Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's Graduation Time

Well, the end of May is here - which means school is out. Yes, we are officially done with school as of this past week. It has been a great year for both girls but we are sure glad to be done. I will definitely miss my morning breaks and "free time" but we are all looking forward to the fun and freedom of summer.

My sweet little Paloma was first up to "graduate" from her first year of preschool. All of the kids and teachers work hard to put together a nice end of year program for the parents. They sing songs, recite Bible versus, and play instruments. I totally remember sitting there watching Mattea when she was 4 having her end of the year program in Mrs. Wiseman's class. And now here we are watching Paloma. De ja vu!

Here is Paloma and her very best friend Jessie. She has clung to this girl since the day she started school. It is really very sweet to have watched. Luckily, they will get to be in the same class next year.

As soon as Paloma finished, we headed upstairs to watch my little Matty graduate from The Children's Academy where she has been going to school for the past 3 years. She is now officially off to 1st grade. How scary is that?

The teacher has done an amazing job with these kids and they put on a great program for us. Their knowledge radiated from them along with their hear for Christ. Here is a final picture with one of her very good friends Ella. Unfortunately, these girls will not be going to school together next year, but we hope to remain good friends despite of of the circumstances.

My little girl who looks much too grown up.

And of course, a few shots with mom and dad to tuck away in the scrapbook. As I always say, I was a bit sad to see another ending occur, but am very excited to see what God does with my girls in the upcoming year. It will definitely be a year of change for all of us but we are ready to tackle all that comes our way. Congratulations girls. Mom and dad love you very much!

Monday, May 9, 2011


As the old saying goes....


What a corny little saying. Although I find myself saying it a lot, it is a rather annoying saying.

When one finds themselves with a plate full of lemons, the last thing one wants to do it turn around and make lemonade. Really! I have found in the past that when I have been dished out a plate full of "unfairness" I would rather wallow in self pity than to turn around and pretend to be Little Miss Happy Hannah.

After studying the book of James though, it has become so clear that God uses us daily - in good situations and bad. He uses circumstances in ways that are beyond our comprehension. In ways that we cannot see or understand, he orchestrates events to fall into place with accordance to His plan. Our tests and our trials are not meant to bring us down but rather to build us up and bring us closer to Him. I have been tested in the past and quite frankly never rose to the challenge. I never used past mistakes, past pain, or past unfairness to draw myself closer to Christ. In fact, if anything, they pushed me farther. I have learned through the years that is not my calling. It has taken some time and some maturity for me to come to these conclusions but alas here I am.

Dave and I have definitely been trialed this year. Of course, like any married couple, we have been trialed before in the last 8.5 years that we have been married. We were trialed as a couple when we chose to uproot and move to New Mexico, not knowing a single soul. We were trialed during the first year of our marriage when we were forced to pay the government for taxes and pay for a ridiculous leg surgery on a dog we had just adopted - all while not making a whole lot of money. We were trialed as a couple when we gave birth to our first born while David was attending grad school. We were again trialed in 2007 when Paloma was born/Dave defended his thesis/we sold our house/moved across country to a whole new state to begin our new life together. The trials continued as Dave's job evolved and began requiring a whole lot more travel. Travel is not necessarily bad, but it does prove challenging when you are the mother of two young children, no support systems, living in a whole new state. I relied on David and his work was pulling him from me. I could go on about the numerous ways that we have been tested as a couple. God has been gracious with us and gotten us through these challenges.

And then......Dec 2010 rolled along and once again, Dave and I found ourselves under attack. Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. And just when you think life is good, you realize - well, that you have been handed a plate of lemons. There they are. Staring right at you. They are sour, and will burn your wounds if cut open. The acid will seep into the cuts in your hand, and you will feel pain. And that is where we were. Again, challenged. This time was different though. Although we found ourselves in a wrestling match with Satan, we decided to step back, take a second to breathe, and cut those lemons open and make some lemonade. The process was long and agonizing. Our wounds hurt as the juice from the lemons dripped in. The taste in our mouth was sour. It was not a fun process by any means BUT.....the end result is great.

Rather than turning and running from God, in this situation we drew closer. Using this particular trial, we allowed Christ to take our hearts and mold them into the people He desired us to be. We really had no other option but to turn toward Christ, cling to Him, and trust that since he brought us to the situation, he would bring us through the situation. And we believe that whole heartily. What doesn't kill us will make us stronger - another corny saying - but oh so true.

So here we are today. I stand in amazement of the wonderful man that God provided for me. I stand in amazement of the two beautiful children that I have been given. I stand in amazement of the life that I have been given. I deserve none of it. I am a sinful, selfish, self-centered person. By God's grace I am forgiven for my wrongs and my slate is wiped clean daily. Praise God. Though I/we may have suffered pain,disappointment and resentment, we hope to be living examples of what Christ can do in your life. My prayer is that through time our story can be shared and others can witness first hand the miracle that God can do in two very broken lives.

Mother's Day Adventure

Happy Mothers Day to all my mommy friends reading. I love Mothers Day! This year turned out to be a cold, rainy, overcast day - but we didn't let that spoil the mood. I woke yesterday morning, got myself and the girls ready for church, and then sat back and let Dave take us on an orchestrated Mother's Day adventure.
Great photo op! After church, the girls and I were quickly whisked away to a great Mother's Day brunch. The girls ate enormous amount of food - I ate enormous amounts of dessert. It is all fat free on Mother's Day right?
After that, we jumped into the car and headed out of town for a drive. Neither myself or the kids knew where we were going. All I knew is we had plenty of bottled water and a few bags packed in the car. Didn't know what was in the bags but Dave had informed me to pack a change of clothes.
We ended up about an hour out of town at the hot springs. They have built a pool around the natural occurring hot springs and so the family spent the afternoon swimming in some amazingly warm, natural water.
Of course, the girls will never pass up an opportunity to go swimming. They had a blast, we had a blast, and we all worked off some much needed energy. Dave had taken care of everything, packed the girls' swimming suits, towels, change of clothes, shower goodies. He had even packed my swimming suit - not just 1 but 3. When I asked why he packed 3 he said "I wasn't sure what kind of day it would be" (in code for meaning bloated vs. not bloated / 1 piece vs. 2 piece) What a thoughtful gentleman. It was home for peanut butter sandwiches and off to U Swirl for ice cream. What an amazing day. A huge thanks to my family for making my day extra special. I love you guys very much.

Friday, May 6, 2011

This Is Why I Love Them

Dinner is served

We are so proud of our daddy for the wonderful dinner we had the other night. After a rather fruitful fishing trip a few weeks back, David served up some fresh, home grown fish. Who can get any more natural than that. We can't wait to send him back out for another fishing adventure. I'm sure he can't wait to get out as well.

Easter Morning Fun

Don't' my girls look amazing in the morning?? Put aside the bedhead and concentrate on the lovely smiles of my two darlings the morning of Easter. They came downstairs and proclaimed that Jesus had risen! Yahoo! And then..... they spotted their baskets.

They were so excited. There is no Easter Bunny at our house. We keep the Easter celebration strictly for Jesus. But the girls no that although a big old bunny doesn't come hopping through their house, they won't get left out of the fun of Easter baskets. Mommy and Daddy know how to deliver.

When I asked Paloma what she wanted for Easter, she replied "a big chocolate bunny." That's all she wanted. The sad thing is she got maybe two bites of her bunny and her daddy "nibbled" on the rest. When she discovered the eaten bunny a couple of days ago, she was devastated and erupted into tears. After calling her daddy to let him know how disappointed she was in him, he replaced her bunny with a mega size chocolate bar. She was less than impressed.

Hello. What is an Easter basket without undies? Yes, we are practical in these parts of the woods. Mattea was delighted with her gift though because they had 'peace signs' on them. Apparently that is the new thing.

Hope everyone had a great Easter and celebrated the glorious resurrection of Christ.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Let's Be Honest

This happens to be the devotion that came across my email today from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Take a moment to read and then tell me if you have ever felt yourself in this situation. Because if I am going to be brutally honest - I will say that I have almost handed in my pink slip before (on more than one occasion.) Really ladies - we are not alone. There are more of us "basket cased, non showered, over worked, under appreciated, I can't do this anymore moms" out there. The reminder in this devotion is 'no - we can't do this BUT yes - He can do this.'

Sometimes I Just Wanna Quit
4 May 2011
Renee Swope

“You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.” Psalm 18:35 (NIV, 1984)

I love my kids, but I haven’t always liked being a mom.

Once my boys became toddlers who wouldn’t listen to me or do what I told them, I kind of panicked. I looked around at other moms who seemed to know what they were doing and wondered, “What is wrong with me?”

Their children seemed to listen when they told them no. Why wouldn’t my child keep his hands to himself or stay in the cart at the grocery store? Why did he not understand when I told him I could not buy everything his little hand could touch? And how come no one told me that being a mom would be so hard?

I felt like such a failure.
Almost every day I would compare how I felt on the inside to how other moms looked like they had it all together on the outside.

I held up my feelings of inadequacy and thoughts of insecurity in contrast to moms who dressed their children in matching outfits and adorned themselves with attitudes of grace and wisdom. I wondered how in the world they pulled it off with a smile. I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed and get us out the door before lunch.

I just wanted to quit.
One day I came home from running too many errands with two very tired and fussy kids. I put them down for an early nap and started looking for pink construction paper so I could write “I QUIT” on it. I’d decided to turn in my “pink slip” to my husband when he came home from work that day.

It was just too hard, and I was tired of feeling like I would never be “good enough” as a mom.

But instead, I needed a new place to start.
I didn’t really start becoming the mom God created me to be until the day I was ready to quit. That afternoon I fell on my knees before God and choked out the words, “I can’t do this.”

And in that place of surrender, His peace came over me. His gentleness calmed my nerves. I felt like God bent down before me and spoke to my heart: You are right, Renee. In your strength and through your perspective, you can’t do this. But with My promises, My presence and My power — all things are possible. I will help you become a great mom.

Looking back on that day, I’m reminded of our key verse in Psalm 19:35, “You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.”

When we acknowledge that on our own we are a mess, God rushes to our side to help us. He bends down to show us that with His grace, wisdom and guidance, we can become the mom He is calling us to be, the mom our kids need us to be, and the mom we want to be!

Dear Lord, I need Your shield of victory to protect me from discouragement. I pray that You would extend Your right hand to sustain me; Your grace to strengthen me; and Your wisdom to lead me. Thank You for Jesus, who stooped down to make me great because of Your great love for me. Today, I want to find a new starting place with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

My Girls..

They have a love/hate relationship these days...