Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Press On

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 13-14

This morning, while I was having my morning devotional, I read this scripture. I began to pray, and was thanking God and rejoicing in how I could leave my past behind. I think that most individuals have memories in the past that we are glad to leave behind .... things we shouldn't have said, actions we shouldn't have done, thoughts that should have never entered our mind and so forth. This verse can be liberating when you are plagued with memories of your personal shortcomings.

Then, God brought a thought to mind.....

What about your "trophy" memories? What about all the times you accomplished things in the past? Are you still looking back at all those successes and triumphs and missing what God is calling you to right now?


These are the moments when you find yourself saying....

" I graduated at the top of my class.....",

"I was the star athlete on the ________ team....",

"I won the 'Best Actress' award.....",

" I worked at________ and made quite a living doing that......",

" I won this award while I was at that company....."

It hit me that looking back at my personal accomplishments was still looking back. Now, looking back at all that God has done for us is such an encouragement when we are struggling in a situation. Our memories of how God had provided in previous situations helped us get through the four months that Reagan was off work. I believe that type of looking back/reflection is God honoring. What I felt convicted of today was the looking back at MY accomplishments.... my mental trophies so to speak. If we focus on all that we were back a few years ago, then we aren't giving our best to what God has for us today.

Reagan and I enjoy watching the show, "Good Luck Charlie" on the Disney Channel. This is not a Christian show and at times we have to discuss parts of it with our kids, but there are parts of it that make us laugh till our sides hurt. I think because it often shows human nature at its best and worst. The mother on the show (Amy Duncan) cannot get past her glorious high school days. Often, she reflects back on how incredible her high school experience was; however, in the process she loses so many opportunities to connect and help her kids.

I think this is what God was trying to help me realize today. No matter what happened in the past- whether good or bad- let our focus be on what God wants from me in the present. I don't want to miss opportunities because I was shining old trophies or nursing scars from the past.

Thank you, God, for this day and for these opportunities.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grace for Today

Last night, as I sat watching a 9/11 special, I heard an all too familiar sound coming from Caleb's room. Immediately, my heart sunk as I walked in to find him in the midst of a seizure. Having dealt with his Epilepsy for several years now, I have the head knowledge to know what to do for him physically..... place him in a safe space, time it, watch to make sure he can still breathe and not sufficate or choke as vomiting is inevitable.....

But, will I ever not be shaken emotionally?

My heart still isn't used to seeing my precious son's body shaking violently and not being able to stop it. To see his eyes look black and lifeless and know that he isn't "there," and watching him suffer for hours afterwards due to a migraine-like headache.

After each episode, Reagan and I find ourselves hoping and questioning Caleb's future..... Will he be able to drive? Will he be able to function and work to provide for himself? Will he marry? In the past, our hope that he would out-grow this condition and be able to make it without medication would encourage us, but not lately. Our hope is fading for that all-inclusive-no-strings-attached miracle. He may always require medication in order to control this condition.

Today, God spoke to my grieving heart and reassured me that whatever He has planned for Caleb will include his Epilepsy. God designed every detail of my son and this condition did not "slip past" God. He planned this for Caleb. He is not flawed or broken. He is designed by the most loving, caring creator and this condition will not prevent Caleb from experiencing anything God has for him to do or accomplish. This will make him stronger. I think it is making our family stronger. The real miracle here may not be in the healing of this ailment, but in our thriving despite it. There are still many questions, and I cannot answer them at this point. However, I know that God loves Caleb and has his best interest at heart and that is enough to get through today, tomorrow and the numerous days ahead.

So, I praise Him for the adventure that still is to come and for the grace I need today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

These are the moments.....

These are the moments that happen every morning.... that I am so thankful for.
These are the faces that make me smile, laugh, and drive me crazy.
And I wouldn't change a thing....
I love you Caleb, Carson and Kendall.

Proud Momma

I have to take a moment to share a proud Momma moment. This year Carson, our second son, wasn't turning 5 until November 2; so, we couldn't start public Kindergarten until next year. As many of you know, we homeschool our oldest son and I thought that this year might be a good trial year with Carson. First, to see if I could even homeschool two as well as keep up with Kendall. Second, to see if we could survive it without major meltdowns... from him as well as me!

Surprisingly, this year has gone so well. He has really picked up on everything so quickly and I have been blown away. He was SO ready to start school and our waiting another year to do anything wouldn't have been good for him.

On Wednesday, Carson, brought me a book that he had been working on for a couple of days.... now, this book was not a beginning reader book- it was an actual Thomas the Train book. He read it from cover to cover with no help from me. I teared up a little as he read with such confidence and inflection. It was a precious moment and it was so special because we, as a family, were his teachers that helped him achieve this goal.

I do not believe that homeschooling is for everyone and we have determined to pray each year about what God would have us to do with each of our children. In those precious moments, however, I am so thankful that I got to be one of the first to experience that with him as a whole new world has opened to him.... the world of books and reading. It is also in those precious moments that I know- without a doubt- that I am exactly where God wants me to be.... I don't earn a large paycheck and some weeks are harder than others, but this is the journey and calling that God has for us as a family... at this place and time.

Oh, and I LOVE it.....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Take a Drink

I admit it.... I don't really like water. Okay, I love it for hot showers, washing clothes, and cooking, but when it comes to drinking it.... well, it is all I can do to swallow. I simply drink water because I know I need to for my health and because it is free of calories. I have found, however, that if I use some water flavoring with some fruit flavors that I not only drink my water, but I also enjoy it. You are probably thinking to yourself right now.... okay, so? Today has been a hard day for me. Some circumstances of life really had me down and I truly cried out to the Lord saying, "God I don't want this test/trial. We have had our fair share..... I am tired and weary, Lord. Please don't make me deal with this....." Tonight, as I was drinking a glass of water I realized that just as I need the water for my physical body, I also need trials and tests for my spiritual health. I would love to live a life free of stressful, complicated relationships, physical illnesses or disease, financial worries, unending work......but it is through my imperfect world that I come to see my desperate need for a perfect Savior. When life is going smoothly, I don't feel that longing to spend time with Him through the study of His word and in prayer. When my world feels out of control, I need Him as much as the air in my lungs. Just as the water flavoring helps make the water easier to get down, having friends and fellowship with other believers also helps make those times of trial and testing easier, bearable. When you know that others have traveled down the same road you are now traveling or are perhaps joining you on the journey, the trial isn't as bad... sometimes it even becomes a little sweet as bonds are formed and memories made. I will eventually get my trial and pain free existence.... it is called heaven. When I get there, all that I have "suffered" here will be but a distant memory and it will be an incredible time of true worship of the Father. As much as my soul longs for that, I have much more to learn here.... so, I raise my glass and drink....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Where is my pen?

On Saturday night, after a long day, I went to bed and decided to finish up a Bible study that we have been doing with our class at church. As I began working on it, I realized that I couldn't find my pen. I looked in my Bible cover.... nope, not there. Then, I checked in the basket beside our bed... not there either. Hmph! Where did it go? I had looked everywhere it would make sense to find my pen, but it wasn't any of those places. Now, I have more than one pen, but who wants to get out of a nice, comfortable bed if you don't have to? Then, I saw it on the floor next to the bookcase.... why was it there? That was exactly what I needed, but the last place I thought I would find it. How is that like our Lord? Okay, go with me here.....God often gives us exactly what we need, but it may come from unexpected sources. I think He likes to surprise us- either in how He meets our needs or in how He uses us. He often seems to choose people for tasks that simply don't make sense. For example, he choose the youngest of Jesse's sons to become the next king of Israel when there were others far more mature and experienced, but only God knew their hearts. Only God would choose the youngest because he had a heart like His own. David, the child, faces a giant and completes the task that countless grown men were too afraid to attempt. Why? He was God's chosen. How about Rahab? She didn't have the best background, but when God needed someone to protect and aid his spies in Jericho, she risked it all. Why? She was God's chosen. How about Jonah? He didn't want to go and share God's message to Nineveh because He knew God would be merciful, but our Lord pursued him to the point of having him eaten by a fish to get his attention. Why? He was God's chosen. How about Mary? So young and humble that her son, our Messiah, was born in a stable. Why? She was God's chosen. What about Jesus's disciples? Uneducated, not well spoken, and they even smelled a little "fishy", but God used them to spread the precious gospel of our salvation. Why? Because they were God's chosen. How about us? God is calling each of us to something. To be honest, it may not make sense... why me? How can I do that? I am not trained or prepared for that task. BUT, are you God's chosen for that task? If so, take heart my friend, you are a part of a rich tapestry- the "Chosen Unlikely"..... and it is a beautiful weaving because it means that every life has value and meaning- even when it doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thank you Cleta Mae.

Yesterday I shared about the life that I hoped to live.... one that would leave ripples of influence long after I would have passed away. Last night, a great example of this kind of life lived, left this world and joined her Savior in heaven. Cleta Mae Walker was "Momma" to everyone in the church. Every time you saw Cleta she greeted you with a smile, warm hug and kiss on the cheek. She truly loved us all and would do anything she could to help if you were in need.

Now, Cleta wasn't perfect. If you ever played a game of KENO with her or tried to steal her gift at the Ladies Christmas party, you know that! She would threaten to cut off her oxygen and tease you like crazy. I think that is why we loved her so much..... she was just herself- faults and all- no pretense. It was easy to just be ourselves around her, too.

"Momma" loved us so deeply, but she loved her Lord even more. I will miss seeing her singing with hands lifted high in praise of Christ who saved her. She couldn't help but talk about God and His great love for her as well as invite everyone she saw to FBC Joshua. She loved her church.... not the building... but its people. She is the reason that Reagan and I found FBC Joshua/North Pointe. When we moved here in 1999, we began the difficult process of finding a new church home. Cleta had invited my sister-in-law, Connie, to visit FBC Joshua and we attended the following Sunday. Within a few weeks, Reagan and I knew that we had found our new church home.

Cleta's life, service, and dedication has become part of fiber of our church.... she can't be replaced and we will always feel a little void left in her absence. However, we WILL see her again and I look forward that smile, hug and kiss on the cheek when I enter heaven's gates. I love you, Cleta.

O Victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and He bought me
with His redeeming blood.
He loved me, ere, I knew Him
and all my love is due Him.
He plunged me to victory
beneath the cleansing flood.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Slingshot in Hand

Superman, Batman, Spiderman.... all great examples of heroes for justice. Too bad they aren't real huh? Our world could use a hero right now.... death, illness, natural disasters, lay offs, pain....

Our church has started a new series based on the Max Lucado book, Outlive Your Life. The thought behind our lessons and sermons has been what if you could live your life in such a way that ripples of of your work would continue to change others long after you have passed away. This has really challenged me, personally, to think about my life. Am I living that way? Would there be an ongoing wave of change that would affect change for decades after my death? Hard questions, huh?

How about these questions:

Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?

Had you lived during the Civil Rights movement in the South, would you have taken a stand against racism?

When your grandchildren discover that you lived in a day in which 3 billion people were desperately poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

Hard questions. Maybe even harder answers.

In the security of my home or the comfort of my close Christian friends, it is easy to believe that I would have the courage of David to pick up the stones and slingshot.... that I would walk out to face the giant. However, in the reality of this world my hand trembles when the slingshot is in hand and I am fearful. Afraid. Overwhelmed.

Living a life that affects change beyond ourselves requires much.... much time, much energy, much sacrifice and much humbling. What it requires most is the Father and His gift to us, the Holy Spirit. Alone, we can't live beyond our flawed bodies and personalities, but in His hands we can become so much more. God reminded me of all the events I couldn't make it through.... I could never bear to have a child with a major health issue..... but I have. I could never make it through a lay off.... but we did. I could never go through a three year trial selling our first home... but we did. Not me, but Christ who is within me.

Lord, steady my hand when I hold Your slingshot in this world. Make me faithful to You Father and let me live in such a way that ripples will flow for generations. I want to be Your change, Father, and I ask you to relieve me of my fear and plant each of my steps on firm ground.


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Stink Has Left the Building.....

Yesterday, I began to notice an unpleasant scent in our home. At first, it was simply a whiff I would catch here and there, but it slowly grew to be more of an issue. I put on my "detective cap" and began to search and see what might be emitting such a foul odor. Unfortunately, in our home there are several areas where I can look for a distasteful scent..... I mean, it's no secret that I have 3 sons and that boys are not always the best when it comes to...um....cleanliness. Plus, I have a one year old that still uses diapers, but I could not find the culprit. First, I took out the trash, but the scent was still there. Then, I discovered an overly aged block of cheddar cheese in the refrigerator- which I had finally narrowed the trail down to. So, I disposed of the cheese but that wasn't it either! Ugh!! Then, I opened a container of some previously yummy, cooked pinto beans..... but, however, they were no longer yummy.... honestly, they were downright offensive!

You are probably wondering why I would share this with you all..... I mean, what kind of person shares that kind of refrigerator secrets?

Crazy as this may sound, the Lord really used that experience today to show me something about my own life. See, right now my life is full of hecticness.... (is that a word???) I am constantly working on something for the house, cleaning the house, working on church stuff, preparing home school materials, or preparing for the class I teach at our home school co-op. The problem is that sometimes this life of busy-ness starts to get a little "stinky". It's just that when we get so busy with life and all of its issues, we often struggle with finding the time to stop and be still before our Lord. Our schedule gets so full that we can't hardly find where the stink is coming from and what it is that we need to get rid of...... just like my stinky refrigerator today. I looked and had to figure out what needed to go..... it's not that the cheese or the beans started bad- on the contrary they were both good and satisfying at first. However, over time, they became less appealing and satisfying- actually, they became downright disgusting.

I realized that it may be time for me to do some scent checking in my own life and really determine what needs to stay and what needs to go in my world. I have come to see that, too often, my self value is often equated by how busy and productive I am..... this is WRONG!!! My value does not lie in what I accomplish each day on my "to do" list..... it is in CHRIST and Him alone. Did I spend time with Him today? Did I learn more of Him today? I actually think the evil one uses our busy-ness to keep us from being all that we can be in Christ....

So, is there an odor in your house today?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kendall's First Birthday Party

Since Kendall's birthday came on a Monday we decided to celebrate his birthday this past Saturday. Figuring out a party theme for a first birthday is always a challenge for me.... I mean, WHAT does a one year old like??? Kendall's favorite "toys" include the remote control for the television and any cell phone he can get a hold off! I wasn't sure if they made plates and napkins for that?!? So, we decided on a western cowboy theme since that was also his nursery theme. Here are some photos from all the fun!

Kendall really loved his cake... can't you tell? I was even dared to kiss him like that, and I sure did it! See the icing on my chin? I mean, he REALLY like his cake!

Here is a picture of Reagan and I with Kendall before the cake "incident".

Here is the table with all the goodies: s'mores, "Trail Mix" and his cowboy cake.

Here was his invitation. I loved all the pictures of him.
I wanted to have a catchy phrase like, "Son of a gun
Kendall is turning one!" - oh well, maybe next year! LOL

It was truly a fun day of just celebrating the great gift God gave us in Kendall last year. He is such a blessing to our family.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just one year ago....

Monday was a special day in our house. Kendall turned one! We had a great family celebration last Saturday and I will share pictures of all that fun tomorrow. First, however, I just need to share some of my memories of one year ago.

I had been so shocked and surprised, on July 8, 2009, when I took a pregnancy test and discovered that we were expecting. Reagan and I had always wanted children and were thrilled with the births of two sons, Caleb and Carson. I had continued to hope and long for a girl, but after our layoff in January 2009 we had decided that two children was enough for us. (Can't you just hear God chuckling right now?)

Our plan was to do something "permanent" when Reagan got another job with benefits. Well, Reagan was blessed with another job, but it had no benefits. Just weeks after Reagan started his new job we had an "uh-oh" moment..... Immediately, Reagan says he knew that I was pregnant, but I kept thinking, "Surely not.... it can't be...." Honestly, I began to realize that it was certainly a real possibility and the overwhelming nausea and constant need to pee were definite confirmations.

So, on July 8, 2009 I took a pregnancy test..... and I held my breath.... then I saw TWO lines pop up in that window... and I cried, no sobbed, for several hours. One part of me was ecstatic and another was overwhelmed with all this meant to our family. Within a few days, I was caught up in the excitement and anticipation of this precious baby joining our family.

Now fast forward nine months......

On Saturday, March 13, I went to bed at about 11 pm due to the time change that was taking place that night. Plus, I had been checking on Carson who was running about 102* fever as well as writing thank you notes and I was worn out. About two hours later, I was awakened to discover that Caleb was sick to his stomach and found myself changing bedsheets, cleaning carpets, and comforting my nearly ten year old. This went on for about the next three hours when Reagan and I finally returned to bed, and I began praying for God to let this baby wait one more night to come.... I really needed some sleep. (Can't you hear God chuckling again??) At a little after 6 a.m., I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom because, in my dead sleep stupor, I thought I was wetting myself. It took only a few seconds for reality to hit me that my water had broken and we needed to get to the hospital. The next hour was chaotic as we called parents, packed bags, and finally got the infant carrier out of the box (yeah, we were so not ready yet).

At 12:45 p.m., Kendall David Boles sounded his first cry and I was hooked.... this precious boy had me completely enamored with him just like his two brothers and Daddy. I love him so much and cannot imagine life without him. He has brought such joy to our lives and has made me feel so overwhelmed that God would give us such an unexpected blessing. Happy Birthday Kendall!

Monday, March 7, 2011

So, what have I been doing????

Well, I have had a secret for the past two months..... okay, it hasn't been a closely guarded secret by any means, but I still hadn't been advertising it either. However, on Saturday I hit my two month mark of trying to lose some weight after having Kendall and I have lost 17.8 pounds. YAY!!

Losing weight for me is always challenging and I have had to do it after each baby, but I have learned some things that have helped me and I thought I would share. This is just what has worked for me and may not work for everyone.

What Has Worked for Me:

I have been keeping my calories to 1000-1300 per day and have been drinking around 70-80 ounces of water a day. (I don't really enjoy water as much, but I add a little Propel water flavoring to it and that helps.)

I have also been keeping a journal or log of my calories, water intake and workouts each day. This helps me stay accountable to myself as well as making me actually see how much I have eaten at each meal and so forth. (All I include is the date, water tally, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snack Calories)

I try to workout 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes.

I keep gum on hand and chew it at different times during the day- especially when I have finished a meal and feel full, but still want the sensation of chewing something or if I am craving something sweet.

Several snacks / meals through the day have been key for me as it speeds up my metabolism and keeps me from getting "too hungry" and eating everything in sight.

Accountability partner(s) has also been essential as they keep me on track and can encourage me on the hard days. Charity Munn and both of my mothers have been that for me this time.

I have a "Blow Day" one day a week. On this day, I allow myself to eat whatever I want.... I try to keep my portions reasonable, but I also do not keep track of my calories on this day. Typically, this is Sundays for me as we often eat out on this day.

When we go out to eat, I often try to decide what I am going to order before getting to the restaurant. I will look up online what is a better option for me and try to stick with it. It is easier for me to eat healthy if I have decided in advance what I am going to eat.

I try to weigh twice a week so that I can see how things are going, but without becoming too obsessive about it.

Finally, I have an end "goal" in mind as well as a reward. I even keep a sheet that I color off a section when I have lost a certain number of pounds. ( This may sound silly, but I get excited when I get to color another section!) Plus, when I reach my goal, Reagan has promised to take me on a shopping weekend for new clothes!!!

Now, all of you can help keep me accountable as well- I still have several pounds to go in order to reach my goal. I hope my journey helps encourage you as well.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

So where have we been????

Okay, I know I have some explaining to do..... start a blog and then not write for 5 months?!?!

I have no real excuse. Life is busy, but whose isn't? The holidays are crazy, but it is every year. Three kids keep me hopping every day, but I could choose to make the time, right?

Honestly, I am not sure why I haven't written more. Life has become crazy and hectic with a (now mobile) infant as well as keeping up with homeschooling the other two and managing to keep us all in clean clothes and fed.

Truly, I think I have gone through a time of soul-searching. Reagan was laid off on January 5, 2009 and things have not been "normal" since that time. We went through 4 months without work, getting a job at Alcon (in the lab), being re-assigned, and most recently, a 30 day leave of absence from his job. While we are certainly thankful to have a job, it has still been a trial. I think I envisioned this perfect "utopia world" position when we went through the four months without work. That job has not presented itself. Instead, my husband works hard at a position for which he is overqualified and paid less than the other workers doing his same job. It, at times, is discouraging and frustrating. Just this week, Reagan found out that he would not be hired on through Alcon for his current position- he will remain a contract employee. No security, no benefits, no perks..... just earning what we need to make it from week to week.

I was be-moaning this fact to the Lord this morning when He gently reminded me that this is what I have asked for.... we have been praying for Him to draw us closer to Him, shape us and mold us to His likeness, and to provide for our needs. They only way God can do these things is to keep us close to Him. In order to grow and "look" more like Christ, we must spend more time focused and dependent on Him. When our bank account is full and when any purchase is made easily; then, we begin to feel "self-sufficient" and we reflect more of ourselves than we do of Christ. We don't spend as much time in prayer and desperate need of Him because our need for Him isn't desperate. It is in the times when life isn't perfect, that we are the most flexible and easily molded into His likeness.

So, I had to decide.... Would I rather have a larger bank account or have a dependent relationship with the Father? With no hesitation or reservation, I WANT, NEED, and LONG for Christ. He has met our every need and we have yet to go without anything we truly needed. He is our security- how more secure can I get than to be dependent upon the all-powerful, one true God? He gives us our benefits and perks- the gifts He has given us through the Holy Spirit are far beyond anything the world can offer ( joy, peace, patience, love, etc.). As I look back over the past two years, we have drawn closer to the Father and grown a deeper understanding of who He is and how He is capable to meeting every need we could ever have. He hasn't failed us. He hasn't left us. He just wants me to want Him.... and I do. I want Him more than anything I could find, buy or experience in this world because He has given me all that the world could never offer.

So, forgive me if I haven't written much, but God and I were doing some "business".... I hope to be more disciplined in my writing and sharing.... goodness, I certainly have plenty of writing material as crazy as this house is! So, please keep reading and I would love to have more "followers" and comments... until later my friends!