Friday, February 26, 2010

The 'F' Word

No, not that one!!! I'm talking about forgiveness. Though, sometimes it seems like a dirty word when we want to hold on to a grudge, but it shouldn't be that way. Sometimes it seems like an impossibility, but it's not.

Forgiveness has been at the forefront of my mind the last month or so. Everywhere I go, it seems to come up in discussions, in Bible studies, and even movies. The children's movie about a brave mouse, The Tale of Despereaux, is all about forgiveness. And not just an underlining message, either. It is boldy presented. One quote from the ending narration is, "Ok, remember when we said that grief was the strongest thing a person could feel? Well, it isn't. It's forgiveness, because a single act of forgiveness can change everything."

(I do want to point out that forgiveness isn't a feeling. We are commanded to forgive. We forgive out of obedience, not because we feel forgiving.)

Anyway, that part in the last sentence is so powerful. "A single act of forgiveness can change everything." Wow. There is a single act of forgiveness that comes to mind when I read that. God's single act of forgiveness. God's single act of forgiveness changed EVERYTHING. His forgiveness of my sins is what allows me to forgive others. Not that it comes easily or naturally, because it doesn't. I'm human. I can dwell on a grudge with the best of 'em! But, I know the freedom that comes from letting that grudge go and forgiving, and I would much rather be free & move on with life, than be a prisoner to my unforgiveness. After all, what does my unforgiveness do for me? It doesn't make me strong; in fact, it weakens me. It doesn't teach whoever wronged me any lessons. That bitterness rots my bones, not theirs.

If forgiving wasn't already a tough task, try this on for size:

Matthew 18:21-35
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
 Ouch. That's not a mild statement. That's in-your-face.
Jesus says we are to forgive seventy-seven times! That's not to be thought in a literal way. Nope. It's meant that we are to keep on forgiving. Over & over. As many times as we may have to. Even if it's the same thing every time!! Don't confuse forgiving with enabling. That's not what forgiveness is - that's a different topic- but let me put it this way: as a parent, I forgive my kids every single day. Not a day goes by that at least one or two of my kids isn't disobedient in some way. Usually, it's the over the same things/behavior/attitudes, etc. I know they're going to do it again, even as I forgive them, but does that stop me from forgiving? Does it mean I'm OKing their wrong behavior? No way.  If Jesus got tired of my same struggles and stumbling - deciding to give up on me - I'd be in a world of hurt. I know it's 'easier' to forgive your children than a stranger, or even friend or spouse, and definitely easier than an enemy, but just as we forgive our kids over & over, and Jesus forgives us over & over, we are to forgive others over & over.  
So, why do I forgive? It sure isn't because it's easy. Definitely not because just I want to. Nope. Here's a few reasons why I forgive:
Unforgiveness makes me bitter, and bitterness doesn't always come with a neon sign over your head - at first,  anyway. If unforgiveness and bitterness are allowed to dwell in you, believe me, that neon sign will be glowing in time! I do not want to be one who rarely smiles, who is rude and unkind, who has no true friends, or who people try to avoid. How miserable life would be! And at no fault but my own!
Acts 8:23

For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.
*Being bitter makes me captive to sin. Enslaved. Chained. Imprisoned. NOT anything I want to be!
Beacuse I want my sins forgiven!
Mark 11:25

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Luke 6:35-38
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Because I want to be at peace. I want to be full of life.
Proverbs 14:30
A heart at peace gives life to the body...

Because Jesus did - even as they were killing him - and I want to be just like Jesus.
Luke 23:34

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

There have been so very many thoughts running through my mind recently in regards to forgiveness. I'm not even sure I've made much sense; these thoughts are being typed out so quickly. I just wanted to throw a few of them out there. I know & have known some pretty bitter people (honestly, I think it's a part of human nature we all have to deal with - why else would we be told to take every thought captive (see my captive synonyms above) and MAKE them obedient to Christ?). Bitter people are not very fun to be around. I don't want to be that way. I see what bitterness looks like on others, and I don't want that. The times I've stuggled with it, I don't like being myself. It's a pretty yucky feeling. Thankfully, I have the choice to forgive - releasing the stronghold (and it is STRONG!) of bitterness, and spreading the love of Jesus.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Airing My Dirty Laundry

I'm waiting for my washer to stop spinning & my dryer to finish up so I can switch loads. I am ALWAYS doing laundry. Seriously. Every stinkin' day. If I don't do at least a load or two a day, you can't see my hall floor upstairs. No joke. I've done 6 loads today, and still have a bunch left. Figure I'll do one more load of jeans (2nd jeans load today) before calling it a night.

I also loaded the dishwasher for load #3 (yay!), and mopped the kitchen floor. After making dinner, of course. Here's a couple cell shots of my new toy:

You can't really tell by the pictures, but I can fit SO much more in one load than with my old dishwasher!! I love having the silverware in the door, and no posts in the middle of the racks (that had to stay uncovered for the water to flow through). I also love that the top rack is adjustable, so the dinner plates now fit!!

Abby was Star of the Week a couple weeks ago. It's something the kindergarten classes do for each student the week of their birthday (or in Abby's case, half birthday). I made her a poster just like I did for Caitlin & Trevor when they were in kindergarten. I figure it's a lot easier than them toting different objects to school for the week! Here's Abby with her poster:

And here's my warm cuddlebug. She wanted to sit with me, and after a sip of water, was out cold! I love how she sleeps like an angel with her hands together by her face. :)

Wow. It's almost 1am! At least that last load I mentioned is in the wash. By the time I close up shop, it should be ready for the dryer. And then I can finally fall asleep.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I've been keeping warm with the laptop on my lap most of the evening. I've not really been searching anything - just keeping warm. :)  The girls all have friends over for the next 3 nights, so they were all playing happily until bedtime, allowing for some chill time for me.

I got my hair cut the other day. My hair is about a foot shorter now, so it's quite strange to run my fingers through it! Not to mention, I'm still using a ton of shampoo out of habit! :) I do miss my long hair, though. Don't miss the tangles, but I miss the length. It's not really all that short - about shoulder length - but it's still a big change for me. I was so nervous to get it cut. Every woman in Iowa seems to have the same cut, but I like to be myself. I think myself is with long hair. :) At least my hair grows fast!

OK.  I must be tired to write about my hair!

So, how about my new dishwasher I can't use? I guess we needed to get a part for installation. You know how Toys 'R' Us checkers have to ask if you need batteries? Home improvement store checkers need to ask if you need an elbow thingamajig. Oh well. I've been without a dishwasher for weeks now, what's another day?  I noticed our old one starting to die a bit last year. It started with the dispenser lid not popping open anymore. Then, it was the (I'm assuming) timer-thingy. I would start the dishwasher, and realize a couple hours later that it was still on the same cycle. Then the water wouldn't fill at all. There was also a leak somewhere in there because the dishwasher decided it would keep on filling with water! I can't wait to use my new dishwasher for more than a double-decker drying rack!

Alright... the dishwasher?? Seriously.

So, if you know me, you know how punch-drunk I get when I'm tired. I laugh at things that aren't even funny. I say off-the-wall remarks. I sing the Punky Brewster theme song. Yup. That was no typo. I actually sang the chorus of Punky's theme song at Bible study last night! A bit goofily, I might add. In my defense, it's been a long week. And my body is so used to those snow days, it's hard to get used to waking up so early again! In fact, I'm falling asleep as I type.

Think I'll hit the hay now. Maybe I'll have more to say tomorrow. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Coke & Chicken

As I type this, my dad and I are texting back & forth about chicken. Yup. Chicken. I love chicken, my dad loves keeping chickens alive (AKA - doesn't like to eat chicken). We always try to one-up each other with comebacks. If it's not chicken, it's Coke vs. Diet Choke-er, uh... Diet Coke. I love the real thing, my dad loves that diet stuff. Eww!

I'm a Coke addict. I'll admit it. Though, I don't over-indulge. Usually. Some people like a nice, steamy cup o' joe first thing in the morning, but I start my day with an ice cold Coke. Ahhhh!  The cold & carbonation give me a nice jolt that kick-starts my day. In fact, I'm drinking one now, as I eat my grape Laffy Taffy and popcorn. Mmmm, mmmm!

So, if you've ever wondered why I'll stop to take a picture of a chicken (or dress up as a chicken in Target), or if you've ever wondered why I'll stop to take a picture of a Coca~Cola sign, now you know. It's a daughter's love for her dad. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Caitlin... age 9!!!

So, I will try to get over my 'Mommy guilt' for not getting Caitlin's post up ON her birthday. I spent the day preparing (making cupcakes for her class), eating lunch with the Birthday Girl, more preparing (buying her a new balloon, disposable plates/forks, making & decorating her horse cake), feeding kids a pizza dinner, then cake & ice cream, and presents. I didn't even get a chance to clean up before company, so you know it was a crazy day! But a good kind of crazy - blessing & celebrating my 2nd born, Caitlin.
(Caitlin & me at lunch)

Caitlin wouldn't be Caitlin without her love of horses. She's loved those animals since she was 3. Caitlin had her first horseback ride was when she was 4, on a horse named Corky.  She is a natural with animals and has such a calm spirit that they respond to. We think her dream job of being a veterinarian suits her.

Caitlin got to sign up for soccer last spring. She had a lot of fun chasing after that ball! She didn't make any goals, but that didn't bother her. I think she'll be giving it a go again this spring, so it will be fun to see her confidence grow. Maybe she'll even score a goal. But if she doesn't, that won't stop her from having fun - she's cool like that :)

Chances are, when you hear Caitlin's name, you also think of her Shirley Temple curls. The only difference - Cailtin comes by hers naturally. Some days she wishes she had straight hair, others, she's asking me to use her curl enhancer spray. She goes back & forth from wanting to grow her hair out one day, to cutting it the next. Right now, she's wanting it cut. If she still wants it short after she comes home from school, we just might go for it. I do like her hair in a cute bob :)

Caitlin is a dental trooper. For some reason, her teeth like cavities. She brushes as much as her siblings (who don't get cavities), but nearly every dentist visit, she's got at least a tiny cavity. Thankfully, she's only had cavitites on her baby teeth. Did you know you can get colored fillings? If you look in her mouth, it looks like she got a little bit of pink taffy stuck on some of her teeth. :) She also has a small mouth, so her teeth are a bit crowded. Caitlin's had 2 teeth pulled and still needs to have one more pulled. I'm sure braces will be in her future!

Caitlin is our little space cadet at times. She likes to do her own thing, but also loves playing with her friends. Caitlin loves to use her imagination, and will play a lot of 'house.' Though, her house usually consists of dogs. Walking the dogs, feeding the dogs, playing with the dogs, and grooming the dogs. She will also play a lot of detective - spying on us, looking for mysteries, and finding clues. I also want to mention that 3rd grade is when they start giving letter grades & honor roll, and she has made honor roll both quarters! 

Yesterday was her 9th birthday. I can't believe our little Cakin is 9! Time sure flies. She's the only one with a birthday during the school year. Believe it or not, she loves it! Here are some photos of her big day yesterday:

We are so blessed by this beautiful, curly-Q. She's got a style all her own, and a sweetness that we just can't get enough of. I love her laugh, I love her smiles, I love her quirkiness... I just love CAITLIN!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Elise, age 3

Well, Elise is the fifth & final child for our family. For real. ;) It's a good thing, too. She's a one-girl demo team! Starting from the get-go. And I mean the get-go. I was so very, very sick before I even had a thought that I could be pregnant! I could not keep anything down. Anything. My poor kids were basically fending for themselves and living off of cold hot dogs and cereal those first few months (when Robert was gone at work). All I could do was curl up and moan. And toss whatever sips of liquid or nibbles of food I tried to ingest. It was bad. Even landed in the hospital for a couple days from dehydration and exhaustion. Once there, and after the doctors hooked me up, I slept for 24 hours - straight. It was miserable. Adding to that, we had only moved to Iowa about 3 months earlier, so I not only missed my mom (& everyone else, of course!), but now I needed her. Really, it was just another time in my recent life where God showed me I needed Him. He somehow got us through it without being able to send kids to Grandma's house. He somehow kept me from losing weight I couldn't afford to lose. He somehow kept that precious baby girl nourished, healthy, and strong. I am so thankful for that. I'm so thankful it's over. And I am super-DUPER thankful I don't have to go through that again!

Doesn't that face just scream trouble?? ;)

'lise, 'lisey, 'lisey Joy... all nicknames. When she's in trouble... E-lise!! And that was heard a WHOLE  lot around here during her terrible twos! Thankfully, she's mostly moved on from that phase. Mostly. Elise has been the most curious and 'artistic' child we've had. And we've had 4 others! Anytime I would be doing what I needed to get done (almost always the laundry, as it's upstairs), she would find something better to do than what I gave her to do. Elise's life is best summed up in photographs, There are just no words...
And the pièce de résistance...
Yup - Elise is her own demolition crew! She's lucky she's so cute & we love her more than the walls, the carpet, Mommy's make-up, the baking soda... Someday, all her 'experiments' will hopefully prove themselves worthy. I can just see her becoming an interior designer/decorator. Or a mommy to an equally curious child. :)

Elise loves having mommy all to herself now-a-days while the big kids are in school. She has found the perks in not having to share a treat or my lap. She loves going to Story Time at the library. ((The lady who reads us stories & gives us crafts to do was actually my preschool teacher! It's neat that all my kids have gotten to know her some.)) Elise loves to pick out books, and we pretty much have them all read within an hour of getting home!
It's hard to believe our little baby isn't a baby anymore. No more diapers, wipes, baby food, etc. I have to say, it's pretty nice!! :)
We love to hear her cute little voice. She chatters & sings, but also hums. I've caught her humming a tune while she's just sitting there playing. And ooh, those dimples!! Love them.
Elise is one-of-a-kind. We love her so much, and as much destruction as she's brought upon our home, she's brought (as Trevor would say) a 'google-plex' times more joy.


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