Wednesday, June 25, 2014

remembering River Fest

from RiverFest (line overlay)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

About My Home...

(artwork done by my cousin for Easter)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Birthday Blessed.

A huge thank you to those who gave me birthday money. This is what I bought!

Yes, it's like what it looks like... an adult tricycle.

I remember at age of 11 riding my bike and hitting a parked car and flying over the handlebars. Yes, embarrassing and clutzy but it deterred me from riding for a long, long time. I still am not the best when it comes to balance. In addition I'd like to be able to attach a trailer and take Peter and Michael along for the ride. Both are still too young/ uncoordinated to pedal properly, etc.

So I am thrilled to be living in area where I can have a bike and actually ride my bike... like to the grocery store! Or around the neighborhood. By the water. So excited.

I love it!  I can't believe how much I look forward to going on a ride. I'm sure to some people it's silly seeing a tricycle... but as the septuagenarian said to me today, "You gotta a nice ride!" I was tempted to fist pump and yell "Oh Yeah!" Instead I waved and as I  rode on by said, "Thank you!"

Friday, June 20, 2014

Disappointment Delivered, AKA: Why It's Always Leah...

Today has been a bad day. Not a "we're-in-crisis-*%it-has-hit-the-fan" day but just your average things going wrong that make you want to blow a gasket kind of bad day. I woke up wrong. You know when you just wake up and the feeling of impending doom settles heavy on your chest. Yep, that's how I woke. Grumpy. Irritable. Sore. Frustrated.

I had told the kids we were going to the beach today. We spent over an hour putting on bathing suits, gathering towels, sunblock, water bottles, and packing lunches. 

On my way out the door I spotted my husband's phone. It was perched precariously on the pantry shelf near the fridge. I grabbed it for him and thought how wonderful a wife I'm being for bringing it to him later.

We first had to go to one of Libby's medical appointments but it was in Va. Beach and on the way to the oceanfront.  Then it started raining on the drive. So I told the kids we probably would NOT be going to the beach. That didn't win any favors. Just whining and crying. It is then that it dawned on me that I left MY cell phone at home. In the excitement of finding my husband's phone I didn't realize that I didn't stop to gather my phone. Bleah.

We get to the office. The boys ended up being so loud in the office that I had to remove them and go sit in the car with them for the remaining 45 minutes. Oh you know, the car with no A.C. So we're sitting in the hot car and the boys are pestering, jumping, kicking, and punching one another. And I'm trying to keep cool.

The minutes dragged by until Libby finally got back in the car. We then drive to the hotel where my husband is repairing furniture today and go to the lobby to explain the situation that my husband had forgotten his phone. A kind concierge directs us where to go.

It's then out the building and into another building and up 3 flights of stairs. At this point Peter and Michael are barely keeping it together. And thankfully we find my husband. I give him his phone. Explain the situation and exchange kisses.

I leave with my fabulous 5 in tow. Buckle them back up in the car with no AC and pass out PB&J's. At this point I'm tired, disgruntled, and discouraged. To make up for the day flopping I decide to splurge on some McD's fries and their 3 for $1 chocolate chip cookies. By the time I get home. Drag all the bags, beach gear, and empty smoothie cups that now desperately need to be washed, and finish all the dishes my fries have gone cold. Really... 15 minutes is all it takes, people.

Not to mention that on arriving home one of my sons decides right then and there to pee in the front yard. Not behind a bush or tree or discreetly but right out in the open. Yep, we're letting it all hang out today. Then another son decides to pee not in the toilet bur right next to the toilet so I'm having him clean up the pee with paper towels and disinfectant which really is more like me doing it with my hand over his showing him how it's done.

So yeah, just one of those days that are crummy. I tripped on a teenage mutant ninja turtle bow staff in the bathroom. I stepped in a puddle of cold, wet oatmeal. I found a carton of yogurt exploded on the floor in the foyer. Yeah, we rock.

And then as I threw myself on my bed and hot tears trickled down my cheeks I remembered, "It's ALWAYS Leah."

There was this fantastic message I heard at church in PA* when Mike was up at seminary. It was based on the story about Leah and Rachel. You know the story. Jacob falls for this girl named Rachel... works 7 years for her dad so he can marry her. Gets tricked. (must have been super drunk) and wakes up the next day laying in bed with Leah, Rachel's older and less beautiful sister. He ends up getting to marry Rachel but had to work another 7 years for the Dad.

It was a great message. He talked a lot of great things about Leah. He said some things I had never heard or thought about...I wish I could remember it. But the point that stuck home with me was the phrase he used, "It's Always Leah...."

We think we're getting this one thing... this one thing we really want... this one thing we've worked really hard for.... and we wake up and find ourselves with something we really didn't want. 

It's this idea of disappointment. Disenchantment. Dissatisfaction.

I think I'm going to be having a great day. Or I'm really looking forward to such and such. Or I think that this one thing will fix my issues/problems/circumstances/relationships/etc. and then I discover it's a let-down. 

Here's the thing friends... It's always Leah this side of Heaven. Until we get home we will never be satisfied. Never content. Never truly home.

I'm going to have bad days. Bad events. Bad situations. Frustrating circumstances.

And I'm even going to have great days and great things happen. But the truth is I'm not home yet. And this world WILL NEVER satisfy.

So I'm going to brush myself off. Get up off this bed and fix my kids their cookies and whipcream treat they were hoping for. I'm going to cuddle up with them on the couch and watch a Series of Unfortunate Events. I'm going to laugh. I'm going to cry.

My contentment must come from Christ. If it comes from anything else it will fail and disappoint me. It will let me down. It will never live up to what it promises. 

So I'm holding onto Him, knowing that He's holding onto me... and He's never going to let me go. 

And remember, don't be surprised, when even the good things fall apart and you discover, "It's always Leah..."

* my dear sweet husband reminded me of something important. I'm combining two memories here. "It's always Leah" is actually from Tim Keller... and the message I heard about Rachel and Leah was separate.... It was around the same time I read/listened to both those messages/books? Sorry for any confusion!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

photo fun

playing with photo effects...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Because I love you.

I've been sick for a few days. Some upper respiratory thing going... combined with hacking cough that and a nice wheeze that makes me sound like a chronic smoker with asthma. And a headache that feels like the start of a migraine behind my right eye. So take that into account. I'm writing and I'm in a strange frame of mind.

I've been looking at people's posts and pictures for Father's Day. People giving honor and tribute to their husbands, fathers, etc. Lots of good memories and happy pictures on display. But I'm also imagining there are those that are sad today. Don't have a Father. Or didn't have a good Father. Those with pain of abandonment or rejection or absence or abuse. Or those whose Fathers have died and are no longer present on this earth. There is loss and grief mingled or pain that can accompany them with this holiday. I am so sorry for your pain and your loss.

I could choose to post about how wonderful a Dad my husband is. Or I could post about how grateful I am to have the Dad I have. But I'm not going to, even though those things are true.

 I got lost.

Lost in scrolling through my friends profile pictures on F.B. I scrolled through pictures of beautiful faces. Most looking glamorous or at least having their "best picture" face on.

And then I saw through it. Saw past the smiles. Past the fresh brushstrokes of well-made up faces and fine clothing. Past the artistic angles or funny and witty poses.

I saw people. I saw people who want to be loved and accepted. People who yearn for approval. People who want to have connection, to be touched and reached out to. People that want to be heard. People that want to know that "they've still got it"- that they're still funny, beautiful, smart, adventurous, brave, able, successful, purposeful, sweet, desirable, kind, generous, gifted, attractive, creative, lovely.... the list goes on.

It's as though I was seeing the world for the first time.

It's as though I saw how God sees them. How precious they are to Him. I saw past the different facial expressions, the different hair color, the different ages, shapes, sizes, the perfections, the flaws, and I saw something raw. I saw past the different circumstances, the socio-economic differences, the strengths and weaknesses.

And I saw how much we, all of us, need to be loved. Wholly and completely loved and accepted as we are.

And here's the thing. We are.

Us. broken. crazy. fragmented. Hurting. sick. destitute. desperate. people. 

We are loved beyond what any human words could say and beyond what we could possibly even begin to understand.

This crazy love. This God who put on flesh and dwelt among us came to love us. He bore our sin and died our death so we can be reunited with God the Father. He lived the most Amazing Love Story EVER. And He did it for us. He came for those who HATED him. Who abhorred him. Who loved sin. Who loved dwelling in our sickness and muck. He came for us, His enemies.

He lived a perfect life. Never once sinning, never once disobeying God the Father. He came to restore the broken, the sick, the lame. He came to bring life everlasting.

This Gospel is amazing. It flips everything upside down on its head. He didn't ask us to change who we are... to make ourselves clean first... to get fixed up.... He just tells us to come and follow Him. Jesus is the ONLY one who can clean us. The only One who can restore us. The only One who can heal us. He is the ONLY one who can judge and condemn us. And if our faith is in Him.... if we ask Him to be our righteousness, to forgive us of of our sins.... then we are forgiven. And we are given His perfect righteousness. We are no longer guilty or condemned but forgiven... seen as though we never sinned. His blood covers us. When God sees us in Christ it as though we always perfectly obeyed. It's pretty marvelous.

I, in myself, can be a pretty petty person. I am selfish. Proud. Believing I'm better than others. Jesus, the King of Kings, abased Himself, coming into this fallen world, and He became the servant of all. He loved people wholly and completely. He didn't place conditions. Or say, "If you do this, I will love you. If you change that, I will love you. If you be like so-and-so I will love you." He just loved. I want to love like that. He came to give life and life abundantly. I want to live like that. 

I want to put my heart on the line and step out of my comfort zone and love people as they really are. Because that's what Jesus did for me. And when people ask "why did you do that thing for me?"
 I want to be able to answer... Because I love you.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Foot baths gone wild....

A few weeks ago Libby needed a break. What started as her idea to just relax by giving herself a foot bath and reading a book turned into a fiasco when her brothers decided to join in the "relaxation..."

Monday, June 02, 2014

On the Eve of My 34th Birthday...

In a matter of a couple hours it's my birthday. My Mom says it's not officially my birthday until 10:21 p.m. but hey June 3rd is the DAY on which I was born... hence birthDAY.... So it's almost time to celebrate.

As I reflect on another reminder of time passing I'm struck with awe at how God has shaped and molded the course of my life thus far. I'm nowhere near where I thought it would be.... haven't accomplished as much as I thought I would... and have way more kids than I guessed I'd have... and have been richly blessed more than I could have imagined.

 The last 10 years have in particular have been more challenging, difficult, trying, painful, than I thought possible. But they also have been a time to teach me about persevering, faithfulness, endurance, and persistence. But what's funny is I would have thought I was the one growing in those last things and instead realize I'm more aware of God. That God is persistent. That God is faithful. He has endured. He has persevered.

God is unchanging. He remains the same. Good. Patient. Loving. Merciful. Gentle. Slow to anger and abounding in love. In the midst of my shifting situations, experiences, and circumstances He is constant.

I also realize how quick I've been to take credit for Him. Try to steal His glory. And so instead I want to say this... Any good thing that I've done, any ways in which I've grown, anything that points to something positive is His work. It's what He's done. And I'm so thankful He's using me. He's not given up. He doesn't dismiss me and say I'm a failure. He continues to change and mold me into His likeness. Continues to show me my need for Him. And that His grace is enough.

And I'm going to choose to celebrate with gratitude the life God has given me. I'm going to spend the day with my 5 fabulous and most certainly crazy kids and we're going to enjoy the beautiful creation God has made... at the beach. I will be enjoying the day that God gives me... whether full of adventures or misadventures. Full of joys and disappointments.  Ups and downs. And praising my God who sees it fit to let me celebrate another birthday.

Enjoy the day with me. Take in the sunshine. Laugh at the mishaps. Eat some chocolate. Laugh with a friend. Or if your day doesn't allow this... Comfort those in their loss. Encourage the overwhelmed or disheartened. Hug those near and dear and tell them you love them.

May you experience God afresh today.

I know I've said it before but one of my favorite songs is on my heart... So I repeat the lyrics again...

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful, He's always been faithful
He's always been faithful to me

He's Always Been Faithful ~ Sara Groves