I just got off the phone with our Realtor who's been working all day to get things finished up on our house. It now comes down to the concrete. If we can get a break in the weather this weekend or the first couple days of next week, then they can pour and we can move in next weekend. Normally, I really don't mind rain, but I am going to be praying for a break! I prayed for no rain last Friday also since we were moving my mother-in-law with our two kiddies in tow. I think this will only be the second time I've ever prayed it won't rain!
Friday, December 30
As some of you know, Elisabeth Elliot is one of my heroes of the faith. Her books and exhortation has helped me grow in my Christian faith and have helped me view suffering not as something to run from but to grow through. She is probably best known by her first husband Jim Elliot. He and four others were martyred while trying to bring the gospel to Eucadorian Indians.
There is now a movie telling the story of their courage and love for these unreached people called End of the Spear. The movie will be released January 20, and I'm hoping it will come to a theater near us. Maybe we can see it while my mom is here to watch the kids!
If you aren't familiar with the story, I'd highly recommend Elisabeth's book Through Gates of Splendor. I don't know if the movie goes into it or not, but the most astonishing and inspiring part of the story to me is that not long after her husband was murdered by these indians, Elisabeth Elliot put her infant daughter on her back walked back into that jungle, not willing to give up on these people for whom her husband had died trying to reach. What an amazing woman of God!
Tuesday, December 27
We drove out to see our new house yesterday. They hadn't progressed as much as we had hoped, but they did make some progress. They hung all the doors, installed the thermostat, bathroom mirrors and shower door, and they finished all the interior trim. They poured the back patio slab, but not the driveway or sidewalk.
They still need to intall the correct appliances, install an electrical outlet in garage for freezer, put in some extra cabinets we ordered in the utility room (and take out the shelf they mistakenly installed), install carpet in kids' rooms, do tile detail around fireplace, paint gutters, install thresholds and new front door, install all hardware (such as doorknobs), paint trim and do interior paint touchups, and, of course, pour the driveway and sidewalk. Then we still need to get an inspection, do our walkthrough, sign papers, etc.
It sounds like a lot to finish to me, but our Realtor said we're still on track to move in on the weekend of January 7th. I really hope and pray we can move that weekend. Ryan's surgery is scheduled for the 18th, and I really want to be mostly moved in and settled by then. Gramie comes on the 14th, and I really don't want to move the weekend she gets here either. We're praying we can get moved in before then, Lord willing!
Thursday, December 22
Would you really like to promote adoption and support adoptive families? Here's your chance! This year some adoption legislation was introduced that would make it financially easier to adopt. If you have adopted, are thinking of adopting, or are an adoption advocate, please write your representatives to urge them to vote for these bills! It's really easy. Just click on this link, locate your congressmen and senators (it's all automated and very easy), and then write your own letter or copy and paste the sample letter provided. The link also has a description of the legislation.
The current Adoption Tax Credit provides a tax credit (not a deduction!) to adoptive families of up $10,000 (actually it goes up slightly every year, but it's still less than $11,000) and allows you to carryover any unused portion for an additional five years. Our family has benefitted from the current tax credit, but only a little. As the law reads now, only adoptive families with a yearly tax liability of $1,667 or more will reap all the benefits from the credit. If your income is lower, hence your liability is lower, the carryover expires before you use up all the credit (seems counterintuitive to me), though every little bit helps. This new bill would not change anything for higher income earners, but would extend the same relief (maybe more) to those who need it most.
In our case we adopted two years in a row, so we in fact lose four years of our carryover since the five years run concurrently and not consecutively (we get six years instead of ten). We currently have $17,000+ of adoption tax credit to carryover for the next four tax years. I think our tax liability last year was less than $900, so unless my husband receives a substantial pay increase, there is no way we will even use up Ryan's tax credit and Abby's will remain wholly unused. If this new legislation is passed, we would be allowed to carryforward our tax credit until it is used up!
Also, they are proposing making it a refundable credit for people with lower incomes (I don't know if we would qualify or not), and that is the best possible fiscal news I can think of for people who are adopting! That means that at tax time adopting families would get an actual refund of up to $10,000 ($15,000 if the new bill is passed) of their adoption expenses instead of a credit against tax liability. Really fantastic!
One last note, this legislation is being proposed by Congressman Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee. We lived in Memphis for six years, and he came into office while we were there (I didn't vote for him). I was frequently sending him emails to encourage him to vote pro-life only to be disappointed. I am so pleased to see he's doing something positive and pro-life! (For those of you who know my famous "Jesse Jackson Story," he was the congressman up on stage with Jesse who was running for his father's congress seat!)
Tuesday, December 20
We went to check on the progress of our new house last weekend. They have installed the laminate flooring (looks great!), finished the countertops, installed toilets and sinks including faucets, installed microwave and dishwasher (wrong ones), and put in all the light fixtures. They have framed up the driveway, patios and walkways, and they should pour those this week, weather permitting. Hopefully this week they will also install the correct appliances and our range, which is on-site, but not installed yet.
The remaining things to be done are hanging doors, installing carpet in Ryan's and Abby's rooms, interior trim, tile detail around fireplace, mirrors in bathrooms, and paint the gutters. It could all be done very quickly, but with Christmas and New Year's holidays coming up, our Realtor said it will probably not be ready to close and move in until the 7th of January. He said we would know more at the end of this week when we see what all they accomplished.
Saturday, December 17
Saturday, December 10
Friday was one of those days you can't plan for and never seems to happen when you most want it too but is such a blessing when it does happen! We had a full day of driving and hiking and helping Daddy at his work, but the real blessing was that the kids were so well behaved! It was such a joy to enjoy them the entire day without having to correct or discipline them for something.
Friday, December 9
The message of Christmas is not about the proclamation of a holiday or the declaration of a season. It is about the proclamation of a Person and the declaration of Salvation. The birth of the child in the manger was an event that prophets had written about, the people of Israel had spoken about, the patriarchs of old had wondered about, and the angels of God shouted about on that glorious night when Christ was born.
Turn back the clock 2000 years and you will hear no man or angel saying, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” What you will hear are the things that spoke of the wonders of His name, the glory of His presence, and the meaning of His birth. You will hear the voice of the angel of the Lord proclaiming to a small band of shepherds the following good news, * “Have I got something to say to you! It’s news that is too good not to be true. It’s news that will flood you with joy from your head to your toes. God has done it! He has sent the One that He has promised to send, the Jewish Messiah, from David’s very seed. Yes, it is Yeshua, God’s Salvation, who has come to save you from your sins.” The news was so exciting that a huge number of angels could no longer contain themselves. In one thunderous voice they shouted out, * “Glory, glory to God in heaven’s highest place. He has sent to earth’s lowly place His gift of perfect peace, and it is now available for all who will believe.”
Why did the angels have such excitement and celebration? We only need to know the names that belong to Him to understand.
Jesus—the One who saves you from your sins and who brings you forgiveness from the past.
Christ—the One sent by God for you; the Messiah, the fulfillment of every promise God has made to you in His word; the only One anointed by God to redeem you.
Immanuel—the One who came from heaven to earth to bring you from earth to heaven; God living in the midst of your life, being with you, and abiding in you.
The Word—the One who formed you in your mother’s womb, brought you into existence, and created you for His eternal purpose.
Dayspring—the One who brought light to your darkness—bringing you the hope of a new day, a new beginning, and a new life.
Wonderful—the One who does wondrous things for you, good things to you, and beautiful things within you.
Prince of Peace—the One who quiets your heart, calms your spirit, and brings rest to your soul.
Counselor—the One who guides your footsteps, leads you in the paths of righteousness, and speaks the love of the Father to your heart.
May all Jesus is, and all He gives, be your true celebration this Christmas and always!
Tuesday, December 6
One of my pet peeves is the constant asking for tips everywhere I go. I especially get irritated at Starbucks. When I stand in line, pay $3.50, and then wait in yet another line for a cup of coffee, I can't fathom any reason to give the cashier or barista a tip! I ran across this column today, and I thought it said it better than I could.
Monday, December 5
Sunday morning on our way to church we went to the local drive-thru coffee shop. At the window they had two tip cups, one that said Naughty and one that said Nice. They always have something that you can "vote" on with your tips, and this morning it was this. I was saddened to see that the Naughty cup was quite full, but I couldn't see anything in the Nice cup. We asked the barista if there was any money in it, and she said, "Yeah, 75 cents. I put it in there myself from the last lady. I thought I should put it in there since it was Sunday."
I'm not really surprised, but still saddened to know that our culture glories in how naughty they are. I really don't think people were being honest and saying they had been naughty, but rather were proud to say they had been. We NEVER put tips into any of these tip cups (that's a topic for another post), but this morning we just had to put some into the Nice cup. I am sure I am not always nice, but I certainly strive to be nice and try not to be naughty.
Sunday, December 4
We took a tour of our new home today. They no longer allow anyone to walk in whenever they want due to some theft, so we have to make an appointment to have our realtor open the house for us. We were happy to see they have made good progress! I had some requests for interior pictures, so my hubby took some this trip.
They installed the gutters and painted the exterior trim (except the gutters), installed countertops (except the backsplash), installed the vinyl flooring in bathrooms and utility room, and installed all outlets and switches and some recessed lighting! The realtor said he'd guess we're about 20 to 30 days from being done, which puts us right around when our closing date is supposed to be, January 1. It's getting more exciting everytime we go out there!
Is it just me or are the words for word verification on posts getting longer? I left a comment this morning, and I had to type in eight characters! Of course they look funny and squished so I didn't get them right and had to do a new one...eight characters long again. LOL.
Saturday, December 3
I have been wanting to post for a while now, but I just can't seem to gather my thoughts lately. I feel very preoccupied with our upcoming move and my son's upcoming surgery. I have been going through drawers and closets organizing and getting rid of things, and I love doing that. It feels so good to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I am almost done with that process, and I will begin packing next week, I think. I'm just not sure where I'm going to put the boxes!
I can't seem to get my son's surgery off my mind. It's only outpatient surgery, and it is supposedly almost a painfree surgery. Still, I know he's going to be scared, and I have an exaggerated fear of him going under anesthesia. It's still 6 1/2 weeks off, but ever since we got an actual surgery date, I've been feeling anxious about it. I keep bringing it before the Lord, and I know He is faithful.
Monday, November 21
I receive Elisabeth Elliot's daily devotionals, and today's broke my heart. I thought I would share it here.
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: Keep A Quiet Heart
Scripture: Matthew 25:40
Another moral threshold was crossed when a tiny baby boy, at the specific request of his parents and with the sanction of the Supreme Court of Indiana, was starved to death in a hospital. "Infant Doe" (he was not allowed the usual recognition of being human by being named), born with Down's syndrome and a malfunctioning esophagus (the latter could have been corrected with surgery), died, as the Washington Post (April 18) stated, "not because he couldn't sustain life without a million dollars worth of medical machinery, but because no one fed him." For six days the nurses in that Bloomington hospital went about their usual routines of bathing and changing and feeding all the newborns except one. They bathed and changed Baby Doe but they never gave him a bottle. Over his crib was a notice, DO NOT FEED. Several couples came forward, begging to be allowed to adopt him. They were turned down.
What went on in that little box during those six terrible days and nights? We turn our imagination away. It's unthinkable. But if I were to think about it, and put down on paper what my mind saw, I would be accused of playing on people's feelings, and of making infanticide (yes, infanticide--call it what it is) an "emotional issue." Let me suppose at least that the baby cried--quite loudly (at first). One report says that he was placed in a room alone, lest his crying disturb others (others, perhaps, who were capable of helping him).
Joseph Sobran, in his column in the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, suggested that "opposition to infanticide will soon be deplored as the dogma of a few religious sects who want to impose their views on everyone else." The language sounds sickeningly familiar.
There has been a conspicuous silence from those who usually raise shrill protest when other human rights are violated--the rights of smokers, homosexuals, and criminals are often as loudly insisted upon as those of children, women, and the handicapped.
The handicapped? What on earth is happening when a society is so careful to provide premium parking spaces to make things easier for them, but sees no smallest inconsistency when one of them who happens to be too young to scream, "For God's sake, feed me!" is quietly murdered? It is in the name of humanity, humaneness, compassion, and freedom that these things occur, but never is it acknowledged that the real reasons are comfort and convenience, that is, simple selfishness. "Abortion not only prefers comfort, convenience, or advantage of the pregnant woman to the very life of her unborn child, a fundamentally good thing, but seeks to deny that the life ever existed. In this sense it is a radical denial not only of the worth of a specific life but of the essential goodness of life itself and the Providential ordering of its procreation" (R.V. Young, "Taking Choice Seriously," The Human Life Review, Vol. VIII, no. 3.)
But weren't we talking about infanticide and haven't we now switched to abortion? The premises on which abortion is justified are fundamentally the same on which infanticide is seen as civilized and acceptable. What Hitler used to call eugenics is now called "quality of life," never mind whether the life in question happens to be the mother's or the child's. Death, according to three doctors who put the issue out into the open in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1973, is now considered an option in the "treatment" of infants; in other words, a mortuary may now replace the nursery. One cannot help thinking of the antiseptic "shower rooms" of the Third Reich, where the unwanted were "treated" to death. Nor can one forget the words of Jesus, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40, KJV).
Can any Christian argue that the smallest and most defenseless are, by virtue merely of being too small and too defenseless, not His brethren?
Saturday, November 19
I was a little disappointed in how bright the exterior color turned out on our house. It's not exactly what I had in mind, but it's close. It's so hard to know what it will look like from a little swatch, even from a draw-down swatch that I had. I think it will look better once the trim is painted and gutters hung, but I am just a tad disappointed that it didn't come out looking like I envisioned.
Things could always be worse though. Our next door neighbor chose racquetball blue for his exterior paint, and this picture doesn't even come close to showing how bright this paint is! I am glad we can't really see his house from the inside of ours...ugh. We talked to the builder when we were out there, and he said it will fade quite a bit and be much more tame by the time we move in. I sure hope he's right. To top things off the owner chose a bright (almost hot) pink for his interior color. We only get one interior color, so it's all over the entire inside of his house. I am a little nervous about our new neighbor already, though the builder said he's a really nice guy.
Friday, November 18
We haven't been to see our new house for two weeks, so we drove up there this afternoon. We were surprised to see they had painted the exterior (except for trim), painted the interior, installed the gas line, and installed the cabinets. We saw the builder while we were there, and he said they will be putting in countertops next week. We're looking good for a January 1st closing date!
Monday, November 14
Well, despite my declaring myself well yesterday, I still feel horrible today. I really thought I'd be over it by now. Ed even stayed home from work today because he's still sick too. The kids have their first dental appointments tomorrow, so I have to be well. I'll need all my faculties to deal with that ordeal!
Sunday, November 13
Everyone except Ryan came down with some bug this weekend, and we have been coughing, sneezing, hacking, blowing, and wheezing since Friday. I finally declared myself well this morning and just got back into the swing of things (except we stayed home from church). It just doesn't work to have Mommy sick. Anyone else can get sick, but it throws off the whole household if Mommy is laying in bed or on the couch all day! I still feel pretty cruddy, but we had homecooked meals today, have some clean clothes to wear tomorrow, clean sheets on the bed, and the kitchen is actually clean. I'm not sure what makes me feel worse, the symptoms of being sick or having such chaos in the house when I don't take care of my family and household the way I like to.
Tuesday, November 8
I got a call yesterday from our realtor wanting the interior color we picked for our house (he had forgotten we gave it to him already)! So things are moving a long well. They should paint this week and begin laying the subflooring for the bathrooms and utility room. We close on our current house in less than a week...so then we'll be renters again for a couple months. Feels a little odd.
Saturday, November 5
We drove up to Columbia City again yesterday to check on the status of our house. I was happy to see they have begun working on it again. They had stopped due to some delay in the gas line installation or something, but it’s been textured and I think painted too (all the windows were covered and it was too dark to tell for sure). So we’re making good progress! I finally decided on carpet and vinyl flooring. Everything is picked out now and all we need is for the house to be finished. Exciting!
Thursday, November 3
When I got home from the grocery store today, there was an FTD package by the front door. I knew my hubby had sent some flowers to his grandmother, and my first thought was that they had delivered them to us mistakenly. But when I read the tag it had my name on it. So my sweet husband sent me 18 roses of assorted colors, and they are beautiful! He's often doing sweet things for me so I shouldn't have been too surprised, but I was, which pleased him since he loves to surprise me.
I was at Target yesterday and was so dismayed when I walked down the aisles and saw nothing but Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving? Finally I spotted it...one lonely endcap with a meager supply of Thanksgiving and/or fall decorations, most of which were tableware. We have become such an ungrateful people (myself included). Then when I got home this was in my email, and I thought it was really uplifting. So, of course, I thought I'd share it with my vast audience!
Giving Thanks for God’s Overwhelming Generosity
By Roy Lessin, co-founder DaySpring Cards
Everything in your life that flows out of love has come to you from God. Everything in your life that is good has been initiated by God. God has done everything for you, He is everything to you, and He is enriching other lives through you. His generosity is overwhelming, His blessings are limitless, His love is endless.
No one has favored you more than God. He has removed every stain of your sin, He has cleansed all the defilement of your iniquity, and He has silenced every voice of condemnation that hung over your head. He has saved you, redeemed you, and justified you.
All of God’s grace abounds toward you, all of Christ’s riches are made available to you, and all spiritual blessings are provided for you. In Christ, you have received the treasures that can never be taken away, the hope that can never fade away, and the life that will never pass away.
As you walk with Jesus day by day, you will find that your thankfulness to Him is an ever-increasing symphony of praise, building into a lifelong crescendo of gratitude that flows from your heart to His. You, who have so little, have received so much, because He has been so generous.
There are so many riches that He has given to you; so many answers to prayer that He has granted to you; so many kindnesses that He has manifested to you; so many joys that He has provided for you; so many mercies that He has extended to you; so many benefits that He has showered upon you. Everything you have has come from Him, and that is the reason why your heart can be so grateful.
Thank Him today because—
He formed you and made you.
He has given you the breath of life.
He has given you this day.
He is working in you to become all that He has intended you to be.
He is working everything in your life together for the good.
He is using your difficulties and trials to conform you to His image.
Thank Him today for—
The forgiveness of your sins.
The peace that passes all understanding.
The smiles that have come to your face because His joy is in your heart.
The comfort of His presence that has quieted your heart and calmed your fears.
The hope that is in you because He has promised to always be with you.
The place in heaven that He has reserved and has prepared for you.
Thank Him today with—
Words of exaltation.
Songs of celebration.
A heart of strong devotion.
Thoughts of deep reflection.
Acts of admiration.
Claps of loud ovation.
"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."
Thursday, October 27
My hubby is always winning something or other from the local radio stations or from vendors or seminars he attends. He's won everything from a digital camera and IPod to countless coffee mugs (or latte mugs as they like to call them) and T-shirts. He's won tickets to some really neat events and to some ho-hum events. He's won books and coffee and even a squeegee! The other day I was cleaning out our bookcase and decided to read one of the books he won (actually he won it twice!). It's called The Exploding Whale: And Other Remarkable Stories from the Evening News. It was written by our local news personality, and it documents many interesting stories he's covered, not the least of which is the infamous exploding whale. If you haven't heard the story (or seen it), you have to check out this site, Infamous Exploding Whale, and watch the video! I've watched it several times, and it makes me laugh every time.
It was a morning of messes, spilled milk (twice), potty training mishaps of the worst kind, etc. I was feeling a little over the edge, and then I checked my email. A friend sent this to me, and though I don't always view or read the internet forwards I get, I'm glad I checked this one out. It made me laugh and renewed my perspective on life...it doesn't always have to be taken so seriously!
Monday, October 24
Ever wonder what it's all about? Why all the little annoyances and frustrations of life? I know there's probably something I can learn from them, but sometimes I just plain wonder, "Lord, what's this about?" I still laugh when I think about a bumper sticker I saw that said, "Maybe the hokey pokey really is what it's all about." While I find that funny, I refuse to believe it's true. I know God has a plan and He can use everything we encounter for our ultimate good. Still, I frequently allow the mundane things in life to get to me, as I did this weekend, instead of letting it roll off my back or even allowing God to grow me. The whole weekend just seemed like it was one of those where nothing went as planned or expected, and, sadly, despite my early attempts to keep a positive perspective, I ended up succumbing to the situation and became cranky.
Friday morning after Ryan's eye appointment and several errands regarding our new house, we finally headed north to Tacoma to see Ed's grandmother. She had an extensive surgery on Thursday, and we wanted to be sure to see her. We spent the night and took the kids to the zoo the next day before heading home. Ryan's early appointment seemed to take forever, partly because they had to dilate his eyes. He fought and screamed like crazy while we tried to get the drops in...ugh. Then we got the news that he will have to have surgery, never good news. After his appointment we went to pick up some flooring samples at the interiors place, but they didn't have any to actually take with me, so it was basically a waste of time to stop there.
Next we went to the appliance place to get our appliances ordered, and while Ed talked to the rep, I took the kids to the bathroom. Once Ryan discovered the toilets had an automatic flusher, he freaked out and refused to go. We've been through this before and thought he was over it, but apparently not. I tried a different approach than the last time, hoping to help him get over his irrational fear (one of many). Let's just say it didn't end nicely...somehow in the struggle I ended up getting my shirt peed all over! Sure, it's funny now (I know YOU are laughing), but I was NOT amused at that point in time. Fortunately I had another shirt in the van since we were packed for an overnight stay. I changed and went to join Ed only to find out that they don't carry the one brand stove we picked out (we were told we could pick out anything and they'd order it). More wasted time and energy (and shirt).
We headed up to Columbia City afterwards to check on the progress of our house. The builder was there and told us they are behind on our house because they haven't installed the gas line yet and it's too cold to texture and paint inside till they get it installed, so it's pretty much at a standstill right now. However, he also gave us the only good news we got that day which is that we can still get our stove someplace else and just have him install it. Whew! We had Gramie watch the kids for a whole evening so we could shop for all the appliances, and I wasn't looking forward to having to find a babysitter to do it again.
Finally we were on the way to Tacoma, and the rest of the trip went along the same lines. I'll spare you the details, but let me just say, it's a good thing I brought extra clothes for Abby. I had to change her three times on Saturday alone! Nothing really bad happened, but there were just small annoyances the whole trip. Ed's Mammaw appears to be recovering well, which is an answer to prayer. I'm over my crankiness and despite getting sick on Sunday, I'm ready for another day, even if it's full of mundane irritations and setbacks. Afterall, I get to be a Mommy to two precious children, wife to a wonderful man, and most importantly, I am a child of God, who loves me even when I'm cranky!
"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" Jeremiah 31:3
Sunday, October 23
I had to share this picture that I took at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, this Saturday. They have such beautiful habitats there, and most of them make it really easy to see the animals. There were two tigers in the exhibit, and they were just beautiful. We had been to the Oregon Zoo probably half a dozen times before we ever even saw our tigers! I continue to be amazed by God's creativity, and going to the zoo is a great way to be reminded!
Thursday, October 13
My mom has started coming once a year so my husband and I can take a weekend away by ourselves. This year we went to Seattle. We had a great time, though we were pretty tired when we got home. While we were there, we took a cruise through the Puget Sound and up through the locks into the lakes, we went to the Pacific Science Center, Pike Place Market, and of course the Space Needle.
It was a nice weekend to reconnect with Ed and have some time alone. We missed the kids though, especially when we were at the science center. They would love that place! Seattle is a beautiful part of the country, but we were glad to get back to little ol' Beaverton. I wouldn't trade the Portland area for anything they have to offer, including the Pike Place mini doughnuts (which are far better than Krispy Kreme!).
They have finished siding and sheetrocking the house, and it is beginning to look more like a "real" house now! This week and next they will mud and tape, and I think interior paint comes after that. My mom was visiting this week, and it was fun to take her out to the house and community. It also allowed my hubby and me to go pick out some finishes while she watched the kids. We have just about finished picking out everything. Now if I can just decide on countertops...
Wednesday, October 12
We have been spending more time up in Columbia City lately, so I thought I'd post a couple of pictures. We love the post office! When I mailed a couple packages from there last week, there was absolutely no line and a very friendly postmaster. (I should have pulled our van out of the way before taking the picture, but you get the idea.) I'm not sure what they do at the Community Center, but here is a picture of it. It is located right next door to City Hall.
There is also a school (6th grade only), museum, a senior center, a gas station/convenience store, a sports center, several parks, and a new coffee shop which also houses the library. If you want to do anything else, you have to drive a couple miles to St. Helens or Scappoose, though they aren't exactly booming metropolises either, but of course Portland, Beverton, etc., are only a 30-minute drive away.
Saturday, October 1
I think it's finally sinking in that we have bought a new house! It's seemed like a surreal dream for the last couple weeks, but I guess it's really happening. We went for a visit this afternoon, and it's really exciting to see it coming together. They were working on the siding today, and they are supposed to start drywalling next week sometime, I think. We even met one of our new neighbors today, something that didn't happen in our current neighborhood for weeks (it may have even been months) after we moved in.
Monday, September 26
Up until this month I've really liked the service I have received from Washington Mutual Bank. However, after this month's experience we are seriously considering changing banks. I did a really dumb thing...I deposited a large check through the ATM on September 2. Although I usually deposit large checks through the teller, I have had no problems with deposits done through the ATM, until now. It's now the 26th and I still don't have access to my money. I did another dumb thing...I forgot to endorse the check. My hubby did, but it required both our signatures.
The solution seems simple, right? Give me the check back, I'll sign it, and we'll have our money. Apparently the simplicity of this plan is beyond WAMU. I signed a "legal-tender copy" of our check this morning, but I won't know for sure the money is in the account for another five to seven working days. Is it just me or does 30 to 34 days seem like a reasonable amount of time to fix an endorsement error?
Thursday, September 22
Whenever I see a beautiful sunset, I always tell the kids, "Look at the pretty picture God is painting." Tonight's display was so beautiful that I had to try to capture it on film (okay, actually on disk). This picture doesn't even do it justice. He really gave us a gorgeous view out our back window tonight!
Tuesday, September 13
I feel like I've been running all day long! We listed our house for sale last night, and today we've had three people come to look at it (one of them twice!). It seemed like we'd no more get home than we had to turn around and leave again. Hopefully it will sell soon or cool off a little. I don't think I can do this everyday for very long. It will be interesting to see what happens. The housing market seems so crazy right now. I am tempted to get excited or stressed, but I keep telling myself it's all in the Lord's hands. If He wants us to have a new house, then He will make it happen. If not, then it won't. If we don't sell at least we got lots done to the house that we've been wanting to do for three years!
"Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it..." Psalm 127:1
Monday, September 5
It's hard to believe I haven't had anything to say in over two weeks! Actually, I've been doing more thinking than talking lately. I probably should do that much more often!
I had trouble sleeping a few nights ago, and as I lay awake, I began to pray for Hurricane Katrina's victims. What a mess the gulf coast is. I am so grateful that my family is safe and sound, we have our home, and even for the rising price of gas...after all, at least there is fuel available for me to purchase.
This morning I was pleased to hear that Portland is going to be receiving 1,000 Katrina "refugees" this week. Not only have these people lost all their belongings, but many may have lost loved ones, and now are they ever in for culture shock! I remember when Ed and I moved to the South. I was totally unprepared for how vastly different the culture there is from the west coast where I was raised. I can't even put the differences into words that people would understand, mostly you have to experience it to understand it. I pray these people will be able to acclimate to our way of life more quickly than we did to theirs.
Sunday, August 21
When I first started up this blog last year, I thought I would use it to express my feelings, vent, and bounce ideas off of anyone who would listen. When I got serious about this blog two months ago and started posting, I discovered that the Lord had something else in mind. Several times I have drafted a post and went to publish it but then had absolutely no peace about it. So I deleted those posts and didn't think much about it.
Today as I was typing a new post, the scriptures from James just kept coming to my mind. "For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well...For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way." James 3:2,7-10
May the Lord help me to keep my blogs glorifying to Him. I guess my mom was right when she preached the infamous saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!"
Wednesday, August 10
I don't fail much. That may sound like bragging, but really it's just an outcome to the embarrassing fact that I don't try things if I think I will not be good at them. I am basically a coward. The last year or so I have felt like such a failure, and the irony is that I thought I'd be a really great Mommy. After all, it's what I've wanted to do ALL my life, I've thought about it for decades, and I thought I knew what to do and how to do it.
The first year, maybe even year and a half, of Ryan's life, I thought I was doing great (I certainly was in heavenly bliss enjoying myself). Then God humbled me. He is always faithful to do that for me. Abigail is a HUGE blessing in our lives, but getting her with so little warning, having two so close in age (14 months apart), and two so different in personality just seemed to throw all my "great" parenting out the window.
After about two years of trying to find the right "formula," reading endless parenting books (there's a lot of nonsense out there), and spending much time in prayer, I have come full circle. My current philosophy is the same as it was in the beginning: be very consistent, spend lots of time with the kids, pray and pray, and NO YELLING! This is working as well as it did before, only now I depend on the Lord so much more.
Recently I ran across a website that I really like. It is pretty similar to my own "parenting philosophy," but it has just a few subtle differences that have made quite a change in my children's behavior and attitudes. The site is called Raising Godly Tomatoes, or it used to be known as Loving Parenting With Only Occasional Trips to the Woodshed.
"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." Proverbs 29:15
Monday, August 8
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Where these is darkness, light.
Divine Master, grant me that I may not so much seek,
To be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Sunday, August 7
I used to be a court reporter, and I got pretty good at pegging people and whether they were telling the truth or not. But even after years of listening to trials, I was still impressed at how a skillful attorney could suck me onto his side before I heard the cross-examination. I remember the case where a federal prison inmate was suing because he had to be taken to the emergency room for a severe head injury inflicted by a prison guard. Only on cross-examination did it come out that he was stabbing the prison guard at the time he received the head injury! Instantaneously, my perspective shifted.
So much of life is perspective. I have been in the position of seeing an ongoing conflict between some people, and I have a fair amount of information on both sides. Each side is right on some things, and each side is wrong on other things. Neither has attempted to share their perspective with the other or sought to bring reconciliation, so misunderstandings abound and hurt feelings and emotions rule instead of the love of Christ (both sides involve Christians). Nobody is uncivil (except behind the other's backs), but neither is there unity or true love and fellowship.
It has caused me to reevaluate a couple of tense relationships that I have. Perhaps I am not seeking to understand the other person's perspective, and/or maybe I am blinded by my own hurt feelings or need to be "right." So I have been asking the Lord to give me His perspective on these relationships and to give me direction on what action to take. Do I need to just change my heart toward them, do I need to let love cover a multitude of sins, or maybe I have to do the harder thing, go to them and seek reconciliation and try to understand their perspective. I want to know I've done everything in my power to bring reconciliation. "Lord, change me into your image."
"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
"The first to plead his case seems just, until another comes and examines him." Proverbs 18:17
Tuesday, August 2
I am not having a very good Mommy day today, and I needed a reminder of what love looks like:
I can read bedtime stories till the cow jumps over the moon and sing "Ten Little Monkeys" until I want to call the doctor--but if I don't have love, I'm as annoying as a ringing phone.
I can chase a naked toddler through the house while cooking dinner and listening to voice mail, I can fix the best cookies and Kool-Aid in the neighborhood, and I can tell a sick child's temperature with one touch of my finger, but if I don't have love, I am nothing.
Love is patient while watching and praying by the front window when it's 30 minutes past curfew.
Love is kind when my teen says, "I hate you!"
It does not envy the neighbor's swimming pool or their brand new minivan, but trusts the Lord to provide every need.
Love does not brag when other parents share their disappointments and insecurities, and love rejoices when other families succeed.
It doesn't boast, even when I've multi-tasked all day long and my husband can't do more than one thing at a time.
Love is not rude when my spouse innocently asks, "What have you done today?"
It does not immediately seek after glory when we see talent in our children, but encourages them to get training and make wise choices.
It is not easily angered, even when my 15-year-old acts like the world revolves around her.
It does not delight in evil (is not self-righteous) when I remind my 17-year-old that he's going 83 in a 55-mph zone, but rejoices in the truth.
Love does not give up hope. It always protects our children's dignity and spirit, even while doling out discipline.
It always trusts God to protect our children when we cannot.
It always perseveres, through blue nail polish, burps and other bodily functions, rolled eyes and crossed arms, messy rooms and sleepovers.
Love never fails. But where there are memories of thousands of diaper changes and sleepless nights, they will fade away. Where there is talking back, it will (eventually) cease. (Please, Lord?)
Where there is a teenager who thinks she knows everything, there will one day be an adult who knows you did your best.
For we know we fail our children, and we pray they don't end up in therapy, but when we get to Heaven, our imperfect parenting will disappear. (Thank you, God!)
When we were children, we needed a parent to love and protect us. Now that we're parents ourselves, we have a heavenly Father who adores us, shelters us and holds us when we need to cry.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Monday, August 1
We spent this weekend doing some fun activities, but it got me wondering if I am frugal, cheap, or just totally out of touch with today's expenses. Ed won tickets to the Le Mans Grand Prix this weekend. When we got to the Portland Raceway, of course we had to pay to park. It was a modest $5, but we had to walk at least a mile to get to the races (I honestly think it was farther, but I am trying to be conservative)! We brought water and snacks and had lunch before we entered, but we still ended up buying some drinks because it was so terribly hot. I guess I've seen worse prices than $12 for four drinks, but it still seems high to me.
I watched people buying programs and hats for $20 each, shaved ice (very popular) for $6 each, and then of course there's the alcohol! Margaritas for $6 and beer for $5, and people just kept drinking all day long. I haven't even mentioned that the tickets to get in cost $65 each day and the paddock passes are $10 per day, though kids 12 and under were free. The races weren't sold out, but there were plenty of people who plunked down that much money to see these cars zipping past at 180 mph.
Ed also went with a coworker on Friday, so if we had had to pay for what we did Friday and Saturday it would have cost us over $325. It was fun, but not THAT fun! Our family of four could spend two days at Disneyland for that price (okay, so maybe I just have different priorities and ideas about what's fun)! So I guess I've answered my own question: I am frugal AND cheap AND out of touch. Did I mention we went to the fair on Sunday...
Wednesday, July 27
My husband and I have been considering homeschooling our children even before we had children, but it's only been the last six months or so that I've seriously begun researching it. I have spent much time this year on the internet and checking out books from the library about homeschooling. Around about April I started to feel panicky and overwhelmed and thinking there was no way I could do it. I even began checking on the private and charter schools in our area. As it turns out, none of the charter schools available to us are something we would consider sending our kids to, and the private schools prices were so very high that it seemed out of our financial reach.
I began praying even more about our educational options and seeking God's guidance, and then a neat thing happened. Beginning in May I was forced to spend two hours per day doing close-up work with my son to help him with a vision problem we discovered he had (amblyopia). Ryan has known his phonics for over a year and had been wanting to put them together to read, but the way I had been trying to show him wasn't clicking with him. So I checked out a book from the library called "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons," and we spent part of his two hours per day learning to read. Ryan ate it up, and I discovered something very valuable too: I LOVED teaching him! I realized I didn't want to give this joy to someone else.
I know the Lord has answered my prayers and given me peace about homeschooling at last. He even has lead me to the curriculum I believe I am going to use, but more on that later...
Sunday, July 24
Friday we took a drive to Washington to see what's been going on with Mt. St. Helens. It's been quite active since September of last year when it erupted again after being silent for years. We wanted to see it for ourselves. It's a beautiful drive up there, but I was concerned we wouldn't actually get to see the crater since there was a significant cloud layer. Sure enough, when we got there it was like looking at a fog bank, but I said a prayer that we would get to see it before we left. So we viewed the movie and looked through the exhibits and then went outside to listen to the Forest Ranger talked about the mountain. As he was talking we started to see blue sky, and before he was done we were looking into the crater. God is so faithful to hear even our little prayers!
There is a brand new peak inside the crater (the tooth-like protrusion you see in the picture). The volcano is currently pushing 30 cubic yards of magma to the surface every five seconds. That's like a very large dump truck load. If it continues at its current rate, it is estimated that the mountain will be rebuilt in 40 to 50 years. Although the Ranger told us that it took 55,000 years for Mt. St. Helens to form, it seems clear to me that their scientists didn't figure God into the equation. Even at its current rate the mountain could have been formed in significantly less time than 55,000.
I left the volcano with a renewed respect and awe for God's creative power. The mountain is covered with trees (thanks to Weyerhauser's monumental efforts) where 25 years ago there was devastation, . Spirit Lake isn't stocked but once again has fish thriving in it though everything was killed in the lake at the time of the blast. We saw plenty of wildlife, from ground squirrels to deer. God is in the business of rebuilding things, from people to mountains!
"For since the creation of the world Hs invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20
Saturday, July 23
Could it be possible that I turned 39 yesterday? I actually put my info into a life expectancy calculator yesterday and found out that I can expect to live to 98...or to 102 if I lose 50 pounds! That number just stunned me. 102! I've never really contemplated living that long, and it is sobering to think about. What will I do with the next 63 years, should God grant me that much time here on earth?
My prayer today has been that I will not waste the remaining years of my life, but that I will use them in the service of God, my family, and others God puts in my path. Since we never know if this might be the last day we will ever live or if we have decades left, it's so important to be who God has called us to be and do what He has called us to do.
"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-17
Thursday, July 21
I was inspired to begin blogging after enjoying my sister-in-law's blogs that she made for her daughters. It's been a great way to stay informed and feel a part of their lives, even though we live 1,ooo miles apart. I wanted to do the same for our friends and family who are spread out from Oregon to Florida, California to New York and many places in between.