Saturday, April 30, 2011

Words to Live By

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
Mother Teresa

Monday, April 25, 2011

Camera Cable FOUND!!!!

YIPPIE!!!!  Here are some pictures of our new 4 year old enjoying his birthday!!!

HAHA!  He's trying to give a double thumbs up!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birthday Letter

Dear Little Dude,

Happy 4th Birthday, my sweet, little boy!!!!  You have been counting down birthdays until yours since after The Boy's.  First we celebrate Jesus' birthday, then Daddy's.  You knew that yours was coming up after Daddy's.  So then we started to count sleeps.

You woke up this morning and came to our room and knew that you didn't have any more sleeps left!!!  You knew that TODAY was THE day!!!

Then you thought about it.

Perhaps a little more deeply than most little boys your age.

You got that little whimper; crack in your voice as you tried to talk.

"I don't want to be four," you said.  "I want to be three"

You nestled your little head into my neck.  I think I might have even felt a couple of warm crocodile tears on my cheeks.

But then BuhBuh came to your rescue!!!  He said he had something for you....he put one of his toys and some of his guys on a shelf down low and told you that you could play with those toys anytime you liked and you didn't have to ask.

Thanks BuhBuh!!!

We celebrated YOU with some gifts and birthday cinnamon rolls just like we do with your big brothers.  You really enjoyed opening your gifts.  You got some new games, a pillow pet, a Leapster with some games and a soccer ball.

The cool thing about having your birthday fall on a Sunday is that your church family sings to you!!!  You were pretty excited about this and were giving some pretty enthusiastic fist pumps during the special serenade. 

We went out to lunch with some of our church family.  You asked if the restaurant was a good birthday place and were thrilled, as always that they had your favorite.  Chocolate milk!!!  Mommy and Daddy and The Boy had bible study then we came home and played your with your new games.

You are looking forward to your family dinner next Saturday when your aunties and uncles and cousins and grandmas and papa's will all be here.  Mommy is looking forward to it too.

What a fun year it has been to watch you grow and play and learn.

Naps are a thing of the past.  Once summer hit, it was just too hard to keep any kind of a nap schedule.  You do pretty good for the most part and go to bed well at night.  The car can still almost always lull you to sleep.  Which is not good when it's late afternoon.  We go back and forth between streaks of you climbing into our bed at night.  You've been really good about it lately, waiting until the sun comes up before you come in.  That I'm OK with! 

Although you were mostly potty trained prior to your 3rd birthday, there were a couple of more potty training hurdles that we had to conquer.  Which we did this past summer.   YIPPIE!!!

You started participating in the children's ministry programs at Church on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.  I love that you are able to be independent from mom for short periods.  You also have loved going to preschool this past school year!  You run into your classroom everyday with so much anticipation and excitement and a couple of hours later run out of the classroom excited to see me.  It's been good for both of us I think.

You have a special friend that you met this year at preschool.  A cute little brunette girl who you hug at the beginning of the day at preschool and once more to say goodbye.  The two of you walk out to your mommy's vans holding hands every day.  It's only cute and allowed because you are this young.  We have discussed how she may not spend the night at your house because it's not appropriate for girls and boys to have sleep overs.  But we have enjoyed a couple of play dates after school with her.  You say she's your best friend; your favorite friend.  You tell me that you will miss her just about every day when we leave school.  I think it's precious that your first best friend is a little dark haired girl, just like both of your big brothers had first best friends who were little girls with dark hair as well.

You love the color yellow.  You have begun to enjoy watching Dora during your TV time in the afternoons.  You love to play games.  You play well with BuhBuh, The Boy, cousins, playgroup friends and church friends.  You love to snuggle with mommy in her bed and read books.  You love to wrestle with your Daddy.  You give me countless hugs and kisses all day long.  I love that.  You give a pretty terrific high five.  Recently you've mastered the "super spin"  and you can tell some pretty hilarious knock-knock jokes.  You like to rev your monster trucks through the house.  Your speech is improving, although we think we will need some speech services next school year.  You say such cute, funny things.  You tell me I'm beautiful then ask if that has melted my heart.  And yes, it does, every time. 

We've had lots of fun adventures this past year.  I've always said that 3 is one of my favorite years.  But, I have to tell ya my sweet boy, I'm REALLY excited for 4!!!  I can't wait to spend this last year home with you before you begin all of the adventures of school that lie ahead.  But not yet!!!  Let's just take it slow, one day at a time enjoying the moments that God gives us.

Happy Birthday my sweet little guy.  Mommy loves you so much!!!!

***editors note:  If I werent' trying to unpack boxes (yes, still!) and get ready for a birthday party on top of the normal things that we do day to day, maybe I could have found my camera cable to share some birthday pictures with you.  But NOOOOO, it wants to remain hidden.*** 

Monday, April 11, 2011


BuhBuh:  I like being the middle child

Me:  *grinning*  Oh yeah?  Why is that?

BuhBuh:  Because if I were the oldest I'd only have two younger brothers and no big brother and if I were the youngest I'd only have two older brothers and no younger brothers

After this bedtime conversation with BuhBuh, both of these pictures flashed into my mind. 

Mark Twain Lake, July 2009
Starved Rock State Park, July 2010

I love both of these pictures of my boys.

They both tell me a story.

They both capture a precious, shared moment between the three of them. 

They both give me insight into each of their hearts.

They both remind me that despite the moments of arguing and fighting that occur;  despite my worrying about whether or not my boys will grow up and be brothers who are friends; despite me worrying about whether or not I'm treating them fairly because of their "birth order;"  I know...I see that there is a bond between them that only the three of them will ever share.

I pray that it will continue to grow stronger through the years.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

John Wesley's Historic Questions

In addition to submitting my statement of call to the SPRC, I also had to answer John Wesley's Historic Questions, self-examining questions that have always been asked of those seeking ordination within the United Methodist Church.  the committee needs to reflect upon and weigh into their decision of whether or not to recommend a candidate  Here is what I submitted. 

1.  Do they know God as pardoning God? 
God is love.  God loves me so much that he sent his Son to suffer and die on the cross for me.  It is only by the grace of God that I have been forgiven from the sins of my past, the sins of my present and even from the sins that I am yet to commit.  I know that the grace of God is bigger than any sin that I have committed.  I am forgiven and I am free from being a slave to the sin and the guilt that I once carried.   
Have they the love of God abiding in them? 
It is God, through the Holy Spirit that is alive and active within me, calling me to be the hands and feet of Christ in my home, in my church and in my community and world.  I want to share my love of God with others.  I seek out opportunities to share the love of God with the all that I am privileged to come into contact with, both within the church and outside of the church.  I pray that Christ is reflected in my words and actions.
Do they desire nothing but God? 
My only desire is to live my life loving God and loving others.  My desire is to continue to grow in the grace of God, grow in the wisdom of God and to continue to grow more Christ-like in all that I do. 
Are they holy in all manner of conversation?
I try to speak in such a way that is tender and loving and brings glory to God.   I listen when it’s time to listen and try to provide a positive aspect in negative situations. 

2.   Have the gifts, as well as evidence of God’s grace, for the work? 
I have taken several different spiritual gifts inventories.  The most recent one, on the United Methodist website indicated that my spiritual gift is in teaching with secondary gifts in shepherding, exhortation, compassion, wisdom and faith.  This most recent inventory also reflects the gifts that have appeared in other inventories I have taken, just in a slightly different order.  It is only by God’s grace that I am able to teach youth and children in Christian Education and it is something that I feel that God is currently calling me to do. God provides me with the wisdom needed to lead each class, children’s sermon, devotion or small group that I have had a privilege of leading over the past several years. 
Have they a clear, sound understanding; a right judgment in the things of God; a just conception of salvation by faith? 
Gods’ characteristics are best revealed to us through Jesus’ 3 years of public ministry.  We are created in God’s image and are called to imitate Christ.  As I continue to grow in my faith and study more about Jesus, I become more and more aware of how I am being called to live my life.  There have been many behaviors that I have consciously changed in my life because I feel that they do not reflect Jesus.  John Wesley’s General Rules also offer a good guideline to how we are to live our lives in a way that best reflects Christ; to do no harm and to do good. 
All of us have fallen short of the way God had created us to be.  We are all sinners.  But we are saved from sin when we accept God’s free gift of grace.  Hebrews 11:1 says, “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.”  Before someone accepts the free gift of grace and salvation, faith has to already be working in their lives.  Faith is the understanding, acceptance and belief that God does have something more and better to offer us than what we can try to offer ourselves.
Do they speak justly, readily, clearly?
I am always eager and excited to be able to present the message that God has given me to share whether it is in a large group setting, in a small group or in a one-on-one situation.  I am a certified Lay Speaker within the United Methodist Church, and have had the opportunity to speak in other faith based settings outside of the Church.

3.  Have they fruit?  Have any been truly convinced of sin and converted to God, and are believers edified by their service?
Working with kids and youth has been such fun.  The younger ones are sponges and soak up every word you teach.  The youth are beginning to question and search for answers that they can grasp in a world that can be so negative and confusing.  When I am able to tell a teenager the truth about God and the love that God has for her, and I can see the fear that’s been in her fade, that is fruit.  When I see youth reach out to comfort one another, that is fruit.  When I get to watch youth step out of their comfort zone during mission trips and service projects and serve others with their whole heart, that is fruit.  When I see and hear the children singing, full of enthusiasm, in front of the congregation, that is fruit.  When the children repeat back to you something you taught them, that is fruit.  Being asked to be a reference for the college and high school students is also fruit.  When I receive hugs from the little ones through the college kids, that is fruit.  It is a privilege to be part of the seed-planting in the children and youth I serve. I pray that as those seeds are watered and tended to that they continue to produce fruit, even if I don’t get to witness all of it.  I pray that they will in turn be seed-planters for others and get the joy of watching fruit bloom just as I have seen in them.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Statement of Call

One of the steps into candidacy for ordained ministry is to prepare a written statement of call and submit it to the Staff-Pastor Relations Committee within your local church.  After reviewing and interviewing the candidate they then have to vote so that the candidate can move forward with the process. This is what I submitted.

 In April of 2007 we welcomed our third son into our family.  I was living the stay-at-home mom dream and felt privileged to be able to care for my family.  While holding my infant son one day, I reflected on how content and happy I felt.  No sooner after that idea flooded my heart, I heard God whisper.  I didn’t completely understand at the time, but I felt that God had something planned for my life which I needed to be in prayer about.  Even then, although I couldn’t really articulate what God was doing, I knew.  In that moment while holding my son I actually attempted to bargain with God.  I told God that if I wasn’t pregnant again by the time this baby was 2 years old, maybe then we could talk.
God did not wait 2 years.  Over the course of the next year God continued to place different opportunities for me to serve on my heart.  Obediently, I served hoping that would help to quench the ultimate call that God was leading me towards. 
Just a year after I had tried to “make a deal,” God was no longer whispering, but making sure that I was getting the message loud and clear.  God spoke to me while I was serving on my first mission trip, in scripture and bible study and through songs that played on the radio every time I was in my car.  While preparing to serve on my first Walk to Emmaus Team the Holy Spirit was working on my heart so much that I was overwhelmed with emotion while listening to a Pastor speak.  It became obvious to me that I no longer could ignore or push aside God calling me into ministry any longer.
Despite acknowledging that God was calling me into ministry, I became very confused on the specifics.  I felt very strongly that I was being called to attend seminary but was certain, however, that I was not being called into Pastoral Ministry.  After much prayer, study and talking to others, I learned of the Order of Deacons in the United Methodist Church.  I instantly realized that was the path God was calling me to pursue. 
I feel very strongly that my first call is in our home to my husband and children.  Accepting this call into ordained ministry has been a struggle.  However, when I finally accepted and acknowledged the direction God is leading me, I was filled with a calming, affirming peace.  I have not felt any pressure to rush this process as long as I am pursuing it at a pace that will allow me to be ready for seminary when my youngest begins kindergarten.  God has continued to re-affirm my call over the past few years, which has helped me to remain confident that this is the path I am to continue to follow.
During this season of prayer, study and searching for clarity in the ways that God has called me, and throughout this candidacy process, I have clung to Philippians 2:13 (NLT) “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”  I know that I can not do what God has called me to do on my own.  The only way I can continue to pursue and fulfill this call, is to trust that it is God who is equipping me for both this candidacy process and ordained ministry.  I am merely a humble servant of an awesome, redeeming, God. 

Monday, April 04, 2011

Spring Break Vacation

One of my favorite things is to take vacations with my family.  It gives us a break from the everyday.  It gives us an escape from the busy.  It gives us intentional time together to have fun and enjoy one another without the worry of the calendar, clock or to-do list.

Our Spring Break vacation was split between Walt Disney World in Orlando and Grandma and Grandpa's Florida house in Fort Myers.

 I know Little Dude won't remember his first trip to Walt Disney World .  But it's pretty special to watch a 3-year old experience the excitement of Disney World for the first time and to be part of that excitement and joy with them. 

Although BuhBuh had been to Walt Disney World 5 years ago, we really got to watch him experience it all over again.  


He rode several roller coasters, often times putting up a fight to not ride them, but was always so happy when he did.  

Oh!  And he got to have a little light saber battle.  

Although he asked if he could battle on the dark side (sigh) he thought it was pretty cool. 

The Boy was such a trooper.  He did get to ride several roller coasters which he enjoyed.  But he was a good helper with his brothers. 



He never complained when we rode on the "kid" rides.  

I was worried that he wasn't having any fun.  This was the first vacation that I actually worried and wondered about that.  But when we got home he did tell me that he had fun.  My Sweetie and I realized as we walked out of the Magic Kingdom at 1 in the morning on our last "night" in the parks, that he might not be with us the next time we go. 

We really crammed a lot of the Disney Experience into a short amount of time.  We walked a lot, ate very little, slept very little, but had a ton of fun.  

After the Extreme Disney part of the trip, we drove to Fort Myers to stay with My Sweetie's parents at their Florida home.  We spent one day looking for alligators in the Everglades.


The rest of the time there we spent relaxing on the beach. 

It was BuhBuh's and Little Dude's first time to the ocean. All three boys had a blast playing in the water, digging in the sand and searching for shells. 

I had a blast sitting in my chair watching and soaking up the memories.