Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
My mom got an e-mail late last night from my dad and they are in Haiti - everyone is safe and having a good time so far! Thank you for lifting them up!
Tonight - late tonight - my dad, Isaac and a group of 5 other people are travelling up to MN to prepare to board a plane to head to Haiti tomorrow. Please be in prayer for them as they travel over the next 2 days.
Also please pray for Isaac as this is his first experience on a mission trip, leaving the country, etc. Pray for his heart for the Haitian people and that he may be a light to those he meets. I am both excited and nervous for him. I feel much better that my dad is going, and has been there before...but still the realization that my "baby" is leaving the country for 9 days is setting in.
My prayer is that this experience will really impact Isaac in a big way so please pray for that too. As I have/hear updates I will pass them along! Thank you for lifting them up in prayer!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
We were driving around our little town and saw a house with a cross wrapped in lights. My handy and inventive husband thought we (meaning he) might be able to come up with something similar...but better..of course right?! :)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
In the spirit of sharing and receiving some wonderful cookie recipes I am sharing my all time favorite Christmas cookie recipe. This one is so good that I don't know why I don't make it all year round. It is my dad's favorite cookie and a recipe from his mom whom I never had the chance to meet. But I think that I would have loved sitting down with her and a batch of these wonderful cookies.
For the dough:
1 cup butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cup flour
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and add egg yolk. Slowly add the flour until mixed. Then put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
Once chilled roll the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Press flat on a cookie sheet. (I use a small cookie press with a little design on it) Bake for 8-10 minutes @ 325 degrees. Remove from sheet and cool completely before frosting.
2 Tbls butter - brown in a sauce pan on the stove
Add 1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
Add 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together and then add a Tbls of milk, one at a time until thick. (Usually just 1-2 necessary)
The frosting will be almost like a carmel-like consistency. Find 2 cookies of a similar size and frost the bottom of 1 cookie and press it together with the bottom of another cookie.
And what you are left with are sugary, wonderful bites of goodness! I am telling you these are RICH but wonderful and will sure to be a hit at your Christmas parties!
I hope you try these cookies and if you have any questions in the process please contact me!
Merry Christmas friends!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Thankfully, and praise God for it, no one was seriously hurt.
But the call really made me stop and think this morning. We never know when our “time” will be. Many of us can think of a time that something happened that was a close call – where we “faced” death. 8 years ago I had a cyst burst inside of me and I bled internally for many hours before I went to the doctor. When I got to the hospital my blood pressure was dangerously low and I had to have emergency surgery where my doctor was able to save me. Had I gotten in the car and driven home that night…well I may not be here today. God had other plans for me.
But at the time, that situation didn’t really make me stop and take inventory about how I was living and where my heart was. This morning was different though. When I heard about the accident I could only think that I was grateful for the safety of my family, but also grateful that I know they have Christ as their Savior.
And I wonder how many of us are walking around trusting that we will have another day to make that decision. Another day to change our sinful behavior, another day to do it right…tomorrow. What if tomorrow doesn’t come?
I have shared before that I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was really young. But I didn’t really “get” it. I basically thought it was just asking Christ into my heart and everything would be roses. It wasn’t. I didn’t understand what I had done wrong and I kept asking Him back in over and over.
I spent many years, as a teenager and young adult seeking after my own selfish motives. I focused on the world and what it had to offer and less on what God would have me do. When Dominic and I got married I carried this behavior into our relationship and it was a recipe for disaster.
For 10 years we lived as husband and wife but not with God as the forefront of our marriage. The husband and wife titles were just that…titles. For many years we were more like roommates. Roommates that didn’t like each other. It was difficult, really difficult. And when things got bad I blamed God. Where was He? Why didn’t He change my husband? Why did we have to live like this?
Did I ever take a real serious look at myself? NO! Did I ever take responsibility for the things I was doing that contributed to our disharmony? NO! I was more comfortable with pointing my 1 finger at someone else and wouldn’t see the 3 pointing back at myself.
At one point we joined a church, even went as far as being baptized as adults. Professing our faith in God and asking for His forgiveness. I honestly believe that we wanted that for our lives, living a life with God at the center. But we didn’t know how to do it in all practical reality.
You see I had missed a key component in the “salvation” story. The part about repentance and what that really meant. A turning away from ones sin. Our pastor talks about running in the opposite direction of that sinful nature. I didn’t do that. I wanted to just accept Christ and have my life be better. I didn’t want to have to change myself in the process.
God was patient with me, He knew where I would end up and He let me make my choices so that I would learn from them. And eventually I did. I still am…
And so again I wonder, who out there is like me? Believing that they are “saved” but choosing to live in sin, refusing to repent…to run away from that sinful behavior? Blaming God because their lives aren’t changing.
The good news is that it isn’t too late. But you just can’t keep putting it off any longer!! We don’t know what tomorrow will hold and your soul is too important to put off making a choice for Christ!
If you are living a life that isn’t honoring to God, turn from that sin and run towards the only One who can save you. Is it easy to change patterns of behavior that seem so ingrained? No – I would be lying if I said it was.
I still see those old behaviors in my life today. But I see them less and less and I recognize them much sooner and make amends much faster than I had in the past. All of that is only possible because I have come to develop a personal relationship with God.
He isn’t this “supernatural” being up in the sky. He is a God that rides with me to work every day. That blesses me with peace and a confidence in Him. It just isn’t about what I have done or who I am….not at all!! My life is good today because of Him – in spite of me.
Is my life all roses? Nope. Honestly I wish it were easier sometimes. I feel frustrated when I can’t see His purpose in things. I feel disappointed when opportunities don’t open up for our family like I think they should and I often question what His will is in our lives.
The truth is I am not God! I know…big revelation. And I shouldn’t expect to know all that He knows. I want things in MY time and not His. I am human but it is my goal to be less and less of this world and more and more of Him. But I have to stay connected with Him.
About an hour ago I got a call with some disappointing news. Without getting into the specific details of that call, I will just share that it was something that we wanted for our family, something we prayed about asking for God’s will in the situation. Today we got our answer.
He closed the door. And in all honesty I am struggling with that. I don’t understand why the door had to be closed. I can’t see what He might have in store that is different and so I sit feeling frustrated. It is in my “old” nature to act on those feelings…lash out at God and be angry or depressed.
I knew coming in today that I wanted to write a post about what I was thinking about in the car. And when I got that call I wasn’t feeling like I really wanted to share the “Good News” of Christ because I wasn’t feeling it.
But you see that is the point. Even though I am not “feeling it” doesn’t mean that God isn’t still there in the middle working everything out for good. I just can’t quite see it yet. My vision is clouded – not His. And if I am going to honestly pray for His will in my life then I have to be open to the possibility of closed doors just as I would be to open ones.
I know this is long and hopefully it is making some bit of sense. Getting down to brass tacks people. If you don’t have Christ as your Savior – what is stopping you? Don’t wait any longer! If you are stuck in sinful behavior and can’t seem to get out - turn to Him, reach out for help and see your life dramatically change. If it is possible for me, it is possible for you too!
I have seen the benefits in my own life from trusting in God and I am more than willing to get into more detail if you have any questions. Please feel free to e-mail me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blessings dear friends
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I like to reach for toys and I put everything in my mouth. I drool all the time but I don't have any teeth yet - mom is happy about that!
I love to make sounds and squeal and I laugh when my mom shakes her head at me. I love my brothers too and calm down and sleep when Isaac rocks me in the recliner.
I now weigh 22 lbs and am 27.5 in long! I still have no desire to roll over, but I blame that on my chubby tummy and thighs. It is just too hard to move all of that around!
I have started to eat "real" food and love green beans and peas. I will eat carrots and squash but I don't enjoy them quite as much as the green vegetables. I eat a lot at a time and sometimes help mom put the spoon in my mouth!
I still don't sleep through the night but know that mom secretly enjoys our time together so I will probably keep it up for awhile!
I keep hearing mom say that I am a blessing so I think I must be pretty special! I hope that you can come and visit me soon because next time you see me I will have changed again for sure!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Isaac is a wonderful young man. He is caring and kind, helpful and understanding. He excels in school and is a talented musician. He is our firstborn and we have been blessed to spend the last 12 years being his parents.
For now, let me say again that we love you boys. We are blessed by each and every one of you!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
1) I am 34 years old – will be 35 in January.
2) My hair is permed, but after 3 kids I now also have some natural curl in there too.
3) I have always been jealous of people that have long, beautiful, straight hair. Mine has always been frizzy at the ends and doesn’t look nice straight.
4) I would love to get Lasik surgery done.
5) I am obsessed with my teeth, always worried there might be something in them so I am always checking them in a mirror.
6) The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is brush my teeth. And then before I leave for work I brush them again.
7) We have 2 cats and a dog. I thought that I was a “pet” person but I have come to realize that for me the idea of being a pet person is way better than the reality of being a pet person.
8) When our cats vomit on our carpet I secretly want to throw them outside and see if they “runaway”. But the thought usually makes me feel pretty guilty.
9) I love to read but I always seem to start a book and then have a hard time finishing it.
10) When I do find a rare moment to read I tend to read every 4th word. I am a skimmer and often find if I reread something that there is something that I have missed.
11) I LOVE doing craft projects. I have a craft closet in my house that is stuffed full of crafty things. Problem is I often start something and then don’t finish it.
12) One of my character defects is starting something and then not finishing it!
13) I would love to learn how to sew, quilt specifically. But I am afraid that I will learn, start something and then not finish it and I don’t have another closet to spare for storage.
14) When I was younger I wanted so badly to be a professional ice skater. My friend Renee was really good, got to take lessons etc. and I thought it was such a beautiful sport. But I wasn’t athletic or graceful enough for a sport like that!
15) I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. My brother Mark taught himself how to play and didn’t even know how to read music. I would love to be talented like that.
16) If I ever learned how to play the guitar I would want to learn “church camp” songs. When I went to camp I always thought it would be awesome to be that person up front leading the music.
17) I took piano lessons until I was 8 or 9. I begged my parents to quit. My piano teacher had lost her husband and she would tell me that he was on a long bus trip in the sky. It creeped me out and I didn’t want to be alone with her. Besides my love of “quitting” was already quite developed and practicing was just no fun.
18) I am now living out my desires to be a talented musician vicariously though my oldest son Isaac. His piano teacher says he has more talent in his little finger than most do in their whole body. I encourage him NOT to quit.
19) I am jealous of women that say they are planning when they will get pregnant next and then make it happen. Getting pregnant with Gabriel and Elijah wasn’t “easy” and I always thought it would have been nice to “plan” it.
20) I don’t think I am done having kids yet. Maybe it is lack of sleep, or hormones from nursing but I already want to be pregnant again. It isn’t a good time really financially but my heart’s desire is to have a daughter.
21) If we do ever get pregnant again and have a daughter I want to name her after my best friend Karlena. She is an amazing example of faith and it would be such an honor to raise a daughter teaching her about who her namesake is.
22) I am blessed with a good job. I like what I do and who I work with. But if we could afford it I would stay home. I get so much enjoyment out of helping at the school or having lunch with Gabriel or having nice meals ready for dinner and I wish that I could do those things every day.
23) I am jealous of moms that get to stay home and be available for their family in that way.
24) I am often envious of people that don’t live paycheck to paycheck. We are definitely responsible for any debt we have and are working to be debt free some day but it seems that often others have an easier time at it than we do.
25) Jealousy/Envy is another one of my character defects. I often pray that God will help me be content where I am, not seeking after where I think I should be.
26) My natural tendency is to point out the negative in situations. I am working hard to combat this and with God’s help I am seeing life in the positive now much more often.
27) I accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was really young at a Christian Women’s Club brunch I went to with my mom.
28) I reaccepted Christ every time that we went to these meetings. At the time I was looking for some “big change” and when I still was my regular self I thought that I didn’t do it right so I kept trying over and over hoping that someday I would “get it”.
29) 3 years ago I began a journey of developing a real relationship with God – one in which I am seeking His will for my life and trying to walk with Him daily.
30) I say that I am seeking God’s will for my life but I secretly hope that path doesn’t take me somewhere uncomfortable.
31) I often stretch myself too thin. I don’t like to say no to people and I want to be involved and helpful, but it often leaves me feeling worn out. I need to get a better handle on my priorities.
32) I love to sing. If I am alone in my car you would find me with the radio turned up and me singing along.
33) I only listen to Christian radio. The songs speak to me. I find such joy in worshipping through music.
34) I secretly wish that I had an amazing voice. I would love to be able to belt out a song like some of those musicians do. I do sing in church on occasion but it terrifies me.
35) I don’t read my Bible like I should.
36) I am addicted to HGTV and the Food Network. My favorite shows are the Cake Challenge competitions and the “Designed to Sell” shows.
37) I sing silly songs to Elijah to make him laugh. I have one that I made up that was to help him hear and identify his own name. It goes like this: “Elijah, Elijah you’re my baby, you’re Elijah”. Gabriel and Isaac think it is funny and now they sing it too!
38) I also sing “You are my Sunshine” and “I am Waiting” to him. I LOVE that it makes him smile.
39) When I eat M&M’s or Skittles I group them together in a color pattern and then eat them. I sometimes make then into shapes first and then eat them in a specific pattern.
40) I am absolutely Type A.
41) I have a routine in the morning and I always do the same thing every day.
42) I have a short temper. My temper is DEFINITLY another one of my character defects. I often have to apologize for getting angry about something that wasn’t really “worth” getting angry about.
43) I love to take pictures and would like to someday take a class and learn how to take better pictures.
44) I think that being a photographer professionally would be so fulfilling. Maybe someday when we are independently wealthy! Ha ha
45) I went on a mission trip to Jamaica when I was a freshman in college. It was an amazing experience. I hope that someday I can do something like that again.
46) I don’t spend enough time telling/showing Dominic how much he means to me. He is my best friend and I often take him for granted.
47) I love to blog. I used to journal but - yes you guessed it – I quit that. But something about an “online” journal has been easier for me to keep up with.
48) I have different ideas every day about things I would like to blog about but in reality I probably blog about 1 out of every 10 ideas.
49) I know that with God’s help I can do all things but I am often scared about what I can handle. I put the emphasis on me and often forget about the “He” in those situations.
50) It is my heart’s desire to be an example of Christ in everything that I do. I usually fail miserably but I am not willing to give up on the thought!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Ever since my friend Amanda introduced me to the wonderful world of food coloring I have been going nuts! So this morning we decided to make some special treats in Gabriel's favorite color! He even went as far as to tell me that we had to pretend it was his birthday again and made me call him "Birthday Boy"!
Later this morning we took a short trip across the "border" into Iowa where we went to order a passport for Isaac. He will be going with his grandpa on a mission trip to Hayti in late December and we needed to get that ordered so it will be here in time. I am really excited about this trip and hope that it is an eye opening and heart changing trip. We have so many things to be grateful for here that we take for granted and I am hoping that helping others and being of service might really have an impact on him.
After that Dominic and I spent a couple of hours in our yard bagging up what turned out to be a very large amount of leaves. 7 - 55 gallon bags full! It was a big job but it was a beautiful day to be outside doing yard work.
Once that job was complete, I cleaned myself up and went to meet my mom to go to a Holiday Open House where a woman from our church was selling her homemade craft goods. We both found a couple of things and it put me in a pre-holiday spirit!
While I was gone Dominic worked on putting Christmas lights up on our deck and for the 1st time in several years won't have to be out in freezing cold temps to get our house decorated! YEAH!
Now after we have all been fed, we are going to watch a movie together called 'Aliens in the Attic". I hope that your day has been full too. Full of love, laughter and lots of time with your family! Blessings dear friends!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I wanted to share a couple of photos that I took yesterday. Let's face it -Elijah is SO BIG. And by big I mean he is one fat baby!! :) He barely fits in his Bumbo chair because his thighs are so fat. He is working on his third chin as we speak and is sporting what we lovingly refer to as his "Trump" do. The hair on both sides of his head have all but worn off but he has this bunch of long hair in the top middle of his head that is growing longer with each day. He looks a little dazed in this photo but I think he was trying to figure out why his mom and dad were laughing so hard when we were taking his pictures. Thankfully though he is the only healthy boy in our household so maybe all that "fat" is working to his advantage!
Confession: I am addicted to sweets. Seriously this is no laughing matter. You will often find me with several rolls of Smarties in my pocket. You know those little rolls of candy that we ate when we were young?? I can't seem to get enough of the sweet stuff. Yesterday when I stayed home with the boys I had a craving for something sweet and for baking so I made this "Afternoon Delight Peanut Butter Pie". It is SOOOO good. If you have ever had the peanut butter pie from Perkins you will LOVE this pie. And it is so easy to make. I felt like I was doing some "Semi-Homemade Cooking" like Sandra Lee from the Food Network yesterday.
In an effort to also feed the family (since sharing my pie was most certainly out of the question) I decided to try something that I had never made before. (Amanda I am going to try that chicken casserole soon - yum!) I had heard of someone else trying this spaghetti casserole and found a recipe online and decided to try it. Overall it was pretty good. It turns out a lot like a lasagna and the recipe says it makes enough for 8 - I think this pan could have served many more than that!
The only thing I would change with the recipe is to use a few less noodles. Once it baked up it wasn't quite as "saucy" as I would have liked. But overall it was fun to try something new that everyone in my family could enjoy!
Have a great rest of the week!!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
- I wanted to share a couple of pictures. Gabriel - as in several years past - dressed up as Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. He was so excited to go trick-or-treating but the poor thing has been sick since early Friday morning. All signs and symptoms are pointing to H1N1. We aren't taking him in to the doctor to know for sure as really there is nothing they can do for him. So we are keeping an eye on him and working to keep his fever at bay. He felt much better this afternoon and we thought letting him get a little fresh air would probably be ok. So we got all dressed up and basically went down 1 side of 1 block and he was done. He was at home out of the costume and asleep in the recliner by 7:30 and we didn't go out until sometime after 7pm. But as we went home Gabriel told me that this was "the best trick-or-treating ever"!
- I found this cosutme for Elijah at a garage sale for cheap - less than $5. And it is warm and soft and most likely will fit him again next year. It is a 12-24mo outfit and was a bit big on him. But I had to try it on even though he wasn't out hunting for treats and took a few pictures of how cute he looked!!
- The last picture was taken last Saturday when Dominic and I went to a little Halloween event where we each had an opportunity to share about how God has moved in big ways in our lives/marriage. It was fun and the best part was making Dominic's costume together. His whole costume was made from scratch. If you can believe it the breastplate, leg guards and skirting deal that he is wearing is an old rug covered with a fake leather material! Dominic had the idea and we spent several hours together making it. The white "tunic" was sewn by Dominic's mom out of some fabric I found at Saver's for $2.99 and the burgandy sash was 2 silky pillowcases I also got at Saver's for $0.99 each! He made the arm bands out of an old ice cream bucket and covered them with the same fake leather. The amount of time we put into it is really pretty sick but it was good bonding for us so it was worth it!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Recently he did a packing with some University of Sioux Falls students and both Keloland news and the Argus Leader came out to do news stories. I wanted to share the links to those stories and incourage you to read about the impact that my dad, along with many willing volunteers are having on starving kids locally and worldwide.
Just click on Keloland and Argus Leader above and it will take you right to the stories!! Dad my desire is that one day I can make an impact like you are on the world around me!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Any guesses what this might be in the picture?? If you guessed pancakes you are right. But theses are no ordinary pancakes. Tonight was "red" pancake night!!
A few days ago she posted pictures of her rainbow pancakes and I knew that my boys would enjoy that. We made blue - Gabriel's favorite color - first. Tonight was red and we decided that green is next. Maybe we will go crazy and do all the colors on a Saturday morning!!
And I know it sounds crazy...but tonight the red pancakes tasted better than the "regular" ones usually do! So go check out some of Amanda's tasty treats and be inspired!! :)
Friday, October 16, 2009
We have been counting down the days until Gabriel’s birthday for awhile now. He has been SO very excited! Every morning for the last week he comes up the stairs and the first thing he says is “Hi mom it’s October___”. “How many days until my birthday mom?”
Gabriel has really grown this year into such an amazing little boy. He started kindergarten with his teacher Mrs. Kropuenske and really enjoys going to school. We drop him off at his class in the mornings and he is always excited to go. Apparently they told Dominic this morning that they heard about Gabriel’s birthday all day yesterday. Today he gets to wear a "birthday crown" all day and be the class leader so I know he feels pretty special right now!
This morning Gabriel came up while I was getting ready and I sang Happy Birthday to him. He then told me that I HAD to call him “Birthday Boy” not Gabriel and then he proceeded to tell me that he now needs to count until the next October 16.
Oh Boy!! This could be a LONG 365 days! :)
But in all sincerity, we feel so blessed to have spent the past 6 years getting to have Gabriel as a part of our family, watching him grow and change into the amazing boy he is today. Gabriel we love you and are so proud of you!
Mom and Dad
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Three years ago tomorrow Dominic and I started the journey of restoration that has brought us to where we are today. It didn't happen over night and it hasn't always been easy. In fact bad attitudes and habits are hard to break...and I had a lot of them, we both did.
But God is patient and He kept prodding us in the right direction. Putting people in our lives that would have profound impacts on the way we would choose to view life. God knew long ago that things in our home would get as bad as they did. And He knew that He would redeem our situation.
But we didn't. And at the time, three years ago I was in such a different place. Today I can't hardly believe how far we have come. We are not the same two people we were 3 years ago. And I am grateful for that. But I wouldn't be who I am today, I wouldn't have the relationship with God I do today if I/we didn't have to walk through the fire like we did.
Several years ago during one of our more difficult times Dominic and I went to see a marriage counselor. I don't remember much of what he had to say except that he had never seen a couple so much in "contempt" for one another that weren't already divorced! He told us that if things didn't drastically change that we were headed in that direction for sure.
And although he was probably right - God had something different planned for us. Like I said before it wasn't an easy time. It started really with Dominic. He started treating me with respect - even when my actions didn't deserve respect. He showed me love when I didn't deserve it and he forgave me when I was disrespectful and unloving. He started doing things for me even if he wouldn't "get" anything in return.
One day he asked me to pray with him. This was something that I had desired in my husband for years and I was finally getting that...and yet because of the "history" between us I couldn't trust that this was a change I could rely on. So although I agreed, I had a terrible attitude about it.
But something happens to even the hardest of hearts when a family kneels together each morning to pray for God's hand in all that we do. God has the power to heal the hurts. He has the power to soften a hardened heart. He has the power to wash away resentments and He has the power to restore what had been lost.
God did that for us. Three years ago Dominic and I started a new journey together. One in which we invited God to be a part of our family. One in which we both had willingness to be better people, and not just for our own benefit but for others as well. One in which trust was restored, love was rebuilt and family was healed.
My heart's desire is that I never go back to the way I was living back then. But that doesn't mean that I can forget about it completely. It is important for me to remember where I was and how far we have all come. Because today I have nothing but gratitude for the journey.
I am a better wife because we struggled. I am a better mother because we struggled. I am a better daughter, sister and friend because life got hard...really hard and God took what were the ashes of our life and made something beautiful out of it. Today, three years later, I am truly grateful.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
I am admittedly one of those people who, depending on the situation, naturally gravitate towards the “negative”. If something happens I can very quickly think of several things wrong, several things to be upset about and I have to think hard to come up with positives…my mind just doesn’t naturally go there.
Let me give you an example. On Friday Dominic stayed home to work on putting new linoleum in our entryway. He ran to Ace to get something to help with the job and his car dies. I mean running one minute, next minute the starter is gone. So long story short he gets it to a shop in Beresford where they quote one price, charge about $100 more and tell us that his radiator is also broken.
When Dominic calls me to tell me the good news (can you hear the sarcasm?) I instantly think “Why this, Why now, Why can’t we catch a break, How come this stuff always happens to us…” Whine, whine, whine. It makes me nauseous just typing it out. But it is where my mind goes.
After my brief tantrum conversation in my head I take a step back and try to be intentional for a moment. Try to think of some things that I can be grateful for in this situation. Well when I stop to think about it there are several things:
1) We have AAA so we got the car towed for “free”.
2) We have a second car so at least we can still get to where we need to go until his is fixed.
3) My dad has an “extra” vehicle and has offered more than once that if we ever need we can borrow it. (Dominic is driving it as we speak)
4) We had money in our savings – not much but some - and so we can pay for this fix with cash.
5) We have both have full time jobs that allow us to be able to save for things such as this.
6) The situation could have been MUCH worse.
When I am intentional with my thoughts and focus on those things that I can and should be grateful for my attitude about life drastically changes. I am able to walk this journey praising God for whatever might be in my path rather than complain about whatever doesn’t go my way.
And I am by nature a complainer. It isn’t something that I am proud of and I am working hard to eliminate that part of my character and replace it with something good. But I can’t do it alone. Thankfully I have a husband that keeps me grounded. We have this thing we do in our house where we say that we “get” to do something rather than “have” to do something.
When I look at life as a “get” to I start to recognize that I have the opportunity to be the best person that God would have me to be each day. I don’t have to do any of this. But God allows me opportunities to be of service to others, to reach out and help someone in need, to be an example of His grace and His love.
And these aren’t things that I can accomplish on my own. It is only with God’s help that I am a person that can do those things. Because it isn’t in my nature to give without expecting in return, to show kindness to an enemy or to not focus on what’s in it for me.
But I find that when I focus on others, I get outside of myself. I start to see the beauty in life through others and I am constantly reminded of all the things that I have to be grateful about. Slowly God is changing my heart. Allowing me the opportunities to work on my character defects and then He is filling the holes that the defects have left with things like love and peace and kindness and gentleness, patience and self control.
And don’t get me wrong – there is still a LOT to work on. I have said it before that my journey is about progress not perfection. I am making progress. Sometimes it is painfully slow and I can’t see the changes occurring and other times I am made aware very quickly that I have now chosen to think a new way, respond a better way. And I know that isn’t because of who I am or what I have done. But what God has done through me.
I do have a disease of perception, but it is slowly changing from something that I “suffer” from to something that I am blessed with. Thank God that He allows me the opportunity to figure that out!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Angie’s blog had an immediate and profound impact on me. At the time I was still struggling with my recent miscarriage. To be completely honest I was angry. Angry that God would allow something like that to happen to us. I felt like for the first time in a long time that Dominic and I had things “together”. We were praying together as a family, we had found a way to resolve problems in our marriage in a reasonable way, we were communicating and bonding like I had always hoped we would. So I felt like there were 101 reasons that we “deserved” to be pregnant. And when I feel I deserve something, well I like to see it work out. And when things don’t go as I plan I tend to get a little angry and resentful. And to top it all off I felt my anger was justified because of all the reasons I stated above that I also deserved the pregnancy.
It is a vicious cycle and one that leads to loneliness and despair. I could no longer see God in my life, or at least see God in the way that I wanted to see Him. You see I had heard that Bible verse about having the faith of a mustard seed and being able to move mountains. So I knew that God could save my pregnancy if He wanted to – I believed it with all my heart. I got down on my knees that morning in February and begged Him to do what I couldn’t – save the life that was growing inside of me. I pled with Him, reassuring Him that I believed, I had the faith that He could do it…so please just do it!!
When He didn’t perform what I was calling a “miracle” in me, in the way that I wanted, in the time that I wanted I was sure that I must have done something to deserve it or that God just didn’t love me the way I needed. I spent months thinking of nothing but my own difficulty. I was bitter when I saw women who were pregnant and wondered what they had done to deserve something that I didn’t.
I would talk to my friend Clare asking why I couldn’t “get over” all of it. Part of me wanted to feel normal again and part of me felt comfortable wallowing in my own self pity. I know that sounds crazy but it was my reality. But one thing that helped me so much during this time was reading about how Angie was working through the loss of her daughter. I was so impressed by her love for God in spite of her circumstances and I wanted what she had. I wanted to love God regardless of whether my life was perfect or not. I wanted to trust Him even though I couldn’t see how I would ever recover from the loss. I wanted to believe that He could redeem that part of my life into something good.
So I started to talk to Him, in complete honesty. I wasn’t afraid to be angry with Him. I usually apologized for being mad, but I needed to get it out. As time went on God began to heal my heart. With love of good friends who supported me and let me talk about it over and over again I slowly changed. It was something that happened without me even realizing it really. It wasn’t until I got that call from Beth back in September a year ago telling me that she was pregnant , and all that I felt was complete joy for her, that I realized that the resentment was gone, the bitterness was resolved and God had made me whole again.
Quite a journey. And as many of you know He didn’t stop there. Tomorrow will be Elijah’s 4 month birthday. The circumstances around my getting pregnant with him when I did, the fact that Beth and I delivered 9 days apart, isn’t something that I could have orchestrated if I had tried. God had a perfect plan in that situation and today I can reflect on the journey that brought me here. I wasn’t able to see the “whole” picture. I wanted to manage my life so that it would be most comfortable for me. What I couldn’t see then, that I realize today is that when I am most comfortable I tend to pull away from God. I think that I have it all under control and my relationship with my Savior suffers. When my life isn’t perfect, when I struggle, when I stumble, I see the need I so desperately have for Him to take back the reigns of my life and lead me on His path.
And I have been given gifts because of this experience. The gift of friendship with women who have also had similar experiences. I connected with an amazing woman Suzanne who I got to meet in person when we travelled to California last summer. Suzanne has had more miscarriages of any woman I know. And yet when I shared the news of my pregnancy last September she responded with such joy and support I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that God would put such a woman in my life, who acted in ways I couldn’t when I was in her shoes. I have been given a heart for women that I didn’t have before. I have had the opportunity to reach out and offer hope to others as they struggle with the loss of their child. It is something that has been made even more personal to me. And something that I appreciate now today, a gift I couldn’t have anticipated over a year and a half ago.
I know that there is a possibility that someone reading this has also experienced the loss of a pregnancy. If that is the case please leave me a comment or send me an e-mail. I would be honored to pray for you. My prayer is that regardless of what situation we find ourselves in, no matter how dark, that we would be able to see the face of Christ in it. That we would be drawn to Him and would feel His peace. And that God would take the ashes in our lives – whatever they might be - and make them a beautiful offering of His redeeming mercy.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Life has been crazy lately. We are getting into a new routine with Elijah in the family. Gabriel started Kindergarten and loves it. Some days he comes home and is asleep right away. I think that school all day wears him out a bit! But so far he has enjoyed each day. He likes to bring his lunch with him whenever I will let him and was excited to have Dominic come and eat lunch and play at recess with him yesterday.
Isaac, from what he will share with me, is doing well in school also. He is becoming accustomed to his braces and tolerates them without being angry that I “forced” him to have them. We will see what happens next week when they are tightened again! :) I have told him many times that some day he will appreciate this and that we were willing to find a way financially to pay for it. He doesn’t believe me now, but I know from my experience that I am very grateful that my parents “forced” me too!
Elijah is growing like a weed. I am telling you his little thighs are so fat! This is the one time in his life that it is adorable to have fat thighs! Last week he rolled over from his tummy to his back several times. Dominic said that his head caused momentum and forced the rest of his body over. I don’t care how or why it happened – just am excited that it did. I was carrying on and clapping when it happened I think Elijah must have thought I was nuts!
It is hard to believe that I have been back at work for over a month now. The transition has been really good. I work with an awesome group of people and it is fun to come to work every day. I still would love to be home more, but if I have to work – and I do – then this is the place for me!
Dominic has worked on building 1 bench for our new deck and is in the process of building another. It is fun to see him get excited about something like this and he really does a good job so I am so proud of him! I know he has really taken the back burner lately with Elijah here. I admittedly spend most of my time at home catering to the baby and other family needs like laundry and lunches that Dominic and I get very few moments together as a couple. I know I don’t tell him enough how much I love and respect him and how grateful I am that he is a part of my life. Dominic, although it is a crazy busy life, I wouldn’t want to share life with anyone else!
We are all looking forward to the long weekend and might try to get in some of the bands at the Lifelight Music Festival this weekend. I can’t believe that it is September already. Fall and soon winter are fast approaching and some days it feels like time is slipping away from me.
I will be participating in a book club in a few weeks. Check out this site for more details. We will be reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I cheated and started the book already – I know I will have to go back and re-read the first few chapters when we start. But I have already been challenged and convicted by this book and can’t wait to dive into it in depth with a group of fellow believers. I am sure that as we go I will post more about it so look for that in the future. We plan to start on September 13th.
Finally I would like to end this post with a prayer request. When I got back to work I found out that my old boss – who still works at the bank – lost her baby granddaughter 9 days after she was born to an undiagnosed heart condition. The whole situation is very tragic and has weighed heavily on my heart the last few weeks. I knew that “T” was pregnant about the same time as I was and knew she was due in late June, early July. Every time now that I look at Elijah and see the miracle that he is I am reminded that “T” has empty arms and must be missing her daughter terribly. I know that she and her family could use all the prayers she can get. So please remember her if you would. Although I can’t understand why it is that things like this happen I am grateful for the hope that I have that one day those situations will be redeemed through the blood of a Savior who loves us.
Have a blessed holiday weekend.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
My dad has been working extremely hard to bring an organization to Sioux Falls that is dear to his heart and things have fallen into place and it is finally a go. The organization is called Kids Against Hunger and my dad has worked to bring a packaging site to Sioux Falls!
What is Kids Against Hunger? It is a nonprofit organization with the mission to significantly reduce the number of hungry children in the USA and to feed starving children throughout the world. This is being achieved by getting volunteers involved, and by setting up food packaging satellites in the USA, and through partnerships with humanitarian organizations worldwide - enabling Kids Against Hunger to deliver its specially formulated rice-soy casserole to starving children and their families in more than 40 countries. The Kids Against Hunger network currently includes over 50 food packaging satellites across the United States and one in Canada.
The new Kids Against Hunger Sioux Falls packing site is located at the Avera Living Well Center at 2400 So. Minnesota Ave in Sioux Falls and we will be having a Kick-Off event on Saturday August 22nd at 10:00AM.
Come and help Kids Against Hunger Sioux Falls package meals to feed hungry children around the United States and starving children around the world.
In 2008, volunteers all across the USA packaged 40 million meals for starving children and their families abroad and for hungry people right here in the USA. And a portion of the meals packaged will stay in the local community.
For just 23¢ per serving you can feed a starving child! Just think about that for a moment. Less than $1 a day would feed a child for the entire day! At the Sioux Falls site groups or individuals can come in on a specified day and package meals. The process so simple that even children are encouraged to participate. What a great way to get our youth involved in outreach! If you have a group or orginazation that would like to get involved please contact me through the comment page on this blog or e-mail me at email@example.com and I will get you in touch with my dad!
I can't say it all so please check out the Kids Against Hunger website for more information. And remember to join us on Saturday August 22nd for our Kick-Off packing event!
On Sunday August 16th Dominic and I will be “officially” dedicating Elijah at our Sunday morning church service.
For some of you a dedication might be foreign and I wanted to share our thoughts on why we do this for/with our children. Dominic and I both believe that Elijah is God’s child first, given to us as a gift to parent as long as God allows. In a dedication ceremony the parents make a dedication to God in front of a fellowship of believers that they will bring the child to church, teach him the truth of the bible and lead him on a path where he can one day make a personal choice to ask Jesus to be his Savior. In addition the church then dedicates that they too will be active participants in the raising of the child in the church.
This is so important to us as parents. Dominic and I want to be a living example of Christ in our lives to our children. Do we do this perfectly? Absolutely not!! But the point is that we are seeking to know what God’s will in our lives is on a DAILY basis.
This means that we are asking God to be a part of every aspect of our lives…not just the big “important” things but all things regardless of their importance. We pray together as a family each morning that God would give us knowledge of His will in our lives and then the power (through Him) to carry that will – His perfect will – out.
As we dedicate our child to God we are really dedicating that as parents we will train up our children in the way that He would have them go. This is something that we can’t do without prayer, faithfully attending church and being an active participant in a Christ filled life. It is our hope and desire that our children will make that choice to ask Jesus into their hearts. For we believe that trusting in Jesus, repenting from sin and seeking to follow His will is the only path to eternal life. But we can’t “force” them to believe what we believe. Hopefully through our example they will want to seek the freedom in Christ that we have.
Some may say that this puts pressure on parents to be perfect and please don’t get the impression that we are holier than most! We know first hand the redeeming grace of a God that loves us, imperfections and all. Dominic and I have made and continue to make our share of mistakes. We don’t always mirror Christ’s image in our lives. We argue, say things we shouldn’t, aren’t quick to forgive, get frustrated with our kids, and are selfish and immature.
We know that we desperately need a power greater than ourselves to be that guiding force in our lives. When we pull and try to take the reigns back, taking control back of our lives we fall deeper into those “human” patterns that cause us so much trouble. When we open up our hands and give back control to a God who has our best interests at heart is when we find true contentment and peace in our lives.
So on Sunday August 16th if you are available, we would love for you to come and celebrate with us God’s gift in Elijah and to commit with us as believers to help us train him up in the way that God will have him go. The service is at 10am at First Baptist Church in Parker, SD. We will be having a lunch with our family and friends following the service and hope that you can join us in that also. If you need directions to get to the church please send me an e-mail at kasmith03@gmailcom and I will get those to you!
Have a blessed week!
Friday, July 31, 2009
The first picture - with Gabriel being a goof - is our back stairway that leads out to our garages.
The second picture gives you an idea of how big this deck is. It is wonderfully big. A little larger than the old one and without the wrap around bench like the old one had it feels that much bigger. Dominic has already started the process of making us some small benches that we can have to sit on but can move or put away during the winter. He is becoming quite the carpenter!
The last picture is the front stairway. Since that picture was taken he also mounted our new mailbox so with that the project is complete! And what a project it was. There were many hours of cutting, measuring and working with power tools to get this done and I am so grateful for all of his hard work. Isaac and my dad helped also, but Dominic really did a majority of the work here and we have something beautiful to enjoy now for years to come!