31 December 2007
I really prefer to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead. I know its kind of cliche, but its true. Since we started sending a Christmas letter, it gets my reflections started early. It is so wonderful to retrace a year, and see God's hand of blessing pour over us each month. Sure, there were difficulties, but overall, I remember the blessings, the lessons, the milestones. The further I walk on this path (and man, do I have a long way to go), the more confident I am of the goodness of our Father. A quiet confidence that He is leading my every step. That He is guiding my family through the leadership of my husband. This year I have seen it abundantly, and I am eager to see His hand in the year to come.
Of course, I cannot look ahead to 2008 without thinking about the upcoming deployment. I don't want to live the next couple months in a "countdown" mode, but at the same time, I don't want to take this time for granted either. Its a crazy balance to find, and I am so thankful that we don't have to do it alone. Our God is so good in giving the wisdom that we need.
Another thing I can't help but think about in 2008 is Wilson starting school. It barely seems possible that my baby is old enough for kindergarten...and yet each day, one more thing happens to confirm that he, indeed, is growing up.
As I reflect, there are areas that I hope to improve in the year to come as well. I want to read more books to the boys. I want to clean the house a bit more effectively. I want to encourage my husband more. And I want to savor more moments. I love new beginnings, I love the anticipation of what is to come. The hope of the future is a beautiful thing, and the future is just a day away. Look back on 2007, make a mental list of the many, many good things that have happened in your life. Look ahead to 2008, savor the moment of wondering what good things will come your way. Ask God to prepare you for His blessings, and then savor them as they come. They will come, regardless of your situation, regardless of the challenges you may face, His blessings will come.
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13
How can we achieve financial freedom? What must we do according to God’s plan?
1. Transfer Ownership
Christians must transfer ownership of every possession to God. This means money,
time, family, material possessions, education, even earning potential for the future. This is
essential to experience the Spirit-filled life in the area of finances (see Psalms 8:4-6).
We must realize that there is absolutely no substitute for this step. If we believe that we
are the owners of even a single possession, then the events affecting that possession are going
to affect our attitudes. God will not force His will on us. He will not input His perfect will
into our lives unless we first surrender our wills to Him.
However, if we make a total transfer of everything to God, He will demonstrate His
ability. It is important to understand and accept God’s conditions for His control (see
Deuteronomy 5:32-33). God will keep His promise to provide every need we have through
physical, material, and spiritual means, according to His perfect plan.
It is simple to say that we will make a total transfer of everything to God, but it’s not so
simple to do. At first, we will experience some difficulty in consistently seeking God’s will in
the area of material things, because we are so accustomed to self-management and control.
But financial freedom comes from knowing God is in control.
What a great relief it is to turn our burdens over to Him. Then, if something happens to
the car, we can say, “Father, I gave this car to You; I’ve maintained it to the best of my ability,
but I don’t own it. It belongs to You, so do with it whatever You would like.” Then look for
the blessing God has in store as a result of this attitude.
2. Become Debt Free
A Christian must get out of debt altogether. Again, let me define a scriptural debt. Debt
exists with any of the following conditions.
- Payment is past due for money, goods, or services that are owed to other people.
- The total value of unsecured liabilities exceeds total assets. In other words, if you
had to cash out at any time, there would be a negative balance on your account.
- The family’s basic needs are not being met, producing anxiety in the area of financial
30 December 2007
Santa brought the boys Coaster Cars, you can check them out here if you are interested in them. They love them! Brad and I have had fun too, but have to take a break as we have pulled a few **ahem** groin muscles. Walker loves to have a passenger, but is getting better and better at making it go himself! We even tried them outside today for a bit. We would've never thought of them, and certainly wouldn't have bought two. That Santa sure knows his stuff! (For the really curious, my mom bought them, but don't tell Wilson)
**On another note...do you like the piggies and pinwheels??? I thought we might need to add a little patriotism to the blog as we prepare for the deployment!
I told you about our friends moving in. Today we walked down to the park. Then they stopped by afterwards. I was making Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie for dinner (pretty fool proof), so I doubled the recipe and asked them to stay. (The movers haven't moved them yet, they just have some essentials at their new house now). So we had dinner and were chatting, when there was a clatter and crying. Gavin fell off the recliner and hit his head on the tile floor. The kind of fall, that results with an immediate bulging bruise on the forehead, and a bit of blood from the nose. Thankfully, he is ok. They took him to the ER (both Dads thought it would be fine, both Moms wanted reassurance). They did do xrays, but Nicole just called and said he is fine. Just a big bump and a black eye. For those of you that don't remember, Gavin broke his arm at our house this summer... I hope they don't regret the move!!!!
28 December 2007
26 December 2007
Walker just being a cutie, in spite of his fever...
A quick spin with Walker before Brad headed to work this morning...
and Wilson going for a spin, exhibiting some road rage it seems!
25 December 2007
...the PJ pants on...although a bit shrunk...
Time to dig in!
I did not know what to expect of a Christmas like this. How would we ever teach our kids that "its not about the gifts" when all the people that sent gifts were so very far away? I think we came up with a good solution and we had a wonderful day. We found pictures of everyone that sent gifts and put them in a bowl. Throughout the day, Wilson would choose a picture from the bowl and we would open those gifts at that time. Of course, there were a couple grouches by the time it was all over, for some reason, nap time didn't quite work out today! Thankfully they are tucked in; in new Cars jammies, new Cars sheets (for Walker), and new Cars quilts--handmade by Great Grandma Kruizenga! We plan to put a slideshow together of pictures from throughout the day. I hope you all had a blessed Christmas day!
24 December 2007
23 December 2007
Walker was nearby most of the time...
Wilson was a little surprised that Walker was eating the decorations...
The end result!
21 December 2007
"Eat the frosting...I just can't stop thinking about it!" he replies emphatically.
"You only have two cookies left, then you can eat it..." I tell him.
20 December 2007
I wish I had scratch and sniff options for this picture... WOW! Learn from my lesson, always test your great ideas first!!!
19 December 2007
In other news, Wilson has hand-foot-mouth disease. Poor kid. Anyone have experience with this one? I guess its fairly harmless and will pass. We will be lysol-ing Little People Land as well as Radiator Springs this afternoon... We'll make a game of it perhaps..."Light showers for most of the afternoon, with a touch of acid rain..."
And finally, I meant to put a brief post about this the other night but didn't. There is a reality show on NBC this week called, "Clash of the Choirs." There are 5 musicians that have created choirs from their hometowns competing for $250,000 for a local charity. Blake Shelton put together a choir from Oklahoma City...but technically, I guess its from all over Oklahoma. There are two Fort Sill soldiers in his choir. One of them deployed with Brad to Afghanistan and his wife is in my Bible study small group. It has been fun to watch. I thought for sure they would've been voted out after the first night (they did not do well at all), but they made it through. If you get a chance, check it out tonight and keep an eye out for Capt. Saul.
17 December 2007
Today I was Walker's shadow, not saying "NO" or snatching contraband at each turn. Rather, I was around him and I talked to him. I said it just happened, but that's the earthly explanation for God's intervention. You see, with Brad gone, the busyness becomes exasperating, and when I am exasperated, its not a great environment for my boys. And let's be reminded, Brad's (only) gone for 12 days this time, the next time he leaves it may be for 15 months. So when I am exasperated after a few days, Satan gets a foothold, and he begins to whisper, "if you can't handle a few days, how will you handle a year?" I could go on with those lies, he is the father of them after all...
I needed to go to the Post Office, yes, on the busiest day of the year. And rather than start on a bad note, I decided to skip showering...trouble always brews during shower time... Off we went. I planned ahead and brought the stroller. From there, we went to Wal-Mart where we lost Walker's second hat of the season (its going to be a long winter). I decided not to rush taking a shower when we got home, I did not want to leave the two alone for 10 minutes today. When Walker brought the deodorant out of the bathroom, I got on my knees and told him it wasn't a toy. He looked at me and tugged on his shirt. He knew it wasn't a toy. He wanted to put some on. If I had just grabbed it like normal, he would've thrown a fit and then a few more poor choices would've followed...We do this everyday, I know the drill. When he woke up too early from his nap, I laid down with him, rather than letting him wander around still tired. He fell back to sleep for another hour. When Wilson made cards for his teachers, I let Walker play with the foam pieces too (Ok, so they did go in his mouth and Muskoka's water dish, but he was there with us.) When they played in the garage, I watched from a distance. I saw Wilson aggravate him (I don't want to burst any bubbles, here, but poor Wilson has been with an exasperated Mommy and the one he can take that out on is his brother.) This time when Walker got mad, he didn't get in trouble, I intervened with a different perspective.
There are other examples from the day... I didn't get my grocery list finished, and I forgot to turn on the dryer. I haven't sewn a stitch yet and its already approaching late in my book. But--I got to have a 'debrief' in the bathtub after the boys were asleep...not a bad way to end a day really. My Father reminded me today of the way He loves. He reminded me that He called me to this place, to mother these children, to love this man--this soldier. He reminded me that He has the strength for each day, regardless of my circumstances, His strength will not run low. He will not tire, He will not leave. He called me to this place at this time.
I found a picture the other day from when I was in Africa. In it, I am standing with a woman and her child and I am wearing an Army (PT) shirt. God knew the irony that photograph would one day hold for me. Its amazing to think that when that picture was taken over 8 years ago, and I thought I was going to be a single missionary, He knew. He knew all about today, He knew my husband would one day go to Africa as a soldier. Is it just me or is that mind-blowing? And crazier yet...He knows what each and every one of my days ahead holds as well... I have a feeling that picture will become even more special as this deployment comes closer...
Anyway, its a bit of a long-winded ramble there, but I wanted to share some thoughts. I will cherish this day, its one of those days!
14 December 2007
I think Muskoka thinks the weed-eater is real!
I told you they didn't want to come in... I know its TERRIBLE to take pictures of your kids when they are crying, but it was so weird that they were both so upset about having to come eat pizza after playing in the garage...
...its not like we were at Disney World or like we were eating liver and onions for dinner!
Walker even lost a shoe out there, which we recovered today before we had to leave. So, I am happy to have discovered the goldmine in our garage.
- Dumps cereal (including milk) all over self at breakfast.
- Breaks a mason jar in front bathroom as I am stepping out of shower in back bathroom.
- Shoves DVD into VCR player at rather strange angle as I am returning to back bathroom after sweeping up broken glass.
- Rummages through my wallet while I track down shoes. (This is a real pain when you are on a cash-only budget!)
- Shoves dog biscuit into mouth while waiting for me to open garage door, while bundled up in winter coat!
13 December 2007
Here is the makeshift sewing room...I have to admit, I kind of like it. After the boys go to bed I get to sewing. Its actually pretty relaxing and enjoyable. I'm a bit surprised, I had already decided that I would abandon the pj pants if it became stressful...granted, I have only done the easy stuff....those of you that really sew are probably thinking "the whole project is easy stuff!" I have no final product yet, just three pair waiting for waistbands and hems and one pair pinned together...
12 December 2007
almost got it here...
big brother is snacking on Smarties while modeling and little brother wants in on it (these two are candy addicts and I can't for the life of me figure out where they get it from....hmmm...)
finally two subjects wearing antlers, unfortunately it turned out blurry, if you squint it looks pretty good... she was no more happy about the reindeer games than Walker!
Last night Alivia and Wilson helped frost our sugar cookies. Wow...that was an experience. Two four-year-olds, one 18 month old, and one adult are a dangerous combination...especially after you factor in the sticky, sugary mess called frosting (or icing? what's the difference?)
They had fun adding sprinkles too, although, in a few cases there were more sprinkles than cookie!
Notice the cookie bandit in the bottom of this picture. He'd try to get his little, sticky fingers on the waxed paper and give it a tug. His eyes are saying, "I WANT COOKIE" (Of course, in Cookie Monster's voice) The funny thing is, he didn't want the cookie, he just wanted to lick the frosting off...
Debbie, I do not know how you did all those years of cookie frosting with Rene and I after Thanksgiving, but I now understand a little of your impatience as the day ran on...we only frosted about two dozen cookies last night, and I was tired out!