Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our Provider at work!

All four of our boys needed new coats this year...Vinny outgrew his, Trevor's was worn out, Nick's zipper broke, and Kyle's had stains on it that I couldn't wash out (or identify...not sure that I want to either). I hadn't said anything to anyone about this, I hadn't even prayed about it yet. But with all of the expenses we have had this year, especially recently, money is a little tight and I was wondering how we would afford to replace all of their coats at once. Well, it turns out I had no reason to worry...God was working on it (even before I asked Him to.)

Early in the fall, a friend of mine at work asked me one day if I would be interested in some clothes for the boys...her daughter was getting rid of some of her sons' clothes and she thought of asking me. I said sure! What a blessing it turned out to be...besides getting enough jeans & shirts to complete Nick & Vinny's wardrobes for this year, there were two winter coats that were in great condition and fit them perfectly!

Fast forward to last week...a friend of mine from church called me up and said she didn't know if I would be interested or not, but she had two almost-new winter coats that she thought might fit Trevor and wanted to know if I wanted them. Thank you Lord! Not only did they fit him, but one of them he actually likes!! And it's a snowboarding jacket...so Trevor really digs that.

Ok, so that left Kyle. Not only does his coat have stains on it, but the zipper recently broke and he's been snapping it shut. That's ok for the cold weather, but when it starts to snow and he goes outside to play it just won't do. So I was in Walmart Monday night and decided I'd have to get him one. I picked one out, along with some other necessities, and got all the way to the checkout when I thought...we really can't afford this right now. I gave the jacket to the cashier and told her I had decided not to buy it. As I did, I said a quick prayer asking God to provide a coat for Kyle. When I got home and went through Kyle's backpack, and in there was a note from the school principal. It said that an organization in town had sponsored a drive called "Coats for Character", and they were awarding 100 coats with the school logo embroidered on it to students who displayed strong character, and that Kyle was being awarded one of these coats. His teacher nominated him because he's been responsible in his work and helpful to other students, and we could stop into the school anytime this week and pick it up! I couldn't believe it - God is quick! The next morning we went in to the office to get his new coat. I told the school secretary about how he needed one, and I almost bought him one the night before. She said "that's good timing"! No, my friend, that's GOD timing!!! He is our Provider, and He knows what we need even before we ask. He promises to meet ALL of our needs, and I love seeing how creative He can be about it. I can't wait to see what He does next!

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:28-33

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quote for the day!

Ok, this is funny! Vince thinks it's really dumb, but I think it's hysterical. It's the quote for today on my daily flip calendar:

"I hope this plane doesn't travel faster than sound," said the girl to the flight attendant.


"Because my friend and I want to talk."

Ok....now tell me, honestly, if YOU think that was funny or not! I have to know...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


These beautiful and amazing pictures are from the Hubble telescope site:


I've been drawn to these pictures lately.....and God is impressing on my heart and mind just how incredibly awesome He is...how BIG He is....how powerful and beyond our imagination He is. How could I ever think that He can't help me with my struggles or needs, when He has created all of this???

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Fun!

Halloween was interesting at our house! Vince and I were busy taking Trevor to Rochester (he is in the process of blogging about all of that if you are not already in the know). So, my mom & her fiance' came over to help the kids carve their pumpkins and took Hope and Kyle trick or treating. Vinny & Nick went out with a group of their friends, on a mission to go to every single house in town. From the haul they brought home, I think they were close to accomplishing their goal! They all had a blast.

Here are some pics of the pumpkins (veggies and kids) When Vinny & Nick got back from their adventure, it was a frenzy of candy & stories and then bedtime routines started up and I completely forgot to take a pic of them! Oh well.....imagine Nick all dressed in Vikings attire from head to toe (including hat & mittens) as he was dressed as a Vikings fan...and Vinny was a "beat up skater" with his skater shirt, shoes, and helmet, along with a bruised up face (makeup of course).

Here they are...Hopie as "Juke Box Jill" and Kyle as a "hunter dude"!

The aliens have invaded!!!

The following pics are from a halloween party the kids went to here in town last Saturday. They really had fun!

This is Kyle one of his best buddies Michael

And this is Hope and her new best friend Destiny.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This was not your ordinary brain flatulence...

...it was a gaseous explosion of epic proportions. If you know me well, you are aware that I've had lots of brain farts in my time, but I'm quite sure I lost at least half a million brain cells on this one. Furthermore, I'm not really sure why I am telling people about it?? Probably residual effects of the brain cell loss, I'm still not thinking clearly. Maybe someone can help me laugh about it 'cause I'm not quite there yet.

Sunday was an eventful day at church, in many ways. We arrived a bit late for Lifegroups (our church's version of Sunday school). The kids ran to their classrooms, but after making our coffee and preparing to join our class, I just had this feeling like I didn't want to go in. Not sure why, I just didn't. So Vince and I decided to sit by the fireplace and talk. A friend of mine named Cheryl and her husband Dave also arrived late, and Cheryl said she didn't feel like going into her class late either, so she asked if she could join us. I've known Cheryl through church for several years, and we always say hi & chat when we see eachother, but have never really sat down and talked for any length of time. We ended up talking for quite a while about our families and found out that Cheryl and her husband Dave, who have been married for about 4 years, also have a blended family....with 9 kids between them! So as you can imagine, we had lots to talk about. Just sharing some of our common experiences really blessed me, and I am convinced that God had His hand in setting that whole thing up! Now that we have this connection, I'm sure there will be more talks like that in the future.

The sermon was very, very good (if you'd like to listen to it, click on the LLC link on the left!) It was shortly after that when the tootin' started. As Vince and I and the kids were preparing to leave church and go home, I could not find my keys. Anywhere. I knew I had them with me because I was the one who drove us there! I always throw them in the front pocket of my purse when I get out of the car, but they weren't there. Vince had his set of keys along, but knowing that I had mine he left his - where else - but in the car. So after emptying out my purse like three times, the hunt was on. Several of our friends helped out too. We searched all over that church. We began retracing my steps, which wasn't an easy task. For various reasons, I had been all over the church that morning. ...the bathroom, the youth room, the kitchen, and of course the sanctuary. Nada. It was driving me crazy! How could they just disappear???

After searching the entire church like eight times, we finally decided to call the roadside assistance number which is printed on the window of my car. Thankfully there was no charge for this (although I'm sure I paid a hefty fee for it when I bought the car). They said that they would send someone to unlock it, but it would take about an hour, and we had already spent about an hour looking for the keys! A friend offered to drive the kids home, and even bought them McDonalds on the way. Another friend offered to run to Subway for Vince & I, and hang out with us until help arrived. If nothing else good came out of this, we gave our friends an opportunity to bless us! By this time, since my keys were nowhere to be found in the church I assumed that I had locked them inside the car. Under Vince's jacket, which was laying on the seat. Where else could they be? The guy finally arrived and it took him about 1/2 hour to get the car open. After all of that anticipation I pick up Vince's jacket, and the keys are...........not there. What in the world??? So, still perplexed, we got in the car and decided just to go home and worry about the keys later. That's when it happened. It dawned on me. First like an epiphany. Then like a deer in the headlight....where was my jacket? The jacket that I wore to church. And hung up in the coat room. With my keys...in....the....pocket.


So as we are driving home, almost two hours after church got out, Vince says "you need to write about this in your blog". I said "are you kidding? I'm not telling anyone about this, it's WAY too embarrassing!!!! Even for ME!"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Life at our house

Here we are, Friday night at our house! Vince & Trevor just finished watching a movie and are now watching the Red Sox & the Raves, talking and laughing...the rest of the kids are upstairs messing around. Aaaaand I just heard a big thud and alot of screaming. Hold on while I go investigate....ok I'm back. It's all good. They are sitting around the computer watching a "Fred" video on youtube (it's this teenage kid on helium who imitates a 6 year old girl). I probably don't want to know what that noise was. Hope has a friend here and they are having a sleep over. Earlier they were practicing in their band (Kyle is the drummer). It is pretty awesome to just be hanging out at home....the only thing missing is Brittany ~ we miss ya, hon =) Here are some pics I just took within the last hour!

So as I was downloading those pics I decided to share some other pics from this summer! Here is Kyle on his birthday on July 15th! We started a new tradition of making a big banner and everyone signed it.

The (collapsing) baseball cake and the birthday boy!

Nick's 11th birthday on August 4th!

Ok, this was SO CUTE!! Hope surprised Vince and I one morning by making us breakfast...peanut butter toast (with our initials in it) and milk served in wine glasses.

One Saturday night I told Kyle to lay out his clothes for church the next morning. So when I went in to check on him before we went to bed, this is what I found....

...how rippin' cute is THAT???

Trevor & Nick messing around while we were visiting our friends' the Marleys

Ok, this is quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen!! Kyle and Hope had laid out all of their stuffed animals (ok they have more than this). And Feliz went and laid herself down in the middle of them....can you find her??

Vinny's horrible, no good, very bad haircut (remember, I trimmed his bangs on picture day). Here he is at the salon right before he got a REAL haircut!

I don't know these people.

I took Kyle and Hope to Rochester one day to visit Vince/Dad at work at Mayo, and we went out for lunch at an Italian restaurant called Billotti's.

Walking down the hall to Vince's dept...I just think this is such a precious picture.

The first day of school (Trevor was still in the shower).

Hanging out on our bed, doing homework.

Well, there I am (with Nick & Kyle)....I actually DO live here!
I'm just usually the one taking all the pictures =)

Ok, I've saved the best for last.....

This is Vince wearing Kyle's underwear as a do-rag.
I'm not sure if there is anything more I can say about that.

Yes, sir, that's my baby! No sir, I don't mean maybe!!

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of our lives since our wedding!
I promise to post more pics more often!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Enough is enough!

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." Lamentations 3:22-24

God has been putting that verse on my heart lately...His compassions, His mercies, His love is new EVERY morning! He doesn't hold onto our failures from yesterday (maybe I shouldn't either??) Every day is a new day to begin afresh. To love a little more....to take the time with our kids and eachother that maybe slipped away from us yesterday. I don't know about you, but I needed to hear that today!! I love the idea that the Lord is my portion. He's exactly what I need. He doesn't demand too much of me, and He always has enough to give (patience, mercy, love, energy).

Enough - Chris Tomlin

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward
Worth living for
And still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

Youre my sacrifice
Of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
Youre the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

More than all I want
More than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know
More than all I can say
You are more than enough for me

Friday, September 19, 2008

Some things I've learned in the last couple weeks...

1. If the garage door won't close when you push the button, you should probably go check and see if there is something in the way instead of holding the button down because that crunching noise you hear when the door hits some shelving is not good.

2. It's ok, because we have LOTS of extra money to replace expensive things that I break.

3. It's probably a good idea to check your pockets to see if your ipod is in one of them before throwing your pants in the wash. Ipods don't like washers. Or dryers.

4. Refer to # 2.

5. My husband is a man of incredible patience, understanding, and love....because he didn't make me feel bad about #1 or 3! No condemnation at all, not even a heavy sigh. Just a "hon, it's ok. You didn't do it on purpose..." as he gently took the club out of my hand (the one I was using to hit myself with) and replaced it with a big spoonful of grace! I love that man.

6. No matter how frazzled I am, I need to make time to go to Wednesday night prayer & praise service...it was SO refreshing this week and helped me get refocused. (Our church has it once a month). God really showed up and renewed my mind and heart and I have felt so much peace since then. I was reminded of how critical it is for my spirit to make time just for praise...not to go to God to ask for things like I do so often, but to just bask in the glow of His light, to reflect back to Him how awesome He is. I haven't been slowing down long enough lately to do this. I haven't been playing my piano very much either, which I need to make time to do daily. And now that #3 happened, I haven't been listening to worship music in my car like I used to...maybe that's ok? I think I have been depending too much on music to worship God. That can be so easy to do, especially for a musician...to make it about the music and not about worship. To focus on the song and not the One we are singing to. To enjoy creating melodies and harmonies, but miss altogether the opportunity to let the Holy Spirit move. During the service I found that when I stopped singing along, when I slowed down my mind, closed my mouth and opened my heart...when I focused on Jesus, it was then that I was able to hear His voice. And it sounds so much sweeter than mine.

The Heart of Worship - Michael W. Smith
"When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I'm weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
And it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Let it be, yea let it be!

Have you ever gone to do something, and then right before you begin something inside you says "you know...this might not be a good idea." But you decide to do it anyway and then once you start you realize that it really WAS a bad idea, but you are already on your way and can't turn back?

Yesterday was picture day at the middle school and for some INSANE reason I decided to trim Vinny's hair. Do I really know how to trim hair? No. So why did I decide to do this? And on PICTURE DAY??? Number one, because I am an idiot. And number two, well, the kids' school pictures are going to be sent out to everyone in both sides of our families...how would it look if everyone sees that we haven't gotten Vinny's haircut since before the wedding? Am I not being a good mom? Am I not taking care of the kids? Hmmph. So I just trimmed the bangs and a little around the ears. It didn't look bad when he left, but of course it was still wet and combed, so I had a small crumb of hope that it would be ok. I was wrong. Vince got home before I did last night, so I called & asked how bad it was. I didn't get the "oh it's not that bad" response, so I knew it couldn't be good. I got a pause, then a "yea....he looks somewhat like a Beatle." Oh great. When I got home I surveyed the damage and had to concede that yes, he did look somewhat like a Beatle. Paul or Ringo, you pick. He would have looked really awesome about 40 years ago! Vinny was very gracious about it tho (I love that kid). I asked if he hated his hair and he said "Yes! You made me look like a mushroom." Luckily no one threatened to beat him up.

Three things: 1) I will never again trim anyone's hair. Ever. 2) I am taking Vinny to get a REAL haircut today. And 3) Picture re-take day is in October!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Where am I? And where am I going? Anyone?

I'm here! At least I think I am....My life is such a blurry of activity these days that I find it hard to know where I am at any given moment, or how I got there. ("Blurry". It's my new word for today. A combination of blur and flurry. I had to go with the combo because I am far too busy and in too much of a hurry to type both words out.) Trevor can vouch for the fact that I don't always know where I am, or where I am going. I took him to the clinic this morning before school to get a tetanus shot (no injury, just required). Afterwards he asked if we could go to McDonalds. I said sure, made my way across the highway and proceeded to pass McD's entirely. He said "where are you going? McDonalds was back there..." Chuckle. So I turned around, ordered his food at the drive-thru and then proceeded to drive right past the cashier window. I said "what is WRONG with me today? I have no idea where I'm going!" Trev said "I can tell!" More chuckling. Wow. Can you say brain clog? As much as I hate to admit it, this is nothing new for me. My boys have seen me do things like this many times so it's not exactly out of character for me to miss a turn now and again. But it takes the Howard kids by surprise (they'll get used to it). Even with all that confusion, I did manage to remember where the highschool was, make all the appropriate turns to get there, and dropped Trev off at school safely before going to work.

I don't know if this has anything to do with that, but I had a terrible dream early this morning. The kind of dream that feels real and when you wake up you are so thankful that it was just a dream. I won't go into details of what I dreamt about, but it entailed one of my boys falling into a deep hole and I couldn't reach him to get him out. I woke up and even before I opened my eyes, the first thing I did was pray for God to remove that image from my mind. To take my thoughts captive, as it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 "... take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." I have no doubt that because I prayed that prayer, God delivered me and protected me from being tormented by that dream all day long. I have had dreams like that before, not exactly that scenario, but with a similar theme: my kids are in danger and I cannot reach them to save them. It is my worst nightmare (and probably is for most parents). Satan knows my weak areas, and my biggest one is fear. I don't know if satan has the power to give us bad dreams or not, but he certainly knows what causes me to fear, and uses any chance he can to stoke the fires of fear in my heart. He uses whatever weapons he can to cause us to stumble, to become ineffective for God, and there is nothing in my life more paralyzing than the fear of something bad happening to my kids. So I really have to be careful, and take my fears to God regularly, especially where the kids are concerned. As they get older and more independent, my ability to keep them safe seems to be fading. Kyle and Hope want to ride their bikes around and go to the park with their friends, Nick wants to play injury producing games like football, Vinny wants to stay home alone sometimes instead of coming to the store with us. They are old enough to do these things, and we let them. But I am still prone to worrying...what if they forget to look for cars just this one time? What if the house starts on fire during the hour that we are gone to the store? And Trevor has a new girlfriend at school already....which at 15 brings with it a whole plethora of things for me to worry about!

If I allow it, all of these worries and fears can accumulate in my heart and mind and become a burden that I was never meant to carry. As I have so many times before, I realized anew this morning that I need to go to God daily, every single morning, and lay my burdens at the foot of the cross. To cast all my cares upon Him. I don't want to give the impression that I am a complete mess! I'm not! Life is busy, yes, but we are doing fine - more than fine! We are blessed beyond measure, and as I take my eyes off all of our busy-ness and embrace all of the running to and fro without complaining, I see - we see - how truly blessed we are with this life that God has given us! But even in the midst of the blessing, I am still vulnerable to fear and allowing the burdens of everyday life to pile up. And it can be so easy, as I allow myself to become busy and distracted, to forget to go to the Source of my strength. To drink daily from the river of Living Water. When I try and do life on my own without God, I may keep up for a while but life always outruns me. And as I get further and further behind that's when the desperation and fear begins to build and I become overwhelmed. Distracted. And I miss the turn into McDonalds. But when I quiet my heart and listen, I can hear the voice of Jesus whisper in my ear "where are you going? I'm back here..."

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It just makes "sense"

I played on the worship team last Sunday for the first time since before our wedding ~ it was wonderful to be back! I took the past couple months off to focus on the wedding & moving in and such. I hadn't even been playing my piano very often until I started preparing for last Sunday, and I really missed it. It is such a part of my soul....creating music. What an incredible gift God has given us...what would the world be like without music? It would be pretty quiet. Have you ever thought about what a gift EACH of our senses are? And the countless blessings that come with each of them? What if we didn't have ears to hear music, or the sweetness of a loved one's voice? He has given us so many special things to make life sweet - things He didn't have to do. He didn't have to put flavor in food, we would eat it anyway just out of necessity. But He decided to give us so many incredible flavors to taste and smell and enjoy - herbs, spices, sugar, fruit...CHOCOLATE! And colors...so much beauty in the world to enhance our experience. He didn't have to create flowers and breathtaking sunsets, but He did. And the power of touch...how we respond to a hug, a kiss and....well I'll just stop there ;) He didn't have to create us that way, but He did! I've never understood how anyone could argue the existence of God...the evidence is all around us, it is overwhelming and undeniable to anyone who is truly paying attention.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20
So, we can understand the nature of God by merely looking at His creation? Well then, here's what I see (and taste and feel and hear): God values beauty. He loves to make things special for us, and expresses His love for us in so many extraordinary ways! He goes the extra mile and does far more than just meet our needs. How many days and years have I walked through this life not realizing this? Not really paying attention? I am so glad that, by the grace of God, He caught my attention...that He opened my eyes and heart to see the truth and believe it. But what about those who never do? According to this verse, man is without excuse. When we meet God face to face at the end of our life here on this planet, not one of us will be able to say "but God, it's not my fault! I didn't know!" Yes you did.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Trevor told me to call this blog "Pears", so I did

Recently, Vince wrote an incredible blog about dangerously bold prayer. Our pastor did a two week series on this topic that spawned some conversations between Vince and I. One night he asked me what was the most dangerous prayer I've ever prayed. I had to think for a moment and several came to mind. Just remembering them and the events of my life that prompted me to pray them brings tears to my eyes and quickens my heart!

Without a doubt, the most dangerous prayer I've ever prayed is "whatever it takes." I have asked God for many things in my life, but I usually attach things to my requests - stipulations, instructions, and limits - as if He'll miss something if I don't point it out. "God, please change my life in this area...but don't let it be too painful, don't take me out of my comfort zone, don't go too far, and don't take too long, ok?" Wow. When I really think about it, it is pretty presumptuous of me to ask the Creator of the Universe for something, and then try to micro-manage Him. It really shows lack of faith. It's telling God that I don't trust that He knows what He's doing with my life. Praying "whatever it takes" just pulls out all the stops and gives God free reign over my future. It takes complete surrender. It's the most scary, vulnerable position I've ever been in.

There have been only a few times in my life where I have surrendered enough to pray that prayer, and sometimes it has cost me alot. "God...whatever it takes...soften his heart. Do what it takes to break him so that he finally realizes that he needs You." Whoa. That was a costly prayer. One that to my knowledge has still gone unanswered. "God...protect my heart. Don't let me get involved with the wrong man. Until you bring me the man that you have chosen for me, let me remain alone...as long as it takes." That one was costly as well, far more than I ever imagined when I prayed it ~ but oh so worth it!! And potentially the most costly of all...."God, please save my children. Don't let them grow up and reject You. If that were to happen, I don't think my heart could bear it. Save them, Lord...whatever it takes."

It's scary for me to trust...maybe I'm revealing too much about myself here, but I may as well be honest. I have trust issues. Vince understands this about me and he is so very patient and loving and thankfully he doesn't take it personally. I know that I can trust him completely with my life and with my heart. But that did not come easily or quickly. It took some time for me to let down my guard, to truly let him into my heart without reservation. Not because I saw something in him that made me cautious, quite the opposite. And it wasn't necessarily residual scars from past hurts. It was something within my own heart that didn't trust God enough. I didn't truly believe that He would bring someone wonderful into my life...didn't trust that He would come through for me, or that I was deserving of a love like this. But God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, saw something different. His plan for my life was far more than I ever imagined for myself! And I wonder if any of it would have come to fruition had I not been willing to surrender to Him and pray that very dangerous prayer....whatever it takes. It was risky, but I thank God every day that I prayed that prayer. Even tho now I have to live with a BOY!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Loud birds and other ridiculously unnecessary noises at 5am

We have psychotic birds here. I don't know what is going on, but we do. One of them decided to chirp ~ one loud chirp, every 6.2 seconds ~ right outside our bedroom window this morning until it woke me up...at 5am. Darth was peacefully sleeping through it. I didn't even remember to tell him about it before he left for work. This is the second of what I am convinced will be a series of odd bird behavior that has occurred since we moved in. Ok, maybe that wasn't odd in bird world, but it was very unecessary in the human world, namely mine. The first psychotic episode was several weeks ago...I woke up to what I thought was someone knocking at the door. Three fast knock knock knocks.....then silence. For about 20 seconds. Just long enough for me to go into another room in search of the source of the noise. Then knock knock knock again.....aaaand silence. After going to the front door, then the kitchen, and doing alot of standing around with a confused/annoyed look on my face, I finally determined it was coming from Hope's room. So I opened the blinds and waited...until it came. A cardinal. Flew directly from the tree in our backyard right smack into Hope's window. Thunk. Flap flap flap. Retreat. It flew back to it's tree, composed itself, thought "what the...?" and then tried again. Thunk. Flap flap flap. Retreat. Every time it did this, it hit it's head on the window exactly three times. Wierd. How many times does a bird have to do this until it gets it? Or knocks itself out? Hope woke up in the middle of this, and I went and got Kyle so we could all watch and laugh. It was pretty hilarious.

I didn't want Vince to leave for work today. We need some time together. It's been a long while since we have had any significant amount of time alone. I miss that.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Birthday traditions ~ old and new

If you have already read Vince's blog, then you know that yesterday was Nick's birthday! My son, my first born, is 11 already. And Kyle, my baby, is 7...sigh. The boys' birthdays have always been very nostalgic & sentimental for me. They are only three weeks apart, Kyle's was July 15th, but three weeks ago I was still in the throws of honeymoon bliss and the mayhem and chaos of those first few weeks of family blending and didn't blog about it at the time. But both of their birthdays were great - we blended some birthday traditions from both of our families, as well as started some of our own! Vince & kids have a red "You are special today" plate, as well as a "happy birthday" mug, so the person of honor gets to use those all day. The boys and I some time ago acquired a "It's my birthday today" pin, so they wore it on their special day. I made each of them a cake (I've usually done a "theme cake", or whatever they wanted). This year, Kyle's was a round layered chocolate cake with white frosting and red icing to make it look like a baseball. Nick requested his favorite cake - chocolate with chocolate chips, whipped cream and chocolate chips sprinkled on top. By the way, it's Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips and nothing else. If you've never had them, you need to go out and buy a bag right now. I'm serious.

Speaking of chocolate I just have to take a rabbit trail for a moment and tell you about this totally lucious treat that we happened upon....we were at Woodman's grocery store on Sunday and at the end of an hour long grocery shopping session, and a cart full of groceries, I was tired and needed a chocolate fix. One of us spied some chocolate marshmallows on display along with some chocolate dipping sauce...sold. I was a little hesitant because it wasn't Ghiradelli, it was Baker's chocolate, but I thought it was worth a try. We got home, unloaded the groceries, popped the dipping sauce in the mic and ripped open the bag of marshmallows....can I just say it was AWESOME!!! Wow! Diabetic shock in a bag, but it was totally worth it and my husband thankfully survived. (I promise to take better care of him, but this had to be done.) We also tried it on a banana and can I just say, YUM!

Anyway, back to the birthdays...something new that we started was to make a "Happy Birthday" sign and hang it on the patio doors (the marker looks really bright with the light shining through it) and everyone signed it & wrote birthday wishes. I also put pictures of them on the cupboards around the kitchen, starting with their one year pics and each of their school pics =) Pretty cute to see them "grow" through the years! Hope kept asking "will you do that for MY birthday?" Yes, honey, we will =) I have always let the boys choose what they want for supper on their birthday as well (within reason). This year Kyle chose, above all things, salmon! This child will not eat mac & cheese, but he loves salmon! So after his baseball game, guess what we were doing at 8:30pm on July 15th? Yep...grilling salmon on our deck. We didn't eat supper until after 9 that night, but it was yummy! Nick's birthday supper last night was easier...Little Caesars Pizza and crazy bread! After supper it was cake & presents time! I am so very impressed with Vinny and Hope and their creativity and giving hearts. For Kyle's birthday, Vinny spent quite some time creating a lego baseball guy for him, Kyle loved it! And Hope, in addition to her home made cards and art projects, has started a tradition of her own of spelling their name out on a piece of paper with moon sand and hiding it the cabinet =)

One more birthday tradition that I've done with the boys is watching videos of them when they were little. I LOVE doing this, but it always makes me a bit sad to realize how much they are growing up. We did this as a family last night and we laughed and laughed watching baby Nick learn to crawl, and little 3 year old Nick dancing to the Lion King (with some Elvis-like moves) and singing "If You're Happy and You Know it" at bedtime with the hick ups...and many more cutie patootie things =)

The next birthday in the house will be Trevor's in November...by the way, you should ask him about his babysitting adventures yesterday for our friend Kari's kids who are 1, 2 and 6! And yes, there were dirty diapers involved! Oh what he will do for cash =)

Happy Birthday, Kyle....and remember that you will always be my "baby boy"! And Happy Birthday, Nick...and remember that you were the one who made me a mom!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whirring and blurring and a new journey!

I'm here! I'm here! Stealing a few moments to write a little ditty about Jack & Diane and Vince... Trevor... Vinny... Nick... Hope... Kyle... Kirby... Feliz.... and who ever else lives here. I have lost count. This place is hopping! Wow. We are trying our best to keep some assemblance of order, and I think we are seeing some success through the whir and blur of kids and dogs and husbands.

"Whir : to go, fly, revolve, or otherwise move quickly with a humming or buzzing sound." Yep, sounds like our kids.
"Blur : to obscure by making confused." Yep, sounds like me.

Honestly, despite what our garage full of boxes may tell you , we ARE settling in and slowly making progress at getting things unpacked and put where they belong. We even have some curtains hung and some things on the walls! Finding the time to do this is not easy. One would think that since we live here, we should have plenty of time to unpack and be alot farther along than we are. In theory that is true, however with Nick and Kyle fully immersed in baseball, much of our evenings and weekends this summer have been spent at the park watching them play ball. It can be hard sitting at a two hour game (or an all day tournament) when all the things that need to be done at home are gnawing at our brains. But no matter what's going on, we are committed to being there for the kids' activities whenever possible. It's important to them to see us cheering them on, and it's important for us.

Vince is working pretty much 12 hour days...he leaves home by 6:30am and gets home around 6:15pm. It's a very long day for him, but he really loves his job - and they love him - so we are thankful! My days are just as long, since I get up to see him off to work then get myself ready, wake the kids, make lunches, get everyone where they need to be for the day, then after work...pick up kids, sometimes stopping at the store on my way home...then there's dinner, clean up, and pretty soon it's showers and bedtime and we are exhausted! I don't think Vince and I have gone to sleep before midnight since this crazy thing began!! But he keeps reminding me that it's just a season...we will eventually be unpacked, baseball will eventually be over (and then football starts.......sssssh! I didn't hear that!), and we will someday get to bed before midnight again.

Honestly, it's really not as chaotic as I am making it sound! We have been holding all of the kids responsible for helping out around the house, picking up after themselves, keeping their rooms clean, folding laundry, and even cleaning toilets! We are developing a system for rotating chores each week, which I think will work really well at alleviating complaining and arguing and the "I did it last time! It's not fair!" stuff. We are also enforcing respect from the kids...not only for Vince and I but for eachother. Sometimes there is alot of nit-picking going on between the kids and that does not make anyone feel good. We sat them all down in the living room last night and talked about respect and the fact that we are not asking for it, we are requiring it. We discussed the difference between a right and a privilege. Things like computers, video games, tv, and activities outside the house are privileges that will be taken away if they are disrespectful, disobedient, or don't follow through with their responsibilities. We also talked about what is important to us in our home. Of anywhere in the world, Home should be the place where we feel loved, accepted, and safe....where we build eachother up, not tear eachother down. We established a rule in our house (which I learned from a good friend of mine who is the mother of five...count them...FIVE boys!) That rule is this: before you say something to someone, think about these three things: Is it TRUE? Is it NECESSARY? And is it KIND? If it doesn't meet all three of these criteria, then don't say it. It will take some reinforcing and reminding and probably some consequences before it truly sinks in and becomes a way of life around here. Note to self : we need to make some sort of addendum in there about whining....actually we already have one. It's called "whiners get nothing". I've always said that to my boys and it's pretty effective at stopping the whining. Now we just need to figure out how to prevent it in the first place! I'm open to suggestions on that one =)

And lastly (this has gone from a little ditty to a long ramble!!) Vince and I have realized, again, how critical it is that we stay connected to the Vine. Without receiving our life blood from Him, we quickly become parched and our strength (and sanity) withers. We NEED to make time, daily, to be in the Word. To be in prayer...for eachother and for each of our kids ~ our AWESOME kids!! We need to keep our eyes and hearts focused on Jesus so that we can teach our kids to do the same.

This new journey we are on has just begun...and it is sweet! Amid the whining, complaining, and discipline....there is laughter, hugs, and love going on here and it's wonderful!! Wow, all this and I haven't even rambled on about how WONDERFUL my husband is!!! He truly is....Sometimes I just look into his eyes in awe and say "are you really here? are we really married? do you really love me this much?" And with a smile and a kiss he says "yes I am...yes we are...and yes I do!"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

~ Home Sweet Home ~

We closed on our new house on Tuesday!!! Yay!!! We've got the keys, the house is ours! I can't even begin to describe how blessed we feel. It still doesn't exactly feel real, but at the same time it feels so natural and so right. It feels like our home already. Walking through the house on Tuesday with Vince...we could just see ourselves living there, being a family. (Funny thing...I found out after the fact that there was a TORNADO warning going on while we were obliviously perusing our new house, and we didn't even know it! Wow!) The house is in great condition but we do have a little work to do before moving in.....finishing the construction of Vinny and Nick's bedrooms, and painting Hope & Kyle's rooms will definitely have to be done before the move. We will eventually paint all the rooms in the house - either out of necessity or just to change the color, but other than that it is ready!

The plan is (if I haven't explained this already...) the boys and I will stay in our house until the wedding, in the mean time we will get the new house ready and will begin moving stuff in on the weekends. Vince & kids will move into the new house sometime after school's out ~ which is only a month away!! AAAK!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Enjoy the blessings! Really!

On Saturday we went garage sale-ing. Vince and I, along with Kyle & Hope braved the cold and set about our trek to see what treasures we could find. I love garage sales and flea markets! For me, the fun is happening upon something that I never expected to find, and that's exactly what happened!

We were on a mission to find some furniture that we will need in our new house. Specifically, we needed a small entertainment center, two (I have no idea how to spell "armwahs") for Nick & Vinny's rooms as they won't have closets, and a dining room table that will be large enough to seat our family of eight. We've been looking, but all that we have found at furniture stores have been so expensive. We want something nice that will last, but don't want to spend a fortune either. I know furniture at garage sales is sometimes pretty scary, but this was an annual neighborhood sale in a very nice neighborhood - the kind of neighborhood where people redecorate and change their furniture just because they can, not because it's worn out. And I've seen some really nice stuff there in years past.

So we gave Hope & Kyle each 5 bucks to put in their pockets and off we went. As we drove into the neighborhood, I said a quick prayer asking for God to lead us to what we would need, if it was there. Not long after we started, there it was...and I let out a scream, which it turns out is a very effective way to get Vince to stop the van. We got out, walked up the drive, and there before us was a beautiful oak table that just happens to seat 8, along with four matching bar stools, which would just happen to go perfectly around the island in the kitchen! Shazaam! It was beautiful, hardly used, and in perfect condition. So why were they selling it? Because they just built a new house and it wasn't going to match the woodwork in their new dining room (told ya!) They had lots of lookers all morning, and some who said they wanted it but never came back with the money. Coincidence? I think not! I fell in love with it immediately, but I couldn't tell what Vince thought initially because he had his "business" face on, which always throws me. It's funny, I know him so well and he's such an emotional person that I can usually tell how he's feeling just by looking at his face. But when he is looking at making a purchase, he is all business and I can't tell. It drives me crazy!! He was the same way when we walked through our new house the first time. I was gushing all over about the paint colors, the cabinets, the little oak shelves above the windows in the living room...everything. I was imagining and babbling on about how nice it would be to have the kids eat breakfast and do their homework at the kitchen island, and where we would put the piano...and all the while Vince was quietly perusing the place showing no emotion at all. He was analyzing the structure, looking for potential and flaws. Turns out he loved the house and the whole time I was thinking he hated it! The same was true of the table, but this time I didn't let myself jump to conclusions and I just let him do his perusing. As you have probably surmised, we got the table!

But that's not the end of the story. We wrote him a check and then wondered how in the world we would get it to the house. In talking with the guy, we learned that the people who are buying their house are the ones we are buying ours from!!! (Did ya get that?) AND, they would be moving some things over on Sunday....so knowing how nice these people are, we called them and they happily agreed to move our new table & chairs back to their old house (our new house) on a return trip =) Another coincidence??? I THINK NOT!!! Thank you, Lord!! He plans out even the smallest details of our lives. He not only provides for our every need, He delights in blessing His kids with good gifts!!

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11

"Command those who are rich
(that's you & I!) in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." 1 Timothy 6:17

Hmmm...God really wants to give us good things? And to enjoy them? I have always felt guilty about having something nice. I'm not sure why, Vince has been trying to help me figure this out ...is it because I don't feel like I deserve it? Maybe. There are always others who have less than I do, shouldn't we always try to get by on less? Sometimes I believe that's true. But if I'm going to take God at His word, He is a good God and loves to give us good gifts! Does that always mean material possessions....no, but it can. God knew that we needed a table, and He knew that I would love this one, and I think He took great delight in providing it for us! I do! Vince and I LOVE giving gifts to our kids that we know they will love - to see their faces light up and the joy in their hearts! Why would our Heavenly Father be any different?

So, instead of analyzing the blessing and feeling guilty about it, I'm going to thank God for it and enjoy it! I look forward to all the special moments that we will experience around that table with our family and friends for years to come...the meals that will be shared, the conversations that will take place, the laughter, the tears that will be shed, the prayers that will be offered up...around this table, in our home. OUR home. I still can't believe it!

Oh, and the kids found some treasures of their own...we limited each of them to two stuffed animals (which was two more than they need :/ ). Kyle found a lion, a parrot, and a santa hat. Hopie got two bunnies and a denim Cinderella purse =) Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, Nick and Vinny were visiting some garage sales of their own and came home with quite a haul: a tent, a huge mounted fish, two visors, two leather jackets, a set of pool balls & two pool cues (do we have a pool table? no.), and a little plate for me with a piano on it. It is amazing what two little boys with $18.05 can buy at a garage sale!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

You're my only hope!

Back in February I had a sleep study done because I was always tired. I've felt tired most days for as long as I can remember. It got worse after having the boys, but I just chalked it up to getting woke up everynight when they were littler ( boy that word looks wierd typed out. Littler. Is "littler" a word? Yes it is, I just looked it up on dictionary.com.) But since they are no longer "littler", I thought it was because I just wasn't getting enough sleep - staying up too late playing my piano or talking to a certain "boy" every night on the phone =). Still, even when I would get 8 or more hours of sleep, it wouldn't seem to matter. It has gotten so bad over the past year or so that I was having trouble staying awake during meetings or while working at my desk. That's not good, in fact it was embarassing.

So I had the sleep study done. That was fun...they hooked me up to all kinds of electrodes on my head, throat, face, chest, legs...I had wires coming out from every angle (well, not every angle, but alot!) I felt like a robot. Suprisingly tho, I was able to sleep fine. After watching my sleep patterns for a couple hours they came in around 1am and put a c-pap machine on me, which blows pressured air through your nose to keep your airway open. Apparantly my throat relaxes too much during sleep and restricts my air supply enough so that my brain wakes up - not enough for me to be aware of it, but enough to interrupt the quality of my sleep. The study showed that I woke up an average of 44 times an hour! Yea. No wonder I have been so exhausted - I haven't slept well for who knows how long!! I remember being tired alot even as a kid. So, yes, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

So now I have my very own c-pap machine, which I call my "breather". I can't say that I like wearing it, but I feel alot better so I consider it a blessing! Vince has one too, and has for over 10 years. His sleep apnea was so bad that he used to fall asleep talking to people or while driving....scary! Seeing the two of us sleeping together hooked up to our breathers should be quite hilarious! Mine is relatively quiet, however Vince's sounds like Darth Vader. So if you hear me wake up in the middle of the night screaming "Help me Obiwan!", you'll know why.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sifting Sand...

Here's another saying from my daily flip-calendar : "Confidence is the feeling you have before you understand the situation."

At first I thought it was kind of cynical, but from a spiritual perspective I think it's quite true. There is absolutely nothing apart from God that is worth placing our confidence in. Nothing. People we love will fail us from time to time. I will fail them. How often do I fail myself? It is inevitable. Not because we don't love enough or because we don't try, but because we are human. Apart from Jesus, we have nothing in this life to be confident about...except a future void of lasting hope and true fulfillment. This is not what the world is telling us....this is not what Oprah is telling us! (Don't get me started on Oprah, that could be a lengthy rant better saved for another day). We are told to believe in ourselves and we can make our dreams come true, believe in the "universe", believe in chance and fate and good things will happen...umm, ok. Yea.

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight." 1 Corinthians 3:19
The fact is that we are completely and utterly dependent on Jesus. This is not a popular idea , but it's the truth. Whether you believe in Him or not, it remains true. Not one breath of air goes in and out of our lungs without Christ. Along with the Father, He is the creator and sustainer of life.

"...in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word..." Hebrews 1:1-3
God, help me to understand the situation of my life....that without You, I am nothing. I can do no good thing. Unless my eyes are kept focused on You, unless You are my guide and my source, all of my plans and dreams are like sand sifting through my fingers.

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's in a blog???

Not much lately if you're me! I got some grief about that from Tim, as in Vince's good friend Tim & his wife Sandy. We met them last Friday evening for dinner at "Monks" in downtown Baraboo and had such a great time! Tim took the opportunity to nudge me (and Vince) to write more in our blogs, so here I am...

Things are moving along in our lives. We close on our new house on April 30th ~ PTL!! If you've never purchased a home before, it's like this...hurry! hurry! hurry! Get the paperwork in that they need, right away! Then wait..............then hurry and fax! email! call! Aaaaaand then wait. Uggh. It probably wouldn't be so complicated except for the fact that we don't live in the same town and I have to get Vince's signatures on everything over the weekends when we are either here or there. And we haven't done this just once.....we got quotes from three different mortgage lenders to determine which one would give us the best deal, so multiply all the calls, faxes, and emails by THREE....aaak! My mind is racing, can you tell? But we are in the home stretch now, and what a blessing it is =)

Our plan is to take possession of the new house soon after the closing, but the boys and I will stay in my house until the wedding. Since my house has been sold, the new owner is renting it to us until July. (See how God works all things out for our good?! Romans 8:28!) When Vince gets a job secured and he & the kids are ready to move, they can move right into the new house. In the mean time, we can both start moving things gradually so there isn't so much to do all at once. Last weekend I was in Baraboo and we did alot of work packing up and getting rid of things at their house in preparation for not only the move, but Brittany's graduation party. We got through the kitchen, some closets, Vinny & Trevors clothes, and Hope's room. She was quite the trooper, and was willing to donate alot of very cute clothes that she has been unwilling to part with (and wear) for a while now! We have quite a task - downsizing both of our households to fit into one. Because of our commitment to the kids each having their own rooms, we will have limited storage space in the house, so we have no choice but to purge. I believe it is a blessing in disguise. Why do we accumulate so much "stuff", only to let it sit in storage???

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21 This is my prayer for our new home...that we will be focused on the things of God rather than the "things" of this world that do not satisfy the longings of our hearts.
The boys have started baseball! They are pretty excited, especially Kyle, as this is his first year playing "real" baseball, not T-ball. He looks so rippin' cute in his little baseball pants too =) Between both Nick & Kyle, there are only two days a week that they DON'T have baseball practice, and we dont' even have the game schedule yet! Good thing our new house is right across the street from the baseball field & city park =) Another "yay God"!! He has planned this out so well =)

Please continue to pray for Vince's job search. We know that God will provide a job for him, and we have no reason to worry! God knows our needs and the timing of everything, so we are trusting Him to open doors and close others at the just right time.

Friday, April 04, 2008

"Before you criticize someone...

you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes."

I don't know who wrote that, but it's on my daily calendar for today and made me chuckle =)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

One day at a time, sweet Jesus!

Well, here we are....86 days until the wedding!!! AAAK! Did I just type that?? Deep breath...ok. So what have we been doing for the past couple months?? Well, let's see...wedding plans are in full swing!! We are trying to keep things simple and intimate, but we are quickly discovering that even without all the elaborate formalities there is still alot to coordinate (where is Martin Short when I need him??) Vince is fully involved in the planning of all the details, not only to keep his future bride from having a mental crisis, but because he actually loves planning out each special detail together! From designing the invitations to choosing the music and calling the caterer, we are doing it all together. I'm not sure how common it is for a groom to be that involved in the planning, but I love it and am very grateful! He is so good at helping me retain my sanity =)

This is such a special time for us...and through all of the planning and waiting God is taking the opportunity to teach me some things (He's so good at that!) I'm learning anew that I need to take things one day at a time. If I look at everything that we have to do all at once, I get overwhelmed and I shut down. Then I don't get anything done and get even more stressed out. And worst of all, I don't enjoy it. God started teaching me this concept about 3 years ago when I began taking piano lessons. Pause....no, I'm quite sure He STARTED teaching me this concept long before then. But this is when I actually started LEARNING it!! I've always been the kind of person who doesn't like to wait for things. You have a surprise for me? Tell me! Tell me! TELL ME!!! It drives me crazy! If I have my mind set on a project or a goal, I want to get it all done today...well it doesn't work that way with piano. You can't jump ahead. I got so frustrated in the beginning....seriously, do I have to learn how to play "Oh Danny Boy?" Can't we just skip all this and go straight for the Elton?? Nope. You have to take it one step at a time and you don't see results right away. It's a process and requires patience and diligence, and slowly the fruits begin to unfold as you look back and see how far you've come.

So that's what I'm doing....as I look ahead to all the planning that we have yet to do as the days and weeks close in, I look back at all that we have already planned and done for our special day and it makes me smile =) I cannot WAIT to marry that man!!

So what else have we been doing?? Well, how about selling my house and buying a new one!!! That is an amazing story of God's provision, one that I will defer to my handsome groom to tell, as I know he's already composing a blog about it......your turn, Babe ;)

Friday, February 08, 2008

What's in a name?

So, the latest drama & trauma at my house is revolving around my name......more specifically my last name. Nick asked me recently if my last name will still be "Evans" after Vince and I are married. Up to that point, I really hadn't given it much thought, at least not from the boys' perspective. Ever since the proposal, I've been pretty giddy about being the future "Mrs. Howard", and so has Vince! So when I told them that I would be taking Vince's last name, and would be Lisa Howard (wow, looks kinda cool typed out! I've never done that before.) I really didn't expect the boys to react the way they did. I knew that it would feel a bit weird to them and would take some getting used to, but it has actually shaken their world up quite a bit. They are very upset about the idea of us having different last names, and even said that it won't feel like I am their mom anymore. Ouch. That hurt my heart, deeply.

Vince and have I talked at length about this and I have to admit that I have had mixed emotions. How could I not share my last name with my husband? Yet, how could I not share my last name with my boys? We talked over all the options - keeping my last name Evans (that was never an option for me), or hyphenating both last names. That seemed at first like a good compromise to me, but in thinking that through it would be very confusing on several levels (how do we have our checks printed? do I want to sign my name that way all the time? how will we introduce ourselves?) Neither of us liked that option very much, in fact Vince feels very strongly that he wants me to have his last name and doesn't want me to keep my ex's last name - at all. Now, before you picture him thumping his chest and dragging me around by my hair....let me assure you that Vince treats me with the utmost honor and respect, and is not in anyway trying to control me. I know that if I told him that I wanted to keep my last name, he would honor my decision. He is sharing his heart and would honestly be hurt if I did, but he would accept it if it was what I wanted. So, this put me in a very difficult position.....whatever I chose, someone was going to feel hurt. My sons or my husband. I hate that! I'm not the type of person who can just disregard someone's feelings and say "this is what I want, I don't care how you feel about it!" So after talking it through at length, several times actually, we came to the decision together that I will in fact change my name to Lisa Howard (yay!!) But what about the boys? I have repeatedly reassured them that no matter what my name is, I am and always will be their mom. Nothing will ever change that. We are also going to be careful (and ask those in our lives to do the same) not to refer to us as "The Howard Family". We just really want to be sensitive to Nick & Kyle so that they don't feel like they are being left out.

So all this has got me thinking ~ and subsequently rambling =). This really is a bigger issue than just the name thing. It goes far deeper than that. We are finding out that it is a complex thing blending two families together!! Everyone is trying to figure out their place in this new family that we are creating ~ and wondering how our lives, our relationships, and even our identities will change. Vince and I believe whole-heartedly that God's design & purpose for a blended family is the same as a natural family......unity. We feel strongly that we need to not only bond together as a couple, but in order to truly achieve unity as a family we need to love eachother's children as our own. In our home, they won't be "my kids/your kids" but "our kids". In fact, we already feel that way! We want our home to be one of complete acceptance and unconditional love, and as long as we build it on the foundation of Jesus Christ, it will be. But this also brings up alot of questions and feelings...will Nick & Kyle feel that they are less important to me as I open my heart and love Vince's kids as my own? If we have different last names? Will Brittany, Trevor, Vinny or Hope feel like they are betraying their mom if they open their hearts to me and accept me as a "new" mom in their lives? Will Nick & Kyle feel like they are betraying their dad as they bond with Vince as a "new" dad in their lives?

Whew!!! I don't know about you, but I need to take a breath!! This is all so overwhelming for me to think about. But I do know one thing...we are not going to have to figure this all out on our own. God has a plan, not only for Vince and I but for each of our kids. He is bringing us together as a family, and He is working it all out for the good of ALL of us! We just need to trust Him and let Him do it! (I think I need to go back and re-read my post from Wednesday.)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Oh, I almost forgot. After talking through the whole name change thing with the boys, we prayed about it and they went to bed. My heart was broken at the thought of them feeling separated from me in any way and I wondered if I was causing them serious psychological damage. So I prayed more about it and went to bed. The next morning, I asked Nick if he wanted to talk more about it. Much to my surprise he said nonchalantly, "It's fine, Mom. I'm ok with it. It's just a name." Thank You, Lord!

And now I know that Vince has some things on his heart to share about this ~ so I will pass the baton to you, hon....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Seeing is believing......not!

"I'll believe that when I see it." How often do we think that way? Show me first, then I'll believe you! I've been pondering this lately as I think about our future and all the things we are believing God for in the next several months....a job for Vince, a buyer for my house, a new home for our family. For months now Vince and I have been praying about these things, and relying on faith that God will provide all that we need when we need it. As I have already written about, I am prone to worry and fret, and I admit that I have been riding on Vince's faith more than I have my own concerning these issues. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing, in fact I think it is part of God's design for marriage. God gives Vince strength and faith in areas where I am weak, so that I can lean on and rely on him....and vice versa. Lately God has been showing me on another level what it really means to have faith.

Vince made some connections with a company last week that could very likely provide a job for him in the future. It looks really promising, and afterwards I found myself releasing alot of anxiety over the whole job search thing, and feeling like "Yes! God IS going to provide a job for him!" It was then that I realized that my faith really took off only AFTER I saw some evidence that God was in fact working on the situation. Hmmph. I came to God with praise and thanksgiving, but had to hang my head in shame at this thought...where was my faith before this? Did He not tell me all along that He would provide? Does He not say in His Word that He knows our needs even before we ask, and as a loving Father He provides for our every need? Of course I believed that, but I came to realize that I really only believed it after the fact. My faith was backwards faith, which is no faith at all. And that kind of faith does not make God happy.

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." James 1:6-8
God showed me that I have been asking...and then continuing to worry & doubt, and as a result I was doing alot of blowing and tossing in the wind. What does that tell me about my faith? And my view of the One in whom I put my faith? I imagine my kids coming to me and telling me that they are hungry and asking me to make supper for them. As a parent, I already know that they are hungry and already have plans for supper. So I set about the task of preparing the meal, all the while the kids keep coming up to me, "when will it be ready? what are you making? can I open the lid? just a peak? are you sure there is anything in there?" and off they go worrying and fretting, "oh, what if mom doesn't know that I need to eat? what if she makes something I don't like? what if she forgets? I am going to starve here and she doesn't even notice!" I really don't have to imagine this scenario because it actually happens in my house. And my reaction is always the same...."Good grief, child. Get a grip! I am making supper, just be patient and trust me. This is my job, let me do it. I know what I'm doing, I don't need constant reminders from you. You just need to go do what I have asked YOU to do, and I'll let you know when it's time to come to the table and eat. And by the way....you will LOVE it!"

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11
How much faith would it take if we knew the outcome? If we could see into the future? If we could see what's cooking in the pot? God is extremely interested in growing our faith...faith that believes even when our eyes do not see His hand at work. Faith that believes without yet seeing what is behind door #1. Faith that trusts that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. It pleases Him when we believe Him....when we place our faith in HIM no matter what our eyes may see. When we believe that HE is faithful. Then when we finally do see His provision, we can truly be thankful and not surprised....in awe, yes, but not surprised. Because God IS who He says He is!!! And He WILL do what He says He will do!!!

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

Friday, January 25, 2008

Grandma's Hands

'Five Generations of Women'GRANDMA'S HANDS
Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands. When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK. Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. 'Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,' she said in a clear voice strong. 'I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,' I explained to her. 'Have you ever looked at your hands,' she asked. 'I mean really looked at your hands?' I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making. Grandma smiled and related this story:
'Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. 'They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war. 'They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse. 'They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken,dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. 'These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life.But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.'
I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.
~ Author unknown

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Our Shepherd '\o/'

Here is one of my favorite worship songs....I've been singing it all day!!

You Are In Control
You are my Shepherd, I have no needs
You lead me by peaceful streams
And You refresh my life!
You hold my hand and You guide my steps
I can walk through the valley of death
And I, I won't be afraid.

Because You are in control! You are in control!
You are in control! You are in control!

You cause everything to work together
You truly have a sovereign plan!
And You know who I am,
You made who I am,
And You love who I am.

1. a person who herds, tends, and guards sheep.
2. a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people.
3. the Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

6. to tend or guard as a shepherd: to shepherd the flock.
7. to watch over carefully.

1. protector, guardian, defender, keeper.
Thank you, Lord, for being our Protector, our Guardian, our Defender, and our Keeper...for being our Shepherd. Thank you for watching over us carefully, for guiding us, and for tending to our EVERY need.