Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday morning we all got up early to watch Sam run in Spencer's 3rd annual Fun Run. (Spencer is the only little boy with glasses in the group picture). He and Sam have a silent competition brewing. They won't tell each other that their only reason for running is to beat the other one, but they each have respectively confessed to their parents that they can't wait to see if they will 'win' the next race. This time Sam won.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
When marbles fall out of your (Mommy's) shirt as you change into pajamas, you know you have a mischievous 2 year old boy on your hands. I didn't even know he put them there! And now I know why he started crying, "My ball-ball! My ball-ball!" as I walked into the other room. Jack. You gotta love him.
Yes, we're back in the game again. Daddy is home (and has been for almost 3 months now). He's been on two trip already and things are getting 'back to normal.' Thank you, everyone, for all of your prayers and letters, emails, and special gift packages while Jeff was deployed. I felt loved, lifted up, and totally cared for. While I wouldn't wish a deployment upon anyone, I know that this was entirely in God's hands and in His perfect will. We are a better family because of it.
I hope to keep this blog going as a way to keep in touch with everyone. I pray that this Christmas season finds you joyous about celebrating the birth of our Savior and peaceful about your place in His hands. May God continue to bless you all throughout the end of this year and into the next. Merry Christmas everyone!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Thank you everyone who has held us in your prayers over the last six months. It is only by God's grace that we've come through it all with joy in our hearts and a fondness for the amazing grace and mercy of our Lord. You all rock!
Daddy, we love you. We can't wait to see your face again...and hear your voice...and hold you tight...and wrestle you to the ground..and make pizza together...
Come home soon. We'll be waiting for you.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Anyway, these authors claim:
The key to spiritual leadership is to encourage followers to grow in their relationship with the Lord...[this relationship] can only be achieved when leaders bring their people face-to-face with God, and God convinces them that he is a God of love who can be trusted.And I thought, "Isn't that just what worship is all about? Isn't worship a face-to-face experience with our Lord where we recognize the attributes of our God, and dwell in His presence? Isn't this where we will learn that God is a God of love who can be trusted?" Hmmmmmmmm...
Well, there I am. An inexperienced (i.e. NO experience) worship leader, speculating on just what it is I am supposed to do in this job, and here God is, placing the answer in my lap:
Bring His children into the Throne Room of Grace.What do you do in the Throne Room of your King? In ancient times, people bowed before their king, worshiped at his feet pleading for mercy and good favor in order to ask for something. In present times, God's people bow before their King, worship at His feet in awe of the mercy and grace He has already bestowed upon them, and in that assurance can ask for anything, and it will be given to them.
"Entering into the Throne Room" seemed to be emerging as God's vision for leading worship. Hmmmm....
Enter in a side conversation with a friend. She informs me that PWOC International had picked a theme verse for the upcoming year. It was Psalm 45:6-9
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;Who says God doesn't affirm His people?! He had given this same vision to others before me. It was all fitting into place. A call to the Throne Room of God. A call to come before the King and to be handed the sceptor of acceptance. A call to worship and dwell in the presence of our Lord, experience Him face-to-face, and learn that God is a God of love who can be trusted.
A scepter of righteousness is the sceptor of Your kingdom...
So this is my prayer. Will you pray with me that somehow, someway, this untrained voice can be used of God to bring the ladies of PWOC into His presence. To draw His beloved children into the Throne Room to worship Him, recognize His attributes and trust Him with their very lives?
Updates to come...Hmmmmmmm... :)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Momma bird has made a nest, laid 5 eggs, and in the last day, 2 of those eggs have hatched. The children are ecstatic! They will sit at the edge of our 'safe zone' and watch as Daddy bird (shown here...he was sitting in the tree RIGHT NEXT TO ME when I took the picture) brings food to Momma bird, and even defends his home against other male birds of the same species. It's pretty amazing.
Shown: Five Eggs / 2 Baby Birds snuggling / One ready for food
Thursday, May 14, 2009
It has been a long time since Mommy 'roared' but I still remember the emotion and sense of frustration that precipitated it. Today that emotion and frustration reared it's ugly head, and although I did not roar, I did have my 'moment.' It was the first day following a wonderful visit from Jeff's family pastor and his wife. (We miss you Brad and Kathy!) Needless to say, it was a tough transition day.
In the middle of it all, I was reminded of a sweet publication my best friend had sent me just days before. She typed it up following a Mommy 'moment' of her own, and I'm grateful that she was willing to share it with me. Now I'd like to share it with you.
Because of God's love, I can choose to be LOVING
(1 Peter 1:22)
Because of God's gentleness and patience with me, I can choose to be PATIENT
Because of God's mercy, I can choose to be MERCIFUL
Because Jesus brings me peace, I can be PEACEFUL
Because of the great joy of my salvation, I can choose to be JOYFUL
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Through Christ, I can be QUICK to listen, SLOW to speak, and SLOW to become angry
I can do ALL THINGS through Christ's strength in me!
May God bless you as you do all the things He's called you to do, through Christ's strength in you!
In His Loving Arms,
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I Will Sing
I Will Sing...
This could have been the banner over my head on Wednesday as I struggled with a decision to obey or not obey. Here is the background:
I am studying Experiencing God by Richard Blackaby in my Wednesday morning bible study. The study is all about knowing and doing the will of God and the unit for the week is 'Adjusting Your Life to God.'
I was also asked earlier that day to consider being a part of the small praise and worship team for this particular bible study group (please note the word, "small." Sometimes the 'team' is only 1 person strong!). And my immediate response to this was a whole lot of laughter and a very strong, "No Way!" I don't sing. Not that I don't love to sing. I just don't do it very well. Ask my husband. He has the unfortunate privilege of sitting next to me in church almost every Sunday.
So with this in mind, I headed to complete my study for the week and came across the following excerpt from the study:
Your whole life should be lived with the attitude of "Lord, whatever You may ask of me today or in the future, my answer is yes!"Me: Really, Lord? You want me to sing? But I don't know how, and especially not as one of maybe 3 total people singing in front of others.
God: I told you we would be working on your idol of acceptance. Read on...
So I read on...
The adjustment requires moving from doing work for God according to your abilities, your gifts, your likes and dislikes, and your goals to being totally dependent on God, His working, and His resources. This is a major adjustment, and it is never easy to make.Me: Oh how I am going to have to be totally dependent on You for this one
Do not fear, for I am with you;Me: Lord, You are going to have to do a whole lot more than strengthen me and help me. I may just run away.
do not be dismayed, for I am Your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)
God: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31)
Me: Ok. Ok. So I won't faint from fear, but what is the purpose of all of this? You told me when Jeff left that You know the plans you have for me (Jer 29:11). Plans to give me a purpose and a hope. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me.
God: To bring Me glory. Read some more...
The Christ who lived His life in complete obedience is fully present in you to enable you to know and do His will...He will never fail to lead your life into the middle of His purpose and enable you to do it.Me: That's the ONLY way this will work. Are you going to replace my voice with yours?
God: I am going to give you the desire to do my will. (For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose - Phil 2:13).
After much laughter and a realization that I could run, but I couldn't hide, I finally said:
"OK. I will sing of the Mercies of the Lord forever. And I won't faint...right?"
Saturday, April 18, 2009
- Played musical teapot to the tune of Swan Lake (Daddy, I just loooove my Altec Lansing. That has been one of the best Christmas presents ever! Sorry everyone. Inside comment)
- Made princess tiarras and princess crown magnets
- Got our toes done in royal princess style (thank you Aunt Kerri for the perfect gift!)
- Read Gigi, God's Little Princess while we had tea snacks and juice
- And indulged in a royal crown cupcake cake (NO, I did NOT make it. And YES, Emilie's name is spelled wrong...she didn't even notice)
- Had such a good time!!!
I hope you enjoy the pictures!! Just three more birthdays to go before Daddy comes home. Sam has already told me that he wants nothing to do with pink, Gigi, or princess wands for his birthday. :)
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Sam at Spark-A-Rama last Saturday. His AWANA team competed against three other churches in hilarious games of 'skill' and agility...and they won!!
Jack. Oh Jack. If you can't figure it out...the boy is on the top of the kitchen table. Just a sample of the many new adventures he has gotten himself into these last few days. :)
Emilie snuggling up to her friend, Asher, during pizza and a movie night. They quickly untangled themselves after the camera flashed. It was very cute.
Sarah and Jack. If these two weren't siblings, I would take bets on them getting married. They both share a sincere devotion to their blankets and to each other. The other day, Jack sat in Sarah's lap throughout the entire church service and would NOT let her leave him.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I've been working through the Bible Study, Experiencing God by Henry & Richard Blackaby, and am currently in the chapter about seeking the Truth inthe circumstances of your life. The author asserts that, "You can not know the Truth of your circumstance until you have heard from God." So I asked. Here's how that conversation went:
Me: Lord, why? Why do we have to go through this deployement now?
God: I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.
Me: What? How is this abundant?!
God: You will be changed and I will be glorified.
At this point, the only thing I could think of that would be God-glorifying was bringing Jeff back home safely. So God continued...
God: I love you enough to take you out of "danger."
(Aside) "Danger" is where we tell the children they have gone when they disobey. Through loving discipline, they are brough back to "protection."
Me: Really, God? Is this You talking? Or just me talking to me?
God: Only God can reveal spiritual truth. We are going to work on taking down your 'idols.'
Of course, I did remember at this point that I have asked God for this very thing. I didn't know it would come in this form.
God: Meet with me every day, and let me show you how much I care.
This week has been about seeking the Lord, and finding His Love. Everywhere I turn, He is reminding me of how much He loves me. He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, "simply because He loved them" (Deut 7:8). Nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ (Romans 8:35). I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jer 31:3).
I'm heading to the commissary now, and I plan to listen to my new iPod playlist which I've entitled The Love of God. I can't wait...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I found this amazing deal on some furniture that we really didn't 'need', but I surely wanted. The only problem, was that we already had furniture in these particular parts of the house, and we would either have to sell what we had or store one of the sets. With also needing a U-Haul to pick it up and a babysitter to stay with the children so I could go alone, the whole thing turned into a bigger deal than anticipated. God had it in His hands the whole time...
Mid-week Sarah started complaining of pain using the potty. It didn't stop and by Friday afternoon we were in the pediatric clinic only to find out that they thought it was Herpes. What???!! And how in the world?? (We could not even begin to imagine) Since we had to race to see a pediatric specialist Saturday morning, the whole furniture deal was canceled. Again, God in control...
To say the least, Friday night was a bit stressful. I couldn't even begin to imagine the horrible possibilities of why Sarah may have contracted Herpes. And I couldn't even talk to Jeff about it. But my heart was kept in not-quite-perfect peace as we awaited Saturday's appointment. The concern of friends near and far cried out, "I love you, Tracey!" And I couldn't help but recall the many times in my Bible studies this week that God was reminding me of the very same thing. Really, Lord? A canceled furniture outing, a bout of possible Herpes, and all of this to say, "I love you"? You sure go out of your way to make a point.
I don't know about you, but it is so much easier for me to believe that God can love everyone, no make that ANYone else other than me. This is my struggle (along with so many other ones). Does God really know what He's getting when He chooses to love me? And How long will I continue to doubt His love for me? It is at these times that all I can do is cling to what I know is true:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness." - Jer 31:3
And God, being the gracious, merciful, and patient One woke me up with this song:
A deep deep flood, and Ocean flows from You
Of deep deep love, yeah it's filling up the room
Your innocent blood has washed my guilty life
In Your presence God I'm completely satified
- Divine Romance by Phil Wickham, from the Album: Phil Wickham
So here's the call. It's painfully obvious by now that I love music. So in an effort to remind myself daily of the love my Lord has for me, I've started to compile a list of songs that sing boldly of the love of Christ. I would LOVE to hear from you! If you have a favorite song that really sings of the love that God has for his children, please send it on to me! I'll compile the list and be sure to pass it along in a future post. And NO, Sarah does NOT have Herpes. It's just a strange dermatitis. Praise God!
Until then, here's the beginning of my list:
David Crowder Band - Everything Glorious
From the album Remedy
Third Day - Love Song
From the album Offerings
Tenth Avenue North - By Your Side
From the album Over And Underneath
Phil Wickham - Divine Romance
From the album Phil Wickham
Third Day - Your Love Oh Lord
From the album Offerings
Chris Tomlin - How Can I Keep From Singing
From the album See the Morning
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Cause I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
And I, I love you
And I want you to know
That I, I'll love you
- Tenth Avenue North, By Your Side from the album Over and Underneath
A few days I ago I was in a 'mood.' I was cleaning out the car and actually expecting all four children to help me AND stay out of trouble (not to mention out of the street) at the same time. Silly Mommy.
Anyway, as I was moving the car to the carport, the refrain of a song was playing over and over again. (see above) It all ended just as I got the car in place, and I thought, "OK God. I hear you. I'll stop fighting Your hands that are holding me. But really, ARE you holding me? I feel so out of control."
My poor attitude didn't stop God from whispering in my ear later in the week. I was at the grocery store alone(!) yesterday, because a dear friend offered to watch all four children. I took my iPod, popped in my headphones, and rocked out to Bebo Norman for the entire trip around the store. (You can only imagine the sight) It only took two songs for me to know that God was talking again:
Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise you near enough
I have nothing, I have nothing without you...
Take my time here on this earth
And let it glorify all that you are worth
For I am nothing, I am nothing without you
- Bebo Norman, Nothing Without You from the Album: Try
The line that got me was, "and let it glorify all that you are worth." It's easy to wonder, "why?" Why did Jeff get tagged with this deployment? Why do I have to do this all alone for six months? Why does it have to be so hard, sometimes? But God reminded me that it is all for His glory. Whatever I do. Whatever I say. However I respond to unexpected events. Take my time here on this earth, and let it glorify all that You are worth, Lord.
I used to say that I would gladly die today, if it meant that, as a result, my Dad (my earthly father) would come to know Jesus and be loved by his Savior. So what is the difference? Will I gladly embrace this deployment, if it meant that, as a result, my heavenly Father would be glorified?
Trust in me in your times of trouble
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.
- God, Psalm 50:15 from His love letter: The Bible
The conversation with my God ended this morning in a quiet moment of reflection and listening to Bebo once again:
I want to hide in you
The way, the life, the truth
So I can disappear
And love is all there is to see
Coming out of me
And you become clear
As I disappear
- Bebo Norman, Disappear from the Album: Try
Lord, help me hide in You. Help me disappear, so Love is all there is to see coming out of me.
Friday, March 6, 2009
1. What is something I always say to you?
To do morning chores
2. What makes me happy?
By giving you a hug
3. What makes me sad?
shrug?? Daddy leaving for a long trip
4. How do I make you laugh?
By tickling me
5. What do you think I was like as a child?
shrug?/ I don’t know
6. How old am I?
I can’t remember
7. How tall am I?
I don’t know
8. What is my favorite thing to do?
9. What do I do when you're not around?
Go away to places and play with the girls here (Sarah and Emilie)
I don’t know what famous means.
(After I explained what famous means, he said, "Me")
11. What am I really good at?
12. What am I not really good at?
13.What is my job?
To clean up
14. What is my favorite food?
15. What makes me proud of you?
By taking care of the babies
16. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?
Tom (of Tom and Jerry)
17. What do you and I do together?
Play one level of Xbox one time
18. How are we the same?
19. How are you and I different?
Because God made us different
20. How do you know that I love you?
Because God made you love me. Because you’re my mommy.
21. Where is my favorite place to go?
Have a great day Daddy! We love you!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
On this night, THE night that Jeff leaves for Afghanistan, it's a struggle not to dwell in the heartache of saying goodbye. And yet my God is a God of promises. He hasn't promised to bring Jeff home. He hasn't promised to make it easy. But He has promised to go with me. To lead me. To love me. And to remind me of the plans he has for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me a future and a hope. I know my hope should be in the Lord, and not in the day that Jeff returns. Please pray for me to trust in Him alone.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
God is so good.This is the little child's song I was humming, NO, make that singing out loud(!) on my way to the commissary (grocery store for all of you non-military types) today. When ever I have a doubt that my God, "loves me with an everlasting love; and has drawn me with loving-kindness" (Jer 31:3), then all I have to do is remember today!
God is so good.
God is so good.
He's so good to me!
My car didn't start. It happened yesterday too, but we thought we got it fixed. This morning, all four children piled into the car to go to Bible Study, and....nothing. It was dead...again. Then God's love came pouring forth. Not only did a VERY KIND Mr. Cressman come to jump our car again, he followed me to the chapel, attempted to charge the battery while we were inside, failed, bought us a new battery, installed it, and parked our vehicle back exactly where it was in the parking lot when I left him to charge the battery. And, of course (!), he won't let me pay him a lick for it!
And that's not all!! Today's shower of blessings continue. Let me count the ways...
- My good friend, Brooke was at my house to meet me and take care of my children while I ran (in my working car) to the commissary, sans children!
- I met and hired a house cleaner today for $15/hour! Mui Bueno!
- A contact at the Foundation for American Christian Education (the org. who supplies most of our homeschooling material) offered, today, to come out to Hawaii to run a personal training seminar!!
- Did I mention my car was running?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
So I sat down with my Moe's burrito that night and started writing all the things that I knew to be true, despite what the hormones were falsely leading me to believe. The thoughts went something like this:
- The Truth will set me free. So what is Truth?
- I have a God who loves me
- He has a plan for my life. A plan to give me a hope (!) and future
- He is with me - lo He will be with me 'till the end of days
- He is holding onto me (not the other way around). Why don't I just rest, and stop trying to wiggle free?
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness...For when I am weak, then I am strong.Rest in my weakness. Watch the Lord work out His strength. Oh Lord, help my unbelief.
p.s. Sarah wanted to show off her special hairdo...and Sam wanted to show off his special creation.
Monday, January 19, 2009
After yet another episode of child #2 falling apart, I put her in time out and went to hide in the laundry room. There I prayed,
"Lord, pleeeeeeease help me deal with this child." His reply?At this point, I thought, "Boy all these answers are coming fast." And God said, "You put her in time out. I only have 4 minutes to work with."
"Love her as I love you."
Me: "Really, Lord? Why are you telling me this?"
God: "Because you asked." and really, just the other day I prayed for wisdom on how to love child #2 with the Love of Christ.
Me: "But I can't. I am weak right now."
God: "In your weakness, I am strong."
Me: "I can't do it."
God: "You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength."
In my own little way, I finally understood what relying upon HIS strength really meant. I had nothing to give, and yet when that 4-minute timer went off, I found myself with a little 4-year-old girl in my lap getting the attention she needed with a heart ready to hear my instruction about "obeying even when it's hard." Funny, how we can preach to ourselves as we teach our children.
Enjoy the pics! They're just a snapshot of the life of our household over this last week.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
This was going be 'our family' for the next 8 months (outside of February when Daddy comes home for a few weeks). I can not just survive. I need to be living. "For I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly" says the Lord. Well then, bring on the abundant life!And there came the peace. I actually took all four children directly to the commissary and didn't dread it. (And if you know me, you know I don't 'do' the commissary. Daddy does.) Four kids, a spaceship shopping cart, a list and a peaceful Mommy. God is good!
Other surprising examples of the goodness of the Lord this week:
- An entire evening 'out' with my friends, to include a pedicure, dinner and shopping! AND plans to have a babysitter EVERY Wednesday night!
- Several friends offering to help with the very things I specifically prayed to get help with (Baseball practice & Sat game-day coordination, Thank you Sarah & Natalie!, Transportation to AWANA - Thanks Rebekah! Time with adults friends and adult conversation - Thanks Mary!!)
- Finally getting a clear(er) vision of how to approach next year's home school for Sam and Emilie
- Getting to take three of out four little blessing to the bowling alley on Saturday afternoon. And even the desire and energy to DO it. (Emilie won, much to Sam's chagrin :)
- Sleeping well ALL NIGHT LONG and not even wanting to put on too many night lights to ward off the boogy-man
The first full week had a few bumps where peaceful Mommy lost her peacefulness, but overall there has been a unexpected joy in our household. We still miss our Daddy, but we can have life abundantly wherever the Lord takes him.