Friday, December 31, 2010

The Eight Pals by Levi

The eight parts of speech were waling along when they saw a man taking some money from an old lady.

"Look," said verb.
"Where," asked adverb.
"Over," said preposition.
"...there," finished pronoun.
"Oh, no," exclaimed interjection.
"Vile, " said adjective.
"But," said conjunction.
"...handsome," said adjective.
"Man," said noun.
"Nice," said adjective.
"Huh," asked interjection.
"Man," repeated noun.
"Nice," repeated adjective.
"Oh," said interjection.

Then they all realized the old lady was giving the man the money.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Joy

These cousins love to be together. This Christmas, they have giggled, shopped, performed, tried each other's clothes on, sang, and here they are dancing together.

The Joy of Giving 2010

I had the chance to pick presents for 30+ kids. A member of our church shops for deals all year and donates items for prizes and presents. So this year at our Christmas dinner, we were able to give each kid a present. Since I am the children's pastor, I was in charge of deciding who got what. It was neat to realize that since I have a relationship with each kid, I knew what they would like. Each conversation we have had, made it easier and a joy to pick out their present. The joy came from knowing each child. The joy came from the relationship.

I am thanking God for the joy of giving, the joy of relationships this Christmas!

Monday, October 11, 2010

So should I just quit now?

There is is scene in the movie Akeela and the Bee, after her first spelling bee. She has just blown the competition away and it is quite obvious that she has natural talent. An adult is talking to her about the one word that she missed and she blurts out,"So should I just quit now?"

That question rings in my mind quite often and I have to chuckle at myself. Like last week at our first 4H club meeting. Ruff and Ready is our club name and you can guess it is a dog training club. We met the dog trainer for the first time. She is a boxer and boston terrier specialist, has 17 of them at home, and shows them all over the country. She immediately started playing with Lyla and when it was her turn to speak, she looked at Grace and me and said, "This one is going to be a handful. " Then she gave me a wide eyed stare. The one that says more than the words spoken.

I gulped, wondering, "So should we just quit now?"

Grace apparently didn't read into the trainers words like I did. On the way home, she said, "Lyla did really well, mom. I am excited.

So, we move forward. Lyla isn't the only one learning.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A New Perspective

I was talking to our worship leader about the songs we sing. He said he was tired of a certain song and I chimed in that I was tired of many of the songs we sing. He said he wasn't really tired of them, he just wanted to have more variety. We proceeded to start the service and I stood in my normal position on the left side of the stage, behind the keyboard.

I played and sang along and noticed the young lady visiting for the first time. I only knew her name and that she had just gotten out of jail. She obviously didn't know the words, but it didn't seem to matter. She was listening intently, singing some, bowing her head some, crying some, raising her hands some, and nodding in agreement.

It was the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time. When you are in the ministry, this is one of those moments you live for. You give everything you have over and over again for moments like these.

Those songs that I said I was tired of, now had new meaning. I had a new perspective.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's new?

Mandi, my 8 year old, can bake a loaf of bread, by hand, from memory, all by herself. It turns out great!

Levi has started reading classic literature for pleasure, like Robinson Crusoe, Sherlock Holmes, and Kidnapped.

Mandi led worship at church last week. Our worship leader was out of town. She played the piano and sang 4 songs. She even played quietly while her daddy was praying. I wanted to do that at her age but didn't have the confidence. She is very comfortable doing it.

I am so enjoying being frugal. It leads to a much simpler life and I get so much more done. We are eating healthier, spend more time together and the kids are learning more about living real life. I keep thinking about how lazy we Americans are. We will pay people to do so many things that we could easily do ourselves. We pay people to entertain us, when we could probably have much more fun if we would do it ourselves and we would be more connected to the ones we love. We pay for people to cook our food. I am noticing how often we buy plastic in various shapes and forms. I am thinking about toys, containers, office supplies. The list goes on.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

All Stars

Mandi and Levi both made the All stars this year. We had two tournaments today. One here and the other an hour away. I stayed here with Levi. He had a 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00 game. The last one had rain delay, so we were there until 6:30. Levi didn't play much. He is more of a substitute player.

Dick went with Mandi. She had a 10:00 and 2:30. Dick said she played very well. She plays second base and made some great catches and throws to get people out. She slid under the ball to be safe at second. I could tell Dick enjoyed helping to coach her team. They didn't win the last game but played really well.

We do it all over again next week and the next week. I am glad that someone is enjoying it. I
think I would if it wasn't so hot. I won't leave my dog out in this weather, but somehow we have to stay out in it all day long. The things we do for our kids.

Lyla 4 months

Lyla is changing everyday. Yesterday, she learned how to undo the latch on the gate outside. She was so excited when she ran into the front yard. She ran in huge circles non-stop. Then when I put her in the crate, she somehow undid the latch on it, too.

She was doing so well on her walk, but things are changing. Grace came home with the dog tags in her hand. Lyla had pulled so hard on the leash, she had stretched the metal ring into a skinny u-shape and broke free. She wanted to play with the dog next door.

That was the day I told Levi it was time for him to start rollerblading with her. He loves anything that makes him go fast and he is very good on skates so Lyla is a perfect fit. He is supposed to take her once or twice a day and then when we walk Lyla, she will have some of her energy used up.

Lyla still has to be on a leash around new people, especially little ones. She wants to play so much it hurts (them).

She can officially destroy anything she gets her teeth on. My Mom's shoes were gone in no time.

If she knows or thinks we have food, she is a perfectly well behaved dog. So, I am constantly looking the the next great treat for her. I am applying what I learned in a behavior modification class I took when Grace was 2. Reward good behavior and gradually, randomly take away the reward, until they do not know when they will get the reward, but continue the behavior in the hopes that this will be the time.

I am hoping Lyla helps me get in shape. As I said before, the Dog Whisperer says that a dog need two 45 minute walks a day. We are working up to that with her. She gets 2-4 short (10 min) walks a day. Sometimes I jog part of that time, which I would not be doing if Lyla didn't need it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pass the Puppy

My aha moment came when we were at Lyla's puppy class. It was time to play pass the puppy. All the puppy owners sit in circle and pass their puppy to the next person. This is to get the puppies used to other people touching them. I was panicking. Lyla tends to get mouthy if she gets over stimulated. She did and I panicked.

Then the instructor noticed Lyla's behavior and calmly said, " Lyla is done. It is time for her to go back to Mommy. She is not ready to be is such a large circle." I knew this was true. I know my puppy.

Next, I had a flash back to the days when we first got Lyla and I realized how far she had come. She no longer is like a tornado when we put the leash on her. Most of the time, she is calm and polite with us, instead of drawing blood on the kids and bringing them to tears.

We had invested so much time into Lyla, and we knew what she was capable of and what was a challenge for her. I knew that the pass the puppy game was going to be too much for her. I am able to see the small steps she makes and celebrate, because I have taken the time to know my dog.

I think that many people don't have anyone who takes the time to know them where they are. They do not have anyone who knows them well enough to celebrate the small steps they take and encourage them to keep taking steps.

Today, in puppy class, Lyla almost made it all the way around the circle and I am celebrating!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Levi Came in Fourth Place...

In the Lake County Library Bookmark

His entry is here

Out of 800 entries in his age group!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Who's the boss?

This is what we are teaching Lyla. So far she seems to get that I am the boss, but she thinks she is the boss of the kids. They are scared of her if she gets in one of her aggressive moods. She is playing, but she thinks she is dominant. We are learning how to show her otherwise.

Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer, says the most important words to remember when owning a dog are Exercise, Discipline, Affection in that order. The exercise comes from at least two daily long walks, the discipline comes from rules, boundaries, and limitations, and the affection is hugs, and cuddles or the part that we want to do first.

We are working on getting the walk down. Who would have thought that just getting a puppy used to a leash would take over a week. She still doesn't always cooperate on the walk, but at least she doesn't attack the leash and look like she is a tornado.

Lyla knows that she has to sit to get what she wants- food, to come inside, a treat. She has learned to come when called (most of the time). She is learning that the person goes in or out the door first. She is not allowed to roam all over the house. She is either in her crate or she is is a small gated area in the living room. And of course, she is learning to potty outside and not in the house. She is doing well for us, but did not do well at my parent's house when the watched her for us.

We have no problem with the affection part.

She gained 2 pounds in one week and now weighs 12 pounds.

We are aliens in this world. 1 Peter 2:11

This was the t-shirt that our family and another family wore to Epcot. The shirts were lime green and on the front they had 3 eyes. Over and over people asked, "Why the eyes?" We would show them the words on the back and you could immediately tell if the person was a Christian. One lady said, " You are speaking my language." Other responses were "O-o- o K-k-k?" " That makes sense, I guess?" People tried to act like they understood, but if they didn't get it you could tell. I want to come up with a way to respond that would lead a person to Christ and not just confuse them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's on my mind?

-We are getting Lyla, our boxer puppy, on Saturday. We saw her today. She is so cute. I have read so much about training puppies that I am tired of reading about it and ready to do it. I don't think Grace tires of studying dogs. I think she has found a passion.

-Mandi wrote a worship song and played and sang it in church. It was beautiful!

-Baseball season has started. Dick is coaching 2 teams, and helping coach another team. We have games every weeknight except Wed. Levi, Mandi, and Olivia are playing.

-The Sunday after our church dinner, we had four visiting families. We are having another dinner the end of this month.

- I think I need to do a student led unit study with Mandi. She usually has good ideas and learns better if it is her idea.

Alien Kids

This Sunday, we start a new series in children's church. It is really more than a new series, really a revamped children's church. Every so often, I get inspired to redo the way we do things in children's church. So a few months ago, I started researching and planning. We will be using High Voltage Kids Ministries Curriculum and the first series is Alien Kids. We will be learning how we are different as Christians. I had invitations made with the Alien Kids logo. The kids were excited when I gave them out last week. I told them to invite their friends and they will earn points to spend in our new prize store. They will also earn points by coming, winning games, memorizing verses, and participating. Right now, we have less than 10 kids on any given Sunday. I am expecting and praying for at least 20 kids to attend Alien Kids.

I think about those kids while I am looking for new music, buying the Alien themed gifts to give them each week for coming, studying the lesson, finding puppeteers and actors, designing and ordering t-shirts that they can earn, and planning the decorations.

I need to finish this post because, it is time to finish preparing for Alien Kids

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thanking God for an amazing night!

Last night, we had a church dinner. We usually only have them on holidays or special occasions. But this dinner was just to bless the community. Our church meets at the civic center of our small town, which is in the heart of downtown. Dick and I have had a burden for this small area of working class families. Over the past 5 years, a few families have visited, several kids have become regulars or come when they feel like it. But nothing like the vision God has given us.

If you have worked in a church for any length of time, you know that just having a desire and working hard does not always draw the people you are trying to reach. Many times, you plan, work, pray and then nobody or very few people come to your event. It is hard not to give up. You pray for wisdom and keep working. That is what we have been doing for the last 5 years.

After our Christmas dinner, two of our members, were impressed to start having once a month dinners to bless the community. It was a great idea, but a little scary. What if we invested all this time and money and then nobody came. We decided to try one or two and then decide if we would continue.

Well, last night was the first one. We planned for 100 people. Fifteen minutes before we were scheduled start, we had about 15 church members there and maybe 15 guests. We were thinking about what we were going to do with all that chicken. 6:30 came and the people started pouring in. We lost count at 75. Remember, only 15 of that 75 were our church, and that was including 6 kids. The rest were families from our little downtown. There were smiles all around ! It was a sweet evening of good food and good conversation. One of our church members stated it best, " We wanted people to feel the love of God and I think they did. There was such a sweet presence here tonight and I think that people felt it."

One family in our church, accomplished in a few days, what we have been trying to do for years. The L's own the convenience store across the street from the civic center. It is the only one downtown, so just about everyone who live downtown shops there regularly. Almost all of the people that came to our dinner, came because the L's invited them. It was wonderful to see Mrs. L light up as her friends came through the door and she hurried to greet them. She made sure they had enough to eat and introduced them to the pastor and friends.

I can't wait until our dinner next month!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mandi plays Jackson Blues

We just decided to add the rhythm tracks today. Fun!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mandi singing and playing Honey Dew

I have changed

I have never considered myself a dog or animal lover. We did have a few cats and dogs when I was growing up, but mostly, I just hated having to clean up after them. I vowed to never have an indoor animal when I grew up. My kids came along and at first, a pet was out of the question. I was too busy taking care of them to take care of a pet. I knew that the day would come that we should get a dog for the kids, but I was not looking forward to the day.

About 7 years ago, Dick told me that his mom wanted us to come over because she had a surprise for us. The kids were thrilled to see a 4 month old basset hound puppy sniffing around Memaw's front yard and even more excited to find out that she was ours. She was an outside dog, but I still got mad because she knocked over Mandi all the time. She eventually outgrew that habit and the kids started playing with her more and were proud of her because she was so cute and funny.

By the time she was about 4 years old, we began letting her in the house when we were playing with her and she did fine. Grace started taking Rosie on regular walks and they all played with her more and dressed her up and played chasing games with her.

When Rosie was 6 years old, she was playing with the kids and hurt her back and became paralyzed in her back legs. What followed was 2 1/2 gut wrenching months of hoping, praying and working my tail off. I did things I never thought I could or would do, all because the vet said there was hope she might get better. Her last visit to the vet, was sad, but obviously had to be made.

Last week, I was talking to a friend, and realized for the first time, how much I appreciated all that Rosie taught me. She showed me that I was a stronger person than I thought I was. That I could see what needed to be done, find out how to do it and do it. I could do gross jobs. I could do a job, even if I wasn't an expert at it. It needed to be done and I was the one to do it. She stretched me as a person, in a different way than having kids did.

She changed my kids, too. They learned about compassion, first hand. They learned that Rosie was still the same Rosie, just not able to move her back legs. They also learned that we do what needs to be done, even if it is unpleasant. They learned how much Rosie meant to them and what a miracle the ability to walk is, even for a dog.

Now, in about one month, we will be bringing home an 8 week old boxer puppy named Lyla. We have been reading and watching videos about how to choose a breed, find a puppy, and train a puppy. I have gained an appreciation for a good breeder/owner who gives the puppy a good start in life. I keep finding myself being excited about things I never thought I would be excited about. And the best part is that I am sharing it with my kids. We are excited together and it is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What to do with Mandi?

The pediatrician told me, "You're going to have your hands full with this one." Mandi was a 6 month old who could crawl, jump on the bed, and get my keys out of my purse with no thought at all. At 7 1/2 months, she could go from a squatting position to a standing position without holding on to anything and then stand for several minutes. She did this repeatedly for a full month before she took her first steps at 8 1/2 months.

I knew she was ready to potty train, when at 26 months, she informed me, "Mom, I'm pooping. You got any wipes in the car?"

If she wasn't pouring her own juice, she would tell me after I offered her a drink, "Mom, now you say, 'Mandi, which juice do you want?'"

She won a coloring contest at 2 1/2 and loved rhyming words at 3.

When she started kindergarten, she completed her handwriting book in 2 days and went from not knowing all her letter sounds to reading at a second grade level in about 4 months.

In first grade, she started writing poems, wanted to start cursive writing, started playing the piano by watching me, and amazed people with her golf and baseball ability.

Now, in second grade, she finished her English book by Christmas and was advanced in her math skills, but she was getting bored with our routine.

So, over Christmas break, I came up with a new plan for Mandi. One that involved time and space for her to create and learn as quickly or slowly as she needed. As we are beginning to implement it, I hear her saying things like, " Oh, I have an idea!" or "I like this book better than that one. Can I read it again, Mom?" or " Before we studied the continents, I wasn't that interested in them, but now I am noticing them every where."

And yesterday, she was so excited that she learned to play Amazing Grace on the piano in one day! Today she learned to sing and play the first verse and is now determined to learn every verse. I know she won't stop until she does.

She is enthralled with Monet right now and wants to do a painting of water lilies and wants to go to Paris to see Monet's garden.

Can you guess that WE are having fun in school again?

A God story from our past

Dick reminded me of the time he was a youth pastor and he and the youth group boys were redoing the roof for the music pastor. They had just climbed up on the roof and were assessing the situation, when Dick noticed something strange.

He saw a dove walk toward the skylight and get electrocuted. Evidently, the skylight was leaking and conducting electricity.

Dick believes that God sent the dove to warn the group. They quickly got off the roof and didn't come back until it was safe.