Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm still alive, and I've been thinking....

One can tell that my desire to blog is not because I want to be famous in BLOGLAND! If you've taken a ride around blogland for any length of time, you know that a key to becoming a "Blog Big Wig" is to post often so people will keep coming back. Well, I've had too much going on to check in here, but I thought I'd stop for a few minutes just to let you know I'm still kicking, even if you haven't seen me here for a while. Life seems to go in cycles, and when it rains, it pours. There have been some situations that have wrenched our hearts; unexpected tragedies and relationships in crisis. My heart has grieved for the losses of life, relationships, and dreams. I have no answers, but my heart is with those of you who mourn and grieve. Oh, may the God of all comfort reach down, and tenderly hold and strengthen you. You are in my prayers.

I can say what everyone else says, "It's been busy," but that is just a fact of life when a woman is married, has four children, and works outside the home. Sometimes the "I'm busy" excuse is altogether too convenient when there's something I want to avoid. There is, in this season of my life, always someone that needs to be somewhere, or needs helps with something, or needs to talk about something, etc... So I've been thinking about that a lot. As I'm living God's purposes for me in this busy season, He still desires that my heart be stayed on Him. I have not had the time to do much reading lately, however, I found an excerpt in a book on my "To Read" list that has me thinking
"The Reflective Life" by Ken Gire is the source of the quote below.

What I've been thinking about lately, and with a healthier sense of anxiety, is this. What constitutes a life that pleases God? The closer I get to the end of my life, it seems the only question that matters. Is the life I am living pleasing to God?

The question will keep you up nights. And it should. As we pull the covers to our chin and settle into our pillows, that's the question that should bring our day into the presence of God for His scrutiny. Did the life I lived today please you, God?

How many things do we have to check off on our to-do list before we can say yes to a question like that? How many questions do we have to count before we can be done with them all and drop off to sleep?

Only one.
Have I loved well?

When asked the secret of living the Christian life, Augustine replied: "Love God, and do as you please." The thought of that is both liberating and confining. Liberating because it means we are free to do whatever we want. Confining because it means our love for God sets the boundaries of that freedom. It guides every thought, every action, every conversation. And it does so every minute of the day, every day of our life. Instead of a Byzantine complexity of laws to regulate the details of our life, we have only one. The love of God. When that is the heart of who we are, it changes what we do. And it changes something else. How we will be judged.

St. John of the Cross once said that "at the evening of our day we shall be judged by our loving." As we look back over our day,
what we have done is not as important as how we have done it. Better to do little with much love than much with little love. For without love, whatever we do will be dismissed with a judicial wave of heaven's hand as just so many trivial pursuits (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

So it's the end of the day, and each of us is lying in our bed, reflecting. Have I loved well? Has love been the beating heart pulsing through all my activities? Can it be heard in all my conversations? Seen in my eyes? Felt when other people are in my presence? Was the truth I spoke today spoken in love? Were the decisions I made today based in love? Were my reactions? My devotions?

Have I loved well?

If we can answer yes to that question, it is enough. It may not be enough for our employer. It may not be enough for our fellow workers. It may not be enough for all the carpools and committees and other things on our calendar.
It may not even be enough for us.
But it is enough for God.
- Ken Gire,
"The Reflective Life: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life"

Gena here again - Yes, that is a good question for us to ask ourselves as followers of Christ. I want to be able to say at the end of each day that all the circumstances that God allowed me to experience, all the people I interacted with, all the deeds I did were drenched in love, most specifically, HIS love.

So.....after a week and a half of not posting, these are the thoughts rambling around in my head and heart.
Have I loved well?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

They Found It!

Yes, we received a call just before midnight from the police department saying that Hannah's car had been found.  It was not far from our house, and the police had pulled over the person driving it because it had expired plates on it (they had switched the plates).  The guy driving bolted and wasn't found.  The passenger was arrested and had been on parole, so the officers told us he would be in jail for at least a year.  In this day and age of over-crowded prisons, I don't know how they can be assured of that, but I digress.

Anyway, we had to look at everything the officers were pulling out of the car to say if it belonged to Hannah or not.  There we stood, not far from a big intersection, at midnight in cold rain saying, "No, Officer, those four shaved keys do not belong to our daughter; neither do the cigarettes, jackets, envelopes with return addresses on them, and other "paraphernalia."  

What was weird was that we did not know that the guy they arrested was in the back of the police car that we were standing next to.  When we pulled up, there was another truck that had been pulled over (for another reason), and Hannah's car was in the middle of the road with the driver's door open.    So, Dave and I stood there in the rain, talking to one another right outside of the car window where the arrested passenger had been placed.  I think the officers should have informed us of that fact, because I can guarantee that had I known he was behind those dark windows two feet away from us, I wouldn't have stood there.  :-o

The funny thing was, a friend of ours thought he saw Hannah's car being driven by someone on a road between the high school which is right near our home on Sunday.  He was behind the car, and he noticed the license plate frame said it was from Modesto, and he noticed the license number.   He said the driver looked like he was David's size, so he assumed since it was so close to our house that the car had been recovered and Dave was driving it.  Well, tonight when we got to her car, sure enough, the license plate frame was from Modesto, and the license had the number he had remembered. The officer also asked how tall Dave was because the guy they had seen running from the car appeared to be about 6'3".  So, our friend had seen Hannah's car on Sunday; it's just that the tall guy driving it wasn't Dave!  :-)  The car has some residual damage from its jaunt around the town with the thieves; there is a cut on the outside of the driver's side door, and the inside smells strongly of cigarette smoke.  

When we arrived home, Dave "febreezed" all the upholstery, and we put an air freshener inside.  Hopefully, the smell will dissipate quickly, although Hannah didn't think she wanted to drive her car tomorrow anyway.  We will be buying the recommended "Club" for her car tomorrow since she owns one of the more frequently stolen cars.  All's well that ends well, except you still feel a little vulnerable knowing the people who stole it had our home address on the registration slip that was in the glove box.  

Just thought I'd update you before I head back to bed.  Thanks for your prayers; the extra set of wheels are so appreciated and needed with our schedules!   Oh, and her car had a full tank of gas!  :D

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Pendulum Swings Both Directions

Where has the week gone since I last posted?  I can tell you that two winter formals and three church families with weighty, painful situations have held my heart, my attention, and my prayers.  My daughter's stolen car has still not been recovered, so we've had to work at coordinating our schedules for many places we all need to be.  Your continued prayers for the return of her car would be appreciated. 

The peace that comes with the rain has been good for my soul today.  I trust that God is still in control, even when so much seems out of control with those around me.  Sometimes there are no easy answers and pain is around every corner.  I am choosing to stand on His promises that it is He who comforts us (Is. 51:12) and that He, himself, is our peace. (Eph 2:14)  We are reminded to look to the Lord and HIS strength when we don't think we have what it takes to go on.  There are times when life throws us curve balls, and we simply cannot be ready for what is thrown.  It is good for me to remember that nothing is a surprise to God.  He knows what's coming and He is wanting us to keep our eyes on Him.  If our eyes are locked firmly on His face, we will be held steady.  It's when we begin to look around that the seas become dicey.

As a total aside to the tragedy and crisis that has been before us, I thought I'd post a few pictures of my kids and their friends from this weekend.  These are pictures of happy times, and I am reminded that the pendulum swings in both directions.  I am grateful that my kids have good friends, and that their hearts are open to us and the Lord.  They both had a good time at their respective formals.
Hannah and Friends ready for a show and dinner in San Francisco.
We took their pictures in downtown, a fun idea.

Album cover shot - Dave loves to have the kids do these!  :-D
Okay, Eric thinks his mom is corny with this shot.  Shhhh....don't tell him I posted it!  :-)
Eric and Andriese
Are Eric and Andi really only 15?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Air It Is!

My husband is at the BIG MacWorld convention in S.F., and I just know he's envying (oops! I mean looking at) all of the new products, especially the new MacBook Air. (I know those pictures are really small, but they're the only ones I could find!) I just know he's spent time trying it out, thinking it's the coolest thing ever. He tends to think every new Apple product is the coolest thing ever. He left on Tuesday afternoon for the S.F. airport to pick up a friend of ours from Colorado who flew out just for MacWorld. It's their yearly ritual to meet up for MacWorld, and I'm glad they get to do that. He'll get home tomorrow night, and I'll have to (oops! I mean get to) hear all about it, look at all the free gizmos, keychains, t-shirts, notepads, frisbees, and such that they give away, and try to bring him back to his everyday world. :-D

I must say, being home without him has its challenges, especially since Hannah's car was stolen. (By the way, prayers for its recovery in good condition would be appreciated. I didn't post about it when it happened (Sunday night) because I was hoping it would be found right away, and we would just go on our happy way!) Boy, I have taken for granted that Hannah has been able to drive herself to school at 7:00 AM this year! This morning, I was going to have to get Hannah to her school and drive for two different school carpools that Dave and I do on Wednesday mornings. Crazy! Thank goodness for good friends who help out. Tomorrow morning, since I work and leave early, I'll again be relying on my neighborhood friends to help out. Just another reason I'm glad I live in such a great neighborhood!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oops! I Lied.

Well now, I had no idea you people read my blog so closely!  It's been brought to my attention that I actually only posted 99 things that I am thankful for in the last post.  And sure enough, I listed "country drives" twice it has been discovered (you can tell I REALLY like them, right?)  So, I guess I lied to you all, even though most unintentionally, by saying I was posting 100 things when there were only 99. can I fix this mess?  I just don't know if I can think of one more thing I'm thankful for; I have so few to choose from.....NOT!  Now in at # 42 - the beautiful, pink blooms I love to place around my home from an old camellia bush in my front yard.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Post 100 - My Little Random List of Thankfulness

Well, I'm officially at my 100th post, although I have several drafts still waiting to be edited, thought through, or finished.  In honor of my actual 100th "posted" post, I thought I would share some of the things I am grateful for and love.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, and just as sure has I hit the "publish" button, I'll think of other, worthier things I could have listed, but it is what it is. :-D

I am thankful for:

1. A God who loves me enough to have sacrificed his very own son to provide a way for me to be with Him forever.
2. Dave, a husband who is more than I deserve
3. Hannah, my joy
4. Eric, my laughter and hugs
5. Peter, my musical encourager
6. Kari, my precious gift
7. skittles - really!
8. friends who love me, put up with me, and challenge me
9. a mom who set a wonderful example for me of tithing, prayer, and exercise 
10. two very dear sisters - Paula and Tracy 
11. down comforters in duvet covers
12. rainy days
13. mint chocolate chip ice cream
14. five nieces-Sarah, Emily, Alyssa, Kristen, and Abigail
15. two nephews-Aaron and Hugo
16. a dad who loves sunsets as much as I do
17. quietly floating in the pool in the stillness of a warm night
18. comfy shoes, although I don't have too many pairs of those :-{
19. a sister-in-law, Wendy, who takes me to great restaurants in the city and is a great cook
20. flickering candles
21. an artistic sister-in-law, Nancy, whose artwork graces my walls and reminds me to look for beauty
22. the ocean
23. some great Bible studies: Lord, Calm my Anxious Heart;  Strong Women, Soft Hearts; Experiencing God; Breaking Free; Wisdom for Mothers.
24. a quilt my grandmother made me for my 18th birthday
25. Texas cake
26. tissues (truly, what a marvelous convenience!)
27. wonderful neighbors
28. Gingko biloba trees in the fall
29. Godly in-laws
30. a much loved foster daughter
31. continual forgiveness because of God's unconditional love and mercy
32. a car that is reliable
33.  three fabulous brothers-in-law: Dan, Ritch, and Todd
34. neighborhood walks
35. old family photographs
36. yellowed, clipped out, precious Ann Lander's columns 
37. country drives
38. Em Le's waffles
39. reading magazines
40. a stepmom who makes the best pomegranate jelly and has the patience of a saint
41. swinging at the park
42. country drives 
43. naps on Sundays
44. playing football in the street with my family
45. my underlined, highlighted, note-riddled, date-filled Bibles and devotional books
46. a father-in-law who "surprises" me with poinsettas every Christmas
47. my dining room hutch
48. mosaics
49. laughing till I cry
50. lip gloss
51. potatoes-any way you want to cook them
52. summer evening breezes
53. eyelid kisses when I'm not feeling well
54. good spinach dip
55. fresh water to drink
56. my New Life family
57. fun dancing songs
58. notes and cards from Dave - saved from when we were dating until now (I've gots LOTS of them!)
59. Tylenol sinus medication
60. unexpected blessings - that note in the mail, a middle-of-the-night time with God, the "I love you's" from my husband or one of my kids.
61. sleeping in
62. notes in my children's handwriting filled with phonetically correct spellings
63. my laptop computer
64. my students
65. walking along the beach
66. a mom and step-dad who pray for me and my family daily - and specifically
67. hot baths
68. Tide-To-Go pens - what a life-saver!  :-D
69. paper supply and stationery stores
70. Neutrogena Rainbath shower gel - the blue one only
71. sugar-free Hazelnut creamer
72. journals
73. leisurely trips to the bookstore
74. times away with my husband
75. my "hundreds" of cousins :-)
76. Lucy, our dog
77. Fun movies - The Princess Bride, That Thing You Do, the original Yours, Mine, and Ours
78. reading with my children
79. hearing squeaky, out-of-tune instrument practicing
80. Santa Barbara-my favorite California spot
81. homemade citrus ice cream
82. camping with my family
83. birthday lunches with my mom and sisters
84. lunch and coffee dates with friends- chatting the time away
85. being silly with my kids
86. having friends over for summertime bbq's
87. meaningful collages
88. reading before I go to sleep
89. the smell of the road after the first rain
90. eating tomatoes right off the vine
91. hearing my children laugh with one another
92. having Dave sit by me during church, a funeral, or a wedding because he's not speaking
93. hot coffee in the right shaped mug (one that fits perfectly in cold, cupped hands)
94. picnics with plenty of cheese, fresh fruit, and crackers
95. pottery
96. post-it notes (another lifesaver!)
97. irises and tulips
98. a healthy family
99. 4th of July with my extended family
and now for number 100..........
the way David squeezes my fingertips when he's holding my hand. ;-D

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Love of God

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalms 63:3

I read this verse this morning, and it gave me pause.  Yes, His love is better than life, so much so that when I catch just the merest glimpse of the depth of that reality, I know that my lips cannot truly glorify Him enough.  It reminded me of this verse from a hymn penned somewhere around the early 1900's.  I sang this song as a teenager, and I realize that I didn't comprehend the depth of the words I sang, but I remembered them and count it a gift that the Lord brought them to me this morning.  

So tonight, I leave you with this thought:

"Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song."

(from The Love of God by F. M. Lehman)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Nice, Little Break

Well, I must say, I've had a nice little break the last week! I didn't let myself feel tied to the computer at all, and I think that was only by the strength of the Holy Spirit at work in me! We've had some great times with all the kids being home from school. We've done some moving and re-arranging in our house. My oldest son moved his bedroom downstairs, and then my youngest daughter moved into his old bedroom. So, everyone has his/her own space now, and can breathe a little easier. Dave and I rearranged our bedroom and moved every stinkin' piece of furniture to a different location. I LOVE the new arrangement - so much room and such a peaceful feeling knowing EVERYTHING is clean and organized! We all cleaned out our closets and dresser drawers also. Christmas decorations have been taken down and put away, so all in all, it's been a productive and good week! 

Speaking of cleaning and organizing my home, I've become a "Company Girl."  Now, I know that sounds weird, but click on the side button and you can see what it's all about.  I was able to earn 40 points today!  :-D's time to get back into our routines. School and work all resume tomorrow morning, and I'm looking forward to it.