Monday, August 31, 2009

A First, a Second and Two-Thirds!

Hey all, gotta get you all up-to-date in order for you to catch the theme of this post. A month back Joel and I were faced with a decision concerning the children's schooling. I have home schooled for two consecutive years and enjoyed it, and hoped that I would again be able to. We put off an exact decision waiting to see if physically I would rebound quicker than expected and could resume my title as "Super Mom." Well friends to put it grammatically correct, "It aint happenin'." I am doing much better, but am reminded how hard surgery was this time around and the magnitude of what I physically faced. I do have regular appointments with the Great Physician, so no worries. I will be back to my, "Teach the kiddos, plan dinner, sew a new outfit and rock the baby with my toes" old self in a little while. With THAT said, we decided to put the kids in school this year.

I was feelin' a bit down about it until Joel came home one day. Isaac and Abbs had just taken their placement tests needed to see where they stood grade-wise. Joel mentioned that Pastor House, our principal, would like me to call him regarding the tests at my convenience. GULP. Now who isn't rightfully scared of a Principal???? I called him and my fears turned to praises. To God that is. I am fighting my flesh at the moment because I do not want to pridefully remark on what grade level they placed in. I WILL say that he left me smiling with this last conversation between he and I. He began, "Deena, did anyone give you grief about deciding to home school??" "Not too badly, " was my reply. He then added, "Well if anyone did, THIS IS YOUR VINDICATION!" Enough said..... was THE DAY. The kids counted how many "sleeps" until school so many times that I WAS tempted to try the "sleeper hold" on them.

I so hope your first day of school was like mine, hence making me feel a tad more normalish. We awake to the baby crying needing fed. I feed the baby and hand her to Joel to burp just in time to greet Anna crawling up into my side of the bed with of all things, Joel's cell phone. She hops in bed with us totally FR-EE-Zing us with her feet. It is almost Norman Rockwell-ish. UNTIL....the baby spits up all over Joel, Anna begans to "SHHH" the now crying baby, I get a wiff of her "so not cute two year old" breath, and Abbs comes in the room whining of a stomach ache. There you have it. A new day has dawned. I pause to see if Joel is going to rise from bed with a chorus of "O What a Beautiful Mornin'," straight out of OKLAHOMA......nnnnno.

We decide to send Anna to do our dirty work for us, waking up the remaining kids. Joel pours cereal, heads in the shower, and I continue corralling our kids. I must interject here that yesterday when needing some necessary clothing for church we noticed that the things in the dryer were still damp. "A fluke," we thought. "Think again," this morning said to us, and off I was to dry my "necessaries" with my hairdryer. So I guess you can say I "raised the white flag" to rally the troops while in the bathroom. Sorry. Couldn't resist. While in mid hustle and bustle Isaac goes out to walk the dog and yells for everyone to come and see what he has found. I am thinking the raccoons got into the garbage again.

Not so!! A sweet someone left several bags of goodies on our back porch!!!!!! The Lord reminded me that this is the SECOND time that someone has treated us with bags and bags of groceries this Summer. Praise God! This is just a FRACTION of the goods bestowed on VERY THANKFUL us....A keen observer will note THREE packages of OREO cookies. Someone sure loves me. Now how can the day go bad after stumbling upon the Mother-load of goodies friends??? Might have to let them eat OREO's for breakfast one day this week....

So we then took the kiddos lunches out of the baggies I had them in because we could not bring ourselves to pay for the cool looking lunch bags, and packed them into the new cool lunch bags that someone gave us!! We then posed for a quick back to school pic,

And hit the road for school. Oh, I need to note that ONE of these cuties pictured here did end up with a back-to-school spanking. You guess who. I will divulge that it involved running and a pop-tart.....

Who couldn't smile seeing Caleb in his desk for his FIRST ever day of school??? He was too nervous to eat any breakfast, but did make sure to take an apple for his teacher.

We head over to peek in on our TWO THIRDS and they are already settling themselves into their classroom. Third grade already. We were falling back into nostalgia when Abby raised her arms to show us something. Joel and I cringed. Her jumper was a mite too short. We glanced at each other and said, "We'll take care of that tomorrow." I instructed her to sit still and not to raise her arms at all today......should be an interesting first day for her. Sigh.

While making our final rounds in the hallway we noticed that Joel's classroom was not even set up! We rush around moving desks and chairs and finally decide that we are ready to start the day.

I am wide-awake, holding the fort with the three youngins and trying to tell myself that there is some nutritional value in these Peanut Butter M&M's sitting next to me........

ONE school day down. That wasn't SO bad. Was it?

Monday, August 24, 2009

On Second Thought........

Life is full of second thoughts.

You are at the store checking out. The Holy Spirit prompts you. You look at the checker and smile and think, "Yes." You hand reaches past the check book to the little compartment in your purse where you keep your stash of tracts. Then comes the second thought and you realize that you are already holding a line of people up writing a check. Why hold them unduly trying to explain a tract?

You are at home. One of your hoolagins comes and asks you to "Weed" them a book. You stop and glance at the book realizing that it has been way too long since you spent some one-on-one time with this child. The Holy Spirit whispers that "They grow so quickly and need your affirmation today." You get ready to sit on the couch and just rest a minute when the second thought comes, reminds you of the late hour and the dinner time fast approaching. You tell them once again, "Not right now."

You are at church. You hear of a need for meals. The Holy Spirit awakens an excitement in you. You can be used! You in your mind plan out a spectacular spread. Your famous chicken that everyone raves about, mashed potatoes and of course your peach cobbler that is your trademark. You plan to contact the Pastor's wife after church and volunteer, yet somewhere between the announcements and the invitation you have a second thought. You think about all of the cleaning you need to do this week, the plans you have made, the money you do not have and you silently un-volunteer yourself.

You are at the park. You overhear two women talking about their difficulties. The Holy Spirit reminds you that you too had those same difficulties and He brought you through them victoriously. You smile. You remember and know that you and the Holy Spirit make a majority. You know how to help and for one instant you have the courage to speak out for Christ. But a second thought sweeps in and reminds you that, after all, you are only so-and-so and they probably wouldn't take you seriously anyhow.

Isn't it the second thoughts that get us in a heap of trouble? I was always instructed in school when taking tests that I should always go with my "first thought," because your first thought or guess is usually right. This week I was reminded of this thought in a sermon I heard and applying it to my life's events recently helped me see what God has been up to.

It is no secret that we have been in need of two particular things: a vehicle where we can legally store our hoolagins and a house large enough to declassify me as the "Old woman who lived in a shoe," where kiddos are popping out of every place. Well get ready to see how God has been working!

Last week we had meetings scheduled at a church an hour and a half away that we had been in preparation for, for some time now. It was a Holiness and Revival Conference and we absorbed each message trying to get all that God had for us each day. We knew it would be exhausting with the 3 hours total driving each night, but little did we know what an action packed week it would turn out to be! On Monday, the man interested in our van basically told us that he needed the van now or he would need to find another vehicle. Alright we said and sold him the van on Tuesday. The man (aka Mr. Habeeb) up the street was now interested in another house on the street because we were not in a hurry to move and he was. I in jest told Joel, "Alright if he really wants this house, tell him we can be out by the end of the month." Lesson number one: Don't jest. Turns out that is right in Mr. Habeeb's schedule! So in one day's time we sold our van and agreed to rent-to-own our house and be out in two weeks. Whew! If ever there was a need for chocolate.......

By Wednesday the shock of it all had set in and so had my second thoughts. Joel was dickering with a car salesman and we were praying like fiends that God would get us a newer larger van lickety-sizzle, and also a place to live. We had planned to make it to the special meetings that night though we would be a bit late. I sat at home with some of the hoolagins waiting on word from Joel about the meeting with the car salesman. I sat and the Holy Spirit spoke. We said to each other before Joel left, "If God gives us this van we definitely need to make it to the meetings." The Holy Spirit now said, "You need to make it to the meetings whether God gives you a van or not!" I agreed sitting in the blue chair. He went on. "Deena, if you had faith that God would indeed give you that van, you would be up and gettin' your clothes ready for the meetings." He was right. I needed to put feet to my faith and up I got and went downstairs to iron.

While at the ironing board, which seems to be where the Spirit speaks to me a lot these days, again the Holy Spirit met with me. This time it was regarding the house. "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness???" He asked. "What????" I replied. "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness???" again He asked. In my heart I told Him, "Yes, I believe God can," though again and again the verse fragment came back to me......"Can God furnish a table in the wilderness???" I quickly realized that the more He asked me, the less and less confident I really was. God was reminding me that He was in control and in these situations there was nothing I could do to assure myself of the outcome. I just had to rely on God leading my husband.

Tuesday reminded me that though in some la la land I pretend to be spontaneous, free spirited, ready for anything and welcoming to a new adventure, in reality here on Haywood I am nail it down, sign on the dotted line, promise me you will, and even a little, call me and tell me again what you are doing. (smile) When did I lose my nerve??? Well whenever I lost it, I think I lost a little of my trust in God.

Joel came home van-less (yes I know that is not a word..) and I met him coming up the stairs with my ironing in hand. I guess I somehow thought the Lord seeing me ironing would stop the sun or something. Joel confessed to me that on the way home, God spoke to him reminding him of, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together," and so it was settled. Van or no van we ARE going to the meetings. And go we did, and exhorted we were. We left believing God was going to do something.

Thursday Joel came home with a new-to-us van! Just our size and just our price range. Praise God!!! One need down one to go! Thursday night I finally found the context of my verse the Holy Spirit gave me. Remember I told you how He knows me and knows I need part of it now and need to look it up later???? Say it with me now..."I just love the Holy Spirit!" Sure wish someone would make me a T-shirt with that on there............ anyway........ when I found my verse I was amazed to find that the chapter it was found in was the chapter right after the one I had 3 years ago marked and claimed as my "Waiting on God for a House," chapter. I even wrote that over it. Here is the verse in it's entirety:

Ps 78:19 Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

I read the whole chapter out loud to Joel and noticed how many times "they", the Children of Israel forgot what God had done for them. This verse is their ingratitude speaking and it struck me like a knife through my heart. Nothing will ruin your day like being lumped in with the Children of Israel. How many times had I frowned on them as I listened to them being used as a sermon illustration? How many times had I said under my breath, "That no good ungrateful bunch." And now it was me. Had I remembered what God had done? How He brought me through 7 weeks of bed rest, providing not only meals every other day but faithful help each day with the children? Had I slighted how He gave me calmness of spirit during the scariest moments of my life? Had I set at nought His watchcare over me, over Alayna and His preservation of both of our lives? Had I simply forgotten the strength He alone gave me to make daily hospital runs, or the blessing He gave us at her homecoming???

Yes. I had. I had already forgotten and taken it for granted.

"Can God furnish a table in the wilderness???" He asked. What He really wanted of me was not an answer to the question. He wanted me humble myself and be thankful. And He wanted me to praise Him even if He never "furnished a table," for me.

Think you are thankful? Try this. At the dinner table tonight tell your children that when they pray they are just going to thank God for things instead of asking Him for them. See how quickly they thank Him and then turn around and ask Him for what they need.

I am going to stop and be thankful. I'm not even going to give it a second thought.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Alayna Ruth's home-grown photo shoot........

Last night Joel and I decided to attempt to get just ONE good pic of Alayna to send to our family. When Joel got the mirror off the bathroom wall for reflection and rigged it up with the living room lamp, I knew this was serious business....LOL With the crib sheet as a backdrop and bow on Alayna's head I thought to myself..."Yeah who needs those pricey photographers???"

And then I answered myself....."WE DO!"

Well no matter, she is our cutie!

Air-Show Fun

Last Saturday we thoroughly enjoyed the Air Show here in Youngstown. We waited for weeks with our tickets to see the planes, especially the Thunderbirds, and it was well worth the wait....AND worth the rain we endured!

What a fun-filled day chock full of memories!

The Many Faces of Anna-B

Lookin' Cool...

Lookin' Cute....

Lookin' Blonde....

Lookin' like she was caught doing something mischievous...

Lookin' like she's enjoyed likin' the spoon...

Goodness, we love this gal!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On a lighter note....

Guess what? I awoke to something good ole' sense of humor was back in the saddle and I am plum enjoying it. Thought I'd send you a laugh or two!

In the mornings we like to clean and do chores while we listen to music. Our favorite of all favorites is a CD called, "Get on Board," by the SMS Mens group. It is full of Negro-Spirituals and we just love the pep it puts in our step. I got looking at the song titles and thought to myself, "Well there you go! No wonder I love this CD, it mirrors my life here on Haywood!" Check it out for yourself:

Song #1- All Aboard! (applicable for any road trip, going to church or any shopping trip)

Song #4- They Got Eyes. (or.... my toy, my book, a bad attitude, etc)

Song #6- Mary Don't You Weep ( you can just about insert any one's name at any random moment here in our house!)

Song #7- Every Time I Feel the Spirit (Usually every time I feel the Spirit I feel for another object if you get my drift!)

Song #8- Little Innocent Lamb (Not a usual description, but once or so a year this does apply.)

Song #9- Count It Joy (May I suggest this one over a sink full of dishes???)

Song#10- Hush, Somebody's Callin' My Name (self-explanatory)

Song #12- My Lord What a Mornin' (again, self-explanatory)

Song #16- I Want to Be Ready (This is a popular song on Sunday's and Wednesdays for some reason...)

Song #19- Were You There? (This one is used in mid-kid-interrogation....)

Song #20- Praise the Lord (Perfect for anything and everything including finding the pacifier, Dad's paycheck and money in the couch)

I am sure at this point you are wondering where YOUR copy of this CD is, huh??? Yeah, without sounding like an infomercial, this CD really is a mainstay at our house. There really is little better for comic relief than watching your kiddos sweep the floor and do the dishes and hearing them singing out loud, "this train don't carry no gamblers, no hypocrites no midnight ramblers..." Gotta love it. Another ounce of humor surrounding this CD is song number 5, which is entitled, "A Poor Wayfarin' Stranger." It has to be the saddest song I know, and after hearing it at a funeral I have outlawed it. The kids even know to run to whatever is playing the CD and hit the "skip" to the next song!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

An Ocean-front view

Have you ever been to the Ocean?

I have. I have dipped my toes in the tip of a wave lapping the beach and wondered at the vastness of the water. And while I was ironing just now I was thinking about the Ocean. Ps 95:5 "The sea is his, and he made it...." God began to flood my heart and it began to skip a beat. I swallowed hard and left the ironing to come and tell you how good the Lord is friends. I am thankful to have a reason to leave the ironing honestly, but I am more thankful that the Lord is still here, still whispering, still ministering to my heart, still allowing me to share that with you.

Have you ever been in the Ocean? Your own Ocean??

You know, you have a set back. It is painful and leaves you staggering, full of questions and weak. You get back on your feet, determined to not let it "get the best of you." You head in to shore and the tide laps at your feet. You turn to see a larger wave headed towards you. In disbelief you stand almost waiting for it to hit, and hit it does.

Maybe it is an Ocean of your own making. Ps 38:4 "For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me." Maybe you are in a valley. You are low and your tears seem to fill up this depression in the earth until you would drowned in your own hurt and grief of spirit. Ps 42:3 "My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?" And maybe it is an Ocean that God has placed you in waist deep. Ps 95:5 "The sea is his, and he made it:" Each of us has been in our own Ocean, whether man-made or not.

In your mind you KNOW who is in control. Ps 89:9 "Thou rulest the raging of the sea:" You just cannot seem to get your heart to follow suit. All you know at present is that YOU ARE IN DISTRESS. One thing I do know about the Ocean is that one minute it can be still. It can gleam like sun on glass, and the next it is merciless threatening all who are in it's path.

Which Ocean are you presently in?

Joel and I have felt like we have been tossed to and fro, fighting to get to the crest of a wave, treading water, with our heads just able to snag a breath, when another wave peaks and barrels towards us trying to wipe us out. We still have questions, and I am glad that the Lord is not embarrassed by our questions. I am forever grateful that He who sees the beginning and end of a matter in one glance, who holds all the answers, ordained that so many questions would grace the Psalms, seemingly just for me. Joel has been singing "There's no disappointment in Jesus," around the house, and what a blessing that is!

I think the old familiar phrase, "When it rains it pours," should be rephrased to say, "When it rains it FLOODS." All who agree raise your hand.

If you are not in a tempestuous Ocean, praise God. Praise God and watch the horizon, because waves will come. The tide can turn at any moment. Waves can come by way of a financial test, by way of a physical affliction and sometimes even by way of a friend. 2Co 11:26 " in perils by mine own countrymen...." Ps 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

What struck me so suddenly at the ironing board, which made me come and sit and dictate my thoughts was a verse. A verse that made me weep over wrinkled clothes and rejoice in the midst of my Ocean today. It is something that I heard in a sermon preached by my Brother in law years ago, and the gracious Holy Spirit brought it back to my remembrance. John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

I have said it before and I will surely say it a thousand times more, I love the Holy Spirit, friends. I LOVE that at any moment He will speak to me, and even through me if I heed Him and do not let a sinful life grieve Him. And He can you too.

The verse that brings me to instant tears is: Re 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

There was no. more. sea. There were no more misunderstandings. There was no more sickness. There were no more physical limitations or pain. There was no. more. sea.

Yesterday was a hard day. Waves do not stay over us, they come and go, come and go, bringing us up and down with them. While I was getting dinner ready I felt like I was drowning in hurt. Joel was listening, he was in the wave with me, trying to understand with me this new wave, and as I tearfully made each persons plate while they were outside playing I just stopped and looked up at him and said, "If we could just get a little break," and the floodgates opened and we held each other and stood in the kitchen. La 3:54 "Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off." He hugged me tight and lifted me up to the Lord. We reached once again for our Life Preserver and floated in to the shore. Today, still pondering yesterday's events at the ironing board the Holy Spirit met with me and reminded me of the promise of a place where we will never battle a current again.

Ps 89:9 "Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them."

Ps 106:9 "He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness."

And though I long for and look for that presence of God, that help of God in our Ocean, I ultimately look for the day when there will be no more sea to battle and wade through here on this sinful earth. Hallelujah, NO MORE SEA. Keep battling friends! Stay afloat with me. The day will come when we will rejoice together that the earthly sea is no more.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pics, pics and MORE pics!!!

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Here's the first pic of ALL the kiddos. All six of 'em!