Archive for the ‘Christian living’ Category

Purple Crayon Catastrophe

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

About ten years ago I had a conversation with Bethany that went something like this:

Bethany at 5. She has always liked to accessorize.

Bethany: “Mommy, do people need clothes in Heaven?”

Me: “I don’t think so, Sweetie. Why do you ask?”

Bethany: “Well, I really like my clothes and I want to take them with me when I go to Heaven.”

Bethany’s love for pretty clothing and accessories has only increased over the years, and I must say, she gets it honestly. I “get” this child of mine, truly. So today when I heard a scream coming from the laundry room just three hours before she was to leave on a weekend youth retreat, my heart sank. “Did I do something?” I wondered. It’s not easy being the mom of three teenage girls with varying laundry schedules, rituals, and demands. I wondered if our 18-year old machine “greased” her favorites. Did a sister throw in a black hoodie with her favorite white tee? While I had no idea what awaited me as I entered the laundry room, one thing was certain … Bethany was not happy.

The culprit was, and I mean “was” in the most past tense possible… a purple crayon. The only thing left of the crayon was the wrapper. The rest of it was distributed in spots of varying sizes all over Bethany’s very favorite shirts. Yes, the shirts that she’d carefully selected and planned to wear on her weekend away – ruined.

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The culprit… the crayon that is no more.

Esther, seeing and seizing an opportunity to make a bad situation worse stated, “Bethany, just be glad you didn’t break the washing machine. Your clothes actually don’t matter too much, ya know.” (Did I mention our washing machine is old??)

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Sarah’s spotty camp shirt. Hoping it can be replaced this weekend

Sarah entered the scene and realized her camp T-shirt, a souvenir from one of her favorite weeks of her life, suffered the worst purple-spottiness of the whole load.

Anna and Christina were frantically trying to finish homework so they could enjoy their weekend away and needed quiet. There were some un-quiet requests for me to “Make it all stop!”

I will spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that the Jobe house experienced a wee bit of drama this morning. I know I should expect such tension right before a spiritual retreat. Doesn’t Satan like to attack on Sunday mornings as well?

I may or may not have added to the emotion. Haven’t I instructed these girls of mine to check pockets? Ugh. This was the day I was *supposed* to catch up on school work. We had stuff to do! The kitchen needed attention. I like rooms left clean. And there is always math. Besides, the girls do have other things they can wear, and I’m a believer in natural consequences. They’d just have to deal with it and get back to packing and leave me alone.

I instructed them to separate to cool down because there became a bit of blame-casting. Who *really* threw the clothes in the dryer where the setting-in-of-purple occurred? “Who really cares?” I thought. I told Bethany to google “wax-removal.” I went to my room to pray. And the Lord reminded me of an incident that happened on my wedding day.

A young child had thrown birdseed from a punch cup on me as my groom and I left our reception site. After leaving, we escaped to our new apartment to gather our suitcases before heading off to our honeymoon. I panicked and fought back tears as I noticed little spots all over my dress. Because I borrowed my wedding dress, I spent quite a bit of time selecting the “perfect” going-away dress. Money was scarce, and I got it at a good price, but I could not afford to replace it. I knew in my heart after seeing those spots that my “going-away dress”, after only a 20-minute debut, was truly “gone.” However, I spot-treated it, threw it in the wash, and hoped for the best. Of course, having only been married a few hours, I had not mastered the art of communication with my new husband. I failed to tell him it needed to drip dry. He, being quite eager to leave to make our dinner reservation, put the dress in the dryer once it completed the “gentle” wash cycle.

The dress, which was punch stained and, after drying, small enough to fit a doll, was certainly ruined. I tossed it in the pile of wedding-gift-wrap garbage before leaving for the first dinner of our new marriage.

Today, after I left the laundry-room fiasco and escaped to my room, the Lord reminded me of a precious gift and the ending to my wedding-day story. When Daniel and I returned from our honeymoon, a $100 check awaited me. My mother-in-law heard what happened and wanted to replace my dress. This gift spoke love to me. She cared about something that I felt silly admitting even mattered.

So, today, after a few minutes with the Lord, I left the house and headed to Old Navy, praying as I drove that I could find a blessing for Bethany… and quickly!

I love Jesus. I love how he cares about little things. Bethany lost a tan striped shirt, a true favorite of hers. I found one, slightly different, but very similar for only $7.50. Other casualties of the purple-crayon wash were two flannel button-downs. I found prettier ones that, with my coupons, cost only $10 each. I quickly glanced at the clearance section and spotted a coral cardigan that looked beautiful with the tan-striped shirt. On one of those manequins, a lovely tan scarf that would “tie it all together”caught my eye. It was 35% off.  So, I de-scarfed the dummy, and, in only ten minutes of total shopping time, left Old Navy with all these items for an extremely reasonable price. I have shopped multiple stores on all-day trips with much less success!

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After arriving home, I walked in the front door, glanced upstairs, and saw Bethany working on her soiled items. I eagerly walked up to the laundry room, handed her the bag and received one of those hugs that a mom does not quickly forget. The new clothes… a perfect fit. Another small miracle.

I document this event so that I will remember that the Lord doesn’t always care about those “natural consequences.” He wants me to love and show compassion. He wants for me to always be willing to alter my to-do list – a list I hold onto pretty tightly sometimes. He wants me to leave the drama that is so rampant in this highly hormonal home and ask him for direction. His ways are good.

It’s true that Bethany can’t take her clothes with her to Heaven. She has matured quite a bit since our conversation years ago and knows her stuff has no eternal value. However, a pretty new sweater for this weekend is a symbol.. her mama loves her and her father in Heaven loves her even more.

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Harder Than I Thought

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I have given up facebook and blog reading for Lent.

The Lord has been prompting me to do this for a while. In the mornings, sometimes after quiet time, sometimes not, I open my computer and check my e-mail. I quickly delete most new arrivals because it’s that superfluous “stuff” that I actually allow in my life: homeschool devotions; health encouragement; message board summaries… things I like, but can’t really invest the time to read every day. I respond to any urgent e-mails. With my homeschool co-op, I often have questions to answer. With six very active teens, e-mail is a critical means of staying on top of their lessons, both curricular and extra-curricular. 30 minutes pass. And then I check facebook. Another 30 minutes.

Then there is my iPhone… a portable computer. A little device that informs me anytime “news” arrives; texts, e-mails, facebook notifications. I could check it ten times an hour and find something new each time. I love my iPhone… but it is addictive.

The Lord has shown me that slowly I have become addicted to so much “in-coming” information. My desire for HIS incoming information is not what it should be. My husband challenged all the children to read through the Bible this year. That was a goal of mine in January and it’s not too late to do that, but I must make time for it.

As I was praying about the lack of time in my life and my desire to hunger after God’s Word, the Lord whispered, “Give up computer time… for me.” I decided for the next 40 days, the computer will remained unopened until I read His news and the iPhone will stay in my purse nearby, but not in my pocket throughout the day. I am completely giving up Facebook and blog reading.

Yesterday was the first day of Lent and I woke up eager and excited. As I made my way downstairs with the house quiet, I anticipated my time with the Lord. After telling Daniel my plans and leaving my computer upstairs, I began my quiet time routine… coffee, Bible, pen, journal… and disappointment.

Yes, I wanted to check on “news.” I didn’t think I’d care, but I did. And that little gnawing feeling didn’t leave all day. I continued to desire updates. As I watched the Presidential debate later that evening, I didn’t peruse Pinterest. I have no idea what any of my “friends” are up to. And I realize more than ever why the Lord asked me to put aside social media. As friends came to mind, I prayed for them. As the desire to sit and surf hit, I prayed. And I went to bed a little earlier, grabbing the first book on my “to read” pile… a pile that has gotten taller with each new blog or newsletter I’ve subscribed to over the years.

I’m not discontinuing my own blog. It’s a way I can journal and my few readers (mostly family) can keep up with us. I pray that the next 39 days fasting from facebook and blog reading will give me perspective and that my desire for God’s Word will increase. I’m saddened that even my first day proved harder than I thought. Yet I’m thankful that God loves me enough to ask me to put it aside.

Esther’s Prayer

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

My sweet Esther became a Christian today.

I had no idea that Daniel was filming with his iPhone. What a precious blessing to have a portion of our conversation recorded! All day I’ve smiled thinking this will be such a treasure!

Before he began recording, Esther came down from her room to proclaim that the Bible says in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me.” This has been a verse she’s been working on in AWANAS. “Mommy, I want to be a Christian and I need to know how right now!” she proclaimed. She had been talking with Bethany who encouraged her to talk to Daniel and me.

We discussed sin and her need for a savior. I can’t even begin to describe how precious her words were. Shortly after she admitted she is a sinner, Daniel began the recording…

Sure… She doesn’t have a complete theological understanding. She is young. But Jesus calls little children unto himself. He is working in my little one’s life. She “wants to believe those things.” (And about those earrings… I wore some big hoops today with little jade beads. I think they were a tiny bit of a distraction:))

I am rejoicing that she is a child of the King!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14


Give Me Jesus

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

It has, without a doubt, been an incredible first 9 weeks of school. We’ve been studying Tapestry of Grace Year 1 in our co-op, and I’m shocked with how much we’ve covered in just 9 weeks. We’ve studied ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and the history of the Hebrew people. The children have read about and studied the Jewish holidays, the tabernacle, passover and focused on creation, Moses, Abraham and Noah. They’ve read through the first three books of the Bible. I must say, studying these books within their historical context has been eye-opening. I wonder how many times I’ve read about the exodus of the Hebrew people out of Egypt. This time I felt as if I was there. I struggled with their rebellious nature. I identified with it. I thanked the Lord for their history and wrestled with it being mine. (more on this later)

The very week we  read about the passover and tabernacle, we were able to participate in a tabernacle exhibit/presentation as well as attend the ballet “Deliver Us” by our favorite dance company, Ballet Magnificat! – all in one day. Pictures speak louder than words about the awesomeness of these two events…

Pictured above is a small scale model of the tabernacle, the high priest, our group in front of the holy of holies, table of showbread, incense, and the Ten Commandments. God was very specific in his instructions for the tabernacle. In the past, I skimmed as I read all the many details of its construction and use, dimensions, purpose, etc. However, this setup informed the Israelites that they could only come to Him in the way he commanded.  I don’t think any of us will soon forget the smell of incense that burned as we listened to tabernacle presentation. As we sang and the smells surrounded me, I tried to picture the altar of sacrifice… and the blood and ceremony that would entail.

And then later that night, our group travelled an hour away to watch the story of Israelites’ freedom from oppression. While slaves in Egypt, they were given a powerful leader, Moses, who was chosen by God to lead them out of their captivity.

He spoke to Pharoah, but Pharoah refused to release God’s people… until the plaque of death took the life of his son.

The plaque of death passed over the homes of the Israelites. They were instructed to paint their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificed lamb… and that blood spared the lives of their sons.

After the powerful passover scene of the ballet, I expected to see the deliverance… the exodus… the march through the Red Sea. However, Ballet Magnificat! instead portrayed the crucifixion of our Lord. I fought the tears and held my breath as I watched.

And then a company member spoke. “You may wonder why we went from the passover to the crucifixion of Christ. God commanded blood for the forgiveness of sins. The Israelites were in bondage and they received deliverance from Egypt. The spirit of death passed over their households because of the blood of the sacrificed lamb. Jesus Christ is our passover lamb. He is our deliverer from the bondage we have to sin. The story of the Israelites is also our story. Christ is our deliverer.

And as he spoke, I thought about the tabernacle. God was specific with the way in which He was to be worshipped then, and he is specific now. The Israelites could only come to Him in the way He prescribed, and we can only come to Him one way now – through Jesus Christ.

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. …By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. …And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18)

Our group with Kathy Thibodeaux, founder of Ballet Magnificat!

On the way home from the ballet, I listened to a van full of girls sing “Give me Jesus.” Many of them take choir together so they beautifully sang in harmony. I thanked God for the way He orchestrated our day. I prayed it meant half as much to the children as it did to me and a question interrupted my thoughts. “Mrs Jobe,” asked one of the girls. “Do you think God possibly put together this field trip just for us? I mean what would the chances really be of seeing a Tabernacle display and then a ballet on Exodus just as we’ve finished studying this?

I answered truthfully, “Yes. I have no doubt God put this day together for us!”

And then the girls continued in their song:

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

I listened and wept tears of thankfulness. Because I have Jesus, I can enter the holy of holies. The animal sacrifices of the Israelites were temporary. When new sins were committed, new animals were killed. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came as the ultimate and last sacrifice for humanity when He offered up His life.

Thank you, Jesus, for a powerful visual reminder of what you came to earth to do!

What’s up?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Yes, that's Anna... Watch out!

I’m just three days shy of one month with no blogging updates. I don’t have writer’s block. Everything is ok. I am just ending the month of madness – and I’m not talking about basketball.

Since Easter we have:

Christina turned 14!

Visited family in Greensboro

Danced in a ballet recital

Celebrated Christina’s 14th birthday at Carowinds

Continued with church activities including youth, worship practice (Daniel), MOPS mentoring (me) and babysitting (girls) and hosting small group

Endured end-of-grade testing

Played in the end-of-year band concert

Celebrated Mother’s Day

Wrapped up co-op classes, including the two classes I taught

Secured a braces date for Nathan

Continued private music lessons and ballet

Delivered a few meals to friends recovering from illness

Continued with swim practice for Nathan

Cheered Anna on as she got her learner’s permit

Exercise myself with some consistency

Gone to Carowinds again!

Met with a planning team for some educational classes for next school year several times.

Cleaned out our attic (a huge undertaking for a busy month! But yeah! So glad it’s done before it’s too hot to work up there!)

Celebrated the graduates of our homeschool group

Rejoiced in the marriage of two dear friends

May events still to come:

A piano recital for Christina

A tonsillectomy for Nathan 🙁

A huge dance recital for Bethany and Anna

A birthday for Daniel’s

And then, finally, summer 🙂

For the past several years, May has been exceptionally busy. Every class has an end-of-the-year recital or party. We must test the children. Folks graduate. We celebrate. And I end the month a little tired but so thankful; thankful for the academic and spiritual growth of my children; thankful for our church family; thankful for teachers investing in my children’s lives; thankful for dear ones graduating; thankful for the blessings of homeschooling; thankful for God’s grace throughout another school year and thankful for the summer weeks ahead.

Grandall and Esther on Easter day

My Overflowing Mom Heart

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

My precious friends and me with Sally.

Thursday night of last week, I “lost it.” When things get hectic, I usually turn on auto-pilot and “do the next thing.” But I’ve done the next thing and the next and next with very little down-time for so long, that I just couldn’t hold it together any longer. My husband, who had noticed a change within me, lovingly inquired and asked how he could help. He mentioned we could make changes in our schooling or get some help or let some things go, but one thing was certain… he missed my “passionate and optimistic spirit.” With those words coming from the one who knows me best, I began to sob because I missed those qualities about myself too.

My head ached from stress, I’m sure, and the events of the next 48 hours filled me with dread. I’d signed up not only to attend, but drive my 12-passenger van to Raleigh for Sally Clarkson’s Mom Heart Conference. I’ll admit that as I looked at the work that always piles after a busy school week, I wanted only a nap and a magic wand. I did not want to subject my friends to my downcast disposition. Daniel prayed for me – that I would gain perspective and that the Lord would reveal himself to me and my heart would be encouraged.

And God did just that!

Sally - one of my mentors for well over a decade. What a blessing to hear her speak! One of my friends said, "WOW! This far exceeded my expectations!" Another claimed the Mom Heart Conference to be the most encouraging event she'd ever attended.

I can’t possibly write all the truths I brought home with me. Sally told story after story and I could relate to each and every one. She even told one of her son ten years ago – her then 11-year-old Nathan. Yes, I have an 11-year-old Nathan too, and as she described so beautifully a poignant moment of his childhood and her privilege in sharing it with him, I was touched. I don’t want to miss life changing opportunities with my children. I want to stop and pray with them. I want to watch sunsets. I want to live out Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Sally shared scripture after scripture. Her husband, Clay, led us in worship. My friends and I prayed and discussed

Several dear friends of mine attended this conference. Here I am with my sweet friend Kelly from Atlanta.

such important truths! I felt a sisterhood with the precious friends who attended with me. As I listened and prayed and worshiped, the Holy Spirit convicted me of some areas in my life that have become “cluttered.” Just as I can not concentrate with a cluttered house, I can not grow spiritually with a cluttered soul. And this weekend, the Lord told me to put away my to-do list and do the next thing His way. This “next thing” is to focus totally and completely on my first love. I am responsible only for my relationship with Him… not even for the outcome of my children! That is His job and he is oh so faithful!

Sally asked, “What is robbing you of your life, energy and victory?” We must guard our passion! Anything that robs us of our passion for God, must be removed from our lives. We can’t pass on to our children what we do not possess.

I want to love my God, my husband and my children with a whole heart. I want to be “thoroughly alive” with the love of Christ. And this weekend, I received a precious gift – time to sit and soak up words of truth, time to be still and time to enjoy fellowship with my sisters in Christ.

I left home Friday a little directionless and depressed. I came home different – eager to give each of my precious children and my husband love from my heart that is overflowing with encouragement and thankfulness. As I pulled into our driveway on Saturday night, I was greeted by my yippee yorkie and wonderful family. As my two youngest fought over first hugs, I smiled. As my oldest showed me her speech that she composed without my assistance, I smiled more. The house was picked up. The aroma of homemade pizza and bread filled the kitchen. Such tasks, though not an expectation, blessed me! Bethany reported, “Anna was really awesome this weekend, Mom!” Her words were music to my ears! My son showed me a gold coin his daddy gave him. Esther gave me kisses. Could this have been the same home and people I left on Thursday? Really, not much had changed, but my heart had and that made all the difference. My husband took one look at me and knew that God had answered his prayer for me. His optimistic and passionate wife need no longer be missed!

Sally reminded me that my mom heart matters. When it is full of Christ, I am able to minister. I must guard it carefully and keep it that way. My friends and I unanimously agreed that the Whole Heart Conference needs to be an annual event for us. Next year, join us if you can! 🙂

“I came that they might have life and have it to the full.” -John 10:10

“It seems to me that we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good and we must hunger after them.” – George Eliot

Eating at Changs!

Dream On!

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

What are your dreams?

This was a question asked many times at the 2011 Revolve tour this weekend in Atlanta – a gathering of 6500 mothers, youth workers but mostly teen girls. These young girls were challenged to dream big and to trust God daily with their lives.

My daughter, Anna, loves to dance. She loves Jesus. She loves to dance for the Lord now and desires to do so after high school. In what capacity, she doesn’t know. She’d love to one day tour with Ballet Magnificat, a professional Christian dance company, or at least participate in their summer intensives. Dancing is a dream for her.

It was for Kathryn McCormick as well. Kathryn was a speaker at the Revolve conference. She told of being faithful in the little things… how her senior year of high school she wanted to dance to a Christian song by Britt Nicole but was scared. She was afraid she’d be misunderstood or ridiculed. She knew, however, God placed that song in her heart so she danced to it out of conviction and because it expressed her faith. Through that small act of obedience, the Lord eventually provided the opportunity for her to tour and dance with Britt – a dream even bigger than placing 3rd place in So You Think You Can Dance! She is living her dream – using her gifts for the Lord and speaking of His goodness to thousands of young girls. Her dance is a platform for her greater love – her Lord!

As I listened to this young woman speak, I was overcome with gratitude. “Thank you, Lord for this woman’s testimony. Thank you that my dance-loving Anna can hear this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” I found myself saying over and over.

The next day, during lunch at the conference, I told my friend and our Women’s Ministry director, Marci, how I felt God placed Kathryn on the Revolve tour just for us. Kathryn spoke to Anna’s heart. She inspired her and I expressed that I sure wished Anna could meet her.

I think I said, “Marci, it would mean so much to Anna to meet Kathryn. I sure wish I’d thought ahead to get a ticket. I’m sure she’s ministered to many, but I felt her testimony was delivered especially to my daughter. There couldn’t possibly be anyone who could relate to Kathryn’s journey more…”

… And then without missing a beat, a young girl sweetly appeared from the masses of teens in the fast food line to our little huddle of friends. She was holding a ticket and approached us and asked, “Would one of you like to go meet Kathryn McCormick? I have a ticket but I don’t have time to stand in line and use it.” She then looked at Anna and handed it to her. For the next few minutes, I breathlessly attempted to keep my daughter in sight as she darted through the crowds to meet Kathryn during the allotted time of her ticket. As I ran, I prayed that I too would be able to accompany Anna even though I had no entry pass. Thankfully, I was privileged to witness their encounter and listen to their brief but encouraging conversation.

Kathryn encouraged Anna to follow after Jesus! “I am in awe that God has used my dancing like he has. I was absolutely terrified of public speaking – yet through my dance I know God is telling me to speak as well.” Anna told her how she wanted to dance with Ballet Magnificat and actually enjoys speaking and is taking Gavel Club (speech) now. Kathryn then encouraged her, “God will use that! That is so wonderful! Dance for Him and speak for him! Just be faithful daily and He will reveal to you His plan!

And then we ran back to our little group of friends as the BIGNESS of the previous 10 minutes sunk in and became a reality. Just as I praised Him as Kathryn spoke to 6500 girls, I praised Him again as we made our way back across the conference center. God revealed to me that He did indeed orchestrate that little meeting between my daughter and Kathryn.

That was SO COOL!” Anna exclaimed to her friends as she found the digital image of Kathryn and her on my camera to share with everyone.

And I am thankful – thankful for role models who can inspire my girl to dream on! God has a plan for her life and He is faithful! No doubt, Anna’s picture with Kathryn will be a reminder to her over these next few years that no matter what lies ahead, she can trust the Lord with her dreams and her future.

New Year’s Resolutions (without a spreadsheet)

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I typically don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I used to. I’d make goals and spreadsheets breaking huge goals into manageable daily, weekly, monthly achievements. For example, I once remembered having categories – marriage, children, spiritual life, health, home management, friendships, etc. For each category, I’d write a weekly, monthly and yearly goal. It looked impressive and just filling out the spreadsheet gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.

Somewhere about a decade ago, I quit doing this. I got too busy living life to plan each moment of it. Once my twins were born, I lost the privilege of sitting down to “think” until… about now. I had four children under four and then five under seven and then six when my oldest was twelve. The goal-setting spreadsheets just haven’t happened. But life has.

And now that my oldest is making a New Year’s brunch for us and my youngest is “helping” her, I’m sitting at my computer and “thinking” about my goals for this year. Now I approach the goal setting differently. Instead of spreadsheets, I prefer to just think, “What has been a good thing this past year?  What do I not regret?” I don’t like to think of approaching this negatively. Don’t ask me to change!

1.  I’ve never regretted spending time in God’s word. I want more of that, so I intend to read through the entire Bible. That is something I’ve never done in a year.  My prayer is that not only would I be a hearer of the word, but a doer of it as well. While I was unable to attend church last Sunday because of inclement weather, I listened to our pastor’s podcast, In Pursuit of a Happy New Year, as I made my way through yesterday’s mountain of laundry. If you need some encouragement to stay in the word in 2011, I encourage you to listen to it too!

Lord, as I seek you, may you direct my path!

2. I’ve never regretted spending time with my husband and children.  I think this year needs to bring more of that. More games. More books. More family time. I think even some trips to Carowinds would be nice:) I have built-in babysitters now. I plan to take advantage of that and actually date my hubby once in a while.

3. I’ve never regretted exercising or eating healthily. Bethany is my new workout buddy and she is awesome. I don’t need to break this goal down any further.  She keeps me accountable enough! Now that our Chick-fil-A coupons are gone, maybe the eating healthy part will be a little easier too!

4. I’ve never regretted cultivating relationships with my girlfriends. This one gets tough at times because I’m busy and so are they. However, I feel it’s important to be intentional with friendships.  Women do need one another! A couple of retreats are on my calendar. Can’t wait! And some moms nights out definitely need to happen.

There are lots of thinks I’d like to do. My pictures are a mess and I’d like to see them in better order. The attic needs some organization. I’d love to try new recipes and read more books. Might I ever gain victory over the laundry pile that seems to live on my bedroom floor? Maybe. But that and those other things probably would require filling out some kind of spreadsheet to make them happen. I don’t have time for that because our pancakes are now ready and Bethany wants to exercise! I think my fifteen minutes of goal setting are over!

Happy 2011 friends! What do you hope to accomplish this year?

Bears for Boxes

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Every year our family participates in Operation Christmas Child (OCC). This wonderful ministry of Samaritan’s Purse (SP) distributes shoe boxes, packed with gifts for children as well as the Gospel message in his/her language, all over the world. It is a true joy to do something for others during a season that lends itself to materialism and often, especially in children focused on their lists for Santa, selfishness. To see my children exclaim, “Look, Mom… I bet a little girl about Sarah’s age would just LOVE this. Can we put it in our box this year?” is music to my ears. Through OCC, my children have learned a little of the joy of giving and blessing others.

Several years ago, we took this joy and spread it throughout the entire year in a slightly unusual way. My oldest girls had learned to knit. It began when my friend, Micki, showed me some little bears she’d designed. She was knitting for SP and knowing my girls’ love of knitting, asked if they’d be willing to make a bear. She showed my girls several of the adorable bears and they “oohed” and “awed.” They were new knitters and not sure if they could handle the pattern. They’d never knitted anything more complicated than a dishcloth. Could they really knit two bear sides, sew them together, and have them look nice enough for a child to want to love? We weren’t sure, but we sure were excited to try! My friend gave us a pattern and we all got started!

To our delight, the little bears weren’t difficult. Soon the girls were knitting like crazy and calculating how many bears could be produced in 8 months at the rate of a bear every two weeks. The girls were knitting with every spare moment of time they had and soon decided to enlist help! We invited several other knitting friends to join us and formed a group that met monthly. We met at a local yarn shop and our project was advertised. Soon knitters all over our county donated yarn for our project. Many donated bears. These little guys were so sweet. Who could resist knitting up one or two?

After months of knitting, donation day finally came. What a joy to discover we had over 150 cuddly bears! Every bear was unique. Some were pink for baby girls and some blue. Some were big and some tiny. Some had tails or little accessories like hair bows or vests. Though they were all different, they were all prayed over. As a group, we prayed for each recipient. These little bears were made with love by children wanting to bless other children whom they most likely would never see or meet. To donate our bears, all the knitters met at the OCC building of Samaritan’s Purse. What a wonderful experience that was! Our girls were given a tour of the facility and made to feel that their efforts would make a tremendous difference in the lives of over 150 children.

Our group on donatation day

A few months later, we received from a friend who went on a shoebox distribution, a hug from God in the form of a picture of a beautiful little girl. In one hand she held a picture of our group that we included in the box. In the other hand she held her bear made by our girls. That picture has been on my fridge ever since – a reminder that even children can use their talents to bless others. We pray that through that little bear, she will know of Christ love for her. That is the goal of Operation Christmas Child and the prayer of our hearts for her.

Last week, I received a letter from an OCC administrator asking if we’d be willing to knit bears for boxes again. Oh, I’d love to! If you are a reader and would like the pattern, please let me know. I’ll send it to you. We’d love to donate your bears. If you’re a local knitter who is ten or older and would like to participate, leave a comment. I’ll need to find a place to meet which can be a challenge, but I’d love to knit more bears for boxes!

Our Shoebox Video

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Three years ago, Samaritan’s Purse filmed our family packing our shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. It was an experience we’ll never forget! All the children still talk about this day – except for Esther who was born ten days later. Enjoy!

It’s that time of the year. Time to pack shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child!