Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Window into My Life

I arrived home around 10:15 pm - visiting with a fellow mama over coffee, sharing life and lack of sleep moments. It  felt so good to get out of the house for just a  few hours and talk to an adult and drink Chai Tea without having to share or take anyone to the bathroom!

I look around the living room, lights are all on, shoes shrewd about, then I trip over a toy and notice the nicely cleaned kitchen - my husband is so sweet. I glance to the right and see light under the bathroom door - then I remember I've had to go for 3 hours! I open the door, sit down on the toilet and smile. At my feet I spy two swords - dropped in haste during a war scene earlier that  day that abruptly ended when one of my little's was caught jumping up and down frantically. I see a hardened bread crumb left from Abby's "bread" incident from that afternoon. My sweet girl went into the pantry and opened an entire loaf of bread on the tile floor. She then carried it all into the dog bed and proceeded to eat little bites out of each piece. I caught her looking so guilty! All I could do was grab my camera and laugh hysterically.

As I turned the light out in my quiet peaceful house, I went upstairs to check on my sleeping children. I tripped over a mummy corpse which turned out to be Drew wrapped tightly up in his comforter. How did he breath in there, his head wasn't visible or even obtainable and he didn't even have a pillow? His legs were completely fixed into his sisters emptied pink laundry basket which covered half of his body.

So I kissed my sleeping children and pulled the covers back over their peaceful bodies, checked to make sure Drew had breathing room and turned off the boys closet light.  I smiled and prayed deep prayers of thankfulness, my heart overflowing with joy for my beautifully designed family. I delight in their messes and bloopers and silly stories filled with deep imagination. I am truly a blessed momma - messes and swords and tripped over shoes! These sweet blessings are growing too fast and I intend to rest and delight in all of their joy and smiles and fun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Williams Thanksgiving List 2011

I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
—Psalm 78:2-4

The year of 2011 will go down as the year of rest and peace. We spent the year basking in the uneventful. Here are the blessings we celebrated before the Lord this year, as we gather to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, I will rest and bring praises to the Lord for all that He has done and provided for us over the past year.

Health & Wellness::  The past few years we spent a lot of time at the doctors office, on medication, recovering from colds, RSV, allergies, and ear infections. We worked through intestinal issues, constant vomiting, neck pain and many other issues. The year of 2011 will go down as the year we as a family started a holistic journey to becoming more healthy and aware of the foods that we consume. We discovered that most of Abby's health issues were related to an egg allergy, she is also allergic to homogenized milk. Most vaccines are made out of eggs so each time we had a new round of shots she would be sick for months. It took a long time to figure this out, now that we're aware of her allergies, she has flourished and grown in personality and vocabulary - because she is no longer perpetually sick. We also are singing praises for Abby & Gabe's asthma which has been prevented through diet and more natural methods of care. We're so excited to not have them inhaling steroid medication 3x per day! There are no words to express the joy in seeing the personality of my daughter take shape. Her constant sickness left her unable and unwilling to interact much with her environment, she rarely talked and learned to walk much later than I expected. Each time she was healthy, her personality and physical desires became evident, but quickly she would become sick again and retreat to her silent and sleepy self. We are now 7 months into a clean bill of health - she has learned to walk and talk! Abby's personality is flourishing and wildly happy. Her giggles and  high pitched voice always makes me smile!

Family Time:: I'm so blessed to have the best family, my children and husband are the most blessed things to be around. Their presence brings me such joy! I find myself laughing or singing or smiling just being in their presence. My husband is a "glass is half full" type man who always challenges me to look at the world with thankfulness. He is a person who fills the cup of our family and invests a lot of time training and investing into our lives.  My husband diligently reads God's Word and then imparts the Word of God into our children's hearts each night before bed. I teach them too around the breakfast table many mornings a week - that is a huge blessing that many women's aren't home to be able to impart. I look at our family and feel so  blessed to be living out the Word of God each and every day - the great, the murky, and downright humiliating. It is all being messily lived out each day, which gives us a huge avenue for deep and meaningful discussions. I just love my  family so much and am thankful for the Lord for crafting these lives together. I'm thankful for my sweet boys Drew and Gabe who make being a mother so enriching. Their minds are active and excited about live and about learning about God. I just love these two sons of mine who I know will grow into fine men with great ideas and perseverance for God and His wild plans!

Home Learning:: The precious job of teaching my  children is an enormous task and I don't know how anyone does it without the Lord's faithful hand to direct their path. I am a blessed woman to work from home and be able to teach my children. I never sought out on this path, in fact I never thought of a world outside of my business life before I was married. I loved my career and didn't think it needed to change. The lord then blessed me with a marriage and three blue eyed blessings. Along the way the goals of career and more money became so insignificant to me. I am so blessed because if I had lived out the life centered on a career I know it would have turned up empty. Instead the Lord radically changed my heart, gave me a deep and often torturous love for children and a vision to teach these fragile blessings at home. It is a challenge most days - I'm learning far more than my pupils. The constant chattering and questions and messes are sometimes more than I  can bare - but the Lord is so faithful to be using the tool of home learning to change me and mold me into His image. The process of home learning is one that brings me to the feet of the Lord daily - the perfectionist in me always turns up flawed - the amount of work we complete is never enough to satisfy. I often picture my son falling farther and farther behind, but then the Lord gently leads me to His Word and reminds that I am being faithful in what I am called to do for this moment. My burden is light. I am not to grow weary in doing good. I then  remember that the Lord is in all of this mess and is using me as a tool to shape and mold the very character of my children and the hearts that will exist for eternity. It is then that books and math and reading take a backseat to the overarching reward of being with my children in heaven. My goal in home schooling is to lead them to a relationship with the Lord. I am thankful for the opportunity and responsibility and take it seriously.

Brotherly Love:: This year I'm so thankful for my husband's relationship with his family. Especially his father and brothers. The very essence of who I married is woven deep into the brotherly love John experiences as a child. These brothers were the ones who protected and loved him for who he was. They kept the bullies from kicking his crippled legs in school and blessed him with passionate ideas about manly things like guns and hand crafted skills. My husband is a hard worker and loves to get his hands dirty fixing or creating things. I love it that we sit at the table at night and I see the sweat and tears he poured into it - the memories of working on the benches with his dad the week our first son was born. I smell the workbench in the garage and still smell cigar smoke from his fathers pipe. These men in John's life taught him skills that are being used by God to bless widows and improve communities.

Aunt Kessa & Uncle David from Oregon:: We are blessed with an aunt and uncle who flew all the way from Oregon over Thanksgiving to spend and invest time in our home. Our kids had a blast and many great memories were made - from riveting games of 5 Crowns to cold walks and a day long trip to the Dallas Arboretum. They even endured my children's poor bathroom etiquette with grace!

Nana's: I am blessed to live  close to my mother. I get many perks like her watching the kids so John and I can go out on  a date. My mother is a woman of love who is a giver of time and smiles. She adores all her grand-kids and invest all her free time in their lives. She loves to have them over for sleepovers and reads them books at night. I am blessed to watch her care for my Nana with joy and honor. The process of caring for the parent who cared for you is a hard change that is unfamiliar. There are few books on how to  care for aging parents with grace and dignity and she models to my sister and I how to truly love  even when it hurts. I respect my mother and am so blessed to have a heritage of women (my mother and Nana) who are nurturers and creative and willing to live with little so they  can invest much.

Vietnam:: I am so thankful for a church that impresses on the hearts of its congregation to serve and bless others. I am thankful that my husband was provided the opportunity by friends and family to spend 10 days in Vietnam, learning the culture, sharing with educators, and most importantly, living out his God given gift. I was humbled by my husbands willingness to commit to a presentation that he felt totally inadequate to share. In was in John's weakness that God's love for special needs children was revealed. My husband has a gift - this gift brings daily pain and agony, yet he still calls it a gift. Amazing - only the Lord could do that in John's life. Most people don't know the amount of pain John lives with because of his Cerebral Palsy because he so rarely talks about it. Instead he chooses to accept the pain as a reminder that he has been intrusted with a message to save souls. It was while in Vietnam that John grew a love for the lost. I've never seen my husband so passionate about inviting strangers and neighbors to church. I am thankful for Vietnam because this trip not only changed the hundreds of teachers and parents who attended but it changed my husband's heart towards servant hood and impressed a deep boldness to win the lost to Jesus.

As we close out the 2011 year, I am in awe at how the Lord has shaped me and shaped my family. We have grown so much closer and more committed to service for the Kingdom. The year of 2011 will be remembered as a year of learning contentment, rest and peace. We began to look at stuff as distractions and giving as an investment for all eternity more so than ever before. We saw the Lord bless us beyond our wildest imaginations and discovered that  the gift of giving is far more meaningful than hoarding time and possessions for ourselves. This year the Lord also imposed on me a deep sense of needing to rest - rest in the Lord's provision, rest from activities and investment into our family. This was the year where we were enriched by just being together and not running from activity to activity. Thank you Lord for being active and penetrating in our lives - we are truly blessed to have a God who unites us all together and then draws us to Himself.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Inscriptions for Gabe ~ Your 4 Years Old!

Dear Gabe,

Today you are 4 years old, what a quick and fun 4 years it has been! I still look back on your birth with such sentimental longing. You were my "almost" Thanksgiving baby. I delivered two days before my favorite holiday and begged the doctor to let me go home. We were home  on Thanksgiving eve - a mere 24 hours after  you were born. I was able to rest and be pampered by all the family who was in town - like Grandma Patti and Nana. I look back with a huge grin when I think about taking you shopping in my little sling at a mere 3  days old. We went to Costco and Bed Bath and Beyond and Kohl's. Then when we got home I found you all bundled up in Nana's van fast asleep  - alone! Both grandparents had gone into the house and left you in the car. You were only out there about 20 minutes but it was a moment of laughter that I'll remember forever. The Grandma's were so  guilty!

 Gabe I just love your smile and bright personality. You are always singing and making up silly songs. You love to compete with your big brother and keep up with all he is doing. I walked in on you playing with Drew the other day and was so proud of how you were sharing and playing with  your older brother.  You are often the peacemaker in the family,  you hate it when anyone isn't happy. You are also the most protective, if we're walking into pre-school or out at church and Drew or Abby lag behind you always stop and wait for them, often you scream "wait" in your concerned voice.

 Gabe - you have such a great sense of  humor, I love it that you always want to get messy -- I was especially impressed with your latest sticker episode! Your imagination runs wild as you bark around the house as a puppy or  fly around like an eagle.  Your my little jokester who loves to smile and laugh and involve everyone in your skits of fun. I love all the giggles and laughter around our house!

 My little man, you are growing into such a great man of God. You are a quick learner, quiet and thoughtful, contemplating deep things. You are a natural learner who catches on so quickly to concepts. You love to be just like your big brother and begged to "do school" with us this year. You were so dedicated to finishing the Kindergarten phonics, learning all the letter names and sounds with ease. I couldn't believe how often you asked to work on phonics - finishing in just 4 months! You love to work on math too, you begged to have your own math time like Drew, learning all your numbers and writing them in order (we're still working on fine motor skills). Gabe you are 1/3 of the way complete with Kindergarten Math. I'm so thrilled that you are devoted to learning, everything you do, you do with a smile on your face. Your mind is always focused on some task which makes you so easy to teach.I wish I were as eager and energetic as you - your "glass is always full" mentality is a breath of fresh air in our home!

 Gabe, your favorite book is Bunny Bungalow, you have the book memorized and ask me to read it over and over again. After we read the book, you always ask for  "Sleepy Head" tea, just like the bunnies in the book. You also want to squish cherries between your toes because you think it looks so fun and messy. I find it ironic because you are my messy child, always covering your face in whatever you have recently eaten.  You also can destroy a room in less that 5 minutes and can take hours  to get it all put back together. Your bed making skills are quite funny and we are constantly working on your clothes making it into the laundry.
 My precious son, you are madly in love with your sister, always protecting and comforting her. She sits next to you all the time and you indulge her in tea parties and race-car playing. You call your sister "little pip squeak" and "Abb's" all the time. Recently you  called her Abb's and she replied back to you saying "Abby," That was the first time I'd heard her say her name. I just love the bond you have with your siblings, being squished in the middle - seems to me the perfect fit for your personality - your a patient follower and a natural leader.
 My son, you are a treasure! I am so blessed to call you my son. I delight in your personality which is so different than my own. You bring joy and smiles and song into our family. Your always working through some adventure or quietly sitting alone reading a book. I just love hugs and kisses from you!

 This past month you received a big boy bike, you love to ride it all over the neighborhood. You obey the boundaries so well and have mastered turning around and weaving between Abby, Drew and the dogs without incident.

My son, you are 4 years old. You were sent from God for a great purpose, I feel very inadequate in shepherding you towards a unadulterated love for God. As you grow and mature over the next 365 days, the verse which God has put on my heart for you us Proverbs 16:9 which says "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." As you grown a little more towards manhood I pray that you will grow in knowledge and love for our Father in heaven and that the Lord's quiet voice will begin to shape your will towards Jesus and holiness. I pray as you grow in knowledge you would develop a deep love for God's Word. Just this past week you memorized John 1:1 about how Jesus is the Word, may you never forget to invest time in prayer and study - pleading with the Lord to reveal Himself to you. God loves it when we seek after Him and His Son - never leave behind the Word of God and know  that it has great power! The word of God is living and active and needs to be written all over your heart!

I love you my son, you are a blessing and a treasure. I thank the Lord for my beautiful son who lights up our home with songs of joy and laughter. May the next year bring you closer to the Lord!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Catechizing Through John 1-5

When my kids grew old enough to have a conversation, I began teaching  them some basic catechism's of our Christian faith. We're not Catholic, but I found that asking my children the same questions and having them give me a memorized answer, produced hidden truths into my children's hearts. These hidden truths would come out later on in random conversations we would have. I would see their memorized answers ramble out of their mouth in response.  A few times I've seen a little "light bulb" come on as they discovered revealed truth in their lives. Now, at ages (almost) 4 & 7, they are able to articulate and logically put together their own responses to my questions - which is a a great way of teaching. So,  a few months back I began teaching them through the book of John over breakfast. Abby sits and listens and tries to chime in with the few words she knows - like pray and Jesus!

Why did I pick John? I chose the book of John because it is written in story form, just like the epistles of Matthew, Mark and Luke. This form of writing is easy to read aloud and the adventures of Jesus are very exciting to little adventurous boys!  The book of John is all about Jesus and His 3 years of ministry. I also picked the book of John because we've had lots of questions lately about Jesus and who He is and why he came to die for our sins. One of our catechism questions is "How many God's are there" and the answer is "There is only 1 true God." This truth is very hard to comprehend once you introduce them to Jesus - even though they know the answer to "How many person's in the One True God" they still grapple, just as  do, with the whole understanding of 1 God in 3 persons. So John was a great book to introduce so they can see human attributes to this big God we pray to and talk to each day.  When children are small they equate Jesus as the answer to all Sunday questions. As my boys were "growing in wisdom and stature" I realized it was time to reveal Jesus and his role in the trinity. I  wanted them to see that God the Father and Jesus are one God but perform different roles. It is a complex subject, one that I don't fully comprehend, but I will say it makes more sense with a child like faith! I'm anticipating our next book to be Acts so they can fall in love with the Holy Spirit.

When I was little we had a man come to our church who had memorized the entire book of John. For many years he would come and perform a 1 person skit using the entire book of John. I fell in love right then and there with the book of John and many years later also fell in love with a human, God created man named John. We then named our first born son John. Just a side note, my best childhood friend Bethany also married a John and named her first son John!I guess we're all just in love with the attributes of John which means "God is gracious."

So our breakfast look a little like this - picture oatmeal or smoothies on the table with lots of moving and shuffling and silliness. Then add three kids all talking at the same time. Then you might get a close representation what our morning Bible time looks like most mornings. Normally we review for about 5 minutes and then I read the next paragraph in my bible and then ask the boys about what I just read. In total we spend between 10 & 15 minutes working on Bible in the mornings. It has become the boys favorite part of the day, mostly because they get to race to see who can answer the question first. Our ever quick Gabe is catching on very quickly despite his 3 year age difference .  Here are some of the questions I ask for the first few chapters of John.

Question: Who wrote the book of John?
Answer: The Apostle John  

Question: How does the book of John begin? (Hint: it begins like in Genesis 1:1)
Answer: "In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. "

Question: What does John 1:1 mean?
Answer: Jesus was in the beginning with God!

Question: Who is John The Baptist?
Answer: He is Jesus' cousin and the trumpet telling the people about Jesus. He also baptized Jesus and heaven broke free and the Holy Spirit descended onto Jesus.

Question: How many men did Jesus pick to be His disciples?
Answer: (1:35-51) Jesus picked 12 disciples.

Question: Why did God send his Son Jesus?
Answer: (3:17) God sent Jesus to save the world, not to judge the world, Jesus will come back at the second coming and bring judgement.

Question: What does the term Messiah mean?
Answer: (1:41) Messiah means Jesus.

Question: What was Jesus first miracle?
Answer: Turning the water into wine at the wedding

Question: What other miracles did Jesus perform?
Answer: He healed the officials son and healed the sick man at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus told the sick man to pick up his pallet and walk.

Question: What day of the week did Jesus heal the sick man?
Answer: He healed on the Sabbath.

Question: What happened when Jesus healed on the Sabbath?
Answer: The pharisees were angry and try to put him in prison.

Question: What happened when Jesus went to the temple?
Answer: He got angry because the people were making His house a place of business. 

Question: What did Jesus say he would do to the temple?
Answer: He said he would tear if down and raise it back up in 3 days.

Question: Why is Jesus called the Lamb of God (1:29)? (normally the boys enjoy telling the passover story again and how Jesus saved the first born sons from the angel of death by killing a spotless lamb and putting the blood over the doorpost.
Answer: Jesus is the lamb that was slain for our sins symbolizing the New covenant.

Question: Who did Jesus meet at Jacob's well in Samaria and tell me what happened? (ch4)
Answer: Jesus met a woman at the well and he offered her living water. She accepted the water and brought the whole town to hear from Jesus.