Friday, June 13, 2008

In just one week

So much can happen (or change) in just one week. A week ago I was looking forward to all that Summer brings and the many plans I had made. Today I am just thankful. Thankful for so many little things.

Last Tuesday morning, our community experienced a horrible and much more devastating flood than anyone expected.
I have lived through the effects of earthquakes, wild fires, and even riots, but never a flood. There is something very very different with water flowing wherever it chooses to go and absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

My husband and I moved about the community on Monday evening trying to reach everyone in our church who lives in the flood zone. It was amazing to watch the community work together to help one another prepare their basements, empty their refrigerators before losing power, sandbag their property, and safely evacuate their homes. It was also difficult to watch families leave their homes not knowing what they would find when they returned.

Monday night we had trouble sleeping. We prayed for those we helped that day, for those we didn't, and for a community we are trying to reach.

Tuesday morning we awoke early. There was one family we had been concerned about. We threw on some clothes and headed out the door before our children were even awake to check on them. We spent most of the morning helping to keep their garage from flooding. At one point I was carrying flood water saturated sandbags being brought up from their already flooded basement out to their garage. My friend looked at me when I went to grab the first bag as if to say, "oooh, don't get yourself all wet and ucky" and I quickly told her, "give me the bag and don't worry about it." I told her, "there is nothing else I would rather be doing". Her basement was flooded along with her washer, dryer, and freezer, I had nothing to complain about.

We spent the rest of the day delivering water, retrieving ice chests and ice for neighbors, and checking on others whose homes we could get to. We invited an older couple from the church over for dinner who had been evacuated from their home. After dinner my husband and I went back to relieve the family we had been with earlier in the day from watching over their home so that they could go and shower.

On Wednesday morning my husband and I again woke up early, dressed and jumped in the car to see what had happened over night. Much of the water had receded quite a bit, and the news of the devastation was just beginning.

My husband spent some time in prayer that morning. I loved what he shared with me. He said, "God has called me to be a shepherd. This is exactly what I plan on doing. I will continue to go out and try and get to as many people as I can. Yes, there is much opportunity for ministry at times like this, but it is not my title or even some organized church effort that is needed, but instead the ministry is to be like Jesus and truly care for the people one by one and let the church be the church." And that is exactly what he has tried to do and what the church body (both ours and others in the community) have done.

Our phones have rung constantly over the last three days of people who have been blessed by others in the church or by those who are looking for someone to touch.

The difficult thing is that we are going to flood again, probably on Saturday evening. We are praying it won't be as bad and that the rains stay away. Next week, the cleanup will continue. Some have a very long road ahead. We will take every effort as a church to bring some relief. I was in contact with two women today who I could see the weariness on their faces over the uncertainty and the huge work that was in front of them all while not living in their own home. I agreed to walk alongside them through prayer and cleaning throughout the weeks to come.

I have been praying Psalm 33 today...

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars ; he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth-
15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you

Friday, June 06, 2008

Welcome Summer!

  • We slept in...(thunder, lightening, and wind last night helped a lot!)
  • My morning quiet time was not so quiet
  • I have already listened to two or three (I lost count) disagreements
  • Pancakes were the breakfast of choice this morning and the kitchen looks like it.
  • My house has been invaded. Every room has the remnants of a school year completed.
  • My son informed me this morning that his shoes have had holes in the bottom of them for the last two weeks, but it didn't matter because his 5th grade class still won the kick-ball tournament.
  • The three year old is thoroughly confused and doesn't understand why he can't watch his usual dose of Dora the Explorer.
  • The kids have asked 138 times if they can go to the pool

Welcome Summer!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Summer Planning Link

The Girl Talk blog (my first regular blog read) has some great posts on Summer. They fit perfectly with what I have been talking about here, here, and here. Only they say it so much better.

Preparing for Summer ~ part 3

I mentioned here my desire to make memories during the summer months and I shared here that having a plan is more for me than for my kids.

Summer provides us with lots of time with our kids. And the question for me becomes, "how am I going to use it?"

One approach may be to schedule our kids with lots of organized activities. There is certainly no shortage of camps, classes, groups, and other events that compete for our sign-ups. It is literally possible to keep your child very busy through organized group activities all summer long.

Our personal approach is to focus on just a few things. Each year proves to be very different depending on what is going on and what we are planning for vacation. One year our summer seemed to revolve around three pairs of black goggles. My three oldest kids received goggles as a gift and they became part of their sun kissed faces. They lasted all summer and went with us everywhere. They even had special hooks in the garage where they hung with their towel. They went with us to the pool, the river, and the lake. This was also the year we worked through a fun kids devotional. My kids were 11, 8, 6, and 3. The three older ones could sit and read together. It was a very fun summer.

This year my plan is simple. We will have daily bible study and reading. My girls are excited to do some studies with me personally. We have set aside time in our week to accomplish this. The kids are choosing one "classic" from our own collection to read this summer. My husband bought this book to read in the evening before bed with everyone. This is a favorite summer tradition. Hunter will be making his way to the library to join the Summer reading program.

The kids made a list of potential summer activities . My only request was that they couldn't cost anything or very little. This became a fun exercise in creativity and an opportunity for us to talk about saving and spending with our kids. We have set up simple ways the kids can earn money this summer. We have made envelopes for tithing, saving, and spending. They will have to earn all their own money for treats at the pool etc. I think we have a theme here. The kids want to clean out toys and other stuff and even hold a garage sale.

I don't have a calendar filled with activities and places to go. I want the kids to hop on their bikes and ride to the community pool most days. I have not signed them up for any classes, but I do hope to see them grow in their relationship with the Lord. They are not taking any type of lessons, but we hope to learn a lot about saving and spending.

I have a plan. The plan should allow me to make the most of my time this summer with my kids. It is my prayer that many days will be spent relaxing, sipping ice tea and enjoying the fellowship of one another.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Preparing for Summer ~ part 2

I began what I refer to as Summertime planning several years ago. When my three oldest kids were young, I remember wanting the summer months to look different than the rest of the year even before my kids were in school. I set out to create some plans so that we could enjoy the outdoors and as many water activities as possible.

As my kids grew, the planning had more to do with me, than the kids. During the school year I had a routine. Once the kids are home for summer or finished with their homeschooling, my days (or routine) changed. And I found when I didn't have a plan, I became easily frustrated.

My plans have changed a bit each year as the ages, abilities, and needs of my kids change. We also now live in a very seasonal climate, so the need to take advantage of the warm weather is crucial. Below is a list of things that I have prepared for the summer in order to make the most of our time together, the warm weather, and my kids being home.

But before you think I am some kind of crazy person, let me also tell you that I am a lover of spontaneity. Some of the best times have been very spontaneous. But in order to take advantage of the unexpected or the last minute invitation for fun, I find that having a plan only makes those times all the more fun. Notice that I have not called this our summer schedule but rather a summer plan. A schedule sounds rigid and not so fun, but a plan just says to myself, if nothing else, I have a plan.

  • Spending time with the Lord ~ The kids being home from school changes the morning routine and it would be easy to miss my time in the Word. But this is the season I need it most. So, getting up early and spending time with the Lord is a one of my first priorities. I am not attending or teaching a bible study through the summer, so personal study time is necessary. Last year, I tried having my quiet time mid-morning and it just didn't work.

  • Menus ~ I have planned my meals for the entire summer. Basically, I have about fifteen meals or so that I just repeat. Super easy, super simple meals. Lots of grilling, sandwiches, easy salads and fresh fruits and vegetables. Last week we began the six week marathon of baseball and softball games four nights a week. I don't have to think about what's for dinner. Again, this is not rigid. If we are invited out, or we want to have someone over, we will adjust accordingly. I have learned I don't want to think about what's for dinner or be running to the store. I buy differently in the summer so that I am not at the grocery store very much. My freezer is full of prepared meals and meats that just need to be added to something. The past couple of years I often felt that my kitchen had a revolving door. So to help with the feeling that I stand in the kitchen all day making sandwiches and controlling the consumption of snacks, we are going to try something new. (I will let you know how it goes)

  • Housework ~ Throughout the school year my kids have simple chores that they are responsible for. Most have to do with their own rooms, taking out the trash, and dishes. But during the summer months I completely involve the kids in keeping everything done. We take time each day to work together and everyone has their own Google calendar set up with what they are responsible for that day. It will only take about fifteen minutes and maybe thirty on Saturday mornings. It is also my opportunity to show them how much work goes into caring for a home and how to do certain things properly.

Just in case you have some image that my home is sitting in perfect order waiting to receive my children for a summer filled with sunshine and fun, let me assure you that as I look to tomorrow (the last day of school), I might be tempted to scream, "I am not ready." Perfection is not my goal, but rather an environment that allows me to enjoy the season. They will be home on Friday, and there will still be several loads of laundry that I haven't finished folding, dust that I have not touched, closets that haven't been cleaned out and floors that need to be mopped. But I have five kids all day to myself for almost three months...and I plan to enjoy them.

to be continued...

Wordless Wednesday ~ Ready!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Book Review ~ Skizzer

I have a funny little story to tell you about this book. I had begun reading the book myself when one day the book suddenly disappeared. For several days I had no clue where the book had walked off to. I checked in the usual places where I have a tendency to leave books, and no Skizzer. I had all but given up when one evening I went in to turn my oldest daughter's lamp off in her room and found her completely engrossed in the book. I chuckled to myself realizing I should of known that she was the culprit to the missing book. I asked her if she was enjoying my new book and she mumbled "yea" barely taking a break from running her eyes back and forth on the pages.

When she finished the book I asked her what she thought. I loved her response, "It is one of those books that won't let you put it down. I felt like I was there, I wanted to know what was next, and you know how I love a good mystery mom?"

It is not often that I have an opportunity to read fiction, but when I do, I love it when a book allows my senses to experience the smells and the sounds of the places the words take you. A.J. Kiesling's, Skizzer would provide pure enjoyment for anyone looking for a fun Summer read.

About Skizzer: After receiving news of her sister Becca's abrupt disappearance, Claire Trowling must piece together the shadowy remnants of a past she's long forgotten in order to find her. A cryptic note scrawled in Becca's handwriting leaves more questions than it answers. When a stack of mysterious letters bound by a rare necklace is found, Claire races to discover the secrets that hold her family captive. Suspenseful and full of intrigue, Skizzer takes you on a transcontinental hunt for answers, weaving seamlessly between the distant past of childhood and the urgency of the present.

This debut novel from Kiesling is a quick and engaging read with plot revelations meted out skillfully enough to keep the pages turning.... [The book has] an adventurous story, a compelling protagonist and thoughtful musings on the real meaning of sisterhood." -Publishers Weekly

A.J. (Angie) Kiesling grew up loving trees and words--trees because they formed the natural backdrop and playground for her childhood years in rural North Carolina, and words because they captivated her from as far back as she can remember. When she wasn't' romping through the woods with her siblings, she might be found with her nose in a book--or lost among the shelves at the local library. To learn more about A.J. Kiesling go here. To order a copy of the book go here.

For a chance to win a $40.00 gift certificate to a restaurant of your choice go to the blog tour post and answer the following question:
"What's the most important thing you've ever lost and then found?"