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The Birthday Girl

I’m writing this a few weeks after the fact because her birthday lasted a really long time this year!  Apparently 4th birthdays are a HUGE deal and require a couple weeks of celebrating.

The actual big day consisted of her opening her present from Nana and PapPa which she LOVED!

and enjoying a My Little Pony cake with some family friends.

Pretty low key because her actual present was coming the next day.  See when we asked Elliana what she wanted for her birthday, all she would say was “go to Iowa”.  She wouldn’t list presents; she wouldn’t dream of castle cakes.  She only wanted to go to Iowa and to have a Grandma and Grandpa birthday.

If I’m honest, that’s pretty much all I want to do too so I began planning a trip to see my family.  One text to my sisters and mom, and the whole party was planned!  I love my fam =)

If you could see the cake from the other direction, you would see a picture of Grandma and Grandpa.  My little 4 year old was serious about this Grandma and Grandpa party!  She insisted their picture be on top of her cake!

I do believe we might have made the party and the time spent in Iowa a bit too fun.  All three of my children are already planning how each of them can have their next birthday in Iowa!

One of the things I absolutely love about this little girl is that though the presents were fun, the cake was good, and the games were a blast, what she most liked about her party was that she got to celebrate with all her cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandma and grandpa.

She truly puts relationships with people above everything else.  Her tender heart has really risen to the surface this past year and there are times when I’m almost teary eyed at her perspective and love for others.   She will always be our funny, loves to make jokes, the party follows her wherever she goes girl.  But within that extroverted personality lies a tender heart of a young girl who is capable of making even the smallest thing feel special.

We love you so much sweet girl!  Thanks for the cuddles, the sweet words, the millions of cards and pictures you draw me, the patience you demonstrate, and the love for others you possess.   Watching you become your own person is my joy and I pray you will learn to chase after God with the same passion you have for chasing after your friendships.  Happy Birthday!!

The Next Ten Things

“The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible.  And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible.  Isn’t joy the art of God?”

-Ann Voskamp

121: Finding a new park on a beautiful morning

122: Watching my child conquer her fear of falling.  Her courage and determination are inspiring to me.

123: Getting to know my adorable niece

124:  Being reminded daily by my children that life is fun.  Enjoy it.

125: The sparkles in my kids eyes when daddy cuddles with them

126:  My mom who isn’t scared to hand her grand kids sprinkles

127:  My son’s mischievous look that always keeps me on my toes.

128: My camera started working just long enough to snap this photo of my parents with my kids.  It stopped working again shortly after this was taken.  SOOOO thankful it was able to capture this!

129: My dad’s love for me and for my kids

130: A reminder to quit worrying about what might happen and just enjoy life.

New Seasons

Personal worship times. There are seasons of intense study, seasons of reading a huge chunk of scripture every day, seasons of reading one or two verses a morning, seasons of journaling continually, seasons of reflections, seasons of complete application,  seasons of listening, and millions of other seasons.  God uses all sorts of seasons to teach us and to develop a deeper relationship with Him.

Currently my time with the Lord in the morning has been shifting from one of intense study to one of meditation and memorization. The shift started a few months ago as God began teaching me about the importance of the heart. This lesson has led me onto the road of simplicity and how to be still in my heart and just know God is God. Throughout this journey, God has been speaking to me about how important the heart is in my relationship with Him and with others. It seems EVERYTHING I have come across over the last few months has been read through the lense of “the heart”.

Now it seems God is urging me to change my heart. Years of attempting to overcome personal challenges, years of working on characteristics and implementing spiritual disciplines, years of asking the Lord to change me, have all pushed me towards this season of life.

Memorizing books of the Bible.

The past month or so I’ve spent my time with the Lord in the morning memorizing the book of I John. Simply memorizing this whole book has radically changed me.

I heard someone say once that to memorize entire books of the Bible is more beneficial than to memorize random verses throughout the Bible. While I don’t know if I would go as far as to say “more beneficial”, I definitely do find that the few times in life when I’ve put forth the energy to memorize complete books of the Bible, the Lord uses that knowledge in incredible ways.

It seems when I’m memorizing complete books, my mind continually thinks scripture. For example, I get frustrated at a kid; my mind goes into I John 1 mode:

This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you that God is light; in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness we lie and the truth is not in us.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Its hard to act out your frustration when the word of God continually walks through your mind and reminds you that if you walk in darknesss, we are not practicing the truth. 

For some reason, having the ENTIRE book go through my head throughout the day, keeps me walking in His presence a whole lot more.  It makes me dwell in him more, it makes me pray more, it makes me yell less, it makes me love greater, it makes life more joyful. 

If you’ve never experienced the joy of memorizing an entire book of the Bible, read this article by John Piper and pray about starting today.  You’ll never regret it.

20 More

101. 12 hours in a car with my family. The conversations and memories are priceless

102: My sister’s excitement over helping me plan my daughter’s 4th birthday party

103: Being in Iowa for a week. My sisters and their families are so precious to me and I love when we get to spend time with them.

104: Big grins as she opens up presents from her cousins, aunts, and uncles.

105: The support and love of a family
106: The joy that comes from swinging a bat at a pinata

107: The even greater joy when the pinata breaks!

108: Good coffee

109: A good night’s sleep

110: Talking with my sisters

111: My kids planning “suprises” for me all day long to show me they love me

112: Teaching little ones to play baseball

113: Vacation

114: Afternoon naps

115: Time spent with my mom

116: The sunshine

117: A little boy who constantly says “watch this mom” and then proceeds to make some sort of explosion noise as his hands shoot into the air

118: Cuddles at night from sleepy eyed children

119: The wonders of diggers. Seeing road construction through the eyes of a two year old makes even the longest delay fun.

120: A husband who will fly back up for a day so he can make the 15 hour car trip home with me.

I’ve Been Recovering

The week after Easter is always a recovery week for us. Brent calls Easter week a “Super Bowl” week for all worship pastors. Basically it means we don’t see him all week as he works hard to implement, rehearse, design, and create all that the Lord has laid on his heart for Good Friday and Easter. I absolutely LOVE watching Brent in action during this season! I’m definitely a bit biased but I’m pretty sure the Good Friday service this year was one of the best =)

All that to say, the week after Easter, we sleep. I think we’ve been in bed by 9:30 every night and have slept in until 6:15 or so every morning. And now we are up North on vacation. But as I was laying on the couch today thoroughly enjoying my vacation, I realized I never posted any Easter pics. I also realized that if I don’t post them, by next year I will have forgotten this Easter. (anyone else have memory problems?!) So a week late, here is our Easter weekend.

After a week of giving up all things sugar, the kids woke up to a table full of treats.

They were really excited about their treats

All week, we had been discussing and acting out the last few days of Jesus’ life. Friday night after the Good Friday service the kids had put Jesus into the tomb. Easter morning they woke up to an empty tomb and a party to celebrate.

The party continued after church and way into the evening at some friend’s and all their families. There were about 20 kids under the age of 6 running around and playing. The kids had a blast and with so many of them to entertain each other, the adults had a blast too. The perfect Easter day.

Easter may be one of my favorite holidays.

Maudy Thursday?

I can honestly say, I never heard this term growing up.  I read it a few times and saw it on church signs, but to be honest, I didn’t really know what it meant. I definitely never stopped to soften my heart or reflect on the Last Supper or the significance of this day.

But last year, God started pointing out the importance of the Thursday night before Easter.  That Thursday where he sat down with His disciples broke bread, poured wine, and explained with a vivid visual demonstration what was about to happen.

This morning as we were acting out the Last Supper with the kids, and I was speaking Jesus’ words while breaking a pancake into little bitty pieces and using milk to show how his blood would be poured out, I completely had to stop talking.

Looking into my kids wide, unblinking eyes and then looking down at that pancake broken into bits, all I could do was cry and thank my Savior for what He did.  I passed the book over to Brent, looked at my children, and simply said, “I can’t speak anymore”.

Jesus sat there the night before he was to be beaten, broken, and murdered and calmly prepared his followers for what they were about to see.  He sat there at that table and taught them about being servants, how to love, and how sometimes death is the only answer for true life to begin.

And I lived 30+ years never even stopping to take a few seconds to remember Maudy Thursday.

This year it is different.  This year I remember.  This year tears come in gratitude.  This year Holy Thursday is treasured.   This year I’m thankful for Jesus softening my heart so I could hear, receive, and understand the message that he spoke on that last night before His death.

Preparing our Hearts

In an attempt to prepare our hearts for Easter, we have been talking about what it looks like to love God.
Obeying and loving God is hard in our own strength; however this is a difficult concept to communicate to young children. They know the “right” answers to how to love God, but will more than likely fail to carry out those “right” answers numerous times today. Those failures are what I’m using to prepare their hearts (and mine!) to understand the need for the cross.

The Next 15 things.


76.  Quiet mornings reading the Word

77. Opening up this website and seeing my husband’s song being promoted to worship leaders everywhere.   When the CD was released, it signified an end to the 8 months of hard work and sacrifices.  When I see one of his songs being pushed in Worship Leaders magazine, I am overwhelmed  at what God is doing through Brent’s hard work and sacrifice.  It is a blessing to watch God move!

78.  A doctor who is knowledgeable and will help fix my knee.

79.   A receptionist who graciously was able to schedule an MRI for a time when the nursery was open at church so I didn’t have to pay for childcare.

80. A husband who takes care of the family so I can lay down and ice my knee

81. A family yard work day.  Watching the kids pick up piles of leaves and contribute to the family is heart warming!

82. Two year old birthday parties!  The little man’s friend had a party over the weekend.  There is such joy in watching tons of kids freely and joyfully playing and laughing with each other.

83. The satisfaction of driving by our yard and seeing the 10 yard bags lining the street.  Full yard bags equal completed yard work!

84.  Rain in the middle of the night.

85. Girls who stumble out of bed and onto my lap every morning.  Their sleepy eyes and crazy hair make me smile every morning.

86. A friend spending her evening taking pictures of my kids in the bluebonnets.

87. The little guy walking into his nursery room without crying.

88. A breakfast date with my husband where we can talk and laugh and just enjoy our morning together.

89.  Sitting through a meeting with my husband that both inspires us and teaches us how to parent and love our children better

90.  God providing a solution to a decision Brent and I couldn’t agree on.  After 4 months of discussing it and praying over it, God brought about a solution that is much better than the one either of us could have imagined.

Dwelling

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—
(Ephesians 3:16-17 )

“So that Christ may dwell”...

Christ does dwell because He is my salvation, but yet there is more to this verse than just salvation.  He lives inside me, but dwelling seems to imply more than simply living.

It seems yet again as I study what it means to “dwell”, I am returned to the idea of humility.  As I humble myself before the Lord, he will strengthen me.  But not just that, he will indwell within me with the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.  Through my faith in Christ, I get the power of both Christ and the Holy Spirit continually within me.

If I humble myself and believe...

Its been a long four months of God teaching me what it truly means for him to be my power and strength.   Four months of me thinking I was allowing God to be my power and strength only to find myself tired and burnt out.  Four months of God picking me back up, reteaching me the lesson, me learning a little bit more how to live it out, and then finding myself tired and burnt out.

I love when God doesn’t give up and keeps working so the message gets deeper and deeper into my soul.  And then, Monday  night happens and God shows me that I believe deeper than I ever thought possible, and not only believe but walk in that belief and allow Him to truly be my strength and power.

Such wonderful freedom to know that the lesson you have sought after, the knowledge you’ve attained, the prayers you’ve prayed for spiritual growth in an area, to know that God has used that faith in Him to teach me what it looks like to dwell…me in Christ and Christ in me.

The journey makes the second part of the verse even more meaningful

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17-19 )

Filled with all the fullness of God…Dwelling.

The Secret’s Out

These two adorable little girls were chatting about their favorite restaurants today at lunch. I simply asked if they liked eating in restaurants or eating at home better.

They giggled as they looked in each other’s eyes. You know the sister look. The look that says some sort of words but no one but the two of them know what those words are.

I asked them to speak with words and not with their eyes and so the oldest replied with a smile.

“We like eating in restaurants so we don’t have to cook.

I reminded her that she didn’t do the cooking; I did.

Again with the smile and then, “But if you have to cook you always say, ‘Give me a minute, I’m thinking‘ and then we can’t talk to you.”

This was followed by a big explosion of giggles from the table. Apparently they have noticed that mommy needs a little peace and quiet in order to prepare dinner. Apparently they have figured out that if we can just go out to a restaurant, they never have to be quiet.

Smart little kids.

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