Quite A Year

Saturday, April 23, 2016

It may not be May yet, but as April comes to a close, several of our activities are also winding down for the year.  This past year hasn't turned out the way I imagined it would a year ago, but it's been such a blessing to me and I believe our entire family.  Two Tuesdays ago, we had our last Tuesday Morning Bible Study until after Labor Day, and this past Sunday was Ladybug's Spring Praisers concert at church.  Also, L only has one more month of preschool this year.  All in all, I find myself meeting these changes with mixed feelings.

I am pleased to tell you that I'm going to miss my Sunday afternoons helping with the 3-4 yr old class at Praisers, our preschool choir.  Sometimes Sundays were tiring, spending just a little time at home on Sunday afternoon, resting, before heading back to church for choir.   Some days I didn't always feel like it, but I went and enjoyed it.  L loves singing in the choir, and I love her friends so much I can't explain it.  They're all my kids, and I'm thankful I've spent the year with them.  The exhaustion was completely worth it.  I honestly believe that I'm going to be a little lost on Sunday nights.  I've  already said that I am most likely going to help again next year. I just hope people are ready to hear Ladybug sing at the top of her lungs again.

Seriously, never tell Ladybug that she needs to sing loudly.  She has that covered.  EVERYONE in our church and online heard her.  Mrs. Tracy, who leads all the Praisers laughed and told me she thought Ladybug would pass out from singing so loudly.  Nope.  My kid makes loud joyful noises.  Seriously, her friend next to her had to hold her ears because of it.

The good news is that I still get to see my kids on Sunday mornings all summer long.  Half of them are in my Sunday school class, and the other half are next door.   Last August I'm pretty sure I admitted that I felt completely ill-equipped to teach a Sunday School class.  Seriously, I am not a crafty person, and crafts are sort of required for this age group.

I am the person who, in Senior English class when an intern (whom I knew very well, thank you small towns) asked us to draw the Green Knight from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  So I did.  I took a green pen and drew a green stick person with a stick sword.  I wasn't worried about my grade, because otherwise English Lit is my thing.  I just calmly mentioned when turning it in that had I ever felt inclined to draw, I would have taken Art as an elective at some point in my high school career.

Anyway, back to the present day, here we are in late April, and I'm eagerly volunteering to teach again next year.  I'm tremendously thankful God pushed me to do something I never imagined I would do in volunteering to co-teach Ladybug's Sunday school class.  He pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I have been so blessed because of it.  You would think it would be seen as a chore, but it's not.

As I did last year, I have enjoyed Tuesday morning Bible study and have also grown immeasurably because of it. Especially since now I'm teaching Sunday school rather than being taught, I need this time.  I greatly benefit from fellowship with women of all ages, but especially those in the same stage of life as me.  I went through technically four studies.  The first was... ok. I liked it, but found it redundant and grew bored.  It had nothing to do with the leader of my group or anything like that.  The subject matter just grew tiresome, which was sad since it was about JOY!  I, and several of my friends, felt it could have been covered in about half as much time.  The second was an overview of the Bible, which I LOVED.  The third was "The Armor of God" by Priscilla Shirer.  This book was an eye-opener.  I greatly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good study.  Lastly, we just finished "Seamless" by Angie Smith.  This was also an overview of the entire Bible that made you think beyond the stories that many of us knew by heart.  I'm going to miss my Tuesday mornings at church, but I do look forward to another morning at home too.  My house has missed my attention.  I can't say that I've missed giving so much of my attention to my housework though!

I'm going to stay fairly busy for the next month and even after.  Ladybug's first year of preschool is almost over.  I can't believe it!  She has grown so much in every way imaginable.  I just love her.  We've been blessed this year with probably the best teacher for her to have had as a first teacher.  I mean, I've been having to help her come to terms with the fact that she most likely won't have the same teacher and teacher's aide next year.  I can't tell you how thankful I am for these women who pour so much of themselves into my child's life. I'm very grateful for the entire school.  I was apprehensive to send Ladybug to preschool at the age of three, but I wouldn't have wanted her anywhere else those days.  In fact, I originally enrolled her for three days next year.  When we realized that she would only be in an actual classroom two days a week at the school we plan to enroll her in for Kindergarten through 12th for the first several years, it didn't make sense to have her getting used to three days.

As stated earlier, this past year didn't turn out the way I anticipated a year ago today.  I would have been overjoyed to have if things had gone the other way.  They didn't though, but the blessings have still been abundant.  I thank the Lord for the days He has made.  I rejoice and am glad in them.

The Importance Of 3 Little Words

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I originally posted this in June of 2015, but as I have been reading God's Word and working in a new Bible study, this post I wrote has come to mind so often that I had to share it again and add a little more to it.

The girls and I were outside this bright, sunshiny morning, just rejoicing in this blessed day the Lord has made, being serenaded by my playlist of some of my favorite Christian songs.  A song off of Christy Nockels new live album, "Let It Be Jesus" came on, and three of the first four lyrics stuck with me, making me think of all their meaning.  So much can be related in uttering those three words.  They're three words that are incredibly loaded when uttered together.  We all often say them lightly, but actually saying them entails a commitment.  They aren't words that should be said lightly, especially in this age of constant connectedness distractedness.   They aren't the three little words you're expecting.  They're "here I am."

The song we heard was "Find Me At the Feet Of Jesus."  It's about giving up the world and giving up yourself to bow down at the feet of Jesus.  It's about focusing solely, entirely on Jesus and nothing else.  The entire song/ album is quite powerful, but today it's those three words, "here I am," that I want to focus on.

To say, "Here I am," signifies five very important things:
  1. When you say, "Here I am," someone is calling out specifically TO YOU.  For whatever reason they want / need you for something that only you can do.  
  2. You have to to be truly listening to hear the call.  Be it a booming shout or a still, small voice you must be open and available to hear it, not distracted.  
  3. Saying "Here I am" means that you're opening yourself up, making yourself vulnerable to whatever the person calling you wants or needs from you.  It's taking a risk.
  4. You have a choice to follow the call or not.  Often it seems easier to not, but we're can be held accountable when we choose not to. 
  5. If you should decide to follow the call and say, "Here I am," you have to be present.  You have to actually be there in body, mind, and spirit.  Again, you can't be distracted by something else.  You have to let go of whatever else you may be doing or want to be doing.  You don't come first.   The one who has called you comes first.
We often are being called.  We are called by God.  We're called by our spouses.  We're called by our children.  We're called by our friends, our churches, our jobs, and countless other people and things.  Every morning when Ladybug wakes up, she calls out, "Momma!"  Sometimes I try to put her off a moment or two in order to finish whatever I'm doing, but she won't have it.  At that moment, she wants my full attention.  The laundry, the housework, the morning news, Facebook, Twitter, even my quiet time with The Lord - they all have to be put aside, because she wants me then and there.  When I tell her, "Here I am!" I have to mean it.

How often do we say "Here I am" and not really mean it?  We aren't open and available.  We're distracted.  We allow ourselves to be distracted.  Or, we choose not to answer at all.  We do it to God, we do it to our spouses and our children.  We do it to everyone.  We never open ourselves up to God or anyone else, closing ourselves from everyone and everything.  Just like saying "I love you" without putting anything or any thought into the weight of those words, we say, "Here I am" without thinking.  And we miss it.

We miss out on the smiles, the conversations, and just being "there" for our loved ones and especially our children.  How often do we sit in the same room and ignore each other?  We're there, but not really engaged with each other.  I know that I do it all too often.  We miss it with our families, and we miss it with God.

We especially miss it with God.  He, more than Ladybug, demands my full attention, and I don't give it to Him.  Most of the time we don't even say, "Here I am" to Him.  We don't want to.  We're afraid to.  It brings to mind 1 Samuel 3, when God was called Samuel as a child.  Samuel kept responding, thinking it was Eli saying, "Here I am."  To God he said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

*** This month I started a new Bible Study, "Seamless" by Angie Smith and I have also been slowly, deliberately reading through Genesis and the Old Testament on my own.  Whenever God called out to someone, and they replied, "Here I am" He did great things through them, even if what God was promising seemed absolutely impossible.  When God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son of promise and through whom Abraham was supposed to have as many descendants as there were stars in the sky, Abraham responded, "Here I am!" both initially and just in time when God provided a ram in place of Isaac for the sacrifice.  I don't believe I could have responded that way if God asked me to sacrifice Ladybug.  When God called to Jacob, and he responded by saying, "Here I am!" God always provided for him.  Moses responded at the burning bush with "Here I am!" and God used him to deliver his people out of bondage.

The phrases, "Here I am" and "Speak, for your servant is listening," mean much the same thing, but the latter shows more intent.  We're afraid of what intentionally opening ourselves bare to God entails, because once we say "Here I am" to Him things always change at least some.  Just as Jacob walked with a limp after wrestling with God, saying "Here I am" means giving up something of ourselves and what we think life should be.  Saying "Here I am" means being selfless rather than selfish.  It means no longer running.  It means trusting God when what He is telling you seems impossible but knowing that nothing is impossible with God.  Like I said, they're loaded words.  It certainly has me thinking about how I approach everything.

Tell me, when was the last time you said, "Here I am" and meant "I am listening?"

*** edited from the original post

The (Not-So) Wonderful World of Throwing Up

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Since Ladybug has turned four, she has decided to do a great many more "grown up" things, such as: not having a fit when I clean her ears, helping with the dishes, getting her own food out of the kitchen with the aid of a step-stool, and listening to and obeying her parents better.  Overall, her belief that she can do more (without help) since becoming "a four-year-old" and experiencing more has been great.  There is one new thing that Ladybug has experienced since turning four that none of us has enjoyed.  Last night she threw up in her sleep and spend the entire night throwing up.  Until last night, the only times she ever threw up were when she was upset and/or congested.  This was her first full-on session of the throw-ups.

Let's just say it was a learning experience, especially for her.  She had to learn to throw up in the toilet, a bowl, or in a trash can and not on well, ME.  I'm Mom, and I'm supposed to make everything better, so she kept turning to me when she needed to throw up  I changed clothes a few times.  It was a long night, and the washing machine hasn't stopped.  Thankfully around 4:30 am Ladybug stopped.  I stayed in her room with her, and we got to sleep until she noticed the sun starting to peek through the windows around 6:45.  Then we got up and started continued washing everything that had been contaminated.

Everything has been washed / sprayed with Lysol, and wiped clean.  L begged for breakfast this morning, but I made her hold out for toast and crackers at lunch.  Poor girl didn't need to learn the hard way that you need to slowly reintroduce food to your stomach after such gastrointestinal acrobatics.  I'm sure she thought I was being cruel.  She also didn't like that I told her she couldn't go on a playdate at her friend M's house today.  I tried to nicely explain, "Baby, they don't want you at their house after you spent last night throwing up!"  Hopefully we'll all stay well so she can attend a birthday party Saturday and church on Sunday.

We're super tired, and Bart is bringing home Chick Fil-A for supper, because no one feels like fixing a meal.  The poor dogs are even pooped.  Everyone was worried about our girl.  Lucy and Dory got up with us.  It reminded me of the few (horrible) times we had all-nighters with her when she was a teething baby.  You don't really realize dogs can have circles under their eyes until you go through a night like that with them.

Ladybug's nurses were hard at work last night.
The good news is that we spent a very restful day recuperating at home.  L has spent time pretending to ice skate and flying her Wonder Woman and Super Girl Action Dolls around the house.  She napped for four hours today, and hopefully will sleep through the night tonight.  Now, let's just pray that Bart and I don't catch this lovely bug.

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