Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Joiner Visit

Before we left Joiner, we talked about my old Sunday school class from Joiner getting together in the spring for a picnic. Well, it was a little later than spring, but on Saturday we did get together with the members of my class and a few other good friends. The kids picked up right where they left off - they were so precious and had a great time!

Even Steven let Millie hold him - and I was in the same room! I was delighted. He has grown up enough that he had a great time being right in the middle of all of the other kids.
The kids found a huge, old tree in the front yard that they just HAD to get up into! They all took turns being lifted up into the tree for pictures. Mrs. Joyce, our precious hostess, told me later that this tree was well over 100 years 0ld - probably close to 150 years!
Again, it's always tough to say our goodbyes, especially to people we may not see again this side of heaven. But it was sweet to see them one last time.

Oops again!

I just discovered a mistake I made. A couple of days ago I posted about a visit with some friends. I came to create a new post and was baffled when I couldn't find the post from Friday! Then I realized I put it on the wrong blog! I guess that's a sign that I have too many blogs! :-) Anyway, click on this link to see the post about our visit with the Shawas.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Weekend

We're home! We pulled in a little before midnight last night. Doug just left for work and the kids and I are slowly starting our morning.

After a two-hour question and answer session with the church and a short sermon (Doug was worn out!), the church voted 98% to call Doug as their pastor! The committee member who came in to deliver the results literally bounded through the door to where we were waiting and hollered, "Praise the Lord!" The general attitude of the church was the same as his - there was a great deal of excitement and pleasure that we were coming. I have to say that we were quite thrilled ourselves!

The only uncertainty about our move date is the question of when we can get into the rental house. We should be getting a phone call about that this morning and will be able to iron out those details. If the house is ready to be moved into, we hope to move the 8th or 9th of July.

Thanks for your prayers! Keep them up as the packing moves up a level in intensity. God is good!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Teeth & Houses

Greetings from Monticello, AR! Let's start with Olivia...she's more snaggletoothed than ever! The fourth gap was added Friday morning when she pushed the last loose tooth out with her tongue! This should be the last for a while!
We arrived in Monticello around 11:15 this morning, stretched our legs at the local Wal-Mart, grabbed a quick lunch, and then met our wonderful local tour guide, a lady from our church who showed us around the neighborhoods of town. True to the way God's been working lately, she had gotten a phone call from a lady she knew. The lady told her that she knew of a rental house that was about to be vacated that might be great for the new pastor! So, we made a stop there, fortunately finding the current occupants finishing up a moving sale. They'd already moved their belongings to their new house, so it was already pretty much empty. They graciously allowed us to come in and look around. It's perfect! It even has a room that Doug immediately classified as the homeschool room - as soon as he said that, the lady there said that's exactly what she'd used that room for - teaching her own five children!
We still need to actually make contact with someone about renting it, and we do need to pray that they'll let us have our kitty. But, I have a feeling none of that will be a problem! :-) (Do pray for our kitty right now - she escaped the house when Doug's friend came to look at the house this morning. So, she is outside, and doesn't seem to want our neighbors to help her! Pray that she will come to them or be okay until we get home.)

By the way, Doug's friend LOVED our house, so she and her family will definitely be renting it. God is good!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Beautiful Music

Wednesday evening Steven was wandering around the house playing with Legos and balls - generally staying busy and happy. Something triggered in my mind - something that I realized I'd heard a lot lately from him but it just hadn't clicked. Steven has started whistling! Not just blowing whistle sounds, but actually whistling notes. No real songs or anything, but it's still a neat sound.

The neatest thing about it is that it brings another memory to my mind. My dad and grandpa are whistlers. I remember both of them whistling as they worked, as they walked around the house, as they did whatever. They just whistled - still do. Steven is so much like Doug that I don't often notices things from my side of the family in him, but this is definitely something that does make me think of the men of my family. Genetics are a neat thing!

Seeing God's hand

This is a longer than usual post for this blog, but bear with me. I think it's a story worth reading!

Yesterday at MDO was plugging along quite well - busy, but not that insanity like Monday when we were missing busses. Then 10:45 hit and hit hard. My cell phone rang and it was one of my Summer Safari teachers. (Summer Safari is a summer school-age program for K through 5th grade children, operated during our normal MDO hours. We split our time between on-campus and field trip activities, with the on-campus time used to try to disciple kids in a fun day camp-like atmosphere. This is my fifth summer to be involved in the Summer Safari administration, two as an assistant and three as the primary go-to person. Now, back to yesterday...) I heard those dreaded words that anyone in charge of a field trip fears the most, "There's been an accident..." You can probably imagine the thoughts running through my head, the uppermost of which being the realization that this was Olivia's teacher calling me!

August quickly reassured me that no one was hurt and the van wasn't even really damaged. In fact, she wouldn't have even known she'd been side-swiped were it not for her son, a classroom helper, who had been sitting by the window right where the other car had run into them. Come to find out, a sweet elderly lady had become momentarily confused when a garbage truck blocked her way. Thinking our van was further down the road than it was, the lady merged into the van's lane, scraping the side of the van with her mirror.

The police were called, but it took three phone calls and an hour and fifteen minutes for them to respond. August used this time to try to discover what had actually happened, only to find that the lady in the other car was flat refusing to admit responsibility, insisting that August had run into her! August's co-teacher (a sub - of all days to have a sub!) stayed on the bus monitoring the twelve amazing children, Olivia included. After the police finally arrived, they determined that the children could not leave until everything was processed, and it was another hour and fifteen minute ordeal trying to ensure that all twelve children were entered into the system and verified and trying to establish what actually happened.

This is where the story gets neat. This is where it shows how incredibly God is trying to work with these children this summer. (Remember my post about Monday with the two Olivias in my van?) August came back to the van in a pause just to check on things, and the children were very curious as to what was going on. So, August decided to let them know what was happening. She informed them that the lady had a choice to make - to do the right thing and tell the truth, or to do the thing that might make things easier for her and continue to lie. To understand the significance of this, you have to realize that our whole summer is based on a program called Truth Works where children are learning how to make right decisions! ALL SUMMER! They are learning lessons about choosing the right thing in areas of love, purity, honesty, and many other real aspects of their lives. They are being taught to consider their choices, compare them to God, commit to His way, and count on Him to provide and protect them once they have decided to follow Him. They had just finished the lesson on honesty.

In the end, after a two-and-a-half hour wait, August came back to the van and was able to tell these children that this sweet woman had finally made the right decision! She admitted fault, even though it will be difficult for her to deal with the consequences. The children were able to see a real-life example of how hard it can be to make the right choice sometimes, but since they were on the receiving end of this choice (it was the best thing for THEM, but they had no choice in the matter), they were able to see how their choices don't just affect themselves, but many people around them.

They finally left there to get their much-needed lunch (it was 1:15!), and ended up having a much shorter time on the field trip than their friends in the other two vans got to have. As tired as they all seemed at the end of the day, none of them complained. I was so incredibly proud of those young ones - oh, and let me tell you, they were all six and seven years old!

God is working, and it's a beautiful thing to see. He's working even when things seem to be just not flowing right. In fact, He's working because of the things that aren't working right. We just have to be willing to open our eyes and ears and see His mighty hand!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coping with the packing!

There's a good bit of chaos in our house right now, as you can imagine! One thing we are VERY thankful for is the playroom! This is actually an enclosed garage that we have used for our library, schoolroom, playroom, and TV watching room. Now it is our packing room. We have moved the kids' toys and books into their own rooms to give them a haven away from the boxes. Such a blessing to be able to walk away from those boxes!

Still, we all need a bit of an escape from the whole ordeal quite regularly. Steven is getting his fill of different family members reading to him. He
takes his pick between Mommy, Daddy, and Sissy (aka Olivia), bringing a book to one of us and asking us to "read-read!"

One really cute thing about moving the toys to the kids' rooms has been seeing Steven play with his Legos in the floor of the closet. I remember when I was younger, many of our toys were stored in the bottom of my brothers' closet. I have fond memories of playing with Legos and Little People on the floor of their closet. Steven just kind of automatically picked that spot to play with his Legos, and I thought it was so precious! It brought back those sweet memories.


One other thing that has been very sweet is to see how each child has found his or her coping mechanism for escaping the chaos. You've seen Steven in the closet, so it's obvious the Legos have been a big deal for him. Olivia enjoys her books and playing with her brother and sister. Angela has enjoyed the playing, but sometimes she just has to withdraw to be by herself. This first video is just one such time! She was off by herself watching Cinderella and dancing to the music as Cinderella and the Prince danced! So sweet!
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Here are Livie and Steven playing Legos together.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quick Update

Thank you for praying with us through all the Lord is calling us to do! We go this coming Sunday (June 22) to Calvary Baptist Church in Monticello, AR, in view of a call. We will probably move the week of the 6th.

There are a lot of things to pray over, and I will be happy to share specifics with anyone interested. But, to be honest, we just have such a perfect peace about God working out the tiniest and grandest of details! The main reason I want to share the requests right now is so that I can share the answers as they come, because I know they are going to be awesome! We already have a few answers that I want to share with you...
  1. We have been praying that, above all, God would be glorified in whatever happens with our house upon our move. It has been on the market for over three weeks, but no one has even shown an interest. We have recently discovered a possible opportunity to greatly minister to a family by renting the house to them until they can actually buy it! It's a dependable family Doug knows, and they need a place to live mid-July - hmmm...about the time a certain other family is moving out of this house! :-)
  2. Doug's tuition reimbursement from UPS has been repeatedly denied, despite the pre-approval before he began his courses last summer. But, UPS recently updated their computer programming that processes the applications, and suddenly his application has been approved! There is a catch - the application is supposed to be filed within 60 days of course completion, and Doug's completion date was January 12. But, he has records of his application attempts and rejections as well as a letter stating the situation. So, there still is a need to pray that it will get the final approval, but the fact that we've made it to this new level of approval is already a HUGE answer to prayer!
  3. We have been praying for financial provision since our savings will run out when I pay bills tonight. We've also been praying individually (we just now discovered we were BOTH thinking about it!) about whether to move Doug's truck or try to sell it. Well, one of Doug's coworkers out of the blue asked Doug today what he'd sell his truck for! She's been looking for something for her son. So, Doug asked for the amount we'd need for our next set of bills between now and the move, which she considered a good price. She's going to talk to her son and husband about it and give Doug a call tonight. God knows!
I also have to share what Olivia said yesterday. When we disovered we were down from three 15-passenger vans to one for our Mother's Day Out field trip yesterday, I became one of the recruited drivers to transport kids! As we were driving back from the field trip, Olivia and the two friends riding with me (one of them another Olivia) were talking about our upcoming move. The other Olivia said, "But I don't want you to leave! Why do you have to?!" After explaining that Doug had a job down there, my Olivia said, "Most of all, it's because this is what God told us to do! And, if God tells us to do something, we have to do it because it's the best thing for us and it's showing obedience to Him!" This led to a conversation between the two Olivias about the importance of following God and obeying Him no matter what. The other Olivia commented that God's the only One who knows what's down the road, and that means His decisions are best since he can see the future. It was a beautiful conversation between a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old, and I was so incredibly proud of both of them. (Please pray that I have a chance to share this with the other Olivia's mom - I know she will share my pride in the girls!) That conversation alone makes the move worth it - two little girls made giant strides in trusting their Lord, and I wouldn't trade that for anything!

(Okay, so the update wasn't quite so quick, but I hope it was worth the reading!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cart chair

The cell phone camera quality is far from great, but I just moved this picture from my phone to the computer and I thought I just HAD to post it! This was at Sam's not too long ago - they were all waiting so patiently on the bottom of the cart while we checked out. Aren't they silly?

Will try to post more thoroughly tomorrow...been a busy few days!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Big Helper

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Steven loves to help empty the dishwasher. Of course, the only thing he can reach is the silverware drawer, so EVERYTHING goes in there! The song he is singing in the middle of the video is "Rock On, LarryBoy!" from VeggieTales' Larry Boy and the Bad Apple. It's one of the songs on the girls' wake-up cd, and he loves it!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Bear!

Doug and I were having date night Friday night - we feed the kids supper by themselves, put them to bed, and then have dinner and do something together as just the two of us. We don't often get out of the house, but we still greatly look forward to our weekly date night! Anyway, as we were finishing our supper Friday night, Olivia comes into the playroom where we were watching a movie. She said, "There's a sound like a bear in our room!" Doug responded with, "There's a bear in your room?" Olivia gave him a look and answered, "No, there's a sound like a bear in our room!" The tone and look were even clearer than the words! The look said, "Daddy, you are so silly to think there's actually a bear in our room! That would just be crazy!"

Come to find out it was a congested Angela snoring in the top bunk that sounded so much like a bear (and, she really did!), but it has started a whole new line of jokes in our household! I rolled Angie over onto her side so she wouldn't snore as loudly, and Doug cautioned Olivia about making sure Bunny stayed safe from the bear! :) Olivia, of course, got a big kick out of that! Then Doug and I returned to our movie still sharing a laugh over the fact that there definitely was NOT a bear in the room - it just sounded like one!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Learning Something New

Olivia has learned a new skill - playing Spades! She comes by it honestly - Doug and I were a formidable Spades team before we were a couple (yet another sign that we were meant to be!). She saw Doug playing a game on the computer this morning. He got up, and she sat down to finish his game. Doug and I were giving her tips and pointers, and she played two games with our help. We set up a shorter version of the game for her (to 250 points), and after playing another game this morning and a couple this afternoon, she'd mastered going nil - something she seems to love - and had played and won two games on her own. (Don't worry - computer limits are effective immediately!) Very soon I'll be getting out the deck of cards to work on nerts, solitaire, and Spades with real people.

Our Saturday

We're having a relaxed Saturday so far. The kids don't feel too well today - the girls have red throats and runny noses, and Steven and Angie are running some fever. We're praying it's something that will blow over quickly...it always seems to happen on the weekend, doesn't it? Other than more tired than usual, they don't seem to feel too badly right now. They've been playing and coloring, so I think we're going to make it.

The girls were excited this morning to discover that the strawberries we bought yesterday were from a company that supports a Christian organization ministering to abused, neglected, and homeless children. The brand is Main Street Produce, Inc.

I'm working on uploading videos of the girls saying a poem they've learned recently. Hopefully they'll be up soon!

Poems

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Silly Kids

We've had some cute moments over the past couple of days. I just realized that there's nothing of Angela! We'll have to remedy that over the next couple of days.

Steven has discovered a new jungle gym!

It's such a blessing for Olivia to be able to read. I'd read this book to Steven four times, then Sissy got the honor of reading it several more! :-) He's just now starting to actually sit through an entire book - he loves for us to "read-read" to him!

Steven and Livie in their cowboy hats - Steven's was a Larry hat. He loves Larry and Junior!

YAY!!

This was Olivia's response to the realization that Monticello, AR, does, in fact, have a library. We'd just been talking about which of her big-kids books she wanted to focus on over the next few weeks, and she decided on her Little House series and some library books. Then she grew serious and said, "We're going to have to give up the library!" She was quite delighted when I assured her that there was a library in Monticello and we would be joining it as soon as possible after the move.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Verbalizing

Steven has been talking for a while, adding words to his vocabulary faster than we can keep up sometimes! Lately, though, he has learned new concepts such as possessive pronouns and sentence formation such as "I want Daddy's d'ink (drink)!" or "I want your d'ink!" (In fact, many of his sentences involve "I want," which we're trying to redirect to include "please.")

And now other people are noticing his chattiness. His little information sheet from Mother's Day Out on Thursday stated that he had been quite chatty, with an additional little note to the side mentioning how talkative he had been - and his favorite teacher wasn't even there! Doug and I are learning the true difficulty of having a conversation - we just thought our talkative Olivia affected that. Steven in a whole new ballgame. When riding in the van the middle seat will erupt with "Mommy, Daddy!" every thirty seconds it seems! He's found something new and exciting to tell us, and he will not rest until we have repeated back what he's trying to say. We have learned that saying the typical "Oh, really!" or "Uh-huh," or "Is that right?" doesn't work for him - I think he knows that we haven't understood him if we say something like that. So, he'll keep talking about that schoolbus, car, truck, train, airplane, animal, water, rain, or whatever else until we have properly understood him. He does the same at home. Sometimes it can be exhausting, but it's also precious to hear him verbalize what his brain is processing.

Right now he's grabbing the arms of my chair and my legs so he can turn my chair around so I can play ball with him...be right back! Okay, he's done with me and off to play with Lu-Lu (Angie) for a few minutes before naptime.

I have to brag on my girls. Many kids would be devastated at the thought of packing their things at all, but especially a month in advance of a move, but my girls are amazing. They are choosing toys, stuffies, and books they want left out, but they are excited about seeing the packing progress! They are also very open to passing on so many things to other people - we really have so much, and we are working hard to learn as a family to let go of things. I really feel the Lord is honoring the prayers we've prayed for so long over the kids - praying for them to be prepared for and handle well any changes God might bring into our family.

Olivia is finishing her math for the day, and the other two are playing happily. So, I'm off to take advantage of the moment!