Thursday, January 27, 2011


I've been thinking about "serving" lately;  the reasons I serve others, what service looks like, how to teach the character trait of serving others to my kids. Sometimes I serve others out of obligation - it's my job as a mom and wife.  Other places in my life, like volunteering at the kids' schools, it's because I want to involve myself in a community or a project to help get a task done.  When I serve at church, I do it to give back from the gifts that God has given to me.  Overall, I want every place that I serve to have the same motivation  - to bring glory to God.  To gratefully offer myself back to Him by serving others;  To love Him by loving others. The hiccup comes when I expect perfection out of myself or compare myself too other people; this either causes me not to serve (because I'm not good enough) or causes me to serve with a grumpy heart because I'm suffering from comparison-itis.

This morning, Michael was in a serving mood.  He asked me what he could do to help me.  (He really did!) At the time I was in the kitchen so I told him that he could help me with empty the dish washer.  With a happy heart, he began taking dishes out of the dishwasher, putting away the things he could reach, handing me the things he couldn't.  Next he asked for another job - I had a basket of clothes in the living room and told him that he could help me fold those.  My sweet little guy went in there and folded the clothes.  

Michael asked me for help along the way, but he did the majority of it all on his own.  His motivation was to help me and to please me.  It wasn't perfect, it wasn't exactly how I do it, but his service came from a pure place in his little heart.  When I noticed the pile of daddy's white t-shirts that were stacked and folded by Michael's little hands, I was struck by the similarities of what I do to what Michael had done.  I was reminded of how often I do things that don't look perfect, but that God still accepts them.  God put in my mind the thought that He delights in my efforts to please Him and to help spread His love here on earth with the ways that I serve Him.  Even though I often do things wrong or imperfectly, He loves me and receives my feeble attempts of service.  At times, I'm too pushy, too controlling, too intent on fixing the problem, too much in general - yet God never "re-folds" my offering.  He might show me how to do it differently, but He always accepts me just the way I am.  I don't have to be perfect.  I don't have to serve in the same way as anyone else.  All He needs is my willing heart and He will do the perfecting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 25

There is evidence all around me that it is late January.  Remnants of snow that was once white and clean, is now in dirty piles in my yard.  Soggy leaves cover my flower beds, mulching my hibernating plants.  The calendar is empty, the bank account nearly there, Girl Scout cookies have been ordered, and my energy feels gray like the sky overhead. It is about this time in the month that I feel desperate for hot sun and open windows.   And yet, even with it's icy undertones, there are still "happies" to experience with all of us snugged in during the cold, windy days.  Movies to be watched, Christmas presents to be played with, chores left undone over the holidays to catch up on, fireplace to be enjoyed.  Even though January is not my favorite month, I appreciate it's stillness.  Less activity, less expectation, and less planning. Looking at the weeks ahead, we have things like Kindergarten open house for Michael, Marky's first winter youth retreat, Girl Scout activities for Maddie,  the expectation that a tooth is soon to be lost for Meredith.  The stillness is fleeting, and in May I will long for it.  So for now, I will endure what I don't like about January and embrace what I do enjoy.  Thank you for new beginnings, for a new season, a new year, a chance to put somethings behind us and press on with hope to things we know are down the road.  January - it's not all bad.      

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When it is like THIS out

The best place to be is HERE

wearing your jammies
in front of the fireplace
drinking THIS

not caring that you have THIS (major bedhead) 

and you just might end up having a pillow fight like THIS

and it will be the BEST morning EVER!! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Double Digits!!

Maddie is 10!!!

M - most generous and kind 
A - always thinking of others
D - darling 
I - I am so happy that I get to be your mommy
S - super, smart, smiley, sweetheart
O - one of a kind
N - Nobody else in the whole world fills up the Maddie-girl shaped space in my heart.  

You are my sweet second born daughter, who rocked the world when you arrived.  We were nothing before you came along.  Thank you for being you.   You are so unique and gifted in so many things. I love to watch you grow into your own style; I love that you get excited over long division; I love it that you enjoy playing with Barbies with your little sister and legos with your little brother; I love it that you love to eat hot wings; I love it that you do are such a great piano player. You are absolutely and truly so dear to me, my lovely daughter.  I love you  more and more each day.  
Happy 10th Birthday! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Longest post EVAH!!! With even more pictures!!! Beware!!!

I've been smothered.  Completely covered up.  Layer upon layer of activities, responsibilities, parties, packing, traveling, celebrations, not to mention the same-ole-same-ole of housekeeping and family-managing dailies.  One by one, two by two it all piled up on me until the only air I could breathe came through a tiny slit called "reality" that reappeared about 3 days ago on the side of the pile.  The pile has slowly been disappearing as each layer has been peeled off, and I feel like we are just about back to normal.  No more packages arriving, no more planning long days for the kids, no more birthday cakes, no more partying.  Over the last month we have celebrated big and lived large.  Well, large for us, which means we've had our whole family together non-stop for about 2 weeks.  To say it has been glorious would be an understatement.  Our normal schedule only allows us a few precious days together at a time. Because of a recent,(stressful, unnecessary, opposition-ladened) change, we were able to have us all together for an extended period of time.  Normally, I hate change (except for when I change the furniture around), but this change happened at just the right time for us.  The six of us needed to enjoy some life together and we loved it. 

After Christmas, we traveled  to New Mexico to visit some of Daddy's favorite places. The kids have traveled a lot and are great on planes and in airports.  We went to Carlsbad Caverns, White Sand Dunes, and Guadelupe National Park.  There was so much to see and do in these places. We sledded down the sand dunes, ate a picnic on top of one of the dunes, were amazed at the petroglyphs, oohed and aahed at the vastness (and darkness!) of the cave, and sang "Happy Birthday" to our Maddie while we were 850 feet underground.

Over and over we were blown away by all that we were seeing.  Patrick is a master trip-planner, and he  put together days of sight seeing that were both fun and educational.    Of course a lot of the fun that we had was when we arrived at the hotel and checked out the pool.  That was Meredith's favorite part every day.  One night, the big girls even swam outside while it was snowing(in Texas!).   This was definitely a winter break that we will remember forever.

Once we got home from vacation, we still had celebrating to do as it was New Year's Eve and Michael's birthday.  Uncle Martin and Aunt Bunny came into town to help us celebrate both events.  With champagne in hand and toasts to a "more relaxing, less stressful, altogether better year", we landed on January 1, 2011 - the day that Michael turned 5.  We went to Grandma Lucile and Grandpop's new house to celebrate Michael's birthday and we had a fantastic lunch together in their fancy dining room.   We had tractor birthday cake, singing, and more gifts. The following day,  we partied it up again with Grandma and Poppop while Michael and Maddie shared the spotlight at our favorite restaurant, Macaroni Grill.  We were the nonstop party family, I tell you!

So now that we've put away our party hats and stowed the wrapping paper and tape away we can focus on the New Year that is ahead of us.  The year 2010 was a year that had more stress, more opposition and more hardship than we would have ever thought back when it began 12 months ago.  However, the book of James in the Bible tells me that these trials will strengthen my faith and THAT is what I found to be true over this past year.  As I stare at the blank calendar that is before me, I know that there will be more stress, more change, and there are also more days to walk with God, holding His trustworthy hand.  He was loving and faithful last year, and I know that this year He will be the same.  He is constant and I can count on that; year after year He is the same.  Happy 2011, everyone!!