Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus

Yesterday, we went to get new tires on the Yukon.  While we were waiting in the lobby area, Coralyn started watching the TV.  It was on the History Channel and they were playing a special on the death of Jesus, going into great detail about the crucifixion.  At first I didn't know if she should really be watching them beat Jesus, explain how his heart would have had an aneurysm, push the crown of thorns into his head, and finally nail his hands and feet to the prickly, wooden cross.  But, she insisted and was fascinated by all of it, so I agreed to let her watch. Plus, it made for a great opportunity to share the gospel with the others in the waiting area.

"Coralyn, who is that?"


"Why is that happening to Him?"

"He's dying on the cross for our sins!"

From the mouths of babes!

Well, the wait was going to be about two hours, so we headed to JC Penny to look around and then to Aldi to get groceries.  When we were done shopping, the car still wasn't quite fixed, so I waited with Kellah at Aldi (handing out samples of greens and wrap coupons like a crazy woman, but who can refuse free stuff from an adorable little redheaded girl?).  Lawrence took Coralyn with him to the shop, where they waited and watched more of the History Channel's special on Jesus.

As we are driving home, finally, Coralyn is sitting in her car seat, saying over and over and over again, "Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!"

We were listening to K-Love and they too were talking about Good Friday and Jesus' sacrifice made on our behalf.  Coralyn heard what they were saying and got all excited, "See, Jesus died on the cross for our sins!"

I LOVE that even at her young age she understands God's love for us that was displayed when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  He had never done anything wrong, and yet He was beaten, mocked, bruised, whipped, insulted, and crucified -- ALL ON OUR BEHALF!  He took our place, bearing our sin and paying its penalty, DEATH.  He died, so that we might live.

Last weekend, we remembered my grandma's life.  Yes, her physical body died, but her soul did not.  It is alive and well, in heaven, with Jesus.  Coralyn so aptly pointed this out as we were watching a slideshow of pictures.  She saw one of Grandma Ruth, and without a second's hesitation, announced to everyone there, "That's Grandma Ruth in heaven!"  My dad about lost it!  But it's true.  Grandma is in heaven with Jesus, pain free and playing cards to her heart's content!

Coralyn didn't quite understand why the memorial service wasn't up in the sky since that is where Grandma Ruth is -- up in heaven with Jesus.  I tried explaining, but a three-year old can only comprehend so much.  A few days ago, she was reading a book I had gotten out about Jesus.  When she reached the page where Jesus was ascending into heaven, she asked, "How is Jesus going to get us to heaven?"  I answered, "Well, He's going to make us go up in the air to meet Him so He can take us there with Him."  So she wanted to know, "Oh, we will be able to fly?"  "Sort of, yes, I guess..." I responded, not really knowing what to say.  "Are we going to have wings?" was her next question, to which I had no answer.  She's just too inquisitive for her own good! :)

Today, we made cheesecake for dessert for tomorrow's lunch.  I had Coralyn beat the graham crackers for the crust in a bag, and explained that Jesus was beaten before He died.  I got the idea from a friend who posted a recipe about Resurrection Cookies, which we will be making this evening.  Coralyn's heart is just so sensitive and ripe; she's like a sponge, soaking up everything I tell her.

When I reminded her that everyone who believes in Jesus will go to heaven, she answered adamantly, "But I believe."  Yes, my dear, you do.   And it brings tears of joy to my eyes to know that.

No, she hasn't said a prayer asking Jesus into her heart.

No, she hasn't filled out any response cards or gone forward at an altar call.

She doesn't need to.

She knows Jesus loves her and died on the cross for her sins.
She also knows that He didn't stay dead, but is alive and in heaven making a place for her to live with Him forever and ever!

And that is enough!

My heart is fuller than ever as I think about Easter this year.  Reading stories and answering Coralyn's questions has made ME reflect on Jesus' death, His sacrifice, His love.  As she beat those graham crackers, I pictured Jesus under the whip and I couldn't help but flinch.  As I thought of those nails being driven through His wrists and ankles, I cringed even more, knowing it was MY SIN that took Him to the cross.  The sadness on Coralyn's face as we spoke of Jesus' death was so real and genuine.  As was her joy when we remembered that He didn't stay dead but rose again and is getting heaven ready for us!

I can't help but smile as I think about Coralyn sitting in her car seat shouting and singing her heart out, "Jesus Jesus!  Jesus!"

Reminds me of the song with the lyrics, "Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus....'tis so sweet to trust in Jesus."

And also this one: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know."

I am looking forward to celebrating His resurrection tomorrow and praising His name all the day long!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Milestones Passed But NOT Forgotten

In this crazy, busy thing called life sometimes events whiz by us and we don't realize all that is happening.  We miss the significance of these special occasions, no matter how "small" they may be.

I realized this morning that we have been living in our "new" house for just over a month now.  Crazy!  Seems like longer.  We are settled in and enjoying our HOME!  Every once in a while I forget where I am going and end up in the garage instead of the basement or the pantry instead of the coat closet.

We have met many of our neighbors, but are looking forward to warmer weather so we can be outside and actually see the people who live next door and down the street!  On Thursday, I am having a Girls Night In while Lawrence is at his grad school class.  I invited all the ladies and their kiddos over for a fun time with finger foods and getting to know each other (or me at least).  I have no idea how many people will show up or if I will be all alone with Coralyn and Kellah, but either way I want the neighbors to know our house is always open and we are wanting to build relationships with them.  As we interact with our neighbors, our prayer is for them to not only see Jesus in us, but to want Him in their lives as well.

I just thought of the idea today, so I think it's a bit late, BUT NEXT YEAR...I think it would be fun to have a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt or something of the sort.  Granted, there's snow on the ground right now but hopefully in the future we will be experiencing more spring-like weather at this time of year!

Today, I got out the Easter eggs for the kiddos to play with, and they had a blast "finding" them in the play room and matching them up.  We also decorated paper Easter eggs as I didn't quite think I could handle actual eggs with 4 children under the age of 4!

Speaking of ages, Kellah had a milestone that I didn't blog about, due to being so busy and then leaving my computer cord at a friend's house, in WICHITA.  Thankfully, she is mailing it to me so I can have my laptop back soon! :)  Back to Kellah though.  She is just over 15 months now!

You wouldn't know it just by looking at her though.  She is still pretty comfortable in her 6-9 month clothes.  I went to find a dress for her to wear to my grandma's memorial service and didn't see any I liked in her closet, so I got out the 9-12 month tub.  Nothing there either.  I searched through the 12-18 month clothes, where she "should" be now, but she would have been swimming in anything from that tub!  So, I went back down to the 3-6 month bin and found a dress she wore last year for Mother's Day.  It still fit nicely and worked perfectly for the occasion!

I haven't put her on the scale recently, but if she's over 17 pounds, I would be surprised.  She may be small, but she is mighty and STUBBORN.  She has no fear and loves to explore and do anything the older kiddos are doing.  She LOVES playing with Coralyn, and for the most part the sisters get along great!  I am so thankful!  And I am looking forward to them being best friends as they grow up.  I know we will hear many laughs and giggles in our house in the years to come, along with quite a few tears I am sure! ;)

We got to take a vacation to Branson over Spring Break thanks to a generous friend giving us his timeshare for the week.  We had a blast, despite the unusually cold temperatures!  The girls had so much fun swimming, playing at the resort, exploring some trails, "riding" all the fun machine thingys at the mall and on the Landing, "driving" the Ducks, and playing in our room's jazzuci tub.

Whew!  A lot has happened in the past 4 weeks.  I am glad I finally took the time to sit down and reflect on what's been going on in our lives.  As I think about all that has taken place, I am amazed at God and His goodness to us.  Not a day goes by that I don't experience His faithfulness, love, grace, compassion, mercy, peace, and joy!  I am so thankful for His presence in my life!  He is what makes all these occasions truly special!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sleepless in Branson

This morning (at 4:30) when Coralyn woke up and hadn't quite made it to the bathroom in time, she came into our room for help.  In the process, Kellah woke up as well.  I couldn't very well go over to Kellah, standing up in her pack and play watching as Coralyn moved her pillow and Nana (stuffed monkey) to our room, and lay her back down, telling her to go back to sleep.  That just seemed mean.  Seeing as how big sister was going to be joining us in bed anyway, I figured Kellah might as well join the co-sleeping fun too.  So we all climbed into our big king size bed and tryed to settle in and go back to sleep.  Seems so simple, but oh so difficult to actually happen! 

Reality is it is now 5:30 and I am typing on the computer in the resort's main lobby.  I tried to get Kellah to understand that she needed to lay still and go back to sleep, that she should just enjoy being snuggled up to Mommy, take advantage of the opportunity to nurse, and fall asleep all cuddled up against me.  She had no intentions of doing any such thing!  Rather, she wanted to crawl and play and squirm and move around every which way possible.  And so, I had to give up my mental picture of the ideal co-sleeping arrangement where the children lay in the curve of your body and you smell their clean hair and feel their soft skin against yours.  Somehow, Kellah's legs on top of my face one second and then her head digging into my neck the next and then her squawking and trying to convince Coralyn it was more fun to play than sleep didn't quite fit my idea of what should be happening at 5 in the morning. 

I wanted to post a picture of one of those Bed Sharing/Co-Sleeping Dream and Reality comparisons I have seen on facebook, but the computer here at the resort isn't letting me copy and paste a picture, so you will just have to look it up yourself.  If you have ever had a child sleep in your bed with you, you don't need a visual anyway, you completely understand what I am saying!

Back to my story... I finally took Kellah back to her pack and play, gently laid her down with her blanket and Bear-Blanket, kissed her forehead and went back into our room.  Within 3 minutes, she was fast asleep.  I, however, was not.  My mind was up and running, so I decided my body might as well follow suit.  Without distribing the newly resting Kellah, I grabbed my glasses, shoes, and bag with Bible and journal stuff, and tiptoed out of our condo and made my way to the main lobby where I am now sitting and sharing this story with you.  I know you were losing sleep just thinking about what I was going to blog about next! :)  Well, now you can be at ease and rest easy...

As I was laying there in bed, Kellah crawling and squirming all over me, I thought of God.  No wonder He never sleeps or slumbers, He constantly has people coming to Him with their problems and concerns, their wants and needs.  As soon as He deals with one request, He has 45,689 left to take care of, not to mention making sure all the animals in the entire world have food to survive, controlling the weather on an international level, and then there's the whole keeping the planets in orbit and stars in place part of His job.  Yeah, He doesn't have time to sleep even if He wanted to.  But, the thing is, He doesn't grow weary or tired either.  I know I would!  Heck, I know I do -- I am so ready to climb into bed and lay my head on my pillow each night, usually long before it's actually time to do so!

But not God.  Nope. 

My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
~Psalm 121:2-4

In fact, He INVITES us to come to Him with our burdens, to lay them at His feet so He can take care of them instead of us worrying about whatever it is we are so stressed about and losing sleep over.  He calls to us, waving us in, WANTING us to come and sit on His lap, to spend time with Him, no matter the hour.  He LONGS for us to curl up beside Him and just rest in His presence.  He wants us to dwell with Him, to abide in Him, to make Him our home.  And no matter how squirmy or loud we are, no matter how many times we kick Him in the face or gouge His eyes with our fingers on accident or snore in His ear, God really, truly, genuinely ENJOYS those moments.  Not because they're actually pleasant, but simply because we are WITH Him.  Which is exactly where we belong.

Numerous times in John 15 alone, Jesus tells His disciples they must "abide" or "remain" in Him.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers;
such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

I'm not a Bible scholar by any means, but I do remember learning at Moody Bible Institute in several of my Bible classes that if soemthing is repeated, it's important.  Well, Jesus says the word "remain" 10 times in the matter of a few verses.  I'm pretty sure, our ears should perk up and we probably need to pay close attention to what He is saying.  It's like parents when they get exasperated with their children, "How many times do I have to tell you?!" or "Weren't you listening?!  I only told you 500 times..."  Same as teachers and their students.  God must feel the same way as we ignore Him or don't pay attention or hear Him but don't actually remember a single word He said.  And yet, He doesn't send us to time out or throw His hands up in the air and walk away, having given up all hope that we will ever listen!  Instead, He just keeps calling us back to Him, inviting us into His presence, longing for us to CHOOSE to dwell there, to sit and rest, to enjoy our time with Him, to want that more than anything else!

That's what David prayed in Psalm 27:
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Long before Jesus ever told His disciples to remain in Him, David knew the best place for Him to be was in God's presence.  It's what he yearned and longed for.  It's what he desired above all else.  He wrote again in Psalm 89 of the same concept, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere..."  Granted, this perspective may not have always come easy for David, but it was his mantra, the way he sought to live his life on a daily basis.  That's what I want to do too!  I think of my life verses from Psalm 62:

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

Finally, I close with a verse I thought of yesterday during my devotions. 
 "BE STILL and know that I am God."

That's all I wanted this morning as Kellah did everything except sleep next to me.  I just wanted her to be still.  Was that too much to ask?  Apparently so!  May God not say the same of me!  Rather, may I learn to sit and rest in His presence.  May I learn to do what I read in Psalm 16 earlier this week:
Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A God Like No Other

This morning, I would rather be sleeping in than drinking coffee and reading my Bible so early in the morning.  I am, after all, on vacation!  Kellah, however, didn't get that memo and woke up ready to go at 6 am!  And so, here I am on the computer typing away while she plays contentedly with all sorts of new and interesting things in our room at the resort (all made possible by a generous friend who gave us a few days of his timeshare!).

I have been reading both the Psalm and Proverb of the day, so I started out in Psalm 18.  David opens with:
I love You, Lord; You are my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my Savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold.
I will call on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
for He saves me from my enemies.

He continues to describe the awesomeness of God, His faithfulness, His power, and His goodness.  
To the faithful You show Yourself faithful;
to those with integrity You show integrity.
To the pure, You show Yourself pure,
but to the wicked You show Yourself hostile.
You rescue those who are humble,
but You humiliate the proud.
Lord, You have brought light to my life;
my God, You light up my darkness.
In Your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.

David has personally experienced God at work in his life.  He knows that God alone is responsible for leading and directing him, for blessing him and giving him victory.  And in response, he simply must share what God has done and praise Him for it.
As for God, His way is perfect.
All the Lord's promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
God arms me with strength;
He has made my way safe.
He makes me surefooted as a deer,
leading me safely along the mountain heights.
He prepares me for battle;
He strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of Your salvation.
Your right hand supports me;
Your gentleness has made me great.
You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

He keeps going, describing how  God is obviously responsible for his success as king.  In his excitement, he seemingly shouts for all to hear:
The Lord lives!
Blessed be my rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted!

At this point, I have the hymn running through my head, along with the praise song we sing at church from time to time: Who is like Him?  The lion and the lamb...

Then, I turn in my Bible to Proverbs 18 and read in verse 10, "The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe."  I love how this verse stood out to me, connecting with what David had said about God in Psalm 18.  

Guess what the verse of the day was on my phone.  Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

I'm getting the idea that God wants me to under His strength and power, the way He displays those in my life as He works in and through me to accomplish His good and perfect plans.  I am already overwhelmed with this concept, thinking of the many ways God has made Himself known in my life recently with the selling of our house and the purchase of our new home.  As if to seal the deal, I begin to read in Ephesians, where I happen to be in the New Testament at the time.

Paul is praying for the believers in Ephesus, and his prayer couldn't be more fitting based on the Scripture passages I have already read this morning:
I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, 
so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand 
the wonderful future He has promised to those He called.
I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance He has given to His people.
I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of His power 
for us who believe Him.
This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead 
and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.
Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader 
or anything else in this world or the world to come.
And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, 
and He gave him this authority for the benefit of the church.
And the church is His body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything with His presence.

I come back to the question David asked in Psalm 18, "For who is God except the Lord?"  And the answer is the same, NO ONE.  No body even comes close to comparing to God and what He can do.  People can worship other gods; they can bow to statues; they can make things like TV and money and prestige and power their idols (without even knowing it).  BUT, no one and no thing is like our God.  He is far better, far more powerful, far more everything than any god we could create with our hands or minds.

And so, I join with David, shouting His praise and joining the song, "Praise Adonai!"  Literally, from the rising of the sun this morning, I have been overwhelmed with His goodness, His faithfulness, and His power that is evident in my life.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oh What a Beautiful Day!

I think we spent the majority of the day outside, and it was simply lovely!  I wanted to soak up the sun's rays and enjoy being outdoors as much as possible.

And so, we headed outside for our morning snack.

Once everyone was full and happy, we played "soccer" in the front yard.

Then, it turned into who could hold the ball the longest.  Kellah was determined to be the winner.  At one point, she even full body tackled Caleb to the ground to get the ball from him!  Of course, I told her not to push and shove people, to be nice and kind.  BUT, honestly, on the inside, I was super proud of her for being so tough!  I wanted to say, "Yeah!  That's my girl!"  Instead, I helped Caleb get up and firmly scolded Kellah for being mean.  :)

The kids also decided that rolling in the grass was great fun too!

Eventually, we did head to the backyard.  With much fear and trepidation on my part.  The other day I went out in the backyard to take a picture and forgot the former owners had a large dog.  Ooops!  I didn't want the kiddos finding any remnants of their pet, so I firmly cautioned them to all stay close to the house, right by the swing set.  And thankfully, they did!  And had lots of fun there too!

By this time, everyone was hungry and thirsty again.  So we ran inside to get something to drink and eat.  Then, headed back out to the front porch.  We were going to be outside all morning, if I had anything to do with it!

Pretty soon, everyone was tired and ready for lunch.  We went back in the house and ate, then the younger kiddos went down for naps -- good ones too!

But, as soon as they were up and at it again, we were back outside.  This time we had some fun with the Cozy Coup and tricycle.

When Lawrence got home from work, he took the girls out to the creek behind our house to explore.  Coralyn informed me, "We went on an adventure!"  While they had even more fun outside, I fixed supper.

As soon as we were finished eating, we headed back outside, where many of our neighbors were as well.  We chatted with the people across the street as the dad tossed the baseball to his son.  We crossed the street and asked the Liberty North basketball player how the game went at the state tournament today.  They lost by one point! :(  BUT, fourth place at State is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when the high school is only three years old!  After visiting with that family for a bit, we walked back across the street to meet some of our neighbors for the first time.  They had left us a thank you card in response to the brownies and banana bread we had left on their front door last week.  We talked and the kids played in the driveway. I can't tell you how nice it is to have people our age all around us.  And for the girls to have playmates in almost every house on the street!  I am so looking forward to building relationships with these families and sharing Jesus with them in the process!

Tonight, as we finally made our way home to give the girls their bath, my heart was full and overflowing with joy and excitement.  With each conversation we had, I could sense God's presence.  He is answering our prayers, and I know He will be doing some amazing work here on Skiles Court and the streets beyond!  Heck, He already is!!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So I'm Thirty, Now What?

On Saturday, I moved on to the next decade, leaving my 20's behind and joining the 30's club.

My mother might say I had a mid-life crisis in response to what I did to celebrate my birthday:

But that is certainly not the case!  If getting my nose pierced is the most wild, "rebellious" thing I do, then I don't think I my life is very crazy.  I just wanted to do something fun.  I still feel young, and I thought a small little nose stud thingy might help me look it too.

More important than feeling and looking young, though, is making sure I am making the most of my life.  I don't know if it's because my birthday was coming up or what, but in the past several weeks I have seemingly been bombarded with conversations, video clips, verses, posts on facebook, and more about making each day count, about being prepared to die, about not having regrets when I stand before Jesus.

On my birthday, I read in Psalms:
I will thank You, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done.
I will be filled with joy because of You.
I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High.

First, they were fitting verses to read that day as we were having our house dedication that evening, celebrating all God has done to bring us to this new house and sharing our excitement about the opportunities He is giving us to make Jesus known in our new community.

Second, as I begin another year, I like to look back and remember the ways God has blessed me and worked in my life, guiding and directing my steps, showing me the perfect plans He has just for me.  As I do that, I can't help but want to do just as David wrote there in Psalm 9, "I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done."

I want to take the time to do just that and thought since I turned 30, I should be able to come up with at least 30 "marvelous things" God has done this past year.

In no particular order, but rather just as they come to mind:

1. He brought the right people to buy our "old" house at the right time
2. He worked out all the details so we could buy our new house at a great price -- our monthly payment is actually LESS now that it was in our "old" and much smaller house!!!!
3. We were able to meet the previous owners of our house when we did our final walk through.  During that time, they not only showed us how some of the things around the house worked, but left us some TV mounts, a DVD player, a CD player, an office chair, and some other random things!
4. The girls have adjusted without any problem to our new house
5. We have met some of the neighbors and are starting to build some great relationships
6. One of our neighbors came to play group on Friday, with her three kiddos.  Coralyn actually has friends her age!!!  That live right across the street!
7. This new friend has volunteered to watch my girls if I have to leave for one of my doula clients
8. I have all my spots filled for daycare come August/January.  God is so good to provide!
9. The families I work for are great, pay on time, pick up their kids before 5, and provide adult conversation for me at the end of the day :)
10. The daycare kids and my girls have a blast playing together every day
11. My girls and Lawrence and I have all been pretty healthy this year, despite flu season and working with kids all the time
12. Since eliminating gluten from my diet, I have more energy and feel so much better
13. Lawrence has another guy on his team at school.  Plus, Mitch is a Christian.  This has been Lawrence's best year yet.  I love seeing him excited to go to work again!
14. Lawrence is working to finish up his grad school classes.  God has provided the funds and the time for Lawrence to take these classes.
15. We have about 10-15 kiddos come to our Ponca Bible study every week
16. Coralyn gets so excited to go to Bible study and church.  She loves to read her Bible and is soaking up everything we are teaching her about Jesus.  I love her tender heart.
17. Kellah is becoming quite the helper, taking notice of what others around her need and doing her best to get it for them
18. God has provided childbirth students -- 9 so far this year and 3 more signed up for future classes
19. God has provided doula clients -- at least 5 from January until July!
20. God has given me a new opportunity through It Works to do something else I am passionate about -- health and wellness
21. We so enjoy our church family -- from our small group we see every week to the people we see every once in a while at services on the weekend
22. We have been blessed with great friends and are making new ones through the Ponca ministry and in our new neighborhood
23. We have been blessed with great families
24. We had lots of people come help us move, so many that I got overwhelmed and ordered too much pizza (like 2x as much as I neeed)
25. Someone paid for our roof at our old house so we could put it on the market
26. I was able to run in a 5K last fall as a result of feeling better and have exercising regularly since then
27. I have signed up to run in another 5K this summer with some friends -- the Color Run
28. Lawrence and I have been married for 5.5 years and still love each, more even!
29. God has kept us safe (we take that so for granted)
30. We have a creek in our back yard (well, right behind the fence), so we can live in the city but still have that country feel.  Like a slice of Ponca right here in KC, MO!

Well, that's just 30 of the marvelous things God has done in my life since last March.  I could definitely think of more, but Coralyn wants me to do something with her.  

I don't want to stop thinking about God's work in my life or sharing with others how He is at work.  I want to make sure that I am telling people about Him EVERY day.  I want to be intentional about praising God and letting others know how wonderful He is.  I want others to be drawn to Jesus because of my life.

That's my overarching goal for this next year.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Take the Tour

Some of you can't just drop by our house due to distance, but have requested the grand tour via internet.  Well, here you go!

Welcome to our house!

We want all who come here to sense God's presence, to feel His love, and to experience what it means to have a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus.

When you enter the house, this is what you will see:
It's our international entryway!  The picture above the table with the plants is from Haiti.  The one on the right is from Nepal/India.  The three little pictures you see by the coat closet are from Turkey.

Here's the half-bath right inside the front door -- perfect place for my daycare kiddos!
To keep the international theme going, the picture above the towels is also from Haiti.

If you don't have to go to the bathroom and turn the other way, you will walk into my daycare area.
Reading Corner, Coralyn's favorite spot
Circle Time Area

I've added some banners and changed the curtains since these pictures were taken, but you get the idea!  We have been blessed by generous grandparents and friends, seeing as how I think the only things we have actually purchased ourselves are the containers to hold and organize all the toys, books, and learning supplies.  The little table is from when I was little!

If you aren't interested in playing, then make your way to the "adult zone" on the main level:

If you turn the other way from the dining room, you will be in the kitchen:
We don't always have a spread laid out on the counter, though

If you are in the kitchen, you will can head on downstairs to the "Hang Out Zone."  This is why we bought the house and where we hope to have countless opportunities to introduce kiddos to Jesus!

We are looking forward to hearing squeals of laughter, the foos ball rolling back and forth, the bounce of the ping pong ball, and more as the neighborhood kids hang out in the basement.  This is also where we hope to host Bible study, movie nights, Parents' Night Out events, and more!

The basement has a door to the backyard, which is quite a slope.  I guess we can have fun sledding if we get snow like this next winter.

We love the creek behind the fence!  It's like we have a slice of Ponca in our own backyard!!!  If you head back inside, you can take a quick peak in one more room of the basement.

The other "secret" room downstairs is "my" craft room and our office.  It's not organized yet, so pardon the mess.  Don't worry, I'll just shut the door!

As you head out the mess of this room, you can stop by the bathroom before heading back upstairs.

Once you reach the main level, you can make your way to the entry way again and head upstairs to where we sleep.  Exciting, I know.

When you get to the top of the stairs, if you go straight, you will walk right into the "blue room," or as  Coralyn likes to call it, the "boys' room" because it's where Caleb and Jameson take their afternoon naps.  I was sooooooo excited to find these flags when I was looking through box after box after box of stuff from when I taught 5th grade.

If you take a right down the hallway, you will come to Coralyn's room.  I had grand plans of painting it to look like you were in a garden, but she absolutely LOVED the pink, so I figured why not just save time and money and keep it pink.  AND, since I kept all of the decorations from Kellah's birthday party, I was ready to make the walls "just beautiful," as Coralyn described them.

Back into the hallway, you will see some family pictures on the walls as you make you way to Kellah's room.

Right next to Kellah's room is the main bathroom.  Again, I was going to make it an Ocean Theme, but it's painted green, so I think I will save some time and money and just leave it that way.  Frogs sound fun.

Right on the other side of the bathroom is our bedroom.  Lawrence says we will DEFINITELY be painting in here!  I'm a girl, and I agree.

Well, there you have it!  That's the grand tour!  If you live far away, and are ever in the area, let us know.  We would love to show you the place in person!

We are so blessed.   Blessed beyond words.  God worked out every detail -- big and small -- so that we could live here.  All praise, honor, and glory goes to Him.  Without Him none of this would be possible.  We want to use what He has given us to make Jesus known.  Please pray for God to open doors and provide us with opportunities to build relationships with our neighbors, as He has already been doing in our first two weeks here!  Please pray for boldness to share and LIVE OUT the gospel each and every day.  Please pray for tender hearts, open eyes and ears, so that the kiddos and their families are sensitive to what God is wanting to do in their lives.  Please pray that God all who come to this home will leave having experienced God in a new and real way.

Right by the front door

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