For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Hello Mornings (Somewhat) Success Story

On Thursday, the big boys packed up their stuff and headed off to Hume Lake with their dad for Father-Son camp, leaving me at home alone with the three youngest. While I've come a long way since last years trip, and even farther from my husband's first business trip when I had to have my sister and her daughter stay with me and the kids, the first night was still a tough one. I was too wired to fall asleep. I tried everything, finally turning on the radio to Air1--in hindsight maybe a more mellow station would have helped?--and leaving the light on on my clock radio. Once I finally got to sleep it wasn't long until I was joined by a child who woke me up to get into bed. An hour another came along, with the need to wake me first.

Needless to say, when the alarm went off at 5am on Friday morning I wasn't happy to respond. I had put it across the room from me earlier in the week so I had to get out of bed to get to it. You know, the snooze button still works that way? ;) After two snoozes I crawled out of bed figuring I'd be completely exhausted, surprisingly I wasn't. I made it through the whole day intact. We did our normal stuff...mommy & me class, art class, even visited with some friends before going to CFA (where else?) for dinner. We came home and watched Facing the Giants (it was a Sherwood Pictures weekend) got ready for bed and, after reading and some singing of praise songs with the kids to help them calm down, I went to bed....and promptly fell asleep. The same went for the next day. In fact I popped out of bed right at 5.

This week, we radically changed our lives by sending our three middle boys to school for the first time. It's been too much for me to homeschool them and try to help my two with LDs. This, of course, means a completely different morning schedule. The boys have to be at school by 8, to do this they have to get up 30 minutes earlier than they did for homeschool, and they have to eat breakfast (can't wait until after Bible now) and get ready to leave the house by 7:30. A year ago this would have completely freaked me out. There is no way I could have accomplished it. But since I've already spent most of the year working on getting up at 5 and having a morning routine, the transition is going more smoothly. There will be kinks to work out, I'm sure, but they won't seem insurmountable coz I've already been doing a "light" version.

Looking back it seems obvious that I didn't find the Hello Mornings Challenge by accident. The Lord knew what I would need. He knew what would help me. He knew how to motivate me to do it. He cares for our smallest need, even our need to get up earlier so our day can go more smoothly. When you think about how great God is, how He holds everything in place, yet cares for each of us so deeply, it's pretty humbling.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Things Change

So, tomorrow, Spock and Mr. Great-heart, neither of whom have ever set foot in a school classroom in their 10.5 and 8.5 years, respectively, will go off to, as I have often referred to it, be institutionalized. Complete with uniforms, they will don their backpacks, and carry their lunch sacks into a building filled with teachers I don't know from Adam, and students I know even less. It is now I realize how much trust parents place in a school.

For the past month I have struggled with fears ranging from rational to irrational. Most of the struggle is between my emotional self and my practical self. My emotional self feels as if I'm letting them down. I know a lot of my fears stem from my own experiences in school. I've accepted over the past few months that most of those negative experiences were more closely related to what was going on at home, not what was going on at school. But my greatest fear is that they will lose what makes them each unique. They will somehow lose part of their personalities under pressure from friends and others. My practical self, though, knows that sending them to school is really for everyone's good. I cannot put the effort into The Teenager and Babycakes that I need, and still make sure Spock, Mr. Great-heart, and Braniac continue to do well.

Which side will win tomorrow morning when I say goodbye, God only knows. In the quiet of the evening, with all the work for tomorrow done, and all the stress of the day peeling away, it doesn't look good for the practical side. I just hope Air1 doesn't play our song by Owl City as I'm driving Babycakes to school after dropping his brothers off...or Jeremy Camp...or Toby Mac...or...well, maybe I just won't listen to the radio at all. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Join

I used to feel the need to join everything. Whether it was a class offered at my favorite Michael's or a need at church, I thought I had to be there. I don't suppose there's anything intrinsically wrong with doing that, but in my case it was a need to belong that forced me to do it. I thought I had to join groups to be somebody. I thought I had to join in conversations so I could have more friends. Over the course of time I had five kids. That didn't help a whole lot. It just gave me more to join. But, finally, God showed me all this. It wasn't a painless lesson. I am a rebellious person so it was just another hard one. But now I know that I don't need to join anything to be somebody. I am somebody because Christ makes me somebody. So if I don't join your group, or your class, or sign up to join every last thing listed in the bulletin on Sunday, don't take it the wrong way. I have joined the only thing I'll ever need to make me a whole person..I have joined with Christ.

PS If you're in SoCal you can JOIN us at the Harvest Crusade on Saturday or Sunday evening.
PPS Yes, old friends, we have gone that far off the deep end...and we hope you'll join us. ;D
PPPS OK, I had way too much fun with that one but I'm not creative enough to come up with another.


About Five Minute Friday

Stop, drop & write. It’s #FiveMinuteFriday !
Where a beautiful crowd spends five minutes all writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.
How to Join:
Want to know how Five Minute Friday got started and how to participate? All the details are here.


I've been thinking about two different aspects of blessings that we often get very wrong. Of course, we get them wrong because of where we live; namely, here in America, or the West, where things are prosperous and our idea of poor is someone who can't afford an iPad (I'm poor, btw. ;D).

Anyway, my thoughts began on Sunday, for two different reasons. First, I began a disagreement with God. He was right, I was wrong, (um, surprise?) but I didn't want to admit it so I stubbornly dug in and refused to budge. Second, we got two sermons for the price of one during church. As one of the pastors was introducing the solo for offertory, he spoke of what we think are blessings verses what God knows are blessings.

As regards the second, God sometimes gives us difficult, painful things and they are still blessings from Him. It's hard to view them that way in the midst, I know, but how many times do we look back at those times and realize what a blessing they were. In "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment," Jeremiah Burroughs emphasizes again and again that whatever we are given in life, good or bad, is from God's hand and we ought to rest in that knowledge so we do not commit one of the most heinous sins...grumble against God.

In the West we are sometimes taught that only good things are from God. That anything bad that happens only comes from evil and because we have sinned. I have run into too many people who think that God absolutely won't do anything good for us if we are in sin. Logically that means that none of us will ever be saved. I'm pretty certain it says "While we were YET sinners Christ died for us." But these people would rather sit in judgement over their brothers and sisters in Christ during their suffering (coz that's really what this teaching necessarily leads to) so they can view their own blessings as something they have earned themselves instead of viewing everything as something that brings glory to God.

As regards the first, as I said, I was having a disagreement with God (yes, it really is as stupid as it sounds) this week. I looked as foolish as one of my children who has decided that he doesn't need to put his shoes where they belong and is trying to argue the rightness of his position. At any rate, smack in the middle of this God worked out something that I had left in His hands last week. And He worked it out in such a way that will make for a more pleasant weekend AND save us money. To be more specific, Babycakes gets to take his ballet/tap class on Saturday (they had moved it from Monday). This was such a huge thing for me because it is something he really enjoys and I know will help in his development.

Now, using the logic that says that God only blesses us when we are good, um, well, let's be honest, nothing good would ever happen to any of us. We'd all have been wiped off the face of the earth a long time ago...probably right after Eden. I guess I have to come to the conclusion that this way of thinking about God is just something I will never understand. The God I have known loves His people, loves His creation. He is perfectly loving. His love, in fact, is so great I cannot even begin to fathom it...maybe because the moment I begin to think about it I am immediately overwhelmed by the enormity of His Grace and I can think no further on it.

Oh, in case you're wondering, God won our argument. I had no choice but to give in on Wednesday night, as I knew I would, during church. But I didn't go without a fight. I didn't want to go but God pretty much forced me due to circumstances beyond my control. Sometimes I'm more like Jonah than I like to admit. But, there, in the midst of that God still was blessing me in little ways. Found out that Babycakes is going to be promoted out of the nursery. I think he's the oldest child in there. While I wonder how he'll do for those 2.5 hrs in Sunday School, I know that this is just another thing that will help him continue to build his verbal and life skills. Yeah, God blesses me even when I don't deserve it...and I think that's a pretty good thing, all things considered.

BTW, the offertory song was this:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. 
Proverbs 19:21

So, we had some plans for Babycakes this fall. We had a little schedule of classes we wanted him to take to help him with his development. All but one of them has either been moved to a day on which we cannot attend, or conflicts with something that must have priority. It's been disappointing to say the least. But I know that God must have something better planned. I don't say that while simply shrugging and copping an 'I can do nothing' attitude. I used to. For many years I thought that if something like this happened I must simply, well, do nothing. I've learned over the years, though, that sometimes God wants us to push our way through. Sometimes he closes the door completely and we have no choice but to turn around and go back. However, sometimes he does close the door then open a window. Maybe He wants to show us something by making us fight for it.

One of my best illustrations of this is when we were pregnant with Spock (formerly known as Thing 1). He had a life threatening birth defect. I could timidly submit to our regular OB and take her word for it, that he would be fine in our little local hospital, or I could research what the best course of treatment would be to ensure a good that point I was only hoping for a life of any kind. When the insurance company wanted to drag its feet about getting us transferred to a better hospital with all the facilities he needed to live, I could have cowed to them. It would have been easier. The doctor and the insurance company would have been happier. They probably would have liked me. ;) My son would be dead. I knew that, coz I did the research. That didn't happen, coz I demanded the best for him. I didn't just think "Oh, I guess God wants us to have the baby at this less than adequate hospital coz our doctor told us it would be OK and she went to college so she must know best." 

Sometimes we have to fight. I know that.  But sometimes God closes the door completely. It's a balance to know when to fight and when to work harder and when to just realize there must be something else in the plans and look forward whatever it is that is better than what I had in mind. This lesson has been learned, as I learn all my lessons, the hard way. Now, I do not slink back into the corner when something doesn't go the way I thought it should. In the case of a few of these classes, it's obvious that God has closed the least for now. I know, though, that this just means He's opening up that time for something more important. I will continue to trust in Him and keep my eyes open for the His answer.


Update: 8/17/12--God has already begun to answer prayers in an even better way than I can imagine. Due to certain things involved I cannot say more than this...God is really awesome. :)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name;
make known His deeds among the people.
1 Chronicles 16:8

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Never done this one before, but my friend Conny does and it looks fun. And I should really be cleaning now that it's cooled down so nicely this;D. (Click on the button to take you to From This Side of the Pond where you'll find Wednesday hodgepodge.)

1. I included this quote (attributed to William H. Danforth) in my blog post on Monday..."The best cure for a sluggish mind is to disturb its routine." When was the last time you 'disturbed your routine' and how'd you do it?

Well, our routine was to homeschool the kids which meant to spend hours each day trying to help two who have LDs while trying to teach one to read, and help two more when they have questions. I disturbed that routine by sending the three middles to school. They'll start the 28th. It will definitely be different.

2. What's your favorite fried food indulgence?

I'm with the author...I don't eat a lot of fried foods. I thought I did, until I had to answer this question. :D Fried shrimp is also my fave...especially the Honey Walnut Shrimp at Panda Express.

3. Did you have an allowance as a kid? What did you do with it? Do you give your own kids an allowance?

No, but I had a paper route. Yes, folks, I'm old enough to remember when it was still legal for kids to earn a living. :) I spent it on garbage. Pop Tarts and Soap Opera Digest were the main things I bought. :D

4. What's something you wish you knew more about?

Cars. I wanted to learn to work on cars in high school but was told at our school in Montana that I couldn't because I was a girl. It's probably why I hate that sort of gender discrimination now.

5. Is there anything you feel too old to do anymore? If so, what?

Have another kid. That last one nearly killed me. I'm pretty sure I'd end up on bed rest in the hospital if I tried again. :)

6. What's a song you think has a great first line?

I think all of Casting Crowns' songs have pretty good first lines but my fave is "Careless, I am reckless. I'm a wrong-way travelin' slowly unravelin' shell of a man." From The Alter and the Door.

7. Who are you writing to/for when you create a blog post. In other you write, who is the audience in your head?

I really write mostly for myself, for practice, but many times I write in the hopes that there is someone out there, like me, who needs to know that there is another person like them in the world, with the same confusions, joys, sadnesses...that they are not alone.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Random thought...If I thought last year was weird and life changing, I have a feeling that this year will be so in spades. But it will be "easier" in that I have begun to learn to trust God instead of man...including so-called Christian leaders. Now, I suppose, the trick will be to re-learn to trust. After last year, it's still extremely difficult.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First Day of Preschool 2012

So, while Babycakes did do a two week stint in Summer School to see how he'd do in class, this was his official first day of preschool. It went pretty well. He does listen fairly well to the teacher and she is just taking things slowly with him. She seemed please with the way things went today. Hopefully he will continue to progress...especially after Braniac goes off to Kindy.

We went off to school by ourselves. Braniac didn't want to go coz he wasn't going to get any homework. I'll let you know if that attitude continues into high school. :D


Braniac did eventually join us coz one of his friends from last year is in the class. 

Singing and dancing.

And in two weeks Braniac will be off with the other middles to school.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sprinkler Pictures

It's been hot here. It's been hot here a very long time. It's been very hot here for a very, very, very long time. Then we added humidity. You might think I'm overstating how hot it is but let me tell you, as a person who does not like air conditioning...I have actively sought it out. And now I want it for the house. :D

On Saturday my husband set up the sprinkler that Babycakes got from his grandparents for his birthday. He and Braniac enjoyed it, though Braniac declared he preferred the pool. Babycakes was extremely happy with the sprinkler because, unlike in the pool, he never had to hear mom admonish him not to drink the water. :) (Click on the pictures to see them bigger.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Considering Name Changes

When I started writing this new blog I changed names from Dancing Boy # since, at the time, I had only two dancing boys. The names Thing 1 and Thing 2 fit well for my middle boys because the were two sides of the same coin. But in the last year their personalities have begun to really come out and I think I should get more specific.

For Thing 1, I am considering Adamantium. I came up with this name when I looked up the word "steadfast" in the thesaurus. Adamantium is the metal that lines Worlverine's bones. It's virtually indestructible.  Thing 1 is very much like this. He rolls with the punches, and life does not break him. His spirit is strong and steady. And, hey, I love Wolverine. :D

For Thing 2, I am considering Evangelist, after the character of the same name in Pilgrim's Progress. It seems apt as his desire since he was maybe 5 has been to be a missionary.

So, those are my thoughts for names. And about all my thoughts period in this heat. :D Hey, I had to say something since we only have 1-2 weeks of tripled digits each year. This time next week there will be no weather to talk about. :) And that's why everyone wants to live in SoCal. ;)

Religion & Relationship

There is a saying in the Christian-sphere that until this past year I found utterly offensive: It's not about a religion; it's about a relationship. Now that I can be honest with myself I would have to say that I probably found it offensive because I thought my religion was all I needed. To hear someone say something like that was an attack on everything I believed and, therefore, an attack on my very person. If there's one thing a religious person can't stand (and there are actually a lot of things we can't stand) it's the feeling we are being attacked. This feeling is usually brought on when we meet with someone who has a different set of beliefs than our own. And if there's one thing a religious person can't stand, it's someone who believes differently. :)

You see, using the definition implied in the first statement, religion is about being right and believing that we can then sit in judgment over everyone else. It's not about loving God; it's definitely not about loving others. Of course, the religious person can't see that. We are incapable of seeing past the end of our own noses. All we can see is that we are right and you are wrong, then we justify our hostility and belligerence by saying, "If you don't believe the way I do, you can't be saved."

Religion can be found in any institution. It can be conservative or liberal; it can be Arminian or Calvinist. There is no border to hold it out, no race can ever be pure enough to resist it. We are all potentially religious people. I mean this in a different way than we are all people who want something to worship. That is the good part (for lack of a better way to put it), the Imago Dei, that makes us all desire to find a god and worship it, even it if's a god of our own making. The need to be religious stems from our own need to be right, and therefore righteous in and of ourselves. That started with the fall and Adam and Eve did a great job of illustrating it when they played the blame game.

Relationship is basically about loving God and loving others. This comes by studying God's word so we can actually find out how to love Him, and, as an offshoot of loving God, we then love others. These are the two greatest commandments yet the religious person will only pay them lip-service while sadly believing themselves to be in complete conformity.

For my entire life I thought I was right to believe this way. And, quite honestly, I received very little instruction to turn my heart aright. It wasn't until I was confronted by a situation where a person whom I love deeply was affected that my eyes finally began to open to the truth. It was a hard and painful lesson. In the course of the past several years I had to face myself in the actions of another person who mirrored, and therefore acted, the way I believed, and had to realize that I was in opposition to God's very word as a result of my religion. Ultimately we had to leave our religion altogether physically as well as spiritually. That was a really, really tough realization. It always is when you must finally admit that not only were you wrong, but that you nearly destroyed everything by being wrong.

But God was extremely gracious to us, in fact I cannot ever over-emphasize his Grace toward us during all of this. I did nothing to deserve it, but He gave it to me anyway. He called me out of my self-righteous, hypocritical religious tendencies into true life with Him.

In John 10:9 Jesus says, The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. This is what "religion" does. It does it to the religious person, then the religious person does it to those around them. But Jesus goes on to say in that verse, I came that they might have life and have it abundantly. I have found this to be true. After chucking the bonds of my own personal law (a religious persons identity) and learning what it is to truly be reliant on God AND that He actually cares enough for me that I can trust Him, life did become abundant.

Now, I've probably botched this explanation on so many levels so I don't mind questions for clarification. I know there are many people within my old religion who will disagree with me and that is actually why I've kept it as not to overly or unnecessarily offend anyone.

One other interesting note: I have been working on this post for several days now. Writing it, then deleting it. Anyway, I had settled on the first few paragraphs and gone off to do other things but in the meantime I found this article in Relevant. I thought it was, well, relevant to this topic coz it talks about the cruelty some people treat others when they think they are sharing truth with them. That's a lot of what I'm referring to as "religion." 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hello Mornings Link-Up

The Hello Mornings crew has a great link-up today. I haven't had a chance to try the coffee yet, but I have a bag of Avodah's Morning Brew sitting here, waiting for me to get to the store to buy creamer. ;D

I learned some nice things my first go round of HMC last Spring. Mostly I learned to cut myself some slack. I will post about my religious tendencies at a later time, but suffice to say I really was thinking I needed to get up like clockwork, pardon the pun.  My biggest challenge was Thursday morning. We have AWANA the night before and it is just so hard to get up. One of the ladies suggested I get up a little later on Thursday. Yeah, I know, obvious to you, but not to me. lol. It worked wonderfully. In fact, I started getting up and hour later on Saturday too since our day starts later. It has really made each day much easier.

Another thing that helped was using Twitter instead of e-mail or Facebook. I know it's a bit public, and it's not as easy to figure out as the others, but it is far less distracting. Get on Twitter, check in, read the brief messages from the other group members, respond, pray for what needs to prayed for, get on with your day. I honestly can't think of a time I've been able to stay focused when going through e-mail or Facebook. :D

Come Summer we were without an A/C so I somehow ended up being nominated by a HMC person who shall remain unnamed. ;) I'm not really a born leader so it wasn't really what I wanted to do. But I do love to encourage people. It turns out that's mostly what an A/C does. I'm going to give it a try this fall when things are really crazy here and see how it goes.

The best about being an A/C has been getting to know the HMC team better on Facebook. It was so nice to see the heart that goes into making HMC a success. The ladies really have a great love for the Lord and for their sisters in Christ. I've found great encouragement in my walk with Christ as a result of reading their posts and blogs, as well as encouragement in my daily life of being a wife and mom.

If you are interested in signing up for the Fall Challenge that starts August 20, click here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

SD Zoo Redux

Since we didn't quite make it down to the zoo during Camp Mom, we packed up and headed down yesterday.

We decided to go over to the children's zoo since we haven't been to that part in years. Really. The little kids didn't even know there was such a thing. :D We found they had added a playground. Not too happy about that. Playgrounds at zoos are for little zoos, like the LA Zoo, that don't have enough to look at. ;) But it didn't turn out too poorly. Babycakes did leave when we were ready to go with no fussing.

Stopped by the petting zoo. Braniac did not want to leave for quite a while. He loves farm animals. :)

Stopped by the bug house. They had some pretty cool bugs. I want this one. :) Oh, and did you know that there is a bug called a violin mantis? Yeah, we need some of those.;)

Looking at the otters below and above, inversely, yet not. ;) Babycakes wanted to get in with the otters. 

He also wanted to get in with the meerkats. Actually, he didn't want to spend a lot of time in the stroller today. He wanted to get out and walk around like his brothers. We'll have to take his leash next time. Yes, we are people of the leash. :)

Stopping to eat lunch.

This picture was taken right before a little altercation between this animal and his/her roommate. It was quite exciting. If you're into that sort of thing. :D

The leopards were being fed when we went by. We were able to see most of the big cats today. Of course, most of them were sleeping.

Most of the animals were pretty active. The weather was very mild for August. Overcast morning, then sunny but bearable temperatures.

Checking out the displays at the gorilla exhibit.

And the gorillas.

Braniac with a pygmy hippo. He really liked this display. Of course, he really likes all of them.

OK, we found the lizard we want for our new tank. Guess we'll make a trip down to the reptile store on Monday and at least try to find something similar. :)

Some kind of monkey type animal. ;)

Fuzzy, baby flamingo taking a nap.

I love that my kids are cool with cheap souvenirs. :)

Then off to CFA in Poway for dinner.

We still didn't get to feed the giraffes :/ so we'll have to go back one more time before school starts at the end of the month.