Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A night to Remember...

Have felt so uninspired lately. It never ceases to amaze me that right when I choose to say "Bring it on, Lord- I want to grow!" He actually does, and I curl up in a ball and whine about it. My last post was about "choosing the town", walking alongside hurting people through a fallen world- and I have now spent the last 3 weeks wishing I was in the meadows...alone...and peaceful. What a dork.

Eventually I will finish the 5 posts I have started over the last few weeks, when I can be sure I won't sound so depressed you institutionalize me or so jaded you excommunicate me. In the mean time, tonight was a night I want to remember, because God reminded me so clearly of the assurance I have, and it felt good.

I read the other day a story about a blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, in the 1800's who wrote one of my favorites, and I remember thinking at the time how amazing it was to hear her say "when I see His face". How much more meaning does the word "see" carry for a woman who has never "seen" a face? In the same way, how much better do we see the blue sky after a week of clouds? Or enjoy the coolness of a lake after a day of sweating and manual labor? I know in my head that we see our blessings best through struggle, but my humanness would prefer not to struggle.

Tonight, thinking about the uphill battle so many have- God reminded me that the only way to get that amazing "mountain top view" is by hiking the hill, through sweat and tears sometimes. Fighting hard, and never quitting or turning back. And I know it will be so worth it.

If you have time, go check out the full verse of this hymn, Fanny was kind of a genius. Below I posted my favorite part though, "But purer, and higher, and greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see." I hope whatever battle you are facing, you remember that Jesus has assured you a glorious, bright future if you trust Him.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see." Fanny Crosby Blessed Assurance

"Our light and momentary troubles are ACHIEVING for us an eternal glory that FAR outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:17
(Pics are from our Christmas tree hunt. We were really roughing it. Walked about 10 feet from the car, made the kids do all the work, drank hot cocoa. My kind of Christmas tree.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

The field or the town- Which do I choose?

After the whirlwind couple of weeks we have had, I have decided slowing down is just never going to be a option. My heart has been stomped on, squashed, pinched and thrown aside this last week, and that's O.K. In the midst of it all, I know God is doing His thing- showing me my own mistakes and teaching me more about who He is- full of grace and compassion, love and forgiveness. I wish that was my first reaction all the time...maybe someday.

I pulled out an old devotional I have always loved for my girl today, she was needing the encouragement and "Streams in the Desert" has always been a comfort to me. So funny God had me choose this book on this day- He knew I needed the message more than she did. This daily devotional book was originally published in 1925, and still feels so relevant. Check it out sometime, it's a great way to start the morning.

December 5th's message was simple- stop trying to show God how to get where you want to go, let Him take the lead.

"I said, "Let me walk in the field";
God said, "No, walk in the town";
I said, "There are no flowers there";
He said, "No flowers, but a crown".

I said, "The sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din";
But He wept as He sent me back,
"There is more," He said, "there is sin."

I said, "But the air is thick,
And smog is veiling the sun";
He answered, "Yet souls are sick,
And your work is yet undone."

I said, "I will miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say";
He answered me "Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they."

I pleaded for time to be given;
He said, "Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have followed the steps of your Guide."

I cast one look at the field,
Then set my face to the town;
He said, "My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?"

Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light Divine,
The path I had feared to see. -- George McDonald

Weeks like these, I long for the empty fields. It's easy to live Christian alone, with my horses and roses surrounding me- comfort and pleasure as my mission field. But I choose the town, Papa. Where I get to walk alongside your people, to love them and work for them and serve them everyday. No matter how hard it gets, or how much it hurts. Because this is where you want me.

"I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct His steps." Jeremiah 10:23

(Pics were a glimpse of the Hawaii trip. We hit the ground running, so I really haven't had time to process it all- but someday I will give you the details...QUITE the adventure!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

What? It's not all about me?

What a crazy trip. I will mull it over and have many words for you later, but I think the biggest thing I was reminded of this week was that God has His own agenda, and it's always better than mine...even if it cramps my style.

This passage has been my mantra the last 4 days, that I would set aside my own earthly desires and focus on what GOD desires of me. And it has been such a comfort.

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4

Spending these days battling the enemy side by side with my daughter was so eye-opening, and really helped me to stop seeing her as my baby girl but a young woman God is growing and training. She is tenacious in her love for her God, and her commitment to staying faithful to Him inspite of the situation. Such an encouragement to this Mama's heart.

Homeward bound!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hawaii Day 1- "Whad's da haps, bra?"

What a crazy week! On Tuesday I was fully prepared to keep missing my daughter for another week. Then on Wednesday I got a surprise birthday present- a trip to Hawaii to meet up with her! How good is our God? Steve and I had contemplated sending me with her in the beginning, but we decided to save the money instead and let her have special time with her Grandma.

Well, by day one she was so homesick, and it just broke my heart. Then God blessed us both through my mom's generosity! So amazing!

I normally hate traveling and never want to play tourist, but to see my girl, it makes it all worth it! Not to mention being WARM for the first time in weeks! I walked out of the airport and just had to stop and soak it warm!

It's the rainy season in Hawaii, so I don't know how much sun we will get, but it will be so fun to catch up with my Auntie who lives here and see Jasmine experience this state for first time. We barbequed with the family last night, got thoroughly lost as we tried to go downtown to see a movie, bumped the music as we sped down the mountain and enjoyed the night lights, and laughed until we cried as we "people watched".

Father, you are far too good to me. After a week of tears and worry, between missing my girl, watching my husband struggle with lost, and hurting for teens that have to struggle so hard, God has absolutely put a smile back on my face.

I am going to go soak up the warmth, drive around the island...and praise the Lord for His never ending compassion. Oh, to have a God who UNDERSTANDS us. Thank you, thank you!

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16

Monday, November 14, 2011

I hate running.

Yet another first to log in the memory bank today. I put my baby girl on a Hawaii...alone. I know, shouldn't be that big of a deal. But to me, it is HUGE. She was so excited, and nervous, and happy at the same time. With tears she begged us to come with her, and then with a smile and a wave she got on the plane and left. The attitude of that kid amazes me. She is going to be able to get through anything life deals out.

God gave me the grace to send her off with a grin and no tears, but the minute she was out of sight- yeah, that was pathetic. I suppose when the 20 year old kid behind me walked up and handed me some napkins I should of know I am a wimp. But then when he looked me in the eye and said, "I can see your tears through the reflection of the window...can I help you, ma'am?" I officially made "crybaby whiner" status.

All in all, the goodbye is the hardest part. Now I can thoroughly distract myself with work, horses, friends, and yard work. It is going to be a great 8 days and I am not going to whine or cry about missing my girl. I know I have a tendency to make my children into idols- pouring all my energy, efforts and time into them and forgetting that there is only one thing that should have that kind of total devotion. My Jesus.

I have been hanging out in Hebrews the last week, and after cruising through Hebrews 11 and all those "Heroes of Faith", it made me want to believe bigger of God. Then I read this today and it so hit my heart after sending Jasmine off:
"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2

We have been running in a million different directions and we are getting nowhere. And as much as I hate it, I need to "run" like my life depended on it but with a SPECIFIC goal in sight. Never quitting, never tiring- but pushing through to the end. I want to "throw off" the sin of self sufficiency, of self indulgence, even of false worship. My eyes need to not be fixed on my family, my fun times, or simple comforts, but wholly fixed on Jesus- my perfecter and redeemer. Thank you, Lord. For reminding me what really matters! Thank You for holding me close when I am weak, and kicking my butt when I slow down. Oh, how blessed I am!

(While I am busy "running" towards you, I put my sweet treasure, my girl, in your strong, safe arms. Bring her back to us soon.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To "dwell" in peace and safety...sounds pretty good.

November. Already? Life speeds by and I just can't catch up. Thank the Lord He doesn't expect me to have it all together. I just keep reading this Psalm over and over...and it frustrates me in the middle- because I know how many "false gods" I have in my life, and how often I shame the Lord. But then the end reminds me how GOOD my God is. That He would allow me to "lie down in safety".

Hope you read it and find the special voice of God for you today, friend.

"Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
and trust in the LORD.

Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy

when their grain and new wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD,
make me dwell in safety
." Psalm 4

(Pictures were from a trail ride on Whipple Creek. Oh, how I love those woods. They are truly the best therapy around.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Anxiety can be funny.

I have been spending my days freaking out lately. Really. Anxiety and worry is a full time job, and I am enjoying overtime the last couple of weeks.
Then I got these in an email...and remembered that laughter is my drug of choice for the treatment of all my mental disorders.
(I have no excuse for my insanity of late except my plans for the future have been obliterated and I have been throwing a temper tantrum. So please know I am not making fun of actual mental disorders, my heart hurts for those who suffer from these diseases. But feel free to poke fun at me all you like, as my only disease is sin and self righteousness. ;)

Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.
If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are depressed, it doesn’t matter which number you press. No one will answer.
If you are delusional and occasionally hallucinate, please be aware that the thing you are holding on the side of your head is alive and about to bite off your ear.

* Drive to work in reverse.
* Dance naked in front of your pets.
* Use your Mastercard to pay your Visa bill.
* Make a list of things you have already done.
* Pop some popcorn without putting the lid on.
* Find out what a frog in a blender really looks like.
* Jam tiny marshmallows up your nose and try to sneeze them out.
* Read the dictionary backwards and look for subliminal messages.
* When someone says "Have a nice day!" tell them you have other plans.
* Thumb through the National Geographic and draw underwear on the natives.
* Put your toddlers clothes on backward and send her off to preschool as if nothing is wrong. (Would this work for my teenagers? Hmmmm...)
* Get boxes of condoms and randomly put them in peoples carts when they don't realize it.
* Set all the alarm clocks to go off at ten minute intervals throughout the day.
* Run up to an employee (preferably a male) while squeezing your legs together and practically yell at him "Where are your tampons?"
* Try on bras over top of your clothes.
* Walk up to an employee and tell him in an official tone, "I think we've got a Code 3 in housewares," and see what happens.
* Tune all the radios to a polka station; then turn them all off and turn the volumes to "10."
* Challenge other customers to duels with tubes of gift wrap.
* Re-dress the mannequins as you see fit.
* Test the fishing rods and see what you can "catch" from the other aisles.
* Put M&M's on layaway.
* Move "Caution: Wet Floor" signs to carpeted areas.
* Set up a tent in the camping department; tell others you'll only invite them in if they bring pillows from Bed and Bath.
* When someone asks if you need help, begin to cry and ask, "Why won't you people just leave me alone?"
* Take up an entire aisle in Toys by setting up a full scale battlefield with G.I. Joes vs. the X-Men.
* While handling guns in the hunting department, suddenly ask the clerk if he knows where the anti-depressants are.
* Dart around suspiciously while humming the theme from "Mission Impossible."
* Hide in the clothing racks and when people browse through, say things like "Pick me!! Pick me!!" and scare them into believing that the clothes are talking to them.
* When an announcement comes over the loudspeaker, assume the fetal position and scream, "No, no! It's those voices again!"
* Go to an empty checkout stand and try to check people out.
* Go into the dressing room and yell real loud..."Hey, were out of toilet paper in here!"

"Severe Stress: A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor’s office. After his checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone. He said, “Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don’t do the following, your husband will surely die.” The doctor continued, “Each morning, fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant at all times. For lunch make him a nutritious meal. For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him. Don’t burden him with chores. Don’t discuss your problems with him, it will only make his stress worse. No nagging. And most importantly, make love with your husband several times a week. If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely.” On the way home, the husband asked his wife. “What did the doctor say?” To which his wife responded, “He said you’re going to die.”

Wow. I feel so much better now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wow. Just wow.

Literally feel like I took a dodge ball to the face today. But after watching this video, nothing hurts anymore! Thank you, God- for refocusing my attention on what matters. Only Jesus.

If you are breathing, you need to watch this! (Just click the link. The purple words. Go ahead. You can do it.)

Artist's name is David Garibaldi. Gonna have to research this talented guy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To be a Grown Up...

I'm a grown up. I have two teenage children, I have been married to the same great man for almost fifteen years, I have a career as a nurse. By all standards, I'm a grown up.

So why does it feel so surreal and GOOD to spend time with these folks?

(Scott doesn't always look like a mutant. He just has a fetish for amazingly goofy faces.)

I'll tell you why- because they are over the age of 30! Not only do I always feel like there is still so much to learn and so many things I should do "better", but lately Steve and I haven't had much "grown up fun" time. My life has revolved around people under the age of 18. Not to complain, I adore the teens in my life, more than you can imagine. And I love hearing their hearts, watching them grow in wisdom and understanding. But sometimes, you just need to hang with peeps your own age.

The hilarious part is- Steve and I went to a concert with these wonderful friends, and 2 rows in front of us were a dozen or so teenagers we all had brought! How pathetic that our "date night" was in conjunction with a youth event! Oh, Lord- you have a great sense of humor.

Truly, I have been so thankful for the way our fall season has begun. Schooling is going great, work is crazy, and God is on His throne. No matter with tears or laughter, life keeps rolling and we keep thanking God for the way He works.

So as I snuggle my kids, text my TAG girls, IM my boys, laugh at terrible jokes and listen to pop music that makes me gag- I will praise God for the opportunity to learn and love these teenage years for a second time around.

But Friday night, is going to be just for Steve and I!

Here's a cute poem I got in an email awhile back, my thoughts exactly:

When I grow up

What do I want to be like, when I grow up
I will try to be strong, and not give up
Be proud of myself, hold my head up
I want to be brave, and not throw up
Not lose my temper, never blow up
Do what I am told, always turn up
Help other people, cheer them up
But now I'm old, and still not grown up
By Dean Thorpe.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I love technology...

and C.S. Lewis. I read a quote of his today on someone's blog that shouldn't have surprised me in it's simple common sense.

"You don't have a soul. You ARE a soul. You HAVE a body." C.S. Lewis

Very true, yes? As I was trail riding with two of my girls today, I just was reminded of that quote again and the fact that who we are on the inside matters so much more than all the baggage on the outside. I mess up so much, every day- every hour some days- and it feels like the successes and failures define me.

But as I talked with these sweet ones tonight covered in horse hair and dust, and I looked at their young, darling faces- God reminded me that the outside is just icing...the soul that He died to save is who we are. It's what DEFINES us.

In Matthew 16 is says:
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"

It sounds so nice- to follow Jesus. The sticky part is how we do it, by denying ourselves and "taking up" our "crosses". That is so hard, I so very much crave comfort and ease. But I am not going to stop trying. I want to deny the fleshy, "body" that I am currently residing in, and encourage and grow the "soul", the person I REALLY am. Because who I really am isn't defined by how successful or terrible I am at this life, but I am defined by WHO my Father is. I am defined by WHO died to save this soul of mine, and give me life eternal.

(Pictures were from a fun day when I had the chance to celebrate one of my girl's 18th birthday with a horse lesson. Such a great day!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sometimes "longing" can be bearable...

I am going to say it. I am actually excited for autumn. I know, miracles do happen. The clincher was last Sunday. I moved my horses from their summer paddocks into the big barn so they would nice and mud free, and it finally hit me. The leaves changing, the wooly coats and long manes to warm my hands in, the coziness of their stalls and winter blankets. There are some things about fall that can put a smile on my face. Even if the list is short.

I have been spending lots of time with my boy and the book of Philippians the last few days, not necessarily at the same time. The more time I spend with Jordan, the more I "long" for additional time and memories. He is such an amazing person, and so funny. I think about the fact that in two years so much will change, and I LONG to make it stay the same. I see his young man face and I long for the chubby cheeks and quick smile of elementary days.

The dictionary defines longing as : a strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant. I crave so many things, so many people that I love and can't see. In Philippians, Paul "longs" for his "family" too. To want to see someone's face so much, and be separated by distance, time, or sin is just terrible. Being the pessimist that I naturally am, I can hang out in that "longing" stage for far too long. But God is so faithful. He keeps trying to spank the snot out of my bad attitude, and remind me that in the midst of my "longing", I can rejoice and be glad. For He is always near.

Check it out, Pauly just gets done saying how he loves and longs for some peeps and pleading with them to love one another, he even calls them his "joy and crown". Then he states:
" Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your reasonableness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

Would he say that if he didn't think we could do it? Is it possible to long for something and still "rejoice" in the Lord and be at peace? After reading that- I would have to say a resounding YES! And I am so glad God didn't end the instruction there.

Right after that passage, I think God tells us exactly how to cultivate an attitude of joy and peace, rather than one of anxiety and cravings:
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things... And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9

Such a nice feeling. I was struggling with angst and discouragement this morning, and yet- the minute I opened up the Book, and saw those words again...peace came. Thank you, Papa. For always meeting us right where we need You. For giving us peace in the turmoil, and the ability to endure when we crave. And not only to endure, but to rejoice- knowing that someday every desire will be FULLY satisfied in You.

I am going to hug that man child of mine and relish every minute we have, reliving all the great memories of the time I have had with him. I will long for him with a joyful heart all my earthly days, because God blessed me like crazy when He made me Jordan's mother...and that's not a bad thing when I couple my desire with the peace of my Savior. No matter where God takes my boy, he will always have my heart so he won't really be very far away. And I am so glad.
(Totally random pictures. I don't get as many photo ops with Jordan- unless you want to see a hundred shots of him in front of the computer playing Starcraft. I have lots of those!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Trail Rides are pretty awesome.

We have the best memories of Whipple Creek Trails. Our first adventures were out there, following our amazing trainer all around, Jasmine and Jordan barely school age. Then heading out on our own with the dogs and getting thoroughly lost time after time. Now we know the trails backward and forward, and have been able to share them with so many friends because we have the BEST horses.

Here's a little video of how Jasmine spent the last part of her summer. Soon the mud will be too deep and we will have to stay in the arena until May, but for now- the trails keep me sane and give my girl a reason to smile. The cute boyfriend who is a beast of a rider helps her smile too. ;)

And for my horsey friends, please don't fret. I will be working with them on their horsemanship skills! Hahahahaha! Thank God for tolerant, loving horses.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's official.

Fall is here. And I swear I'm not going to hate on it for the next 3 months. I am going to rejoice in the wet. The cold. The gray. The ugly. Really I am.

In my efforts, I shall share a GOOD memory of this lovely season called autumn. When we first started horseback riding, we took classes at Royal Ridges in Battleground. Needless to say, it was a blast. One of my favorites days was blustery and cold, and we had to wait for a long time because the other class ran late.

Can you tell we didn't mind a bit? We still love crunching through the leaves, feeling the cold, fresh air on our cheeks, and being together.

1 Chronicles has an awesome chapter that gives us some tips on how to praise God, and I am so going to use that this week as I try not to grumble. Fall might not be my favorite season, but there is so much that I can PRAISE Him for!

"Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always...
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
Let the trees of the forest sing,
let them sing for joy before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior;
gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
and glory in your praise.” -1 Chronicles 16:10,11,31-35

So, gonna go for a trail ride tomorrow, crunch some leaves (if I can find non-soggy ones) and enjoy this time of year! Thank you Lord for life and breath and everything else.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

To Give and Take Away...

First week of homeschooling a Freshman- check. And it wasn't nearly as terrible as I thought it would be! I feel so blessed to have the chance to teach my girl again in a formal way. To do lesson after lesson and see her excel, it's going to be so cool. The talks we have are usually hilarious and always awesome.

This is what we came from-

We started homeschooling in second grade for Jasmine, and Jordan's fourth grade year.
Back then, we needed the classroom, books, globes and various paraphernalia that made me feel like I was not short-changing my kids from a quality education by trying to be their TEACHER. (THAT was a terrifying first week for this OCD mom.)

Pretty quickly, I realized how little they needed all the fluff, but how much I did. The organization and curriculum helped me be consistent, and helped them stay on track. But after a month or so, it just became so much FUN!

Now, we have really scaled down. Still love Abeka curriculum for High School, but the books and the kitchen table have replaced the classroom set up in the garage with all the goodies.

I had no idea how much homeschooling this year would mean to me. This last June found me not just losing the best friend I have had since first grade, but a dear sister. When she took herself out of our life, I truly felt such nothing I have ever felt. I spent the last few months filling my life with distractions and waking up nearly every morning in tears from horrible, vivid dreams that are filled with her. How pathetic is that? It was amazing that this week, I didn't wake up crying even once. I feel like God has healed my heart so I can finally hear, "I give and take away, and it is always for your good...and for My glory. Bless my name." And truly truly, I can say I want to praise Him. I want to praise Him for the heartache that is teaching me compassion. I want to praise Him for my amazing kids that teach me every day what love and persistence can do. I want to praise Him for my marriage that is a mess at times and always a blessing. I want to praise Him for the friendships and family I still have and cherish. And more than anything, I want to praise Him for the way He surprises me.

I've been reading in John again, knowing how much I need to see Jesus right now, and I found something in Chapter 16 that brought me such comfort. Check it out:
"Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." John 16:20-22

I just love that. Jesus was talking about when He would be taken away from the disciples, and trying to explain to them what was going to happen. But for me, what a comfort- to know that I will "see" Him again, see Him with my own eyes and I won't remember what this summer even represented. I seriously don't remember at all the pain of childbirth. I don't remember the 22 hours with Jordan, or the 45 minutes with Jasmine. They both are a blur, but I COMPLETELY remember the moment I saw them. Like it was yesterday. And I still rejoice.

How awesome is my God to write that passage in a way that makes sense to me? When is there ever NOT a time that He doesn't DESERVE my praise? I can't think of one hard thing that has touched my life that hasn't show up to be the road to an amazing blessing. Not one thing. Oh, how I love you, Jesus.

So as we start this new season with my amazing girl studying at home again, with hard work ahead and big goals of graduating with a high school and college degree at the same time in 4 years- I choose to say, "You give and take away, blessed be the name of the Lord!" No more being a big baby and complaining about what I have lost, but shouting out all that the Lord has given. Such a nice place to be.

(Just for fun, here's a picture Jazz took, she's got a really interesting perspective.)