Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting there and getting home again

I heard some words of wisdom from my brother-in-law that has really affected the way we traveled last summer. Basically, his mentality when hitting the road with the family is this: "Vacation starts when you leave the driveway and doesn't end until you park your car back in the garage."

There's just no reason to hurry up, stress out and make everyone's travels unenjoyable along the way waiting for the vacation to begin. Of course there are sometimes time restraints, but if these are expected the journey can still be enjoyable.

So here's some ways we've made traveling part of vacation this summer:

1) Listened to ALOT of Adventures in Odyssey together which we checked out from the library.

2) Enjoyed special-to-us snacks like stringed cheese and yogurt in a tube. Seriously, it's the little things. It doesn't take much.

3) Followed a billboard for a dairy farm in hopes of just stretching our legs and getting some good ice cream. Instead, we had a few hours of serious fun, a 4 D movie and a farm tour. Then we ate the ice cream. Go ahead- ask us anything about dairy production.

4) Stopped at a rest stop and ran off some energy on a playground.

5) With a little research on the internet, decided to stop by and visit an amazing kid's zoo for the afternoon.

6) Said yes, more than no.

7) Took a potty break at a restaurant with a play land and let the little ones race and slide for a few minutes.

8) Picked up some free maps at a rest stop. The kids colored and traced their way home.

9) Stayed in the last day to let the kids swim and play to their heart's content while I did laundry. Going to home with luggage full of clean clothes is a relaxing thought in itself! We also took a much needed nap to recoup from a week of non stop fun.

10) Grabbed bagels for breakfast on the way out town and left a meal ready in the freezer for when we got home again.

I know that our vacation time has been enriched with just a simple shift of thinking. Sometimes in the packing, planning and effort to get out the door, I've left something very important behind- the realization that I'm not blessing my family by stressing and rushing.

Life is not just the destination, it's the journey.

(Just so you know- we consider any time that we spend a night at a hotel 'vacation'. We usually take several short road trips around the Midwest tagging along as my husband works.)

This and other ideas can be found on WFMW at We are THAT Family!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sweet Victory

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2

Tonight we attended the WNBA conference finals in which our team, the Fever, won a hard fought battle. Nestled in a crowd of 18,000 it was overwhelming to hear the cheers of so many coming as if from one voice. The energy was palpable. The encouragement was constant. It was as though everyone already knew that our team had the victory even though the score remained close to the end.

I could not help but think of this passage from Hebrews. That crowd is minuscule in comparison to those in heaven- those who see clearly the reality of Christ and His accomplished work in the lives of His people. I imagine that they are like that crowd tonight- so excited to watch the action and cheering with all their might.

Sometimes, I get bogged down in this walk of sanctification. As God convicts me of my sin and calls me to holy living, I feel somewhat alone in my own head. Why is it that I always fail in the same area? Why do I have to learn this lesson again and again, Lord? It's as if at times I'm just spinning my wheels deeper into the mud. I remember sweeter times of growth and closeness with the Lord. Why can't I be there now?

As I watched the last seconds of the game unfold, I pictured a different scenerio. I was one of the players on that court and it was the crowd of God's people calling out:

"Monica, God's promises are true!"

"You are God's very own!"

"The victory is ours!"

"Don't give up!"

As the final buzzer rang, the crowd rushed the the floor and the streamers drifted down from the ceiling, I nearly cried. It was not for the victory of the basketball game, but the profound realization that one day my race will end in glory.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

School Days

We are in our sixth week of school now. Today sitting on the couch I had fun photographing life as it happened around me:

Two were reading.

One was on the floor doing math.

The other was beside me learning about DeSoto while I completely enjoyed holding my niece.

And the others, well, I'll let you see for yourself.....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rejoicing and Reflections

There is much to rejoice about today. Although the yesterday's procedure was a bit more painful than I anticipated, it was so evident to me that God's hand was in it all. Perhaps this was most evident in the doctor's assistant, Annie, who comforted me through the process by her kind words and reassuring touch. We ended up having a great conversation about the Lord and His goodness to our families.

I'm reminded again that being in the health care profession really is a means to ministry. For the individual undergoing a medical test or procedure, they are in a particularly vulnerable position. Thus, they are often open to the comfort and words extended to them. There are few other places in our culture where is would be the norm.

I'm also convicted again about my own preconceived ideas that I place on my patients. Often when a procedure that is supposed to be relatively painless results in a patient's great discomfort, I can be quick to dismiss that as an overreaction in the midst of my busyness. But after my experience yesterday, I can testify differently. For me, what was supposed to be minimally painful was anything but. Even today my neck is really sore, swollen, and uncomfortable. Lesson learned.

The pathologist was kind enough to let me stay to hear his preliminary report. He found nothing suspicious in the nodule itself. We are praising God for such a good reports as this! I'll return my doctor in a week to figure out the next steps.

I am so thankful for the Lord's sanctifying work in my life. He loves me enough to choose the hard things to teach me and grow me up in him. If I had to choose a "life verse" it would be Psalm 139:23-24. I memorized it at a retreat in middle school and daily since it comes to my mind and settles in my heart. Yesterday was no exception.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

-Psalm 139:23-24

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Biopsy Day

Today I will undergo testing for a large thyroid nodule that came to my attention this summer. At first, I thought that maybe I was just getting an old woman neck. But when I realized that women aren't supposed to have Adam's apples and that other people noticed it, too, I figured that my time had come.

You see, nurses are either hypochondriacs or the worst patients ever. I tend to be the latter, which means that without something growing out of the side of my head, I'm not likely to pursue medical treatment. I figure, "It's not nearly as bad as that one thing I saw that one time...." Then I distract myself with that story for a while and push it all aside.

The doctor didn't hesitate in ordering a biopsy, which was expected. I'm not exactly thrilled about having a needle placed in my neck multiple times, but it certainly isn't the worst scenario. I will receive the results in another week and a half.

This really is the first time that I have been faced with my own mortality. There have been a few memorable near miss car accidents. Those lasted but a split second and left me with weak knees and a racing heart. This has been a bit different. It's the reality that this body truly is just a tent. Just a temporary house that will be declining in its own ways through the years.

I could easily use logic to get me through this process. Oh, I've studied the facts. 90% of thyroid nodules are benign. Thyroid cancer rarely spreads, if so it is usually in those over 70. Otherwise, this cancer's treatment is fairly uncomplicated and highly successful.

But, honestly, I don't want to miss the opportunity to grow in my faith regardless of the outcome of today's tests. I've been coming back to these verses, ones that I've known for years, and asking for deeper understanding.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. -Romans 5:1-5

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Phil 3:14

Saturday, September 5, 2009


My morning paper delivered by Joseph himself. According to the news, John and Rebekah are playing and eggs are free. (I think someone wants breakfast.)

Math games with dad and Saturday chores in progress.

Lydia has declared that this is the year to "find my style". We had fun dressing her up with a bag of hand-me-down clothes.

7:30 am volleyball match with the neighbors before the bus comes and homeschool starts. It's amazing how motivating a new toy in the backyard can be.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The End of an Era

For the past decade in the corner of our living room has set this lovely basket, a gift from my mother-in-law. It has been there dutifully containing all things needed for changing diapers. The sound of its lid dropping is as familiar as the sound of the door closing. By my estimation it's opened about six times a day and then shut again.

Lately, the basket has been a bit neglected. Big John has nearly completed his training. I have to admit that after nearly thirteen years of changing little pants, I am a bit saddened by the whole thing. There's just something precious about those little legs and dimpled bottoms that I'm going to miss. But in another way it is a time of celebration. Independence. Growth. An important phase of training completed.

I woke up Sunday afternoon from my nap to quite a surprise! The basket was packed for its first
official picnic. The kids had done it all themselves- sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and even fresh baked cookies.
Many people comment what it relief it must be to no longer have to buy diapers. Honestly, it's been a strain at times to purchase diapers month after month. I'm figuring we have spent $7000-$8000 on diaper supplies through the years. But you know what? There's no price tag for the songs that have been sung, the trust that has been built, the bellies that have been tickled and the toes that have been kissed through the simple act of changing a diaper. Those moments are priceless.