It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May the Merriest of Christmases be YOURS!

Today is the big day... big is so many respects. Big because it's arguably the best Holiday of the year. Big because for some retail chains this holiday puts them in the black after months of seeing red. Big because some families are spending time together for the first time in years. Big because some families are not together for the first time in years. For almost everyone in the world, today is the Big Day.

Except for some it's not. I have to admit that I am a little sad when I walk the dog in my neighborhood and I see the houses with absolutely no decorations announcing their commitment to Christmastime. Those are the houses that belong to the Muslims and Hindu's of our neighborhood. I know that they have their own celebrations that in their country, when the time comes, they get very enthusiastic over but all the celebrating in the world won't hide the fact that they celebrate in vain. Whatever it is they celebrate, whomever it is they celebrate does not promise Eternal Life with the Almighty Creator. It does not celebrate His coming to Earth to be LIKE US... YUCK! Seriously? What Almighty King and Lord and Creator would do that? Why, a King would never stoop so low as to BECOME like his creation, His peasants, His underlings.

When was the last time that thought entered YOUR mind?


Possibly NEVER? It's ok, After all we live in a Representative Republic (hate to break it to you but we really aren't a democracy and really, it's better that way) we have no real understanding, as citizens of a young country but old enough not to have members still alive that remember the origins of our great nation. It's a bit of a shame though because we cannot fully understand what it means to call Christ our Lord and King. There are people all over the world who wake up every morning to face life as citizens of Monarchies and Dictatorships. Some with leadership more benevolent than others. Regardless of how kind and gracious their King or Queen or Despot is they are completely aware of how confined and manipulated their lives are compared to ours. That is why most who live under those political systems want desperately to come live under ours.

In reality, those who become believers in those foreign lands - openly or secretly - have a far better understanding and grasp on who Christ is and what it meant for him to give up

"His divine privileges; He took the humble position as a slave and was born as a human being"


Much of Philippians 2 tells us about exactly WHO this Jesus Christ is. If you are living in a Monarchy or Dictatorship you marvel at what you read about Him. If you are a Monarch or Dictator you shake your head in disgust and assume Jesus is a lie or just insane. Maybe that is why the predominant religions of those types of political systems are not Christianity.

We have seen movies that show us story lines of princes or princesses that reject (in theory) their opulent lifestyle and by chance find someone to take their place in the palace in order that they can "live like the common man". Their reasons are always completely selfish and know that their experiment will end upon the slightest whisper of disappointment or disgust. In the end they learn lessons they need to learn about being humane leaders when their time comes but end up continuing to bask in their riches usually being a bit more gracious to their peasants and leave everyone feeling better about their futures. Awwwww.

But our King and Lord knew exactly what He was getting into when He CHOSE to be obedient to His Father and walk away from an existence He was perfectly happy with. There was no selfishness in His desire to come to earth and give up everything to experience a lifestyle He thought might be more fulfilling. Just typing those words makes me laugh at the idea of it. It's preposterous. I, for one, would NEVER do that, EVER!

That is because I am selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed. Even when I think I'm not, I am. Even when I'm at my most altruistic I am not so. There is never a time when thoughts about myself, in one way or another, don't enter my mind. Even if at some point I were to be someone who could appear to give up everything for those less fortunate than I... blah, blah, blah. I would still, in the back of my mind be thinking about what a great person I am to do that. But you better believe the moment the whole "crucify Him" thing would rear it's ugly head I'd be calling on my "king daddy" to rescue me from the idiots that live in our Kingdom who obviously don't know a good thing when they see it.

The older I get, the more of life I live, the more time I accumulate in the Word, the more I realize I cannot fathom who Jesus Christ really is. Until the last couple of years MJF and I worked consistently to help our kids understand what really should be focused on this date every year. But until the last couple of years I never really felt the reading of Philippians 2:5-11 might need to be read on one side or the other of the Christmas story we insist upon reading before diving under a tree decorated with lights and baubles and littered underneath with packages wrapped in delightfully colored paper.

Christmas 1994
Now that my kids are older, there wouldn't be much arguing if I added a couple of verses to our Christmas morning scripture reading. I'm just not sure they'd appreciate it any more than they ever truly appreciate the Word of God. What I mean to say is this - they cannot truly appreciate Philippians 2:5-11 because they have no idea what it means to be a king and shed his royalty nor do they understand what it's like to live under the headship of a king/despot who chooses to shed his royalty on behalf of his citizens.

Here we live, in a country, I believe, was ordained and blessed by God, yet we understand less of who He really is and what He really did because of our system of government. Ironic.

So next time you imagine Jesus Christ try to imagine his walking away from all His riches, and power, and strength, and might, and walking into the womb of a poor Jewish girl knowing FULL WELL what was ahead of Him. It's a powerful picture. Makes you wish you could start all over with your kids and put a whole new spin on Christmas, doesn't it?

The reality of WHO that little baby was - who as an infant He knew He was and yet submitted to be - that's a powerful thing to celebrate...

Merry Christmas my friends. Rejoice, the Lord has come! Praise His Holy Name.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas Eve...

The day before... that is an amazing thought. The day before brings so much excitement and anticipation. It's all in your head. You have no real idea of what is coming. Such is true with Christmas Eve. #2 son says he likes Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day. Even in his 18 year old mind and body lurks a little boy who each year is disappointed by what is opened on the big day. He's the only one that I could never really get to grasp fully why what sat under the tree wasn't really important and even less so was whether it met his expectations. I pray that as he ages and begins his own family that he will embrace what Christmas is all about, always has been, always will be. It's funny though, because we never thought our kids would be "one of those kids". After all, Santa was not a part of our lives - his name is not even allowed to be mentioned in front of dad. Dad can't stand Santa. Not because the man who existed first was anything bad but because of what he has become. Something I am sure he would recoil at and tear up over.

Santa or no Santa, it's our job to instill the level of anticipation in our kids. They always play off our lead and when we work hard at helping them to understand all that Christmas is, especially that without Easter, Christmas is meaningless (another reason we don't invite the Easter Bunny over on Resurrection Day). So here we are, up incredibly late and well into the morning of Christmas Eve. A big day for us because for #2 Son and I... well, it is our favorite. Why we love our stockings and Christmas Eve PJ's so much is beyond me but even as a child I adored my stocking stuffers more even than the presents that greeted me the next day.

It will be very different for us this year, though. We will be Skyping with #1 Son instead of opening presents together in the same room. He is so self controlled... really he is. I sent him a little tree and some presents to put under it and they are just sitting there until we unwrap them tonight and some more tomorrow. We will have church tonight as well. An evening of singing glorious songs to our Lord and Savior with thanksgiving in our hearts for His submission to His Father in setting aside his glorious body to reduce Himself to becoming a man. The humiliation is something I cannot fathom and frankly, I try not to think about it. It's something I'd never love many people enough to do. He loved a world of people that didn't even acknowledge Him.

The reality of my rescue, the hope I have in heaven has never been more real to me than it has in the past several weeks.


But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-6


Many of you read this blog post. I was honestly in despair and had no real idea of how I would possibly come out of it apart from a miraculous intervention from God. And as many of you know, He did intervene. In HIS way - a typical BIG, GOD way. He sent a precious sister in Christ who with her husbands consent, brought us a check for $8,000.00. It didn't take more than a nanosecond to realize that God didn't want us to back off of the adoption hopes and dreams, He wanted us to back off of our personal control of those hopes and dreams. Yes, He could have made my jewelry worth thousands more than what we were eventually offered but honestly, would we have hit our knees praising God? Not really, we would have been thankful that what MJF had so graciously gifted me with over the years ended up being a big helping of what we needed to bring home a little lost and hopeless girl. A little girl who needed rescuing. But when He speaks to the heart of a young couple with hopes and dreams of their own. Who have their own desires to save for necessities in order to be debt free and obedient to God with their finances. And yet, this is what they say... "We can get a new car later, there's a little girl in this world that can't wait until later."

Today, we are celebrating having finished a required Hague adoption course on line and diving into required reading. All of this and more to make positively sure we are the best family for one very special, precious little girl who has no idea what awaits her. But more than a warm bed and a loving family, toys and a dog and the opportunities she never could have had elsewhere - she will hear about a King who chose to reduce Himself to a man in order to walk amidst the worst of this world and then die for those of us, the worst, in order that we could be given eternal life in Heaven with God our Father. This little girl who has never known the love of a Father will not only bask in the love of an earthly father but will learn all about her Heavenly Father as well.

So, although today is the day before ... the day before He made His entrance into this dirty world in a dirty cave, to rest in a dirty manger, in some ways it's the day before for us as well. Although it will take months to accomplish the paperwork and other requirements that come with an International Adoption, it will feel like "the day before" the whole time. Each experience in the process will be new and we will be uncertain and yet excited. We will know that each time another expectation of us comes up we may be disappointed but it's ok because God's got it. This is HIS deal in every way, shape, and form. It has to be. None of us who embark upon this journey go into it with a savings account to handle the expenses. For most, someone handing them a check like we had handed to us would be a miracle of proportions they cannot fathom, however, it is not unfathomable to God. Psalm 50:10 says  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills... He owns it all. To speak to the hearts of His own adopted children to help provide $30,000.00 dollars to adopt a precious child in China is nothing to Him. That is true. But THAT is not what convinced me to put aside my wonder at just HOW that money was going to arrive. What convinced me that I needed to dive headfirst into this was that I completely trust Him with my Salvation. Which is harder to grant, Salvation or $30,000.00? Easy answer... we all know; yet we so rarely step out on financial faith.
Because MJF speaks Mandarin we are hoping
we can adopt from a province that speaks
Mandarin.

So, our 2012 journey is one that is more meaningful than any journey we've ever taken. We are embarking on an adventure to find our daughter. That little girl who God knew the day she was conceived - and even before - that she belonged to us - even if for just awhile. We believe she lives as an orphan in China. We believe, actually, that we have found her. It will be sometime in January before we are sure if that is so. In the meantime, please pray for us this year. We all have so much to learn about stepping out in faith and trusting in God for everything. We have two grown sons who, for the first time in their lives, may see the hand of God do incredibly more than they have ever imagined and for them, bringing this little sister home will signify their submission in totality to all that God wants them to be. For two younger siblings, they may find the joy of adoption to be one that will forever be etched into their being and may prove to shape the look and feel of their own families one day. For MJF and I, we are just amazed at how God works individually in our family. He knows us infinitely well. He knows that we still have years of service and that He continues to mold and to shape us into the people He wants and needs us to be. This experience will do that in the same way  Rebekah Joy's death did so many years ago. We will not return from China the same family that left. Besides adding a daughter and sister He will have added supernatural changes to who we all are and who we will become.

We wait in expectation as He leads us to the daughter only HE knew lived on the other side of the world.

Merry Christmas Eve.

May your hearts be tender toward the things of God as you reflect on the sacrifice a King made for you and for me and for a little China doll in an orphanage on the other side of the world.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Memories...

What memories do holidays bring? I hope they are all good though I suppose for some they aren't all good. For me, I have specific memories that rise to the surface every holiday. Thanksgiving is always the same, it includes my family and I with all my Aunts, Uncles, and many cousins all crammed into my Gramma and Grampa Anderson's home. The heat is on because we were in a little town called Sharon in Pennsylvania. The heat always seemed to be on, Gramma was itty bitty tiny and always freezing. The heat was never below 80 degrees - E.V.E.R.

Except for Thanksgiving day, the gathering place for the women was always in the kitchen and for the men, either in the living room or in the small TV room where there would be some football game playing constantly. THAT was long before cable TV and still it seemed the football never stopped that day. Gramma's house seemed to me, then, to be huge. I swear her dining room was 15 feet long and her dining room table was close to that I was sure. I know she could fit 20 people at her table - 20 adults that is.

 The worst part of the day was dinner - I always had to sit at the "children's table".

Until I was about 11 or 12, the children's table was fine. Most of the children were my age or just a tad older or younger and we had fun. Usually it was just a card table or two to fit the cousins who weren't yet older teens. Or the children the adults (meaning my Grampa) didn't feel like hearing from or speaking to during the meal. Don't get me wrong, my Grampa Anderson was awesome, at least as Grampas go. But he was tough and intimidating and unless you KNEW he was joking with you, you always wondered if you were in trouble. I don't ever remember getting in trouble with my Grampa so either I didn't or I have repressed it due to PTSD.

The only problem is that I never, ever, ever left the children's table. The older cousins - those older than I as well as one my age moved away and rarely returned for Thanksgiving. My father's younger siblings began having children and before I knew it my younger brother and I were the only "older" cousins left. No one would consider asking a boy to watch the little cousins at the children's table so I was it. And as the little cousins grew in number my brother was even promoted to the "adult" table.

Unlike my daughter who would have been honored to be the one to watch the little cousins during dinner, I was completely resentful. I detested every minute of time with the little cousins BUT I am not sure anyone ever knew it. I had good parents and they taught me how to behave. I had great grandparents who also taught me how to behave and I had plenty of aunts and uncles and much older cousins who were more than happy to help with my behavior instruction if necessary. We have lost a lot with all the moving our society has done over the past many years.

 I can't remember if we have ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner with our whole immediate family in 28 years of marriage. There are actual cousins and aunts and uncles that I ate Thanksgiving dinner with every year as a child that my husband doesn't even know.

I miss those days, sort of. I have fond memories - memories that flood my mind on Thanksgiving day every year but a lot has changed. Gramma and Grampa have both died. Aunts and Uncles have since divorced and remarried. Older and younger cousins have since gotten married and had children of their own and are eating Thanksgiving dinners at other homes with other family.
Kate, Sam, MJF, and Josh
Thanksgiving 2011
sans Drew

Things have changed for us as well. This Thanksgiving we are one short as we sit around our little kitchen table to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Drew is happily having Thanksgiving dinner on Beale AFB with a whole bunch of Airmen and NCOs courtesy of one of the Staff Sgt's. Apparently this is not uncommon. There are quite a few NCOs who foot the bill and invite all the young, unmarried and away from family Airmen to their homes to enjoy some form of family, even if it's their Air Force Family.

Before I know it, Sam too will be gone and behind him Josh and Kate. It seems that it will be awhile but I have learned how fast time flies. I am just hoping that as Josh and Kate grow up and leave home Drew and Sam will be returning with their own little ones and my role will change. I will be the one being called Gramma.

I guess I better start saving for a 15 foot long dining room table.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Biggest Disappointment of All...

I was raised on disappointment. Well at least that is how my father viewed me. I was always one big disappointment. He said it to me so often that I can remember the houses and rooms and furniture I was sitting on for many of the times he uttered those words. I cannot remember what I did (most of the times) to make him share that with me but I remember hearing those words from his heart to mine more often then any other words growing up. I swore I would never utter those words to my children and, for the most part, I haven't. It's not that I've not felt those feelings on occasion in regards to my family but to actually say those words, I am not sure I would have the strength. The memories I want my kids to have of life in our family are not ones that include them remembering the times I ever told them they disappointed me.

This year has been a year full of disappointments for me. I cannot remember a year when I have been so heartbroken so many times. A few by genetic family members, most by Christian brothers and sisters. With a history of being told how disappointing I was over and over again, that word is not one I use often and like the word crisis, means more than just being bummed or put out or just simply not getting my way. No, that word to me affects my gut, makes my heart feel like it's being wrung out like a wet rag and makes me wish I could not only throw up my stomach contents but my whole stomach as well. The myriad of disappointments I have felt and experienced this year have left me tear-less, there's just nothing left.

The biggest disappointment of all was/is so because I was so convinced that it wasn't going to be one I'd experience at all.

MJF and I have been excited to see how God's heart for orphans has been poured out upon many young families in our church. There are at least 3 families that I know of at our church and several other friends around the country who have sacrificed money, comfort, time, energy, and who knows what else to pursue adopting orphans from countries such as China and South Korea. All have by now either picked up, gotten travel dates or are patiently awaiting their referrals and  are prepared to leave at a moments notice to fly wherever is necessary to meet the child God has chosen for them. It's an exciting time as young American couples are seeing what God has known for a long time - that He is tender toward orphans and holds them close to His heart and that we who have so much should as well.

Unknown to most MJF and I have been on the adoption trail for quite a while. Longer than most of our adopting friends have been. To me, this is a no-brainer because I know how God wants His people to care for those without fathers and mothers. A no-brainer because I know how many orphans really exist in this world and it's shameful. A no-brainer because not one of my children would fail to delight in bringing a precious 6 or 7 year old little sister into our home and love her and introduce her to her Heavenly Father and raise her to know the joy of a forever family. A no-brainer because I know my God and I know that He can do anything and in spite of the sinful expense of adoption, He can overcome something so trivial.

What I was not prepared for was for Him to choose not to overcome something I thought was so trivial to Him but such a mountain to climb for us. See, we don't have a huge savings account, we have 4 children, 2 of whom have been going to college - for cash. We don't have any friends or family members that we felt had such a heart for adoption that we could prayerfully consider asking for large or small donations toward the cost of adopting. MJF doesn't work for a company or organization that reimburses part or whole amounts paid for the process. And after years of paying down debt, we didn't feel like God was leading us to take out a 25 thousand dollar loan to adopt a little sister for Kate (although I would have).

What I did have was jewelry, diamonds to be precise. For our 25th anniversary MJF paid, in cash,  thousands of dollars for a ring and necklace custom made for me. Those were meaningless compared to what we believed the life of a precious orphan from almost anywhere in the world would be worth. In the depths of my being I knew that those plus a few other pieces of gold and a couple other gems would cover at least 3/4's of the cost. The rest we could raise or earn through other means, we were certain of it.

What I wasn't prepared for was the lack of interest in our "plight". We had hoped that one of the store owners that we offered our jewelry to would consider selling it for us and would not take any profit for themselves. That wasn't to be. What they offered, and we had several prospects, was a fraction of their worth in order that when sold they would make quite a penny. What I was sure would happen failed to materialize. I was sure God would coordinate all the people and all the events and all the circumstances necessary in order that we would be able to dive head first into our adoption adventure and not be concerned with how we would afford to do it.



What really took me by surprise was how hard it was going to be to help Kate understand what God was doing. The challenge has been insurmountable because I can hardly understand it myself. For almost a year now I have been dragged kicking and screaming into conversations about how much she wants a little sister. What a great big sister she would be and the tears would flow in buckets as she would try to catch her breath to ask "but why?" Over and over again offering every last Christmas and Birthday penny she would ever get in her whole life just to be able to afford to adopt a little sister. And I would try over and over again to explain once more why I can't explain it, why I am just as sad as she is, why I don't understand God's decision but that I know it's the best because He never makes mistakes. Again and again two or three times a month I feel the life sucked out of me in these conversations not because I don't want to have them with her as much as I am struck with fear at the thought that somehow I cannot adequately explain to her God's desire to withhold from her something so obviously... well... something so obviously Godly.

So, again tonight, I had to maintain my composure just long enough for her to dry her eyes and me to escape into the chill of the night with the excuse of walking the dog. There, in the pitch black, I sobbed from the depths of my being to God, asking Him why... a question I rarely ask... and being reminded that this year, 2011, has been full of one disappointment after another.

Typically, when I find myself face to face with God on those walks, all alone, I finish my walk with some spiritual nugget that enables me to push forward and see the value of the trial or the struggle or the confusion. Tonight, however, I have no spiritual nugget. I only have the simple cement slab of faith and trust that started my journey with Him almost 30 years ago. It's enough for me in spite of my pain and sadness and confusion to cover the disappointments this year has brought. I pray that I can hand down that same faith and trust to my daughter so that she too will, one day, be able to get past what to her, so far, has been the biggest disappointment in her life as well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm getting old...

I think I am beginning to turn into an old lady. I feel I have been forced to change the look of a blog that although I have ignored it, I liked it and I have had good intentions toward it. I really have wanted to write, really I have. I have just, lately been afraid to.

To get back to the old lady bit... you know you are getting old when you start to really hate change. Could it be that you begin to realize that there is a difference between change for change's sake or change that really matters?

This has been a big time of change for me. I have watched this happen:

Josh at 3
My #3 son grew up.
Josh at 13




















 I knew he would eventually do it. They all do. I had just hoped he'd love me enough to want to change the course of history and stay my sweet young boy forever. But, alas, twas not to be and here he is, my last precious son moving at lightening speed toward manhood and there's nothing I can do about it. EXCEPT.... enjoy it.

I'm currently enjoying #1 son's stopover between Air Force tech school and his permanent duty station at Beale AFB outside of Sacramento, CA. Yes, I will have to hug him goodbye, most likely before this weekend for what could be 6 mos to a year. I am looking forward to that and dreading it all at the same time. Is that possible?

#2 son went from being a bagger at Kroger to becoming a Pharmacy Tech. That has changed everything about him. I'm enjoying that, too. It doesn't mean he knows what he wants to do with his life but it does mean he's becoming slightly more serious about life in general.

Raising men is hard. It weighs on me daily. Some days more heavily than others but never-the-less, the weight is there. I used to think that the weight would eventually go away. I actually do things to try to throw it off but if I have to be honest, and here, on this blog,  I want to be even if I hold back at other times, I don't think the weight will fully leave my shoulders. Sending them off to the Air Force or College or even off with a friend out of state for 10 days doesn't change who I am to them or who they are to me. Just because I can't see them doesn't mean the impact of who I am to them is any less. It may be different but I am not sure it's lessened.

I'm not sure I'm happy about that. 


I'm tired, boys, I'm getting old. How about we make a deal? I'll work hard to happily adjust to all these changes if you decide to change for a purpose, a vision, a goal. Don't change or create a change just out of boredom or "adventure" give me a reason and I promise I'll rejoice in it with ya'...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

And so it begins.... again....

Airman Drew Michael Farhart
It's official
So, my last post was saying goodbye to Son #1 as he left for Air Force Basic Training and since then we have watched him graduate and look like a man we never thought existed. He's now in Wichita Falls, TX beginning his training to be a Crew Chief for an A10 - Thunderbolt. A very cool, very important plane. He will go from Sheppard AFB to a base in AZ in a couple of months. From there we think he'll come home for a couple of weeks and then head to his official base of choice which if it truly is his choice will be Osan AFB in S. Korea... hmmmm. I hope he gets to go there and to a ton of excellent places all over the world. I hope he can meet a phenomenal girl who wants to spend her life with him as his Helpmate and travel with joy. UNTIL, of course, they have my grandchildren.
No, really, I won't be like that but it'd be cool if it was that easy... really.


A- 10 Thunderbolt
AKA The Warthog


But now, school has begun and we must accept our summer  fun as merely memories and get to work, hard work, because that is what this time of year calls for... drat!

I do have to admit that I like the scheduled aspect of our lives when the pseudo fall rolls around. Most of the US can totally relate to why I call it the "psudo fall" after all... 95 degrees on August 12th really? Even in MS that is just crazy!

So, I will try  (as I promised so sincerely before) to keep up with this blog. It's good for me and every now and then I say something that you can relate to and admit it, you breathe a sign of relief knowing there is at least one other person out there that feels, does, forgets, etc the same thing that you do. 

Thanks for hanging in there with me for so long. 

More to come...

Promise....



Monday, June 6, 2011

Off we go....



.... into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun!)*
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!**
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!***
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!



So what have I been saying? 


        " I'm excited to see him go; he's on the adventure of a lifetime."
        " It's time, God predestined such a time as this; it's a good thing."
       " He's ready to move on and start his life; we are so excited for him."


Yes, I have said all those things and I believe all those things so, why can't I stop this one little stream of tears from constantly needing to be wiped from my cheek? 



Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder,

Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true;
If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)
Flying men, guarding the nation's border,
We'll be there, followed by more!
In echelon we carry on. Hey!
Nothing will stop the U.S. Air Force!

He's been to the recruiter today to make sure he's got everything he needs and leaves behind stuff he doesn't. He's got advice from those in "the know" about what to expect and to avoid.  He' having lunch with Craig Brown, his youth/college pastor. Craig prayed an amazing prayer for him at the end of service Sunday while what seemed like throngs of people came forward to lay hands on Drew and all of us as a family. Praying for his safety, of course, but mostly for his opportunity to stand firm for Christ and his opportunity to bear witness to the One True God.

Sent it high into the blue;
Hands of men blasted the world asunder;
How they lived God only knew! (God only knew then!)
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before and bombers galore. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force! 


So almost 21 years ago we started with just a tiny family of three not knowing what all God had planned for us. And now, here we are, a family of 6 (or 7 if you count our precious Rebekah Joy happily rejoicing in heaven with her Savior). One by one adding another little pink toothless face to our quiver, praising God for each blessing.  Now here it begins, one by one, hugging, no clutching each one as they smile their manly smiles, flex their manly muscles and pull away to begin their lives, their adventures, away from the place and the people they called home for all their lives. It makes the mama in me almost want to vomit. It makes the obedient servant of the Lord in me rejoice in the knowledge that we did all we knew to do to raise our children to love Him, obey Him, live lives for Him




In less than 24 hours I will hug good bye the only #1 son I've ever known. In 9 weeks I will have a chance to hug him again but this time he won't be the same kid I hugged good bye. He will be a man.


Congratulations Drew
We are so proud of you!
We love you


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The month of Drew draws to a close, and a few more surprises.

Drew at his last big formal event before leaving home
So, here it is June 1st and Drew is still here. It's because he was never going to leave on June 1st, he was always going to leave June 7th we just somehow got it all mixed up. I'm glad though, I have another week with my son and the Month of Drew becomes the Month of Drew plus 1.

It turned out to be just as I had thought - not a lot of meeting his every need. He's not a needy kid. Well, in a month and nine days I can't even call him a kid anymore. He'll celebrate his 21st birthday doing sit ups and push ups and trying to get his 1 1/2 mile run time down. But it's all good because it's time for him to step up and step out. That's what we spent the last 20 years doing... raising him to leave.

May was a pretty amazing month. It started with organizing what was needed to officially graduate #2 son, Sam, from High School. It's a bummer, in a way, that he didn't have a stage to walk across, however, I can't imagine him even feeling comfortable in front of all those people. I think he'd choose taking college classes over walking a stage any day.
Congratulations Sam
Class of 2011

I know he's relieved. His brain has been tired, he's been tired. He's working about 20 hours while taking a full load of college courses. He's due a rest. He's taking a year off to work closer to full-time and save some money for his last two years of college. It's hard to believe that in another year my home will be reduced to two children.

Kate was another kid who had me going hot and heavy. She had a choir concert only days after her ballet performance. It was amazing to watch her dance again. This year, instead of a bunch of different classes coming out and doing a dance for people who are dying for some OTHER class to dance, one of the dance instructors wrote a ballet. It was based on "The Parable of the King" by Beth Moore. It was beautiful and it was an excellent opportunity for the Upper School kids to participate in something awesome for the Lord.

Kate's class were the animal creatures.
Cute duck...


All of this kept my mind and my heart busy. Keeping me from reflecting on what this house will be like with one less person. And not just one less person but my friend. Drew is the one that would talk with me for hours. He loved to talk politics, economics, eschatology, theology, you name it, he would discuss it with joy. He and I love to listen to Rush Limbaugh together and while I hated to listen to the extreme liberals go on and on and on, he'd love to listen to them and laugh and I realized how much of his own person he was becoming then. He's like me, in a lot of ways, poor kid. He's better though. He can have a conflicting conversation with anyone and then in the end, agree to disagree and move on to the next "event". I have never been good at conflict, I never will.

I'm excited for him. He has so much of life ahead of him, so much adventure he has no idea he's about to meet head-on. He's got a precious girl waiting out there to be his wife. He doesn't know her and she doesn't know him but God knows both of them and He has plans for them. He has places to go, people to meet. It's all one big adventure. And he will do it apart from me, apart from us. THAT is the one thing that I will have to get most used to. Day after day, I am a part of his life. It's not that I'm nosy or a nag or force myself into his business it's just that we have moved somewhat past the "mom and son" relationship to as close to friends as a mom and son can be. We talk about a lot and I know what's going on inside his head and within his life. In less than 7 days he will live day after day after day without me knowing anything about his days. I won't know about the good, the bad, or the ugly.

It's ok, that's the way it's supposed to be, that's the way God designed our families. I feel sorry for the parents who dread the day their children leave and begin their lives away from their childhood home.It'd be foolish of me to think that I won't spend some time wiping tears this summer. It's a big transition. But my heart isn't really sad. My heart is filled with excited anticipation at what the Lord has in store for my #1 son. Lord willing, the next picture I post of Drew will be in his Air Force uniform.

Oh, and I'm nursing a hurting husband just home from the hospital after hernia surgery. He's got until Sunday afternoon to feel good enough to board a plane because at 1:30 he's off to yet ANOTHER super secret location for two weeks. During that time I will be painting and painting and painting in order to move Sam into Kate's room and Kate into the room Sam and Drew shared. I am hoping that all that work helps the summer go quickly. I don't usually wish my summer away but I can say that I will be excited to drive to San Antonio and watch my son graduate from Basic Training. After that, I think I will be better able to rest in the place God has for me right now... at least for another year, when #2 son moves off to college, but that's another blog post.

And in the midst of all this, I choose to begin another blog. WHA????? you ask completely confused? After all, I've not been known to keep up with this blog as much as I should. But this one is hopefully not going to last long - mainly because it is one that I am using to help me do something that I should have done years ago. It's called Paleo Quarter and can be found at paleoquarter.blogspot.com. It may or may not be worth following. It's mostly for me to work through some accountability issues and to be honest with myself about who I really am.

I hate these kinds of blogposts... lots of talking about your kids when people really don't want to hear all of it.  But right now, my kids are on my mind. So this is one post that you'll have to forgive me for. I'll get more spiritual and "thoughtful" next time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The month of Drew....

My precious first-born leaves June 1st to begin his career in the Air Force.

I have been so excited about this time in his life. Excited for him, there is so much adventure that awaits him. Excited for me because I think we've done all that is humanly possible to prepare him to live a Christlike life outside our home and, well, I'm ready to watch how our family dynamics change when he's gone. I hope it's less "out of site, out of mind" and much more "absence makes the heart grow fonder".

I can't help but reminisce about his "firsts" and remember how curious I was about his future.

            His future is now....


and I can hardly believe it's true.

And so, May is the "month of Drew". This month Drew will get anything he asks for. ANYTHING!

Why can I so emphatically say that? Because he won't ask for anything that is too hard, too extreme, too expensive, or puts anyone out... That's just the kind of guy he is.

I'm gonna miss that kid...that MAN.

I love him more than he'll ever know...

well, that's not true.
He'll know,
He'll know the moment he holds his first born in his arms.
Then the knowledge will rush over him in such a way that he won't be able to contain it.

And he will call me, as he always does, just to say... "Mommy, I love you." And yes, he still calls me Mommy .

Only no one really knows that so let's just keep it between us, OK?

Friday, April 22, 2011

I'd stand in front of a train...

That's what a good friend told me when we were talking 22 years ago. She  had a toddler and was pregnant with her second. She said to me "Karen, I'd stand in front of a train for her". I couldn't relate, really. I had been trying to get pregnant to no avail, and needed someone to talk to. But, I didn't have that kind of love for anyone, not yet. I didn't even feel like that about MJF - after all, if anyone was standing in front of a train it was gonna be HIM for me... he's the man.

Sam is almost 18
He graduates May 2011
Drew is almost 21
He leaves for the Air Force
June 1, 2011



Today, well, I SO know what she meant. I've been given 5 opportunities to learn about what kind of love that is - between parent and child. (Rebekah Joy is living joyfully with her heavenly Father)








Josh is 13
He's the perfect mix
of Drew and Sam



 This is Kate, she's 9
she gets a big picture because
she's my baby and it's my blog
I would stand in front of a train for each and every one of these delightful creatures. And yet, they NEVER think about that. They probably realize, in the depths of their being, that I'd do anything for them; really, anything. But when they tell me they love me it's 

because...........  

Because I have done something that makes them feel...

happy
      blessed
             special
                    better
                           or because they just got what they wanted.

It's NEVER because I will stand in front of a train for them.


But it's ok, I'm the mom, it's my job to enable them to feel totally secure in my love even if they don't really KNOW why they are totally secure in my love. 

But on those days when we are joking or cuddling or just being affectionate and I hear this "I love you more" from one of them, I stop, hold their sweet face in my hands and say "No you don't, only when you hold your precious 1st born in your arms will you REALLY know how much I love you and how little in comparison you love me."

To be honest, they look at me with that little puppy-faced cocked head as if they haven't the slightest idea what I am saying or why I'd say such a thing. But they smile and assure me that I have no idea what I am talking about and insist they love me more.


Christ crucified.... for ME

I love you... more?  

Not even close. Standing in front of a train for me would have been more palatable. It would have been EASY.  NO, not only do I not know how to love Him MORE, I can't even begin to love Him equally. 



...My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?
THIS IS WHY I LOVE HIM... 






yet that is not what I tell Him. I tell him I love Him because He makes me feel:

happy
   accepted
            special
                   rescued
                         safe
                            
           But it's only this week that I REMEMBER 

that's gotta change. 



Remember who was willing to stand in front of a train for you but instead was crucified - slaughtered - for you. And yet, that wasn't what He most dreaded - it was the wrath and separation from God that He most wanted to avoid and yet He said "Not my will, but yours, be done."

May your Easter be a happy one knowing He gave everything for you and yet the grave didn't hold him. 

HE IS RISEN, HE IS NOT HERE, JUST AS HE SAID!

REJOICE.....







Monday, April 18, 2011

That darn video...

So, last night was our fabulous Easter Music special at church. I love what we do for Easter and Christmas because it's more of an extended Praise and Worship time with a bit more glitz than it is a performance we are just siting and watching. But...

               They insist upon playing, every year, THAT VIDEO....


                              

It's always a little bit different but it's always enough to make me fall apart weeping.

                                                    As it should.


We don't remember this enough, we should, but I know why, it's an horrendous thing to watch.

For any mother of sons, to see Mary's face as she watches what is done to her son. It's almost more than I can bear....


But then, at that very moment, as I thought about Who did this and who didn't. Who deserved this and Who didn't. Who HE did this for and then... It dawned on me, there is another video....



PLEASE don't misunderstand. I will never hold the sacrifice of a human man equal to the sacrifice of the God-man, my Lord and Savior, but in a way, it was almost uncanny for me as I sat behind.... well, mostly stood behind... my oldest son praising the name of our Lord, hands held high rejoicing in the knowledge that Christ died for him.

Drew may die for someone too.  Drew leaves on June 1st for basic training with the Air Force and to learn what it takes to defend his country. More than that, how to defend the freedom and liberty God so graciously bestowed upon us and to fight to the death, if necessary, to enable others around the world to enjoy it too.

He may die for people who don't even know him. That they would rejoice as they cast a vote for THEIR candidate, not the one that is forced upon them and who would force them to live a lifestyle that is the antithesis of why God created them.

He may die for former class mates and neighbors - those who loved him AND those who thought he wasn't cool enough to hang with them... it doesn't matter... because everyone deserves to be free and to retain the freedoms that they enjoy.

Our freedom in Christ is so much superior to our freedom in this country. And yet, I couldn't help but see right in front of me, literally, the closest thing to following in Christ's footsteps that I've seen in a long time.

43-47"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.


Matthew relates this truth clearly: friend or foe, lover or hater, regardless of their relationship to us, we are to love them, share Christ's love with them. Do what is best for them. Not consider ourselves when we are with them.

Christ did only what His Father wanted Him to do. He gave it little thought, He just did it. Drew will be trained to do what he needs to do regardless of his circumstances. There won't be time to think about the personal implications of what he's trained to do - he will be trained to give his life if necessary for the greater good.

                               And I? What do I give? What do you give?

That is a question each of us have to answer in relation to the "basic training" that we've received from Our Father. It's a worthy question to ponder this week. Ponder it, see what He says to you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ultimate Promise Keeper...

Joshua 19:32 - 21:45
So, for the second year in a row, our church family is reading through the Chronological Bible. I think it is wise, for many reasons, that we didn't just move on to something else but that our pastor knew full well that a large number of us didn't keep up. To be honest, I didn't. I was thrilled when I realized I had a second chance to join my church family in unified reading of His Word.


pondering... pondering...
But it's passages like the ones we read today that make people shut the book before they finish and not open it up again. Of course, I can't blame God for that. I can't blame God for anything negative, really, not like we use the word blame. It's important for me to remember that the Old Testament was passed down in story form and so much of the writing was done not  as we are taught to write but copied from the way it was told. they were under strict orders to include specific details. It's redundant, face it, especially when reading the the Bible in chronological order.

 When the passage is really tedious you tend to get several really tedious passages all at the same time. And when the passage insists upon listing EVERY tribe and how EVERY tribe got the SAME thing over and over and over, one tends to reflect upon how the scribes could have condensed what they said and gotten the same information across to the reader.  Until I read this:

43 Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:43-45)


I was so glad to read this. It sort of shocked me back into reality. It was a reminder that the listing of what God had given to each tribe was a receipt from a promise made to them long ago. 

Can you just see an Israelite Papa sitting with his children listing tribe after tribe after tribe and repeating over and over each specific piece of land that was given to them? It was a reminder, as we so often fail to do, of God's specific promises and that He will make good on each and every promise that He makes. He is not one to just throw out words to pacify His followers and then half-heartedly try to appease them with something less than what He promised them. NO, he makes specific promises, often hard to believe promises, and delivers on exactly what He said.  

I am thankful for new eyes... new insights. I am more than thankful for the Holy Spirit speaking to me when I wrestle with knowing that He wants me to know His Word but I can't seem to figure out why some things should matter so much to me, now, today, in 2011 America.

This whole experience reminds me of myself when I try to explain to Kate (9 on 4/1) an answer to her question that goes spiritually far beyond what she is wanting to know. As she tries to interrupt and move me on to another subject I get frustrated because I KNOW there is so much more to say, so many more specific details that if she knew them would make her say "Wow, what a mighty God we serve." and yet, she's not there, not now. The details don't bring her any insights just yet. They just make her roll her eyes. But they will, eventually, amaze her, when she is mature enough to "get it". 

I wish it didn't take 48 years for me to be mature enough to "get this". But I suppose it's better late than never. I will take much more joy and delight in the details that before used to bore me. Just the image of that daddy... and the enthusiasm that he must have had imparting the wisdom and knowledge to his children about what a great God they serve. 

Thank you Lord for being the Ultimate Promise Keeper. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I am such a loser...

My friend Karen Haughton will HATE that I titled my blogpost what I did. She is one of the most encouraging people I know and I don't know many. But really, at some point we have to come to the realization that there is something that we are struggling with, we know it, we hate it, we want it eradicated, but we are not willing to do what needs to be done to handle it.

These win the prize if only for the name
of the collection.
I blame the Holy Spirit. I do. I can't lie. (well, I could but what good would it do - God already knows so what's the use of being someone I'm not to you?) I keep going to the "fruit of the spirit" verse in Galatians and say "Lord, I know I am supposed to have self control, but where is it? In some areas, I have it. For instance, I don't have an insatiable desire to go to my next door neighbor's house and steal their granite counter top even though I want it. A LOT. I don't peruse Sephora in order to find the absolutely bestest nail color ever, only to skip the check out counter and toss my discovery in my purse.

I don't think I've stolen anything in my life - maybe a flower from someone's garden when I was 5. After all, my mom deserved that flower and I had no idea what kind of work went into planting it. Of course, being the excellent mom she was and still is, I had to go and apologize.

But honestly, what are the three things I hate most? I am fat, (no, really I am - when you have to lose 40 lbs., you are fat), I hate how constantly cluttered my house is, and I hate that I still love sleep more than I love God - in short my quiet times are not nearly as consistent as my nap times... (you can't be a tabernacle mover with a life like this.)

I can't really blame all the clutter on Kate
but I sure can blame most of it on her.

The funny thing is - all of these can be remedied and it wouldn't be hard it would just be time consuming, demand that I be perseverent, and be sacrificial. Apparently I am not good at any of them because I haven't succeeded in conquering any of them the last 3 years I've had these issues. Actually, I think these issues have been mine from the beginning of time, only now do I realize how very ever-present they are.

So, if I hate them so much, why are they still such a thorn in my side?

 Of course, there is a gasp quotient here. After all, how could I compare what horrible afflictions Paul endured with my own silly little issues. But I would say to you - have you considered that the "thorn" and "Messenger from Satan" that Paul refers to in 2 Cor 12:7-10, is not physical at all? I would suggest to you that it's actually  unbelievers who constantly berated him at every turn. Look at this, you may be shocked to discover that possibly we've been wrong for years about the struggle that Paul was having. So possibly it was a human component that he was begging God to relieve him from and God, as He often does, insisted that His grace was sufficient. And, it is. But again... How do we attain that sufficient grace to sustain us in the midst of what bugs us the most?

Whatever his problem, Paul was being distracted. For him, lesser things pulled at him, made life difficult. For me though, they aren't lesser things in my eyes that pull me away. Things like an extra hour of sleep, a good TV show that I've been waiting all week for, a child that wants me or needs me, a chair that my feet desperately want me to sit in. All those things, although many not great in the eyes of God, are just fine in my eyes. How do you say no to a decadent dessert a friend has just pulled out of the oven. Or that bowl of snacks just sitting there while you are conversing with a friend? And then there's that 1/2 gallon of ice cream that sits patiently in the freezer while the whole house sleeps except you - you are wide awake watching a late night repeat of CSI NY. So a spoon and the 1/2 gallon and, well... isn't that what heaven is like?( That's in the same book as the one that has shopping as a spiritual gift.)

All that to say, why is it that in some things I can clearly see the Holy Spirit working. Sometimes it's "blow your socks off" amazing and other times it's simple and pure and to anyone else it's meaningless and that makes it even more "blow your socks off" amazing.

But why, in the areas that most bug me, can't I utilize the Holy Spirit's power. Every pastor I've even sat under insists we are to be able to call on the Holy Spirit's power because He lives in us. But I can't seem to sense His presence when I feel like I need him with my biggest struggles . And then, something dawned on me...

a big bunch of bananas

A friend was telling me about this book she read that told a story of a young girl held prisoner as a spy during WWII. Read just part of her story here. At one point, she saw through a hole in her cell someone receive a banana and asked God for just one. She awoke the next morning to find 92 bananas sitting in the corner of her room. I was amazed at that story and it reminded me of how small we think our God is sometimes. But suddenly I thought of her, of her condition, of her sorrow and struggle. Then I turned and looked at the front of my house, filled with 4 healthy children and a husband with a job - a good job. A bed to sleep in every day and a pillow to lay my head on. A shower AND bathtub to wash in and running water that was CLEAN. And I said to her - maybe, as much as we COULD pray for 92 bananas, we don't DESERVE 92 bananas. 

So it makes me wonder. Although I COULD scream and cry and beg for the Holy Spirit to show up and totally remake me into a type A personality so that I'd organize my life to lose weight, keep up with the clutter, and have my regular quiet time. Maybe I don't DESERVE to have Him come and do that.