one fasts to express how content they are. People only fast out of dissatisfaction...The absence of fasting is the measure of our contentment with he absence of Christ. Page 93
***Are we settled into this world so comfortably that the thought of fasting for the end of history is unthinkable? Page 95
***Do you love Jesus so much that His coming would be the greatest thing you can imagine?...How would you feel about being told that fasting for the King's coming may reflect how much you want he Bridegroom to come?...Do we want the appearance of Jesus more than we want to finish our career and family plans? Or our next meal? Page 96
I do not know if these strike you hard, but I must confess they do me. Especially the questions at the end, the ones about Christ's return. Just reading the question about His coming being the greatest thing I can imagine brought tears to my eyes and I must admit it is not because I can give a resounding yes! Yes, I do get discouraged by this world. The evil in this fallen place is often hard to look at and all to often I simply choose to look the other way rather than deal with it. I mean, rape, abortions, and the physical persecution of God's elect around the world are hard things to stomach. Sometimes, I truly ache for Christ's coming. I long (at times) to be in Christ's presence, where pain and sorrow will be no more, where sin will no longer reign in my life or those around me, and when God's glory will shine brighter than I can even fathom. I do eagerly await that time, but if I am honest, the truth is that I am stuffed by the gifts of this world. Good things, like my husband and kids, comfort of my home, and food in the pantry. So often this life satisfies me. Yes, part of this satisfaction is my relationship with Jesus Christ, but much of it is from the goodness of the gifts He has given me that all to often shift and become idols in my heart. Lord forgive me for not be able to pray often enough "Thy Kingdom Come" and really mean it!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Favorite Tradition

I just took down our annual Thanksgiving Tree. For the last three years we have made a tree from sticks and paper leaves and we write the things we are thankful for on the leaves at dinner on the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Then I take down our tree and copy everything onto a piece of paper that I keep. It is one of my favorite family traditions that I hope to continue for many years to come! This year the kids felt a need to list as many things as they could think of, which was great, especially since Thanksgiving snuck up on me and we only had three nights to do our leaves. Here are some of my favorite things that were mentioned (there are many more but I will only bore you with a few):
My list included hearing Aidan and Rebecca sing songs to God, the kids laughter and smiles, the new addition to our family this year (Andrew), and Aidan's newly discovered artistic ability.
Aidan is thankful for his family, himself, the oldest member of our family, our money (aka daddy's job), Andrew laughing, UNO, Jesus, and meat and cheese sandwiches (Like father like son).
Rebecca is thankful for going pee pee and poo poo in the potty, PB&J, Pink and purple, the stars, Daddy, Aidan, Andrew laughing, Mimi, Papa, Gran, and Bob (did you notice whose name is not on the list because I did), and a cookie (my kind of girl). She also spontaneously transferred the idea of thankfulness to prayer and insisted I write that Becca prays for Andrew, Becca, and Aidan to obey mommy and daddy. I thought that was sweet because when we pray we give thanks to God so it made perfect sense to her to pray for them.
And Last was daddy's leafs which, are always my favorite. He is thankful for competitive Uno, Cinderella's who wake up early, Aidan's "awesome God", and eyes that stay blue. Sweet Huh? I hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving! We have so many gifts, I cannot name them all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Baby Dedication

This past Sunday was baby dedication Sunday at our church. We have never participated in a baby dedication with any of our children so we decided that we wanted to dedicate all three of them. It was a really sweet time for me. Mimi (my mom) was able to come and be a part of this special day for our family which meant a lot to me. The church put up a picture of the kids on the big screen. I told you in a previous post that it is so hard to get 3 kids to look and take a decent picture so above is the one we used. We tried and I probably took close to 40 pictures and this is the best we got? Oh well, they will all be older one day.
Anyways, back to the point. The kids each got a small bible with their names on it and Aidan and Rebecca just ate that up. Rebecca was especially excited because her bible was pink. The purpose of the baby dedication is to offer our children back to God, after all He is their Creator. He was just gracious enough to allow me to be a part of the process. It is also a time for us to commit to raising them in the knowledge of the Lord and for the congregation to commit to supporting and praying for us during the process. All this got me thinking back over the years and the way that God has changed my heart. He is Good, all the time!
The couple people who read this are probably familiar with my story, but this time has made me want to reflect a bit. So here goes...I went to Texas Tech for college, largely because it was far away from home and I had some need to prove my independence or something? While I was there I saw how weak I was. I was partying at every chance I got. It took me a while to make close friends and for the first time in my life I struggled with knowing who I was and I began asking all those life questions. Ultimately I felt empty. As I sought something deeper, something bigger, God began to lead me to Him, however distorted my view of Him was. He is so good to meet us where we are and carry us until we can meet Him face to face and begin to be changed. I had been a church going christian as a kid, but I guess the foundation was not solid and I questioned everything. I would say I was pretty close to the belief that all roads lead to heaven, because there is only one God. I never denounced Christ but I was not following His teachings or placing my faith in Him. I might as well have denounced Him because I was basically saying His death on the cross was insignificant. Who am I to say such a thing, and yet God still loved me and still guided me. His grace overwhelms!
I did look for something spiritual. I quit drinking and I prayed to God. I used some devotionals that taught spiritual principles, but I did not read my bible and I did not really know Jesus Christ.
While I was at school I met Trace who would become my future husband. We started dating. He became my best friend. We spent much of our time together and we got engaged on Christmas Day in 2000. One month later we found out that we were pregnant. That threw a huge kink in my plans. I was going to graduate in May and I had just taken the LSAT and was planning to go to Law School. How could I have a new baby and go to law school? Trace still had another whole year of school, how was this supposed to work? We started going to the doctor and I got excited about this life that was growing in me. Yes it messed up my plans, but I begin to believe that it was going to be OK. I believed that God was part of creating this baby so He would provide.
We got married on April 7th. On April 13th I was in the hospital to deliver the baby that we lost. I was 18 weeks along though they said the baby measured to be about 15 weeks. I was angry! How could a loving God allow this to happen? Was this some kind of sick game? But again God was good. He allowed me to cast my anger on Him. I do not believe that it was the right response, but it was my response. I vividly remember praying and saying, Look, I am mad at you and if I thought I could get through this on my own believe me I would try, but I know I am weak. I need you to carry me through this. It was this huge point of surrender! I quit trying to fight Him.
I do not know why the circumstances of life happened the way they did. I am not sure I know all the reasons God allowed this pain in my life, but I do know that He used this. He changed my heart, he changed my plans, He changed my goals. I said above I wanted to be a career woman, but now I wanted nothing more than to have a family. I never expected to be a stay at home mom, now I desired desperately to have babies and be at home with them. About 9 months later I was pregnant again with Aidan. Trace still was in school but would graduate soon and we were hoping he would get a job and I could stay at home with the baby. When it came time for him to look for work the market was low and he had trouble finding a place to work. He was offered a job here in Tyler, against my wishes to never live in Tyler again, he accepted and we moved to Tyler. We had Aidan and God used this teeny little baby to break me into pieces. I became overwhelmed with the knowledge that this was God's child and I would be held accountable to Him for the way that I raised him. I wanted Aidan to know Jesus Christ and to have a real relationship with Him. I had know idea how to aid in the process of making this happen. I was lost, so I sought Him hard. I prayed for Aidan and I asked God to teach me. I fell before the King and I told Him, I can't do this. If I am going to be the mother to one of your most precious children you are going to have to show me how. I am lost, I am afraid to move. Teach me. Lead me. Again, God is Good, all the time! He loved my offering of brokenness! He loved the fact that I surrendered and gave myself to Him to be taught.
I very quickly learned that my kids would never buy into this God thing if I didn't buy into it 100%. If I did not live authentically before my kids then they would never be able to live authentically. My prayers shifted to being more about changing me and less about my kids at all. I had to be changed. To be made into a new creature. God is doing that! He is faithful! I pray to see how much He loves me. To know Him intimately. I have to know Him if I am going to teach my children who He is. As I have gotten a taste of God, I want more. I want to live and breath Jesus! I always want to seek Him more. I pray that He never lets me loose my focus. That he always points me to Him. After all, He has been Lord in every step of this process! He is Good all the Time!
I think about Trace and myself. I think about the fact that we were two young foolish kids when we met, yet God had His hand on us. We have done so many things wrong by most standards, but God still loved us back to Him. We were pregnant when we got married, we did not go to church and we did not desire to. We were lost in many ways. We did not know better. God is teaching us. He is full of Grace, Love, and Mercy! He is good all the time! It blows me away to look back and see how God works. Is He alive and active? I see Him working everyday. The fact that we are active members of a church did not happen because of us, it was Him. The fact that we pray with our kids did not happen because of us, it was Him. The fact that we are seeking to train our children in the knowledge of the Lord did not happen because of us, it was Him. We are not model Christians, we are sinners who desperately need God's Grace, as much now as in the past. He is faithful to give that to us. He is good, all the time!
Maybe this explains why this was such a special day for me. I feel like we have already dedicated our children to the Lord, but this was a chance to do it publicly. We realize they are His and we (to some degree) realize what a mighty job He has given us. He has asked us to raise them, to train them, to shepherd them. They are such a special flock. I thank God for them daily!

Aidan checking out his new bible.
Becca and her new pink bible.
The family
Daddy and Andrew

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Doctor's Office

Just saying the words Doctor's office makes my stomach knot up a little. It is not on the top of the list of my favorite mommy duties, that is for sure. So yesterday it was Andrew's turn to go in for his 6 month check up. Can you believe it? 6 months already? Well it was a crazy visit. His appointment was at 3:30. We sat in the waiting room until nearly five. We were then brought into the small dr's room, to wait again. Fun times already!

The nurse came in and did weight (he is 18 lbs.!! HUGE BABY) and all the stuff they do including list of questions to ask. She ran through her questions and asked if he could sit up on his own for a few seconds, to which I responded No, He pretty much falls straight over and then I proceeded to sit him up to show her. First of all, she really did not care! It was way too late on a Friday afternoon, but then what did he do. He put his little, chubby, dimply hands on his legs and he sat up for about 5 seconds. Are you kidding me? These are the types of experiences I have with baby number 3. I really do play with him, although not knowing he can sit up is kind of a big deal. Poor guy!

Finally at 6:00, our Dr. entered. Now he is a great doctor, but he is one of those people that he is so smart that he is a little eccentric. With it being 6:00 on a Friday, he was a little off (even for him). He did his little exam and made a few strange comments (which I have grown to expect from him), but this time I think he was exhausted and he forgot to sensor some of them. He told me "I know what a normal baby looks like and I know what a normal adult looks like, I just hope this one doesn't make you crazy in the process of getting from one to the other?" Now what is that comment designed to do? Is that supposed to encourage me? Then a few minutes later he looked at Andrew and said "Now, that is a big head" to which I replied "Did you just say my baby had a big head?". I could not help but laugh. I was so surprised that he said that. It is a good thing that I am not all that easily offended, but I was shocked. Now for those of you who are nodding in agreement that Andrew has a big head I will have you know that he checked it and it is in the 25th percentile, while his weight and length are both 50th percentile. So actually he has small head.

After this adventure at the dr's office we finally left and I got home about 6:30. I really did not feel all that frustrated, but something happened to me when I walked in the door. We were supposed to run an errand that I really did not want to run and I walked in the door to find everyone, but me having some type of enjoyable day and none of them were ready to go. Something in my composed, got it together self snapped and I turned into mean mommy. Rushing the kids around to get dressed and shoes on, sighing in frustration, and getting them in the car. Then I proceeded to whine and complain for about 5 minutes. Finally, I just shut my mouth and closed my eyes until I could regain control. I have actually used the old phrase if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all with my kids. Many times it is mommy that needs the refresher. Thankfully my kids and my husband are quick to forgive and the whole evening was not a total disaster.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Parenting Thoughts

I recently finished a class at our church on the book Shepherding a Child's Heart. We have read the book before, but it was definitely and opportune time for a refresher. After finishing the class and the book, I purchased Don't Make Me Count to Three and I have gotten pretty close to finishing it as well. It has been helpful and I love gaining the insight that others have on biblical parenting. I do not think that there is one absolute way to parent but Trace and I have chosen to use the bible as our guidelines in parenting. The bible has so much to say about our attitude and heart issues. What better source is there than God's word.
So for the past few months we have doubled our efforts on addressing the heart issues of the kids based on what the bible has to say about them and using biblical language when we discuss these heart issues.
In Don't Make Me Count to Three the author addresses the need to correct sinful behavior with positive behavior. We cannot simply say that is wrong and not show them or teach them what is acceptable to do instead. That leads to the reason for this blog entry...I have been using the word servant lately when I am talking to Aidan and Rebecca. We talk about how they often come from a selfish heart and attitude when they argue over getting their way and we have been looking for opportunities to serve one another. I am seeing some fruit from this. Today, Aidan asked Rebecca to play cars, she said no, so he said what do you want to do. She said play Uno and he agreed at which point he turned to me and said see I am being a servant, I am playing Uno even though that is not what I want to do. At first I was excited and my heart swelled a bit. You may even say I felt a little prideful, until a few minutes later Aidan sought out another opportunity to give of himself and again he announced how servant like he was. This happened a third time within 15 minutes. It sure teaches me of the power of praise, but also the desire to please man. How do you praise your children and encourage positive behavior without teaching them to do things with the motivation of pleasing man and not to please God, or is this teaching them behavior that is pleasing to God? I feel like I am walking the parenting tightrope. I have to be careful to not lean too far either way. I know that I catch myself doing things at times that are more strongly motivated by the desire to please/impress others rather than to obey God and please Him. It is natural for our kids to want to please us, but at what point are we teaching our kids that they exist to make mommy happy. That is not what I believe at all. I want them to experience my unconditional love, that is not dependent on doing right or wrong. If you have any feedback I would love to hear it.

1. The other day we were driving down the street and Rebecca said look mommy, it's a Dr. Firetruck (Rather than an ambulance).
2. Last night we were outside and Rebecca looked up in the sky and said with amazement, look mommy God made more stars!
3. Joy lights up in Rebecca's face when she announces that there is pink in the sky and pink is my favorite color (during sunsets).
I desire to be this easy to please and amaze!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Details, Details

This weekend we went to visit my brother and his wife for my nieces birthday. Lynsey just turned 5 and she celebrated by having a HS Musical party. She came as the star of the show, dressed up as Gabriella (I think that is her name). The kids danced around to the music some but mostly they just played. Above is a picture of some of the kids from the party and then below are a few of the kids hanging out after the party in the back yard. After the party was over we got to hang out and eat dinner with family. My parents and my sister were all there and it was nice to just sit together and relax.
Lynsey and Aidan are about 3 weeks apart and they play together well and for the first time this trip the two year olds, Rebecca and Lauren, seemed to notice each other. However, Lauren is still pretty independent and likes to do her own thing and Rebecca is much more concerned with the big kids. For some reason she seems to think she is big.

We got back late Saturday night and went straight to bed, so on Sunday we checked the mail and we got a letter that said our insurance company has denied our claim for Andrews helmet for the second time. It is frustrating because he meets the criteria on paper. He measures within their measurements, but they are saying the pictures are not good enough I guess? Who knows, but we will have to appeal the claim once again so possibly in another 30 days we will have another answer. We have also received some pretty major hospital bills from my delivery of Andrew that the insurance company is refusing to pay and the hospital is saying they mispayed. So they are fighting that out and we are stuck waiting with a large bill wondering what we are supposed to do. Please pray with us over this if you think of it. Insurance issues are just not fun and we do not want to get all caught up in the stress of this. My prayer is that once we do our part that we can simply rest in God and that we will not worry or obsess about this. We know He is our provider!!! We have to trust Him with this. I seem to think with certain things in life I can handle it on my own, but I get frustrated and discouraged and wonder why. It is always because I did not trust God. I choose to trust! I choose to not let worry take over! God will provide! He is Good. He does not promise that things will not get hard, but He does promise to always be with us. He is the God of my salvation, the Lord God Almighty! What better place is there to rest?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Move Over Kids...Momma's Moving Back In

This summer was the summer of many disasters (or would the more spiritual term be trails). We had car trouble and decided we needed to by a new car (enter the minivan stage of my life and I LOVE IT!). Our Hot water heater needed to be replaced. We had plumbing problems (some of which we have yet to fix). Our AC went out in the middle of August in Texas for 3 WEEKS (talk about disaster)!!! When we finally got someone out to replace the unit that is in the attic, they lost their footing and fell through the ceiling in the garage. Luckily no one was injured, but we had insulation in all sorts of strange places and a hole for several weeks. Finally the air was fixed, the hole was repaired (and the guy who did the dry wall left an even greater mess), and life was back to normal.

Except for the fact that somewhere in this process the garage door came partially off the track and we thought for a moment that the new mini van was stuck inside the garage. We got the door up, back on the tracks, and moved the van out of the garage until we could get someone out to fix it (which is one more thing on the to do list). With the van out of the garage the kids had free reign and they gradually took over the entire thing with their ride-ons and bikes and I was left wondering what a nice and tidy garage looked like? How did we ever fit everything in here with the car and how in the world will we ever find the time to clean up all this insulation and dry-wall remnants? SIGH!!!

Well, today was the day! Small victory, but a sweet victory for me. Today, Trace took Aidan to school, I fed Becca and Andrew and we headed outside with the mega saucer for Andrew to play in. He got tired and I gladly put him and bed and continued working right until time to get Aidan from school. We all piled in the beloved minivan and picked him up. When we got home we had lunch, cleaned up the table, and headed back outside for a few more hours of playtime for the kids and work time for mommy. I finished the garage and moved the mama mobile back into the garage. At which point it was time for nap (thank God for naps). The kids took a nap, I took a bath. AHHH! Victory and time for relaxation! Such a sweet day.

This may not seem like much to many of you, but I can always tell the state of chaos in my life by the state of chaos (or stuff) all over my house. For the past several months, it has been chaos!!! We may not have a perfectly clean house on the inside, but I can always choose to sit in the garage and taste the sweetness of the small successes in my life. Today...Life is Good!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Just Because

I have spent the past several days thinking about the way it felt to receive our dinner treat this past Saturday. If you do not know what I am talking about you can read the entry below, but I will quickly recap...Trace and I went to dinner and one of the guys he works with, Wade, saw us and picked up our tab. He was gone before we even knew. We were simply told we owed nothing. We couldn't argue, object, or even say thanks. We simply had to accept and do nothing in return. So I have been thinking, why is it so hard to accept a gift like this?
As I pondered I had 2 other scenarios come into my mind in which I was blown away by the kindness of someone else! Times when I really felt uncomfortable just accepting the gift I had been given. One of those was this summer when we received a package from some missionary friends of ours (yes, Maggie and Josh if you are reading, I am talking about you). It was a table runner and place mats from Africa where they are. I would not expect it was a huge financial cost to purchase them, but I felt unworthy. I mean we are supposed to support, encourage, and pray for them. They are not supposed to do things for us. It wasn't Christmas time or any other special occasion. Why would someone do that for me? The other situation is when a group of ladies I worked with at the Grace counseling center took me to lunch as my last day approached. They also surprised me with a baby gift (I was pregnant with Andrew). I was not expecting a gift of any kind. I was embarrassed. I did not know how to receive it graciously and part of me just wanted to return it. Why does this go against every part of my nature? Why do my insides want to deny the gifts that I know I don't deserve? What are these gifts that are so hard to accept? They are gifts of grace.
It's the Wade's of this world who pick up your tab, just because. It is the missionary friends who send you a gift, just because. It is the women of this world that God surrounds you with who give you a baby gift, just because. Asking nothing in return, not because they have to, or even because they are expected to, but just because. It is the man on a cross who poured out His blood to cover my sin while I am still a sinner so that I may taste eternal life. Not because He had to, definitely not because I deserve it, but because of who HE is. These are the gifts that are hard to accept.
Grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?
(Most of you probably recognize this popular hymn...I stole a few parts)
Were these small, simple acts of kindness and love? To some people they would be, but to me they are divine acts sent by my Heavenly Father to teach me of His Grace, His Might, His Sovereignty, and His Goodness. Lord, I will rest in your Grace. I accept your Grace. I praise you for the blood that was poured out on my behalf. It is available...just because.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me!

I know it is a selfish title but, it is my blog. Last Thursday, November 1, I celebrated my 29th birthday. I celebrated the special day by cleaning up pee on the floor many, many times. If you remember that was the 1st day of potty training. I actually did not even think about the fact that it would be on my birthday when I started planning and by the time I realized it I had already decided that this was the best time to do it. No turning back!!! So I spent most of the day driving my toddler crazy and bringing her to the point of exasperation many times as I followed her around an forced her to sit on the toilet. By bed time I was exhausted and so I went to bed early (or more accurately fell asleep on the couch and went to bed about 1 a.m.). Yippee! I told you my life was exciting!!!!
Actually, do not let me lead you to believe that my husband did nothing special for me. He outdid himself. I tell him things I like or would like all the time and so often I think he is not listening, or worse he does not care, but that is not the case. He told me last Saturday that he needed to get a few things and wanted to run some errands. We went to Dillard's where he asked me to help him find some dress slacks. He is super casual, right down to his khaki pants and I have told him many times that it would mean the world to me if he would dress nicely and take me a real date where he is trying to impress me. He then told me that he wanted to go out for my birthday next Saturday and (don't miss this part) HE ALREADY HAD GOTTEN A BABYSITTER! WOW! I don't have to find a babysitter! Then he gave me a gift card from Dillard's that he had already gotten. So in summary, we went shopping together for him to get something that I LIKE to wear on our date that HE already had gotten a babysitter for and then he gave me a gift certificate for me to go shopping for myself. I was feeling pretty special and on top of that he got me some perfume and gave that to me on my actual birthday.

So when Saturday night rolled around I decided I wanted to go to Outback for steak. We dressed nicely for each other, went to eat, and we did not talk about the kids the entire night (actually we talked about them very little). It was so nice, and to top it all off one of the project managers that Trace works with was there and he decided to surprise us by picking up the tab on our bill! What a surprise to hear that we owed NOTHING! We were both blown away. Thank you Wade!!! It was such a great evening! I felt very special and loved!
So what is it like to be 29...not much different than 28, but it has gotten me to stop and reflect a bit on this past year. I have had my third child, graduated from graduate school, and attended my 10 year High school reunion. All of those are pretty crazy! It has been 10 years since I graduated from High School and I think I can say I have grown up quite a bit from the rebellious, selfish 18 year old I was to what I am today. Sad thing is that I still struggle with with feeling rebellious and I am still pretty selfish most of the time. There is just this part of me that does not want to submit to authority of any kind. It can make life hard when I know the right thing to do but every fiber of my being is screaming for me not to do it. Thank God some of that obvious blatant rebellion is gone, but it is still a struggle at times in my marriage and in my other relationships. As for the selfishness, I don't know that I will ever rid myself from that. Every time I get frustrated with one of my kids or my husband it can generally be linked back to my selfish heart. I HATE THAT!! I am thankful for the fact that God promises to finish the work He has begun in me.
So it has been 10 years since H.S. and 5 years since I became a mom. That one blows me away! What a journey! What a joy! Yes, there are frustrations but there is so much joy!!! God, I thank you for the gift of motherhood!! This is but one more milestone that shows me how I have been changed by God. I cannot believe how much change can come about in 10 years, but particularly in the last 5. Heck, in just one year my life has changed! I am looking forward to what the future holds and I hope to rid myself even more of this selfishness and rebellion! I know the Lord is faithful and I hold firmly to His promise of change and transformation into the image of His Son. I am His workmanship created to do the works He has prepared for me in advance (my paraphrase Ephesians 2:10). Here's to the next year, whatever it may hold!!!

P.S. Just in case you are curoius...Rebecca has had one accident since her nap on Friday! Thanks for your prayers. She now sits on the potty, pees, and says "I pee pee, clap you hands mommy". So cute!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Update on Hagler Homefront

Princess Cinderella on a swing. This was her Halloween costume, which she loved!
Rebecca and Aidan at the Pumpkin Patch
Look at those beautiful Blue Eyes...Don't they melt your heart?
My super big boy celebrating his 5th birthday.
About as good of a group picture as your gonna get with 3 little kids!

Just to update you on the latest at the Hagler Home...Aidan just turned 5. We celebrated at Chuck-E-Cheese. He is going to 4K (a glorified preschool - don't get me wrong we LOVE it but it is not yet Kindergarten) at Grace Community School. It is the private school that is part of the Church we attend. He is so stinking big! It is a whole new world with him. It is fun, but we are definitely venturing into uncharted territory. He is a sweet, gentle spirit most of the time and he is getting this new sense of humor that is so much like a boy not a little kid. I keep hearing that at about seven they have truly developed their own personality so we still have a ways to go, but I love it when he tries to be funny. Tonight after bath we spent some time as a family playing Uno, which he loves! Trace had taken some nighttime cold medicine and it was kicking in so he wasn't quite with it and Aidan was confused by all the reverse cards played as to whose turn it was. It may not sound funny but Aidan and I both could not stop laughing!! Fun Stuff!

Rebecca is two and a half and she is full of energy, adventure, life, and spunk. She keeps me entertained often! We have been working on potty training for the past two days. Say a prayer for us if you think about it. Yesterday we were successful at about half the attempts at the potty. I got a great nights sleep and woke up energized to go at it again, but by nap time I was questioning the whole thing. We decided to at least complete the day and she had NO ACCIDENTS all afternoon. We will see what tomm. brings, but right now I am feeling good. Trace did point out to me that during nap I seemed down and at the point of despair and after a few successful pee pees in the potty I was dancing around like a little girl. How much power can a toddlers bathroom behavior hold?

And last is my sweet baby Andrew!!! He is almost 6 months old. He has been a bit of a challenge for me at times. He does not nap well when we are in the car or out and about and unfortunately he seems to be like his momma...if his sleep is disturbed before he is ready he is a grouch. That would be fine, we would take our naps except he is #3 and life does not stop. I am so thankful for his beautiful smile and his super chubby cheeks, because when I see those all the frustration just rolls away. He is my sweet baby and I am in no hurry for him to grow up, fussy days or not!!! This time is so precious and I just adore getting to snuggle and rock this little guy.
Life with three is crazy, but crazy is not always bad! I love this special family and these wonderful children that I get to spend my days with! I cannot tell you how thankful I am for that! I hope you enjoy the pictures of our bunch. I have yet to discover if you can get a good picture with 3 kids 5 and under in it. We will keep trying and I will joyfully share if I get one. For now, this is as good as it gets.

Hello Blogging World

Hi! I am officially a blogger, which is pretty crazy for me because I am completely behind the times. I mean, I do not:
  • own a flat screen TV, an IPOD, or Tivo
  • use my-space and I have difficulty navigating it
  • know how to text message and don't plan to learn anytime soon.

So why am I doing this? A few simple reasons. First, a few friends of mine blog and I have enjoyed reading their posts and staying caught up with them. I thought some of you may be curious about my life, however ordinary it may be. I get asked simple questions like how has your week been and my mind goes blank. I am terrible with communicating with people the fullness of my life, and with 3 small kids and a fabulous husband IT IS FULL! God has blessed us and I want to share of His goodness and blessings. I will update you with pictures of our family and some of the daily details of our life. I also want to share some of the things that you would not know if I didn't choose to share. So you may get to hear about some of the struggles and the joys of my life. Second, I stay at home with 3 small kids, I think I mentioned that a few times, and I feel like I do not have a good outlet for my thoughts. I feel often like I have something I want to share, but I do not do well with the phone and life gets crazy and I forget to journal so I am going to try this. Believe me, they are not life-changing thoughts that you will just die to read but they are mine and so I would love to share them if you want to read them. And Finally, it is largely for me to share what God is teaching me and how He is shaping me. I can imagine that most of my entries will be more for me than for you. I will try my best to be open and honest. I may not articulate what I am trying to say all that well, but be patient with me I will try, and hopefully I will get better.

Well, I am now officially a blogger...never thought I would say that. Let the fun begin!