What My Sisters Have Taught Me

As I thought about yesterday’s “gifts in someone older than you,” I thought of my three older sisters. I am blessed to have three who are/were Godly examples. Here is something I’ve learned from each of them…

Suzette – I remember her saying, “If you only do in life what you feel like doing, nothing would ever get done.” I have always admired her dedication to her family, her motivation and her ambition. She gets so much done in a day, but also finds time to invest in the lives of her family. I am also challenged by the way she invests time in missionary ladies’ lives…keeping in touch, praying, just letting them know they’re not forgotten.

Lynnae – When I was fresh out of high school, 18 years old, I lived with her family for three months as a “maid.” We laughed, cried, made so many good memories and I treasure them! One thing I’ll never forget is the time she took with her children. They were more important than anything else in her day. I want to be that kind of mother. She lived well, fully…then she died well too, faith-filled to the very end. Can’t wait for Heaven!

Gerrene – There are eight years between us and we fought, oh, how. we. fought! Then magically one day (maybe when I finally grew up :)) we clicked. One of the things I admire about her is the patience and understanding she gives their special-needs daughter. I think she carries a burden heavier than any of us really understand, and God trusted her to take care of an extra-special child. It’s a gift given to the few who are worthy. She does it cheerfully and we rarely hear her vent (although if she needs that we’d listen! :)) Her reward in Heaven will be great!

There’s nothing quite like a sister and I was blessed with three!

And today’s Gifts in Fabric…

  • my cheery new Ikea apron (how I love that store!)
  • the ribbons and fibers I use as I catch up my children’s life books (that we’re supposed to do when they’re foster children. Ahem. Two are adopted and one almost…yes, I’m a little delayed.) I love to scrapbook!
  • the overflowing closets, drawers, and totes full of clothing. We are blessed!

Catching Up

The last 10 days have been busy, I’ve been recovering from a double ear infection/sinus infection, and we spent the weekend at the cabin. I’ve discovered something. The times you don’t feel like counting your blessings are the times you need to the most. When you force yourself to sit down and think about things from God’s perspective, it changes your perspective. Last night I was feeling a little blue, just tired from the demands of life. It was amazing how, twenty minutes later after catching up on my “Blessings Journal”, how much better I felt! So here it is…

June 17 – Gifts in My Dad…this was a hard one for me. I never knew my dad since he died when I was just a baby.

  • a heritage of faith and a good reputation – everyone who knew him tells me that he was a good man, someone they were privileged to know. His relationship with God was passed down to me and I’m so thankful. I don’t have to wonder where Daddy is…I know I’ll see him someday soon. And I’ll have eternity to “get to know him!”
  • my black hair and eyes πŸ™‚
  • security – Daddy might not have been in our home, but I believe the relationship he had with my mom, the trust they had, spilled over into our lives while we grew up

June 18 – Gifts From My Heavenly Father

  • grace and the plan of salvation
  • the blessing of marriage and the gift of my husband…don’t know what I’d do without him!
  • His Word…God doesn’t throw us into a dark world with no instruction manual and I’m so thankful

June 19 – Gifts I Became in Serving…to be honest, I felt like I was anything but a gift to anyone today. I felt so sick, so exhausted, so grouchy. But I did…

  • pack Sheldon’s lunch
  • spend time with my children
  • make a hot meal…I so wanted to call Sheldon and tell him to get pizza on his way home. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But I knew we’re trying to tighten our budget up (thinking about school tuition soon…scary thought!) and so I decided there’s no reason I can’t mix up a casserole of some kind!

June 20 – A Gift Bent, Beautiful, Loved

I looked all day for something currently in my life, but my mind kept returning to Grandma B’s hands. Oh, to hold them again…someday there will be a reunion! They were bent with age and hard work, but beautiful because they served and loved and embraced life!

June 21 – Gifts Found in Light

  • Our campfire at the cabin
  • Fireflies…summer’s not my favorite season maybe, but I do love catching fireflies!
  • Warm sunshine (not hot, just warm :).)

June 22 – Gifts That are Difficult

  • Being a mother
  • Infertility…I need to write a post about this sometime, but what we thought was second best has turned into the best blessing in the world!
  • Losing someone I love…when my sister Lynnae died, I learned to hold dearer those I love, to trust God in a new way, and to let go gracefully. Heaven became sweeter and memories turned golden. I wouldn’t choose the road of grief, but I have learned from it.

June 23 – Gifts Found Around a Table

  • We were at the cabin with my family. Although we missed those who couldn’t be there, I am thankful for new memories made and time spent together.
  • My little family…we join hands and I think, “Why does God trust us enough to send these broken little lives to us? How can we love them, and teach them, and help them heal?” And I’m thankful for these gifts, and thankful for God’s power in our lives.
  • Food…I don’t think about where our next meal will come from, but some people have to . I don’t worry about putting my children to bed with hungry little tummies because there wasn’t enough…but some mothers have to.

June 24 – A Gift in Water, Words and White

  • Water…it’s hot outside. I’m thankful for cold water. I remember every time we were somewhere with Arthur Good and he asked the blessing on the meal, he would say, “And thank you God for good water to drink.” Probably I take this gift too much for granted.
  • Words…”I need to run tonight and pick up a trailer-load of hay. I’ll take the children; you relax,” said my understanding husband. They were delighted to go away with Daddy. I was delighted to have a quiet evening to myself! πŸ™‚
  • White…my cheerfully blooming daisies.

Today I’m hunting for gifts in someone older than me. Hmm…will have to think this one over! So even if someone is sick, or the washline crashes to the ground fully loaded (happened yesterday!), or the children have a hard time being cheerful, I’ll just be here counting my blessings! πŸ™‚ How ’bout you?

Of fizzy water, breezes, and little boys

This was such a good, relaxing Sunday! I wasn’t feeling that great because of a nasty cold, and I’m afraid I had little energy to make this a special Father’s Day for Sheldon. 😦 I’m hoping to celebrate him later in the week because we sure to love him!

When I read my joy dare for today, I had to smile. I was searching for three gifts moving…all I had to do was look from one child to the other and there they were! πŸ™‚ But I decided to be a little more creative…

  • One of my our children is especially a “mover.” Rylan blessed our home in March of 2011. He was not a “fun baby” mostly due to a severe acid reflux issue. He was fussy, smelled bad most of the time, and not very cute. (Sorry, I’m just being honest here…big head with no hair and eyes much too large. He has since turned into a very handsome, little man! :)) Some people may fall in love with any and all babies at first sight. I do not. It took a long time (and I felt a little guilty) until he found his place in my heart. Trust me he has captured a large part since then! We suspect a small ADHD problem…he’s constantly moving and his attention span is non-existent for certain things. But I know someday, if we can only channel this energy in the right direction, he will be a mover and shaker for the kingdom of God…Rylan is #1 on my list of gifts moving!
  • The cool breeze blowing today. I love wind, I love cool weather, and I have thoroughly enjoyed most of this summer so far. Every day that’s not hot is one day closer to fall in my opinion. Before you think I’m wishing the summer away, I’m not. I’ll just be glad to see the September page of the calendar! πŸ™‚
  • The bubbles in my glass of seltzer water. When we moved to Romania, we quickly learned that you don’t just ask for a glass of water. You need to distinguish between “still water” and “gas water.” And neither of us really liked apa minerala all that much. That changed somewhere over the time we were there…I guess it’s a taste that grows on you because we both enjoy a tall glass of fizzy water sometimes. I did just that this afternoon!

The nap was wonderful, the coffee delicious and the Taste of Home magazine enjoyed! I’m ready for a joy-filled week…how ’bout you?

After a busy week…

So after the busiest week we’ve had in awhile, I am grateful it’s Saturday night! Today’s gift search was for three gifts from God’s Word. Although these aren’t taken from where I’m reading right now in my daily devotions, they came to my mind…

I am thankful for the promise that when I come to Jesus, He will give me rest! With lots of help this week, the strawberries are finished (50 lbs of them), peas were done three times, Summer Bible School was enjoyed, two days of excursions were completed, and this mama’s tired! Rest sounds delightful!

I am glad that God established a day of rest every week. This kind of goes with the previous one, but I’m so glad that tomorrow is Sunday and I don’t have to tackle any projects!

I’m also glad that God promised wisdom to all who ask…our children all seem to be going through challenging, “need lots of wisdom” stages right now. I’m sure this will always be the case to a certain extent, but it seems to ebb and flow a bit. Right now it’s flowing! πŸ™‚ But we don’t have to do this by ourselves…God will fill us with wisdom to get each of these little souls to the other side of childhood!

Yesterday I was to search for an unexpected, unlikely and unwanted gift. I decided that it will be F’s sudden interest in potty training. Although this is unexpected and unlikely, it is certainly NOT unwanted! πŸ™‚

We will go on working with joy!

Two Days’ Worth

Six years ago, we started a tradition of kidnapping for 40th birthdays! My oldest sister was awoken and told to get ready for a day at the beach. It was so much fun!

We wish there would have been an occasion three years ago…because that would mean that Lynnae was still with us…but that of course was not to be.

Yesterday, we walked in on Gerrene, who was having her devotions, at 6:45AM and told her she has till 7:30 to be ready for a day of shopping in Philly. Oh, we had a fun day! Lots of laughs, the Cheesecake Factory, Ikea, fabric shopping…

My day was not conducive to blogging, but here are the past two days of gifts…

June 12 – Three Gifts Full

  • My full coffee cup…Ah, I do love me a good cup of coffee in the morning!
  • My full arms…Although our children are one of my greatest sources of stress, they’re also one of the greatest sources of blessing!
  • My full fridge…Yes, it’s dirty. Yes, some of the food is growing fuzzy stuff. But we never go hungry!

June 13 – Three Gifts Smelled

  • My favorite Bath and Body perfume…Forever Red!
  • Fresh Laundry…I had two enormous blankets that needed to be washed but don’t fit in my machine. Last night I was in a laundromat for I think the first time in my life. I love the smell of hot dryers, fabric softener, and detergent!
  • My crock-pot supper…When I walked in the door at 5:15PM, the house smelled so good from the Swiss Steak that had been cooking all day!

Today I’m looking for just one gift…unexpected, unwanted and unlikely. Today I choose joy!

Joy Unspeakable

Breaking the silence after over a year…

I’ve been pondering a lot lately on the subject of joy. Not happiness. A deep-seated joy that’s there all the time, no matter the circumstances, no matter the hormones, no matter the actions of my children, no matter the smoothness of my day. I’m not “good at it”!

To get rather personal, my brain has been chemical-free the last six weeks for the first time in 3 1/2 years. After I became a mom for the first time, I felt strangled, smothered, like I was living in the dark. Being a “glass-half-full” kind of girl for most of my life, I had no idea how to deal with these feelings. I’m thankful for an understanding husband, doctor, family, and friends. I’d been on an anti-depressant ever since, diagnosed with PAD (post-adoption depression.). I’m OK with that, and I believe it’s very necessary sometimes. However, I (along with my husband’s approval) decided that it was becoming a crutch and weaned myself off this spring. I was a little unprepared for the intensity of my emotions again. Where a pill kept me like this ————————–, life without a pill has me like this —–______———-________! πŸ™‚ Where is my joy?

So, I’ve been wondering over the verse in Psalm 113 about how God makes a barren woman to be a JOYFUL mother of children. How can I make this happen? How can I keep the dark from closing in again? How can I react with cheerfulness to a house full of little grumpies? Because some days it just isn’t there…When I turn around and someone elseΒ is being naughty and needing discipline, someone always needs me, our house is a mess and the noise level unreal, nobody seems to remember how to play unselfishly, someone’s nose needs a tissue – again, two little boys have messy pampers at the same time a little girl is calling to be wiped, my circumstances threaten to completely overwhelm me…The answer comes…I CAN’T, but GOD CAN! If I’m waiting for my life, my children, my circumstances to be perfect till I can be joyful…it ain’t happenin’! I’m learning that “joy unspeakable” and “fullness of joy” can only come through praise, adoration, bowing before a God who loves me, fills me, and completes me.

About ten days ago, I happened across the Joy Dare on Ann Voscamp’s websiteΒ http://www.aholyexperience.com/joy-dares. I was challenged with it, but my “can’t do it if I can’t do it right” side of my personality said, “Why would start in the middle of June? Seems like something you start at the beginning of a new year!” So I ignored it. Then our summer Bible school lessons are about the Fruits of the Spirit and guess which fruit we talked about last night? Yup…joy! I came home, looked up the Joy Dare again and began today. I’d like to blog my gifts…don’t know if it’ll happen every day, don’t know how long this will last. (My family, especially my husband, can attest to the fact that I am good at being excited at the beginning of a project!) But if it can keep my perspective straight for awhile, it’ll be worth it. So, because I am not very sharp in the evenings, I will blog the next day about the previous day’s gifts. Today I am searching for “three gifts full.” And I’m still searching for the last one, but I know it’s there because God promises not just a little joy, but joy unspeakable…