Wednesday, February 27, 2013

His Eye Is On The Sparrow...Part One

 "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." -Matthew 10:29-31

A female rose-breasted grosbeak stopped at James' bird feeder for a snack during last year's migration!

In a previous blog, I promised to share one of the ways God has shown that He cares for me, even caring about the smallest things. I know you've all been on the edge of your seat waiting for this one, so enjoy!...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Siblings and Best Friends

I had to post this just so I wouldn't forget it!

James & JoyAnna were laying on their bellies, side by side, in the middle of the living room talking as I was preparing our last minute things for going away this weekend.

It sounded like they were having their favorite conversation...the one where they discuss how they cannot marry each other when they get older. It usually goes something like this:

James: "JoyAnna, I can't marry you when I grow up."
JoyAnna (sadly): "Why not?"
James: "Cause brothers can't marry sisters. I have to marry someone different."
JoyAnna (even more sadly): "Oh. Okay."

This time I think it started out with James telling JoyAnna how much he loved her, with JoyAnna reciprocating.

(They really are becoming good friends, I love it! Today they had a little argument which they quickly resolved on their own with James apologizing for his sharp words and JoyAnna forgiving him and asking, "Now can we be best friends again?")

Then James said, "When I grow up I will marry a different person and I will miss you..."

This was immediately followed by a more matter of fact statement: "Kids have to grow up, you know."

I think turning 5 has given James a new perspective on life?

On a more serious note, I am praising God for his goodness!! We have been praying that our children would be best friends since we learned that we were expecting JoyAnna. It is so wonderful to see how God is answering that prayer!

It makes me sad to hear people sometimes comment, "Enjoy it now, because when they get a little older they will hate each other." Why? Certainly they are capable, and even prone, to behave this way. Our hearts are wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who really understands how bad it is?") But with lots of encouragement and prayer, I don't see why siblings should not be the best of friends.

Do you have any sweet stories of your children becoming best friends?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Progress & Poundage

To say that I have been working overtime with my children on their attitudes recently would be an understatement. Insisting on first time obedience with a cheerful heart is tough work, isn't it, Mommies? But it is good and it is right. And it is being done in my home now.

Early last week I expected my children to grumble and complain, and sadly, ignore me for the first few times I instructed them to clean up their mess. After a much need pep talk with a dear sister, I began implementing the "Mommy says it and it gets done right away with a smile" rule.

By the end of last week, I noticed a change happening. Two or three times I received  a "But I don't want to", which was consistently and lovingly corrected. But usually when I said, "Okay, let's pick up our things now.", there was at first a tiny moment of hesitation (and decision making going on) and then "Okay, Mother! I won't complain!".  (Now, most times, there is not the moment of hesitation, but instant obedience!)

Oh! How sweet that is to hear and see! And even sweeter...each time they practiced this, their cleaning became more thorough! Things got put away more neatly, and more care was taken to ensure that each toy was put away in it's appropriate bin. I really didn't think we would be reaping such wonderful rewards so soon. How faithful God is to us when we, by His grace, begin to obey to His Word!

This evening as I was finishing up the dinner preparations, I announced that it was time to pick up and set the table. I heard, "Yes, Mother!" right away, followed by the happiest sounds of a brother and sister working together to complete a task. Being busy in the kitchen, and alone (Josh is at school tonight), I didn't "inspect" the room like I usually do. After they bathed and went to their rooms to get dressed for bed, I went into the playroom to close the blinds and make sure all was locked up. The room sparkled as I entered. "Wow!", I breathed. And in my joy, remembering how sweetly they had worked together to accomplish this job, I decided they would have a treat tonight.

I put on my stern Mommy voice and called, "James. JoyAnna. When you are dressed, please come to the playroom. I have something I would like to talk to you about." They came and stood in front of me with their little "Uh-Oh" faces on. "Look around this room...(dramatic pause)...I think you two are...professional cleaners!! This room looks amazing! What a great job you did! And with such happy hearts! 2 scoops of ice cream for everyone!"

I served their ice cream in sugar cones, and then served myself. Naturally, I gave myself a little more. James keenly observed my larger helping and commented, "You get to have more scoops."
"Yes," I answered with a wink, "I get an 'adult cone'."

Josh called at 7:50, as he usually does when he is at school, to ask the children about their day and say good night. James shared how he and JoyAnna got ice cream cones with 2 scoops of ice cream, and Mommy got "an adult cone". I heard Josh say, "Oooohhh....Mommy got an 'adult cone', huh?" I couldn't help but chuckle. And then James said, "Yeah...I think it was 60 pounds!"

"Ok! Say good night!" and I commandeered the phone from that little munchkin. Then I had some splainin' to do.

Friday, February 15, 2013

How He Loves!

I know I'm a day late with this, but in honor of Valentine's Day, I would like to share a video that Josh made a few years ago.

"How He Loves" was originally written by John Mark McMillan and then remade by The David Crowder Band.

In an interview, David Crowder explains the reason the band chose to re-record the song. "For those not yet touched or affected by this song yet, we wanted to put our breath behind the song because we think it is one of those unique songs for the church at large to sing." 

It's one of those songs that I have trouble singing all the way through without crying. Like "In Christ Alone". I can never make it past the 5th or 6th verses:

 "There in the ground, His body lay. 
Light of the world by darkness slain. 
Then bursting forth in glorious Day. 
Up from the grave He rose again! 

And as He stands in victory, 
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me! 
For I am His and He is mine! 
Bought with the precious blood of Christ!"

And "There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood". I am usually moved to tears by only the second verse: 

"The dying thief rejoiced to see 
That fountain in his day; 
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away..." 

By the 5th verse, I am barely squeaking out the lines: 

"Then in a nobler, sweeter song, 
I'll sing Thy power to save, 
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave..."

Oh! I can hardly wait for the day when I will see my sweet, dear Jesus! When I can look on Him as I sing these praises! The thought of that day is all it takes to melt my heart and take my breath away. What a wonderful Savior God has provided!

My hope is that you will come to love and desire Jesus more after watching this video.

Adopting Older Children

"...And I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty."   
2 Corinthians 6:18

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."   
Ephesians 1:5

 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."   
James 1:27

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  
 Galatians 6:2

Friday, February 8, 2013

Five Years Ago Today

Five years ago Josh and I woke up before the sun to drive to the hospital for the planned birth of our first child. After a near miscarriage and very difficult pregnancy, our sweet and wonderful James Nathanael arrived at 3:05 in the afternoon, full of vim and vigor..and a voracious appetite for milk! I think if we added up the hours I have spent nursing my 3 babies, half of them would have been spent with him alone! And that is fine with me...what precious hours they were!

Over the past five years we have watched him learn to crawl, walk, run, climb, skooch, use the potty, use words, get dressed, sing hymns, ride a bike, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, dig gardens, write his name, read a book... Oh my, where has the time gone?

We are thankful to our Lord, Jesus Christ, for this wonderful, undeserved gift! James has brought so much love, laughter, joy, encouragement and sweetness into our lives. Our prayer has always and will always be: May the Lord be pleased to save him and use him for His glory and honor!

James is born!

James at 12 months

James at 2 years

James at 3 years
James at 4 years

James at 5 years!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Fancy Monster Dinner

Perhaps the only things missing were a pianist and some candles? Oh, and a babysitter! Josh surprised us by bringing home...



In the 10 years that I have known Josh, I think we have only had lobster one other time. 
I am not a lobster lover:
1) They're chewy. I like chewy in brownies and beef jerky-not seafood.
2) I have a hard time picking their...entrails...out while maintaining an appetite. 
3) They make threatening noises when about to be cooked.

And while I thought I would have no problem dropping the ugly things into the boiling pot, I just couldn't do it. Literally. The things splayed their legs out in an attempt to grab the sides of the pot to prevent themselves from being submerged. 


It was at that point that I screamed. This resulted in Josh running in to see what the problem was. "I can't do it!", I wailed. "Okay. Take the kids out so they don't see." 

No problem!

  Twenty minutes later, everyone (aside from the lobsters) was all smiles:

 James took a bite after much hesitation. He said he liked it but declined his own piece. I'm pretty sure JoyAnna ate a whole one all by herself! We didn't let Lydia have any because we don't give shellfish to the kids until they are over 2 years old. There are no known shellfish allergies in our family, but we like to play it safe.

I made garlic mashed potatoes from scratch, steamed broccoli with butter, and some cheddar garlic biscuits like Red Lobster. (I cheated for those and used the Bisquick mix, then doctored it up a little.) Josh bought me some crab shaped serving dishes at the Georgia Aquarium on our Honeymoon. We use them to hold melted butter when we have crab legs. They were just as fun to use with lobsters! Go figure! And as if splurging on lobster wasn't enough...Josh and I even had a cola!

 One of James and JoyAnna's favorite things to do at Publix is to visit the "monsters" in the seafood department. They would get so excited they could hardly contain themselves as they realized we were getting closer, and would loudly cry out, "We're going to see the monsters!! Yay!" How cute! One time, the nice lady behind the counter came out to feed them for us. It was almost like being at SeaWorld!! Okay, that was a stretch...

 Here they are making the lobsters kiss. Teach them not to play with their food? What fun is that?! One of the neatest things that we noticed about how God made these, ahem, interesting creatures is that there is flesh even inside the teeny tiny little ridges of their claws. For some reason, I was surprised by that. Silly, I know. Josh gave them a little lesson on how they swim using their tails. He fanned the tail out and then pushed it back together, moved it up and down.
So, dinner turned out to be a home school science lesson.
Dinner was a little bit of a challenge for me. Well, really, it was just those lobsters. It started with the clicking noise they made at me from the counter while I was preparing to give them their "bath". Then the whole "grab-the-side-of-the-pot" strategy they tried. (Seriously...where did they learn that?) Can't forget the...undesirables...that needed to be picked out. Eww! Then it was chewy. Have I mentioned I really don't care for chewy seafood?

 The worst part?
 When Josh first opened the box and the kids yelled, "WOBSTERS!" 
When did they stop calling them "monsters"???


On a side note, I want to mention JoyAnna's adventurous spirit when it comes to trying new foods. Last December she bravely tried alligator at The Sandyhook Fish & Rib House in Matlacha. And while James did try it, he just didn't enjoy it quite as much as JoyAnna did. Enjoy these throwback videos:
 "I like to eat alligator!"

Plague of Locusts

My children often request to have me tell them stories. Not read them books. Yes, they do request that quite often. But what they like the best is when I recite those familiar stories to them from memory. Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a frequent one we tell. The Three Little Pigs is another one they love to hear. On Wednesday, James begged me to tell him about Moses again. (We had read about Moses during devotions the previous night, so it was fresh in his mind.)

We sat down on the couch and I told him about Moses. I started at his birth and continued until He led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness. I covered the plagues. How after the hail that destroyed their food crop, God sent locusts to devour whatever food remained. Then I had to explain locusts. Well, here in Southwest Florida, we have these enormous 3" Lubber Grasshoppers that are bright orange. They really are much as an insect can be, at least. I explained that the locusts are similar to these grasshoppers, which he knows eat everything in sight and have no predators. James got the point...those locusts were not a good thing!

Later that evening we went outside to water our garden and trees. When I got to the yellow pot that holds a blueberry plant and began watering, I noticed the sihlouettes of many creepy crawlies climbing up the opposite side of the pot. When I walked around to check it out, I noticed a parade of baby Lubber Grasshoppers making their way up out of the grass.

This is only about a third of them. The kids were having fun poking them to make them hop.

 I'm sure you can imagine the expression on James' face when I called him over and showed him! He went from his "Oh, neat!" face to his, "Wait, what are those?" face and then to his, "Uh-Oh! Not good!" face. Too cute! By the time I got my camera, the kids had scared most of them away...but I did manage to snap a few shots before they were all gone..

It was so neat to be able to see them as babies. They start out so very tiny, and grow up to be the largest grasshopper I have ever seen!