Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Of Brick Walls and Brick Paths

I do a lot of talking with kids about relational issues.  One of the most influential studies we've ever done was the Peacemaker Series, and it helped shape in me a desire to teach my children how to work on and resolve issues in a Godly way.
Jesus did come to restore relationship between man and God, so I guess maybe relationships are pretty important.  Thus we spend quite a bit of our time working through issues that arise between any who live together, but particularly happen when young ones live together.

I find analogies beautiful and impactful, so I like to use them with the kids often.  I have blogged about our weed analogy and prolly a couple others... so this is just another in the line of concrete to explain abstract.
As we struggled through an issue the other day, I began to explain it as building.
Issues with others are like bricks.
We choose to make either walls or make paths.

When we have an issue, we first must evaluate it within ourselves and see if it is something that can be overlooked.
Proverbs 12:16
"A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult."
Proverbs 19:11
"A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense."

If it cannot be overlooked, or in doing so you will allow a foothold to the devil (Eph. 4:26-27,) or a place for bitterness, then it must be dealt with.

When we refuse to deal with the issue (brick) what we really do is put that brick down between us and that person.  It causes us to stumble in our dealings with them. Add to it for a time, it becomes harder and harder to deal with those issues, and they build a wall.  The wall can shut others out, but it can also shut us in. This also creates a habit in us, making it harder to deal with any others.
Walls always cause division, that is their purpose.

God's purpose, however is unity.
Psalm 133:1
" How good and pleasant it is
   when brothers live together in unity!"
John 17:23
"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
Ephesians 4:3
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

So we must work on the issues!  When we take that same brick and, digging into the ground between us, make a place for it we will create a path.   Paths create a strong connection between us.  They make a smooth way for us to be together.  Their purpose is to bring unity.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gifts are meant to be Given

 I used to give my mom gift baskets of bath stuff or other little pretty things, but I noticed... if it came all wrapped up in a pretty display, she would keep it that way!  She probably has 2 or 3 bath set baskets gathering dust, and still complete, on her bathroom shelf!  She has never opened or used these gifts because they are so pretty to her.

God is so awesome in giving each of us gifts!
Sometimes we keep those gifts on our own shelf gathering dust.
  Gifts are to be used to serve others.

We don't all have the same gifts.  Just like we would not want to live without our foot or our armpit, the Body of Christ needs the diversity of each gift to work and be healthy.  Sometimes I think those of us with more armpit like gifting ;) look at the feet and mouth and think we don't have anything to share since we don't have those gifts.  I know I can feel like I'm not really doing anything of import or even wonder if I have gifts to give (which are both lies of the enemy to prevent us from using the gifts we have.) But God has given each of us gifts to share with others.

 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 
1 Corinthians 12: 18-20

 Some gifts are for the building and edifying of the Church and some for sharing Truth with the world.  Paul did not baptize many, but came preaching the Word, expecting that others would continue the work he began with the gifts they had been given.  
1 Corinthians 
1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize, 
but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, 
lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 

3:6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.

3:10 By the grace God has given me, 
I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. 
But each one should be careful how he builds.

So we each work with what gifts the Spirit has given us. And each part builds upon the last part.  So each part is useful in it's own way, and needed to edify, and build up.Be encouraged!  Dust off those shelved gifts and use them to the Glory of God; Who gave them freely to you. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

2011 in Review

My mom writes an annual letter to everyone on the planet with all the doings of the family for the year.  It's called "The Christmas Letter" and is often sent out in the new year! ;)
For the last few years I have been basically writing my own letter that is included in hers.  I'm too cheap to send out that much money in ink, paper and postage!  So here I include what I wrote for her this year. :)

2011 was rather uneventful for Our family.  We had several rounds of illness in the spring that kept us from going and doing too much, which we later discovered were allergy based issues.  (Which means they will reappear in the autumn and spring.)  We continued homeschooling and had a lot of fun with some new curriculum we got for the 2011-12 school year!  We also managed to get rained on during the only two camping trips we got to take!  (And, yes, we are still in California!)  We started our own garden this year and all really enjoyed it more than expected. 
At the beginning of October we had a scare to remind us to be more careful when outside here, as one of our dogs, Smith, got bit by a Mojave Green Rattlesnake.  With the help of a friend who is a Vet Tech, we were able to nurse him back to health, and we figure he probably got more of a warning bite with less venom.  Dave found and killed *both* of the snakes that were in our front yard and none of us will quickly forget!  We were glad that it was not a bite to one of our kids!!!
We also got to have some visits with out of state family that were highlights to our year!
Going in backward order,
     Karissa celebrated her first birthday on the 9th of November, though it remained low key with conflicts in weather, health and work schedule keeping it from being a big to do.  She weighs in at 17 lbs, and is 28 1/4 in tall as of her 1 year old check up.  She is smaller, but similar to her oldest sister.  This kid has been a scary one for mom and dad (who may have thought they were seasoned veterans) as she seems to be able to fall down at just the wrong place and so smack her head off of a door frame, or corner of wall, instead of just the floor; and has found more things to choke on than all of the others combined!  She is very adventurous; started walking at 8 months and is now climbing things!  She can be very silly and enjoys playing games, the latest of which being peek-a-boo, but half the time she says "cu-koo" from The Sound Of Music.
     Brianna, Our Curly Girlie, is the Shirley Temple look-a-like (attitude included) in our picture (below). At 3 years old she is 30 lbs, 3 ft 2 in tall and full to the brim of personality!  She has a strong sense of self and is authoritative in her demeanor (which is the nice way of saying: bossiest kid I've ever encountered)  She spends most of her day in role playing games with her older sister and dearest friend "Pie" (Aliyah) and Neno when he isn't doing his school work.  She can't seem to wait until she also has school work to do (if only that lasted!) and so asks to do her "Cat-Kitty Math" ~which is just a coloring book she really likes.  She would live out of doors if we would let her, but would also live in the bath tub or shower. ;)  She has really enjoyed getting to be a big sister, and is mostly sweet to Karissa.  She also likes to look after others, often bringing mommy or daddy a cup of water whenever she thinks we need one. 
     Aliyah Miechelle Pumpkin Pie (as she would introduce herself to you) turned 5 on the first of September!  She chose to celebrate with a camping trip instead of a big party, but we celebrated all day on her birthday as well!  She is 39 1/2 lbs, 3 ft 7 1/2 in tall, and would tell you that the most important development in her life lately is that she can ride her bike now without training wheels!  :)  We continue to monitor her kidney condition with her Pediatric Urologist, doing ultrasounds mostly.  Her right kidney looks atrophic, and her left kidney is still holding fluid.  By her activity level and general health, you would never know that her kidneys have issues!  She has learned to love her ultrasound appointments, and looks forward to them; all of the special attention she has gotten for her kidneys has given her a strong sense of being the most special Pumpkin on the planet, which is both good and bad.  This year we only had to have one appointment, but
her Dr ordered the  next for in 6 months, and it is likely he will follow that with an Isotope (Nuclear) Scan.  She will be starting first grade in June, as we school year round, and is excited that she will be "doing school." Currently she works with me on some preschool-kindergarten level work, but she is jealous of "the bigs." (as she calls her older siblings)

     Nathaniel, Neno, is so close to 8 years old, 55 1/2 lbs, and 4 ft. 2 in tall.  He has been in 2nd grade this year and is improving well, his struggle area still being in his reading.  He can keep up with the girls in their science and history studies, and does quite well at math.  (But that is when he will sit still and work on school!)  He is most fond of being outside in the dirt digging, or riding his bike, but will content himself with fort building, blocks and role play if it's too cold, too hot, or too windy.  He continues to talk just as much as the girls do, and now mostly retells his favorite movie scenes, or things that he thinks are funny he has heard or seen.  He is really tender with his baby sister, but can be quite short tempered with the other girls. (He's working on that one.)  He now really enjoys helping with starting the fires in our fireplace, and can even do so with flint and steel tools, but that can also be a struggle.
     Moriah, Our Mo, continues to be a very active young lady, and very proud of her tomboy status, but has settled into an appreciation of a "good book, a cuppa tea and a place to be cozy."
At 9 years 9 months old she is 58 lbs, and 4 ft 4 in tall.  She has been excelling in the 4th grade, and spelling seems to be the biggest difficulty to her in learning.  Like her dad, and Mark Twain, she's not worried about stifling her imagination by only single spellings of words. ;) She is usually a very hard worker, is often done with her school first and is very helpful for her momma.  She rides her bike, runs a lot, plays well with her siblings and is often up way too late laughing with her best friend, and older sister Ysa.  She is entering that difficult place between being a younger kid and being a young lady, but she is mostly adjusting well.  Aside from spelling, her biggest struggle seems to be her emotions, or how quickly she seems to cry, but even that is much less than when she was little.
     Ysabella is so much a young lady now at 12 years old, going on 20, and Monica's "mini-me."  She has finally been gaining in height and weight and this year got back on the growth chart!  She is 71 1/2 lbs, 4 ft 8 1/2 in tall, and is counting down to the time til she can ride in the front seat of the car!  This year she has been in 7th grade, and excelled at math for the first time in her life!  She is usually found behind some book or other, and pines for "something new to read" as she has exhausted most of the books I have for her.  Most of her time is spent indoors reading, knitting/crocheting, or helping momma; but she does enjoy riding her bike, looking about in the garden, and camping.  She is becoming a good cook, and can bake several things on her own.  We allowed her an email address all her own, and she really enjoys sending email or ecards to friends and family.  She also has a fondness for taking pictures or videos.  She struggles most with loosing track of time in fun things, and so not completing the important things in her day.
      Monica is really wondering about why she isn't sending out her own letter now, as this is shaping up to be!  This year brought her 30th birthday and she now doesn't mind sharing her age with all those curious people she meets when she is out... the ones who also ask, "Are they all yours?" ;) She continues to mostly enjoy teaching the kids and the many nuances of running a home.  The garden project we undertook this year was quite a bit of hard labor, but amazingly fulfilling and enjoyable to her.  She continues to struggle as Ysa does with managing her time wisely and spends more evenings than she would like to admit wondering what was actually accomplished that day, but is also trying to make an effort to enjoy the small blessings of each day with her children while they last.  So in 2011, we have seen many beautiful sunsets, many little insects, small flowers, and watched seeds turn to fruits; we have read many books, learned together many interesting lessons, and stopped everything to watch birds flying; we have played in rain and mud, in wind and sun and lots of dirt! and have looked for the Hand of God in the circling of the stars over head as well as in the answers to our many prayers.  Looking back at the year, she has had, is leaving her feeling overwhelmingly blessed! :)
     Dave, who will be 29 again (for the 6th time) next month, continues to work hard at work and home.  He has also been enthralled with gardening and watching things grow this year. He is often at some project or another, and even when sitting he is not still, (is he where Mo gets it?) as he will sharpen knives, work on a wood or para-cord project, or is busy planning the next thing!  This year he taught himself to work with leather, as well as a special material for making sheaths, and has been working on some fabrication as well as refinishing older tools!  He prefers to be at home with us as much as possible, but has had plenty of overtime needed at work this year; he has a position there that is as secure as we could hope for, and we are thankful to the Lord for employment.  (We are praying for any of you who are struggling with employment.)  

Monday, December 05, 2011

My Brain

I keep these note books, that I have nicknamed "my brain," though for a year or so I have not been as faithful to take it everywhere and help me stay on track... They have important information, current grocery lists, meal plans, notes from Dr appts or phone calls, and a myriad of other things I jot down.  The most valuable to me are the things the kids do that I just have to write down *now* ~ no leaving it to be forgotten later!
Here is a recent excerpt:
"7pm      Monday, November 28th, 2011
I sit nursing Karissa & attempting to write out meal plans/ shopping lists...
Neno (7 3/4 years) comes into the room ~ six shooters drawn, red construction paper eye brows  and mustache taped to his face ~ and he quotes Yosemite Sam: "I said I was gonna see that high divin' act, and I'm gonna see that high divin' act." which is followed by fake shooting noises and hopping around.  I look to the side to see that Pumpkin (5 years) is "pregnant" with a stuffed toy under her shirt; Brianna (3 years), who is apparently in the same game as Pie ~ who is the mom and Bri is "Mo-Ysa"~ is driving a table to Costco.  Mo (9 2/3 years) is prepping the scene on her cardboard box car; and Ysa (12 years) is trying to fit herself into a pillowcase."

And this with other things tucked away inside these "old brains" that I have, are why I cannot seem to part with them!  They have such funny antics of little people, important things like the days when I wrote down everything I did, so I could see that I did do something! and resolutions like "Why I Clean" and my list of priorities... I could never keep it all in my real brain! ;)

Anyway, I found that story in this one as I got ready (transferring important numbers for Drs from the front of the old one) my new brain and thought you may enjoy the moment with me. :)  Kids are so fun to observe! :) lol
(It is rather funny to hear me ask: "Has anyone seen my brain? and have every one respond like it is a normal thing to ask & look for!)