a tiny creature in a vast world

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When first you know you are a tiny creature in a vast world.

For me, it was the ocean. I never don’t feel THAT way when I stand by the ocean. I am a tiny creature in a vast world.
Can you stand before the ocean and not wonder at the creation and Creator? The hugeness of the earth and the sky? The deafening sound of the waves. Their strength and danger. The miles before you. I am so small.

As I stood behind Noah last weekend on a mountain, watching him as he took in this incredible view, I prayed that my children would have that same breathtaking moment: I am so small. There is so much more to this life than me, me, me.

There is a good bit of advice given to us as of late, not to waste our lives. That we are important. That what we do is important. Find the value in yourself. Raise your self-esteem. And I believe those things. I believe it is important to press into each other that we can make a difference, that our lives are important, that our feelings matter. I do not in any way dismiss this. We are valuable and were bought at a high price. Remembering that is not wrong.

But, at the same time, we must be careful not to forget….this world wasn’t created FOR us. We were created FOR Him. There is a meshing up that needs to happen, of realizing we are important and what we feel matters and it’s not so much that we say something else matters more, that we must convince ourselves that we should be second or last, that we must try to make ourselves believe we don’t matter as much….but that we matter and what we feel matters BECAUSE something else matters more.

These things go together, they are not opposing as our minds in our flesh tell us they are. This is meant to match up:

We are meant to be important and our thought and feelings do matter…because we are part of the creation. God intended those things. Not that you fight yourself, but that you accept yourself. Not that you fret but that you trust. Not that you have angst but that you have peace. You are you for a purpose. That purpose is as simple as this: to glorify the Lord. As you recognize your value, recognize it in this sense:  The reason you are valuable is because He made you so and you exist to reflect his value back to Him.

This weekend as you celebrate Easter, do what you can to get before a view…a meadow of flowers, a field of crops, a hill above a lake, an ocean, a mountain, an expanse of any kind. Think on your size. Your literal size. Think on how many of us there are- how very many thoughts and feelings matter. And ask yourself why doing this takes your breath away- or if you are like me, gives you new breath, one you can’t describe that is sweeter somehow as it passes through your mouth into your lungs. This new breath that fills your lungs and for the moment you feel fully alive from the tips of your fingers to your toes.

I am a tiny creature in a vast world.

And that makes me free. This world is not about me. My life is not about me. This is freedom, my friends. Embrace it.

It is as simple as this: glorify the Lord.

Adam turns 8!

My sweet oldest turned eight years old today. Eight. Years. Old.

Eight is THAT age, you know. Where we are truly making memories. Where THIS is his childhood.  Where you know all you do, good and bad, is remembered. Where you know they begin to see you in the light in which they may always see you.

What I hope Adam’s light is…is love. Hope. Trust. Thankfulness. Unending care. Faith. But mostly love.

He is my sweet, sweet Adam who was hard-won and battled for. Can he ever know how much he was wanted, how deeply he is loved? I pray he sees that when he looks at us, he knows for certain how much we love him and that his childhood is emersed in that for all time.

We adore this kid.

He is kind. He loves deeply. He gives generously. He is passionate about the things he loves.
And what else could a mother ask for?

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So we had a little party.  Minecraft is the thing for Adam this year.
And, well, there are no Minecraft-created decorations or products.  So to Pinterest I went (of course) and here is how we partied….
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Olaf the Goldendoodle

Nine years ago this April, Greg and I got married.
Almost immediately, I wanted a dog. Well, I did want a dog. But I also wanted kids. And we had agreed to wait a bit before having kids. And so, in the way many couples do, I wanted to get a dog to help myself wait for the time that would be right to have children. But we didn’t get a dog. At the time that worked out better as we had an unexpected job offer and move that came a few months into our marriage. And that may have been hard to do with a pet.

So, periodically in these nine years, I’ve told Greg that I wanted a dog. Then we started having kids and as you know, that snowballed. We had two foster kids, then another set of foster kids, then we lost one and kept one and adopted, then adopted again, then I gave birth twice close together. No…then I did not want a dog. At all. For several years that sounded like the absolute worse idea ever. I said “I’ve got four kids. I don’t need anything else to do right now!” plenty of times in these years.

And then two years ago some friends got a Goldendoodle who came to visit for a few hours a couple times. She is a lovely and gentle dog. Then last summer we dog-sat for our friends for over a week while they were out of town. We fell in love with that dog and her breed; hypoallergenic for myself and Seth, gentle and sweet, obedient, smart and calm, NO shedding- not a hair did I see on furniture or clothes or floor in all that time she was here.

In January I was at this friends house, our kids were playing and as usual her dog was following she and I wherever we went, sitting at our feet as we drank our coffee. And I told her how very much I want a Goldendoodle and my plan to start saving now to afford it’s entire first year and get one for my birthday in July…if I could convince Greg. A few weeks later she called me: she had spoken to the breeders of her dog and they’d just had a litter. And there was ONE PUPPY LEFT. I had always assumed I would get a golden goldendoodle AND a girl. This was a black male puppy. The-only-one-left.
Then she sent me this picture:

IMG_6427Oh good gracious!
So, somehow that I’m still unsure of, I convinced Greg (fairly easily I should say) to load up all the kids and go meet this the-only-one-left. If nothing else, it’ll be fun to see a puppy, right?

Well it goes without saying that we left with the-only-one-left. We had recently seen the movie Frozen (and if you haven’t, you really should) and I left that day from the mall saying “I know our dog will be a girl but if we ever have a boy dog, we must name him Olaf.”  And so we left with this little black puppy with ZERO dog supplies at our house, completely unprepared for a dog…but totally ready for a dog.

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Our already-fenced-in backyard, along with the already-there dog-door (that the kids love to use) has made potty-training a breeze.

Olaf the Goldendoodle is the perfect dog for us; he loves being outside, he plays hard and sleeps most of the time. Being a homeschool family, he is rarely ever left alone. We have gated off the playroom and so have had zero problems with him chewing things that aren’t his. He does not like lamb dog food (now we know). He has three beds but wants to sleep right beside me on the floor.  He loves the park (just like us!) and is a perfect jogging companion. He thinks all kids love him because our kids certainly do. And he is sweet and gentle and a good dog already.

And so I must add a little “thank you” to Not The Mama for agreeing to this arrangement 6 months ahead of time. For being awesome and letting me have the dog I wanted all this time. For helping me take care of him and of course, ya know, footing the bill ;)  I love you.

My sweet baby Olaf. He loves for me to hold him like this.

My sweet baby Olaf. He loves for me to hold him like this.

We have loved our vet so far; she let all the kids listen to Olaf's heart and is so patience with our LOUD volume and my zillion questions.

We have loved our vet so far; she let all the kids listen to Olaf’s heart and is so patience with our LOUD volume and my zillion questions.

Lily has been so determined that Olaf needs to be covered up. This is the first and only time he has let her do this- and we had just spent 2 hours in the snow (which he loves).

Lily has been so determined that Olaf needs to be covered up. This is the first and only time he has let her do this- and we had just spent 2 hours in the snow (which he loves).

Well it snowed two big snows just after Olaf came to us...we had to make an Olaf the Snowman and Olaf the Goldendoodle picture.

Well it snowed two big snows just after Olaf came to us…we had to make an Olaf the Snowman and Olaf the Goldendoodle picture.

It’s Tea Time, Ladies

IMG_6910It is hard for me to believe it was five years ago that I gave birth to that beautiful baby girl who looked so perfectly like a doll. It is hard for me to believe it but every day she comes more and more a lady. I love this sweet and special child.

She has become so grown-up this last year. She reads a little and writes a lot. She is in her second year of ballet and loves it more every week. (She says, in fact, she will be a ballet teacher when she is grown…and a mommy.)

We love themes and a fifth birthday is important. In the past we’ve had a pirate party and a star wars party for fifths.  Just after Christmas, I pitched an idea to her for her 5th birthday party to be a tea party.  Not a pretend tea party, folks, but a real one, complete with china dishes and teacups and treats and TEA! And she loved the idea.

We had a great time going together to several antique stores in our little downtown to search for such special dishes. Combined with those we found and filling in with the china I have, we had plenty of fancy dishes for the beautiful little girls in fancy dresses. We also invited their favorite dolls along to party as Lily received her first ever American Girl for this big 5th Birthday.

Take a look at a sweet little Tea Party:

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The Girls & Their Dolls

The Girls & Their Dolls

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The American Girl is so fun

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I am so lucky to be her mama

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My adorable children all dressed up for the Tea Party.

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Tea Pot Picture Frames…gotta have a craft!!

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Finalized crafts: Tea Pot Picture Frames

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The “brothers” table, poor boys at a Tea Party

Get. A. Life.

I probably should make a rule about blogging when I’m this frustrated at humans. But tonight I just don’t care, darn it.

I am in a twilight zone today:
My Facebook is alite with posts that say gays shouldn’t be allowed a place at a table in restaurants of Christians…that obese women are all so lazy some man can’t even believe they do even one hour of vigorous exercise a year….that all “foreigners” should be forced to leave America….how poor people should be ignored by the government…And I’m thinking, I know these people? What am I doing? I mean, oh my gracious. What year am I in? What is happening on Facebook? And why don’t all these people have too much to do to worry about this??

Let’s set aside beliefs about these issuse for a moment and focus on time. I don’t know about you, friends-who-read-my-blog but I’m too busy for this nonsense. I have four children who need nurturing and instructing, who need to be taught how to be loving people who are others-oriented and Christ-centered. I have four children who are learning at home and I’m their teacher (eek!). I have a new puppy. I have books to read (a big ole’ stack of them) about parenting, marriage, Jesus, history, not to mention a few novels. I have friends to meet for coffee and thank you cards to send. I have tv shows to watch! I am a day behind on the podcasts I’m trying to get through! I have phone dates and skype dates to set. I have birthday parties to plan, gifts to buy, meals to cook. I have grocery shopping to do and notes to write. I have things I need to get around to cleaning out and cleaning up and laundry to fold. I have people in my life who have lost a loved one today, who are suffering from CANCER, folks (and surely you do too) and people who are in my community who don’t even have socks or a home I could be helping. (I have a new hangup about buying socks for the homeless- you should, too- another post for another day.) I have thoughts to think and journals to write and encouragment to give and hugs to share and….I made a cast of a mummy today with my kids for heaven’s sake!! I’m busy. In all the things I want to be busy in, in good things, I’m busy.
And so should you be. Busy. In good things. In life things. And if you have enough time to sit around and “share” or post things on your facebook that hurt, demoralize, judge or are in any way mean or racist or prejudice or discriminiatory then you know what? YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TIME.

Now. With all your extra time, I see your goal. Make yourself feel big. So, you are acting like a 6th grade girl who is insecure and prideful at once, who can’t focus on her life so she looks to the lives of others to put them down in order to put herself up. You are acting like someone who has so little compassion, they can’t even remember that others are hurting for their own boredom.
Get a life.
Thats what I say to you: Get a life.

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Quit worrying about whether someone’s love is the right gender, quit worrying about what color someone’s skin is, how much they weigh, or what church they do or don’t go to. Just quit.

You loud Christians who are demanding your ‘right’ to deny rights to others: You are pushing people away from Jesus. You are telling them that Jesus hates and judges and that grace isn’t real.  You don’t actually have to support homosexuality to see that this treatment of anyone is NOT acceptable.  You are asking for a right to be removed from another group of people and you aren’t going to like it when that table is flipped on you…when it is then Christians who are being denied rights, you will be angry. You will cry persecution. You will claim the unbelievers are crucifying your Christ again. It’s funny, your Christ doesn’t sound at all like mine, He who hung out with liars and thiefs and prostitutes and loved them deeply. You who claim to be like the lowly He spent time with are actually the new Pharisees. Don’t you see that? It’s you who are crucifying Him again with your hate talk and grappling. Just quit.

You who make comments and jokes about blowing up countries and kicking out all those who aren’t white….We are America: your family isn’t from here either.
You who make comments about ignoring the poor…is that truly what you want? To be one of those countries with the sad commercials shown elsewhere about sponsering kids for $7 a month so they can have shoes and medication?  Stop the government from taking care of people so we can all be…what? Self-sufficent? Have you ever actually read how very little of your taxes are used to help the poor? Do some research! Think about if it were you who lost a job, lost the breadwinner, lost your home. Just try a little tiny bit of kindness.
You who are judging people’s weight on facebook. I mean, honestly, did I just have to write this? If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it’s on facebook.  Wait. I should make that bold right? If you would not saying something ugly to someone’s actual face, don’t say it on facebook.

Here are some ideas to help you fill up your hate-filled time with better things:
join a club, read a book, call your grandma, journal your thoughts (and then don’t share them on facebook), paint your bedroom or kitchen or both, write a kids’ book, learn to sew, find an old friend, make a mixed cd, paint on a canvas, take someone’s dog for a walk, sing a song, buy socks for the homeless, try out a new recipe, pet a horse, take a bubble bath, play a board game, peruse an antique store, ask a kid what they think being nice means, copy your favorite Scriptures, quotes or song lyrics, kiss someone, write a note to someone who is grieving, pray for someone, eat strawberries or chocolate or both, visit a museum, sit outside in a rocking chair (if it’s cold take hot tea and a blanket), play with Legos, or color in a coloring book with crayons.
Remember to find joy in things.

Remember that our greatest commandments are to love God, and love others. Live out of that.

Just a little post on Lily, the Birthday Girl!

Usually I save birthday posts for AFTER the party so I can display all my decorations and hard work. (I can’t tell a lie, I enjoy pinning my own birthday parties. Don’t you?) But today is an exception. Because today Miss Lily is five years old.

How was it already five years ago that I gave birth to this precious little girl? It seems like it just happened. It seems like she was just a chubby baby doll in my arms, the daughter I’d always wanted. It can’t be that she just opened her first American Girl doll this morning. It can’t be that she writes and reads (a little) and tells hilarious stories and communicates everything…so well. She is just so sweet.

I love this girl. But, you know, so does every one who knows her. She has a kind spirit, a loving heart and a depth of emotional understanding and empathy that far exceeds her age. Five. Wow.
My life has been better these last five years because of her. I have been made better these last five years because of her.

I pray a lot for all my kids. Today I make a wish for Lily that she will know Love, Joy & Peace all her days.
And the birthday party post will follow soon…a TEA party, of course.

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20140219-102721.jpgLily’s favorite baby pictures of herself are the ones with her toe touching her face.  She finds that absolutely hilarious. Last night she said she was too big to touch her toe to her face and I proved her wrong. Happy, happy girl on her Happy Day!

Quiet Time Doesn’t Have To Be Quiet

When I was in college/college-aged I lived with a group of like-minded Christian girls. We were all a part of a camp ministry and many of us were also involved in the same campus ministry. I recall those days and both ministries with great fondness. I would not be who I am at my best without those years, those ministries, and the community around those roommates.

This morning as I sat in my king-sized bed with all four of my children, I was reminded of some of those days. Particularly, learning about “quiet time.” I am so grateful for the teaching that led me to a desire for time in God’s Word every day. It was not always taught as a law not to be broken, but with grace that promised goodness in a discipline that has value and matures your heart.  I loved “Quiet Time ” especially at camp, sitting in the mountains with only the sound of the river singing in my ears. I’ve loved it many a time at a coffee shop, all hours of the day. And I have it in my house too.

See, the thing is, my house is not so quiet. And I am not a morning person.

I remember those days in college feeling a sense of obligation that “Quiet Time”s had to be in the morning.  We lamented on each other about the Proverbs 31 woman who ‘rose before her family’ and in my limited maturity at the time, the only time for “Quiet Time” was in the morning.  It was a challenge even then to get myself up and thinking in order to read and comprehend the Word.  And I can vividly remember, long before marriage and kids, looking ahead at a life of seeking God and dreading the morning quiet times.  Deep dread would fill my heart as I considered all the years God would have me get up even earlier than toddlers (goodness gracious!) I tried so many times to convince myself that it was okay to have evening quiet times. Even seeking out older ladies to basically ask permission to have my quiet times at night, when I’m more alive and more alert and more able to digest the Word. If I could just be alone, in the quiet at least that was part of the equation, right?

It’s not that I don’t want to have a ‘quiet time’ and it’s not that I don’t see the value in being the “perfect” wife and mother who wakes up hours before everyone else and gets everything ready.  I also know I can learn the discipline of getting up before everyone. It’s not like I’m sleeping all day (Saturdays, Saturdays I sleeeeep, thanks to my awesome husband) and it’s not like I can’t. I get that for some, it’s about that discipline.  I know moms that do it now.  And even a year or two ago I would have felt jealous of them, felt that they were “better” at this than me, that I was failing in some way. I know many people who truly feel it matters HOW it’s done, not just that it IS done.   I remember women I deeply respect and admire telling us, this must be done exactly this way: It needs to be quiet. You need to be alone.  It must be in the morning before you start your day.
And you know, I see the value in some of that- I understand that mindset of starting your day in the Word. It’s lovely, it’s great. I also can see the need to be alone, particularly if you’re an easily distracted person.
However. I had four kids in four years. I am not easily distracted by anything. Maybe bleeding.  I can read, write and talk while my children live and learn and play and talk around me. I have no trouble with that. I can zone into something and literally have to be dragged back to reality. (This is questioned often when I share how much and how often I read. I can sit on my couch, kids watching the Magic School Bus, yelling at each other and playing the keyboard and guitar at once and be lost in a novel that’s taken me back to 1770′s Scotland. I’m in Scotland, they’re in the playroom. I’m not kidding.)
I also see the value in the lesson of Proverbs 31. I do not mean to dimish those that think this way, feel this way or just prefer this way.

But a couple years ago, I released myself from that rule, that it must be morning and must be quiet and I must be alone. I gave myself grace. I decided that time in God’s Word was my goal and I didn’t care if that happened at 6 am, during lunch, after naptime or right before falling asleep at night. There is a difference in guilt and conviction. When I made this a strict timing issue, I took away from the heart of the issue. When I tried to fit myself into a nice, little Christian-y box, I didn’t fit. When I failed, it took me further from the God I was seeking, by my own doing.

And this morning, I sat here with my Bible and my journal and Streams in the Desert and thought about how, a few years ago, I would have felt guilty that while I had my “quiet time” my kids were watching TV and every single one of them was in the bed with me. I would have even journaled about how bad I felt about that.  I would have said something about making some effort to change that, to ‘be better’ at quiet times.  Now I realize- that was foolishness. Time in God’s Word is the point, folks. Time to hear him, time to study him, time to wonder at his goodness and mercy, time to seek him. And in my years of sorrow and then having four kids in four years, I’ve simply given myself room to celebrate even finding time for that without stress.

If seeking God’s Word causes stress, we’re doing it wrong, ladies.

Some of you will not like this post. You’ll disagree.  You’ll say a lot of “buts” in your mind.  And that’s okay.  Have your time whenever you feel God desires you to have it.  

But, if you’re like me, maybe you just need some permission. Permission to seek God whenever you get the chance, permission to seek the Word when and where and in whomever’s presence you choose. Permission to have your quiet times in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Friends, you have permission. And you have grace…allow yourself to accept it.