A few days ago, feeling the “need” for something sweet, I picked up a milk chocolate candy and proceeded to open it. The candy itself was good; however, the message printed inside the foil wrapper was even better and struck me with it’s truth. The message was this: “The most enjoyable experiences are often free.” Think about it. What do you enjoy? I don’t mean the big, exciting, adrenaline-rushers of life, but the simple pleasures and joys that make life meaningful and enrich our days. What about the brilliant color of a flower, the smooth feel of a baby’s soft skin, the sound of the birds in their early-morning joy, or the encouraging smile of a friend or family member? Some people delight in witnessing the magnificent glories of a sunset or experiencing the stunning power of a thunderstorm. Others enjoy different things, such as the smell of a freshly-baked apple pie, the sound of a well-played instrument, the taste of a juicy peach, or the sight of a child doing their best to complete a task. And everyone can appreciate the caress of a cool breeze on a hot day, the satisfaction of a job well done, the relief of a clear conscience, and the gentle touch of a child’s hand placed confidingly in yours. All of these the things that I just mentioned are fairly common, everyday-type experiences, and you can enjoy them just as much as, and sometimes more than the bigger, more glamorous experiences. You do not have to go somewhere special or pay a lot of money to enjoy these things, and yet they are the things that God can use to lift your spirit, turn your thoughts to Him, and make life beautiful. Regardless of what you do or see every day, you can find things to be thankful for. God places beautiful sensations and experiences all around us, and if we will only take the time to see them, they will enhance our days and help us to appreciate each moment that He has given us to live. When your day seems to be going wrong and it seems difficult to “rejoice in the Lord” or to “give thanks in all things”, make it a point to look for something to rejoice in. God is the Creator of beauty, and we have only to look around us to see the pleasures that He has lovingly given us to enjoy. Take the time to notice and thank Him for some of those things today!
For all of you that read my previous post, Of Birds and Their Baby’s…Maybe, here is the result. After three weeks of waiting, the eggs didn’t hatch. Talk about anti-climatic! We still don’t know if we have two females or a mated pair, but we will have to wait and see. We have read that sometimes the first brood doesn’t hatch, but the rest do. Even right now the doves are starting to prepare the nest …
Recently in our area, there have been some robberies and one lady has disappeared. It has put us “on edge” and has caused us to take some extra precautions.
Yesterday, we had the privilege of going to Greenville, SC (about three hours one way) for violin lessons. While we were there, we also stopped by Brightwater Digital, the studio where we have recorded two CD’s, to check on the progress of our Christmas CD. We had a couple things we wanted to change, so we decided we’d go ahead and do it while we were there instead of having to do it over the phone. Gary Emory, our engineer, also known as “Uncle Gary” to us, worked very hard to get the project finished. We were there for about two and a half hours, so some members of the team that weren’t involved in the “mixing and fixing” rested on one of the three particularly comfortable couches. 🙂
We got done with what we needed to do, told everyone goodbye, loaded up, and were just about ready to leave when we realized that Kathryn wasn’t in the van. We thought for a minute, and realized that no one had seen her for quite a while. Amanda and I jumped out of the van and ran in to get her. We couldn’t find her, so we asked Uncle Gary and Mr. Glen Christianson (another man at the studio) if they had seen her. They hadn’t. They joined in the search and we frantically hunted everywhere – even in the area surrounding the studio. All the while, we were calling (actually, we were yelling). Thoughts were going through our heads a hundred miles a second, wondering where in the world Kitty could be and what could’ve happened to her! She was missing!! Everyone was frantic. Praying that she would be O.K. and that we would find her, we ran back into the building and started opening doors and searching again. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we heard Uncle Gary yell, “She’s in here!” We all ran to see where she was. I was met in the hallway by a drowsy, still half asleep Kitty, who had gone to one of the back rooms to lay down and had only been awakened by that last call when he caught sight of her. Uncle Gary had already called in that room once, and the door had even been open during the whole procedure, but she didn’t “revive” until the second time! The relief we felt at the sight of her was unbelievable! Her face was flushed and she was extremely shocked at the manner in which she had just been awakened. (Not to mention, a little embarrassed, as she confessed to me later on. :)) Since she normally isn’t a hard sleeper, she was either just really tired and very sound asleep, or had possibly been unconscious. We don’t know. But it’s amazing that she slept right through three of us girls and two men (none of which are known for being extremely quiet!) yelling for her!
We said goodbye once again and then we escorted Kathryn to the van to make sure that nothing would happen to her on the way there. We breathed a sigh of relief and stopped to praise and thank the Lord for His protection and goodness. It probably took fifteen minutes for our blood pressure and heart rate to get back to normal and for us to stop shaking.
We are still rejoicing and praising God for His protection over us. He uses situations like these to turn our eyes back to Him and to build our faith and trust. Oh, that we would learn to trust Him more as we go through our lives! Take a moment today to thank God for the situations He brings to our lives to draw us closer to Him. And don’t forget to cherish every moment with your family! You never know what the next minute will bring!
A couple weeks ago, we had the opportunity to take a day-trip down to Dahlonega, GA, to get some much-needed bunk beds. After getting them home, set up, and then organized into a semi-workable position, we then faced our next household project. With four extra beds, we suddenly didn’t have enough bedding, and the odds-n-ends that we DID have just didn’t quite agree with the eyes of the beauty-conscious young ladies of the house. 🙂 With the help of our favorite store and Mommy’s knack for sewing, we set about to collect and make sheets, pillowcases, pillows, comforters, curtains, etc. Then came the fun part – painting the rooms! First, we moved the couch from one of the rooms down one flight of stairs and up another for excellent muscle building :). Next we pulled all of the furniture to the center of the room, (thus creating an almost ceiling-high junk pile!!), and spread out the necessary supplies. After deciding on a lively stem green for one room, and a softer, elegant gray for the other, we spent a couple days priming, painting, and then re-painting. Mommy (the patient veteran of the process), Amanda, and Jessica got an excellent system going, while the rest of us tried to keep the house running smoothly. 🙂 When the paint was dry, Jessi and I got assigned to a delightful, tedious duty that we enjoyed tremendously! Soon, rings and dots were rapidly taking formation over the green walls, and, a little later, geometric squares were “thrown” like confetti all over the gray! This detailed painting experience helped me become more comfortable with home decoration and Jessi and I loved working together, creating beauty and having meaningful conversations. At last, the major part of the project was complete, and we enthusiastically set into (even though it was 9:00 p.m. :)) organizing the furniture, making up the beds, and getting the rooms looking decent again! It’s a good thing no one rang our doorbell at that time – the upstairs hallway, which can be seen from the front door, was the convenient spot for DUMPING anything we didn’t need in our rooms! STUFF was piled SO high that one literally had to HOP over six piles to get from one room to the next, trying all the while not to break anything valuable, including arms, legs, and other appendages! (I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but, frighteningly, it’s NOT!!!!!) What a joy it was when, the next day, all of the junk was gone, either to the thrift store or simply put where it belonged!!! 🙂 The whole process was fun, educational, and exciting, and I was blessed by the joy and originality that was portrayed while we cleaned up the official, glorified pig-sty that we’d created!! :)
One of the joys of living in a large family is all of the responsibility and diligence that must take place in order to function. Anyway, most of you could probably tell me right away what this picture is. Well, at our house, when anyone sees (or especially helps to create 🙂 ) one of these, they always refer to it as the same thing – a “MOUNTAIN” of laundry!! For you to see why we have this “mountain”, let’s have a little math lesson. There are twelve people at our house. Every day, then, there are 12 shirts, 12 skirts/pants/shorts, 24 socks, usually at least 6 pr. of pajamas, and if we all decide to wash our towels the same day, well… I’ll let you figure that out! Okay, now multiply that by 3 because we hadn’t done laundry over the weekend, and throw in several kitchen towels, numerous wash clothes, 2 dishwashing sponges, 3 more outfits for Titus, 3 bibs, 6 burp clothes, 2 baby blankets, 5 more pr. of socks because some people had stepped in water, and any other miscellaneous items that people happened to find. There. You know about how much laundry we were doing. It just so happened that that day, Amanda, who is usually our laundry lady, was off duty (in other words, at work with Dad 🙂 ). What a problem! Our personal laundry service was gone. So, I had the privilege of getting to fold these three king-sized loads, all by myself (boy, do I like working with other people!! 🙂 ), while everyone else was busy about their own duties. My first thought could be, “Great! I get to do all of this, by myself, and I even have to have it done in a certain amount of time! It’s not fair!! Why do I always get the hard jobs???” By God’s grace, however, I actually enjoyed it, got it done fairly quickly, received many “oohs” and “aahs” from the passers by at the gargantuan stacks that were rapidly piling up 🙂 , and along the way was reminded by the Lord of an important truth.
There are many times in life that it seems that there are huge mountains of things to accomplish. When we try to attack and demolish them on our own, we will quickly discover our weaknesses and find out that we, in and of ourselves, cannot do anything good. When we depend on the Lord, however, He triumphs over the situation and works through us in a way that surpasses anything we could have ever dreamed of! Jesus Christ alone must be our source of joy, strength, and power. So, even when the task seems impossible, life unfair, and the joy departed from your heart, step out in faith, trust God, and do the next thing.
August 19, 2009 5:32 a.m.
It’s still dark outside. The whole world is asleep, except for us, because we are getting ready to go to our first violin lesson with a new teacher, at a new time, and, of course, in a new place. Everything thing is still, there are a few sounds like the squirt of a not-so-new hairspray bottle, the whispering sound of a hairbrush through bed-head (or maybe you should multiply that times ten), the running of water as people attempt to get ready to go……then, it happened. The sound of two feet running up two flights of stairs, and one mouth screaming (it sounded like a dozen, by the way), “Amanda! Amanda! Amanda! There’s an egg on the nest!!!!!!” (That one person was Jessi. I think it scared her. 🙂 ) This one egg has multiplied itself by three in the past week, and it has been very interesting to see the parents interact with the shells that we’re not sure are fertile…
How It All Began
Just in case you didn’t know, last spring (2008), Amanda stole two baby mourning doves right out of their nest. Little did we know that this would lead us to where we are now. After four additional birds and lots of fun and trauma, we were left with one lone mourning dove from the original pair (all the others died, including one of the original two), which was a plus for some and a minus for others. A friend, hearing of our “woe”, gave Amanda two ring-necked doves. We certainly were not expecting to become dove breeders, but it seems that that is what we have become (I think…).
Never tamper with the wild,
Or you may end up with a child.
But not a child that you’d expect,
And not a child from the elect.
But this one child comes from a shell,
Of which there’s no more need to tell…
The Lord brings opportunities into our lives to encourage other believers and to point the unsaved to Him. Many times while serving the Lord He uses the people we minister to to encourage us to continue on in the path of life.
A few months ago, we were asked by a friend to set aside the evening of August 20 to sing at a fundraiser/appreciation dinner for pastors and individuals who have supported the ministry of Gideons International (an organization that places Bibles in hotels/motels, hospitals, doctors offices, schools, prisons, and in the hands of individuals around the world).
We prepared several songs which included instrumental pieces for the flute and violin and a couple songs that directly referred to the Bible. Much of our time on Thursday was spent finalizing the program and rehearsing one more time before performing. To be honest, the afternoon had been a little stressful and parts of the getting ready process could have been smoother.
As we continued getting ready and on the way there, God’s grace quieted our hearts and prepared us emotionally for the evening ahead. We had arrived at the church where the dinner was to be held. The overcast sky and scattered raindrops hurried us into the building with everything we would need – violins, flute, music and violin stands, music, etc. We paraded into the building, arms loaded with our belongings, and began to unpack, tune, set up, and get ready. Of course, many turned to look as we walked in, as we were the only ones with any children there, and a family of twelve all dressed alike tends to draw the eyes of people anyway. Finally, everything was ready, instruments were tuned, music was on the stands, microphones were positioned, and we sat down to catch our breath before starting the program.
We sang and played while everyone was eating. When the meal was over, we heard inspiring testimonies of how God had worked miracles in the lives of many who had received a copy of God’s Word through the Gideon’s. Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” There were so many stories that clearly demonstrated the truth in these verses; it was very exciting to hear how the Lord is using ordinary people to carry His Word around the world! We were reminded that, no matter what happens in the world around us, or what we might have been through in the past, God and His Word never change, and He will work in and through us if we let Him.
When the program was over and people were leaving, many came and told us what a blessing the music was to them. We even had a couple pastors ask us if we would be available to sing at their churches. There is a sweet peace and joy that comes when we “turn our eyes upon Jesus” and trust Him to do His work through us. Who knows where God will lead us from here, or how and when He will use us. But we praise Him for His faithfulness and grace as we strive to “be an example” and to “press toward the mark!”
We have some interesting discussions around our dinner table. In fact, they can be pretty strange. Sometimes they’re very technical. Or should I say technological. Maybe it’s both, because when we discuss technological terminology, we can get very technical. Maybe I should give you an example of what I’m talking about.
One evening a few months ago, we were sitting around the table, enjoying the remains of a wonderful meal, and doing what we do best: talking. The topic of our conversation was one that we had discussed many times before, needing a solution to a certain problem, always thinking of solutions, and never succeeding in following up on the solutions we came up with, because we didn’t know if they were really good solutions after all. It was a persistent problem, which got more frustrating the longer we waited to follow up on a solution. (It was a lesson in patience. 🙂 ) The topic: our website/blog.
So there we were, trying to figure out what in the world we were going to do about our pitiful “website”: how we were going to update it, who we were going to get to help us update it, what we were going to put on it, how we would keep up with a blog…
“WHAT is a BLOG?” someone suddenly asked. “Who in the world came up with the name “blog” and what made them do it?” Dad explained that the word “blog” is actually an abbreviation of “web-log” – in other words, a record or journal that is posted on the web. That drew everyone’s attention, and we all began to ponder the meanings of different computer terms.
“How did we come up with a “cursor”?” someone else asked with a laugh. “A “curser” used to be someone who cursed!”
“And if you think about what a “laptop” is, it’s kinda funny. A laptop used to be a place for children to snuggle with their mothers; now it’s a flat, rectangular box with buttons and lights, with a lot of wires and stuff on the inside!”
“What about a mouse?” another person volunteered. “A mouse is a four-footed little varmint with a long tail that runs around in people’s houses and makes them scream.”
“And how ‘bout RAM? A ram is a male sheep, like the ones that they used to sacrifice in Bible days.”
“OR,” some mischievous personality added, using the unfortunate sibling beside them for a demo, “it could be when I RAM into you all of a sudden!!”
Of course, everyone had to laugh at that! 🙂 It became a very intriguing conversation as we discussed how confused someone could become with all the double terms. We laughed at the very SOUND of names like “floppy disk”, “JPEG”, and “thumb drive”, and debated the origins and meanings of other terms, such as “hard drive”, “cd-rom”, and “software.” (For instance, “hardware” means tools for manual labor, but “software” is a kind of – what? A series of ones and zeros that tells a computer what to do. Huh??) Take this for an example of multiple meanings: I asked a few different people what a “bit” is. Mom’s definition was “a small piece of a yummy chocolate dessert.” Victoria said a “bit” is “a steel bar that goes into a horse’s mouth to control it.” Kathryn’s idea was a “small piece of metal that you use with a drill to bore holes.” However, according to the Daddy Dictionary of Technology, a “bit” is “the smallest increment of electronic data: a one or a zero.” Then I asked about a “byte.” Mom’s answer could be expected: “the first taste of the yummy bit!” 🙂 Jessi’s immediate thought was “what a bug does to you!” Kathryn said that a “bite” is “what the teething infant does to your shoulder.” And, last but not least, the Daddy Dictionary of Technology explained that a “byte” REALLY is “a collection of bits that form one character.” Whew! If that’s not enough to make one flumbuzzled! We could go on and on; I wanted to ask about a megabyte… but lets just say that that’s one monster mouth!
So, the next time you decide to get technical, you could think about the OTHER definitions of your technological terminology!!! Anyone have any other terms to define? 🙂
P.S. Using all of these terms makes ME feel kinda strange; I wonder what it feels like to be a REAL techno-geek?? 🙂
A few days ago, we received in the mail the monthly newsletter of the Arden Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. As I was looking over it, the article on the back caught my attention and was such a good reminder that I thought that someone else might benefit from it, too. Here is an excerpt:
“As some of you might remember, there were survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Many of these were from just some little thing that happened to them on their way to work.
- The head of a company survived because his son started kindergarten that day
- One was alive since it was his turn to bring donuts
- One was late because her alarm failed to go off
- One was late due to a traffic jam on N.J. Turnpike
- One spilled food on her clothes and had to change
- One was late because his car would not start
- One was late because she could not get a taxi
- One was late due to a blister from wearing new shoes and had stopped to buy a band-aid”
That really impacted me. I can’t stand to be late, and often I get frustrated and irritable when things don’t go exactly the way I think they should work. However, seeing delays and aggravations in the light of these examples helps me to keep the right attitude about what God is doing in my life. Sometimes God chooses not to reveal why we got stuck in that slow traffic or why we can’t find the specific book that we’re looking for, but other times He does disclose His reasons. One of the most significant of those times in my life happened almost exactly one year ago, on August 6, 2008, when God blessed me in an amazing way through a frustration. Actually, it started a little bit before that, when I began shopping for a laptop computer.
When I first started looking for a laptop, I had no idea what kind I wanted. Then, some friends showed me theirs, and I liked it, so I started looking more in that direction. I picked one out, but was disappointed to discover that the limited edition I wanted was already discontinued, and that I’d be getting a different one. It was actually a slight downgrade from what I’d wanted, and I felt disappointed at first. However, it was still much better than what I needed, so I gave the whole situation to God and was satisfied, knowing that "This, too, was from His hand." Then I had a few problems with my password; again, it was not something that I wanted to thank the Lord for. I called technical support, and, long story short, God prompted me to witness to the girl I was talking to. Although I was reluctant and scared at first, God moved in an incredible way, and it turned out that she was already saved, but needing some encouragement at that time in her life, as her family was unsaved and very unsupportive of her decision to follow Christ. We had a wonderful conversation, and I think I was even more blessed than she was, because I was the one who had seen God work out a hassle for good! If I had gotten the computer I wanted originally, and if hadn’t been having trouble with the one I did get, I would not have called the computer company, I would not have talked to that girl, I would not have had the opportunity to share Christ, and I would not have met a dear sister in the Lord! God works in mysterious ways!!!!
So next time you run into an obstacle in your life that seems frustrating or insurmountable, give it to the Lord, pray for His peace to fill your heart, and then watch to see how He moves!
Psalm 25:4 – “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thought are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
For many summers, we have had the privilege of going with some friends of ours (the Otts) to a local blueberry patch (owned by the Ott’s neighbor) to pick blueberries and stock our freezers. 🙂 We are thankful for the generosity of the owners, who let us come and pick all we want for free! Well, this week the call came that they were ready, so Mommy and all of us kids went over there to pick them. Before we went, Mommy told us that the Ott’s had invited us to go swimming when we were done! There was one catch, however: because of our schedule that day, we had to be done picking blueberries by 11:00 in order to have time to swim. And anyone who didn’t work didn’t get to swim, even if we were done by the deadline. So, when we got there, the Team jumped out of the van and set about to diligently accomplish the task at hand! Enthusiasm was prevalent, laughter was frequently heard, and Mrs. Tammy Ott even developed our own little motto for us. It went like this: “If there isn’t a blueberry under your nose, then move your nose!!” 🙂 Though it was a smaller crop than normal, we got around two gallons… well, after you count the ones that we ate in the field! 🙂
Next came the reward of our labors – the pool! We quickly went to the Otts’ house (right across the road), got changed, and plunged ourselves into the blue depths… aahhhh! It felt so good! Ever since Titus was born, we have wanted to put him in, because we have heard that if you put a baby in the pool early on, they will remember the swimming motions they used in the womb and it will actually be a lot easier to teach them. We got to put him in this time, and were a little surprised by his response: he liked it! 🙂 We also got to work with Bethany and Hannah with some of their swimming fears – things like getting water in their face, having the “big girls” let go of them, and using only one floatation device instead of two! 🙂 Susanna and Lauren worked on things like back floating, etc. The cool water was simply refreshing, and since “the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul,” we all enjoyed the reward of our labors immensely!
One thing I really appreciated about that day was how Daddy and Mommy provided a reward at the end of the project. At the FEW conference last weekend, during a session on family harmony while working together, we were challenged to find rewards for the diligent ones at the completion of a long task. Even though it would have been easier to just go home after picking, and not go through having to do all of the laundry from 10 soaked people, 🙂 when the offer came up, Mom worked it out so we could do it. Thank you, Mommy!
Special thanks to the Ott family for bringing their joy and enthusiasm to the blueberry field, letting us use their pool, and for taking the pictures for this blog post when we were so smart as to forget our camera at such a memorable time!! :)