Saturday, May 31, 2008

Her Graduation/Our Education

Can it really be that our sweet Hannie is finished with her high school years?

We watched last night as our oldest daughter entered the full auditorium to the familiar pomp and circumstance tune played by the underclassmen. She walked across the stage, tall and beautiful, to receive her CSF lifetime member award, a Presidential Scholar award, and her diploma. It was rather surreal, to be honest with you. we've been to many a graduation, but for our own offspring? Unbelievable!

Yesterday, while pondering the fact that she would be graduating in a few hours, I had a flashback seeing four-month-old little Hannah swaddled in the middle of several sheets, placed in a laundry basket. It was a clear as day; I had placed her there because she was too small to sit up on her own, and I needed to fold the just-dried laundry. I ended up taking a picture of that moment because she was just so darn cute, and that picture is what popped into my mind yesterday. It can't really have been nearly eighteen years ago, could it?

In those early days of motherhood, in the quiet moments, I experienced a type of joy that I had not known was possible. This beautiful little girl was the gift from God that Dave and I had been praying for for years. Hannah has been teaching me from the moment she took her first breath, poor thing. She was chosen by God to be the oldest, and she's had a lot of training to do with her Dad and me. (Insert smiley face here!)

Our education as parents continues. In watching/experiencing Hannah's graduation from high school, we are learning to trust that the Lord is speaking to our daughter, revealing His will for her. We are learning to let go, all the while letting Hannah know we are here when she needs us. We are learning to trust her judgment. Most of all, last night we realized we are learning that it all goes so quickly.

From the moment Hannah was born, when we first heard the admonition that we must value each moment because it all goes so quickly, we have tried to do just that. We made a conscious effort to savor each day/moment with Hannah and our other children, but even so, the time slips through our fingers. It spills away in the dailyness of phone calls, errands, school projects, special moments, household chores, appointments, sickness, and of course, just being. And all of a sudden, we're standing on the precipice of life after high school for our daughter, and it seems that we arrived here much too soon.

So, dear Hannie, we will cherish anew our moments with you, and we celebrate the beautiful and godly woman you are becoming. Congratulations! You've worked hard and you've excelled in your studies, but for your future, our counsel is not to work harder or even to work smarter. Our prayer is that you will abide in Christ. Guided by the Holy Spirit, you can bear fruit that lasts for eternity. We have no doubt that you will fulfill His purposes for you as you continue to follow Him and His will for your life. Dream big, sweetie! We love you, and we're proud of you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Watch this!

I know this is posted on Dave's site, but since I have some people who don't visit his site often, I am also posting it. I hear there is another video being produced that we'll see next week, so I'll post it then.

God is good and His children at New Life are awesome!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tie-Dyed Talent and a Little History

Hey, I don't want to be prideful or to make you experience the sin of covetousness, but we do live on the greatest street in town; simply stating the facts here. Tonight was the first annual "Our Street" Talent show and BBQ, and we had a blast! The talent show was planned by neighborhood kids with scheduled rehearsals and the final show tonight. We parents were only responsible for the food for the BBQ afterwards, and of course, the cheering and applauding.

There were music acts, dancing acts, skits, sing-alongs, and of course, the Macarena with audience participation. What a riot! :-) The older kids weren't asked to be in it this year as the talent show was planned by the younger kids, but I think we may have them interested enough to participate next year. I know it will come back bigger and better, so I'll be looking forward to it.

One of the reasons that we bought our home originally was the fact that we wanted to raise our children in an "old-timey" neighborhood. Ours is a neighborhood where some of the original owners still live in their 1920's to 1950's houses. The house directly across the street was built in the 1940's (the original owner/builder still lived there when we bought our house) and the current owner is only the third owner! The second owner of that house moved two doors down to her grandmother's house, so they're still in the neighborhood.

Our house was built in 1927, and it used to be on the edge of town. My father-in-law delivered the local newspaper to this house when he was a boy, and he remembers that the street ended at our house with a field immediately beyond it. Believe it or not, we are only the third family to live in this house.

The neighbors next door (the ones who hosted tonight's talent show) used to deliver the local paper to the house that he now lives in; the original owner sold it to him partly because she was glad that someone with a connection to the house bought it. So, you can see the longevity of those who live here. We're not a transient people on this street.

That's one of the wonderful things about my neighborhood; there is a history here. Generations have grown up riding their bikes up and down this street, babies have been born, elderly neighbors have passed away, remodels and additions have been done, sons have gone off to war, children have graduated from high school and college, families have walked to downtown for an after-dinner ice cream, generations have listened to the Friday night high school football games being announced from the loud speakers in the fall, and mostly, families have simply called the houses on this street "home." Heck, we've even had the same mail carrier for all the years we've lived here, and he doesn't want to give up his route! The couple at one house has a cup of tea waiting for him each day; another individual leaves packs of gum for him every other day; and I think he makes out like a bandit at Christmas time! :-)

One of the things I first loved when looking at this house was the old, not perfect, asphalt street which ran in front of it. When we bought our first house in Fresno, it was a new house in a new subdivision. Yes, the street was brand new, but none of our neighbors became close friends. Everyone had a garage in front of their house, and at 7:30 AM all the garage doors would open as people left for work, and at 5:30 PM the garage doors would open again as those same folks came home from work. Once those garage doors closed in the evening, it was as if everyone was again in their own little worlds. Of course, we would give a friendly little wave when we drove by and happened to see them outside, but there was never any real connection with any of them.

That's not the case where we live now. We purposely looked for a home in an established neighborhood with some history. We love our huge sycamore trees (even though they wreak havoc with our pool) and our large yard. I think the history of this neighborhood has helped to encourage all of us to connect with one another. We want to continue the "community" feel of our street. Our children run back and forth between homes. Six of our high school students walk together to school each morning. (One mom was able to sneak out after they had left for school to take a photo of them from behind as they all walked together down the street; I can't wait to get my copy.) Each of us values the connections we have with one another, and we work hard to provide times for us to get together. We have neighborhood (basically, our street) Valentine's parties, fourth of July block parties, Halloween blow-outs, Festive Fridays in December, and now the talent show. Tonight there was even discussion of a float for the downtown Christmas parade; wouldn't that be fun?!

So tonight, I'm thankful for this old house of ours, for tie-dyed talent, and for great neighbors. We are blessed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ananlogy Back Knots?

Once a week, I get an update telling me how many people have visited my blog each day. One of the features shows me what people type into a Google search box that brought them to my blog. I run across some funny things sometimes, like the following that brought someone to my blog just this week:
"tapestry ananlogy back knots God."

Now what in the world do those words even have in common and why did Google link to my blog based on these words? And what the heck is an "ananlogy?" I think it must be a typo for "analogy."

Anyway, the other searches that brought people to my blog this week are much more run of the mill. I've listed the most common searches for this week (just because I know how curious you are about this):

traveling together
poems about traveling together
gena larson
jesus protected me
it's all because of jesus i'm alive
Uppercase Living Modesto
"before he speaks" pastors wives

Isn't your life complete now? :-) Just doing my job passing on interesting (and useless) information. You can thank me later!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Goldenrod Sea

Just thought I'd post a little picture of some of the good folks who decided to put their love into action last Saturday as part of Servolution.  Most of those serving were able to show up at the church before heading to their work sites, and here's a little pic of us in the auditorium.  Look at that sea of yellow shirts!  :-)

Anyway, there was a lot to process from the day, and I truly haven't had time to sift through it all in my mind yet.  Some of you just blow me away with your generosity and love!  I am so proud of you all, and I truly thank God for you.  Check back soon as I hope to have some of our own pictures posted here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Final Stretch!

Well, in looking at the Servolution Countdown Clock (a previous post), it says there are only 8 hours and 7 minutes left until we, the body of Christ at New Life Christian Center, step out to serve in the biggest way we ever have!  Our goal is to show God's love in action, not to make a name for ourselves.  If we can love even one person into recognizing that Christ cares for them, all of our work and effort will have been worth it.  

I hope I can get to sleep tonight; I'm so excited for what is to come!  Please be in prayer with me for this event; may God be glorified! 

Monday, May 5, 2008

Preparing for SERVOLUTION!

Well, Servolution is only five days away now, and the most important things we can do in these remaining days is to pray and to prepare our hearts.  I happened to pick up a devotional that we keep in our living room called, The Book of Days, and I found the following thoughts:

"Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will.  Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; bless the LORD, O my soul!"  Ps. 103:21-22 

The call of the Kingdom - "Follow Me!" -is a call to follow in the footsteps of Christ as servant.  Jesus came to serve those who were desperate in body, mind, and spirit and to invite you into serving alongside Him.  It's not optional.  But neither is it drudgery.

The call to serve God, and those God leads you to, could be seen as slavish.  In truth, the apostles embraced, rather than shunned, the concept of being a slave for Christ.  But in the heart of God, serving is always the pathway to true freedom.  Neither can serving God be separated from your worship of God, as this passage illuminates!  Blessing the Lord with your mouth is organically connected to serving Him with your feet.  They are, in fact, one and the same action--simply expressed in two different, but essential, manifestations.

"God, let the praises of my mouth be consistent with the love that flows from my life in serving others practically."

The above was taken from "The Book of Days," page 258
Serving others practically is exactly what our teams will be doing.  We have hundreds of volunteers who have stepped up to say, "Let me love God and bring Him glory by serving and loving others on May 10th."  It's going to be a great day!

Since this is our first time organizing an event of this size and magnitude, we are learning LOTS!  As with any event that is undertaken for the first time, our learning curve is VERY steep right now.  We are working diligently to account for each person who signed up, to coordinate hundreds of projects, to provide an organized team for each service project, and to prepare to love like we've never loved before!  Will there be mistakes, flub-ups, and frustrations?   You bet, but if our hearts are all focused on what our main purpose is, to love God and love others through serving in practical ways, we will exercise grace toward all that are involved.  We will also be gathering post-event evaluations from each person who participates to be able to refine, streamline, and evaluate ways to improve our organization and mission for Servolution.

Okay, I've got some Servolution projects, contacts, and emails to take care of, so I'm outta here!  Hope to see you all on Saturday!