Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jonah and the Big Fish {as told by KJ}

While I am on a blogging roll about things that we are learning at RHCC, one of KJ's favorite stories in the bible is Jonah. This is largely thanks to the fact that a couple of years ago he learned all about the story during summer spectacular, our church's version of VBS (only way better than any VBS I ever attended). So, he tells us the story of Jonah all the time. I've tried forever to get it on video, but he always freezes. Here is a fairly good version that I captured recently. Believe it or not, he actually scales back the drama a bit for the camera.

If KJ could have just one wish granted, I do not doubt that it would be that he could really READ (that or be Batman, but you know). In the meantime, he can often be found reciting some of his favorite stories while turning the pages in the books (sometimes while wearing his batman cape).
Without further ado...KJ "reading" the story of Jonah (in the New Testament).

A few things to note (as if you could miss them):
- When in doubt, just mix in some Cars references. "Radiator Springs" is easily confused with the "raging sea".
- Cbug "reading" in the background. He says "C, B, A" when reading a title (backwards). He is OBSESSED with letters right now. And a little later he "reads" about the monkeys jumping on the bed.
- KJ explaining how "Three days is five days." Basically the same thing.
- C walking around with the little box that KJ's bible goes in, while growling "My Bible, My Bible"

Oh, how I love these moments!


Monday, April 26, 2010

On purpose...For a purpose

Anyone else still wrestling through your thoughts after the amazing sermon at RHCC this weekend? I certainly am so this post is sure to get wordy. Just need a place to process, and hey this is my blog. SO, if you want the abreviated version. Do two things.
1) Go down to where I have the link to the sermon and listen to it if you missed it.
2) Watch the video of my sweet kiddos saying some of their memory verses.

Now, let the processing commence...

Something I'm continually wrestling with as a parent is how to help my kids build their "identity". I have already mentioned on this blog that when we are out and about they hear comments from complete strangers about their appearance (he/she is so cute/beautiful; what gorgeous eyes; are they the same size? etc). I often feel defensive for my oldest son when people comment about his younger brother being bigger in stature; I guard my younger son from comments about his, um, healthy appetite; I already am conscious of comments I make to my daughter about how she looks in a certain outfit.

It’s not that I mind these comments, or even plan to try to shield my children from them. The comments are always well intentioned and, of course, it makes me proud when people notice my children. But still, it always stirs up something in me. Probably because each of them is so much more to me than what people can see. I don’t want the way they see themselves to be driven by their appearance or even their intelligence.

I have absolutely LOVED the series that RA is doing right now on being CALLED. But because of this struggle for my children, this week’s lesson really struck a chord. Saturday afternoon I had two situations where I found myself wanting to redirect well meaning conversations about my children (in front of my children). The situations brought me back to this same struggle. I felt the need to snap at others with something witty about how amazing my children were…on the inside.

Then Saturday night we went to service and the lesson was about this very thing. I don’t know if it spoke to others, but it was for me…loud and clear. In summary, I believe the reason I get defensive about these comments, or feel the need to respond in a way that redirects the attention, is I because I’m so concerned with how my children will develop their identity.

How will they know how special they are?

The world says their unique identity will be based on performance or appearance. In order to be special, they will have to be better than others at something or be uniquely beautiful. In reality, the odds are good that they will be neither.

That sounds harsh. But it is true. And it doesn’t matter.

My three children are uniquely special because that is how they were designed. From the beginning. Before they were even known by name by their family. They were created and designed in a wonderful way. On purpose. No accidents.

Psalm 130:14…
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Not only were they created ON PURPOSE, they were created FOR a PURPOSE.

Jeremiah 1:4-9
4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

6 "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak;
I am only a child."

7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.'
You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.

8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.

9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth.”

I wouldn’t dare wish the years away, but there is a part of me that would love a fast-forward button. I cannot wait to see what each of my children will do for the Kingdom of God. How will they use the gifts that were given to each of them? How will they serve? Who will they influence? We were each called to something great.

We were called for the purpose the Lord has set before us, before we were formed.

We are special. "Long before we thought of God as important, He already decided that we were."

So while this sermon didn’t change the fact that my children will always hear comments about their physical qualities or abilities, it does change my response to them. My job is not to influence how the world sees my children, but to influence how my children see themselves. To know why they are special. I don’t want it to matter to them whether people value their appearance or performance. They will know that their worth lies in the fact that they were knit together to the smallest detail, by the same God who created the universe.

Now, that is something to be proud of.

And there is more good news…
I’m not alone in teaching this to them.

For starters, everything I’ve written here is what I learned from a wise counselor, who is listening to the Lord, and sharing exactly what we need to hear to be encouraged on this topic. None of these thoughts are originally mine, and I am so blessed to be lead and encouraged both from the pulpit and personally by a man who is following HIS calling. Thanks, Rick.
(in fact, you are better off to stop reading now and go listen to his message from this weekend. Go here and listen to "Called #8.)

Also, I’m surrounded by an amazing community of believers who sees each child as special. I couldn’t say enough about our amazing Children’s ministry staff and they way they are cultivating identity in my children and hundreds of others. My children are taught the word by adults they love each week. And even more, they are prayed for. On Saturday during this lesson, Rick had pictures on the screen of babies from the baby blessing and asked the congregation to pray for each. I was a blubbery mess as pictures of Lou and her friends came across the screen, knowing that over the weekend there would be literally thousands praying for their tender hearts. That means the world to me.

Finally, we are blessed with family and friends who are taking time to invest in a deeper way with each of my children. Teaching them everyday. I’m so blessed that my children are “trained in the way they should go” even when RRL and I fall short.

“And that’s an encouraging thought”

One that RRL and I needed as we start another week of purposeful parenting. And maybe, just maybe, I needed to be reminded of that for myself as well. I was created on purpose. For a purpose. And so were you. Not the least of which is parenting.

Oh Lord, help us be wise stewards of this great gift, our children. Help us write your words on their tender hearts. Help them see your purpose. Hear your call.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blessing Bookends

It seems quite fitting that just a few days after Lou's blessing, we had the Senior Tea for some of my favorite soon-to-be high school graduates.  I got all nastalgic (shockingly) thinking about how the moms of these beautiful senior girls must feel like they should still be picking their "babies" up from the nursery instead of sending them off to college.  I loved having that these two events, that both represent so much change and growth, so close together.  Both are the beginning of something new.  A new group of babies joining our congregation with great blessing and joy.  And a group of students sent out from our congregation with equal amount of blessing and joy. 

Look at these beautiful senior girls, their sweet mommas and amazing junior class hostesses.
It was such a privaledge to be part of this afternoon celebration.

I love that our church is so committed to praying for these times of transition.  For the babies and the women they become.
The prayers for each group are different in some ways but in some ways so much the same. 
The prayers for those you love never really do change.
Oh, Lord, may they find
Strength.  Faithfulness.  Courage.  Love. 
in your Holy Name.


Ok, so, just had to share...I was up late tonight, after writing this and looking through other pictures and my little blessing woke up crying.  She never wakes up anymore at night.  I treasured the time I got to just hold her, rock her and pray over her all the more because of this day.  I was reminded how few moments I will get like that before it will be her turn at senior tea.  The timing of it just gave me chills.  Isn't it sweet how the Lord uses so many things to remind us of Him?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blessed {again}

We are so blessed to have spent nearly 9 years at a Church where we are loved and encouraged in so many ways.  I could write a whole series of blogposts on the people that minister to us there, the ways we are challenged to grow, the opportunities we have to minister to others.   But I'll save that.  Or, better yet, just come see for yourself sometime :)

On Wednesday we were once again blessed by our Church family as we participated for a third time in the annual baby blessing.  I love that even though our Church has so many members, this night always feels so personal. From the moments of prayer for our family by an elder while laying hands on each of us, to the mixing and mingling with other families of babies born in the same year, to smiles hugs and squeezes from the amazing Children's Ministry staff.  I won't say I wasn't a little sweaty trying to keep up with my 3 munchkins, take pictures, and be sure they got their promised snacks at the "party".  But so worth it.  We are so blessed by this time of blessing.  BLESSED indeed.

It was amazing with KJ in 2007 and with Cbug in 2009.

and in 2010, it was Lou's turn.

Prayer time by our of our sweet Shepherds and his amazing wife!  Love them
(and Lou loved trying to get her shoe off then put her shoe in his pocket...during the prayer.  awesome)

And on stage with all of the other 2009 babies' families
(You can't really see us in the first one and in the second one, you can only see RRL...laughing...because Lou and I had to move to the back row to keep her from climbing over me and anyone else in her way.  She was OUT. OF. CONTROL)

Enjoying time with family
(you can tell how much she LOVES her aunt and uncle)

And with some of her favorite people
(and here you can tell how much she did NOT want to be held.  or have her picture taken.)

My sweet blessing.

We are so blessed to have her in our family!  And she is so blessed to be part of this extended family.

PS- Did I mention there were snacks?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Being "old" never felt so good

RRL likes to make fun of me for being "old" ... referring especially to my love for talk radio (thanks, Daddy).  So, when we arrived at the garden club tent in Ennis for the 2010 bluebonnet festival and this cute couple was standing outside our van, RRL was quick to point out that now he knew I really was "an old Lady at heart". So I chose to go to the same place for vacation as they did.  What does that mean? 

As you may remember, last year I was on a mission to find a perfect location to take bluebonnet pictures of our children. Thanks to my last minute research we found a decent patch and got some fun pictures.

This year, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I did my research ahead of time and discovered that Ennis is the "bluebonnet capital" and each year they have a festival commemorating that fact. Yep, I'm serious...and I'm even more serious when I tell you that I thought it would be the perfect place for a little spring get-away for our family.

While it might not have been RRL's first choice of weekend activities, he was happy to spend a weekend with his four favorite people...Right, Babe?!?!

Whether he went willingly or not, I think even he would admit that this was another one of my hare-brained-ideas that actually was a great success!

We started out seeing some of the "sights".  You know, the visitor's bureau, the Ennis sign, the Garden club tent.  Yep, that pretty well covers it.  I must say, this really is the cutest town.  We enjoyed strolling mainstreet and ate at the best restaurant downtown.  It was nice to get away and only be an hour from home.

We spent Friday night just being together, including a drive along the "bluebonnet trail" on a scouting mission for Saturdays bluebonnet pictures. The cool thing about the garden club is that they map out for you the best roads to take to see the most wildflowers that are in bloom at the time. Aren't they gorgeous?

Funny thing about bluebonnets, though...when we told KJ we were going to see "fields full of bluebonnets" he was beyond excited.  I mean unreasonably excited.  Through a series of events, we finally put together that he thought a bluebonnet was an armadillo thanks to a book we once read on Texas history.  It was narrated by Bluebonnet the Armadillo.  So, KJ was picturing fields and fields of armadillos.  No wonder he was so pumped...but he handled the disappointment well.  Before we figured out the confusion, he informed someone from the garden club (he makes friends everywhere he goes) that when he "saw some bluebonnets, he was going to SQUASH THEM ALL".  We quickly reassured them that we would let him do no such thing.  The look of panic on their faces was priceless, though.

Now for the real point of the trip...
After seeing the gorgeous fields, I had high hopes for the pictures.  I brought bribes for the boys (cookies) and then banked on the fact that the picture diva would smile.  She always smiles.  I was wrong.  She apparently DOES NOT smile in bluebonnets, especially when her teeth are bothering her and it is her nap time.  She was miserable.  Ah well.  That said, here are a few (of the hundreds) that were my favorites.
One of the only things that helped Lou enjoy her time in the flowers was her watering can.  That is, until her brother took it away.

She also tolerated Cheerio bribes.  In fact, in the picture above, of her standing up she actually has a cheerio hanging on her tongue.  Side note:  Can you believe how big she is, standing up with her brothers?
Even though their sister wasn't into it, the boys had lots of fun running and playing and wresting and hugging and jumping in the fields of flowers.

Aren't they sweet together? Crazy wild. But sweet.

We ended the weekend at the festival.  Fun times, fried food, and three sleepy kids by the time we left.  We loved the corndogs and funnel cakes (of course).  The kids loved the train ride and the bounce house.....and of course, just jumping off the curb repeatedly is always good for a few laughs (thanks, C).

I offered to ride the train with the boys, as other parents were.  KJ put his hand on my arm and said "mom, i think it should just be me and Cbug".  Um, ok.  I know when I'm not wanted.  Actually, I loved seeing KJ take C by the hand and lead him to the train.  They were so big!  The princess was worn out from all the picture taking and just enjoyed her nap in the stroller.  Sweet girl!

I sure loved this weekend with my family.  Bet you couldn't guess that from the number of pictures (there are more on facebook).  Bet you also couldn't guess it from the number of words on this blog post.  Hey, an old lady's gotta tell her stories.
If this is what being old is made of...I'm fine with it.  Being "old" never felt so good.


Monday, April 19, 2010

MMM: a send off celebration

There are people that make an impact on you because of the way they love you, and then there are people that make an impact because of the way they love you AND your family.  LC has been one of those people for us from the time she was in high school.  She has loved our children and hung out with me when RRL is out-of-town.  We have laughed together...a LOT.  So, when she finished grad school and got a job far away, we HAD to have at least one more fun night celebrating our sweet friend.

You can see how much she loves these boys...just by the fact that she was even willing to try to take a picture with them and all of their rowdiness.  These three boys love to be together, and they LOVE LC, but this was pushing bed time.

LC and some of her friends with my kiddos. 
Poor kids can't find anyone to take them home and put them to bed.  Look at Lou's sleepy eyes! 
At least the girls are gorgeous and so sweet to my three.  Sure love these girls!!

The real MMM project part of this celebration was the little book we made for LC to take with her.  The boys each made one page, I wrote a letter, and then we made a page of crazy pictures of the kids (see below).

Because LC was moving to a town packed with USA history, I decided to dress the kids in red, white, and blue; KJ took the patriotism one step farther.  The photo shoot was a failure at getting a great shot of all three kids (like 9 out of 10 photo shoots are with 3 kids under 4).  But it was a success at capturing thier personalities...which LC can surely appreciate after spending so much time with them.
Clockwise: 1) My favorite picture; 2) Lou clapping and Cbug doing his favorite thing- identifying a "dub-you"; 3) KJ finding other uses for the flag; and 4) C's famous crazy face.

This was a fun Monday, but a bitter-sweet send off.  We love you, LC!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Weekend {unabridged}

Our Easter weekend was AMAZING.  It was crazy busy.  But it was amazing.

First stop...
KJ's school Easter Egg hunt.  I love his little preschool and the people we are meeting there.  I especially love the times when I get to visit and watch him in his element.  He knows everyone.  Everyone knows him. The easter egg hunt, though, was business.  He was totally focused and it was hilarious to watch him run in circles gathering eggs like his life depended on it.  The best part was, though, at the end of it he couldn't have cared less how many eggs stayed in his basket and willingly shared with others who didn't get very many.  What a precious heart!

I love that he goes to school with the daughter of someone I work with.  It is so amazing to me to see the Lord bring "co-workers" into my life in a deeper way.  I'm blessed to be getting to know this family...and KJ loves his friend K.

Second stop...Cousin brunch.  For several months now, I've been meeting once a month with some of RRL's cousins and their kiddos for a playdate.  It is so fun to watch "family" become so much more as these children develop relationships.  This month we decided to expand to the whole family on a Saturday morning for brunch and an egg hunt.  It got a little crazy with 8 kids under 5 (even with missing the other 5 great-grandchildren).  But it was so much fun!

Here is KJ showing his great-grandmother his prized football egg.  This was bittersweet, because I so wish he could really know her, but I do know that I can see her legacy in him and in each of these sweet great-grandchildren.  What a privaledge to pass on to them the faith that we celebrate at Easter because of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents!
I'm so blessed to have married into such a fun group of cousins.

Saturday night we moved our normal small group to the park for "family church" and an Easter egg hunt.
This is what Easter weekend should be about.  Showing our kids what is important to us.  Showing them that our family is surrounded by people that love them, but even more who love the Lord and believe that He died and ROSE on the 3rd day.  These people will encourage our children to claim this truth and these are the moments I want them to cling to, espeically around holidays like Easter.

We started the evening with some singing and a lesson for the kids.  One dad did an amazing job of using symbols in Easter eggs to have hte children help tell the story of Christ's death and ressurection.  It was perfect and the kids soaked it up.  We also did family communion.  I loved that another dad led us to really think about the ways Jesus moved in the bible and even in our own lives. He is RISEN INDEED!

My treasures showing the spear that they found in their egg and listening to the explanation of what it symbolizes.
After Church we had an egg hunt.  What a fun group of kids!

Easter Sunday!
All dressed and ready to go.
1) Lou does have two legs, she just kicked one up in her dress and
2) Lightning McQueen really is a family member.
We went to Sunday morning service at RHCC.  Another great blessing in the weekend!  We went prepared for wrestling all 3 through service thinking there was no childcare.  Don't get me wrong, I love the moments when our family gets to be together for worship.  However, 1.5 hours keeping 3 kids under 4 still and quiet is just a lot.  So judge if you want, but there may or may not have been an audible sigh of relief when we heard the announcement that there was indeed power kids and I quickly filed all three munchkins to their respective classes.  They loved it, we loved it.  Really a win/win for everyone, right?

As for the wardrobes, Libby's dress was given to her by a dear family friend.  It is a treasure indeed and I loved having all of my sweet children dressed in white for the morning.  I was actually feeling a bit overwhelmed by their "adorableness" until I looked down the pew at KJ in the middle of serivce and realized that he had on his black and red flame hotwheels socks under his dress clothes.  Oh how the Lord will humble us. 
Then went to Grammy's house for lunch and ONE MORE Easter egg hunt.  Another fun time with family and friends!
KJ's shirt below was his Easter basket present.  He LOVES spider man these days.  The boys also got walkie talkies.  Which would have been great...except they didn't work.  What a downer!

Easter weekend was such a delight!  I loved every. crazy. moment.  And while I hope we can teach our children about Jesus all year, I'm so thankful for times when the whole world stops to aknowledge Him.  Time set aside to remind us to continue teaching them.  Hope your weekend was full of those reminders, too!