Thursday, June 26, 2014

Olivia

Last summer when the kids and I went to Wyoming and Idaho we went to church with my parents.  Olivia was a little shy so instead of going to Sunday school with the kids she came to my Sunday school class with me.  Of course she got bored so I let her play with my phone.  I was going through pictures the other day and came across the pictures she had taken that day!  It made me laugh :)  She is such a goofball! 

















 
It did keep her very quiet and she would be very embarrassed if she knew I posted all these but I couldn't help myself!  Her personality is huge at times and she always keeps us laughing and on our toes!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Quiet: God at Work

This week has been quite the week for me.  What started out last weekend as a fun weekend at the state track meet - sleeping in a hotel (that is huge for our kids because it only happens like once a year), swimming, going for a wagon ride etc. ended up with a fever and throwing up and going home early.  That turned into hand foot and mouth disease for two of my kids - blisters in their mouths and on their hands and feet.  Then midweek we got a huge rainstorm which resulted in a puddling basement and a huge mess (I won't say we were flooding because we weren't wading through the water, just splashing).  I spent most of the day trying to dry things up, get laundry done from all that had gotten wet and trying to move furniture so that it didn't get ruined in the water.  We ended the week with pink eye.  Along with all that I was dealing with other things that were draining me emotionally and physically.  By yesterday afternoon I just wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. 

Years ago when I was in high school and we were moving somewhere, we were in the garage trying to sort through boxes.  One of my brothers gave me a box to hold while they looked through another box.  Then they gave me another box.  Then it became a game.  Let's see how many boxes Emma can hold up before she gets squished.  So they started piling more boxes on.  Luckily, I was near a wall so I leaned up against it with bent knees and I was able to use my legs to help hold the weight of the boxes.  Eventually though, even with the help of the wall, I ended up on the ground with a pile of boxes on top of me (however, I did hold a lot more than they ever thought I would).  That is how I was feeling this week.  I felt like I was up against a wall with box after box being piled on top of me as I slowly slid to the floor.  It felt like no matter how I braced myself, the weight was still dragging me down and there was nothing I could do. 

I went through the normal, faithless questioning.  Why me?  Why do things have to be so hard?  Why do I have to deal with this right now?  Why can't I just get a break?  I will admit, my weaknesses were all showing through!  I was grumpy.  I was sleepless.  I was stressed.  I was unorganized.  I wanted to fight.  I didn't want to be the nice one.  I didn't want to be the peacemaker.  I didn't want to care.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on my mood, I did care.  I can't stand fighting.  And, I know too much to allow myself to walk away.  I have been blessed too many times to throw in the towel.  I have felt God's love too many times to blame Him or be mad.  I have felt Him guide me too many times to think this was all a waste of time.

I read a quote from Ray Pritchard.  He wrote a book titled, "Why Did This Happen to Me?"  I have not read the book, but I saw this quote and it spoke to me.  He says: “Sometimes we will face things for which there is no earthly explanation. In those moments we need to erect a sign that reads, ‘Quiet: God at Work.’ Meanwhile, hold on, child of God. Keep believing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Let God do His work in you. The greatest tragedy is to miss what God wants to teach us through our troubles.”

Life is full of challenges, trials, hardships, hurt and pain.  We have to experience these things in order to learn and grow.  It is not God leaving us alone.  It is Him trying to help us increase our faith, live to our potential and become like Him.  We need to be quiet and let Him work.  It is hard.  I am  not very good at it.  I always seem to throw a fit before I settle down and listen.  I especially like his words, "Meanwhile, hold on, child of God."  I am His child.  We all are.  I think of my own children.  Would I ever leave them alone?  Would I ever put them through unnecessary pain or trials?  No.  However, do I protect them from everything so they cannot learn?  No.  I allow them to learn and grow through making decisions and letting them face consequences.  I allow them to go to school where some one may say something mean to them.  Then I bring them home where it is safe and teach them.  I help them become stronger.  I teach them to be kind to others and empathetic and caring.  I love them.  I cannot protect them and have them learn what they need to learn.  You can't learn to ride a bike without falling off once or twice.  I have scars on my knees to prove that :)  I can hold the bike steady for a while but eventually I have to let go so they can do it on their own.

Our Heavenly Father does the same for us.  He is there, holding our bike steady, but eventually He has to let go and let us ride.  When we fall, He is there to help us up.  He has given us the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to help heal our skinned knees and bruises, to ease the pain and to help us get back up on the bike again.  Just as my children come to me with their burdens and trials and hurt, we can go to our Father in Heaven.  This knowledge is what keeps me from throwing in the towel.  The knowledge of His unending, pure love.  The knowledge that I am not alone.  The knowledge that I am His child. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:17 it reads, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;"

These trials that we have, as overwhelming and real as they are, are truly but for a moment.  The eternal glory waiting for us far exceeds anything that we will experience here in this life.  As I sat on that garage floor, weighted down by all those boxes, it took only a few minutes for my brothers to get them all off of me so I could stand back up, freed from the weight.  Our trials here are the same.  They may cause our strength to be challenged.  They may knock us to the floor.  But they are just for a moment and if we reach out and ask, He will lighten our load and give us the strength to endure so that we may one day rest in His eternal glory. 

So my thoughts as I begin this new week - Quiet: God at Work.  Psalms 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God." 

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Simple Ring

This is a ring one of my brothers gave me.  It is just a silver band.  Nothing fancy or expensive.  I have been wearing it everyday for a month or so.  It is a reminder.  He is going through a rough patch right now.  Wearing this ring reminds me to think of him and pray for him.  However, wearing this ring has reached out beyond my brother.  As I think about him, I also think about others who are struggling right now - my friend who has cancer, another friend who lost her grandfather recently, a boy who is left by himself all day to wander around town with no one that really cares for him, an elderly lady who is alone quite often, so many people with their own set of struggles. This ring reminds me to be soft and understanding of others and their struggles.  It reminds me not to judge.  It reminds me to reach out and show love when normally I wouldn't have.  It reminds me to wave and smile :) 

It has done even more.  It reminds me that I am loved - by my family, by my friends and by my Savior.  It reminds me that I am not alone, none of us are alone.  He is there waiting for us with His hands out ready to help.  Life can be hard, challenges can be overwhelming, but He will help us through.  Knowing this gives me strength to continue on, to trudge through the mud and continue on to higher ground.

As I am reminded of the love and blessings I have in my life and as I am reminded of those who are in need, I am reminded that have the ability and responsibility to reach out and lift those around me.  If I, in faith, will reach out and grab hold of the Savior's hand, He will help me do just that.  He will help me see the needs around me and He will help me provide for their needs.  As I follow His example and serve others, even if it means making sacrifices myself, He will bless me with the means to help pull others out of the mud and up to higher ground.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

When It Rains...

It pours.  I guess I am having a pity party right now.  I have been so overwhelmed lately with things that a wet basement is just the thing to topple it all over.  I know there are worse challenges and trials.  I know people are worse off than we are.  I am very grateful for all that we have.  That doesn't make our challenges any less real.  It doesn't make the trials any less stressful and frustrating.  Right now, for me, I need this week to be over!  We have had hand-foot-mouth disease, unexpected money-sucking expenses and now flash flooding.  The basement is full of puddles.  I have a huge pile of laundry, stuffed animals, blankets, etc that need to be washed and dried because of the puddles.  I have not been the ideal mother today.  I have not faced this newest challenge with smiles and hugs.  I am dirty and probably stinky and my house is a disaster. 

So, I need to take a break and remember what is on the other side of this rain storm.  For one, I have a shop vac that works and if I didn't, I have had two offers to bring one over.  I have had friends offer to help clean up the mess.  Good friends are a huge blessing and I have so many of those.  I could not imagine life without the wonderful people that I have come to know and love over the last two years.  I know they would drop anything to come and help me if I needed it.  And they would bring a diet Dr. Pepper with them!

Even though we have had to deal with the annoyance of this weird little thing called hand-foot-mouth disease, my family is all healthy and strong.  As I listen to the four youngest play out in our new lake, I am very grateful for the health that we have all been blessed with.  I am grateful that they are able to run and play with no worries.  And though they overwhelm me at times, I love all six of them and I couldn't imagine my life any other way.  It gets crazy and chaotic at times.  Our yard is always full of kids running and playing it seems.  There are days that we have someone on our doorstep at 8am and the day is spent with a steady stream of kids coming and going until dark (sometimes even after that).  I am grateful that this is a place where kids can come and have fun.

There are also days (like today) that I wish Michael's job was closer to home and a little more flexible.  Who doesn't want that right?!  But we are blessed that he has it.  There are days he comes home covered in cow manure and tries to hug all the kids before he changes.  I love listening to them run and squeal as he chases after them with open arms!  I love that he is here and though he can't rush home every time I think I need him, I know that every evening he will be.  The kids love seeing him pull up in his work truck with Taz in the back.  They love when Daddy comes home and so do I.

There are so many other things, these are just a few of the ones that have particular meaning to me today - the rainbows after my storm.  Looking for these rainbows don't necessarily make the storm go away but they do add beauty to the clouds and puddles.  As I look at the sky and see more clouds coming in, I know that another storm is on the way.  That seems to be life sometimes.  Just as we get cleaned up from one storm, another one hits.  It's okay though.  I know if it does hit, there will be friends with towels waiting to help.  There will be puddles filled with happy, splashing, healthy kids and that soon enough Daddy will be home!

Monday, June 2, 2014

End of the Year Awards

I know I am late with this but it feels like, even though school has been out for a couple of weeks, that we are just ending the year.  Maddi's track season just ended so even though there has been no school we have still been at the school everyday for that.

Anyways, I am so proud of what my kids accomplished this year!  I was able to go to the awards ceremony at the elementary school on the last day of school and watch them receive their awards.  I was so glad I got to be there and I am so proud of them!  I will start with the youngest and move up. 

Olivia - 1st grade.  Olivia got 42 AR points this year.  She got the most in her class so she got an extra prize from the principal.  She was very excited to have the most!
She also earned the fitness gram (which is kind of like the Presidential Fitness Award) and she was in the Assist Club in PE.  The kids get "assists" in PE for being exceptionally good in class - listening, following directions, helping, etc.
 
Zeke - 2nd grade.  Zeke got 133.8 AR points.  He also got the most in his class.  He was reading books this year that had 21 points in them (and he got all 21 points).  Those are huge books for a little 2md grader!  He is a very good reader and he is able to comprehend what he reads so he can be successful when he took the tests.  He was also recognized for his success.

Along with AR he was also in the Assist club.  He received his Fitness Gram.  He also got an award for receiving 100% on all his spelling tests for the year.  That's a pretty cool thing I think!  I'm not sure I could say I got 100% on all my tests!

Dillon - 4th grade.  Dillon earned 271.4 AR points.  He was second in his class.  He also earned the Presidential Outstanding Academic Achievement Award.  I am so proud of him for that!  He worked really hard all year to receive that. 
He also received his Fitness Gram.  He also got his Book It award for earning all his Book It during the year.

Zane - 5th grade.  Zane got 408.1 AR points this year.  That is huge for my boy who didn't like to read very much!  He had the most in his class.
He also received awards for Assist Club and Fitness Gram.  He also received the Citizenship Award in his class.  I was very proud of him for that.  He was always a good example in class, listening to his teacher, staying on task and helping his classmates.  He also got a superior for his band competition.  He did a snare drum solo.

Makenna - 6th grade.  Makenna graduated from elementary school this year.  Big stuff!  Now she's on to the high school!  She earned 716.7 AR points this year.  She not only earned the most in her class but the most in the school.  She was very excited about that!  She got a huge basket of prizes from the school for all her hard work!
She earned her Fitness Gram and was in the Assist Club.  She was in both Honors Choirs this year.  She also earned the Presidential Outstanding Academic Achievement Award.  She was on Student Council. She took first in the Poppy Poster contest, first in the Americanism Essay contest, and first in the Poetry contest.

Maddi - 7th grade.  Maddi got perfect attendance :)  She also earned a letter in Cross Country and got the Newcomers Award.  She and another teammate received that because they was able to come up and run varsity when the team needed them to.  She also lettered in track this year and was able to run at State.  She also got a Character of the Month Award for Responsibility from one of her teachers.
 
All of the kids also improved their scores in all their testing.  Most of them are well above their grade average and continue to grow.  This year was our second year to go to Deubrook.  I am again, so thankful for all the opportunities my kids have because of this school.  They absolutely love this school!  It has been such a blessing for all of us.