Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nativity Creativity

Free toys make me happy.  Open-ended toys make me even happier.  Hence, we have a box of scrap wood in the backyard.
These pieces of junk wood have been many things: ramps for hot wheels, forts, guns for battling aliens, swords for slaying bad guys.  Creativity blossoms when toys come without instructions or "right" ways to play with them.
This holiday season my girls proudly brought me outside to see their latest artwork.  One glance and I ran back inside to get the camera.

Here we have a Nativity scene complete with parents, shepherds, and three wise guys.  I ooed and awed.  The girls beamed.

But there was more.  Over by the swings were three crosses.  They told me this was the reason that Jesus was born.
The three year old imparting wisdom.  Stories of truth from the lips of the five year old.
Words from God's Word swirl in my head " not forget the thing your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  Teach them to your children and to their children after them."

And at the foot of the slide were these.  Their two great-grandmothers, Mammaw and Nana, in Heaven with God.  These ladies whose names are part of our girls.  Estelle.  Marie.
I was a bit teary until they showed me God on top of the slide - a giant teapot with two balls inside.  Man, I love these kids.
News Update to follow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Messy and Blessed

I have come to find that no matter how much I love my job, there are still those days.  You know, the ones that make you want to rip off all your clothes and run down the street screaming?
When I worked outside our home, those days reached dizzying proportions.  Now that I am home, they are honestly very few and far between.  But, I must admit, every so often they do occur.
Instead of going stark raving mad, I choose to remember these moments. 
Children writing notes to missionaries.  My girls, their cousins, and their friends learning about loving and serving and being like Jesus, not Justin Beiber.

Living by no certain schedule. Or scope. Or sequence. One that allows us to go outside to feel the sun on our skin as we learn about the heat that it generates.

Being the one that knows what my children have going on in their lives.  Knowing what is newsworthy to them.
This was not always my life.  I thought I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.  In fact, I used to snobbishly look down on those women - as if they had somehow sold themselves short.
But it slowly dawned on me that deep in my bones, this is the life I wanted.  This life of loving and raising my children.  Seeing them wake up.  Teaching them to read.  Showing them how to love God and others.  Putting them to bed at night without regrets about missing their childhood.
Is my life perfect now?  By no means.  It is hard and fun.  Frustrating and delightful.
It is beautiful.  It is blessed. 
It is beautiful, because I choose to acknowledge that it is blessed.
All praises be to my God who deeply loves this messy girl's messy life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sunrise School Thanksgiving 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Here at Sunrise School we have been having a blast learning poems, making costumes, watching Charlie Brown specials, and being THANKFUL.

In the spirit of tradition, here is Sunrise School's second annual Thanksgiving video.  (The first year's is here.)  If you are wanting to see high quality cinematography, you will be sorely disappointed.  Lower your expectations considerably and you will be pleasantly surprised at the wit and ways of preschoolers.

If that didn't make you smile, check out the Daily News board.  Many outstanding events are happening in these kids lives.

Still not smiling?  Then I can't help you.  Sorry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

7.3.1 Waste Not

7 Experiment: based on the book by Jen Hatmaker
3rd Month: Mutiny Against Waste
1st Post: Waste Not
Sarah Grace Photography
You know those people?  The crazy environmentalists?  The people who compost dinner scraps and newspaper, save butter containers, and dig through trashcans searching for recyclables?  I think I am becoming that person.
I used to think those people were just wasting their time.  Like the moron in the stupid starfish story.  What difference does it really make if I recycle or save energy or compost?  The world is still going to end up like Wall-E.
But then this Bible verse...  "The Earth is the Lord's and everything in it."
I'm thinking this means the stuff I do or don't do for the Earth matters.  Sure was easier living before I read this.  But I will say, Super Husband does take out the trash a lot less, now.
We've implemented many new waste reducing practices.  Through this I have found some things are more cost effective while others are not piggy bank friendly.  But I think it all comes out in the wash.  And by "in the wash" of course I mean in eternity.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

October at Sunrise School

Since having kids, time has become my constant enemy.   I am convinced that the births of my girls sped up the rotation of the earth. This mommy doesn't ever seem to have enough time! Can I get a witness?  Captain America expresses how I feel about it already being November.

Sunrise School was a hoppin' in the month of October.  We studied fire safety and took a field trip to the Montgomery fire station.

The firefighters were awesome!  They let the kids climb inside the trucks, handle equipment, and even try on safety gear.  These kids thought they were hot snot.  And they were.
One of them suited up and gave high fives.  Most of the kids were brave.

Afterwards, we went to the Montgomery library where one of our sweet girls found a truly fabulous book.

And here we all are for our Halloween party.  Nine preschoolers who bring joy and messes to my life everyday.  They are some kinda fun.

Now we interrupt this blog post to bring you late breaking news.  This stuff is earth shattering, people.

But no matter the news, dear folks, have no fear.  One small band of children has united to chase away bad dreams and help clean up blueberry vomit.  They are the few.  The brave.  The delightfully destructive.  The Fabulous Four.  Boogie Monster beware!  (And maybe Mommy, too.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

7.2.2 Goodbye October

7 Experiment: based on the book by Jen Hatmaker
2nd Month: Mutiny Against Possessions
2nd Post: Goodbye October (Yes.  I know it's late.  My excuse = 9 adorable toddlers)
Give clothes to those without clothes?  Check.  Easy.  Feels good.

But what if God didn't mean just clothes and food?  What if God meant for His children to share everything they have with those who are without?

That God.  Always expecting us to actively love everyone.

Isn't He great?  And wonderful?  And challenging?  I'm glad that my God expects things of me.  And you, for that matter.

This month was a bit harder - finding seven things every day to give away.  Now, I could find seven pieces of junk to give away.  I could probably find double that amount of broken, old, unusable, or outdated items.  But I doubt that is keeping with the intention of this verse.

October was spent prayerfully looking for things to intentionally bless others.  Do I truly require 18 place setting of my flatware?  Five different sets of cups?  My home is overflowing with excess.  I can't even find room for all my stuff.

That God, again with His timing, also had me serving with Family Promise.  This ministry is AWESOME.  They give homeless families meals, shelter, and love in area churches.  My sister's family and I were able to cook one night for two of the families.

Our children and their children laughed and played.  We sat with the ladies and talked.  They were real and honest and funny.

The ladies spoke of the culture shock homelessness has been for them and their families.  One lady admitted that much of the shock was from the love shown to them by "rich white folks."  She said she had been raised to believe, and saw, that "rich white folks" hated them and didn't care about them.  But now that she had been in Family Promise she was seeing that this is not all true.

My heart was breaking.  And what could I say?  She's right.  Most rich white Christians do not love the poor.  Or anyone outside their realm.  They say they do.  I say I do.  But is love without actions really love at all?

This experiment for me is about opening my eyes.  Seeing people.  Seeing needs.  Meeting them.  Breaking down the walls in my heart.

Three of the families were "graduating" from the program.  They have been approved for housing and will be moving into a home of their own.  A list of needs was sent out.  My garage full of donations was just waiting to go to them.

My cup overflows for a reason.

(If you like this, you should read this girl's blog.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three Reasons I Love My Job

1.  Nap time. 

Little feet finally at rest.  Here we have a wee darling who fell asleep reading.  Apparently, learning never stops at Sunrise School.

2.  The imaginations of children.  
Beware the jaguar.  Yes, those are claws made from gardening rakes and shovels.  We must often cower beneath the roars of a ferocious T-Rex, or run for our lives in Princess, Lawn Mower, Bad Guy.  Planks of wood become surf boards.  Trees are named Smartie.  The party never ends.

3.  Daily News. 
One day this past week, my nephew was the leader.  I wrote his name, but he made me erase it and write his "real" name.  Some days he goes by John or even SiahJohn.  Love that kid.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

7.2.1 Nine Tenths of the Law

7 Experiment
2nd Month:  Possessions
1st Post
Mr. Observant Husband found out I was doing this on the 10th of October.  At that point I had already given away 70 things.  That's how much we have.  We being me.  We being my family.  We being pretty much anyone reading this blog.

The point of this experiment is not to de-clutter my house or get more organized, though that is happening.  It's not about a checklist, but I do love a good list.  This is about intentional reduction to bless others.

1 John 3:17-18 lays it out pretty clear for Christian-folks.  "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."

Let's lay this out my favorite way - in a list.  Yea!

#1  "If anyone has material possessions"  Um...Check.  I have an insane amount of possessions. In fact, at halfway through this month, I have given away 126 things, and it hasn't affected me in the slightest.  I guess the husband is more observant than first assumed to be.

#2  "and sees a brother in need but has no pity on him"  Well, I know if I saw a brother in need, I would help.  But here is the problem that Shane Claiborne and I share, "...the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor..."  (Insert slap across face.)

On Sunday we talk about which of our two cars to take to our church in the middle of suburbia.  We have playgroups with people just like us.  The families we hang out with seem to be an eerie copy of ours.  I do not see brothers in need.  Surely this does not please the Lord.

As I step back, I can almost see the walls constructed by wealthy Christians in America.  Maybe I did not build the walls, but I am doing nothing to tear them down.  God, give me a wrecking ball. 

#3  "how can the love of God be in that person?"  I say I love God, but does it show?  I know my faith is not based on works.  I am confident of it.  But the love of God is wider and deeper than my heart can ever hope to contain.  If His love is not overflowing from my heart, my claims of having His love seem hollow.

#4  "Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."  I long for this.  To turn this experiment, and thus my life, into one of action.  Words and good intentions flow freely from my heart in a nauseatingly unfulfilled sort of way.  Actions.  Truth.  Make these things mark my love for Jesus, and therefore my love for His people.

Shane Claiborne speaks my heart again, "...I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will have no meaning.  And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end."

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.  Begin with my heart and my actions.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

7.1.6 Yestermonth Reflections

7 Experiment
1st Month
6th & Final Post

I love it when the kids teach me useful words.
Yestermonth I started my own Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  Procrastinating perfectionists like myself usually begin with the easiest task and slowly move to the more difficult.  Since I'm not much of a clothes horse, purging my clothing seemed like the logical choice for the first month.
Giving away some items were hard, but quotes from her book like this spurred me on:
"...all together, we've spent enough to irrevocably change the lives of a hundred thousand people. What did I get for that budgeting displacement? Closets full of clothes we barely wear and enough luxuries to outfit twenty families."
So, looking back, how did I do?  Pretty well, but I do have two major happenings to confess.
The first occured when my oldest daughter found a dress of hers in the garage that I had added to the give away pile.  I does not fit her, and it has to be ironed.  The latter makes it nearly certain that she will never wear it in public.  Upon finding this dress that has been on her body ONE time, she launched into a wailing fit.
I remained calm and explained to her what we were going to do with the dress.
Tears flowed.
Still attempting to use reason, we talk about all the children who need clothes.
Sobbing reaching epic proportions.
Trying a new tactic, I explain to her that it DOES NOT FIT, it is all wrinkly, and Mommy does not iron.
Sorrow so great that Daddy, the Hero, rushes to rescue us out in the garage.  He takes in the situation with questioning eyes. 
I haughtily explain to him, not too patiently or kindly. that our daughter wants to keep this dress that she NEVER WEARS and WON'T give it away to the poor kids!
You see, Haughty Pants Hannah thought Daddy the Hero would be on her side.  The look he gave me ripped off my haughty pants, which were somehow covering  my eyes.  I saw my child.  Shame washed over me.  Hero Daddy was right.  Broken-hearted daughter was right.  It was not mine to give.
Epic parent failure.
One more reason why children need to be raised by two parents.  Sometimes Mommy needs to be pantsed by Daddy.
After that confession, the second won't seem so bad. 
I took back the cowboy boots.
Just couldn't do it.  But I did replace them with another pair of shoes.
Next step: finding homes for all these clothes...before daughter and I slowly bring them all back in from the garage.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Little Missionaries

Many yesteryears ago at the old white church, we had this silver coffee can.  Someone, I suspect my mother, had written "Mission Friends" on the side with black marker.  Each week we would learn about missionaries around the world and bring our offerings to plink into the little coffee can.
We were changing the world with our love through our offerings.  I cherish this part of my childhood.  This teaching about giving and true wealth, which cannot be measured.
I want this for my children, so I made my own missionary money jar.  It's no coffee can, but it still works.
Explaining to children about missions is such a refreshing thing for a sometimes complacent Christian like myself to tackle.
"Some people do not have Mommies and Daddies."
I stare into large shock-filled eyes.
"Some people do not have homes."
The questions start to flow.
"But the saddest of all is some people have never heard about Jesus."
They gasp.  Literally.  When is the last time that information shocked or moved me?
Then we talk about how we can help.  We talk about telling people about Jesus.  We talk about showing everyone the love of Jesus.  We talk about sending money to missionaries who serve where little feet cannot go just yet.

In August we committed as a class to pray for Luke and Karla Reddus with Compassion United in Conroe.  And then these nine Sunrise School children raised money all month for them.  (Also donated was one Euro cent, one British pence, and ten Disney play dollars.)
Laying little hands on the gift to bless the offering
Lifting prayers for our missionaries up to the ears of God.
Luke visited our class.  He was a bit of a celebrity with the children.  They hugged.  They jumped and shouted.  They showed him their desks and papers they had made.  It was precious.

In September they prayed and gave to Danny and Cherry Hill who are church planters in Springfield, Missouri.  Susannah went to visit them with her Mimi.  She called from their house, "Mommy I'm at the missionaries' house!  I'm on the mission field!" 

Love that child.

This month we are praying for a new missionary couple in Turkey.  They have already started giving.  It is beautiful.  It is challenging.

In other happenings, I found an old Daily News that I forgot to post.  It was the first uncensored news.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

7.1.5 My Girls' Clothes

7 Experiment
1st Month
5th Post

Yes, I know it is October and technically the 2nd month, but I am behind.  Big shocker.  I'm having a hard time with all this new information.  These new ideas flying around in my head.  Raging against materialism in my life is more difficult than I ever thought possible.

"This is hard to process, so it helps to imagine standing in front of my Ethiopian children, who were too poor and sick to raise their own beloved babies. As I gaze upon their hopelessness, I imagine them calculating what I've spent on clothing alone, realizing that same amount would've kept their family fed and healthy for thirty years."  7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

I re-read this quote from the book and was pushed once more to take another step - my girls' clothes.  I am not going to have them participate in every month, but I want them to do as much of it with me as possible.

Children are amazing.  They are naturally compassionate.  They love giving and serving.  When is this valuable skill unlearned?  I never want it to leave my kids.  Practicing constant, consistent giving is one way to teach children to hold their possessions loosely.

They had an insane amount of clothes.  Many of which have never been on their bodies.  If your children are anything like mine, they have a very small rotation of favorite clothes they wear.

Now there are piles of clothes in my garage.  Piles.

Now what?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sunrise School News Flash

October means that I am way behind in Sunrise School news updates.  Tons of exciting, earth-shaking things have been occurring in the lives of preschoolers here at Sunrise School.
I am sure you are on the edge of your seat, so I will keep the commentary to a minimum.

This past week, Josiah once more dazzled us with his imagination to which his brother raised his hand, "Uh...An Tannah, the didn't really happen."   Meanwhile, Gideon has successfully revived a tried and true word.

Reading the news of these preschoolers makes me a way.  Their innocence.  The things they find important.  Their pride in sharing.
I don't know about you other suckas, but I love my job.

7.1.4 Shoes?!?

7 Experiment
1st Month
4th Post

I don't want this life.  This life of more.  This life of ignoring those in need while shoes gather dust on shelves in my closet.  This "radical inequality" disgusts me.

It seems I talk about this everywhere I go now.  This idea of intentional living.  Intentional giving.  Intentional faith.

When talking to a dear group of women about this several weeks back one of them said, "Half of your clothes?  Wow, so even your shoes and accessories and hats and stuff like that?"

Darn you Jessica Grace.

I love you for the accountability you bring to my life.  But at the moment I was not thinking such thoughts.

So I did some more thinking.  More praying.  Then I bit the bullet.

Half of my shoes - gone.

Just as with the clothes, the first few were easy.  The last one really hurt.  A pair of cowboy boots.  Ouch.  This Texas girl is feeling the sacrifice.

Then the halving worked its way into my jewelry, scarves, hats, gloves, purses, and bags.  This was much easier after parting with the shoes.

My garage is filling.  What to do with all the stuff?  Stay tuned...

Friday, September 28, 2012

7.1.3 Put a Sock in It

7 Experiment
1st Month
3rd Post
So long socks.  Those who know me well understand that this was harder for me than the clothes.  But half had to leave.  It's not an offering if it's not a sacrifice.

I sorted.  I thought.  I prayed.  Seriously, people.  This is sad.  I've had some of these socks since high school.  But I have finally done it.

If some of you are wondering at the sudden volume of posts, you'll have to forgive me.  Our computer was sick in the computer hospital for many moons.  I've had these posts in my head just waiting to be released into cyberland.

It seems this blog may have just turned into my journal.  Interesting.  I wonder what juicy confessions I'll be pouring out by the end of all this.

7.1.2 A Tale of Hangers

7 Experiment
1st Month
2nd Post


This is just some of the driving force behind my own 7 Experiment.  I have not researched the above quote from her book, but I am sure that is  true for most Americans.

How do I keep on spending money on clothes knowing this?  How do I not see the eyes of desperate mothers?  The empty bellies of starving children?

They haunt me when I think selfish thoughts like, "Oh, that's so cute.  You really deserve a new shirt."  I deserve it?  People deserve food.  I do not deserve enough shirts to clothe an army.

I got rid of half of my clothes.  Big deal.  I could go out and buy clothes to replace those anytime I feel like it.  Ugh.  Have I accomplished anything?

To battle this, I have set a governor, of sorts, for myself.  I got rid of all of my extra hangers.  And I will not be bringing new ones to my house.  When I buy any new clothes item, I have to give one away in it's place.

I am hoping this will work for me, because I really like all the clothes I have left.  Even the ones with holes in them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

7.1.1 Clothes

Previous 7 Post

7 Experiment
1st month
1st post

Recognizing clothing as an area of excess in my life: Rage against the hanger.

This verse hits me right between the eyes every time I read it.  Giving is easy for me.  Fun, even.  I get oddly disproportionate joy from giving anything away, much to the horror of my hoarder mother.

This is why I made clothing my first month.  I am a chicken who wanted to start out easy.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that for this to truly be a sacrifice, I would have to give deeply.

I began with counting all of my clothing.  162.  Before I counted, I was so proud about how little I felt clothing was a struggle of excess for me.  But 162?  I was shocked.  So for this first week of clothing, I decided to cut my clothing in half.

81 items of clothing to get rid of.  Easy peasy.  Right?   Well, the first 50ish were.
  • Bridesmaid's dresses - Why was I even keeping these?
  • Paint clothes - I never paint.
  • Clothes that don't fit - Why does anyone keep these?
  • Old costumes - Flapper girl, glow worm, train engineer
  • Out of style clothing - Um...more than I thought.
  • Clothes I can't remember the last time I wore - Tons.
  • Anything with holes - Even the shorts from Junior High.
  • One item with the price tag on it.  Wow.  Is that not the epitome of excess?
Then I got to the sacrifice part.  The uncomfortable part.  This is when I really started to give.  Before it was cleansing/cleaning.  After that, each item became increasingly difficult.  But this is a battle I willingly wage with myself.

And it is finally accomplished.  But to what end?  Where do I send these clothes?  How do I keep from ending up in this disturbing place of excess once again?  More to come.  Pray for me, people.

Next Post 7.1.2

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mutiny Against Excess

I have twenty-two books by my bed on the "waiting to be read" shelf.  So when a wise woman told me she was sending me this book in the mail, I had to force myself to be polite and not sigh.

Normally, I would just add it to the shelf (book death row).  I almost did.  But something, let's just call it the Holy Spirit, pushed me to read it.

This book is incredible.  Thank you, wise Kristel.

I wanted to try the 7 month experiment before I even finished reading the introduction.  My nights were spent elbowing my husband, "Patrick, listen to this."  "Oh, and listen to this."  The greatest part about being married is sleeping in the same bed as your best friend.  After this, perhaps my counter-part would not agree.

I was bubbly, people.  If you have been around me at all for the past two weeks, you have heard about this book.  I have read you quotes.  Attempted arm twisting to get you to buy it.  I even carried it around with me in my purse.

I never considered myself as materialistic.  And I was a rather smug bug about it.  This book was the kick in my privileged pants God saw I so desperately needed.

Sore bottomed, I had to make myself read the whole thing before I jumped in Hannah-style: head-first, all in, minimal forethought.  Now finished, I am trying this mutiny against excess. 

I rearranged the months because, well, I wanted to.  The things I do/give up are going to look a little different, but I think this is the point.  To make it personal.  To make it meaningful.  Here she blows:

September - Clothing
October - Waste
November - Possessions
December - Spending
January - Stress
February - Media
March - Food 

While looking at this I realized that Easter is on March 31st...the last day of my 7 experiment.  Seems fitting, if not intentional on God's part.  That God.  Always working for the good of those who love Him.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Youcef is free!

Oh my good gravy.  I am so excited I can hardly think what to type.  He is free.

So many prayers have been uttered.  Some of you have joined with us in daily prayers for Youcef.  And oh, God has answered.

Youcef did not recant!

In 2010, Iranian Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani was found guilty of apostasy.  Upon refusing to deny Christ, he was sentenced to death.  His past three years have been filled with appeals, trials, and threats.  Even his Iranian lawyer was arrested for the apparent crime of defending his client.

Due to prayers of the saints, Youcef was released on Saturday.  His charges were downgraded from apostasy to evangelizing Muslims.  His sentence: the three years of time already served.

Here he is being reunited with his sons.  My heart soars.  I can't stop looking at this picture.

His sons just wanting to be near him.  My momma heart breaks.

This Sunday he will spend with his church.  Oh what a worship service they will be having.

And someday.  Someday, we will meet in Heaven.  And I will be able to thank him.

To thank him for persevering.  For showing the world that this thing called Christ is worth dying for.

To thank him for waking this safe American girl up.  Persecution is not a thing of the past.  It is happening now more than ever.

My job is to pray.

Without ceasing.

For our brothers and sisters around the world to have a faith so strong and so real that they would be willing to do what Youcef has done.

And for myself.  That my faith would be this big.  Even now, oh Lord.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Back to Sunrise School

Well, our new year at Sunrise School is off and running.  We talk about our old friends quite often.  Tori, Ashlyn, Savanna, and Jaycee, we hope you are loving kindergarten.
The Lord has brought us new friends this year and they are precious.  Tori became an honorary cousin last year.  Laney has already started asking if she is a cousin, too.

Princesses and fairies often frequent Sunrise School.  But don't let the smiles and sparkles fool you.  These ladies are tough.  They can capture the meanest bad guys and slam their behinds in jail.  I wouldn't steal one of their dolls for all the glitter in Hobby Lobby.

Snappin green beans with my Sunrise peeps for lunch proves entertaining and useful.  I have found that if they help make it, they are much more inclined to partake in it.  But we do still have a few staunch meatatarians who cannot be swayed.  I must admire the strength of their will in the face of intense peer pressure.
Each day a new leader is chosen by the previous leader.  People, this is more nail-biting than the Oscars.  The children sit on the edge of their little criss-cross-applesauce seats in anticipation...some even praying that they will be chosen.

And who wouldn't?  The leader gets to pray at lunch, be first in line, put the new number up on the calendar.  Oh, the responsibilities are dizzying.

Perhaps the most coveted duty is that of sitting in the teacher chair and sharing with us the daily news.  It is so much fun to hear what little kids deem as newsworthy.

The first weeks of school I forced the kids to only say things that were true.  For some of us tall-tale-tellers, this was a near impossible feat.  Josiah sat in the leader chair and thought.  And thought.
"I pet a baby dragon!"
"No, Josiah.  It has to be something that really happened."
"I catched a baby sharp tooth!"
"Did that really happen?"
"Ummm....I caught a little perch?"
"Yes.  That is something that really happened.  Good job."
But now I feel like the Grinch who stole creativity!  He was so excited about his first two tries.  I will be that teacher no more.  NO MORE, I say.  The next blog will include uncensored news.  Things are about to get fun.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Morning Mourning

I used to be a morning person.  That was before I had children.  Now, sleep is that delicious time when no one is calling my name, and I have no messes to clean up.  It is magical.

Thus, every morning when my alarm clock goes off, I am plunged into the deepest of mourning.   To overcome the loss of my precious sleep I must battle through the five stages of grief.

DENIAL No! It is scientifically not possible for it to be morning. I seriously put down my laptop and closed my eyes five minutes ago. The time just doesn't add up.

These groggy thoughts swiftly morph into ANGER. The term "daybreak" is very fitting. Hearing my alarm makes me want to break everything within reach. The only thing keeping that annoying son of a gun from being thrown across the room is its power cord. The alarm continues, unaware its fate hangs in the balance.

I then move on to what is typically my longest stage: BARGAINING. Hmmm...I can press snooze and just not shave my legs today. Snooze 2 is just wash my hair and face in the sink. Snooze 3 and it becomes ponytail day.

At this point in my morning I reach a crossroad. Option A: I can wake up to have a moment with God before the day starts, or Option B: Snooze 4 and the children will be up before I have time alone with the Lord.

Option A is what my mind wants to do. It turns the weeping (self-pity) to dancing and the sorrow to joy.

Option B is what my body is screaming for. However, choosing this sends me into the eventual stages of DEPRESSION followed by ACCEPTANCE of my selfishness.

I have been fighting this battle within myself for my entire adult life. I like to think that I am not a selfish person. But, when that alarm sounds in the sleepy morning hours, the only person I care about is me.

How sad is that? God has done so much for me. So much. But I would rather sleep than spend time with Him?

Before I could waller in my self-depreciating thoughts any longer, God showed me this verse:

Photo by Sarah Grace Photography

I totally love that this is written with "she" in it. So much of the Bible is "he." Not that there's anything wrong with that, but when I read a "she" verse, I tend to sit up and pay more attention. Can I get a holla from my she friends?

Knowing God is helping me at the very break of day has changed me.  Trying to will myself to wake up on my own has resulted in a near decade of failure.  But now, the mornings have gotten easier.  I've even showered most of this week...but don't feel my legs.

As I war with my selfishness, He helps me...He fights me for me.

Even at daybreak.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yesternews from Sunrise School

Well folks, I have gotten so far behind on posting the daily news from class, that we at Sunrise School have three full news reels to present you.  I can tell you are on the edge of your seat.  Let's begin with checking out the new word coined by Gideon.

"Yesternight" has become one of my favorite words.  It has spawned the use of many other yester words among the kids:  yestertime, yesterweek, yestermonth, etc.  The possibilities are endless.  I even find myself using a good yester word every so often.

Now, if you will, turn your attention back to Josiah's news from yesterpicture.  Compare that with his news from yestermonth below. 

It is nice to have a break from his standard alligator news of yesteryear.   However, this one sentence has become his standard response to anything I ask him in the classroom. Even if he is not the leader for the day.

"Josiah, what color is this?"

"I saw a big, giant snake."

Hmmm....  "What are you most thankful for?"

"I saw a big, GIANT SNAKE!"

Uhhhh.... "What did you do yesternight?"

How many times do I have to say it?  "I SAW A BIG GIANT SNAKE!"

Moving on.  This is usually the only way to end our cyclical conversation. Love that kid.

In other news from yesterweek:

Disclaimer:  I think spell check looks with a disapproving eye upon all our yester words.  It is showing its disdain of these words by refusing to proof this post.  My apologies for any errors.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Being A Mommy: NOT My Most Important Job

Not her most important job?!?   

She must be a terrible mother! 

Hang on a second, read below and allow yourself time to get good and mad.

I hear women say it all the time.  My most important job is being a mommy.  I've even heard dads say it.  Most of society hears this and releases a collective sweet.

Whenever I hear or see this, it makes me cringe.  In fact, it makes me want to throw up in my shoe...and then maybe throw it at the parent. 

I have been around children raised to believe they are the center of their parents' lives.  They are brats.  I have taught those children.  They are arrogantly entitled.

I love my children with a fierce love, but I pray they never think they are the most important thing in the world to me.

I'd rather show my children that being a follower of Jesus is most important.  That my decisions are based on His will for my life.  That He comes before they ever will.  That loving God, not them, defines who I am and what I do. 

Does that diminish my love for them?  In no way.  It deepens it.

So, I'm sure some Christians can get on board with this line of thought:  Jesus first, children second.  But can I?


My children are not second on my list.  What is wrong with this lady?

My husband is second.

I want my girls to grow up knowing that I love their father with a deep, true love.  I want them to know how important he is to me.  I want them to know that we are one.  As much as I love my children, they will never replace my husband in my heart.

But now, how do I show this to my children?

With my time.  Spending daily, quality time with God and my husband, not just my kids.

With my words.  Making sure my girls know how much I love them, their daddy, and our God.

As my daughters grow, I hope they collect thousands of happy memories of us together.  I hope they see in my life how important Jesus is.  I hope they see what true love between a man and a woman is.  I hope they see that being a mother is wonderful and meaningful and deep.

And I pray they may have this for their own lives, as well.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Unrelenting Faith

Most of us have heard his story by now.  Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, 34 year old husband and father of two, was arrested in October 2009.  His persecution began when he protested a government policy requiring his sons study the Koran in school.  Afterwards, secret police arrested him for apostasy (converting from Islam) and evangelism of Muslims.

He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.  His case was pleaded all the way to the top Iranian court where his conviction was upheld.  At this point, he could be executed at any time.  He has been told if he will recant his faith in Jesus Christ, he will live.

He refuses.  Heaven applauds.  The world is stunned.

I look into this man's eyes and smile. This one man is rocking our comfortable world with his unrelenting faith.

We are moved by his strength.  But if all Christians do is read his story, have pity, and move on, how are we different from non-believers? 

But, what should we do?  We should pray diligently.  Not once but continually.

Pastor Yousef is just an ordinary man, like you and me, in need of divine grace to fight the good fight, to finish the race, and to keep the faith.  He writes in a letter to his church, "Your loyalty to God is the cause of my strength and encouragement."

Through the simple and mighty act of prayer, we can be part of his church.  Will you join me in praying for Pastor Yousef  and those affected by his witness?


Sunday:  Faith to grow stronger than his fear
His church, as they worship this day without him

MondayPhysical health as he withstands hardships in prison.
His wife, Fatemeh as she carries on the faith

TuesdayMental health as he endures intense pressure to recant
His two sons, 8 and 9 years old to find comfort in their Heavenly Father

WednesdayComfort from the presence of God and prayers of many
The world to have hearts to understand this that is worth dying for

ThursdaySpiritual strength to erase doubts
Fellow inmates and jailers to see his faith and remember

Friday:  Words while the eye of the world is upon him.
Iranian officials' hearts to be softened and changed

SaturdayMemory to recall verses and songs of comfort and strength
Christians worldwide to be spurred on to increased faith and prayer


What else can we do?  Those of you that are Twitterpated can Tweet for Yousef.  You can also write a respectful letter to Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations at the following address:

The Honorable Mohammed Khazaee
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue
New York City, New York 10017
More Information:
Yousef's Letter to his Church
Become Aware of Persecution

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Am Momma She-Ra

Sometimes I feel like I am a total momma failure.  I yell at my girls.  I don't have plans for dinner.  The clothes are all dirty.  The floors are even dirtier.  I just want to go back to bed.

Today is not that day.  Today I felt like She-Ra.  Princess of Power.  Twin sister of He-Man.  But better.  Momma She-Ra.  Here is my stunning likeness.  Just add five kids.

Yep.  Five kids.  Today I took those five kids on an outing.  No one died and no one got lost.  The hardest part was getting all of them in and out of the van.  After pushing and rearranging seats, they all finally fit.  Piece of cake.  Princess of Power is only slightly perspiring.
We went to church to make a mayhem video for Sunday morning.  Mayhem happens to be these kids' specialty, so they did great.  Oscar worthy.  Then we played in the gym.  Running, screaming, and only mild arguments.  
And how does a super hero get kids to leave a gym full of balls?  Momma She-Ra promises them candy from the bank brandishes her sword with much fanfare and the children happily follow. 
The sidekicks squeezed back into the borrowed van.  All still happy.  Mamma She-Ra gloried in her triumph.  We rolled up to the bank window to make a deposit.  The teller looked in, laughed, and asked how many suckers I needed.  When I told her five, she laughed again and shook her head.

Laugh all you want lady.  But be warned.  If you laugh any harder, I might just take my posse out of this car and bring them inside your peaceful little bank.  Make my deposit in your lobby.  Then we'll be the ones laughing.  I guess she can't see my sword from her pedestal.

The superhero club rounded out the day with a magical car wash, calendar time, Daily News, memory verses, Queen Esther, the letter E, reading, journals, lunch, nap, math, and science.

Learning, errands, and fun all day with no injuries to report.

I am Momma She-Ra.  Hear me roar.

Here's the news from those sweet babies and a few more.
To the parents of Jaycee: Did you know this?
To the parents of Gideon: If anyone can, he can.