Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Shop and Earn Money for Your School Too!

Anyone out there doing any online shopping this holiday season? While the gas prices have gone down considerably, there is still a draw to shop online to avoid the stampedes and crowds at the shopping malls.

I don't know if you remember me mentioning this when school started but at the beginning of the school year I signed up with Box Tops for Education to help Isaac and Emma's school raise extra funds.

On their website I found they have three ways for schools to earn up to $60,000 every year! You can earn cash for your school every time you 1) shop online at the Box Tops Marketplace, 2) shop for groceries and clip box tops or 3) order books online through the Box Tops Reading Room.
Once again with the holiday season I went back out to their website and from there I followed the link to their "Marketplace". (There are more than 70 stores to choose from... and not some "no-name-can-I-trust-them-to-not-screw-me-over" stores. We're talking Target, Kohls, Limited Too, Hallmark, OfficeMax and The retailers donate anywhere from .5% to 8% depending on the retailer. I had some Barnes and Noble shopping to do so I clicked on their link from the Marketplace and then signed in with my Barnes and Noble Readers Advantage card and did my shopping! EASY...and my kids' school benefits. Since I already had an account with Barnes and Noble and had previously set up my Box Tops account, everything was very smooth.

I encourage you to try it out. It's a great way to earn items for your school that aren't covered with current funding.
*An extra bonus: The BoxTops for Education website has COUPONS for the General Mills products that have those coveted boxtops!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Three Years Ago. Today.

On the other side of the world a scared,skinny little girl dressed in two layers of clothing and hugging a large stuffed pig was placed in the arms of two nervous strangers. Today they are a family. Our Madeleine Yan is a blessing we never dreamed of. I can't believe it's been three years!

She has settled into being the "baby" of the family while still retaining some of the "oldest child" tendencies she brought with her into our family. She is outgoing, inquisitive and imaginative and I can't imagine our lives without her.

For more information about adoption see How To Adopt or leave me a comment!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

God Doesn't Sleep

Maddie: Mommy, is God asleep right now?

Mommy: No... the amazing thing about God is that he never sleeps.

Maddie ponders this for a moment then: He is going to be so grouchy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sometimes I...

...miss nursing two of my babies and wish I could have nursed the other two
...know I am more sinful that I would ever admit
...know I am more loved than I could ever imagine
...hate my undisciplined self
...can't believe how I talk to my kids how I make my kids laugh
...need to get away scared of eternity
...feel caught outside of time
...don't think anyone understands overwhelmed by grace
...wish I shared grace more freely with others
...think there may be one more child out there that needs our family
...wake up
...worry that there isn't anything more than what is right now
...don't want "right now" to ever end
...spend too much time comparing myself to everyone else
...miss the sound of a train off in the distance and my chest hurts a total bitch
...remember to apologize
...remember to forgive myself
...take him for granted
...lose myself in the smell of his neck spinning my wheels spinning too many plates spinning tales to shut it all out for the applause of others
...wish I didn't care
...have standards that are too high
...root for the underdog
...wish my children would just grow up
...wish they never would lazy
...realize how much I miss when I'm lazy
...spend too much time in regret
...forget how to dream
...forget how to hope
...forget how to love
...want to be sung to sleep
...feel like a burden
...want a house
...remember to be grateful
...let my emotional life be dictated by his mood
...feel safer with him than ever
...know I love him more now than ever before
...wonder if he really does love me
...marvel at the father he is to our children my babies sleep and am held captive by the moment
...remember the moment my soul met each of my child's souls and they recognized each other as family

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween is here again...

Yes. It's true. I know you have all been waiting. Holding your breath. It's the Annual Baldwin Family Halloween Photos! Wheeeee! Unfortunately, our scanner has some issues... sorry for the smears...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Hope Box

“Do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother… Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11).

Several years ago a few women and I went through a study called "Compassion By Command", a faith-based curriculum designed to mobilize Christians to reach out to the poor. The study takes participants deep into Scripture to better understand God’s heart for the poor and the responsibility that Christians have in helping those in poverty. At the end of the study, they challenge you to come up with your own "project" to reach out to those in poverty. In the midst of our brainstorming, one of the ideas we came up with was a box for people to keep in their cars with items for the homeless people we often encounter at stoplights here in San Diego. The idea didn't take off at the time but... fast forward to the Baldwin kids' fall intercession.

Three weeks of no school when most other schools are in session. Time to kill and time to fill. I told the kids about the original idea and they kind of took off with it. My brother, Matt, who is our pastor, often says, "You don't need a church program to love your neighbor". Well, we decided to just go for it, create a box and provide empty boxes to others at church so that they could do the same thing. We created a list of practical items to which homeless people often don't have access. We made trips to the 99 Cent Store and Big Lots and stocked up on items plus a few empty plastic containers. Emma dubbed the project, "Hope Box". They were excited about putting our Hope Box together and it was fun to browse the aisles deciding what to include and explaining why to the kids.

To prepare for introducing our Hope Boxes, we printed up a list with suggested items and taped them onto the inside of each plastic container. We then drew up a "pledge" that we wanted people to sign when they picked up their empty boxes. The pledge read:

I pledge to, through the Hope Box Project, participate in redeeming my city for God. By helping to practically provide for those who are in need, I pray God will use me as an instrument of healing and as a window to the gospel. I will not use this opportunity to build my pride or feel superior but will recognize my need and my poverty and choose to identify with and fellowship with those who live and breathe financial poverty. I will use the interactions with those in need as an opportunity to move beyond “doing a good deed” into building relationships. I pledge to replenish my Hope Box when it is empty, to speak with love and act with compassion.

We introduced the Hope Box last week. We are hoping that people will return with stories... stories of hope, stories of changes (especially changes in the hearts of those serving) and stories of the Gospel in action.

I encourage you to come up with your own ideas. Share them here! I want to hear all about them.

* Here is our suggested list of items (but by no means all inclusive):
Water Bottles
Beef jerky
Trail mix
Travel Toothbrushes w/ toothpaste
Granola Bars
Feminine Hygiene Products

Friday, October 10, 2008

Beer. The Safer Investment.

Many thanks to Jen at Amazing Trips for passing this on!

If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago, you would have $49 left. With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left. With AIG, you would have less than $15 left. But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drunk all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have $214 cash. Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Road Trip...

Sunday morning we rose at the crack of dawn, loaded up our Pilot, cruised over to Starbucks and the Bagel Bar and thus began our ascent up the coast of California. Our destination: Los Osos, California (a tiny town just west of San Luis Obispo and south of Morro Bay). It was a chance to introduce Maddie to Daddy's hometown and create more memories for the older three kids.

Our destination up the coast used to be Gramma and Poppa's house... first in Los Osos and then later in Paso Robles (wine country, just north of San Luis Obispo and filmed beautifully in the movie "Sideways"). Gramma and Poppa moved to Kentucky right after our family moved to Indiana which made this visit a little strange and unfamiliar. However, we booked a room with our Marriott rewards points (the best advantage to Larry having a job with travel) and have spent the last couple days exploring Larry's childhood stomping grounds.

Yesterday, we went to downtown San Luis. Then we hopped in the car and drove over to Morro Bay just as the typical wall of fog started rolling in off the ocean. We drove by Larry's high school, his first job (Burger King, if you were wondering) and marveled at the changes that had taken place since our last visit. When we arrived at the Embarcadero, we were surprised to find a music festival taking place and were serenaded by Sean Kingston singing "Beautiful Girls". We grabbed some fish and chips with clam chowder and then drove past Larry's childhood home in Los Osos.

Today we headed out to Montana de Oro, a beautiful beach with rugged cliffs and hidden caves. Later we drove down to Avila Beach and visited with the pelicans and sea lions. The kids loved hearing stories of Larry's childhood and being reminded of places they had been before.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yes... The Baldwin Family is still alive and kicking...

I know it's been forever and ever since I updated my blog. Sorry about that. Life is still crazy and seems even crazier these days. The kids are all on fall intercession which, for those of you who are used to traditional school schedules, is the three week break during the fall for kids who attend "year-round" schools.

Yesterday we took a trip to Petco to trade some unused tickets for tomorrow night's game and went to the Animal Shelter to adopt a bunny for Emma. Emma has dubbed the bunny, Ella, and we pick her up on Saturday after she's had her...(clearing throat)... "surgery".
Today was a trip to the zoo with my mom and her students...then a doctor's appointment for Maddie and finally drama class for Landen. Whew... we're tired.
Tomorrow is the beach with my cousin, Lori, and her kids and then the Padre game with friends and family.
Here are some highlights from our zoo and Dr. visit today...

Landen and Mom

Hippos snuggling under water

Me with my buds in our diva glasses (Erica on left; Dana on right)

Maddie with her friend, Serena (Erica's daughter)

Friday, September 12, 2008

My baby girl...

Emma got baptized last Sunday by her Uncle Matt. She was baptized along with her cousin, Shaye, and fellow Crossroads member, Patty Mendez. It was a wonderful time of music and celebration. A reminder of the gospel and it's healing, redemptive power.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Soon End In Joy

Frankly, I needed to hear this tonight. As "Over the Rhine" would say... 'Lord, we need a new redemption song'. This was my gift tonight. Timing is everything. Many thanks to Charlie Lowell, Dan Haseltine, Matt Odmark, Stephen Mason.

Give to the wind your fear

Hope and be undismayed

God hears your sighs and counts your tears

God will lift up, He'll lift up your head

God will lift up, lift up your head

Leave to His sovereign sway

To choose and to command

Then shall we wandering on His way

Know how wise and how strong

How wise and how strong

How strong is His hand

Through waves and clouds and storms,

He gently clears the way

Wait 'cause in His time, so shall this night

Soon end in joy, soon end in joy

Soon end in joy, soon end in joy

God will lift up your head

Soon end in joy

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Shopping for Education

Anyone else out there remember the days of cutting labels off of Campbell's soup cans or the box tops off your cereal to take into school so that your class would win the pizza/ice cream/no homework party? Our pantry would be stocked with unlabeled cans of soup marked with a Sharpie from our "night-before-the-deadline" collection of as many labels as could fit into our backpacks.

These days, many of these school support programs have expanded to the Internet as well. I found that Box Tops for Education now has three ways for schools to earn up to $60,000 every year! You can earn cash for your school every time you 1) shop online at the Box Tops Marketplace, 2) shop for groceries and clip box tops or 3) order books online through the Box Tops Reading Room.

So, I tried it! I went to their website and registered to support Isaac and Emma's elementary school. From there I followed the link to their "Marketplace". Here's where it got good! There are more than 70 stores to choose from... and not some "no-name-can-I-trust-them-to-not-screw-me-over" stores. We're talking Target, Kohls, Limited Too (Hel-lo! Do your school clothes shopping AND get a donation for your school... Limited Too donates 5% of your purchase!), Hallmark, OfficeMax and The retailers donate anywhere from .5% to 8% depending on the retailer. So I clicked on Target, picked up some goodies and checked out. Simple as that.

The only issues I came across was having to register again once I reached the retailer's site. Reducing the amount of personal info you need to type to get through the whole transaction would have made it even easier. I also would have liked to see the "results" right away. According to the BoxTops website, it could take up to 8 weeks for the retailer to report back. But, nonetheless, I will be checking regularly to see those bucks add up.

I encourage you to try it out. It's a great way to earn items for your school that aren't covered with current funding.
*An extra bonus: The BoxTops for Education website has COUPONS for the General Mills products that have those coveted boxtops!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Passing of This Season...

Yesterday Emma and I said "goodbye" to our house in Granger. I've spent the last few days supervising packers, carpet cleaners, and movers, all the while preparing the house for our new tenants. I cleaned in spurts occasionally picking up the spackling blade or paint brush to touch up the walls. As I drifted from project to project I couldn't shake the death imagery that kept coming to mind. I am a very visual person and sometimes the only way I can describe emotions or situations is through pictures and symbols.

While struggling to explain to a friend the emotional detachment I was feeling as I wandering through the rooms of my house and drove through the streets of my former neighborhood, I kept picturing veils over mirrors, as they do in some Jewish communities during a time of mourning. I felt as if I had placed a veil over my emotions in regards to the death of this season of life. There was also this impression of preparing a body for burial as I lovingly cleaned each corner and dressed each flaw in my home.

There is no doubt that I am sad. I'm eating like crap, not sleeping well, restless, having stomach pains. But the emotions are not up front. There are no tears. This transition has been a long time coming. Somewhat like a loved one who has suffered and been ill for a long time. You are prepared for the death, maybe even hope for it at times, but it is still painful when it happens.

Before we left, a tearful Emma climbed up to the first landing of our stairs. I thought she was on her way to see her empty bedroom. Instead she stopped at the landing and swung her leg over the banister for one last slide.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Back in Indiana...

Emma and I left Wednesday to fly back to Granger to meet the movers. We have leased the house and our renters will be moving in next Monday. Here we are waiting at the airport with Starbucks in hand.

At the moment I am waiting for the moving van... it is FOUR hours late. I'm a bit frustrated. I can't do much cleaning or painting when there are boxes and furniture strewn throughout the house.

On top of that, our lease agreement still isn't signed because the renters wanted their lawyer to review it. Their lawyer finally got back to our realtor today and they are asking to write in that if they want to purchase the house at the end of the lease that they can purchase it for almost 20k less than what we're asking right now for it and that we will apply all of their rental payments toward the purchase price. WTH? That's a year away! I'm not prepared to lower the price that much when we don't even know what the market will be a year from now. I'm really aggravated right now... can you tell? What if this blows the whole deal? I know, I know. "What if" should not be in my vocabulary but after several years of too many of the "what if's" actually happening, I can't break the habit.

What, if anything, is aggravating YOU today? Please... take my mind off of this for a few minutes.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Good Morning America Tomorrow

Steven Curtis Chapmas and his family are appearing tomorrow morning (currently the time slot is just after 8 am) on Good Morning America. I encourage you to hold up their family in prayer and pray that hearts will be open to hearing the message of hope that is professed.

From Steven's Road Manager's Blog: House Mix

Press Release: NASHVILLE, TN....AUGUST 4, 2008....GRAMMY and Dove Award winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman, along with his wife Mary Beth, and eldest children Emily, Caleb, and Will, will soon be opening their hearts to America about the loss of their daughter and sister Maria Chapman this past May 21st. GOOD MORNING AMERICA will air a special interview with Robin Roberts from The Chapman’s home in Franklin on August 6th, followed by a live interview from Los Angeles on LARRY KING LIVE on August 7th, and an extensive feature in an upcoming issue of PEOPLE magazine. The decision to speak publicly was not an easy one, and these will be the first interviews the family has participated in since Maria’s death.

“Initially Steven talked about never doing any concerts or media ever again,” comments Jim Houser, Chapman’s manager. “But quickly God began to show Steven that if he ever believed the songs he was writing, singing and recording before May 21st and Maria’s loss, that they must still be true now. It’s the family’s hope that these appearances with serve as a chance to proclaim to a watching world what they know and are deeply convinced of even in these difficult days, the Gospel is true and faith in Christ is our Hope.” (for remainder of release click HERE)

For the rest of the release and more on Maria, the Chapman family and Shaohannah's Hope (their orphan ministry) CLICK

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Baldwin Family Update...

Wow... it's been a month since our family packed up 6 suitcases, a stroller, our cat, our dog and a carseat and left our home in Indiana to move out west. No covered wagon for this family... it was United airlines all the way.

We've spent the last few weeks becoming re-acclimated to California living (as evidenced by small changes like the piercings in Isaac's ears), settling into living with Grandma and Papi, visiting old friends and more...

Just a few highlights:

My parents live across the street from an elementary school which happens to be on a year-round last week Emma and Isaac joined the local throng of back-to-school shoppers. We purchased their uniforms and off they went to their first day of school in California.

Maddie has been taking swim lessons for the last four weeks and successfully learned to swim underwater to her teacher and back to the stairs!!! I am so proud of her!

This past Thursday, Landen attended Comic Con in downtown San Diego with my brother, Joe. He met up with a friend of ours from college, Doug TenNapel, author of such graphic novels as "Tommysaurus Rex" and "Creature Tech" and creator of the Nickelodeon show "Catscratch". My brother, Joe, used to stay with Doug in the men's dorms when he would visit me at school so it was a reunion of sorts.

I've begun working at Lamb's Players Theatre again. I'm doing box office work and I've had the most wonderful time reconnecting with everyone again. On Friday night, I took my mom to the preview performance of "Pretty Fire" and outside the theatre ran into Greg Grunberg (star of "Heroes"). He graciously signed an autograph for me to take home to Landen that read, "Landen, I know what you're thinking!" He was incredibly friendly and has a lovely family.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blog Block...

I am suffering from Blog Block. Life is full. There is much to discuss. There are pictures to share, thoughts to reveal, insecurities to exorcise, opinions to spew, rants to run-on. But.

But I can't find the "whatever" to just do it. Put it all into words. Share it. Some of it feels too private. Some too insignificant. I believe it might be moving out of Blogger Block and into Blogger Insecurity. Who knows?

What keeps you from blogging? I mean, besides just "busy-ness". And when you run up against it what do you do to move past it or through it? Please. Share.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Adjusting My Definition...

of "Hospitality"...

Reading Tim Chester's blog this morning on 'Creating Communities of Grace", I came across this statement:

Consider the requirement of hospitality. It is literally ‘love of strangers’. This is not inviting friends to dinner parties. This means inviting strangers, difficult people, messy people.

We are to be the neighbours that everyone wants to have as neighbours.

Ummm...'nuf said.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Gotta love being back in California...

Today we took Isaac to the Dutch's Touch Tattoo shop to get his ears pierced like his cousin Dakota.

Isaac getting pierced by "Seth" while cousin Dakota looks on.

Sportin' the needle while he waits for the hoop to be put in.

Still smilin' and no tears... what a stud!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

For My Dad...

Larry and I had a very intense dating relationship. Things got serious very quickly and at one point the inevitable happened. We broke up. (I say “inevitable” because I think any couple with that intense of a relationship needs one good break up before the lifelong commitment.) I remember the night clearly… it was raining and we were standing outside my studio apartment in Pt. Loma and he told me (and can I just say I get intense pleasure from reminding him), “God has someone for everyone and I don’t think we’re it for each other.” Now at the time I was absolutely convinced that he was “the one” so this completely shattered my heart into a gazillion pieces. But in the midst of this, Larry and God gave me a gift.

You see, after Larry left I walked back to my apartment and called my mom and dad who were about 20 minutes away. It was late at night and I woke my dad up. Through tears I asked my dad if I could come home for the night. He said, “Of course…I get the spare room ready.” (Now, this meant a sleeping bag on the floor but I wanted home more than a bed at the moment.) So, I jumped in my car and, listening to sappy music, cried my way home.

A little background: My dad came into my life about 7 months after my birth father was killed in Vietnam. Some mutual friends had invited my mom and dad to a picnic and my dad says that when he saw my mom walking across the grass with me he knew she was the one he would marry. But things did not come easily for me and Dad. Both of us had passionate, strong, choleric temperaments and would butt heads at every corner. He was also a strong disciplinarian while I was one who always had to learn the hard way… not the best combination. I began struggling with depression as a teen and it often came out in anger while my Dad also struggled with anger. We fought so often and things were so tense that it is often hard for me to come up with tender, warm memories of my time growing up with him. Even our physical affection like hugs and kissed was strained at best. When I reached college he began a transformation. He was in the midst of this when I called in tears that rainy night.

When I arrived home, my dad was waiting up for me. He let me in the front door and I remember clearly that he didn’t push me to talk or ask me why I was crying. I went into the spare room and crawled into the sleeping bag and sobbed into my pillow. After a few minutes I heard someone kneeling down beside me. Soon a hand started stroking my head. It was my dad. He never said a word. Just let me cry. This was my gift. A beautiful, tender memory with my dad. I will never forget it. While things would still become rocky at times between us, this memory was burned in my heart forever.

So to the two most important dads in my life:

Larry: Thank you for giving me that moment with my dad. Oh, and for deciding that you were wrong. God did mean for us to be together.

Dad: Thank you for just letting me cry. Thank you for sitting there until I fell asleep, worn out with tears. Thank you for the tenderness you showed me that night. I love you.

Happy Father’s Day

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wanna see somethin' cute?

Isn't he adorable? And I love him even more almost 18 years later!
(And.. yes. That is an 80's/early 90's perm under that veil.)

This weekend at Wendy's...

This weekend Wendy's restaurants are donating $.50 for every Frosty sold to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. So... go splurge! They have new flavors and they're handspun... YUM! Click on the Frosty to get more information. Think I'll scrap my diet for the weekend and help them reach their goal!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My handsome 11 year old!

Isaac turned 11 last week. He is so grown up and getting so handsome... if I do say so myself. For the story of how God knitted him into our family read this previous post from April 15, 2007.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Today I saw Jesus...

Today I saw Jesus in my daughter, Emma (9 yrs old). This morning Maddie (our 4 year old) was scheduled to get four shots (she's catching up on immunizations here in the U.S.). Knowing this, Emma put together a gift bag with things she had found while packing that she didn't use anymore (or didn't use often)... a stuffed animal, a few books and a cute horse necklace (a nice one but Emma's not a jewelry girl and Maddie lives for accessories). She wrote on the note attached to the bag, " To Maddie, I love you. You did great with your shots!" She also enclosed a note that had one of her famous dog drawings and "Good job on your shots!" written in big letters across the top.

Emma went along with us to the doctor's office and spent the entire time leading up to the appointment distracting her with drawing and talking. At one point, while Emma was doing Maddie's seat belt for her (something she usually gripes about when I ask her to do it), Maddie says, "Mommy! Emma loves me!" I guess all the extra attention was sending a message! After the shots had been administered and the tears dried, Emma walked out with her to the car. As soon as they were in their seats, she leaned over to where she had "hidden" Maddie's present and gave it to her! Maddie was thrilled. She put on the necklace immediately and has been playing with everything else since. On top of the gift giving, Emma pulled out one of the books and started reading it to her in the car. It was so very sweet and thoughtful and I was so thrilled and proud that she did this on her own. I love that little girl.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sweetly Broken

Fear is a miserable companion. It begins in the pit of my stomach before my mind even registers it's existence. It cloaks itself in depression and sometimes anger. It insinuates itself into every response, masking it's true position as an idol in my heart with euphemisms like "worry" and "concern". The reality is that I have some major trust issues. The fact that I'm an oldest child should not justify my unwillingness to relinquish control but it's an excuse I often spout with just enough of a smile that I seem transparent and able to laugh at my own foibles.

Last night, our worship pastor, Ryan, slipped a song into the set that we hadn't rehearsed the night before. (We have Thursday night services during the summer.) It was the hymn (updated and accompanied by electric guitar, of course) "I Surrender All". Ummm. Yeah. Can we just skip that one?

Here's the thing. I don't want to. Surrender all, that is. It's too frightening for me, especially when what I see looks hopeless. I look at the fact that our house has been on the market for 9 months...that's right. NINE months... and it hasn't sold in a market where other houses are selling in just a few months. I mean, it's not like we're in Southern California where the market is tanking. Our house is gorgeous and in one of the best, most coveted developments in Granger and no. one. will. buy. it. Meanwhile, our family is apart 2-3 weeks out of each month while Larry travels to work. This puts serious strain on our family dynamics as we readjust every few days to different schedules and expectations. We also have one car. With brakes that need to be fixed. Then I find myself worried about arriving in San Diego and having nowhere to live. Or having to settle (something an oldest child absolutely hates to do). There is something in me that absolutely rebels against taking our children away from a beautiful home that they love and moving them into something less. I know it's shallow but it makes me sick (how's that for transparency?). Without selling this house we will not qualify for anything and even with selling our house, we qualify for very little (a result of a couple of very difficult years here in Granger). My fears start to compound and I am unable to see God working in any of this.

Now, I should make it quite clear that I know things could be so much worse. And you should know that Larry is an incredible father and husband and takes take of us in ways that I believe most men would not. Without his wisdom, the circumstances that blindsided and crippled us could have resulted in much more dire consequences. Because of him (and certainly not me because I have not the discipline nor the financial acumen) we have avoided bankruptcy, foreclosure, delinquencies, loss of medical care and much more. I know that God carried us through those times with a clarity that I wish I could hold onto for more than a brief moment.

So, returning to last night... we came out of communion singing "I Surrender All" and I was fighting it. My attempts to disengage started to erode somewhere around verse two:

All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now

Slowly the layers of resolve began to peel away despite my best efforts to stayed pissed at God. The set was orchestrated to move from "I Surrender All" into "Sweetly Broken" (Jeremy Riddle) with me leading. By the time I hit the chorus I had to drop out. I broke. The tears streamed down my face as I was reminded anew that 'God is love and God is just.'

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

I was so beautifully brought into recognition of His sovereignty despite my willful distrust. I am praying this morning as the pit in my stomach takes up it's normal residency that Christ will invade my space moment by moment today. That He will reveal himself to me in ways that assault my selfish nature and infringe on my comfort. That He will continue to humble me and transform my yearnings until they align with His will. That His kingdom will come, His will be done in my heart and life as it is in heaven.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Isaac graduates from 5th grade and elementary school...

Two Best Friends acting goofy and showing off their new Discovery Middle School Shirts
(left: Zach Bonek; right: Our Isaac)

Nick, Zach and Isaac with their "diplomas"

Isaac with Mrs. Nash (His teacher for both 4th and 5th)