Friday, November 30, 2012

Climbing Up

  • We greatly enjoyed our Thanksgiving week! Ricky took a week's vacation, and we drove up to Cincinnati to visit with Ricky's family (the 7-hr drive only took us 9-9.5 hours). So many highlights, here's a few: slept in every morning (while Ricky's dear mom took care of the kiddos), put together a 1,000-piece Waldo puzzle (picture below), went out twice during afternoon naps, celebrated Christmas less than 24-hours after Thanksgiving (Ricky and his brother made many jokes about that, leaving me in stitches), visiting with Ricky's grandparents who flew in for the week from Arizona, playing board games into the night (shout-out to the new addition, Ticket to Ride), riding a stairlift, and eating (a 5-lb. weight gain would not surprise me)... [Confession: I was very neglectful and took very few pictures during our trip :(]
  • Aolani's antics: leads the way and calls out behind her "Come on, baby" (like he's her puppy), feeds the baby breakfast and lunch, is beginning to learn the alphabet, unveiled her too-big, purple Future Asburian t-shirt and wore it continually day and night over her outfits until I hid it,  is getting to be a good, little helper, shuts the bedroom and bathroom doors behind her (and us) to keep the baby out, every once-in-a-while I have thought that she may be growing more obedient, giggles and says that the baby is talking when he repeats his sounds, heard her tell her friend, "I'm scared of lawn mower," and then hide her face, nods in agreement while praying (like I do!), when we don't understand something she says, she puts her head in her hand and says, "Oh man" (like I do), doesn't tell me when she poops and tries to wipe herself (not good), gets up out of bed several times at night before going to sleep (probably curious to see what we are doing) and early in the morning (climbing on our bed to nurse or sleep or play with toys), and received a larger, heavier, hand-stitched blanket for Christmas from her great-grandmother and carries it with her everywhere.
  • Micaiah's mishaps: enjoys pulling all of the books off the book shelf (and looking at them), is a head-banger (hard to explain -- got to get a video of it -- but whenever he does not get what he wants or is sad, he throws his head on the floor like he is overwhelmed with grief and agony!), is quite the lap baby and is completely content sitting on me, clapped his hands the other day after he tooted, and clapped his hands when he first discovered how to open the nightstand.
  • I have recently finished reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, and I must say that it is worth every bit of praise it is receiving. I am still processing what and how to implement her insights into my daily grind! {Because, honestly, eucharisteo is hard. I can easily give thanks for three things a day without my heart -- my eyes -- being changed. I want my attitude to choose and be gratitude when anger, hurt, frustration, control, depression, selfishness well up and consume my mind and my words. I want to live it, breathe it... Yeah, like I said, I'm still processing.}
  • Successful activities: Non-unique -- we picked five little and five big books to stack, separate, and alternate in a line (any big and small items work, make them a similar item though). I had my first two unique ideas for activities that were hits! One -- we had a page of the whole alphabet on it (colorful letters, upper and lower case). Aolani would bring a fridge magnet over and place it on the letter it matched (we would sound it out and talk about words that begin with it). Two -- I punched holes in a 12-inch by 3-inch piece of colorful card stock paper. Then, I cut some thin ribbon, and showed her how to thread it through the holes. She got it right away! (This was one of my car activities.)

Micaiah loves these refrigerator magnets, too!

Just admiring her wild, beautiful locks!
  • Verse to memorize this week (and the next): 2 Peter 1:3 ~ His divine power has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Embracing the "Bad"

Here are the links to a 2-part series I wrote in December 2010 about embracing the "bad" (and why we should give thanks for all things):

Part 1

Part 2

*This concludes my reposts on thankfulness :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

When God Uses Vermin

Repost from February 23, 2011 --

Randy Alcorn tells this story:

"Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie, in light of the command 'Give thanks in all circumstances' (1 Thessalonians 5:18), insisted they should thank God even for the fleas and lice in their concentration camp barracks. Corrie resisted until she realized that the fleas and lice made it possible for her to open the Bible and teach it unhindered to other prisoners. Guards could have confiscated her forbidden Bible, but they refused to enter because of the vermin. Think of it — God is at work through vermin; it’s simply rare that in this life we can see it as clearly as Corrie finally did."
Need I say more, or anything at all?!

Is this convicting or what? No room for complaints! I love that last bit about God working through vermin. God can use all things for His good purposes -- even those pesky mosquitoes.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Saying No to the Oh-Nos

Repost from November 25, 2010 --

When something unexpected happens, from dropping a treasured breakable on hardwood to having your house burn down, do you have a tendency to respond with an oh-no!, whether you actually speak it or just think it? I know I do. Sometimes, it is out of anxiety or grief or frustration or just being startled.

I decided that I am saying no to oh-nos.

How? No surprise here. By giving thanks. This is just another reason why I put numbers to my heart's joys.

Stand firm. Refuse to panic. Pray. And give thanks.

The eternal perspective will come. Joy will come. By giving thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

*You know I need to work on this when my children's first phrases are "uh-oh" and "oh-no" :(

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feeling Bad About the Can'ts

Repost from January 13, 2011 --

I know I talk about putting on an Attitude of Gratitude almost every week, but seriously, it is a major coping mechanism for me.

Because there are days when I cannot help but feel bad about all the things that I cannot do being confined to my wheelchair. Despondency is grabbing at my heels.

I want to lift her out of the crib, hold her on my hip, lift her over my head, flip her upside down, bounce her, put her on my shoulders, let her crawl, chase her, play on the floor together, nap on the bed together, go to a park, go for a walk, go anywhere, swing her around, cook with her, rock her, wear her while I clean, give her a bath, trim her nails, get her dressed, okay so I need to stop now... Basically, I have never wanted to be able-bodied so much until my baby came along.

So, there is a lot that I cannot do. But...

What about the things I can do? That is the land where I want to dwell. Instead of looking at the can'tsfocusing on the cans. Let thanksgiving pour forth from my heart and my mouth. All day long. thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus ChristEphesians 5:20

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Two C's

They steal a cheerful heart. They bring gloom. They breed dissatisfaction. And they thrive on negativity.

Complaining and Criticism.

They may be buddies, but not ones I want to have!

These are the Words that I have to continually call to mind throughout my day:
"Do everything without complaining or arguing," Philippians 2:14
"If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." Galatians 5:15
"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." James 3:9-10
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt," Colossians 4:6
I know I've written about this before, but this (fighting the desire to criticize or complain) is such a stronghold in my life. So, fresh words about it are always convicting to me! Here are some good insights I've read lately.
"I have found that I can be rather critical. We excuse it as having a high sense of quality or wanting the best, but being critical can be a dangerous thing. If I look at someone and my heart is full of criticism, it steals my ability to bless that person. Criticism steals all the encouraging things that I should say out of my mouth. So, instead of being uplifting to that person, I am left standing in silence.
It also steals joy. It impoverishes us when we cannot rejoice in the work that others do. We could be enjoying and sharing, but instead we criticize and are left empty. A heart full of criticism has no room for something as large and life-changing as joy.

I would rather have a heart full of joy and good things to say about the people around me, than to have the power to force everyone to 'get it right.'

Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is to learn to be content."
-Zach Motts' blog post, The Joy Thief
I find that these negative attitudes and behaviors are not healthy for me -- spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally -- and, in fact, are destructive to my very being. Complaining and criticizing are the kind of "friends" that kick you while you're down. Just like self-pity. Anyway, here's another good article about it: Why We Are Addicted To Complaining And How To Stop It.

To combat negativity and frolic in the waters of joy inexpressible is exactly why I had started giving thanks for my boatload!
"give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, November 19, 2012

Climbing the Ladder

*Every day this Thanksgiving week, I will repost some of my favorite posts that focus on gratitude.

Repost from November 4, 2010 --

I already feel stuck.

I thought I wouldn't feel it for at least another year or more.

But, it's here. Routine. Ordinary. Monotony. The same thing. Repeated. Every. Single. Day.

I read these beautiful blogs written by other women... I mean - wow. They write about finding the glorious in the mundaneSounds surreal to me, as I live in the nursery with a teething baby and dirty diapers.

I look around and wonder if the room is getting smaller. These walls just might be caving in. Maybe.

This pastel-colored nursery appears dismal at times. You know...

It's me. My mind is playing games. Halt. How do I quit this game?

Easy. I start giving thanks. And with each thing, I start climbing the ladder back up. Out of this pit. I am putting my attitude of gratitude back on. How did it come off? I must guard it more carefully. Feed the Spirit.

As I rise, the nursery looks brighter. And bigger. More spacious.

A smile creeps up. My breathing becomes more rhythmic.

And, I find it! The glorious in the mundane. By pouring out my thankful heart, I am inviting the Glorious One into my mundane life.

There is poetry in these walls. I see beauty. And grace. I want to dance.

Thank You, Lifter of my Head, my Countenance-Reformer!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Growing in the Grace of Thanksgiving

*All of these quotes come from Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience

"Anything I have, I don’t deserve.
Everything I have isn’t a given — it’s given.
Nothing is a given — everything’s a gift.
Who am I to complain in losses when what I lost wasn’t mine to begin with?" 
~ Ann Voskamp

“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness
and all perfection, he must tell you to 
make a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything
that happens to you.

It is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you,

if you thank and praise God for it,
you turn it into a blessing.

If you could work miracles,

therefore, you could not do more for yourself
than by this thankful spirit.

It heals and turns all that it touches into happiness.” 

~ William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

“I do not admire the term ‘progressive sanctification’, for it is unwarranted by Scripture.

But it is certain that the Christian does grow in grace.

And though his conflict may be as severe in the last day of his life as in the first moment of conversion, yet he does advance in grace —

and all his imperfections and his conflicts within cannot prove that he has not made progress.” 
~ Charles Spurgeon

I Am a Mother

This is one of my (currently) favorite pictures. I cannot get it out of head, keep talking about it, and still laugh about it every time I think about it! Hence, I had to share it:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Exploding from Cuteness

  • Thursday was our special (Holy Spirit) day we like to remember, and Ricky took me out to lunch in another town. We celebrated with cheesecake :) Friday, we had a dear family over for a meal and games and brownies! Saturday, we drove to another nearby town to visit a friend of mine who had just opened her own nutrition club -- she treated me to free protein shakes and a massage (she's a licensed therapist)! 
  • Aolani's antics: counts houses when riding in the car, shushes us when the baby is asleep and she is the only one talking, tucked Ricky into "bed" on the floor and proceeded to repeatedly tell him not to pee-pee on the floor but to pee-pee in the potty... Kinda sad (but relieving) news: I gave in and allow her to wear pull-ups again for her naps. There are reasons, but her peeing in her crib every day got old and just didn't fit with our family's situation. Oh well.
  • Micaiah's mishaps: is always got that pointer out and waving around, (usually) obeys me when I say NO (mind-boggling to me after Miss A), helps me get Aolani up after her nap, stands on his knees, very clingy, giggles when Aolani runs, bounces when Aolani rides her donkey and when he is happy (see video below), has started gazing into my eyes and calling me Mama -- melt my heart!... tried to put him in the nursery at church for the second time. He did okay last week, but I had to go back and hold him the entire time this past service.
  • Aolani and Micaiah are so different in personality already! He is shy, sensitive, a homebody, more obedient, introverted, just wants to be around his family, follows me around, wants to be on my lap, clings to the wheelchair, and definitely less adventurous. She was and is the opposite of all the things I just listed.
  • The age of distractibility is over for Micaiah (in regards to nursing) -- phew! It only lasted 2-3 months... Now, he is quite the determined nurser!
  • Verse to memorize this week: Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Storing Up Rewards

Still thinking about rewards after last week... Actually, I think about rewards a lot.

This post may offend some. I don't mean to offend, and I'm certainly not judging anyone; I am just wrestling this out.

I think of rewards as eternal treasure (lasting, desirable, and valuable). Why are they desirable?Because treasure is valuable, and they are eternal! Never fade, never disappear, never lose value, are never stolen, are never destroyed... And it is okay to want it, to be motivated by it. In fact, we are told to go after it!

Example: $3 buys one Bible (for someone in India). Now, I could spend $15 on say something decorative or pretty like a pair of earrings (that will rust and break), OR I could buy five Bibles for people that do not own the Scriptures (and earn some eternal rewards).

Need I ask which one is smarter? I mean, it really is a matter of brains. Spending money on earthly goods can be stupid! Who would trade what they cannot keep for what they cannot lose?!

That reminds me of something I use to tell Ricky a lot. We would drive by these humongous, beautiful houses on the beach when we lived in Wilmington. And boy, did they make me dream and wish and sigh and feel unsatisfied with my life and what I had. Ricky would look at me and ask, "You want one, don't you?" And I'd turn to him and respond, "So much so that I'm not going to waste my time trying to get one on this earth. I'm going to stack up my real bank account, so I can live in one in Heaven forever!"

Let me add one more important note that we wholeheartedly believe and live by: God is not concerned with how much you give but how much you keep. Bill Gates may be giving away hundreds of millions, but how much is he keeping for himself? $3 may not be a lot, but if it is given to God, He can and will use it. Multiply our little to feed the multitudes!

Look at the story of the widow giving her last two pennies to God. Two pennies -- that's like nothing! But it was her all. And Jesus held her up as the ultimate giving example (not Bill Gates). Just goes to show that the amount given is not what God sees but the amount kept.

Notes: I am not saying that buying things is wrong. We buy stuff -- ice cream and diapers and books --  but we buy stuff with the intention of either serving others or our family (to make us useful for Him) and cultivating relationships (within reason, meaning if you can do it for less then by all means do). We are fallen and sinful and selfish, so no we do not have this down pat. If we have one, we don't buy two. We do occasionally buy unnecessary stuff (not needed for survival, such as vitamins and music and gifts) because we do want to support our local economy (which is astronomically expensive on a global scale where the majority of the world live on less than $1.25 a day) and other worthwhile purchases. And we want to maintain good health -- we want to keep on living to encourage others to persevere as well as to make more money to keep on giving. We want to be known as giving warriors ;)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Show Must Go On

  • Always on the go, it seems! There are pictures and a video of them in their costumes on All Saints' Day. Aolani enjoyed chocolate, a short movie, and her first glow-in-the-dark wand.
  • On Saturday we decided to take a mini-vacation to Blowing Rock. Ricky let me sleep in a little longer that day. When he got the kids ready, he accidentally squeezed Aolani into Micaiah's jeans (thinking they were suppose to be tight -- "skinny jeans"). Well, when Aolani had to go... yeah, she couldn't get 'em off. And, Micaiah wore something else.
  • At Blowing Rock we ate (at a cafe for lunch), ate (ice cream cone at homemade chocolate shop), ate (let Aolani swing at the park, loudly cried when we had to go, strangers offered her a cookie to shut her up, I mean, comfort her), and ate (Ricky chose a DQ to stop at while I nurse). Weather was perfect. Micaiah slept through seeing The Blowing Rock (the natural site). 
  • My kids are still messed up from Daylight Savings Time -- ugghhh! [Simply means that we all get less sleep.]
  • On the way there Saturday morning, we stopped off to let me do early voting. Of course, Aolani wanted to vote, too. That evening, Ricky made a fine ballot for her (using all her stuffed animals as the candidates), and she even got a sticker (that she is still boasting)!

  • Verse to memorize this week: Galatians 3:3 ~ How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Accessing the Rewards

I cannot get over the supreme greatness of salvation, especially after physical death.

I'm not going to address the wonderful benefits of being with Christ, being free from this awful sin nature, living for eternity in Heaven, enjoying a resurrected New Earth, having satisfying fellowship, knowing complete freedom, deep peace and joy, fulfilling work and days and relationships and recreation and rest -- all unadulterated by sin! I could go on and on.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.  2 Peter 3:13
But lately, their are two other (obvious) benefits that leave my mind ever-reeling and oh-so-grateful.

One, Grace (the Person, Jesus) has paid the ransom-price that frees me from having to spend eternity in Prison-Hell. Two, I can now receive rewards for the good deeds I have done during my life.

If I just believe (actively trust) in Jesus, I all-of-a-sudden don't have to pay the punishment I'm due and can get gifts for any good I've done on earth! There is no scale with our good works on one side and our bad works on the other, and we just have to hope that good outweighs bad (that would be a 50-50 scale -- who came up with that idea? God is holy and judges on a 100-0 scale; yep. No one can meet that standard except One.)

Point being that I was never going to reap any reward for my good actions -- even if I had some. Without Jesus, it doesn't matter (99 good versus 1 bad action would cancel out receiving reward for the 99). With Him, I suddenly learn that I have treasure in Heaven that I can access and continue to accumulate.

I go from Hell and receiving no rewards to Heaven and a harvest of rewards! I mean, wow; that is THE BEST DEAL EVER!

Thank You, LORD. May my heart and life be my expression of immense gratitude!

Signed up,