Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Veteran's Day...

We went to the Veteran's Parade in Arlington with our fun Kirkman cousins!
This is pretty much the red carpet for me. I would pass up Leonardo de Caprio and all his liberal friends any day to shake the hand of one of these men.
Unlike Leo, these guys aren't real sure about all the attention. They never did what they did for the politics or limelight and if you make the mistake (like I did) of calling one a hero he will quickly correct you and tell you that the real heroes are all their friends that never came home. But we know they are heroes too and we love them.
The kids thought it was so amazing to see real life heroes. I think they were kinda bummed when we piled back into the van without getting to shake any hands or tell them how thankful we are.So when we spotted these guys in the alley on our way out... we couldn't help but track them down! The cream of the crop no less!!!Three Veterans including WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War! (Silas was quick to proudly tell them that his own Papa Tim served in Vietnam.) I think he made a real connection.
Commander Bill Morse gave us his card and they offered to come over sometime and do a special home school day for the kids! Look at their faces. These are proud kids. This made their day!We watched them go and I wondered what mix of feelings they must have on days like these. I wonder if they really know what they mean to us, and how thankful we really are. I wonder if they know that they are still blessing us by their lives long after serving. Both those who died and those who fought and still live to shake hands of the younger generations and inspire them to greatness. I hope they know... ...that my little boy came home and got right to work on a hat and flag just like theirs and informed me that he now wants to be a "flying soldier"... Thank you Veterans.
We thank God for your service
and we rejoice in your life.

We salute YOU!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Hearts of Kings... and Mothers too

Proverbs 21:1 says that
The King's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD. He turns it wherever He wishes.

So... we need not loose sleep over the heart of our new President, right?
We now begin to pray for him and in so doing, realize that this all has just as much (if not more!) to do with our hearts as it does his! And this, my friends, leads me to my point...

Where is your heart today? What's the initial gut reaction when you think of praying for your new President? Are you there yet? Did it take you awhile? Are you nauseous?

Have you, like me, run the gamut of emotions even despite your confidence of the Sovereignty of God? I confess that I spent Tuesday before the polls came in, weeping for the lost children of my unsaved friends. Not the intangible, theoretical, hypothetical lost unborn children, but the actual I-dearly-love-their-Mothers-and-wanted-them-to-live-desperately-but-now-don't-even-have-a-grave-stone-to-even-bring-yellow-roses-to... children. The ones I don't let myself think about on a daily basis in order to function.

It came out of nowhere, with no PMS to blame, and hit me very hard. I wept for their mothers... and vacillated between grief for the lost... and ANGER towards my fellow "Christians" for allowing such atrocity. I watched the elections later and felt brief shock, mixed with frustration that I couldn't cry tears of joy with Oprah and my fellow black Americans at seeing a black man come to the Presidency. I wished I could have. But I could only think of the statistics and wonder if Oprah realizes how many more little beautiful black babies will not see the light of day as a result of this "historical" vote.

I felt pity watching all those people swaying to the music, waving their flags, rejoicing in vain hope of a new human savior, dancing in the streets, weeping, arm in arm, briefly united in a cause... because they need to put their hope in something, and I guess this is it for them. I was able to watch them and clearly see a misplaced hope. I felt disgust, wondering how many ignorant voters Leo, Brad Pitt & Paris Hilton alone got out to vote...

And then as I heard the Obama hymns and saw the magnitute of the worldwide worship for this man... I felt that familiar flash of fear betray a heart off course and a need to dive back into the Word and let my LORD direct my own heart in the direction that He wishes, just as He will direct the heart of my new President, as He wishes.

So... I did. (And I let my husband make me a nice strong Pina Colada too.)

And this is the point. The thing we must do. (No Pina Coladas before noon, ladies) ;)

God is preparing us for heaven, people. He just cranked up the furnace. He did. Not the voters. God did. He is "weighing" each of our hearts. He knows how we voted in secret, and He knows why. He knows how we now fear, anger and falter... or simply care more about catching our favorite show than searching His Word. He knows how sinful humans love to take up a "worthy" cause, throw money into charity, let the world see and hear their goodness and just generally bask in their awesomeness as they blindly speed down their high road headed to hell?

Whether you're speeding there in a hybrid or a 15 passenger van makes no difference to Him.

What direction is the "channel of your heart" flowing today and which direction might the Almighty God want it to go? Surely not jadedness, self-righteousness, fear, and apathy. Surely not running off at the mouth (or the computer) before you've taken a good look in the mirror. Realize that with Tuesday's vote, God just did re-direct the channels of our hearts. He exposed, tested, dangled our idols before us and shifted us further away from hoping and trusting in any government, leader, policy or law... and more to Himself and His promises.

If you're feeling the heat of the Refiner's fire today whether it manifest itself as fear, worry, disgust, anxiety, depression, confusion, disappointment, jadedness, doubt, anger, or even... (if you placed your hope in man and won!)... false hope, triumph, defiance, confidence and puffed up pride for your country and yourself... may you recognize it all as the loving Hand of the LORD, directing the channel of your heart, or adjusting the heat setting on your furnace. Let your heart flow like water according to His wishes. Let His heat burn away any dross that keeps you praying from those Christians who have so disappointed you. Let all of this be another revelation to you of your need for a true Savior and may you rejoice in the fact that our God, unlike man, has the actual power to save you! Let it bring you to your knees in humble, loving and confident prayers for your new President Barrack Hussein Obama whose heart is in the hands of the LORD in whom we put our trust.

Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak emptiness to one another;
With flattering lip and with a double heart they speak.
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
Who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail! (yes we can)
Our lips (votes?) are our own; who is lord over us?"
Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy,
(what? You didn't know the unborn can groan?)
Now I will arise," says the LORD; "I will set him in the safety for which he longs."

The words of the LORD are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.
Thou, O LORD, wilt keep them;
Thou wilt preserve him from this generation forever!
The wicked strut about on every side,
When vileness [worthlessness] is exalted among the sons of men.
~Psalm 12

In the LORD I take refuge;
can you say to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain;
For behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They fixed ready their arrow upon the string,
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?"

The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD's throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
For the LORD is righteous; He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.
~Psalm 11

Monday, November 3, 2008

Answering to God for YOUR stroke of the pen

I have very great peace and confidence that the outcome of tomorrow's vote will be right in God's plan no matter who gets elected. It is in His hands. My hope is not in any man but in God who "directs the hearts of Kings".

And yet, with that said, I have a lot of very strong feelings regarding the actions of my fellow Christians. I have been completely shocked this election, (so utterly shocked) to hear of professing Christians unwilling to vote on behalf of tiny, innocent, unborn babies who do not get to vote. Professing Christians who think that there are greater issues than the life of a little baby?

I meant to blog about this many, many weeks ago. I started, ranted, deleted. Many times. But... what in the world do I say to a Christian who will not vote to protect the life of millions of unborn babies???? For (what?) their wallet? What in the world do I say?

I can only guess that these people must be so very, very far removed that they think that they will not themselves be judged for their part in it and that their vote doesn't really impact that world of the unborn? That somehow... it filters down, gets dilluted and in the end, Obama, the doctor performing the abortion, or the mother will bear the final responsibility for the life of the innocent. I'm guessing....(trying so hard to give them the benefit of the doubt here)... that they must not know that it is our job? As Christians? That God will not start by judging Obama or the poor lost, deceived and exploited woman seeking the abortion but that He will hold responsible those of us who know better?

Maybe they've never seen one of these tiny beautiful silhouettes twirling and kicking on an ultrasound machine... the little four chambered heart just beating away?

I'll never forget the first ultrasound I saw. I was a very little girl and it was my first magical peek at my wonderful, beautiful, dancing little sister... Rose. I had a glimpse that many never get, through my Mom's tummy, into the unseen world of the innocent, unborn people. Real people.

When we vote for a person that we know will vote for the murdering of these innocent little people... what neurons in the brain are misfiring...? What sinful justifications and numbing of the conscience has brought us to a place where we think for one moment that we ourselves will not stand before an Almighty God, the One who "knits them together in their mothers' wombs" and have to answer for the deadly stroke of our pen? Not just Obama's pen. But our pen.

I guess the reality of this personal responsibility really sunk in while I actually picked up my pen to draw that line in ink from one end of an arrow, to another. I realized in a brand new way that I was, in fact, writing in ink, a line representing life, or death and it hit me that I will answer to God someday for that line.

And with a very, very sick, sinking feeling... I thought of all the professing Christians I know of who know better, and who will have to answer for their part too.

It's an easy vote, Christians. We vote for LIFE. We imitate Christ who laid down His own life, so we might live. Before we had a vote, He voted for us. In obedience to the will of the Father, He voted for us. So we imitate Him, walk by faith, in obedience, knowing that our Father can raise the state of this nation's economy just as easy as He raised Christ. He is a God of miracles and redemption. So we lay down whatever we have to....

....... to vote for those babies.

I shall wash my hands in innocence,
And I will go about Thine altar, O LORD,
That I may proclaim with a voice of Thanksgiving,
And declare all Thy miracles.

Psalm 26: 6 & 7

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Understanding, Knowledge, Wisdom & Lemon Drops

We just enjoyed another fun & easy Science Project out of our Story of the World activity book. It just seems to make SO much sense to me for young children to listen to the great stories of history unfold chronologically, while reading good corresponding (age appropriate) literature along the way, coloring beautiful maps of your travels and letting great science happen as... well, as it did! It makes each subject come to life so wonderfully!

We're in the Early Modern Times book and it's all kinds of excitement as usual! Jamestown, The Early Colonies, The Search for the Northwest Passage, the French in the New World, Henry Hudson's quest and so much more! At these young ages we don't focus too much on exact dates and trivia but on the continuous unfolding stories and characters of the great cultures in time! As they grow, they branch out into more challenging literature, but keep right along with the fun! So since around this time there was a lot of hoopla over a pretty deceiving little mineral called pyrite - a.k.a. Fool's Gold, how fun but to segue into a little science experiment on the qualities of real gold using yellow Playdough and lemon drops as our two mysterious treasures.

The Playdough turned out to mostly resemble real gold so we just went ahead and ate all the "Fool's gold"! Nothing like lemon drops to seal those memories into the best places in their little brains!
(Silas coloring Henry Hudson after having used half his Father's tube of hair butter to form his Mohawk)


I only have a high school education. (SCANDALOUS! I Knoww!) Some people might think it's ludicrous that I'm teaching my kids myself. That's an argument for another day (that I will eh hem...win), but for now I want to just extinguish one specific little fiery dart of discouragement that the enemy, or the world, or a woman's own sinful mind will shoot straight at the heart of this thing called raising happy, godly children.

So you don't have a teaching degree. Wait whaaaaat? Not even college? You whaaaat? Even slacked off in high school?! Will the scandals never end?!?! You hate to read because the books were always soooo boooring? So you in fact, are not stoked on say... history for instance? PERFECT! You may have just as much fun as your kids! Let's be honest though, you and I would really suck at teaching calculus to teenagers right now. But here's the thing: Before calculus comes 1+1 dude. And 1+1= you can do it dude. Catch my drift?

Surely we can teach our 2 year olds? 3 year olds? 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year olds? Do you realize how easy (and fun) this stuff is? It's stays soooooo eeeeassy for sooooooo many years! And these are the precious years! The foundational years. The years in which they will learn whether you want to be with them and whether they want to be with you. For now, it's all about love for learning! Whetting the appetite! Lighting the fire! What you will discover is that you, the parent will suddenly realize you are loving it because you are learning too. Very easily. Because you have an adult brain and you are learning basic stuff.

Home schooling is my second chance at learning! I get to acquire a lot of the knowledge that I didn't give a darn about at the time because duh! I was in schoool! And there were like...too many things to worry about! ;) I have an adult brain now and understand how wonderful knowledge is because I now have a little life experience to understand why. The heart of him that hath understanding, seeketh knowledge ~ Prov. 15:14 I'm a great reader (thanks to phonics at the Christian school while I was teeny), and I looove these little people more than any professional ever will. All it takes is a little planning and willingness.

But let me tell you... in just a few more years...possibly months, I will be no match for my eldest daughter in history. She takes an interest to someone like Queen Elizabeth or Abigail Adams, checks out every book in the library and suddenly I have a for real expert sitting right here in my dining room gazing back at me with these big knowing fawn eyes. I never know which direction her interest is going to go, or if I will be able to carry the library basket out that day or not. It has picked up more speed than I ever imagined it would! What my sweet, dear, precious daughter lacks, is the wisdom to know where to put all this beautiful knowledge. But that... is where I come in! For what I lack in calculus, prepositional phrases and the periodic table of elements... I make up for in wisdom gained right from the Source Itself. And my love and wisdom (and her Father's!) will guide and cover this precious child as she grows in that understanding and wisdom.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.~James 1:5

(But on't count me out on the other stuff either. I'm all stoked on memorizing my prepositions right now with my girls! And someday it may come to some pretty formal logic. Unless I want my boys running circles around me! Calculus? ...I may have a root canal scheduled that.... yeah.

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. - Prov. 23:12

But when that moment does come where you are outrun by your sweet kid and she pipes up to correct you on some Abigail Adams fact because she indeed is now an expert, let your wisdom guide her in the humble telling of it, and may you rejoice in that moment exceedingly! It will be sweeter than any lemon drop!

Through WISDOM is a house built; and by UNDERSTANDING it is established: and by KNOWLEDGE shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. - Prov. 24:3,4

For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. - Prov. 2:6

Thursday, October 9, 2008

You can take the girl outta the Valley...

...but you can't take the Valley outta the girl! This is a late post due to some super funky illness we've been battling but too fun not to post. Saturday before last we headed up north to my old stomping grounds for the Annual Skagit Valley Festival of Farms with our friends "The Burns-is". Chris and Jenni invited us over for dinner after all the farm festivities. How can you resist produce, hayrides through vineyards, pony rides, carmel apples, curly fries and hanging out with friends of such likeminded...humor.

I sure as heck can't. The curly fries, that is... I'm pretty convincing here, huh.

It's a good thing we stopped to see the cows with the best hairdos first because we got rained out before touring any other farms. A wicka wicka wee on the little pony...
He knows he's utterly studly here. uh huh...get it. Cuzza the cows...
Owen: Hiee Eamon! What you guys talkin about?
Eamon: We're just having a quick little huddle about parental control.
Owen: Oh! Can I join you! I have lots of good tips...
Owen: Okay so who are we aimin for here?

Eamon: Well I'm feeling like it might be kind of fun to get my Dad today.

Owen: Great! Well I highly recommend waiting right until the fries get here and then just scream bloody hell.

Eamon: Thanks buddy! That sounds like fun!

Owen: Yeah man, don't mention it. Good luck! I'm sure you'll do great.

These are my favorite kinds of pictures. They just really, really, utterly amuse me.

While we were waiting for curly fries Jenni and I met a gal who reads both of our blogs. How fun is that? (Hi Tina!)

And the best thing about going back to my Skagit Valley is bumping into old friends. I bumped into my old gradeschool/highschool buddy Eddy and his wonderful family!Turtle fell asleep on the hayride. I guess he didn't realize he was sitting next to Eddy's brother Danny Zucco.

Juju had a great day. Look at those chompers! When posing for the Kirkman/Blau photo we discover one is missing. Can anyone guess?SILAS!!!

Thanks Chris!
But we forgot to get a Kirkman/Burns shot! :( Next year!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Don't EVER say the words "It can't get any worse"

In fact, don't even mutter those words, quietly under your breathe. Don't even... regardless of what state of feverish delirium you are in, or how many countless things have gone wrong to add up to your present despair... even think those words. Go ahead and feel the pain. But... don't say those words. Because..... things can always get worse. And there seems to be some scientific law that as soon as you do, they will. While lying feverish on the couch Wednesday night after three days of sudden Jane Austen levels of fever... chills, shakes, projectiles, aches, a three day migraine, a week of missed school, 527 unanswered phone calls and trying to block out the deafening sound of seven kids eating and cleaning up dinner in the kitchen, I came to the realization that it sounded like a food fight was now actually breaking out in my kitchen. And then I did it. I made the stuuuupid maverick mother mistake of forming those very words in my mind. Yes. "Could this beeeeee any worrr?!!?!....


Of course....only moments later came the most horrific sounds I think I have yet to hear in my lifetime. There was the horrible thud, Silas screaming bloody murder, everybody else screaming bloody mass murder, and the three oldest (normally calm-headed kids) running in to me in utter terror shrieking out the words "He's gouged his eye out!!!! Mom! His eyeball is gouged out!!! They were absolutely terror stricken which shook me up more than the scene itself... The "scene" happened to be Silas staggering around the kitchen with one very bloody eye, blood on his hands and screaming "I'm bliiiinded!" His vision was filled with blood so it was truly a scare for him. He had run into the cutting board that I knewww would eventually get left out and one day cause some real damage to some poor fool running by at high speeds.

(As Silas points out below)

I love this face. He looks like he's about to beat the crap out of the cutting board. Much in the same way we hear of mothers fighting off bears, running through burning buildings, to save their young, they can likewise overcome fever and projectiles, managing to run at very high speeds, even hurdling large pieces of furniture to tend to their injured young. It is a strong instinct for sure, and no doubt fueled by some pretty sweet adrenalin. Not even getting hung up by my bathrobe during my flight to the child (and the split second humiliating decision to shed it), was going to keep me from my young one. (I should mention here that I've been reading a lot of dramatic fiction during my days of invalidity)...

Isn't it amazing how quickly things can come into perspective for us? It's so ironic how for me things can seem so out of control until something really obviously out of my control happens and then I suddenly feel and remember how much out of my control it all is? Where nothing else matters. Where we realize nothing was really that bad a moment before when we were moaning that nothing could be worse?

I tend to do much better in those horrific-completely out of my control split second moments than I do in the sometimes overwhelming day to day little things that can feel we should have under "control". It takes a loud thud to jolt me out of my despair sometimes with what I know deep down. While scooping him up, grabbing a towel for the bleeding and hurrying him over to the light where I could assess the situation, I heard myself telling all of the panickers to "Calm down! Is God not in control? Did He not know this would happen? Does He not love Silas more than even we do and is He not the one who formed his little eyeball in the first place? Yes! He is! He did! He was and He still is in control!!! Everyone CHILL!"

This was met with silence, and true calmness that filled the room. We all (even the babies) gathered around him, laid hands on him and prayed. We cleaned him up and discovered that the cut (that has mostly healed before taking this picture), ran all the way up to the very tip of his lower eyelid, and even cut slightly inside of the lower lid (though not through). He also banged up the top lid pretty good which had been quite swollen before I took the picture today. I didn't see enough guts to call for stitches and by the time Brian got home it was old news (and I had my bathrobe back in place). eh hem.But I was so thankful for my fever and my back ache and my filthy house, unproductive week and my little boy at home with me instead of some ER somewhere. It is amazing how God needs to make things worse for us to see how good they really are, isn't it? We have so much. So, so much. Even when things go truly bad and we experience true tragedy or heartache, it can always be worse.

Oh Lord give us the grace to realize how much we have, how we deserve nothing good, and how you yourself took the horror of what we all really deserve. Help us to stay humbly on our feverish knees thanking you for each undeserved blessing. And when the thuds come, may we trust you because we know...we really know You and how much You love us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Of Boys and Playgrounds

Over the years, I have learned by observation that little boys have a different way of meeting other little boys than (for instance) little girls do. One thing I've noticed is that a seemingly essential part of the meet & greet process right off the bat, is to throw out all their important "stats" and basically do a bit of friendly bragging and comparing before they commence to the shuffling, scuffling, wrestling part of the friendship. This all seems very important so I try not to interfere if I don't have to, but I do try to... overhear.

Some boys are more prone to exaggerating and embellishing than others. It can be pretty comical when they do because another thing I've noticed about young boys is that they tend to be horrible liars.

My son Elijah however, has never been much of a bragger and is pretty darn truthful on the whole. He tends to hate the spotlight or undue attention. (Funny how different brothers can be?!) This is why the following conversation was particularly amusing to me as I overheard my son Elijah during a recent "meet & greet" process with another little boy his age on the playground.
Elijah: "I have a spiderman suit. It would go pretty good up here."
Playground boy: "Well I had a Spiderman suit too but I got rid of it and now I have a black ninja suit that I'm wearing for Halloween."
Elijah: "Oh."
Playground boy: "Black ninjas seem cooler this year."
Elijah: "Oh. ...I climb up on roof tops in my spiderman suit."
Playground boy: (incredulous) "....On what roofs?"
Elijah: "Well, mostly the pool house roof... and the shed roof."
Playground boy: "Huh-uh-uuh."
Elijah: (calmly and humbly) "Yeeeah, I do. My mom lets me. And then she lets me jump off."
Playground boy: (long pause..............) "Your Mom wouldn't let you do that."
(At this point "Mom" is hiding behind the bush, feeling a little bit like a reckless excuse for a mother as I wait and wonder what my son's answer will be)
Elijah: (grinning) "Yeah well she's pretty crazy about her blog sometimes."

Playground boy: (just stares very confused at my son.)

Elijah: "And she likes to take pictures all the time."

(I hastily stuff my camera in my pocket)

Playground boy continues to stare at Eli and realizes that he seems to be stating facts and does not seem to be lying or bragging.

Playground Boy: "Anyway... yeah, I don't know why I ever got rid of that Spiderman suit. I think I'll probably be Spiderman again next Halloween."

Elijah: "Oh. Cool. So did you see Spiderman 3... ?"

At this point the "meet & greet" was magically commenced, the friendship was apparently official and the two boys happily start scuffling and shuffling around the playset together demonstrating all their coolest spiderman/ninja stunts.
Boys. Mysteries.
Mothers: Perhaps the moral of this story is that if you let your sons do crazy stuff, then they won't have to make up crazy stuff to brag about on the playground. Perhaps I am just crazy and finding a moral to back up my antics.
But lest you think I am actually a reckless mother, here is a "behind the scenes" shot of Spiderman's sister checking his landing area for any sharp objects during his big photo shoot. See, we take proper precautions. Look how patiently Spiderman waits for his spot check.