Courage

| December 13, 2012

What is courage?
For over a month, we’ve been teaching our boys that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is being scared and facing what you fear, anyway.

With three sidelined practices behind us, and another looming, we didn’t know if he’d be able to get through it. He’d gotten so scared being out there on the court with the coach yelling and a gym full of loud kids, dribbling, chasing balls and doing what seemed impossible for him:  Staying out there.
We simply asked him to make it through a night of practice and just TRY. He didn’t have to be good, keep the ball in control, make any baskets. He just had to stay out on the court. On the first night of practice, the coach didn’t teach them how to hold a ball. How to dribble. How to throw.  The coach simply told them to dribble 2 balls at once. To dribble, jumpstop, pivot, pass, all in quick succession to complete strangers. To make a layup -first thing- on the first night of shooting baskets.  For my little one, these feats seemed impossible. And, I couldn’t help feeling a bit frustrated with what was expected of him, myself. So, for three practices in a row that stretched over a month and a half, he started on the court and ended up sitting on the bench in defeat, watching his brother participate. And fearing the next practice when it would happen all over again.
This week, he left home and arrived to the practice parking lot already in a crying frustration.
Just to help him have the courage to get inside the building, his daddy told him something that must have stuck deep inside. And, I believe, God did miracles in that little heart. His dad told him, “There’s a long line of men in our family who have courage locked up, inside. When you use a little bit, it grows and becomes more.”  And, they went into the school with the understanding that our boy just had to sit on the bench and watch his brother.

I admit, after those three failed attempts, I was questioning if we should just let him stay home. I didn’t want to get through this whole basketball season, which would span 4 months, and have him live with the memories of sitting on the bench, each and every time, after an upsetting retreat from the court. But, I prayed! Oh, how I prayed! I really wanted him to feel proud of himself for facing his fear. I even prayed that if God could raise people from the dead, surely he could help my boy get through basketball practice. This mama was feeling desperate! Have you ever been there?

So, back to the gym. He must have felt some relief knowing he only had to get inside and sit on the bench with Dad. After a bit of just sitting, Dad asked him to play ball on the sidelines for a few minutes, and he lightheartedly agreed. And after a little while, Daddy asked if he might still want to give it a try on the court, adding that our bargain to go for ice cream if he could make it through the night would still be honored. To my husband’s surprise, our boy decided to go out on the court with all the other boys. My husband prayed like never before, and our boy stayed on the court. Then, my husband’s heart sank our son came to the side…. and asked to use the restroom. Would that be it for the night? NO! Upon returning to the gym, he returned to the floor with the other boys! The entire hour went by, and he continued with the practice! He stayed out there! He tried! He acted courageous! And, he was even caught smiling and laughing and having a good time.

Basketball Victory Cup

I cheerfully went out to meet my family for ice cream to celebrate this awesome victory! When I asked my boy about practice, he told me “It was easy!” When I asked if he wants to go back, next time, he said, “I will. But, when this is all done, I never want to do it again!” We agreed that was ok. We were just so happy he faced his fear and he was proud of himself for doing it.
And, when he drove home with me in my car, he told me, “Daddy told me that courage was locked up inside of me, and tonight I unlocked it.”
Yes, you did, my sweet boy. Yes, you did.

“CHANGE the World”

| December 11, 2012

Changing the world by collecting change? Yup!
It all started with a group of wonderful women who had been praying for orphan children in Myanmar (old Burma). Our pastor and some people from our congregation had visited an orphanage there and discovered that, due to great poverty, the children survive on only three rice balls a day. There is a cesspool much too near the orphanage. So land is needed along with updates to the facilities. When these ladies were asking God how they could help, God gave them the idea to collect change. It was that simple. But, after that handful of praying ladies had raised hundreds of dollars among themselves, they asked if the pastor could share the vision with the entire congregation. He agreed that it made good sense. (Yes, I was tempted to type in “cents”, there. Are you glad I didn’t?) So, the challenge for our entire church to collect change and help the orphanage in Myanmar was presented.

Changing the world by collecting change

Our family mission is “Live in Christ. Change the World.” So, we wrote down our purpose (Change the World) on our collection can and got started. That was one month ago. Our kids had a blast emptying every nook and cranny of our house and cling-clanging the change into the tin. Whenever I found change, one of the kids would happily run the change to the tin to help “Change the World”. It’s been such a great experience for all of us.
We exchanged the coins at the bank, today! Now have twenty three dollar bills plus some coins. In just one month! I encouraged our boys to pray about what God would have them add (from their allowances) and my husband and I will do the same. I think a whole church of families taking this challenge will truly be able to make a difference.
Going forward, we will continue to put change in our “CHANGE the World” tin and donate the funds toward another cause close to our hearts. We will donate our change to fight the terrible reality of human trafficking.
Most of us have change lying around, don’t we? In our purses. At our nightstands. In our cars. Anywhere we empty our pockets. Think for a moment: What cause do you care most about? Why not start a “Change the World” tin, glass or bucket of your own?
What an easy and awesome idea! And, all because of some praying ladies.
I have to say it. Prayer does CHANGE things! (hehehehe)

Spencer Lake’s Taste of Christmas 2012

| December 10, 2012

This past Saturday, December 8, 2012, some friends and I traveled to nearby Waupaca, WI. We wanted to check out a holiday arts and crafts show at Waupaca’s Taste of Christmas at Spencer Lake.
The event had a number of local artists and vendors. From garden decorations to Christmas goodies to jewelry and fabric arts, the show had a nice variety of items.
I had the privilege of meeting Kaycie from K. Rose Design. She makes the cutest little vintage paper earrings. I snatched up a pair that will be perfect for a Christmas party I will soon be attending! Make sure to check them out at her shop on Etsy.

Kaycie sitting by her lovely display of vintage paper earrings.

One of the best parts about the show was meeting Ashley Gordon. She is an encaustic artist with such a sweet personality. Isn’t she such a cutie?

Ashley Gordon is a talented encaustic artist.

I discovered this art form, also known as hot wax painting, earlier this year. But, she’s the first local artist that I’ve discovered who does encaustic. It involves using heated wax in which pigments are added. It’s truly a beautiful form of art, and I’m hoping to meet up with her again, maybe at one of her workshops, to learn more about it! I’d love to use this technique in mixed media creations. Oh! The possibilities!

Encaustic Paints are actually melted wax with colorful pigments.

What was especially neat about the event was that it wasn’t just an arts & crafts show. The day offered something for the entire family. From Christmas movies to a bakery filled with desserts. From meeting Santa to eating Jamaican, Mexican, Chinese and all kinds of yummy foods! We especially enjoyed the FREE rummage sale (I found a few vintage plastic flowers to use in future creations and some T-shirts to try out a crafty idea I found on Pinterest.) Madrigal singers that looked like they belonged in “A Christmas Carol” walked all around the grounds and sang songs of Christmas delight. But, one of our favorite things was the living nativity scene and petting zoo.  We got to pet those lovely barnyard animals!

Here’s the petting zoo at the backside of the living nativity scene.

Did they have turkeys in Bethlehem? :)

All in all, it was worth the small trip to this neat event! With a lake view like this to enjoy among all the other wonderful aspects of the day, we were all happy we attended this year’s Taste of Christmas!

I Am A Reader

| October 17, 2012

Since my youngest years of elementary education, I loved to read.  I checked out books from our school library over and over again. I felt that the world within the pages was a world I could make my home. A comfortable place where I felt safe. I could laugh. I could relate. I read about people that seemed a lot like me… or who I wished I could be.
I happily discovered the misadventures of Romona Quimby and was hooked! This little girl found herself in lighthearted, funny situations. I soon discovered that the author, Beverly Cleary, had many more books I could enjoy. I loved escaping to Klickitat Street and feeling a sense of community and friendship and family.
As I grew older, I discovered Judy Blume. She wrote about silly grade school episodes that actually dealt with real feelings and frustrations (“Superfudge”, “Otherwise known as Sheila the Great”) I read every one! As I got closer to the teen years, I read “Iggie’s House” and “Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret?” I learned things from Judy Blume that I could never actually speak with others about, in real life. As I read, I felt a part of something. Something secretive, even. Nobody else knew what I was reading. It was mine. And it was beautiful.
As the years went on, “Sweet Valley High” intrigued me more than I’d care to admit, now. Learning about dating and boys and popular kids… well, at least I could read about all that!
When high school hit, I guess I stopped reading fiction and focused on text books that would help me pass tests. College continued with more of the same… and the addition of Bible reading and devotionals as I was feeding my new faith. Christian nonfiction filled my young adult years. Home Decorating Magazines were the bulk of my reading content as a newly married woman. Parent Magazines and books about the stages of human growth were food for thought as I became a new mom. That continued for many years. Country Living, Mary Engelbreits Home Companion… these magazines provided all the light reading I could fit into my busy days. It wasn’t till 2008, when I first heard about human trafficking, that my reading preferences changed from topics relating to the inside of my home to those going on around the world. Gary Haugen and Nicholas Kristof became my new author “idols”.
In recent days, memories have brought me back to those early days of reading. Hoping to recapture what I experienced back then, I’m starting to read some young adult fiction. Dreams are brewing inside me. I’ve always been a reader. But, I’m beginning to believe it’s for a greater purpose than enjoyment or education. It’s about more than me finding myself within the pages of another writer’s work.
I am a reader. But, I am discovering that I am so much more. I’ll let YOU read about that… tomorrow!
What about you? Who are your favorite authors? And, what do you enjoy reading?

First Day of Kindergarten

| September 4, 2012

Since before college, I had my life planned out.
Vaguely.
I would graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology, get married to a handsome pastor, have two babies and stay at home raising them -just until the youngest went to kindergarten. THEN, I’d either go back to school for my master’s degree or begin a meaningful career. I love helping people… so counseling has always been a dream. But, I’d love to be a writer, and I thought maybe I could pursue that. Or, I would pursue a different kind of education and build on my art skills. No matter! I had lots of time to figure things out!


Life’s Check List
Marry handsome pastor – check!
Birth two beautiful kids – check!
Stay home to raise the wee ones – check!
Send off baby to first day of Kindergarten – check! (as of this morning)
Direction for what to do now – uhhhhhh?….

I don’t really have anything figured out.
My little boy is having the adventure of his life at his first full day of kindergarten. Gone from Mom. All new friends. Lots to take in and learn. I encouraged him to be brave. To have anticipation for the good in it all. To go in with a positive attitude and then just see what God can do! He has no idea what this day or this school year will bring. But, he’s pressing on and into all of it.
I’m all for God-adventures. I want the full life! I believe adventures can only be true adventures if they are a little scary, a little exciting and (at least) a little fun! I’m sure that’s what my kindergartener is experiencing on his first-day adventure.
Me? I’m at home with a lot of mixed emotions. I have a bunch of questions. I miss my boys but I’m excited for what’s to come. I have an adventure of my own to begin. Schooling & a full time career aren’t even on my radar. I’m a bit scared about life’s details, but I know I can trust God for every one.
To start, I think I’ll just take a little time to enjoy a quiet house. To rest. To seek after God’s heart and His real direction for me. To do some of the things I’ve had on the back-burner for a while. I think I’ll just give myself a teeny bit more time. I’m thankful for today and all the possibilities.
What about you? What does the start of this new school year mean for you?

Food Fill-Up

| July 21, 2012

One cozy evening on the couch, my sons and I were watching an emotional episode of “The Secret Millionaire.” A secretly successful businessman volunteered with a food pantry. The line of those in need was too long for everyone to receive what they came for. The show ended with a HUGE, unexpected donation, enabling the organization to be more effective and continue feeding the hungry. The rich man also promised to continue giving of his time in this meaningful way. My boys and I discussed how we would love to volunteer if an opportunity like that ever became available. Within DAYS, we heard of a similar, first-time event to feed those in need in our own neighborhood.

First -Ever Food Fill Up at Evergreen Church in Stevens Point, WI

Evergreen Community Initiatives had been selected by Feeding America to distribute more than 10,000 pounds of food to Portage County residents, thanks to another man’s generous donation and Evergreen’s willingness to make it happen. As the registrations poured in, the amount was increased to 15,000 pounds. On Thursday, July 19, in Stevens Point, WI, over 17,000 pounds of food was given away to those in need!

Even as a pastor’s wife in a church family that I truly love – Highland Church – I jumped at this opportunity to join Evergreen Church to make an impact in our community for Christ!  I believe God loves to see His people, family members of different churches, acting as the united Body of Christ in the common purpose of shining the real gospel. Shouldn’t neighbors come together for great things?!

When my sons and I arrived at 9:30 am, there were already around 50-60 volunteers from Evergreen Church, Feeding America, college students from across the state along with local volunteers like ourselves. People were bagging items, directing traffic and organizing everyone for the job to be done. It was all performed with such efficiency that I overheard various Feeding America organizers share that this was one of the most organized events they’ve ever participated in. And, this was a first-time endeavor!

My sons worked together to bag up groceries for the Food Fill-Up

The event opened early, just before 10 am, and went until 7 pm. Guests could drive right up to the building to register -with absolutely no limitations based on income. Volunteers would then put an entire bag of dry goods into the recipients’ trunks, followed by a bag of meat, fresh bread, and fruit. People didn’t even have to get out of their cars! What was so touching was seeing people benefit from the optional “drive thru-prayer” before exiting the parking lot. My kids and I witnessed both recipients and prayer partners crying while they brought their needs to the Lord. What an amazing teaching moment for our children to learn how God’s people can help to meet both the spiritual AND physical needs of others! When we left at 1 pm, the leaders believed that over 1,200 people had already been fed and only 1/2 of the registered families had yet claimed their food. Food would be distributed for the rest of the day.

Here waits one of the prayer partners. Behind the truck is the long line of cars backed up for 2 blocks on the street, waiting to pull in the parking lot for food.

When the kids and I were driving home, I told them that the organizers were thinking about doing this, more, in the future. I asked if they’d want to help out again and both of them yelled out, “YEAH!”  We weren’t able to give a huge financial donation like the secret millionaire, but we felt like a million bucks after we gave of our time and energy to meet the needs of others. What a great experience for everyone!

We got a puppy!

| July 13, 2012

This is Hazel and she’s a 9 week old rat terrier/bichon mix. We adopted her, yesterday, from a friend-of-a-friend. We adore her already!

Here’s Hazel in her custom suitcase bed.

To make her feel at home, I got to work on this suitcase bed. I was inspired by a post from Kelly Hicks Design that I discovered on Pinterest. After searching online for similar inspiration, I went shopping!

Supplies: A vintage suitcase, craft store doll heads and fabric for the pillows

It was easy to find the supplies. I went to my local Dime N Dollar thrift store and found this $3 suitcase.  I had a previous goal to make curtains out of this fabric, but it was sitting in my storage for years, because (confession) I am afraid of sewing. Thankfully, my awesome friend, Patti, completed this (much more important) project for me. She blessed me with 2 extra pillowcases! Then, Michael’s offered these round doll heads with a flat edge and silver craft paint that worked out perfectly for short, little bed feet.

Wooden craft doll heads painted silver make great little bed feet.

To personalize the space, I asked our sons to draw pictures of Hazel that we could post in her special spot. It was a great little project for them, still in their pj’s on their first morning with their new puppy. I’m hoping to hang pictures of her mom and dad, too.
The boys thought she seemed cold, so we found this afghan that my grandma made for me when I was a baby. I thought we might as well put it to good use for our little lady. It’s a great reminder of my Gram. Ironically, she has a bichon (just like Hazel’s mama).

Our boys drew pictures of Hazel to post in her suitcase bed.

Here she is sleeping with her toys. Isn’t she just the cutest little puppy? She really likes her private little space and has ventured to lay down in it, herself. I think she appreciates having such a stylish little spot.

I think she likes her bed, don’t you?

So, as a new pet owner, I’m curious! What kind of pet beds do you think are the cutest for your cutest little pet?

 

Summer Nights

| June 27, 2012

Spencer Lake at Sunset

Summer, for me, means:

  • Fun
  • Rest
  • Reading
  • Riding Bikes
  • Playing at Parks
  • Time with Loved Ones
  • Games
  • Trips
  • More Time with my Boys
    And, of course….
  • Time at the Lake

I Love Mommy

| June 16, 2012

I Love Mommy

We’ve all had a mother. But, not everyone has had a MOMMY. If you have, then you are blessed!
I just found out that a very special person is (surprisingly!) expecting a baby! She is feeling a gamut of emotions. I know she will be a wonderful mommy! I also have other special friends who pray to be so blessed. Their hearts are all ready for the children they haven’t even conceived. They also feel emotional!  Then, there are those of us in the midst of mommy-hood! Do these emotions ever cease?!  Nope. Our hearts are no longer our own; they belong to our kids. That’s what it’s like, when it comes to motherhood.
And, it’s not just the emotions that are affected by these wee ones. I just learned that the DNA from each little baby stays, forever, inside the mama. (This, from my science-loving husband). Each baby will always be a part of that mother. Not to mention those outward changes we wish weren’t so apparent! Physically, mommies are different.
Spiritually, our world expands. We no longer pray mainly for ourselves or our man. We can’t help focusing our energies on praying for our baby. We understand the Father’s heart in a new way.
I have a Mommy, who’s loved me unconditionally my whole life. I’m so thankful for the ways she nourished me and taken care of me. To this day, she thinks I’m the greatest girl in the entire world. And, she tells me all the time. I’m blessed!
As I raise my two favorite boys in the whole world, I notice the ways I am like my mama. I even find myself acting like her. And, when I catch my image in the mirror, sometimes, I am shocked at the similarities between the two of us. We have SAME inside each of us. Mommies are a part of their babies.
I get so thankful when I think of what it means for me to be able to be a mommy. I’m so imperfect, but I truly want to be a great mommy! It’s an adventure doing my best. What could be more amazing?
I love mommies. Don’t you?

“Big” Plans

| June 9, 2012

12-2 and counting...

During the last week of school, the kids and I made BIG plans for the first day of summer. (ha!) My boys and I planned to wake up and drive away in our pj’s to buy a bunch of sweet treats at the Dunkin Donuts drive through, then come back home to watch movies and cuddle all morning and not get ready until we felt like it. (I know, I know! Such high aspirations!) Well, that’s what we did, and we had a blast!
Of course, with all that lazy rest mixed with loads of sugar, we were ready-to-go by 11:30 am! A bike ride down to the river to feed the ducks, eat a (healthier) picnic lunch, play at the park and come home again for a short break before going swimming at the lake. They splashed into the evening sunset and then heard stories of the “olden days” from Grandpa and his 3 brothers. Each wee one fell asleep during the late car ride home. What a great start to summer!
What are your big plans for summer? I’d love to hear your big (or small) ideas!