Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From an Overflowing Heart

 As I reflect over the past couple of weeks, my heart overflows with gratitude. 

Since my husband made the decision to proceed with back surgery (discectomy, to be precise), many prayers have been prayed.  They've been answered in so many ways and have strengthened my faith in the process.

I just wanted to share a brief list of the blessings we've encountered through this process.

  • An earlier surgery date.  Originally, we tried to schedule the procedure for April 15th, the date that best accommodated some of my husband's work responsibilities.  However, the doctor already had three surgeries scheduled for that date, so we ended up with May 20th instead.  On my birthday, coincidentally, the surgery coordinator called to say that, due to a cancellation, we had a spot on April 15th!
  • Family, friends, church family - both here and in Virginia - and blog readers who prayed!  Revelation 5:8 says that the 24 elders in heaven have "golden vials, full of odours, which are the prayers of saints."   I firmly believe that we added some delicious smells to those vials last week!
  • A wonderful hospital.  My husband's surgery was done in the same hospital where our children were born.  The employees and volunteers always seem to try to make it as pleasant an experience as possible.
  • Technology.  In the surgical waiting room was a monitor that allowed you to see the progress of the procedure on a graph, i.e. when the procedure started, when it stopped, where the patient was in the recovery process, etc.  I thought it was really cool, and had to restrain myself from jumping up to check it every two minutes.
  • A skilled doctor.  The surgery took almost half of the time we were expecting it to take.
  • Our very sweet teenage sitter coming to spend the day with the girls so they didn't have to hang out at the hospital.  A couple of others also volunteered to take the girls, if needed.
  • A night at the hospital.  This was technically an outpatient procedure, but because it was scheduled later in the morning, they kept him overnight.  I was more comfortable with that - just in case he had needed special attention!
  •  A bright, hospital lobby area where the girls enjoyed doing some school work while waiting for my husband to get discharged from the hospital.
  • No more nerve pain for my husband!
  • So many who called, e-mailed, texted, and messaged me to say they were praying for us that day, and to check on his recovery.
  • Coworkers of  my husband who arranged to have supper delivered to us the day he came home from the hospital.  I was capable of cooking that night, but it was so nice to not have to think about it!

We're still in the recovery process, but I praise the Lord for answered prayer and for His faithfulness in bringing us through this so far!  If results had been different....God is still good and His grace is always enough.  But I want to give Him honor and glory for all of these answered prayers and blessings!

Monday, April 21, 2014

9 Ways to Build a Spirit of Community In Your Family

Easter 2014

We all like belonging, feeling safe and confident when we're with people who love and accept us.

Being part of a family should offer that to our children.  Here are 9 ideas that might help us grow that spirit in our families.
1.  Pray together.  Bringing family member's needs to the throne of God unites our hearts.

2.  Support each other's endeavors.  We all, as a family, go to the girls' piano recitals or soccer games.  My parents were wonderful examples of this when I was growing up.

3.  Volunteer as a family.  Whether at church or in the community, take advantage of every opportunity to serve others.

4.  Read an exciting book aloud as a family.  It's fun to experience the story together and discuss what might happen next.

5.  Set family goals and work toward them together.  These could involve labor, like cleaning out the garage, or a fun project, like putting together a large puzzle.

6.  Have friendly competitions and include a prize for the winner.  For example, each March we all fill out NCAA basketball tournament brackets; the person who gets the most points chooses a restaurant for our next night out.  (This year, our oldest daughter won and chose Olive Garden.)

7.  Take trips together.  While a small vacation is nice, this could also just be a visit to the local zoo.

8.  Respect each other by listening - and not interrupting - when someone else is talking.

9.  Cultivate family traditions.  If you've read here long, you know this is one of my favorite ideas!  Even at 13 and 11, my girls still got chocolate bunnies in their Easter baskets yesterday - and I suppose they still will at 20!

What are some other ways we can build a spirit of community within our families?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Salutes

Trees In Spring
Photo Source

Jason tells us What Every Kid Needs to Hear, But Most Parents Aren't Saying.

Bunmi says I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical.

Alison shares 5 Ways to Become a Patient Mom.

Mrs. Chris has this Banana Puddin' Pie that I think my husband would love for me to make!

It's been a very good week at our house!  I want to thank those who prayed for my husband's back surgery on Tuesday.  He is recovering nicely and the nerve pain he'd been having for months is gone.  We are praising the Lord for His faithfulness and for the answered prayers!

Hope your Easter weekend is wonderful!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Is Your Heart Ready for Easter?

Kind of looks like the Easter bunny in there :-)
Photo Source

We've got the Easter dresses and the mandatory chocolate bunnies....

The Easter baskets will be full and the egg hunt will take place as usual....

Easter dinner will feature ham and sweet potatoes and green bean casserole.

But the bigger issue is, are our hearts ready?

My favorite resurrection passage is Matthew 28.
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
There are so many players here - the women, the angel, the keepers, the disciples.  I love to think about how the scene unfolded from each of their perspectives.

Then there's Jesus, the One Who died for the sins of the world - for mine.  He gained the victory over death, which allows me and all who trust in Him to have that same glorious victory. 

Over this weekend especially, may I meditate on the love that drove Him to the cross, the sacrifice of Himself He willingly made, the power He demonstrated in His resurrection, and the place of honor He now inhabits in heaven.

Praise God; He is alive!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Remembering Nurtures Trust

"Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks.  Remembering frames up gratitude.  Gratitude lays out the planks of trust.  I can walk the planks - from known to unknown - and know:  He holds.

Remembering is an act of thanksgiving, this turn of the heart over time's shoulder to see all the long way His arms have carried."  ~Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts

Because of what God has done in the past, I can trust Him for the future.  Being thankful for all that He has done before cultivates a confidence that He will continue to perform His will faithfully in our lives today and in the future.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Perfect Mom

I was going to be a perfect mom today....then I overslept and rushed everybody out the door.

I was going to be a perfect mom today...then I corrected my children with loud, shrill tones instead of gentle words.

I was going to be a perfect mom today....then I let them eat chips and cookies at every meal.

I was going to be a perfect mom today....then I chose vacuuming the bedrooms over playing dolls.

I was going to be a perfect mom today....then she talked back and I lost my temper.

I was going to be a perfect mom today....then I got so busy reading blogs that I failed to listen while my child told me a story about the cat.

I was going to be a perfect mom today....then I asked God for His power to grant me self-control, His wisdom to parent my children according to their own bent, His forgiveness for my failure to obey His commands, His grace to guide me through the rest of the day, and His love to shine through me to these children.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Gift of Each Other

One evening last month, my husband and I were out walking in our neighborhood while the girls biked ahead of us.  They are currently fascinated with the Canada geese that are occupying the ponds in our neighborhood.  We first spotted one, now there are two.  They've assumed there's a male and a female and have named them (and their potential goslings) after characters in David Copperfield.

Our 11-year-old had brought my camera just in case they glimpsed them this night.  As my husband and I approached from behind our daughters, I stopped, wishing I had the camera, loving the look of them, both still, side by side, straddling their bikes.

They're so different, one taller and broader, brown-haired, quickly growing into a young woman.  The other, lighter-haired, and still girlish.

She had given the camera to her older sister, and I saw her looking up at her as she snapped a photo - looking up both literally and figuratively.  This younger one is very much her own person, yet I know she watches her older sister's every move.  

They have been given the gift of each other.  Okay...they don't always see it that way.  I pray that life will make them the best of friends, bond their hearts.  I try to remember this in those moments when it doesn't seem like that will ever happen.  Just two years apart, there's so much to tie them together.  They'll share so many memories of vacations and chores and holidays and everyday moments - like walking barefoot through the muddy backyard just yesterday.

They're learning so much about living with another person, respecting someone else's wishes, putting others first - and yes, how to fight and disagree and make up and forgive.  And on those days when I feel like just a referee, I need to remember my own brothers and sister and the relationships we have - and how they still seem to love me in spite of all the "bossing around" their older sister did! 

George Bernard Shaw said, "A happy family is but an earlier heaven."  May God give us the grace and the strength and the wisdom to build those happy families!