Monday, June 27, 2011

Undeserved Lavish Love

The other day I heard about a dad who has never told his children that he loves them.  It broke my heart.

This seems so wrong to me.  I tried to look at it objectively.  I know that not every family is going to be like mine.

I grew up in a family that was generous with verbal praise.  We tell each other we love each other a lot.  A LOT.  Like pretty much every time we see each other or talk on the phone, to this day.  And my husband and I have continued this pattern with each other, and our children.

I know that not every family is cut from the same cloth.  Everyone has their own style.  But I got to thinking, if we are going to pattern our families after anything, it needs to be God's family.

And you know what I find in the Bible?  Lavish love.  Undeserved lavish love.  Told to us in a thousand different ways.  God's love for us, despite our sin, and poured out for us in Jesus.  Which is, of course, the most important part of love.  Let us not love in word or tongue but with actions and in truth.  I John 3:18   So showing love is obviously important.  BUT God sure does a lot of telling about His love as well.  He goes way, way out of His way to tell us how much He loves us.  Just because He loves us.

The main text for our recent women's retreat was Ephesians 3:18-19, where Paul exhorts us to join other Christians in knowing "what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge."

Literally, that we can understand a love that cannot be known.  It's an over-the-top kind of love, that can only be understood by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

Beth Moore used Psalm 103 to expand on the measurement terms.

How wide is His love?  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

How long is His love?  From everlasting to everlasting.

How high is His love?  As far as the heavens are high above the earth, how great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.

We left the retreat amazed at his lavishness.

I've loved Psalm 40:5.  "And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order;  If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."

His thoughts toward me are too high too count?  That's A LOT of love.

I have games I play with my younger children.  I heard this idea once, and it's a winner.  You tell, for example, your 6-year old son:  "You know, if they took all the six-year-old boys in the whole world, and fit them into a football stadium, and told me I could pick any of them I wanted for my six-year-old boy, I would walk around and meet them all.  There would be boys with black hair and brown hair and red hair and blond hair, tall boys and short boys, silly boys and serious boys, boys who like baseball and boys who like football, but when I met you I would say, 'Here he is!  This is the one I want.  I don't need to look anymore.  I've found him. I want to take this one home!"  They. Love. It.  It might seem a little silly, but trust me on this one.

Until our kids get older, the only way they are going to understand God's magnificent love for them, is through our love.  Parents need to point the way to God for sure, but they are wired to trust us and need our love, and gradually they will, prayerfully, come to a close relationship with God.   But we are their first picture of what love is supposed to be. And they need to know they are loved... not because of their performance, but just because they ARE.

As for the dad who's never said "I love you," to his kids, I don't even know him, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't lavished with love as a kid.  But God is our Father, so let's be like Him.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, 
that we should be called the children of God!  For that is what we are!  
I John 3:1 NIV

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hang in there, Mommy!

It’s summertime!  The transition feels different this year.  Going from homeschooling everyone to summer break isn’t such a big deal.  But going from having two kids in school, to having everyone home, is really sweet.

Seven kids, ages four to seventeen, all home, for the most part of our summer days.  And it’s wonderful.  It brings tears to my eyes, thinking about how thankful I am that the atmosphere in our home is what it is.  That my children are who they are, by the grace of God.

I was prompted to write, as I thought about the fact that I am reaping the benefits of much labor, both my own and that of others.  I want to encourage those who are still in the trenches of raising small children to keep up the good work!  It will be worth it.

Let me state the obvious:  We are not a perfect family.  I had a dear friend describe another family to me by saying, “They are like your family.  Everyone thinks they’re perfect.  Until they get to know them.” 

So true.  But imperfect as we are, we do enjoy our kids, and other people seem to like them too.  And while sanctification is an ongoing journey,  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  (3 John 1:4)

I love where I’m at in this parenting journey.  It’s not as much work now, and there is much enjoyment!  I just want to remind you, yes you, the one with piles of laundry and dishes and diapers, that it’s worth it!

When you are interrupted from making dinner (for the third time), and patiently give kisses and band-aids, you are loving your children and showing them Jesus.

When you have to stop story time with your two-year-old, to lovingly give needed discipline to your four-year-old, you are teaching them to fear the Lord, which will bring them joy all the days of their lives.

When it takes you three times as long to unload the dishwasher because of your “help,” you are paving the way for the day when they can do this chore independently.  You won’t be the only one doing dishes and laundry and cooking forever!

When it seems difficult to get everyone to settle down for devotional in the morning, you are teaching them to persevere and prioritize what is most important in life.

When you hold them to the standards of the Word (Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32) and not the world, their sibling relationships will flourish.

When you say no, even to good things, if life is too busy, they will know how much you value time as a family.

When you share with joy what God has been teaching you, they will see it’s a relationship, not a religion.

When you step away from your computer, and play baseball in the backyard, you are showing them how important they are to you.

When you take them on “special dates,” you are giving them time to ask questions alone, share their hearts, and just feel loved.

When they see you have your quiet time in the morning (or see your open Bible and empty coffee mug on the table) you are modeling dependence on the living God.

Though you might groan inwardly when the early morning quiet is broken, your cheerful “Good Morning,” smile, kiss and hug is teaching them how to greet each day and those around them.

Are you noticing a trend here?  God’s Word is invaluable.

I’m deeply grateful for instruction I have received, starting with having had great parents myself. I’ve also learned so much through parenting classes and sermons, godly women and great books.  But all of these things are based on one book – the Bible – which in and of itself has taught me the most.

Because I have also received some bad parenting advice.  From Christian people and Christian churches and Christian books.  And I wouldn’t have known it was bad advice if I didn’t have God’s Word to compare it to.

So if you are a mommy of young children, I want to encourage you, most of all, to be in the Word!  Get up earlier than your kids if you can.  Or let your kids watch a video.  You only need fifteen minutes.

Just fifteen minutes. 

More is nice.  But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t.  Here’s a great way to get started.

Love those babies.  They grow up so fast.  All the old ladies will tell you that (especially when you’re about to tear your hair out, and it doesn’t seem fast at all).  But I heard a great quote that made sense of it. 

“The years are fast, but the days are slow.”

I know it's not easy.  You have the most important job in the world.  But if you belong to Him, you have the God who created everything available to you 24/7.  That’s not a bad deal.  I hope you will take advantage of it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Can't Stop Laughing and Other Thankful Thoughts

If anyone is new to this blog, this thankful list begins here, and is a result of reading One Thousand Gifts (A Dare to Live Fully, Right Where You Are) by Ann Voskamp.  A highly recommended read!
  • Cade’s sweet compassion for his younger brother
  • Tender words
  • Bode finally realizing that it’s not that bad to wash his hair, and announcing that he’s going to do it every day
  • Boys in baseball uniforms
  • Kind words from friends
  • Learning to crave vegetables
  • First really warm days of spring
  • Fresh produce on an old-fashioned china platter
  • Double peony-tulips
  • Silly texts with a girlfriend
  • Projects coming together
  • Bone-tired accomplishment (yard work!)
  • Texting with son out-of-town, who tells me he loves me
  • Late afternoon clean-up frenzies for a beautiful, tidy house to start the weekend
  • Watermelon slices
  • Coffee and Bible and Prayer on a quiet Saturday morning (with my newly put together quiet time basket with containers for prayer, verse and blank note cards to use with my beautiful stickers!)
  • Baseball-playing boys knowing exactly where their uniforms are before the game (i.e. not having to run around madly looking for a jersey)
  • Laughing so hard with Dan that I cried.  Can’t stop.  Laughing.  Crying.*
  • Godly, loving women who want to bless their friend.  Throwing a baby shower with the sweetest of people for a mutual friend, who is so dear and such a wonderful mother... celebrating her fourth baby.
  • Roasted beets with goat cheese
  • Sun-kissed cheeks
  • Popsicles on a sunny afternoon
  • Long walks and talks with friends
  • Teaching Sunday School.  Such joy in sharing the greatest gift of all.  I love teaching God’s Word.

*I don’t know if this explanation will be funny to any of you, but I’ll tell you why we were laughing.  We have had a LOT of water issues lately.  Hot water issues, water pressure issues, water pump issues, and irrigation issues.  I have had several mornings with no water = backed up dishes and laundry.  We’ve had a new hot water tank and new pressure pump installed.  Then Thursday morning the water pressure completely went out during Courtney’s shower.  Followed by a fountain of water shooting from the ground.  I called Dan on his way to work to tell him, and based on the fact that we’d had pressure issues with the shower, and that I told him I was looking out the bedroom window, he thought I was talking about the overflow valve, which would have to do with the pressure pump that had just been installed on Monday.  But I was looking out the other bedroom window.

So he called the pump and well specialists.  When the guy cam over to fix it, he kept giving me strange looks and told me several times that he doesn’t normally fix this kind of problem, but that he would.  I’m thinking, as I run around crazy with voice teacher here, my dad arriving, and running out the door, “okay, as long as it gets fixed so I can have water again.”  So late that night, all is fixed and Dan and I are getting ready for bed, and he asks me again where the water was shooting out from this morning.  When I tell him, he cracks up.  And we realize we called the pump and well specialists to fix a broken part on our sprinkler system. Which they kindly did.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Great Report from Japan

From missionaries in Japan, who were there before the earthquake...

So happy to see that Samaritan's Purse is helping with relief and helping the local economy!

MONDAY, APRIL 04, 2011

In praise of relief agencies...

I spent some time talking with an Asian Access missionary who has been in Sendai for the past two weeks. In his role he interfaced withSamaritan's Purse and Food for the Hungry staff and assisted in distribution of their supplies. Their experience with disaster relief has been invaluable, and their goods have been wisely chosen.

In the past two weeks since the first load from Samaritan's Purse arrived in Sendai, they have gone out of their way to obtain other things that become apparent as needs. They purchased large amounts of some goods from Costco here in Japan--is that why I can't find what I'm looking for? ;-) I'll gladly give those things up if they are being used for the relief effort in Tohoku!

Currently they recognize that people need transportation. So rather than bringing in bicycles from outside the country, they are going to the local bike shops to purchase the bikes. In doing this, they encourage the local economy and provide a basic need for people.

As my friend, Peter said:
Learned so much over the past two weeks. I love what is starting to happen. Samaritan's Purse is contracting with local businesses to supply goods that SP will give away. Instead of bringing in everything from far away, they will support local business in a time of great need. The businesses sell to SP and SP gives it to people who lost everything. Double win. Beautiful. So amazing. Needs change daily, one day they are ordering tens of thousands of pairs of underwear, the next they are buying bikes. All going free to people in great need. But the combo of buying local when possible and giving local is great to see, especially in expensive Japan.

I know that many times people want to do something tangible to help, and I am guilty of thinking that giving to a major relief agency is not that helpful. But I want to say that these agencies are doing a great job, and the financial donations people give are making a strategic difference in the lives of people.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On My Way to 1000!

  • Such a busy and full life, kind-of a little crazy sometimes, but thankful for quiet times in the morning that make all the difference in my day, and for One Thousand Gifts for helping slow down, be thankful, and appreciate each moment
  • Red patchwork quilts
  • Fresh, warm, floral smell of the greenhouse
  • Hot bath, book and bed
  • Laughing with my ladies at Bible study
  • Finding the right motivation for my kids
  • Seeing their “aha” moments
  • A perfectly caught pop-fly
  • The privilege of taking care of my sweet kiddos when they are sick.  Having medicine, tea, and all I need to care for them.  It makes my heart break for mommas with sick babies who have no resources to care for them.  Such a good reminder to live simply, to give more to those in need.
  • Grant’s Ant Traps (Does anyone else get inundated with ants every spring?)
  • Money to buy groceries. I never want to take this for granted.  I am so thankful to be able to buy good food for our family.
  • Knowing that my favorite pajamas will be clean for bed tonight
  • Tyler Candles, “French Market” scent
  • Dinner in the crockpot
  • Kat texting me about prom plans and bringing friends over after the big event
  • Still feeling a little needed and wanted for advice and ideas in her life
  • Courtney’s delight in her new phone, and in her friend "finally" getting a phone
  • Giggles 
  • Dan’s team winning their first game of the season
  • Courtney’s music compositions.  She mailed a copy to my grandpa, a musician and former music teacher.  He played it on the piano in his retirement home and wrote her a letter, commenting on it.   “Not only do you have some very interesting melodies, but your chord progressions are excellent.  The modulations to different keys were well done.  And I was thrilled to hear some diminished chords throughout the composition.  Keep up the good work!”
  • The bright mind and good health of my 95-year-old grandfather!
  • The sheer delight of my littlest boys when I tell them we are going to drive-through at McDonalds to get ice cream cones and super-hero toys. (I think this was the first time I had ever taken them to McDonalds.)
  • Tuck-in cuddles, back scratches and head-rubs with Abby.  It’s not a real tuck-in for her unless I get under the covers, and preferably fall asleep with her as well.
  • Bode's giggles (I wish I could count how many times a day he giggles or laughs hysterically)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Always so good to be home!

Though for the first time in many years, I could have stayed on vacation longer.  With no babies in the house, it's a lot easier to travel, and I wasn't dying to get back to my normal routine.  It made me a little sad to leave beautiful, warm Maui.

It was a huge blessing to wake up Sunday morning and go to church and hear a great sermon on contentment from Philippians 4.  It was also much needed ammunition devotional material for my youngest kids today as they had the "I've had too much vacation" attitude.  God's Word is amazing!  Our morning had a complete turn-around after we read about Paul's contentment in any circumstance and the only true satisfaction (Jesus!) that doesn't leave us longing for more (John 4).

 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:12-13

And the thankful list continues... a few with photos...

124.     Bantam rooster in the morning
125.     Daffodils, anemones, hyacinths and camellias blooming (and bouquets of them in the house, made by my sweet mother)
126.     Not having to think about where the light switches are
127.     Jack, willing to wake up before 5 a.m. Hawaii time our first morning back, because he’s so excited to play some basketball
128.     Worship, great sermon, and sweet friends at church
129.     Lots of sun breaks
130.     Birdsong in the morning and frogs at night
131.     Everything familiar, especially my bed
132.     Cooking (I love the combination of making recipes that call for lots of vegetables and making chicken stock - adding the unusable or less desirable parts to simmer with a chicken carcass. Beautiful color!)

133.  Buds about to burst open on the magnolia tree outside my bedroom window (I think of this tree as the “Hope of Spring” as I see it’s big, fuzzy buds all winter long)
134.  Clean laundry
135.  Teaching Sunday School with Dan
136.  Sweet hugs from kids we teach
137.  Early work-out with my best friend, laughing, catching up – always a great start to my week
138.  Brother buddies

139.  Homeschooling moments

140.  Logistics working out for tonight’s two baseball practices, one parent meeting, one basketball practice, one gymnastics lesson, one piano lesson and one play rehearsal.  Everyone is able to get where they need to go thanks to a third driver in the family and a little help from our friends!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Today at lunch I saw a woman with the most joyful eyes. She was probably close to 70, white-haired and more than pleasantly plump. My instant thought upon seeing her was that I don't mind the thought of growing older if I can look like her. She was with family, and while they went in to order food she sat outside at a table.

I had to tell her. She was just so beautiful. She was surprised, a little embarrassed,
pleased and more than a little doubtful about my eyesight, I think. But I went on to tell her it was the joy in her eyes, such a brightness about her. Then she looked at me, a little deeper, and with a more knowing voice and said, "Well, I do love the Lord." I smiled big and nodded, "Of course you do. That's it."

I saw Him in her eyes.

She grabbed my arm and gave a little hug, her family came out and the moment was gone.

That's who I want to be. So full of his grace that I shine His love without saying a word.

Almost Aloha

I am looking forward to our last full day in Hawaii, but also looking forward to home!

Yesterday I finally got to swim in the ocean.  One of my favorite things in life.  I was trying to figure out why I hadn't done it before, and then I remembered!  I'd been so busy watching the kids I couldn't get in myself.  Now they are all ocean-ed out!

Here's a few shots from the past few days:

That last one is Cade playing his DS under a towel.  Ha!  Really appreciating the moment and all the beauty around him.

We did a family photo session with a photographer last night on a beautiful beach a few miles from here.  I can't wait to see the pictures, but for now, here's a glimpse of the scene.

And of course, I couldn't end this post without some thankful thoughts.

100.     Perfect bird shadows (such cute little feet!) above my head as they walk across the cabana roof
101.     Torch-lit flagstone paths along the beach
102.     Wolfgang Puck’s amazing food
103.     Sunset dinners overlooking the ocean
104.     That Dan and I both love to talk and make new friends when we’re out to dinner
105.     Glorious mornings
106.     Birdsong
107.     First thoughts of day are thanks to God
108.     Birds in pairs
109.  Tan feet in flip-flops
110.  Polka dots of light on the page of my book; sun through the brim of my sun hat
111.  Amazing convenience and efficiency of email, camera, texting, games for kids to play, the Bible, Internet, note-taking all in one place.  Oh, and it's a phone too!
112.  Bougainvillea everywhere
113.  Swimming in the best wave pool ever (the Pacific Ocean)
114.  Watching liquid gems of sapphire, aquamarine, emerald and peridot cascade toward me again and again
115.  Gardenias
116.  Sashimi
117.  God-appointed conversations
118.  Psalm 25
119.  Running, dancing, posing, and kissing on the beach at sunset for family pictures.
120.  So tired of eating out that everyone is overjoyed at cereal, fruit, bread and lunchmeat in our hotel room.
121.  Praying together.
122.  A red cardinal on the railing not six feet from me.
123.  Wet sand between my toes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eucharisteo III

I realize it's really not hard to put together a thankful list while in Hawaii.  And I'm actually looking forward to more of a challenge when we're back to regular life.

Thought this was a great quote from the book today:

One act of thanksgiving,
when things go wrong with us,
is worth a thousand thanks when things
are agreeable to our inclinations.
Sant John of Avila

But I still like documenting our trip through random thankful thoughts.

80.  Holding hands and snorkeling
81.  The wonder of another world under the surface of the water
82.  Two proud little boys emerging from their room, very early morning, in matching outfits:  “We’re all dressed and we packed!”
83.  The fun of a new location (moving to a hotel today).
84.  My capable, caring husband; packing the car up for me since he was golfing when we moved to the hotel.
85.  Ahi Poke from Safeway, all packaged up in the meat department just like chicken or beef, with an expiration date.  Only in Hawaii…
86.  The scent of plumeria
87.  Ceiling fans
88.  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before Him.  Psalm 22:27
89.  After four days in Hawaii, Kat and Cocoa are talking about missing their jeans and Uggs… that’s a little strange, but I’m glad they love living in Oregon!
90.  Jack’s new love for Ahi Poke
91.  But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.  Psalm 52:8
92.  Today Abby told me she wants to go home.  Do you mean back to the hotel? “No, home.  I miss doing my kitchen jobs and cleaning my room.”  Again, really?  But I’m glad she likes her life at home (and cleaning!) :)
93.  I always tell Dan he does too much, but I have to love the fact that he pre-programmed my GPS while we were still in Portland for every location I would need while in Hawaii (including Whole Foods).
94.  Abby told me her tummy hurt as we got out of the car at the hotel, and threw up in the bushes!  I'm so thankful it didn't happen a moment earlier.  Poor girl, now she’s worried the bellman is going to recognize her every time we go somewhere in the car.  (She’s fine, was just a little carsick.)
95.  Seeing friends and meeting new people, all from Portland, but here in Maui for spring break.  A party put together on facebook. Thanks, Wooleys!
96.  Arbonne “Glow With It” after-sun lotion.  Saves me when I’m sunburned.
97.  Fresh sheets.
98.  Sunsets on the beach.
99.  Flower leis.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eucharisteo II

From One Thousand Gifts:

"A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit."  Erasmus said that, contemporary and admirer of Martin Luther.  When I read this thought, I am surprised because I had never known and I am sad for all that would have changed if only I had.

I look down at the pen, this pen I keep wielding, one writing her way to one thousand.  This pen:  this is nothing less than the driving of nails.  Nails driving out my habits of discontent and driving in my habit of eucharisteo.  I'm hammering in nails to pound out nails, ugly nails that Satan has pierced through the world, my heart.  It starts to unfold, light in the dark, a door opening up, how all these years it's been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent.  Because that habit of discontent can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper.  The sleek pen of gratitude.

I hammer.

And so my list continues.

58.  Enjoying different family dynamics when our oldest three are elsewhere
59.  Dinner for 6 on the lanai
60.  Tucking in tired, sun kissed children
61.  Not knowing or caring what day it is
62.  Early morning cuddles.
63.  Kissing soft chubby Bode cheeks.
64.  Wondering what deep thoughts Cade is thinking.
65.  The strange feeling of having a child that is smarter than I am.
66.  God’s goodness in giving me everything I need, mostly a relationship with him, to raise these children to His glory.
67.  Contentment
68.  Simple habits of coffee, Bible, reading the Psalm of the today’s date.
69.  The spiritual disciplines of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication (ACTS).
70.  Leather journals
71.  Bode sideling up next to me, asking me what all the highlighted verses in my Bible say
72.  Blond highlights coming out in my children’s sun-kissed hair.
73.  Bode back for round four of morning hugs.
74.  Early morning TV for kids so I can have some uninterrupted quiet time.
75.  Dan waking up right when I realized I have no idea how to operate the TV
76.  Working out in a breeze
77.  The feel of a good stretch
78.  Post workout pineapple juice
79.  More time to read One Thousand Gifts on the deck

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    A Prayer for Japan from John Piper

    Two blog posts in one day!  After six weeks of silence.  I know, it's a miracle.  That, or I'm on vacation.  But this is so beautiful, and too long for a facebook status, so I had to share.

    Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.

    O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.

    And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.
    Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

    Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.

    May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures' pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.

    In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.

    Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.
    And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.
    O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.

    In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.
    John Piper



    It’s one of those books. 

    All of a sudden everyone is talking about it.

    Two friends, who rarely text, both texted me the same week to ask me if I’d read it.

    Another friend is blogging about it.

    It’s featured on the book table at Barnes and Noble.

    And one of the texting friends bought it for me to take to Hawaii.

    I haven’t even finished reading it, but I love the ideas in it.  I can’t say that I love the book perfectly.  I’m not a huge fan of flowery, wordy writing.  But I love lists.  And I love being thankful.  And I love it when something that is already a part of me is so well expressed by someone else.

    So here it is – the key to a joyful life.  Let Jesus rescue you first.  Then practice thankfulness.

    Make a list of a thousand things you’re thankful for.  Work on it everyday.  When you’re done, do it again. 

    I’m going to attempt a list while in Hawaii… I may not make it to a thousand.  But when I get home I’ll keep going…

    1. Feeling the sun on my face, while still in the Northwest, but flying at 30,000 feet
    2. Five hours of quiet time on the plane - reading, sleeping, journaling
    3. My kids filing past me as they walk back to their seats, and getting the often asked question, “Are those ALL your kids?  How many are there?”  Knowing how thankful I am for the answer of so many blessings.
    4. Remembering what it feels like to be hot
    5. Bode running with abandonment and delight on the beach
    6. Everyone’s joy in body surfing, getting braver moment by moment
    7. Dining al fresco
    8. Beach walker’s faces lighting up with smiles as Bode runs across their path, concentrating on his shovel of sand
    9. Being home from the beach, so I can stop counting to seven over and over :)
    10. Early morning cup of coffee
    11. Quiet time outside, full moon lighting the ocean
    12. Lemons and limes on a black bamboo tray
    13. Pineapple in a wooden bowl
    14. Eggs in a weathered basket
    15. Getting my work out done early
    16. Early morning on the deck, seeing Ryan and Abby through the window, both reading in bed
    17. A luxurious second cup of coffee
    18. Everyone’s delight with individual servings of microwaveable white rice
    19. Katherine’s eyes
    20. The laughter on my children’s faces as they preview the beginning of another family music video
    21. Morning sun lighting up big, white, puffy clouds
    22. A day of nothing planned… except swimming and beach time… settling in for quiet time, round two
    23. Grapefruit piled in a pedestal bowl
    24. Remembering that my big kids need hugs too and feeling them relax into my arms
    25. An almost 180 degree view of the ocean from my bed
    26. Palm trees blowing in the tropical wind
    27. Jack’s deepening voice and growing height; mistaking him for Dan from across the way.
    28. A vacation house on a hill in an unfinished subdivision, surrounded by empty lots = not having to worry about the noise we make
    29. Browsing contentedly at the bookstore for almost an hour before dinner
    30. Seeing my husband help in random situations – moving displays at the bookstore when the water starts to leak from the ceiling
    31. Dinner out with my man
    32. Ordering salad and soup (which is all I really want, but liking helping him justify his Surf and Turf) and sharing bites of his steak
    33. Surprising my little ones with legos in the morning
    34. A stunningly bright red bird in the bush
    35. Cade’s look of concentration as he builds his legos
    36. Doting on my kids; having nothing to do but bring them juice in the hot tub or pick up their towels.
    37. Hearing “I love you more” from Cade, every time I tell him I love him
    38. Surprise hugs from behind; my husband’s arms around me
    39. My sweet friend Jenni, for buying me this book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp
    40. Katherine and Courtney’s closeness when there are no other friends around; knowing they will be best friends for life
    41. Abby’s dimples
    42. The bright sapphire blue ocean
    43. Whitecaps
    44. Sailboats
    45. The flower in Abby’s hair
    46. Cute new cork wedge heels
    47. A rainbow
    48. “Look, Daddy!  A blue ladybug,” says my fifteen-year-old daughter.
    49. Cade’s arm around Bode; their sweet friendship
    50. Kids in matching bathing suits.
    51. Courtney’s curls
    52. All my girls piled on my bed with me
    53. My parents examples of thankfulness; living a life of trusting God and His Word
    54. My dear friend Dayna, for living a life of joy with me and teaching me to beautify and simplify
    55. How much bluer Cade’s eyes look when his face is tan
    56. Seeing gigantic tropical versions of plants I know and love from home
    57. Hearing that the sun is shining in Portland!

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    "Trader Joe's" Garden

    I know this doesn't look like much.

    But it's filled with hope!

    This garden bed is used for veggies in the summer, but is also home to all kinds of bulbs, most of them purchased at Trader Joe's in springs past.  You know, cute little 4 inch pots of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths.  Always a great deal at TJ's.  You can pop them into a pretty container and enjoy them for a week or two.  But after they're done blooming, you can also save them, because they will come back every year!

    As the flower buds get larger and closer to opening, I dig them up, stick them in a pot, and bring them in the house to enjoy.  I've also experimented with burying spent bulbs in the plastic pot, digging it up again a year later, wiping it down, and placing it inside a decorative container.  It's worked, but as the years go by, they will probably not thrive without more room to multiply.

    This little pot is on year two - just pulled it out of the ground yesterday.
    And just in case you were wondering, my desk is STILL clean! :)
    And on an unrelated note, here's a close up of the card leaning against the "flowers" box.
    I love my new bird and nest stickers!  For the "Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed" Bible study I'm doing we have had lots of opportunities to write down verses for meditation and to pray for our families.  I love God's Word, but my flesh is weak, and having them on cute sticker-ed notecards makes me more likely to memorize and pray them!

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Food Confusion

    Are you confused about what's really healthy to feed your family?

    Me too.

    I'm still learning, but here's a few basics ideas based on the way people ate for thousands of years before the rates of degenerative diseases skyrocketed.  I'm guest blogging today over at Kari Patterson's.

    Happy Friday!

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Inspiration for Organization

    I've always loved organization.  But as I got into this wonderful world of having kids, I stopped being any more organized than I absolutely needed to be for survival.

    Now that Bode is four and a half, I feel like this January has been my best ever.

    And if you're in the mood to get organized, I'll share what has helped this crazy mother along.

    First off for me was January's issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  I perused it during the Christmas break, and it made me itch to get back home and clean off my desk.

    My desk has always been the thorn in my side.  I've never been able to stay on top of the paperwork.  It has certainly never stayed clean longer than a week.  And while this may not seem monumental to you, I am proud to say that it's been perfectly clean before bed, every night, for three weeks.  I sure hope I have turned over a new leaf.

    I think the secret is that I've applied the Flylady's shiny kitchen sink theory to my desk.  It must have taken me three years to consistently get the kitchen sink clean before bed each night.  Prior to that I didn't try at all, due to the fact that I was nursing babies, changing diapers, not sleeping through the night, etc.  

    Of course, the Flylady wouldn't quite approve of my sink.  Only the left half shines.  The right half usually has dishes from late night snacks, but I don't mind... as long as they're covered in a mound of Mrs. Meyer's honeysuckle dishsoap bubbles.  Somehow that makes it okay.

    So applying the kitchen sink theory to my desk is simply this:  It must be clean before bed.  Every night.

    To get things started, I put away all the stuff that I didn't really need (and probably should be filed, but I never got around to it) in a remote file drawer under my desk.  And only kept out the stuff that really matters.

    I reclaimed a cute container from my gardening armoire to be my catch-all, and this is all I'm allowing myself to keep on my desk.  My desk, by the way, is one half of a country pine table.  It's roughly one quarter of the office that is shared by four or five of us, so I have to be content to keep my little corner of the world tidy.

    I have a few active files on the side of my storage armoire.

    And pretty new things always help me get organized.  I love these antique-looking butterfly file folders.
    This is it.  It may not be much, but it's tidy and I'm happy.
    I take care of paper work daily, instead of weekly, monthly or when I'm in trouble :-)

    And you know how it goes... you organize one spot, and it leads to more!  You should see my bathroom.  And schoolroom!  I'm sure I'll keep it up... until gardening season starts.

    Happy January!

    P.S.  I can't help myself.  I have to post pictures of my bathroom.  Look at those cute bird stickers down below!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    A New Way of Shopping

    I have continued to enjoy this new pursuit to shop fair trade.  It's kind of like when I woke up to the reality of how badly I ate.  I started reading labels and switching to whole foods, and it hit me: What was I thinking before? When I would stick anything that tasted good in my mouth without thinking about what it really was and where it came from and what it was doing to my health.

    What was I thinking when I cared only about the cost of an item?  Why did I never consider the benefit of buying a costlier item from an ethical company?  That you really do get what you pay for and I want to pay for workers being treated fairly.  

    So it's adventure every week, in some way or another.  I still have lots to learn, but I am enjoying the journey.  One of my favorite finds so far was prizes for Abby's birthday party.  I purchased bottle cap necklaces made by eleven-year-old Sami on the east coast.  All of the proceeds go to buy shoes for orphans in Ethiopia, including our Adanu.  Sami's dad pays for all her materials, so 100% of the proceeds go to buy shoes for kids who are being cared for by Children's Hope Chest and learning daily about God's love for them!

    She also has cute polka-dot backgrounds with an initial of your choice, 
    and other styles, so be sure to check them out here!