Sunday, December 6, 2009
...all of these are exclamations of excitement I hear daily from those around me. Of course all of those things are true, but for some reason, I have been struggling to find comfort in them. I was beginning to feel bad for my annoyance at hearing these statements...until a friend put a fantastic analogy that fit perfectly for my feelings.
She said that this time is like the end of a long car ride on vacation. Its like being on hour 23 of 24 in the car....anticipating what's ahead....and yet ready to scream and jump out of the window....all at the same time. YES!!! That's so it. So if I've been on the receiving end of one of your well-intended comments....thank you. :-) And I love you for it.
As I look back, this year has been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Together and apart, J and I have struggled to understand our new roles and duties, and thrive in them~how to communicate effectively from a distance, and learned how to truly understand~wrestled with our faith, and have been humbled a thousand times~been dealt blows to our health, from a miscarriage that was unexpected, to surgeries for Caleb and me, to teeny flu bugs, only to know Christ's grace and healing~accepted many blessings from neighbors and old friends~cried endless nights from lonliness, only to be enveloped in a Father's love~fought through emotional problems with Caleb, and found support and creative solutions......I could go on and on and on.....but I think we have come through the other side changed people. Strong. Whole. Grateful. Full of joy.
So to all of YOU, thank you. Your constant and unwavering support, encouragement, prayers, assistance and love have kept us sane this year (especially me!). :-) Whether you feel as if you have done a lot, or very little....know that it has all been deeply felt by Joshua, Caleb and myself...and we cannot express our appreciation sufficiently. You have been the hands and feet of the body of Christ to us in a tangible way, and it was and is beautiful...
To my husband...I love you and am ever proud.
To my Abba Father...I stand amazed.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Whoa is not an exclamation that comes often from my lips. Its something more that draws itself out of my soul...when I am deeply moved...touched...stirred...so I hope this rambling turns itself into a cohesive thought process by the end.
Went tonight to see the much anticipated i-heart documentary by Hillsong United. It was so well done, so professional, so thoughtful, so creative, so artsy, so intellectual, so whoa. So Jesus. I don't think I can form a more complete thought or sentence at this point about the film, but it totally brought me back to a place...a place I may have shared about before, but it was so tangible tonight...
...when we were in Cambodia 2 years ago, I remember the frustration and feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the need that we were surrounded by. It often felt like we were completely insignificant in our sincere desire to bring love.hope.truth. to these people. (much of the movie focused on this...)
And one night, I remember having the girls climb into the van before me, and this woman approached...begging. I remember vividly the look of desperation in her eyes, as she shuffled towards us...her infant wrapped in nothing more than a rag...naked. Everything inside of me broke at that moment.
A rush of emotions flooded me...because this time, it was different.
This time, I was a wife.
And I couldn't reconcile the feelings within me of the utter despair she must've been feeling. To beg on the street. To not be able to provide for her child. To be willing to give up the last bit of pride and independence she must've once felt in order to survive.
This is the world. This is reality. This is what we so often teach ourselves to turn a blind eye from.
And in that moment, I saw the neediest, most broken soul.
And I also saw the face of God.
To know that He also gave up his Son for Love. For us. To know that in the darkest of places, He always offers Hope. Life. Peace.
Friends, there IS a revolution going on. Its stirring in the hearts of the innocent. the broken. the redeemed. The Church.
I can't imagine anything I want to be a part of more...its ruined me for life...and I love it.
"You may choose to look the other way, but you may never again say that you did not know." ~William Wilberforce
Check it out:
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
THIS blog, though...I wanted to share with all of you something that has been messing me up lately. I'm reading a phenomenal book called, "Crazy Love," by Francis Chan. First of all, Francis Chan is the real deal. There are pastors galore that write books...but this guy really walks his talk. I told a friend of mine that I think he reeks of authenticity....and THAT, folks, is something you don't find much anymore.
But moving on to the book. Get it. Read it. Live it. Its SO good. The first chapter blew me away...but along with the book, Chan has a website that goes along with the concepts and ideas that he's written about. So I'm watching one of the videos and Chan is talking about the concept of "crazy love." Takes a minute (or a million) to wrap your brain around the idea, but he put it like this, and I love it:
Our relationship with God is a constant pursuit...by Him, not us (because we're human...and sinners). He [Chan] said to look at our relationship with Him like a proposal....THE proposal...which got me to thinking. Well, every girl in the world has either dreamed about or lived that moment over and over again. And every boy in the world has either worried about it, or been the one doing it. To us, that moment seems to be the beginning of it all.....a life of love, passion, unconditional commitment, etc. But in our broken world...that proposal can lead to all of those things, but it also leads to disappointment, broken promises and lonely relationships. But turn it around and think of it from God's perspective. If we look at it as a proposal in the truest sense...the one moment in our life full of passion, purpose, and unconditional love...that moment captured...forever...is how God is constantly chasing us. Constantly. No matter what we do, how often we fail, or how far we wander...that, my friends, is Crazy Love.
"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it." ~ Song of Solomon 8:6-8 [NLT]
"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD." ~ Hosea 2:19-20 [NASB]
When you're loved by a God like that...what could be better? More thoughts on this to come...
And the book? Go get it. :-)
Sunday, August 23, 2009
- Joshua's R&R was fantastic!!! Disney World, a wedding, a new deck, an extra day at the end because of travel problems....we couldn't have asked for more.
- My aunt came for a visit. She's awesome. Caleb renamed her "Aunt Nana" because he couldn't believe she was his cousin's nana. :-)
- We went on the most fantastic vaca ever with some of the best people we know. It did Caleb and my hearts good to be able to relax and rest right after Josh left. My favorite thing ever is what Caleb told me on vacation: "Mommy, I love Jesus more than girls." Way to be, little man. Way to be.
- Summer is officially over (I mean...if you're in Ohio....did it ever really start?!). I went back to school on Friday. The kiddos start invading on Tuesday.
- I have officially lost 24 pounds since I joined my personal training place. I'm really proud of myself!!
- We do have a date for J's welcome home.
- The most exciting news of all, for those that haven't heard, is that we submitted our preliminary application for our adoption while J was home. We will be on a waiting list for about 4 months, but then we should be ready to rock 'n roll with the process. And let me be clear....it will be a PROCESS.....like a 12-18 month process (and that's after we are off the waiting list). But....its good. And its definitely a God-thing.
More blogs to come.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
To the Editor,
I wanted to take a quick moment this 4th of July holiday to thank a few of our community members. My husband is currently deployed to Iraq, and we had very little time to prepare for his departure. With that being the case, it has been a difficult adjustment at our home, in terms of all of the practical items that need to be done, along with keeping up our finances, my career and son.
I have been blessed beyond measure by our friends and neighbors—who have gone great lengths to take out our trash, shovel our driveway in the winter, mow our yard when our mowers break (which is often!) , and generally keep a kind, watchful eye out for us. Those small things have meant more than I can explain. I would also like to thank the many members of the Akron Area YMCA, where my husband is employed, that have kept us so close in thought and prayer.
And so this 4th of July holiday, I honor all of them…because while we take time to honor the men and women that serve our country…it is also people like this that exemplify the true meaning of community in the absence of our loved ones overseas. I, my entire family, and families just like mine, give thanks from the very bottom of our hearts. Happy Independence Day!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families...
...In you the orphan finds mercy.
Mr. Bob directed Caleb over to the toy table while he and I chatted, telling him to pick something out. He immediately made a bee-line for a stuffed Shamu the whale. (He is ecstatic about our side-trip there in a few weeks...) When I asked Mr. Bob what I could pay him for Shamu, he politely declined, saying, "Its free for you today."
When I got to thinking about that...I thought, "The best things in life are free..."
- Whether its Shamu *grin*
- Our family
- Our friends and neighbors
- Or any of life's little blessings...
Friends, remember today...take a lesson from Shamu...the best things in life indeed are free. Cherish the little things.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
And now, as often as we can, we're going to update the "I can't WAIT...." blog...as a reminder to appreciate the little things in life...
Meg: I can't WAIT to hold your hand again. You know...in that funny way when I have to have my thumb and my pinky finger just where I want them...and you hate it. lol
Caleb: I can't WAIT to play "ka-chow!" with you!!
Josh: I can't WAIT to play "Transformers" with you and I can't WAIT to give you a hug and kiss.
Monday, June 22, 2009
The players: Caleb and mommy (and Caleb's girlfriend-waitress...but that's another blog).
[Caleb throws a penny half-way across the restaurant. Whoops. We try again. Success!]
Me: Good throw, bud! What did you wish for?
Caleb: I wished that everyone in the whole wide world would be in our family.
[Mommy eyes the teachable moment...]
Me: What a great wish, buddy!! Did you know that that's the SAME THING Jesus wishes for all of us? To be in His family?
Caleb: [rolls his eyes and sighs] I already knew that, Mommy...
Scene ends. Don't really know how to follow that up...Way to go, kiddo. Way to go.
Monday, June 1, 2009
"Ew!!! Mommy, put your windows up! It smells like daddy's feet all the way from Iraq. And THAT smells bad..."
That, my friends, is laugh-out-loud-funny!
*Edit* I need to add an apology to my poor husband...who did not think this was quite as funny as the rest of us. Sorry, honey!!! :-)
Monday, May 25, 2009
I can remember all of my emotions on that day. When I got to the church, I can remember hanging out and playing cards and my very soon to be mother-in-law telling us we shouldn't be playing cards in the church. I remember listening to music on a portable radio. I remember neglecting to stop at the store for some additional stuff and Tom R. had to bail me out (thanks buddy). And I definitley remember my parts of my extended family being late. And I remember Pastor Dave and his marathon prayers. But the greatest thing that I won't forget on that day is when I saw my bride for the first time. I remember how much I loved her at that moment and how wonderful she looked. I remember crying at the sight of the lady that was promising to stand next to me through it all, good and bad, highs and lows. When I'm being an impatient jerk or romantically sweeping her off her feet. I remember thinking how thankful I was to God for giving her to me. And as I look at it now, 6 years later, I am even more in love with my wife and she is even more beautiful to me today. She has taught me so much about myself and taught me so much about becoming the man I am today.
Meg-I couldn't be half the man I am today without you by my side. I love you more with each passing day and I can't wait until we are back in each others arms. You are my inspiration and my real life fairytale. I love you.
Three years later, we were standing at the altar, pledging our covenant to one another in front of our family, our dear friends, and God. The six years that have followed have not always been easy, but they have been fruitful, just like He promises in John 15. We have been blessed time and again by our needs always being met, situations given to us to stretch and grow us, and always knowing that God's unconditional love and grace sustain us.
We were also given the most precious gift in any marriage...a tangible reminder of our love...our son. As I watch him grow up, and grow into that big personality God gave him, I know that you are influencing him in the best ways. He is strong and independent, and yet gentle and sensitive at times...and all the time...just darn funny. He loves his daddy...
As I look over the past six years, I am unbelievably grateful for your leadership and example in our family, your unwavering faith, your constant integrity and honor, and the way that you cherish both Caleb and me. We could not ask for me.
Happy Anniversary, baby...
Song of Solomon 8:6a, 7a (Amplified):
"Set me like a seal upon your arm, like a seal upon your heart; for love is as strong as death...Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it..."
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Megan (not me!...Megan R.) is a wonderful woman of God that I have had the pleasure of knowing since 1999. Though unfortunately our paths have not crossed since our time at Teen Mania, I can assure you she is a precious woman, wife and mother. Her faith, in the midst of many trials and tragedies, is amazing and humbling to me. I hope that you will join me in partnering with them in prayer and believing for a miracle for their family. Here's their story.
There is a beautiful song by Lisa Gungor that is called "Paradox of Faith." It talks about how we pray to God, come to Him with our needs, but already have the answers for Him...as if our ways were better than His own. I pray, as in the song, that Mike and Megan are uplifted by all of us....
"Whatever we ask in your name, we shall receive..."
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
You see, Caleb has a teeny tiny crush on Miss Melinda. He wanted me to wake him up when we got home so he could see her. My thought process was that he was going to see her in the morning, so he could just sleep.
Well, in the morning, he was ecstatic to find Melinda downstairs...except for one small problem...
Mel: Hey, Caleb! (I'm sure a big hug and kiss followed this exchange)
Mel: Yeah, buddy?
Caleb: You were supposed to sleep in MY bed last night.
Mel: I was? Why?
Caleb: Yes. Because I have TWO pillows.
Uh.....good thing my kid is only 4. We're going to have to nip this in the bud.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Funny thing is, I have a little man who did all of that for me today, and more. The two men in my life are for SURE two peas in a pod. I woke up this morning (after an incredible, but super crazy, weekend in Pittsburgh) to breakfast in bed (an eggo waffle with Coke), flowers on my tray (dandelions that were rescued from perishing from the lawn mower later in the day), and a beautiful homemade card. Not only that, but as I awoke and stumbled out of the bedroom, Caleb came running to me, full force, yelling..."Happy Mother's Day, mommy!!!"...and wrapped me up in a huge hug.
Though the day was difficult without my best friend and hubby here with us, the BEST part came later that evening. Caleb and I were laying in his bed, singing to his worship CD when he asked if we could say prayers. Like I would ever say no...
Caleb: Dear Jesus, thank you for this day. Its Mother's Day (just in case Jesus didn't know). So, thank you for picking me out for my mom. And thank you for picking my mom out just for me. You did a good job.
Wow. And Jesus...I'd like to add...thank you for such a spectacularly sensitive kid. May he always live life with the passion, depth and love for the world that he shows already. He for sure makes BOTH of his parents proud.
Happy Mother's Day, everyone.
So I just wanted to take a minute to share my thoughts on moms since today is Mother's Day. First of all, I have to say that I have 3 amazing moms in my life. First is obviously my wife. She is such an amazing mom. She has given our son so much and continues to give in my absence. I love her more every day for the way she cares for CJ. Second is my own mom. She has done so much for me - from raising me in a Christian home to staying up all night long so I could have a co-ed sleep overs after Proms. Third would be my mother-in-law. I have called her mom from the start of dating her daughter and she has accepted and loved me as a son the whole time.
But as I think about what it means to be a mom versus a mother, I can come up with a list of differences. Any woman (I'm speaking in general here) can be a mother. They can carry a child for 9 months, give birth and that is that. She would technically be a mother. However, a mom is someone who continues to give past that 9 months. She loves her children all the time, regardless of the circumstances. She gives with no thought of reward. She is willing to sacrifice her comfort and even her life, for her children. I'm not saying that dads wouldn't do the same but lets be honest for a second; if guys had to be responsible for child birth, there would be a lot less people in this world. :-)
I have seen a lot of great moms out there and words can not justify how awesome they are. So thank you to all the moms out there...the ones that get up early and go to bed late, the ones that are willing to cut of the crust of bread, the ones who drive miles out of their way, and the ones that sacrifice just so their children have just a little more. You make the world better for all of us.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
It's called "Dare You To Move"...we listened to it in service today...it was so good...but here are some of the lyrics...(and I've totally taken some liberties in removing some lines to make the point that has been stirring in my heart...)
I dare you to move...
I dare you to move...
Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
What I love about taking these two pieces of the song, though, is this...
First: You have the dare. Its an action...it requires us to respond. Will we run to the One that calls? Or will we choose to do nothing...in light of everything that He has done for us...because its easier, or more comfortable? I won't lie--it is the easiest place to be, and I've been there--in that place of thankfulness, but complacency. Don't settle there, friends...
Second: The word redemption means 'deliverance or rescue.' We have all been offered redemption through the action of Christ. We have been saved from darkness....addictions....fear....lies....loneliness....you name it! We are whole and complete--forgiven from top to bottom because of the action of Christ on the cross.
And when we take those two things...the dare and the deliverance -- we have a story that demands to be told.
I dare you to tell it...
I dare you to share it with others...
I dare you to let it change you forever...
*love you all*
- Caleb woke up to some special surprises from the Easter Bunny!
- We headed off to church for a special breakfast for the dance team, and then TWO awesome performances of "Oh, Happy Day!" (You have GOT to check out YouTube. Search "Jubilee595" and its called 'Easter Sunday Dance') I was SO proud of all of the kids on the dance team. What a blessing...
- A stop at Bob Evans in between services for a hot cocoa and cinnamon roll.
- Off to Nana and Papa's for Easter dinner with all of our favorite people...
Here are some pics from our blessed day!!
Checking out the directions for his egg hunt...
With all of his fantastic finds!!
And in his choir robe (his dance costume) that they ripped off in the middle of the song...yes, friends...you HAD to be there!!!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Turns out, I was right.
There were questions. And here it is:
Caleb: "Mommy, why does Jesus get to know everything, and I don't? That's not fair."
Answer me that, my friends...
1. Obviously my wife and son
3. Having a bathroom in my house and not having to walk 50 yards to it.
4. Lots and lots of hot water.
5. My own bed.
6. Having a shower in my house and not having to walk 50 yards to it.
7. Driving a car to wherever I want.
8. Not walking 100 yards to use really slow internet service.
9. Not having everything covered in a film of dust.
10. My house and not living in a 5'x10' space.
11. Burger King and Pizza Hut actually tasting like Burger King and Pizza Hut.
12. My wife's cooking.
I'm sure there are many other things I could come up with but I'm sure you get the idea. Love you all.
Friday, April 3, 2009
~Laying in bed, trying to get CJ to sleep...
Me: Hey, buddy...you can't sleep? Why not?
Caleb: I'm sad. I miss daddy.
Me: I miss daddy too...it makes my heart sad sometimes.
Caleb: It does not make MY heart sad. It makes MY heart broken.
Well, then. Not much more I can say about that!
~Watching "Aladdin" for the very first time. Its right about the part where Aladdin...ahem...I mean...Prince Ali...is trying to get Princess Jasmine to take that magic carpet ride with him.
Caleb is sitting on the floor, with an increasingly exasperated look on his face. Next thing I know, THIS comes out of his mouth:
*long, drawn out sigh* "Come ON princess, get on the carpet already!!!" *rolls his eyes and shakes his head*
I about peed my pants laughing at that one. My kid is something else...
Sunday, March 29, 2009
So...I promised a picture of our Mizpah tattoo...so here you go! :-) You'll just have to pretend that you see Joshua's arm here. Just be glad you weren't there when we (read: HE) GOT the tattoo...what a baby!! *ha!!*
Mizpah is something we're hanging on to a lot right now--because the circumstances lately have required us to place our faith in God alone. We don't always get to talk every day, the internet is not always available and Joshua's working long, hard days. So we just have to learn that like Genesis 31:49 says...may God watch over us while we are apart from one another. Putting my complete faith in God alone is something I always felt like I knew how to do...but man...how He's humbled me!! When you get married, part of the process is attaching your soul to another's, and in that, you do become dependent on each other. If its a healthy dependence, that's how marriage is supposed to work! You depend on each other, and together, you depend on God. Its an awesome process. But now...we're in this situation that has taken us away from each other, and I'd like to say that the depending on God alone part has just come naturally...but its a struggle. I find myself wanting to control and figure out and keep my hand on every situation...that inevitably...I have absolutely no control over in the first place! I didn't realize what a control freak I really am! (And I'm sure some of you might be laughing right now...that's ok...) All I can honestly say is that I'm learning, friends. Every day. Its a hard place....but its a good place.
And how 'bout that snazzy pedi?? *wink* Miss Jill, from the Y, gave me an AWESOME gift to go get this--so I did it right before we flew out to see Joshua. I think that my creative and patriotic red, white and blue pedi was WAY more appreciated by me...but...Joshua oohed and ahhed over it like a good hubby. :-) Thanks, Jill!!!!
Wishing you fewer control-freak moments...and more God-filled dependence!
Monday, March 23, 2009
- Caleb and I got sick. Really sick. Yucky viral thing going around. But we're good!
- I joined a personal training place. I figure my emotional eating phase has to end...so I'm going to do something healthy for myself a few times a week while Joshua's gone. So far, so good!! They mean business there...!!
- Caleb joined the dance team at church for Easter....this is gonna be good....*grin* He is so good at practice--I'm just hoping that when the sanctuary is full for both services on Easter morning he still loves it as much as he does during practice!
- We had a little visit with the in-laws--Caleb was in heaven!
- Got the trampoline back up and worked a little in the yard...oiy!!
- Josh said he was finally leaving for his one hour journey into Iraq on Thursday.
- Had surgery on Friday. Starting to feel like my stomach is no longer falling out of my body *OUCH*. Thank goodness we have family here....been camping out over at my mom's and getting some major TLC.
- Josh finally GOT to his destination...on Sunday. :-) Gotta love the army. A few days and a couple of pit stops later....He's settling in and should be up online in the next few days. Thanks for praying him in.
- Its Spring Break!!!!!!!!!!!
- I set up a YouTube account so Josh doesn't miss out on stuff while he's gone. Its the closest way I could think to keep him, and our out of town family, in the loop for the really fun stuff. If you search "Jubilee595", that's my 'channel' and all of the videos should come up. There are 3 videos up now....I think Easter will be the next one....we'll see!!
That's all for now. My vicodin-induced naptime is coming on....*grin* Love you all!!!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Sunrise was pretty. Sucks I was up that early.
I wasn't kidding. This guy was definitely in The Mummy!!!
And a another pic just for emphasis!!!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Enter the pretty girl in our story...Jessica. :-) Jessica is an awesome young lady at our church who just happens to be the girlfriend of an equally awesome guy--JL. I'll save their love story for JL's blog. *grin* Back on track...we call Jess the "Preschool Cougar"...because she just has this awe-inspiring affect on preschool boys. They LOVE her. But seriously--who wouldn't?
Enter my son...and his infatuation. :-)
So...let me let you in on a sneak peek during Friday night prayer time:
*laying on the couch saying our prayers*
Me: Anybody else you want to pray for, buddy?
Me: Oh! I know...we should pray for JL! Know why...?
Me: He's going to ask Jessica to marry him!!!!!! Isn't that exciting?
*and for reenactment's sake*.......his face upon hearing the exciting news...the shock sets in that once again, he's lost the girl...
Me: So....aren't you excited for them? They love each other a lot! Jesus picked them out for each other!
*And I believe this would be either his face of concession...Ok, JL...you win...OR...his face of plotting how to steal Jess away....haven't figured it out yet. Ha!!*
Needless to say, prayer time ended without my son sharing in anyone's joy. But don't worry Jess and JL...we love you and are SO excited for this time in your lives. We are praying endless blessings upon the journey that you are choosing to take with one another. I hope that along the way, you'll continue to learn from the amazing people God has put in both your lives and that it will enrich your relationship in a way you never thought possible. You guys are going to impact the Kingdom in mighty ways...
And don't worry about my kid. *wink* He'll be fine...