Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of Pre-School

 Gabe had his first day of preschool yesterday. Gabe was very shy, then his teacher commented on his cool lunchbox and he went right in. He then snuck back out to give brother and sister a big hug and kiss. I love this boy of mine!

 Gabe was missed! I missed his humor and crazy antics. So did his brother and sister!
 Drew met his teacher on Tuesday - his first day of Venture is on Thursday. His teacher. Mrs. Ness,  is from Oregon! Drew also has a Science, Spanish, Bible and Drama teacher which he will visit throughout his Thursday's. Such fun - I'm excited for Drew. His first science class unit is on insects! One cool plus - there is a Starbucks next door! A match made in heaven!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Heaven Falling?

Drew asked me this morning as we were driving Gabe to his first day of Pre-school, "Momma - Is heaven falling out of the sky?

"What?" I exclaimed

"Heaven, momma, its falling!"

I looked over and right in front of us the clouds had thinned and the sun's rays were shining through the clouds and it looked glorious. The sky was picture perfect for "something like heaven" to fall right through. The Son in all His Majesty was bringing joy to our morning drive.

The heaven falling conversation lead segment into how everyday we should  be living in Advent of Jesus' return to earth. He will descend with all Glory - coming with all the saints to  bring his children home! I hope I'm alive on that day, but either way I know I won't miss it!

As I'm working through Revelation in my quiet time I am just in Awe! I've spent 2 weeks just on chapter 1. I am in awe of Jesus - Revelation is the only book to reveal Christ in full glory. The picture of Revelation is Jesus - no longer a God-man in human form but the fully revealed God - all powerful, majestic, coming for judgement to unite His church. I never knew that the book of Revelation would allow me to fall more madly in love with my Jesus!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Inscriptions for Gabe

I never had a brother, never knew what life was like to have older siblings. I am so blessed that God gave me little  Gabe - exuberant and full of life. Gabe and Abby have a bond that is inseparable! They have been soul mates from the moment Abby and Gabe met - at 7 days old. Gabe loved to hold his sister, where as Drew was too busy. Gabe always told me when she cried or brought me diapers to change her. Even now, Gabe always has to know where Abby is, if we're in the store and she is trailing behind he has a melt down if  I get too far ahead of her. Gabe will always run back to her and grab her hand - pulling her so fast that she falls over! I love this little man and his divine love for his sister. What a blessed mother I am to have children who are best friends.

My dear  Gabe,

What a blessing you are to me! Tonight I watched you listen so closely to your older brother talk, then look over and  help Abby with her food. You are the only one of my 3 kids who could thrive on being in the middle. You ache to be big like your  brother Drew, but remember that your little sister is looking to you for guidance and direction. You don't even realize how big you already are - do not long to grow up so fast.
Today you were so jealous of your brother - you couldn't make Lego creations like him or build as great of a blanket fort as him. I just want you to know that you are not Drew, you were divinely made to be Gabe Williams. You are unique and like no one God has ever created. You are one of a kind and a dear blessing to our family. I do not want you to be like your older brother, his gifts are special in their own way for the purposes God has set aside for him. But you - my dear son, you are divinely created to be a leader to many, a quiet & intelligent thinker who will bring such glory and honor to God. You are gifted with a keen mind that thinks before he acts or speaks, you have been given a loyal heart that puts ahead others before yourself. You love to sing and dance and love life. You are not too serious - but not too goofy. Most importantly - you are not proud or boastful of yourself. The kind things you do are not self serving but for the genuine need of others. I love that about you!
 Gabe - as you  grow I pray that the smile on your face never fades. You have been my most joyful child, you came out of my womb quiet (you didn't cry!) and a student to this world. Your smile appeared at 6 weeks - once you discovered you could put your own thumb in your mouth. You never looked  back Gabe - that smile has been in place since 6 weeks! You are always happy and a joy to be around . I've never known a child who has such a great sense of humor or who could tell me such funny jokes. I love you dearly sweet Gabers! You are a shy one when in unknown situations - I was shy too (still am). Just remember to try new things and meet new people. You are not as outgoing as your brother, but are more cautious. I like cautious - I've had far less scares thanks to your cautious spirit - thank you! You also have energy! You can run so fast and for great distances! God will use that energy to create in you an eagerness and an excitement that others catch and want to imitate. Remember to look to your Creator as the only disciple, those who imitate you need to see the light of God being lived out and glorified in your life.

Gabe - keep smiling and never give up. I pray you will embrace the character and personality that God has bestowed upon you and that you will use it for good, not evil. Remember that your sister is watching you! She longs to be just like you - even playing Lego's with the big boys  by putting them in and out of the airplane. She longs to follow you around and do what you do. Do not get angry at your size or age - God has you right where he wants you. Do not break your brothers Lego creations in anger or destroy the forts that are made when no one is looking. I pray you will use that competitive spirit within you to do good and not evil. Your little sister adores you and is always watching. Remember that when you are led astray by evil, little feet follow behind in imitation.You will make an incredible leader one day - practice skilfully now -  for good habits are easier to keep than bad habits to break.

My son - I am a blessed mommy! You have been my easiest child, you are so laid back and full of life. I know that God has  big plans for your future! I love you sweet Gabers!



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today Was A Pigtail Day

Little Abby looks so cute in pigtails -too bad she takes them out when I'm not looking - every time!

I snapped this picture on Sunday and when I was editing noticed that Gabe is growing up - even with PB&J on his face!

Loved this funny picture of Gabe and his sissy. Gabe just adores Abby - I love that!
Sniff - the book club gals just left - we had such a great group of ladies and we all learned so much about becoming the mothers God designed us to be. Our book, Mission To Motherhood has ended and summer is now officially over on my calendar. I'm sad that my special girl nights are over for a while. I was so encouraged by all their insights and struggles and honesty. Sometimes you just need other mom's who are right there in the battle with you - they help you not feel so alone. I'll miss these special ladies nights - but I'm so glad I get to see them all during the week!

Next big thing on my "to do list" of fun adventures  - planning field trips for all us mom's!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day

Drew the crazy 1st Grader!
In Texas, today was the first day of school for most children. There were buses on the roads, children anxious to get out of the heat, and teachers nervous to meet their new children. In our  home my husband was back to work and the boys Nana was blessed to teach 19 First Graders!  It was an exciting day! We have been back in "school" for a few weeks, but I thought it would be fun to share what our school actually looked like today. We have a lot of random times with regular stops for reading and writing.

Gabe - my Preschooler!
Momma woke up and hit the gym, then did a little quiet study of her own before all the family woke up. She drank a nice warm cup of bold Kona coffee and enjoyed the scents of a lavender candle. John headed off to work  and the little pitter patters of feet about 8:00 am broke the silence and a new day began!

We had breakfast and Bible time and then today was cleaning day! Every other Monday we try and get those not so fun chores out of the way - so Gabe cleaned the boys room and watered the flowers and Drew cleaned the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. Momma cleaned her gross bathroom too - but never actually finished the job! I'm now blogging instead of finishing the bathroom!

Abby went down for an early nap and then we read about Aardvarks. The boys then watched a Wild Kratts episode about Ardvarks while Momma caught up on some work upstairs. Then Drew wrote in his nature journals about aardvarks and Gabe did his phonics on the computer. After, the boys spent about an hour building an aardvark hole to play in - that was fun!
Abby- the "helper"

After the aardvark fort, the boys went upstairs and played Lego's and I made lunch. After we ate lunch we sad down for some reading - I read a book to them about frogs, then asked questions like - can you find the word "Frog" on each page? What do  you think happened to the frog - did he like his new pond? Can you add on to the story and send frog on a fun adventure? Then, we read a book about worm composting - exciting! Drew has big dreams for his little crawly creatures - our wormy composting  class is on September 17th!

The boys then had a little rest which really wasn't a rest at all because they ended up playing Lego's for about an hour. Then Abby woke up and we all went downstairs for the 3-5 period during the day when everyone needs to run around and be crazy. The boys sat down and did their math, momma worked with Gabe on writing numbers and with Drew on solving for X. Abby ate the manipulatives and smeared her plum all over the table and floor! Drew then worked on his writing - handwriting without tears (no tears yet!) and then he worked on his language arts and reading on the computer for about an hour. Drew finished his chapter review on the sun and learned the sights and sounds of "IGH."I made dinner, administered the chapter review about the "Sun" chapter and counted down the minutes until John came home!

That was our Monday school day - nothing too  exciting, just lots of Lego's and Fort making and learning!


As I was headed  home from the gym this morning I listened to KCBI radio pray for our children's first day back at school (Thank you!). They prayed against jitters and bullies and energy for teachers. I stopped at a stop sign and it hit me - my son is a 1st grader, but he isn't going to a traditional 1st grade and I can't imagine my life any other way? I turned off the radio and just listened to the silence, the peace as my soul rejoiced. I always thought that homeschooling would be hard, it wasn't my gift and a million other fears I've struggled with over the last year plagued me. But today, the Lord gentle confirmed to me that we're right where God wants our family. This school at home life is  best for us. It is worth it. I never knew if I would get to this place?

I always thought that sending my kids away to school seemed unnatural, yet when I would have a rough day,  I would dream about how much free time I would have if my children went off to school. I thought I'd resent not having time to myself, but I don't (most days). In fact I look at it as a blessing - I tend to be a waster of free time!

As I drove  home I smiled as I thought about my sleeping children, home in their warm beds, they will wake when rested, play when desired and eat about a million times between now and dinner. They will learn about God and sharing and probably build a fort in the living room and then make Lego ships. I smiled that we didn't spend tons of money on school supplies or new clothes, I smiled that my energetic 6 year old, who must be a friend to all, will not struggle with kids making fun of him (at least when I'm around)  because of how he dresses or if his hair isn't cut. I smiled that his energetic spinning in his chair while we're working on phonics doesn't bother me anymore. I smiled that he loves learning! I smiled as I drove home - what a blessing I've been given - more time with my children. This last year or two I've grown accustomed to the noises and messes and constant chattering - so much that I miss it.  My mother watched the boys quite a  few times while John was in Vietnam, those times with just Abby confirmed  that I love being around my children - even thought its an exhausting job, its a job that fits with who God created me to be  ~ A Mother.

I then remembered another moment God had forged into my head: last week while I  was spinning at the gym I was saddened by what our class  seemed to be in agreement about. The social acceptance that children are a nuisance and a bother was evident as the teacher yelled, "... kids are headed back to school on Monday." - everyone cheered. Then he shouted, "... teachers are back to work." - all the teachers booed. It made me sad that many parents are excited for their children to be away from them and that most teachers are depressed to be heading back to teach them. Who is here for our children - if not parents and educators - then who? Not even our culture values children - we abort them, often sit them in front of television all day long (popular with John's group of children - when he askes what they did over the summer), don't discipline them and then get so angry with them because they won't behave; we're even leaving them our country's financial debts because we selfishly can't control our own fiscal spending.  I'm sure I'm making more of the event than I should, but it really made me sad. Children know when they are a burden and unloved.

I most certainly know a lot of great teachers who are excited to be teaching God's little blessings - my sweet husband is one of them! I do know that not all teachers hate their jobs - its just a cultural norm for people to hate and complain about their jobs!

We memorized 1 John 3:18 as a  family this past week and it talks about love being an action - " My little children, let us not love in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth." I think this verse summarizes what I've  been observing within our culture regarding children and their  value to society. We can tell our children we love them all day long, but they will never believe us unless its followed up with sacrificial, unconditional actions. My goal each moment of every day is to bring God glory through sacrificial giving of my time and energy and thoughts. It is a struggle to be in constant training of the flesh, yet discipline produces such great eternal rewards.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nature Journal: A Morning At The Creek

On Tuesday we evacuated the house and went with a friend to look for fossils. I thought is would be a great opportunity to jump into our 2011-2012 Nature Journal. Funny thing  was that thanks to the rainstorm from last week, the creek was now full of water - which made it all the more fun! So, here is a sample of what our nature journal's consist of.

First, Every good nature study begins with a tree to climb!

Then you go exploring and see what kind of critters you can find.
Then you do some more exploring using your senses: What do I see? What do I hear?  Of course you have to get wet!

Everyone participates!

Then we pretend we are beavers and make a beaver dam and search for fossils and turtles.

Then we go home and read about the critters we discovered - like a brown turtle and some shells.

Then we draw a picture about something we saw in nature - like a lizard (which we read about today but didn't see at the creek).

We do some writing and imagine a story about turtles.

Then we build a  beaver dam and eat lunch tucked away beneath the "sticks!"

There you have it, a simple and fun way to experience nature and inspire writing, creativity and imagination. Drew is fascinated with all creatures great and small so these lessons were  fun for him - don't you just love his lizard known as: the Basilisk? This beats writing about "What I did over my summer vacation" - I never did like that question!

We also discussed descriptive words - like "The turtle was brown." or " The dam was tall with leaves sticking out." A free resource on nature journals is here at Simply Charolotte Mason.

Drew loves to play Wild Kratts on PBS kids and learn all about God's amazing creatures. I use this program as an incentive for focused attention on school work. For this moment, it works like a charm and he is learning way too many random facts about animals!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home Learning Week in Review

I just love it when my kids want to learn! I actually told John that "they won't stop learning, they keep asking to do phonics or math or writing, or nature journals or Cheetah facts.  Who are these children and what happened in the last  few weeks?" I know it is a phase soon to pass, but for now I'm trying to fill their little minds with all the information they can process.

Here are a few things we "accidentally" did this summer to encourage their recent hump in learning:

1. We took some great week long breaks this summer and just played - with Lego's and blocks and read books and played outside (when it wasn't over 100!). Not that we don't normally, but this summer we had huge gaps of time to just do "nothing." The boys became rather bored and were forced to create their own fun - with blankets and pillows and friends next door.  The time the boys spent "playing" actually opened their minds to retain more information and they became excited about learning. Drew specifically became interested in the "how's" of life. At 4-5 everything  was "why," then he progressed to asking us "when" and learned about months and weeks and the continuous cycle of time. Just this past month I've been noticing everything is "How!"

"Momma, how does the dryer work?"
"How does the Cheetah run so fast"
"How did God create the world in only 6 days?"
"How does my letter to Simera get to her in Africa."

2. At my husband's prompting, I asked the boys what they wanted to learn about and have been working through various projects tailored to their desires - Cheetah's, the Earth, Bugs, Frogs - all things they are interested in right now. All those little changes made a huge impact on the first few weeks of "relaxed" schooling  at home. We've not been adhering to rigid schedules or turning down play dates so we can do school work, we're just fitting learning into our lives. Such a fun way to learn in this place we call life.

3. I purchased a great program called Time4Learning - which is tailored to my right brained child. It is an online phonics program that is self paced and fun! It has up to 3 grade level's available at any time so there are so many options when he gets bored with one topic. Drew is loving this way of learning, he has completed the entire science curriculum and is half way through reading/phonics. There is also a language arts section which we're slowly working through as well. I purchased this program the  beginning of July to change things up a bit and have a month of something new. Little did I know that this was going to make our learning much more relaxed and fun! Now 6  weeks later we've decided to keep it in the  budget. Drew has blossomed, the program has given him great confidence and within 3 weeks Drew went from barely reading 1-2 sentences,  to reading an entire 10-12 page book with multiple sentences per page. I can't believe it - seriously like night and day.  Gabe spends about 15 minutes a day on the Kindergarten section learning about: over under, sights and sounds of letters, how books are written, rhyming, etc. Gabe and Drew both beg to play it  and just one 30 minute session teaches all the phonics they need for each day - easy and so much fun!

4. I bought some "special" markers and colored pencils and paint - only for art time this year. These supplies are special and only for our lessons! Who would have thought that some fun markers (skinny ones) and 50 different colored pencils and some tempera paint with cool looking paint brushes would get my kids excited about art? My boys were the ones so not interested and now I can't stop them from playing with play dough and drawing tractors? Odd.... but true.

So the last few week we've been inching into a relaxed school schedule with phonics, reading, math, drawing, and bible. I'm a little amazed at how much learning we naturally have on a given day.

As for little miss Abby - we've been playing tea and cleaning up all her messes! Abby loves to blow out diapers and take all the Rubbermaid out of her drawer and empty all her toys onto the floor. She is also especially fond of getting into the boy's Lego creations. Abby also loves to help and imitate her brothers, today when I was handing the boys clean laundry to take upstairs, she waddled over and put out her hands to take clothes up to her room too. She is never one to be left out!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vietnam Summary

John arrived home safely on Saturday! He is oh so very tired and his car battery is dead from all this heat, but he is home and smiling! Oh, John had a wonderful time in Vietnam. He has so many adventures to share, some are still coming since he has  been very tired the past two days.
Overall John was super pleased with the conference, he was inspired and in awe of the love the parents and administrators have for these special children. The only things lacking is knowledge, which he and his team so graciously offered. Over the  two weeks they established many relationships and encouraged so many caregivers.
I asked John what stood out to him the most and he said it was the teaching he was able to do. The Vietnamese were so attentive, writing down every word he said - very humbling. His talk took on a life of its own each time he presented, the beginning talk was very "to the text" but as he talked with more people the more he adapted and changed what he was saying to be more personal. The parents left the conference so encouraged and inspired to teach their children - most of these parents believed the lie that their children were never going to amount to anything and thus they felt sorry for them - never expecting anything from them. John was quite a light to these parents - he talked a lot about trials and struggles and how working hard to overcome adversity isn't a bad thing. He shared that children will rise to the expectations of encouraging and pressing parents and teachers. John was the only - the only - disabled person they had ever met who had done anything with this life. In their culture special needs children, if not abandoned, receive a free pass to do nothing but watch TV and are basically alienated from society. The  parents seemed very burdened - John's encouragement went such a long way to lifting their hearts. Think about the sacrifice these parents went to - they are only allowed 2 children in Vietnam so to keep one with special needs is a huge sacrifice in their culture. What a sad reality, life there, John said, was not filled with meaning and purpose.
The last few days John went up into the mountains to continue working on various relationships and help plan a Northwood teaching conference this upcoming October. John saw the hand of God work in mighy ways one afternoon in Sapa- in a matter of 2 hours the October conference (they were planning) had  doubled in attendance,  locations changed, interpreters found and met with, equipment loaned, and curriculum adjusted and approved. What was once just in the  beginning phases ended up being completely worked out and finished. Wow! God has big plans for this conference in October!
One story John shared just broke my heart, he said as they were going down a mountain  and he saw three children all our kids ages - 6,3,1 - the oldest was commanding 3 water buffalo up this huge curved road, the 3 year old was carrying his little sister on his back - there were no parents for miles. That seemed to be the norm up in the mountains. John said he saw a lot of children - very few were being supervised and most were under the age of 6 - playing along roads many miles away from a town or adult. Their water system isn't drinkable but often he would see children playing in the culverts next to the waste. It was so very sad to see.
There were many other crazy stories that helped me appreciate the luxuries in America - like A/C, chicken (instead of kitten), sanitation, driving laws, and building codes! Please explain why they have a law that you must wear a helmet, but no law that says you need to drive on the right side of the road or stop for pedestrians????
Overall, John had a great time and looks forward to going back next year with a slightly different talk that centers on encouragement, goals  and expectations for special needs children.
Thank you all for praying! God used this trip in John's life in so many ways - he is still digesting all that he experienced and processing! I'll be posting pictures as I edit though the 500+ pictures of Vietnam at the following link:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crabby or Not Here I Come

Today I hit the bottom - I reached the end of my patience and it was so embarrassing. It was one of those times when I knew it was coming - it had been creeping up for the last 4 days and I just wasn't sure what to do about it.  I just needed time to  breath, think without kids, spend some quality time talking to my sweet husband and maybe throw in a nap?

So my story begins two weeks ago when my sweet, loving husband left for an adventure in Vietnam. He arrived home Saturday and I was so excited to finally get him home. I had cleaned the house, done all the laundry and dishes and was excited to get my love tank filled with some quality time. After all, I'd had 12 days of caring for kids and the house and very few adult conversations. To say I was running on fumes would be an understatement.

After 1 hour in traffic, an extra 15 mile detour, I finally arrived at the airport and picked up my man! John was very tired and feeling a little sick from 24 hours of travel. He did sweetly recap his trip for me, knowing I was dying to have a real conversation. We arrived home to three excited and boisterous children who were so excited to see their daddy! Daddy on the other hand  was tired - he did manage to stay up and spent time with the kids - sweet man of mind. So that night, when the house was a wreck, the kids were cranky, the kitchen had exploded with banana bread, suitcases were strewn about, I looked around and felt totally alone and overwhelmed. After the kids went to bed, so did John, and I was left to my own pity party.

So now we're at Sunday morning, don't you love the peace and harmony that ensues on Sunday mornings? Yes I always wonder what our Sunday mornings leading up to church will look like - today it was a doosie! First, the kids spilled cereal all over the kitchen floor, the banana bread mess was still in the sink, and my sweet man was still sleeping at 8:30 am. I knew it was totally illogical to want him to get up and help me - he was jet-lagged after all. But, I had been serving these kids for 12 days - breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a bazillion snacks - I just didn't want to wipe or prepare anything else!

I grabbed my bad attitude and my coffee and sat down to feed Abby her yogurt, but she refused. I set the yogurt on the table, sipped my coffee, then went upstairs to get Abby some church clothes - I also told the boys their outfits weren't quite church material - they needed to match! I arrived back downstairs to Drew reprimanding Abby, "Abby, get back in your chair, don't climb on the table!" As Abby was scooting back into her chair, she backed into the yogurt and sat right in it. The yogurt went all over her bottom and chair and the floor. I picked her up to wash her off, but she ran off, so I focused on the floor and chair since running after my 18 month old didn't seem realistic. Not 2 minutes later I heard Gabe yelling "Abby, gross you got it all over the floor and my bike!"

"What!" I jumped up and saw that sweet Abby had taken her yogurt covered diaper and sat on Gabe's little trike, then in her haste swung off the yogurt covered bike, twisting her diaper. I guess in her excitement she decided to pee and it all landed in 2 puddles next to the bike. I was not pleased!

With a frown and my bad attitude, I breathed deeply and then moved Abby away from the mess and went in search of a bath towel, since there was a lot of pee on the floor. While I was away, Abby got back on the bike and rode right through the puddles of pee. She then tried to get off the bike and slipped and fell right in the middle of the pee. She was covered - 5 minutes before we're to leave for church and she was covered in pee!

This is the scenario that brought me to my breaking point - I lost it! I grabbed my pee covered daughter who was now screaming hysterically because in the fall, she had bashed her head onto the floor; I ran upstairs and put her in the bath tub - diaper and all. All the while yelling "I'm done, I'm really done, I'm done!" By this point the boys were hiding in their room. I found John in the  bathroom half asleep, his eyes were as wide as a raccoon, just staring at his crazy wife who was acting totally nuts! "What is wrong?" He so patiently asks. That wasn't the answer I'd hoped for and I spouted off about how I needed help and was finished! I'm not sure what I was finished with - but then again I guess I new I was being irrational!

The ride to church was very quiet, before we arrived Drew smiled at me and said in his calm, 6 year old, wise voice, "Mom, maybe after church you won't be quite so grouchy?"

I just want you to know my husband is a saint - first he brought me coffee during 2nd service at church, talked to me for an hour in the coffee shop,  took the boys to the  circus today (another long story) and left me at home with a sleeping Abby and a 1 hour massage. I spent 3 wonderful house cleaning the house, reading my Bible, catching up on some work and getting a massage. He is the one jet lagged and I'm the one who ended up with the 5 star care. I'm happy to report that the love tank is again full, quality time has been had, mommy's attitude has been put into check, forgiveness has been asked, and all is well again in the Williams house. Have I mentioned what a great husband I have and what a crazy women he married?

Too Hot

Its too hot to even step foot outside, the kids are cranky and tired of being indoors. So, in order to keep Abby happy while I made dinner, she enjoyed some cool water time in the sink -- kitchen sink! She really enjoyed the ice creak scoop. tongs, and pouring water from cup to cup. Funny how much fun a little water on a hot day can bring - I'm especially grateful that it gave me 45 minutes of peace to cook dinner!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who Are You?

I was asked by our team a few weeks back if, "my husband is the same man today that he was when I married him?" Without any hesitation I replied "Nope, not even close."
 God has done a number on this man,  I wish I could claim even an ounce of credit, but truly is wasn't until I backed off and dealt with my own ugly sin that God moved in to work on his heart.
 I am a blessed, so blessed woman to be married to such a man. He was awesome on the day we said "I do!" I truly couldn't have imagined him any better. God did a spiritual work in his life and worked on his heart. God worked on his holiness. God worked on my holiness. God changed us both to look more like Himself.
 I remember a time early in our marriage when things were not so holy and my own sin got in the way of God's workmanship. At the bottom I looked up and read 1 Peter 3:4 " let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God"  So I prayed for my man, instead of nagged,  who would have family devotions, consistently be in the word and encourage me in the same practice, a man who would be supportive of homeschooling, a man who would lead our family and not withdrawal into childish ways. God then moved.....
 As I meditated on 1 Peter 3:1 "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior"
 I stopped complaining and nagging and began to purify my speech to only speak words that built my husband up. I practiced the "love dare"  before it was even called a "love dare." I truly was the woman who the proverbs talks about being so harsh with words that her husband would rather sleep in the corner of an attic.
 My sweet and gentle husband, today I look at you some 5+ years later and wonder - Who Are You? "Who Am I?" What a mighty work the Lord has done in our lives.
 I know that God used mighty trials to purify our hearts and mold us together as one. What Satan meant to rip us apart, God used to melt our flesh together as one.
 I am so proud to call you my husband - a man of God who daily meets with the Lord, lifts up our  family in prayer, cares for orphans and widows, is generous beyond understanding, has the most sensitive and caring spirit and who sacrifices daily for his family.
I asked the  boys what they miss the most about you being gone and they both replied "Bible time!" They so very much miss your stories and voice overs and life lessons that speak truth and grace into their hearts.

I wish with all my heart to grow into a woman who loves you as much as you love your family. Your famous line to be is "If ever you think I've done something to intentionally hurt you, you've looked at the situation the wrong way. I only do things to build you up." In looking at past experiences, John's statement has always held true. My husband truly is the most selfless man alive - I can't think of anything he has ever done to intentionally hurt me.

John - your commitment to God is the example to me I wished for early on in our marriage. Your compassion is beyond measure and I'm so very  blessed to call you my husband. As I watch you serve and sacrifice special needs children I'm in awe at your skill and deep God given love for others. I know God is  richly blessing your time in Vietnam and I'm forever receiving blessings from God because of the godly life you lead. I can't wait to welcome you home, into my arms,  in just a few short days and hear of your many adventures!