Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Happy Birthday, "Little Luke"

"Little" Luke III (center) with Luke Sr. and Jr.

"But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on His law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers."
Psalm 1:2-3

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Easter Egg Hunt

I just love Easter! We always have such a fun get-together with Luke's family. There are six siblings, four spouses, eight nieces and nephews, three sets of parents and tons of fun! One of the highlights every year is the traditional Easter Egg hunt. The eggs are carefully and strategically hidden around the yard while the eager participants clutch their bags and baskets behind the closed front door, waiting for the signal to be given that it's okay to "GO!!" This year there was practically a stampede getting out of the door when the last egg was finally hidden and at last it was time to charge forward to the hunt. Ahh, yes, the very spirit of Easter was alive and well last Sunday!

Scroll down to see a picture of the cute (yet competitive!) Easter Egg Hunters:

Oh, and later the kids got their turn!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Spring Countdown

I got this idea from another blog, so I thought I'd give it a shot:

10 more weekends until we welcome Bethany home from China (can I let her go? ::sniff::)
9 more days until our last club night at Awana (woo-hoo!)
8 months to finish Christmas shopping
7 years until I hit 45 (or it hits me!)
6 more years until we graduate Bethany (is that ALL???)
5 weeks until Kyle bids farewell to single-digit birthdays forever (and Bethany bids farewell to the USA for 5 weeks), and 5 months until we have a teenager in the house
4 months until I promote the kids to the next grade level
3 weeks until Luke and I go to Maryland for a weekend away
2 weeks left to prepare for the Awana awards ceremony (yikes!)
1 Gracious Lord Who will give me abundant JOY in the midst of all-of-the-above!

Check out my homeschool countdown on my homeschool blog. I'd love to see your countdown, too! :::::::tick..tock..tick..tock..tick..tock:::::::::

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bear Hugs

Last night we held an AWANA event for our "Cubbies" (the three and four-year-olds). Sometimes it seems like only yesterday that our two kids were Cubbies, proudly wearing their vests and patches, and at other times it seems like that was a lifetime ago. They were so cute!
But alas, they shed their little blue vests and their love for Cubbie Bear faded at around the same time that Barney became "uncool." Well, last night, we finally got our 12-year-old back into a Cubbie uniform.
Here's a picture:

Since she was old enough to realize that there was actually a person inside of Cubbie Bear, she has aspired to be that person. Last night she made her big debut! She walked into the party to a chorus of "Cubbie-e-e-e-e!!!" "Look, it's Cubbie!" "Hi, Cubbie!" while being met with knee- and waist-high hugs and body slams powerful enough to have knocked over an actual grizzly bear. So fun to watch! She loved it for the same reason she loves doing her puppets. She loves to make kids smile. It's "her," but it's not about her. It's about Jesus, children, and joy.

Here's another picture I love:

She's growing up so much, I can hardly "bear" it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


A "bird's eye view" from the wrong side of the glass!
Last week, we had a houseguest fly in for a visit. The kids and I were sitting in our kitchen eating breakfast, and I decided to open the back door to allow a nice breeze in. (No, we don't have a screen door...) All at once, we heard quite a commotion in the family room, which is attached to the kitchen. A rather LARGE dove had flown in the house, and was flying frantically around, banging into our upper windows. (Our family room is two stories tall, with windows on two walls.) Two dogs were barking, two kids were grabbing dogs, the bird and I were both flapping, and feathers were flying. Finally, he landed. By the front door. Bethany went around the house and opened the door from the outside, in the hopes that he would fly out. No go. He flew back into the family room and somehow got between the wood blinds and the glass in one of the upper windows. That's when we were able to snap the above picture from the patio. SO... there he was, ten feet up, perched in a window. IN the house. Undoubtedly pooping. (This was later confirmed.) I had NO idea what to do so (what else?) I called Luke. He had to drive all the way home from work just to rid us of our surprise visitor. There was NO way I could climb up there and encourage our friend to hop on my finger like I imagine Noah did in the ark, just before he gently released the dove into the great outdoors. No, as sure as I climbed the ladder to get to him, he would flap, I would freak, and we'd both be the worse for wear. So, here came Luke, who usually doesn't handle live dove :::ahem::: but was unrattled by the prospect, nontheless. He climbed up, reached in, and grabbed our guest without incident and set him free in the backyard. For the longest time, Hector (as the kids called him) sat on top of the house behind us, looking back at us. It was quite an adventure, and I'm still finding feathers in the house.

Oh, and he was so named because, as cute as he was, we really wanted him to just get the "Hector" out of our house!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My "Not-So-Quiet" Time

If you're a Christian, or have grown up in the evangelical church as I have, you've probably been introduced to the idea of having a "quiet time," a time where you spend time reading your Bible, praying, and seeking God's direction. Basically, it's a time to withdraw and spend time with your Heavenly Father. For those who want to grow in their faith, that time is precious and invaluable. I have found that my spiritual life is only as strong as my quiet time. I was taught as a middle-schooler that the best time to have a quiet time is in the morning. Though during high school, college, and early adulthood, some of my best times in the Word and in prayer were at night, I've settled back into early morning quiet times as a stay-at-home mom. Over the years I've changed what I've done during my quiet times, ranging from reading a daily devotional book each morning, to working on my Bible Study Fellowship lessons (during my BSF years), going through a daily "through-the-Bible-in-a year" Bible (the John MacArthur one is my favorite), going through Beth Moore Bible studies with my own audio cd's, or simply making my own prayer journal and doing my own readings in whatever part of the Bible I find myself. A few months ago, I added something new to my quiet time- my ipod! My sweet husband got me one for our anniversary at Christmastime, and I immediately put in all of my favorite praise and worship cd's, hymns, as well as some of my African and Chinese worship music. If you are having trouble "getting started" in the mornings, let me suggest putting on your headphones! While the rest of the house is quietly snoozing in the early pre-dawn hour, I'm down in the kitchen pouring my coffee and "entering His courts with praise." When I turn on my music I am immediately ushered into His presence. That may sound corny, but music has always had that effect on me. As I read through the life of David, especially in the Psalms, I see that I'm in good company in this area. Some mornings I just listen to a couple of praise songs with hands raised (something I've yet to do in church!), some mornings I'm dancing around the island in the kitchen to some African praise music (now, there's a visual!), or some mornings find me on my knees lifting up old, beloved hymns. What blessed times! Recently I had my headphones on, the sun was coming up, and I was listening to "Great is Thy Faithfulness." There was clutter surrounding me from the day before, a pile of dishes to do, and a long day ahead, but something about viewing it while hearing, "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided..." put it all in perspective. Listening to music isn't the entire focus of my time with God in the mornings, but so often it effectively and powerfully prepares the soil of my heart for the seeds of His Word. Quiet times don't have to be quiet the entire time!

"Make a joyful noise!"

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Circle Unbroken

We spent last week in Beavers Bend State Park in Oklahoma. We had a relaxing time with some of our most precious family friends. We took our daughter's best friend with us again this year, and most of our son's best buds were there as well. So, the kids had six straight days of friends, bike riding, games, movies, hiking, canoeing and building campfires. I finished 2 books and worked on current and future school plans. I enjoyed long chats with friends and lingered in God's Word. I really sensed God's presence, as I always do when I take the time to really soak it in.

Each year before we go, I bake our family's favorite banana bread using my Nana's recipe. (Oh, how I miss her!) I have always baked it in the same tube pan she always used. A few months ago I started to make some, and couldn't find the outside of her pan. Anywhere. I called friends to see if I'd left it at their houses, and checked everywhere I'd taken food in recent months. It never turned up. Heartbroken, I prayed about it and decided that if God meant for me to have that pan, then it would eventually turn up. I kept the inside piece in the back of my cabinet, just in case. Before we left last week, I finally bought a new pan in which to bake Nana's recipe. Last Tuesday as I was putting our food in the cabin's kitchen, I opened a cabinet and there it was! It had been in that cabin since last year! We all were open-mouthed with amazement, as our whole family had searched for it months earlier. I could almost hear Nana say, "Well, I declare..."

What if we hadn't gotten the same cabin this year? (They don't assign cabins until the week you arrive.) What if I had figured out several months ago that it was sitting in Oklahoma? (I would've gone crazy trying to get it back!) But... it was there all along. God knew that "by-and-by," on the four year anniversary of Nana's death, finding something that was hers would be a nice surprise for me. And I had a chance to trust. I clutched that well-used pan that was so precious to me and breathed a prayer of gratitude to a caring, listening Father Who is in the details. That little cylindrical, hug-shaped pan has truly "come full circle."