Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let It Snow!


"Little bits of heaven floating gently by the window." I don't know why I like snow so much. Maybe I would have loved living in the mountains instead of the suburbs of Philly? Truth is, I like the changing seasons. And I am celebrating the fact that it snowed before Christmas. I can't remember the last time we had this much snow before January and I'm loving it. Not sure exactly how much snow we actually got, but they were saying between 12-18 inches. It snowed for 24 hours! So much fun!

We shoveled out our driveway this morning and I was thanking God for this special gift with each shovel full. I get the sense from others that I'm in the minority. To most, the snow is a nuisance and a hassle. I think it's beautiful! Although I am in a good mood because Christmas is only 3 days away, I always love snow. What else can stop the world? Church was cancelled and except for a short drive to the sledding hill, we have just been at home. In this hurried season, when people are rushing around with their last minute Christmas shopping, only snow could slow us down.

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CHRISTmas Is Coming!


The smell of evergreen is in the air. Twinkling lights, stockings hung, presents wrapped, carols playing, and building anticipation for the "big day". Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays! And there is not one particular thing that I like about it. I like everything about it!

With all there is to do, it's difficult to not get caught up in all that needs to be done. The "holiday season" is busy, stressful, and hurried. My "To Do' list is full of things I need to do. The countdown is on!

But in the midst of all the running around, Christmas parties, cookie making, gift getting, and decorating the true reason for Christmas always seems to get overshadowed. It's easy to say it's not about the peripheral things, but we have to get those things done. But where is our heart during this Advent season?

Christmas is first and foremost a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised Savior. It is a reminder of the great sacrafice God made for us in sending His Son to the Earth, knowing full well His holy plan meant Jesus would one day die on a cross as an atonement for our sins. Christmas is about love, God's love, for us.

I'm sure you have heard the statement, "Keep Christ in Christmas!". The world is full of things to worship; food, sex, money, alcohol, our jobs, each other, television, ourselves! And we so easily get sucked in and we don't even realize we're doing it! If we're not careful, we can get sucked in to the world's view of Christmas and forget all about what it's really about.

I'm not saying we should not enjoy the season and all the wonderful things that go along with it. But please, don't celebrate the day. Celebrate Christ!

The Christmas Story (from the Bible):
Matthew 1:18 - 2:23
Luke 1:26 - 2:40

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reunion


On the Friday after Thanksgiving, aka "Black Friday", Adam & I attended our 15 Year High School Reunion. The last reunion we attended was about 10 years ago, 5 years after high school. To say that we weren't nervous about going would be an understatement. We almost chickened out 15 minutes before we had to be there. I've gained weight, Adam's lost hair, but more things have changed over the last 15 years then just our physical appearance. As we began justifying why we shouldn't go...we had a babysitter and it would be more fun to just have a date night together...we realized that as much as we have changed inside & out, so had our other classmates. With that, we went to the reunion with an open mind and confidence in who we are today.

The reunion was sometimes awkward, mostly fun, and very interesting catching up with old friends and classmates. We are all older, and hopefully more mature. We have husbands & wives, children, and careers. And I believe that God's plan for Adam & I included going to this high school and being friends with these people. That for 12 years (some more, some less) we were connected. We walked the same halls, had the same teachers, and participated in sports, choir, theater, and other extracurriculars together. Time and life has changed us, but it was sure fun to see that they are still out there, living life, and doing well.

If we seemed different, it was because we are. But life is good, God is faithful, and we'll see you again, God willing, in another 5 years!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks!


Happy Thanksgiving!

As I consider the approaching holiday, I am overwhelmed by how completely and utterly thankful I am! I cannot believe the blessings God has given me, in my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my church. And I try to take notice of them daily, not just when Thanksgiving rolls around again. There is so much to be thankful for!

I am a wife, a mom, and most importantly a child of God. He has chosen me (Isaiah 41:9) which I think is beautiful and humbling. And the fact that “all the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16) is just overwhelming. He loves me. Not because of what I’ve done or haven’t done. He loves me where I am, imperfect and sinful. I walk through my day with fleeting thoughts of Him and he waits patiently for my return. Who else would do that? In my darkest times, “the Lord is my light and the one who saves me” (Psalm 27:1). It hasn’t always felt that way. I was living in darkness for a long time and didn’t even know it. Yes, God has always been present in my life, but I never truly got it, got Him, until I was in my late 20’s. I have truly been on a journey with Him and it is such a blessing to be able to look back and see His hand in it all.
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise!” (Psalm 96:4)

Thank you, Adam, for being my husband, for better and for worse, rich or poor, sickness and health. Watching God work in your life brings me closer to Him. Thank you for your enduring love, for trusting me, and letting me be your helpmeet (Genesis 2:18).

I am so thankful for my beautiful children! Precious time spent with them, seeing them learn and grow, watching them laugh and dance and sing...
Ellie's laugh and helpful heart-
Caleb's sense of humor and love for others-
...my heart is overjoyed at the priviledge I have being a Mom to these children.

My loving family, my loyal & supportive friends, my church family...I am so thankful for each and every one of you. You encourage, strengthen, and support me and I am so grateful! I am a better person because you are in my life!

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! And may you all know what a blessing you are to me!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

His Hand

There are days when I have doubts. There are times when it doesn't make sense. Sometimes I feel disconnected. I talk and I don't know if anyone's listening. Sometimes, I feel swept up in life, the duties, the errands, the responsibilities, that I forget all about Him.

But then, there are times...when I see and feel Him moving. I see Him drawing people together, arranging circumstances, making things happen. His presense in these times is overpowering. In all of my efforts to make sense of things, things just don't make sense. The world calls it coincidence, fate, karma. I call it God. Only God could work all the particulars out, down to the tiniest details.

There is something more out there. There just is. It may take faith to believe it. And it's by grace that we accept Him and by grace that He moves and acts in our lives. If we believe He is good, then we must believe that everything he does is for good...our good.

So no, I don't have it all figured out. I don't have all of the answers. But it's hard to not believe in a God that changes lives. A God that redeems the worst of people and works through them for His glory. A God that helps us through the struggles, knowing we will wind up being better for it if we just persevere (James 1:12). Afterall, He promises in all things to work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) and He is demonstrating that promise in my life and my husband's life daily.

So many times, particularly during a trial, we wonder "Why is God doing this to me?" I think this passage is a reminder that He's not.

"When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth..."
JAMES 1:13-18

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stay With Me - by Barlow Girl

STAY WITH ME - by Barlow Girl
(Listen to the song or be encouraged by Barlow Girl's intro to the song)

Hopeless, getting through this night
And life is not dying in this fight
I'm begging you to deliver me
Confused why you won't take this pain from me

My steps never felt so hard
The end never look so far but
If you won't take me out
Then please take me through this

Stay with me so I won't leave
And make me see that this is not forever
'Cause all I need is your love pulling me

What is the reason for this night
Is hope found in fullness with no light
Does strength grow in our greatest fears
God I pray something good will come from this pain

With you here I know
I don't go alone
I am yours and so
Through the fire I'll go

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Art of Doing Nothing

It rained for days. Cold, wet rain. A gray, gloomy sky that made you want to put the lights on during the day. The kind of "rain wave" that makes you appreciate the sunshine. But even the cold rain cloud has a silver lining...

This past weekend was going to be crazy, hectic. Caleb's soccer season is winding down and he was scheduled to play a double header on both Saturday and Sunday (seems a little much for intramural, 2nd grade soccer, but that's another story).Our church's AWANA program was also beginning on Sunday night at 5:30pm and we weren't sure whether we were even going to be able to get there on time with the soccer games. I didn't even tell you about Friday night, but you get the picture. Busy, busy, busy!

I was already feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, so I was NOT looking forward to the weekend of running from here to there. Then, came the blessing. In a cold, wet noreaster (make it 2 in a row) that decided to descend on us at the end of last week, the soccer games were rescheduled and we were left with a completely open Saturday. As much as I hated being chilled to the bone, it was a small price to pay for a Saturday to do nothing. We ate breakfast at 11am. We had a soft pretzel for lunch at 2pm. And dinner was cheap chinese from the grocery store. We stayed in our PJs most of the day. We snuggled under blankets, we watched a movie, we did nothing productive and it was WONDERFUL!

Never underestimate the power of downtime. No responsibilites, no commitments to be somewhere, no one counting on us to do anything. And it was just what I needed. I felt refreshed, relaxed, and reconnected with my family again. Okay so just like the "Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" we actually did some things, but it was all by our choosing.

Thank you, God, that because of the rain we had a day off...so we could prepare ourselves for the 2 double headers Caleb's going to have this weekend instead.

"What If?" from the album BRAVE by Nichole Nordeman

What if you're right?
And he was just another nice guy
What if you're right?
What if it's true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you
And what if it's true?

What if he takes his place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends
What then?

But what if you're wrong?
What if there's more?
What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He's more than enough?
What if it's love?

What if you dig
Way down deeper than your simple-minded friends
What if you dig?
What if you find
A thousand more unanswered questions down inside
That's all you find?

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold?

You've been running as fast as you can
You've been looking for a place you can land for so long
But what if you're wrong?

What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He's more than enough?
What if it's love?

(LISTEN)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Legacy


On Saturday we celebrated Adam's grandfather's 90th birthday. What a milestone! We are both lucky enough to still have some living grandparents. It's been a blessing to get to know them as adults. Memories abound with times spent with them. They have lived through so very much. As I begin to tell my children stories of how I grew up without cell phones, iPods, or email I remember that our grandparents are witnesses to so much more change and so much more history. I wonder if that is why we resist change so much more as we get older? Do you just get tired of it?

Four generations of Willards gathered together to celebrate Granddad's big day. What a legacy -- to observe the physical similarities, character traits, and values passed down through the generations. It's just a reminder that no matter how we try to be our own person, your family has a significant impact on who you are. Among all of the accomplishments and genes passed down, their most important legacy to us has been their faith in Jesus Christ. A seed planted...no matter how far in the growing process it is in each of us. Thank you for passing on your faith in Christ. Thank you for taking me to church. Thank you for planting a seed that when the time was right would grow and flourish within. I don't know how I could live this life without Him!

Psalm 100:5 "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Reality of Blah

I have been super busy these past weeks. I haven't really had time to think of something profound to write on the blog. Today I'm feeling blah. It happens to the best of us. Usually when I'm feeling blah it means I'm feeling sorry for myself. God has been speaking to me today, particularly through women's bible study this morning. When we're feeling blucky, why do we fight Him so much? So the conviction came as I heard God say, through our bible study leader, not to let my circumstances dictate how I respond to God's calling for me. I am not going to Him when circumstances are blucky. Instead, I'm trying to handle it my own way and getting frustrated because there is really nothing I can do to change my "circumstances". Duh! It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't already know all of this about myself. I wish I could be more like Abram in Genesis 12 who obeyed God with unselfish motives. He knew he would only be a part of God's plan and would never see the glorious ending. I know I'm part of the plan, but I feel so impatient about wanting to get to the glorious conclusion.

This blog is supposed to be encouraging. I hope that by sharing my heart on the blah days it reminds you that we all have them. We all want to change our circumstances every now and then, but sometimes it's not up to us. Sometimes we just have to keep our head up long enough for the waves to recede.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Bandaid Can't Fix This

Heart breaking. Tears flowing. I hope I don't have to get used to this. I'm crying because I held it in. I'm crying because I'm proud of him. I'm crying because I wish it didn't have to be this hard. I believe "this too shall pass", but it's hard right now. I did the right thing. I did all I could do. But he still had to go and I had to make him. The very thing we resist may be exactly what we need to do. I believe that. Caleb is still struggling with the making new friends part of school. We're still in a transition, so I know time will help. But we're not there yet. We're not a month into school when he will be happy, content, and surrounded by friends. We're here, on our third week, and it's still hard.

Last night's lesson: God does not say that we will not have to endure hard things. He says that when hard things come that He will be with us and help us through them. I believe it's doing the hard thing that turns out being the best thing. You look back at where you have been and see that even though it was hard you did it anyway. That's life, isn't it? Doing the hard things?

Last night's lesson Part2: God made you this way. There is nothing wrong with you because you have a harder time making new friends. Making new friends is hard for most people. In fact, God will use your cautious, observant nature for your good. Maybe you don't have hundreds of friends, but maybe the friends you do make will be really special because you know how hard it was to make them.

Mommy's lesson: Being a Mom is going to break your heart sometimes. But it's also going to be a great blessing. Dear God, help me to know what to say. Give me wisdom to know when to push and when to let him process. Give me patience and acceptance of who he is because he is special and unique and You have a great plan for him. Help him meet a special friend. Lead the right child to reach out to him and ask him to play. And help me to remember that you do love him more than my own capacity to love him and I can have confidence that You are there helping to figure all of this out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

GRACE by U2

So my last entry was all about how grace isn't fair. And today my husband and I "celebrated" the anniversary of a day that was truly stinky. It's been 5 years since that "fateful" day, but we are all the better for it. In honor of where we are, where we've been, and the grace that makes it all possible, "Grace" by U2, kind of says it all.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grace Isn't Fair

There's really nothing fair about grace. In fact, before "all of this" I didn't really understand what grace actually was. Give him grace! Did that mean let it slide this time? Not that I spent a lot of time thinking about the word. You always hear about God's grace --Amazing Grace! What is that anyway? Grace doesn't make sense from a human perspective. We want it to be about people deserving it. But it's not. Not one of us deserves grace. Grace is a gift -- like forgiveness. You don't give it because someone has earned it or deserves it.

I looked GRACE up in the dictionary and it said, "GRACE is unmerited favor, mercy, compassion. MERCY is compassion or forebearance shown to an offender. FOREBEARANCE is restraint, patience." Basically, grace means you see the flaws and don't hold it against them. You have compassion on someone because you know how flawed you are. In some cases, I believe you can give someone grace without really deciding to do it. Isn't that what LOVE is all about? Love is not an emotion, it's an action. Grace is giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Grace is a God thing. I think we can give grace because God gives it to us. You can't be in a healthy, long lasting relationship without grace. Your spouse is going to mess up. Your friend is going to let you down. Your family is not perfect. You're either going to end every relationship because someone failed you or you are going to give people grace, knowing that they are imperfect humans (just like you).

I love this quote from John Piper, "Be a tree, not a cut flower." He's talking about endurance, perseverance, sticking it out. He's talking about love. Stay put. Let your roots grow, dig down into the ground, getting stronger with time. Be the shade for those around you. A cut flower lasts only a short time before it whithers and dies. A tree lasts. It doesn't pull it's roots up and leave. What a beautiful word picture! That's what I want to be. A strong tree, planted by God in just the right place. And leaving is not my choice. So no matter what anyone does to me, I'll stay there knowing that God planted me there and when He wants me to move, He will move me or take me home.

O to grace,
how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be.
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter (a chain), bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart,
O take and seal it,
seal it for Thy courts above!
"COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING" (hymn v.3)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

School Success (Part 1)

A new school. A new grade. New friends, well not really yet. My brave Caleb started school on Monday. There were no tears, no holding back. Excited, ready, and a little bit anxious. He did something I knew was hard for him and he did it with courage. Can you tell I'm proud of him? It's only the 3rd day. He says school is great, better than he expected. He likes his teacher, Ms. Western. This is kind of a continuing saga. Back in June I wrote a post called Flying Leap about our decision to switch schools.

My prayer for now is that time will help him make new friends. That he will continue to participate in class and with his classmates because I know that's hard for him, but so far he is doing a great job!

And it's only day 3 but I miss him already. I'm trying not to think about the fact that Ellie starts pre-K in a couple of weeks and I will be childless for atleast a few hours 3 morning a week. It's nice in some ways, but also a little bittersweet. I'm holding on tightly as time slips through my fingers. They need this. After staying home with Mom since birth, they need to figure out the world a little bit on their own. And I need the practice of letting them go so they can try.

Who knew you could love anything as much as you love your children? With all the love I have for them, I cannot fathom the way God must love each of us. My kids are not mine. They are His. I just get the joy and blessing of having them in my life for as long as God allows. And I know He loves them more than I can. That's why I can have confidence when I pray for them that He wants what is best for them. And the best for them may not be what I have in mind.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. When I took Caleb for a reading assessment at his new public school, we openned the office door and heard "Shout to the Lord" playing from one of the offices. God is so awesome! He knew that's all I needed. To be reminded that He is there. That He is with Caleb when he's alone on the playground hoping to make a new friend. And that He will watch over and protect Him when I can't be there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seek and Find Family


I wasn't looking for it. It wasn't something I had been dwelling on. But it struck me, with a flash of hope, on vacation in the Outerbanks, NC. I know it's out there. I know people value it. But it's not something you get to see in all its glory as I witnessed it two weeks ago. Family still exists! And I'm not just talking about nuclear families. I'm talking big, extended families sharing time and having fun together on vacation.

This was our second year vacationing in Corolla, NC. At times it feels like the middle of no where. Large houses dot the beach towns as you drive north on NC-12. Some look more like mansions. Multiple cars with a variety of license plates fill the drive-ways. But these are not hotels. Families come to stay the week. Aunts and Uncles, Brothers and Sisters, Cousins, Grandparents...they are together on this island where the nearest movie theater is over 40 minutes away. Unlike the Jersey shore, families spend the day and the night on the beach. At sunset, the beach is packed with people; children darting in and out of the warm ocean, fathers fishing in the surf, families walking their dogs enjoying the warm sea breezes. It's remarkable. During the day families mark their little piece of the beach with "party" tents and shade canopies. They compete in beach games of all kinds, some traditional like bocce ball and horseshoes, but others unique adaptatations of familiar yard games. Beach chairs are lined up to watch the competition and laughter sails on the breeze. It was like a picture postcard, a Norman Rockwell, of the American family. And it exists! It was like a breath of fresh air and it gave me hope that family is still valued. There's something special when generations have the opportunity to spend time and share love with each other.

On a personal note, we vacationed with my parents, my grandmother, my brother, sister-in-law & their 2 kids, and my husband & I & our 2 kids. There were eleven of us total. And we may have been a small family in comparison to the ones that surrounded us on the beach in Corolla. We might have marked our piece of the beach with umbrellas instead of large canopies, but I celebrate the fact that after all these years, we still love each other, want to spend time with each other, and make that effort.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Canoe


It was a hot, humid day. The sun was shining and there was a mild breeze over the bay. We unloaded the canoes and the kayaks at the boat ramp. I climbed into the front of the green canoe and he pushed us off as he carefully sat down in the back. We were off to explore the Pine Island area of the bay with our happy faces on.

Are there rules for canoeing? I have been canoeing before. I just always sit in the front. I don't ask questions. I'm pretty sure the one in the back is in charge of steering, but what is my job exactly? Apparently I'm just supposed to paddle, but I quickly learn just paddling is not going to cut it. I ask the "driver" for a little guidance and he tells me to just paddle. Just paddle? Okay, I can do that. But wait a minute, which side do I paddle on? And how do I know when to change sides? And my arm is tired, can I just stop for a minute?

It doesn't take long for the bickering to start. I'm a woman so I want to talk about paddling a canoe. I want to know my job description before I hop aboard, but alas, I'm already in the boat and we're too far from the dock to turn back now. So we move forward through the sea grasses, which slow us down. We have not discussed where we are heading. Since I'm goal oriented I want to know our destination. It's not enough for me to just paddle aimlessly around the bay. Have you been on this bay? This is not a small bay. We must have a plan...I mean, I must have a plan.

"Where are we going?" I ask, trying not to sound frustrated.
"I don't know. Where do you want to go?" he replies with a grunt.
Yes, I heard that grunt. That grunt must mean he's frustrated with my questions, so I say, "You're steering this boat. Where do you want to go?".
"Don't worry about it. Just paddle."

There it is again. Just paddle. I can't take it anymore. I need more information.

"Could you give me a little more information then just paddle?" I say annoyed.
"Paddle on the left." He's clearly agitated.
So I paddle on the left until my arm is ready to fall off. Did I mention that I go canoeing at most, once a year? I do not have my canoe paddling muscles toned. So I stop paddling for a while. I can't see his face, but his grunting gets louder. He's mad, I think, because I'm not doing my job. Oh, why did we ever agree to go canoeing?

It's hard to paddle the canoe in the bay. There is moving water in the bay and between the currents, the wind, and the sea grass it's hard to get the canoe moving in any direction, especially the one you want to go in. The "driver" can't do it himself. He needs me to help him. But I don't know how to help. He's not talking to me. He's not communicating what he needs from me. I'm in the front of the boat. I can't see what he's doing back there. As much as I can tell he's not doing much of anything. I think we might be going backwards!

Finally, frustrations erupt. They cannot be contained any more.
"This is not fun," I say.
"Well, what do you want me to do?" he cries.
"Communicate. Tell me how I can help. I can't see what's going on back there. I need you to lead." There. I said it. And it hits me. This canoe trip is a metaphor for our marriage. If we cannot operate a canoe together, then how can we steer this marriage in the right direction? The core problems we encountered with the canoe are the most important things we require in our marriage. Communication! It's the key. I want him to communicate with me. Lead me. From the back he can see it all. He can see the big picture. He can see me. I want him to give me some direction. I want him to see that I'm paddling on the right and paddle to my rhythm. I want him to tell me "I want to go right or left or straight" so I don't paddle to compensate for a direction he's trying to go in.

It got pretty bad out there. I threatened to swim back to the dock. I volunteered to be dragged behind a kayak. Anything would have been better than to be on our "sinking ship". I'm sorry for that. Typical of me when the going gets bad I want to jump ship. I wouldn't jump ship, mind you. I would just threaten to jump ship. At my wits end I need some hope. You can't really canoe effectively if both paddlers are not working together. To make it through the heavy current or through the thick grasses you have to work in tandem. That's where you get your power.

Hurt feelings aside, the "driver" took a deep breath. He gave me some directions. For the first time that day we were in sync. The canoe glided gracefully through the water. We were together. We were a team. We were not paddling alone in the same canoe. We both agreed; this is the way it's supposed to be. He gives me some directions. He communicates his expectations. We work together. We move forward with strength and power.

Could be a metaphor for marriage. Could be a metaphor for God. We need Him. We need each other. We cannot do this life alone. There is no "I" in "TEAM". Adam and I have never really been good at canoeing or kayaking together. What does that say about us? I guess all it really says is that we have more work to do. Atleast we could talk about it. Atleast we could see what was missing and work to fix it.

Overall, we enjoyed our canoeing adventure. We saw a green heron. The kids swam with the sea grass. We smelled the "lovely" odors of the marshes. In the end, we paddled together through the slowing sea grass. We paddled together against the strong currents and the wind that was trying to push us back to open water. We arrived back at the dock, in tact, with our happy faces on again.

Maybe next time we should try the one man kayak? No, it's so much better to do this life together then alone. Even if we fight and struggle along the way. At the end of the day we still have each other, a lesson learned, and a memory of paddling through it together.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PSALM 103:8-14

The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to anger and full of unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust.

PSALM 103:8-14

Favorite Quotes from BATHSHEBA...

Favorite quotes from the book "Bathsheba" by Francine Rivers...

"Maybe it's only those who've made such chaos of their lives who can understand the heights and depths of God's mercy." (p147)

"When fear threatened to overwhelm her, she set her mind upon the Lord, comforting herself with thoughts of what God had already done for her." (p120)

"She learned not to expect perfect love from David...she turned to God for healing and comfort. And the Lord was always there. For His love was perfect." (p121)

"God loves you because you repented every time you realized you'd sinned. You grieved. You tried to do right. God knows you are only a man..." (p152)

"'I will trust in You, oh, Lord. I will trust in You. Do with me as You will.'" (p141)

Out of the mouths of babes!

Caleb: "Does Mommom live on a no outlet street?"
Mommy: "Yes!"
Caleb: "Does that mean there are no stores at the end of the street?"
----------------------------------------------------------------
Caleb: "What's wrong with Aunt Kim?"
Mommy: "She's sick. She has an infection."
Caleb: "What kind of infection?"
Mommy: "A 'none of your business' infection."
A few moments later...
Caleb: "What's a bladder?"
Mommy: "It's the organ that stores your tinkle."
Caleb: "So it's a bladder infection. I already heard you talking about it. Let's just leave it at that."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nothing better than a good book!

As the mother of 2 young children, I have found it difficult to set time aside to read a book for myself. The truth is, if it's not a really, really good book then I just don't have the time to waste reading it. Over the last few years I have found a few of these "diamonds in the rough". One of them being THE SHACK (check out my post on favorite quotes from The Shack) and REDEEMING LOVE by Francine Rivers (a compelling story worth reading). It's so fun to get swept up in a good book!

Right now I'm enjoying going between 2 series. Both of which I would recommend highly. Francine Rivers' Lineage of Grace series explores 5 of the most important and influential women in the Bible; Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. They are short novellas based on the biblical stories. As a woman, I find these women's strength and character encouraging and inspiring! Great reading when you don't have a lot of time.



The other series I have been reading are the Sullivan Crisp novels, Healing Stones, Healing Waters, and Healing Sands (releasing 11/11/09), by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn. The stories themselves are unique and can stand alone, but the main character, Sullivan Crisp, is part of them all. Sully is a counselor specializing in healing, although a personal tragedy in his own life has forced him to test out his own ideologies. They are realistic and meaningful glimpses into the struggles people face and the choices we make to either let the struggles swallow us up whole or fight our way through to the other side of them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Friendship ROCKS!

Feeling better since my last post. It's amazing how up and down life is and frustrating how hard it is to stay positive when you're in the "down". I thank God for friends and my counselor, Dr. Bob. Sometimes you don't know you need another perspective until you get one. Boy, it can change everything!

Have I ever mentioned that I'm an overthinker? My counselor calls it "chatter", which makes me laugh, but that's exactly what it is. Too much chatter going on in my mind, with a little devils advocate sprinkled in for good measure. Have you ever met someone that can see things from every possible angle imaginable? Well, that's me a lot of the time. It's very tiring actually. And I know that's why I have a hard time making decisions. It's not because I don't want to, but because I'm too busy thinking up alternatives to Plan A, Plan B, etc. Any-who...

I think a lot about friendship. I have always had friends. I have had all kinds of friends. And I know that God doesn't want us to do this life alone so he provides friends for all seasons. Some friends have come and gone. Some friendships have changed. Some friends have moved far away. And some friends are brand new. I have relationships in all stages of friendship. But in all my life I have only had a select few friends that have been really, really close. Who knew me very well. I got a card for a friend of mine, my closest friend (and I haven't even given it to her yet), but it says, "It amazes me that even before we met, the Lord already knew we were going to be friends. He could see even before we could that our friendship would fill the little spot in our hearts that was just waiting for someone really special to come along. I'm so glad God planned our friendship, and that all the times I prayed for a friend- the answer was already you." Wow! I have a lot of friends that I know were brought into my life by God. And I am so thankful for them! But my friend, Kim, there's something different about her. She is the first friend that knows every part of me. She knows the nitty-gritty yucky stuff, she knows my hopes and fears, she sees it all and is still my friend. If I had a sister, I'd imagine it would feel like having Kim. A few months ago, Kim & her family moved into the house across the street from us. I truly believe that God had our friendship planned from the start. And just like meeting a spouse, when the time is right He brings you together. Since this is about my friendship, I'll leave out the details of God's hand in bringing our spouses together. Adam & Peter were friends first. Instant friends, drawn together by God. And they prayed that God would draw our families close and Kim & I would become friends, too. So our friendship is actually their fault.

One last thing about friendship... Early on in my marriage I didn't really have any close friends. I pretty much had my husband and we were struggling then. Not only did God lead us to our church, but he was preparing us for the day it would all come crashing down. He was establishing friendships for us that, when the going got tough, would be the love and support we would need at that time. We wouldn't be the people we are today without the friends that prayed, talked, and supported us during that time and are still loving us today. I had a dream one night during the "yucky days" four years ago. I was in church and I started weeping. I felt hands on my shoulders and I looked up. Standing around me were 4 women from my church that God had brought into my life. What an image for me. I never knew how important it was to have women friends until I had them. What an amazing dream! But it wasn't just a dream...it was real. I do have a group of women, some peers, some older that love me and advise me and help me make it through the down times. What a blessing they are!

There is a Casting Crowns song called "Stained Glass Masquerade". There are a couple of lines that always overwhelm me and I think about my friendships and how thankful I am for them.

"But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be
Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay"


Thank you friends, for staying and loving me just the way I am.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Surrender

Dear God:

I'm sorry. I have been stubborn and feeling sorry for myself. But I realize now that you are doing a great work in Adam and in me. When times get tough, when tempers flair, it's so easy for me to want to put my foot down and say "I'm done. I don't want to do this anymore." But You are much more patient and offer so much more grace then I could ever hope to offer others. Sometimes I get lost in my own longings, that there could somehow be a person on this earth that would love me perfectly. But I know that's impossible. How easy it is for me to become disappointed by the people in my life because my desire is to be treated exactly the way I "need" to be treated all the time. After all I've been through I'm frustrated that I am still expecting that. How do I forget that You are ALL I need? I can depend on You and You will provide me with all I need. And then there's the enduring through the tough times part. Once I can get over my stubborness and self-pity, I remember that it is through the struggles, through the rough patches that change happens. I accept that sometimes, when you are working in another's life, I may receive some collateral damage. I need Your strength to be patient and loving during those times, even when I'm not really feeling like it. The song "God is good, all the time" is running through my head. If I just believed that, deep down in my soul, I would trust You even in the most annoying, frustrating, valley times. When I'm feeling hopeless and frustrated because I can't seem to help someone I care about see the truth, You remind me that it's not within my power, but in Yours. I surrender! Take him, mold him! I actually want peace and healing more for him then for myself. I want him to experience the forgiveness You and I have already extended to him. I want him to believe, that like You, I am for him and not against him. I want him to have peace so bad it hurts. And I know where You lead us (especially through the valleys) is the way to that peace and healing. I'm sorry! You can carry this burden because I don't want it anymore. I just want to be who You want me to be, who You ask me to be. And You know me...I'll think I can do it perfectly, even though I know I can't. Just remind me, Lord, that You love me whether I achieve "the goal" or not and You forgive me when I mess it all up.

YOU ARE ALL I NEED WHEN I'M SURROUNDED.
YOU ARE ALL I NEED WHEN I'M BY MYSELF.
YOU FILL ME WHEN I'M EMPTY.
THERE IS NOTHING ELSE,
YOU'RE ALL I NEED.

YOU'RE STILL THE GOD THAT OPENS SEAS
EVERY FLOWER, EVEN ME
YOU'RE ALL I NEED.
"All I Need" by Bethany Dillon

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ALL THE WAY THE SAVIOR LEADS ME

Traditional Hymn (listen to the tune)
I also enjoy the version arranged by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman (listen).

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who thru life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whatever befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living bread:
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me;
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father's house above:
When my spirit clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 12, 2009

So a couple of Fridays ago Adam and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. Trying to figure out how to celebrate the day without spending a lot of money, I decided I would plan something. I wrote up clues and Adam & I went on a memory scavenger hunt. We drove to 4 places that meant something to us; our high school, the Morris Arboretum (sight of our reception), St. Matthew's Episcopal Church (where we had our wedding ceremony), and our house in Plymouth Meeting. Once home we ate a yummy meal, reminicent of our wedding "feast"; lobster ravioli, brushetta, and salad. It was a nice evening (even though our car started acting up along the way -- it figures).




An aside...We heard a John Piper Sermon called Sustained by Sovereign Grace: How to Endure to the End and I was convicted. We are a generation that does not endure. Our hearts wander, we give up when it gets hard. We struggle to endure hardships. It's too easy to give up and walk away. So part of the marriage commitment is a covenant, a promise, to endure all things with your partner. And although sometimes it's easier to give up than endure, God's sovereign grace will sustain us. His grace is not a promise for perpetual bliss without trouble or pain, but a promise that God won't give us anything that he won't enable us to endure (1 Corinthians 10).

I love you, Adam!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Flying Leap

So we're doing it. The decision has been made. Our son, Caleb, is going to 2nd grade at public school in the fall. For a couple who grew up public school all the way it should be a no brainer, right? I never knew any differently. When I was growing up I don't even think I knew there were Christian schools other than catholic school. But God led us to Penn Christian Academy in East Norriton, PA and Caleb attended for kindergarten and is now finishing 1st grade there. It's been a great experience. He has thrived there. And now, with a tear in my eye, we are counting down the days until his last day of school. And when he gears up for school in the fall, he will be going to our local public elementary school instead. It will be fine, I keep telling myself. Everyone walks a different path. What's right for one may not be right for the other and every child is different. Christian school is just so expensive and a choice had to be made.

Today Ellie and I went to a speech meet at his school. The 1st thru 5th graders had to memorize either a poem or scripture. There were suggestions and guidelines based on their ages, but they are expected to memorize something and then stand up front in the auditorium and speak their "speech" into the microphone, loud and clear. Amazing what we ask our kids to do! Anyway, these last few visits to the school have been emotional for me. I love that they pray before every activity. I love that they talk freely about God and that He is part of their day. I digress. I thought I'd share what Caleb memorized, learned, and recited this morning. I'm so proud of him! And I ask that you pray with me for my son as he bravely changes schools and leaves the "safety" of Penn Christian. I know this is the right thing. And I pray that this is the right time. Because all I ever want is to do what's best for my kids (even though I know I will fall short). And if I trust what God says, that He will be with us, that He will never leave us, then I have to know and trust that God will be with him no matter what school he goes to.

You may not understand. You may think, what's the big deal? But I want to protect my kids from this world for as long as I can. I want them to have their innocence because what's wrong with that? I don't want them to live in a bubble, but I know the world will invade eventually. We can't keep that from happening. And it's important to learn how to live and function in this world. It's just another trust thing, I guess. And just because I fear something doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Just because I was uncomfortable with heights didn't mean that I shouldn't work at an outdoor ropes course hanging in the trees (what was I thinking?). Our fears should not stop us from living. What a shame when our fears keep us from experiencing life to its fullest.

"Hello, my name is Caleb Willard and I will be saying Matthew 22:37-40. 'Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.' This scripture tells us two of God's most important rules, to love Him and to love each other."

Monday, June 1, 2009

20 Things You May (or May Not) Know About Me

Did you know?

1. I never had a permanent address until I got married. My Dad worked at the Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill, PA. As part of his job we got to stay in a house on the grounds. It was an awesome place to grow up! Every weekend, we drove to my grandparents house in Doylestown (about 30 minutes away). I pretty much did that my entire life until I got married. When my grandfather died in 1989, we split our time between the 2 places. There were even days I commuted to school at Springfield Township High School from Doylestown.

2. When I was a kid I...learned ballet & tap; took piano, clarinet, and flute lessons (in that order); stopped playing flute in the band & marching band to join the chorus in middle school; played field hockey, basketball, little league baseball, softball, and swimming; stopped playing sports my junior year of high school to participate in choir and drama; took voice lessons sophomore year of high school thru college; joined our high school's thespian troupe and acted in every play (except for one) freshman year thru senior year; have been called "narrator", "Hodel", "Nancy", and "Angel" (among other things)

3. I only worked one summer in high school at a summer day camp. I was a junior counselor with the oldest bunch of girls. I worked at the same camp 2 summers while in college, but in the Outdoor Challenge area. It was definitely a "guy job" hanging from ropes, climbing trees, jumping off high ledges. Did I mention I'm uncomfortable with heights? It was fun, though.

4. I had an internship the summer between my junior & senior year of college in the Public Affairs Department at WPVI Channel 6 ABC (the news station in Philadelphia).

5. My family went camping just about every summer growing up driving as far west as we could get in 2 weeks roundtrip. I have been to almost every state in the United States except for Alaska, Idaho, Washington state, Oregon, Louisiana, and Georgia. I have traveled to Ireland, Scotland, and England (twice). I have also been as far south as the Bahamas. My parents took us to Hawaii in 2007.

6. I was engaged to marry my high school sweetheart on 4/17/97, but we were not married until 6/12/99. I was 23 years-old. I first met my now husband in 1st grade. We stared dating exclusively in the fall of 1993 (our senior year of high school). We'll be married for 10 years next week.

7. My Grandmother, my mother, my daughter, and I all have the same middle name.

8. I have gone to church my entire life. I grew up attending an Episcopal Church. My husband was brought up in a Baptist Church. Since 2003, Adam & I have attended a non-denominational church called Faith Church of Worcester (it's evangelical and bible teaching). Although I have believed in Jesus for as long as I can remember, I began a true relationship with Jesus after we started attending Faith Church. My belief became my own and I started living for Him.

9. I have never smoked and I rarely drink alcohol. I don't really like the taste of alcohol and because I drink it so infrequently, I have no tolerance for it. It either puts me to sleep or makes me feel funny. You can tempt me, however, with a glass of Sangria filled with fruit. Yum!

10. I love to look at old pictures and home movies (even if I'm not in them). I'm not sure why. My kids like to watch home movies, too, so maybe it's a genetic thing.

11. I had the same roommate for all four years of college. And she was a bridesmaid in my wedding.

12. I went to Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA (about 3 hours away from home). My degree was in Broadcast Communications, although I really just wanted to work for a video production company (and I did). Most of my classes were in the basement of the library. The year after I graduated they built a new Communications building with a TV studio and everything.

13. I joined a sorority in college...a professional music one. Even though it was not a social sorority, we did have some "hazing". My good friend, Emma, was my "little sister". She's the best thing that came from joining!

14. I have never broken a bone. I only have one cavity that I got after the birth of my son.

15. I love tomatoes, fresh flowers, a clean & freshly made bed, flip-flops, road trips, the color pink, and the beach.

16. I used to scrapbook all the time until the birth of my daughter. Having 2 kids takes up all your time. I'm trying to get Ellie's baby book done before she's a teenager.

17. Our best friends just bought the house across the street from us.

18. I have started to realize that my worst fears are irrational. What is the actual fear anyway? If the worst thing happened, we would have to go on. We would have to figure out how to live. And if we're in a relationship with God, He promises to not give us more then we can handle. Whatever does happen has a divine purpose.

19. I am a very organized, detail-oriented, planner. I like to know what to expect so I can plan accordingly. I am pretty visual. Is that why I like lists so much?

20. Before kids, Adam & I loved riding rollercoasters and going to the movies for fun. Now we rent movies and stay home. Oh, how things change when you have kids.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cleaning is Cathartic

So we are generally pretty busy on the weekends. Adam has been helping my Dad renovate a space on the 2nd floor of their barn/garage into an office. The project has been going on for many years as my Dad is designer/planner/carpenter of the whole thing. Every other weekend (or atleast once a month) we are up there so Adam can help with the construction. Some months we don't even have a Saturday at home between working at my Dad's, family parties, etc. We are just that busy. Well, in May we decided to "reclaim" some of those "at-home Saturdays". We actually had 2 in a row. Incredible! We have a list of things we want to get done around the house, but one of them was "hiding" in the back of our garage. You should know that our garage was a mess. There was a thin path (if you were lucky) to get you from the garage door to the freezer in the back. I joked that in order to get something out of the freezer I had to run an obstacle course...jump, twist, duck, turn, walk 2 steps, crawl. It was terrible! The garage was one of Adam's biggest frustrations. It was filled with extra wood brought home from "the job", tools, drywall, more spackle buckets then you knew what to do with, and a variety of other things (including things from the previous owner that we just never got rid of). I think you would have to see it to believe it, but it was really bad.

There was really no way to get our "To Do List" project from the back of the garage without an injury or Adam chucking things across the garage, so I finally said "enough is enough, we're cleaning this garage out!". So we spent our 1st Saturday at home cleaning out the garage. I can't believe how much wood he had stored in there. We threw so much away! (Luckily our township has an awesome trash collection and they took most of it.) There is just something amazing when you throw things away and re-organize. It's soothing for the soul. We can actually walk into the garage now. I think I could do a cartwheel in there, if I actually did cartwheels anymore. And cleaning out the garage actually became the catalyst for cleaning and straightening all around our house. We cleaned up our gardens and added some new perennials. We got rid of a stick pile along the side of our house that had been there for over a year. We have even cut our grass 3 times now since the grass started growing again. That's big for us!

I'm telling you, there is just something about cleaning out the mess, trashing the junk, and organizing your life that does things to you. It lifts a burden; it calms you. I think counseling does the same kind of thing (in theory). You talk about your junk, you learn to trash it and/or forgive, and you figure out how to "organize" your actions/reactions to things/people. I have been to a couple of Christian counselors over the past 10 years, to heal my junk and to heal my marriage junk. Being able to identify your sin issues is so helpful. By identifying when I'm not trusting or trying to control a situation, I can make different choices or behave differently. It can be very peaceful, it can lift burdens, and it can help you to focus on what's important once the "junk" is out of the way. But just like the garage, you can clean it out but it doesn't mean more "junk" won't come in or some of the same "junk" won't invade again. But now that we know how it feels to have a clean garage, we will hopefully be more vigilant about keeping the junk out and not let it get that cluttered again. Cleaning is cathartic. The hard part is making it a priority and deciding to do it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More on trust...

"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

Let's give credit where credit is due. I receive a daily devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries via email. Today's was about "Trusting God During Difficult Times". The following is an excerpt from today's email and was written by Susanne Scheppmann:

For myself I think my greatest lesson of faith has been in the acknowledgement that God is good—all the time. Oswald Chambers wrote, "Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character must be proven trustworthy in our own minds."

There will always be moments of uncertainty. I find comfort in the words written by David Jeremiah in My Heart's Desire:
You may sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable, and find yourself saying, "Is this really true? I don't see anything in it. I don't hear God's voice. I don't feel His presence." There are days like that for all of us. The pursuit of God has no shortcuts. You simply must keep walking, keep seeking, and keep yearning. Keep at it, and you won't be disappointed.

Dear Lord, grant me the faith to know that You are good all the time, even during the most difficult circumstances of this life. When I am weak, lift me up. Enable me to accept the love and comfort from others who love me, but let me rely on Your everlasting love for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Noah, He builded, He builded an arky, arky...

Why is it that when I sit down to write a post, song tunes run through my head? Hmmm. Anyway, our Women's Bible Study this Spring has been looking at the Bible starting at the beginning...Genesis. So, we've been talking a lot about Noah. Fun thing is, I have never looked at Noah quite this way before. I think the most amazing thing about Noah is his strong faith and obedience to God. God speaks to Noah and tells him to build an ark (Genesis 6:14). Then he tells him to fill it with 2 of all living creatures (Genesis 6:19-20). Noah never asked why. He just did it (Noah did everything just as God commanded him. Genesis 7:22). Gosh, I think I would have asked a few things first. Not only did Noah do something that may have seemed "crazy" to the world, but he brought his family along for the ride. The floods came and everything perished, except for Noah & his family and the creatures on the ark. God did tell Noah that it would rain and the earth would flood (Genesis 7:4), but He never explained the details, like how long would Noah have to be on the ark? God gave Noah as much information as he needed at the time and Noah obediently trusted God would take care of the rest. (That would have been hard for someone like me who likes to have all the information.)

We talked today about the burden Noah may have felt to have been the one chosen to survive when everything else was wiped from the face of the earth. Can you imagine? Why was God so gracious to Noah? Did he have survivors guilt? Noah certainly didn't deserve to be saved. He was a sinner just like the rest of them. But God is gracious and He chooses to give each of us grace even though we don't deserve it. I know there have been times in my life when God has blessed me and I feel overwhelmed by it. Why did God save my marriage? Why did God change my life? I could have lived my whole life unhappy, stressed out, and frustrated but God didn't let that happen to me. Why? Oh, we could ask why, but we will never really know the answer. Everytime I feel overwhelmed and wonder why, the only thing I can do is be thankful and appreciate what He has done.

God gave Noah a fresh start, a new beginning (Genesis 8:13-17). And I have experience God's gift of a fresh start and a new beginning. Adam and I are getting ready to celebrate 10 years of marriage. Looking back can sometimes be painful for us. Yes, we've been married for 10 years, but we struggled hard in the beginning. We must acknowledge the blessing of our union 10 years ago because it was significant and necessary to getting us to the place we are now.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is when God told Noah he could come off of the ark, the very first thing Noah did was praise, worship, and thank God (Genesis 8:20-21). After all of the hardships Noah must have endured spending 1 year and 17 days on an ark with a menagerie of animals (and all that entails), he remembered to thank God for all He had done. Oh, that we might all come through the struggles of life with thankful and obedient hearts! Thankfulness equals contentment! God is our security. His promises, to never leave or forsake us, of eternal life, should be a comfort to us. Maybe Noah wasn't sure about all that building an ark and flooding the earth stuff, but he did what God asked him to do. Through the "adventure" that God took Noah & his family on, Noah saw the faithfulness of God and he saw God's power. Sometimes we have to make it through the difficulties before we can understand what God was doing. What a blessing when we can look back and see God's hand working. Sometimes it makes sense to us and sometimes we will never know. Hopefully, we will learn to trust like Noah did. And hopefully, in obedience and worship, we will "build an altar to the Lord" (Genesis 8:20) to thank Him for all He has done.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Name that Blog

So I changed the name of my blog from a very uncreative "Christy's Blog" to "A Heartening Life". It's really hard to come up with a good name for a blog. I ran the gamet of name choices and came up with this one. Do you like it? There was something about the word "hearten" that I liked. Maybe it's because the only time we really use it is to say that we are "disheartened". But I am feeling rather heartened these days and my hope for the blog is that people that read it will feel heartened, as well. Since my favorite bible verse has become Romans 8:28, my hope is that the life I live, the trials I've persevered, will encourage others to keep on keeping on. But do not be mistaken...I was living a disheartening life and God turned it around. Praise God!

Monday, May 4, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things!" -Sound of Music

It's amazing how God created each person, but we are all so very different. We each find joy in different things. That's what makes us unique. A list of someone's favorite things can tell you a lot about a person, I guess. I hope you'll check mine out!

Enchiladas Del Mar from Tortugas in Collegeville, PA
Mexican Jumbo from El Sarape in Blue Bell, PA
Any beach, any ocean, anywhere: The New Jersey Shore; The Outerbanks, Corolla, NC; Hawaii (Norwegian Cruise Lines - Hawaii)
Vera Wang's Sheer Veil perfume
I'm particularly fond of the town of Doylestown, PA.
My roots run deep at the Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia, PA.
Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday cookbook
Tribe's Cracked Chili Pepper Hummus
Celestial Seasonings' Blueberry Breeze green tea or True Blueberry herbal tea

Christian Music Artists: Nicole C. Mullen, Bethany Dillon, Nichole Nordemann, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman (just to name a few)

Suggested reading: The Shack by William Young, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, anything by Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility), Charlotte Bronte's Jane Ayre, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

Movies I like: FOOLS RUSH IN, ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING, AUSTRALIA, uplifting & inspiring films (AMAZING GRACE, FACING THE GIANTS)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hijacked


For all of you out there following this blog, this post is NOT by Christy.

You see I, her Husband and Biggest fan, have been plagued by the fact that she was able to share all of her feelings on me, yet I could not reciprocate. After a little questioning I found out how to do this Blog thing. SO, I am taking this moment to share just how great SHE is.

She is God's best and most perfect gift to me. She is funny and smart and has a way of caring for people that convicts me daily. She is my personal cheerleader. She has brought me to places I could never get to alone and has come with me to places I could never handle by myself.

As she said, I had a "light" go on in my life with, or should I say without, Christ about 4 years ago. More like a 2x4 to the head! It was way hard but God was and is with us on this journey we're on. We are finally united "together in truth" with Christ as the head. I lived my whole life thinking I knew what it was to be a "Christian" . But through our trials I have seen God shower me with grace through Christy's love for me. When I deserved none, Christy gave me more. When it got tough, she dug in her heels and stuck it out.

She is My love. She is my Truth speaker. She tells me what I need to hear even when it hurts because she loves me. She is radiant and she sets my heart ablaze. I love her more and more each day. She captivates me in her mothering. She blows my mind daily at her ability handle life so gracefully. When I am ready to throw the towel in she is there to remind me that HE is always with us.

For most guys it may seem hard to verbalize this kind of stuff. You know most men wanna be all macho about being a "man". But the cold hard truth is that I was a self-centered, coward and jerk. I thought real men did what they want or were called "whipped". Now I realize that real men Love their wife sacrificially and put their wife's needs BEFORE their own. I am not saying i do it all the time but at least I know that I should be.

God sent the love of my life in Christy. I have known her for almost 27 years, been a couple for 15 years, 10 of which we've been married for. With all of the trials we have endured together and seperately, I would not change one moment for it has always been part of God's plan. I would never be the man I am now or the man Christy makes me want to be without all of it. She is one of the strongest women I know. She has endured many hurts but realized God's hand cradling her in each of them. Her faith has bolstered mine. She encourages me like no one and I mean no one ever has in my entire life. When I am uneasy she reminds me what God has brought us through. When I fail she reminds me that we all stumble.

She is just a great woman, wife, mother and friend. I am constantly confused by God's plan to bless us with the trials we both had to endure to bring us to the place we are. We have a marriage most only dream about. It is full of bad days, whining kids, poor attitudes and unmet expectations. But in the end it is centered on CHRIST the only way, the absolute truth and the everlasting life. Without His Love it would be nothing.

Christy I love you. Forever and always, beyond my dying breath.

AWW

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time

"Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...into the future." This is a line from the song FLY LIKE AN EAGLE from the Steve Miller Band. It just kind of came into my head as I was sitting here thinking about time. My daughter is playing and I look at her and think, "where did the time go?". My son just turned 7 and we're already thinking about 2nd grade next year. When did that happen? My project of late has been transfering my mini-DV home movies to DVD so I have been watching a lot of time slipping away. Vacations come and gone, sweet little 2 year old voices are now 7, my once baby girl will be in pre-K next fall! Time flies and yet we don't seem to notice the subtle changes. Sometimes I find myself so focused on what's happening next that I forget about what's happening right now. I live for the next hour or the next day or the next weekend and I really can't wait for summer vacation. But what's happening in this moment? My children are precious. They make us laugh every day. We like them just as they are right now. We don't want them to get older...and yet, we do! We are supposed to grow. God made us that way. We teach the children so they can become educated adults. We make memories so we can have memories. We get mad when our time gets wasted. We hurry from one thing to the other. In December I can't wait for the snow, but by the time February is here I can't wait for the spring. I want to feel satisfied with right now. I want to appreciate the spring flowers. I need to notice the blossoming trees and the leaves that are about to burst out because by July I will have stopped noticing the leaves at all until October when they're about to fall off.

Today is not a means to an end. I shouldn't be making it through today so I can get to tomorrow. Just because tomorrow brings me one step closer to vacation doesn't mean I shouldn't appreciate today. So what's the point of realizing that time is slipping away and we're too busy to notice? Well, I guess I'm reminded to be thankful for every day, every moment spent with my husband & my children. I could intentionally notice the small things, like the flowers on my pink dogwood that are about to open and the smell of hyacinth in the air, and that my kids are growing and changing before my eyes. I could probably do a better job of making today meaningful in some way for myself, for my husband, for my kids, for a stranger. I could be excited for right now instead of for what's going to happen tomorrow. So time keeps on slipping into the future and I'm going to try to enjoy every minute of it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Weekend to Remember

Sometimes I look back at my posts and I think "boy, I talk a lot about God". I mean I think I've decided this blog is for me, not necessarily the reader. Although, I would like the reader to get something out of what I wrote. I just can't help it. God changed my life! Can you liken it to a near death experience? Or nearly losing someone you love? You would certainly appreciate life and those you love more intentionally after almost losing them, right? God turned my life around. He saved me from a mediocre life and now I can't think of anything I would rather do then thank Him for what He has done and share His amazing love and power with others.

Adam and I went away this weekend to Family Life's "Weekend to Remember". It is a marriage conference designed to encourage, renew, and save marriages. Some couples attend because their marriage is heading for divorce. Some couples attend because they want to learn and grow in their marriage. Some couples just need some reenergizing. Some couples just need to remember why they got married in the first place. There were couples there that had been married almost 50 years and couples that had only been married 3 months (even some pre-married couples). Talk about starting your marriage on the right foot! It was a great weekend and we are glad we went! Just an aside, on date night we ate at a yummy restaurant in Delaware Water Gap, PA called Antelao. A very quaint, intimate setting and delicious food. Highly recommend if you are ever up in that area!

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church." (EPHESIANS 5:22, 23, 25, 28, 29)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who would have thought?

Who would have thought that my "worst" fear would become the best thing that ever happened to me?
Who would have thought that I would be thankful for the trouble that changed my life?
Who could have known I had so much changing to do?
I knew I was not happy in the life I was living, but who could have known how amazing it could be? it would be?

God knew.

He has done more than I could ever have imagined.
EPHESIANS 3:20

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thank you God for protecting my son!


It snowed yesterday...the most snow we have received in 3 years or so they are saying (and it was only about 6 inches, maybe). It was cold and windy and we decided to take the kids sledding. They have never been sledding "for real" so it was a first for both Caleb and Ellie. We drove over to Valley Forge Park and found a very popular hill. We went with friends and the first time down, their daughter hit a hidden dip and flew off her saucer sled. Sad, but not hurt very badly we decided to move away from the hidden dip to a less crowded part of the hill. We made several trips down the hill, parent with child, and had a really fun time. After about a half hour or so my son Caleb got up the nerve to ride down on his own. Adam was already at the bottom of the hill so it seemed like a fine idea. So off he went, down the hill, picking up speed, hit a bump that threw him off course, but still heading towards Dad. Adam seeing a very fast Caleb coming near him lunged toward him and was able to slow him down some. But alas, my son ran into a tree. I watched the whole thing unfold in slow motion from the top of the hill. Very scary to watch your son's head hit a tree. Memories flashed in my head of the last time we went sledding "for real" with my Dad who also ran into a tree with his head and had to be taken to the hospital. Before you start to worry, Caleb is fine. The impact caused him to bite his lip but that was probably his worst injury. He was wearing quite a few layers on his head so he didn't even get scraped up. This morning his cheek is a little swollen and his lip is fat, but he is fine. Boy it's hard to be a Mom. I let him go, he was out of control, out of my control. I couldn't stop him from running into the tree anymore than I could control the weather. It was so scary! In one instant, one choice, one ride down a sledding hill things could have been quite different. I can't stop thanking God for protecting my son. He ran into a tree with his head! And he walked away with a fat lip. God is good! I didn't want to let him out of my sight. I wanted to kiss him and hug him and not let him go. He is at school today, where he should be, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I secretly wanted to keep him home. But life goes on and he is fine. His lip will heal and his memory of his encounter with the tree will fade. Let this be a reminder that you cannot take one moment for granted. That each day is a gift from God. He gives and He takes away and I never, for one moment, want to live without being thankful for the important people that bless my life each day. And we'll go sledding again someday because even though I can't keep bad things from happening, life is about taking risks and trusting God. But maybe next time, I'll make him wear a helmet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Disappointments of Life

I have some friends that are hurting right now, for different reasons. And they have confided in me for support and because we are friends and that's what friends do, we carry each other's burdens. True friendship is hard to find and I am so thankful to have these dear women in my life. But in "all" cases I have wanted to say the "right" thing and make it all better for them, but I really can't. I can't change reality. I can't change what has happened anymore then I can change the hurts & struggles in my own life. There was a common chord with my friends, though...disappointment and various levels of it. You trust, you get your hopes up that what you want will happen, and maybe even things are moving forward seeming like it is going to happen and then...it doesn't. How do you deal with that? How do you trust again? How do you keep yourself open to try again? There is no easy answer. Obviously my friends aren't expecting me to have the answer, but this has really got me thinking. How are we supposed to respond to the disappointments of life? In no way am I trying to diminish or trivialize the hurts that my friends or others are dealing with. I know they are painful. I've been there myself. I'm just trying to think it through here.

My Pastor preached an amazing sermon this past Sunday that focused on HEBREWS 13:1-8 and although he was focusing on the topic of money I think God's word here can apply to dealing with disappointments. Let me preface this by saying that it hurts to be disappointed. It stinks and you should allow yourself to "grieve" the loss of what you thought was going to be. But God encourages us to find contentment in what we have. God promises "'never will I leave you: never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.'" In other words, we are to trust in a providing Savior. He is faithful. Remember all of the times when He has provided for you and has been with you (SEE Luke 12:22-32). He will provide all that you need and He knows best what that is. I'm paraphrasing this from Tony's sermon: "Sometimes our fear is not that we won't eat or have a place to live, but that it won't be what we WANT to eat or it won't be where we WANT to live". It just reminds me that God has a plan and although it is important to make plans and make decisions for the future, that we need to live in the now and find satisfaction in what we have and PRAY! "You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives...You ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that' " (JAMES 4:2-3, 15). Probably easier said than done. And time does heal. When it all works out we look back and say, "why didn't I trust you, Lord?" But He wants us to trust Him when we can't see it. It's called faith for a reason. So I will continue to love and support my friends and I will try to just be a good listener & not solve their problems for them. And I will surrender them to God because He is the only one that can provide the comfort and peace they need. And I will pray for them and for me because the disappointments of life will come and only He can help me to be satisfied.

SATISFY lyrics (by Tenth Avenue North)
"Satisfy me Lord. I'm begging You, to help me see. You're all I want. You're all I need. Oh, satisfy me Lord. You're beautiful. You're more than all this world can give. You're beautiful, You're love is all I need to live."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quotes from THE SHACK


THE SHACK
written by William P. Young
(the use of "I" and "My" in the following quotes refer to God/the holy trinity)

"Your choices are also not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome." (pg 125)

"If you knew I was good and that everything...is all covered in my goodness, then while you might not always understand what I am doing, you would trust me." (pg 126)

CHPT 8 Quote, Author Unknown
"Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown."

"When I dwell in you, I do so in the present--I live in the present...I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine....your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you." (Emma's favorite; pg 141-142)

FEEL FREE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE FROM "THE SHACK" IN THE COMMENT SECTION. I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Pink Princess and the Modern Day Knight

So you probably didn't know that a pink princess and a modern day knight live with me. I mean it sounds like something out of a fairy tale, but it's true! I'm not sure why, but my Dad started calling my daughter "the pink princess" early on. She's now 4 and I think the title is going to stick. She loves the color pink (but so does her Mom) and she has always liked princesses (Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc.). In fact as I write this she is wearing her pink shirt with 3 Disney princesses on it while she plays with her Disney Princess figurines. I mean she is a pink princess all the way. She also happens to be the only granddaughter on my side of the family. The girl has some power (*smile*). She is beautiful and her giggle lights up the room. I think there is a song in her heart because she sings most of the day. Doesn't matter what she's doing, she's usually singing something. Almost equal to princesses is her love for baby dolls. It's so fun to watch her natural mothering skills at work. She likes taking care of something, even me when I'm sick or hurt. She's so helpful with a tissue or a blanket. She has a lovely heart for helping!
"Yes I am a Princess. My father is the King of Kings."

What about this modern day knight? Well, if we have a pink princess you know we also have to have a knight to protect her and that would be my 6 1/2 year old son. He is big brother and protector extraordinaire. To be clear, we're raising a modern day knight, which is also the title of a great book written by Robert Lewis (http://www.family.org/). He loves everything a boy usually loves; climbing trees, fighting against the "bad guy", getting dirty, and rough housing. But along with this tough boy side, he is incredibly sensitive and loving. He's a great kid! And he's very good with his sister (although I'm not saying they don't argue).

The key to loving, responsible, "good kids" is parenting and Adam and I take responsibility for that. You can pray for us and our kids because some days it's hard to be the parents of a pink princess and a modern day knight. But it's certainly worth the challenge.

"A righteous man who walks in his integrity --how blessed are his sons after him." (Proverbs 20:7)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Slump


I haven't written in a while. My first taste of writer's block, perhaps? If I don't have anything to say, I shouldn't write anything. Oh wait, it's if you don't have anything NICE to say don't say anything. At any rate, I'm writing because my wonderful husband revealed to me that he's my biggest blogging fan and he looks forward to reading each new blog entry. Who would have thought? Ha! So I'll dedicate this blog to him. He really is an amazing man. I have known him since first grade (and I remember him). We have been through many bumps and bruises, fun times, and life changing times. We have been on a journey, sometimes together and sometimes on our own. I mean how can you be a strong married couple if you aren't whole people? Let me say that I believe that God has always been with us, leading & guiding us, but four years ago God made it very clear that we had some fixing to do. Praise God for that! Let's just say that it's nice to ride the ebb and flow of life in a boat together then paddling by yourself.

Adam is smart, funny, hardworking, dedicated, and awesome with children. He loves me! It is definitely not always easy. You know Adam heard on a radio program once that normal is a setting on your dryer. The sooner we figured out that there is not an attainable "normal" the better off we were in our marriage. We need to stop worrying about what other people are doing or not doing. You are not the only one not getting what you want, you are not the only one going through this pain, you are not the only one that struggles with this or that! Why do we think everybody else has it easy and we don't? Since this is my blog I'm just going to say it. We put on a mask, we make everyone else believe that we have it all together, we smile, we are polite, we don't let anyone in or else they might see that we are as flawed as the next guy and we struggle as much as anybody else does. Why do we do that? It's such a trap. Being a friend, a spouse, should mean that we can share the hard things, which leads to deeper connections. The Bible encourages us to "carry each other's burdens", but we're so afraid of what people might think that we don't do that. It also goes back to trust (see a previous blog entry for my take on that). In order to share, we have to be able to trust each other. People are so alike it isn't funny. If we could all take off our "masks" we would all see that we have the same fears, the same issues, same struggles. Four years ago, God "turned the light on" in my marriage with Adam. God made it clear that we were no longer going to pretend with each other. Once we got the hard stuff out of the way with each other, we started sharing with our close friends. What a difference that has made in our connections with each other and our friends. We can honestly say that we have real intimacy and deep relationships with people because we are honest with each other. We can ask for prayer or even help because people know what's going on. And when people know what's going on, they can see how amazing God is and how He works in & through our lives.

"If you don’t see the real me you won’t see what mercy’s done. If you don’t see my weakness you won’t see what love has won. If you don’t see the distance from the darkness to the sun- You won’t see. Honestly."
Lyrics from the song "Honestly" by VOTA

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"You've never gone through anything that wasn't supposed to mean something." - Beth Moore, "Breaking Free"

"We've control of little in this world. It doesn't belong to us. It's out of our hands. Like being born... All we can change is the way we think and the way we live." -Francine Rivers, "Redeeming Love"

"The outcome of our lives is not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us." -Nancy Leigh DeMoss, "Choosing Forgiveness"

Paraphrased from the movie "Facing the Giants":
There were two farmers. Both prayed to God for rain for their crops. One prepared his field for the rain and the other just waited. Which man had more faith in God that it would rain? Obviously, the man who prepared his fields for it.
When we ask God to do something in our life, are we preparing a way for it or are we just waiting to see IF the Lord will provide?
Prepare "your fields" for rain and you will be blessed!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Helpless, but not hopeless

This has been quite a year for the Willard family. Last March 2008, Adam's mom found out she had Stage 4 ovarian cancer. She had major surgery and chemotherapy thru August. Many setbacks & complications later, she found out in September that she is in remission. A miracle! Praise God! Then in August 2008, Adam's grandmother (his mom's mom) found out she had breastcancer. She had a lumpectomy and is currently undergoing chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments. Both his Mom and Grandmom have been inspiring examples throughout their ordeals. Their cancer has just brought them all the more closer to Him!
PHILIPPIANS 4:11-13 "...I have learned to be content in all circumstances...whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Two Sundays ago, our brother-in-law (Adam's sister's husband) was baptized at Chelten Baptist Church. Something we were blessed to see happen after all these years. He said that watching Adam's mom deal with her cancer in such a positive way, giving all the praise to the Lord, was a real encouragement to him. Today I found out that our other brother-in-law (husband of Adam's younger sister) has an uncommon condition called Chiari malformation and will have surgery next week. They are currently living in California, far away from friends and family. God, we know you are working! It's so hard when you want to fix it. You want to make it better, but you can't. You can only take comfort in the fact that God has a plan and He is in control. He knows everything (SEE Psalm 139)!

Yesterday, I had to pick up my son early from school because he had an ear ache. It must have been really painful because I haven't seen him so miserable! How helpless to be a Mom watching your child writhe in pain, crying because it hurts so badly. Thankfully, we only had to wait an hour before he could see the doctor and get some relief. It's amazing how natural it is for humans to want to fix everything. But sometimes, not fixing it is fixing it. Pretty deep, right? A very wise woman once said, "When we can't be in control we can see how God protects us. Sometimes God uses "suffering" so we can see how great He is" and how much we NEED Him! So take comfort in knowing that although we can't fix everything, GOD CAN!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence. Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." JAMES 1:2-4
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