Friday, January 31, 2014

A Surprise in the Mail

I should have saved this until a Thursday, because then I could have been one of those "cool" people who do throwback Thursday and post old pictures. But I'm not that cool. And I was too excited to wait. My mom told me last weekend that she had something she was going to send me in the mail but did not say what it was. I thought about it some because I didn't think there was anything we had discussed that she was going to send, so I was super excited when the knock came on the door today and I found this:
This is one of my favorite pictures of my brother and I.  My mom has had it displayed for years in her house in this cute little heart frame.  Several years ago, I was going to scan it for myself, but I couldn't get it out of the frame because it was stuck to the glass.  I was so sad, knowing that I couldn't have my own copy.  Then, at Christmas, when Mom was putting away Christmas decorations and putting out the regular stuff, the frame broke.  At that point I was super sad, thinking the picture wouldn't even be displayed at Mom's house.  Apparently, my brother was able to get the picture out and they scanned it so I could have a copy!!!!

1982 at one of my aunt's weddings.  I am 3 and my brother is 5 1/2.  Aren't we cute?!  I love my little sailor-style dress (with the collar and long bow in front) and my brother's blue pants.

And as a bonus, a throwback for most of you...the flip phone on the side of the picture!  Still in use by me, of course, because I don't do anything in the same decade as everyone else.

Happy Birthday, Michael!

I love that little fishy-kissy face!
Michael, it is so hard to believe that you are TWO today!  I love watching you grow and having you a little bit closer so that I can see you more often.  I love your crazy do-it-all attitude and that you don't fear anything (even if it gives us all a few heart attacks along the way!)  I love that you love your brother and want to be a part of everything he is doing.  You are a super special part of this family and I can't imagine our family without you.  Have a fun celebration of YOU today.  As you get older, Aunt Teresa will teach you how to celebrate your birthday for all it's worth :)!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scripture Saturday/ Matthew 25:14-30

I'm continuing on this journey of increasing my prayer life.  And God has been faithful!  I sound shocked, and I shouldn't be.  Of course God is faithful.  It is me, in my little faith, that keeps me from pursuing Christ in full abandon, the way I should.

This morning, as I lay in bed praying before getting up, I was reminded of the passage in Matthew 25: the parable of the talents.  A man, going on a journey, called his servants and entrusted his property to them.  To one he gave five talents, to one two, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.  After a long time, the master returned and settled accounts with them.  The man who received the five talents brought another five.  The master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."  The man with the two talents gained two more, and the master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."  And the man who had received one talent hid the talent in the ground, giving the master back what belonged to him.  The master replied, "you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  Take the talent from  him and give to the one who has the ten talents.  For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have in abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

As I reflect over the last couple of weeks, I see how the Lord entrusted me with praying for a few people, and as I have proved faithful, He has entrusted me with more.  I have had several people ask me to pray for specific things for them and I have been willing to do so.  And the Lord has been gracious to lay them on my heart in continued prayer throughout the day.  In this, I recognize the Lord's hand because I don't know that this has happened very much in the past (people asking for specific prayer outside of times when we share prayer requests as a group), when I have not been very faithful to pray for others.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn.  And I'm definitely not saying that I have become a master pray-er, but I have taken baby steps, and as I have taken those steps, I have heard the Lord saying, "Teresa, now I can trust you with more."  It is a hard discipline, and it takes focus that my ADHD thoughts don't always grasp onto for long, but I have found that the Lord draws me near to him at random times--in the car, while I'm in the shower, when I wake up in the middle of the night, while I am doing mindless tasks--and I can say short prayers before my thoughts move on to other things.  So, as we pray with and for each other, you can lift me up that I might continue to focus on prayer as a discipline in my life.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Not going to win any popularity points

Let me just say three things before everyone starts throwing things at me!
1. I like winter.
2. I don't have kids that I have to keep cooped up in a house.
3. I am not an outdoorsy person.

So, I've seen this floating around Facebook A LOT the last two days:
The first time I saw it, I commented on it.  My comment was something like this: "Ummm...that would be me.  I'll be sure to take some self-defense classes before summer."

I KNOW it's cold outside.  But it is winter.  And you do live in a place that generally gets cold.  So you can't really expect 50 degree weather right now.  Now, here's where I might complain (most of you are going to roll your eyes) (and the rest of you are going to look back to make sure you read the next sentence right): when it gets below zero at night, I have to stop sleeping with my window open and then I don't sleep as well because my room is too hot.  Anything above zero, my window is usually open (unless it freezes shut, which is also frustrating), and my room will sit somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees.  A few times I've woken to it being 48 or 49 and that is a little too cold, even for me.

So, I'll let you guys complain about the cold because I'll be the first person to complain the first day the temperature reaches the 90s.  We will never understand each other, but I still love you guys! :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Matinee at the Movies

Sunday I had the privilege of attending the symphony with three friends.  It was a matinee at the movies, so the Peoria Symphony Orchestra played selections from a myriad of movies.  I got to hear music from some of my favorite movies and some classics: Gone With the Wind, The Sound of Music, Love Story, Casablanca, Star Wars, Superman, Batman, etc.  It was a great time.  Before the show, they had a kid friendly event where you could get your face painted, eat popcorn and Dip n Dots, and get your picture taken with lots of great movie characters.  At first we were a little timid because we are four adult women wanting to get our picture taken with these characters, but we overcame our trepidation and had lots of fun!
Our first picture was with Chewbacca.
The superhero picture was my favorite.  The actors were great and got into character.  Batman was my favorite.  He even had the deep gravelly voice.  When Kari handed over her camera to someone to take the picture, Batman said, "You should never give your camera to a stranger."  And Captain America said, "Don't worry, if they run off with it, we'll get it back for you."
A host of Star Wars characters.
And up close and personal with Darth Vader.

The whole event was really fun and something different to do on a Sunday afternoon than what I typically do.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Scripture Monday/Jesus is Enough/Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye/and other miscellaneous thoughts.

I haven't done a Scripture post in awhile.  There is a two- or three-fold reason for this.  Part of it comes from my brain having a hard time processing some of the things I am learning and the difficulty of putting everything into coherent thoughts that will make sense to my readers.  Part of it is because some of what I have been mulling over is private thoughts and things the Lord and I are working on together.  Part of it is because I'm lazy (just being honest) and I don't want to take the TIME to put my thoughts into a coherent post.

I don't really do the traditional New Year's Resolutions thing. But usually during the holidays I take time off of work and it is a good opportunity to reflect on the things I want to change in my life in the next year.  My Blessings Jar came out of that time for me last year.  This year, I have been praying through a sin habit that I really want to work to conquer this year.  This is a sin habit I have had for many years now that is just between me and the Lord.  The danger in it being just between me and the Lord is that I have little to no accountability.  I have become stuck in this habit and had begun to think that it will just always be something I have to deal with and cannot overcome.  I KNOW that this is wrong thinking.  I am no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to righteousness.  I do not need to feel condemned.  I know that the Lord wants me to pursue righteousness and become more Christ-like.  And those things do not include habitual sin.  So, I have been committing more consistent time to praying for this particular sin.  I have shared with a few people that I know will come alongside me and pray with me in this endeavor, without sharing specifics with them.  It has been a huge blessing for me and I have seen some changes in this particular area in my life.  God is so faithful!

I am also not great at reading non-fiction books.  I LOVE to read, but I have a pretty narrow selection of books I like to read.  So, I will often commit to trying to read more non-fiction books to help me grow in my relationship with the Lord.  Sometimes I start strong and then quickly taper off.  Sometimes it takes me half a year to finish books.  But I'm trying.  The last book I read was a struggle to get through.  I'll admit, I didn't enjoy it very much, but the second to last chapter was worth the perseverance (and I think the inspiration for the previous paragraph of finally inviting others into the journey of my trying to conquer sin).  The chapter was titled "Gospel-Centered Relationships."  Here is an excerpt from the chapter: "I've discovered that the kind of biblical relationship to which I think the New Testament calls us is almost nonexistent...The kind of fellowship I'm enjoining flies right in the face of our American individualism and desire for privacy.  We don't want anyone poking around in our affairs, and we certainly don't want to be accused of poking about in anyone else's.  This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today.  God has placed us in a family because we don't grow very well on our own...We need the encouragement, correction, and loving involvement of others who are willing to risk everything for the sake of the beauty of his bride"  And later, "We need to wash one another, to carefully probe, cleanse, disinfect, and heal each other, and this isn't something we can see clearly enough to do on our own.  We need the eyes and hands of others."  And even more! "All of our friends are more aware of our sin than we think, and unless we're really living a double life, they could probably tell you what one or two sins you struggle with most and how your sin has personally impacted them.  Our struggle with sin is like the party game where everyone else knows the word pinned on your back but you can't see it."  Ouch!

So, I finished that book and started a book called "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?"  It's a book about singleness as an older person.  I actually usually enjoy reading books about singleness.  And this title intrigued me from the start.  I'm about six chapters into it and really enjoying it.  I have loved the refocus it continues to give me.  Here are some highlights from this book as well..."the whole Bible testifies of God's faithfulness to us even in the face of our own faithlessness to Him.  God has not forgotten anything at all...Your greatest need is to be delivered from the wrath of God--and that has already been accomplished for you through the death and resurrection of Christ...So the infamous question about why we're not married is the wrong question to ask.  It implies lack.  But our heavenly Father has said He withholds no good thing from His children.  The better question to ask ourselves is: What is God doing with and through my singleness?"  "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."  "I'm rarely daydreaming about how God may be using my life (single or married) to accomplish a grander purpose for numerous people.  This finite creature has finite plans.  But our infinite God has infinite plans to accomplish His purpose of redemption in our generation and beyond."

I guess this is what happens when I don't put my thoughts down as they post gets incredibly long. But this exercise has really helped me solidify some things while I am writing and see how God has worked several separate things I am learning into one cohesive lesson.

Lastly, I attended part of the women's conference at my church on Friday night.  The subject was on discipleship and Pastor Ritch gave a great lesson to start off the conference.  But I had one huge take-away that has constantly come to mind since Friday and helped me to combat some very unhelpful thought patterns for myself, has helped me with the sin I mentioned in my first point, and has helped me as I've read a book on singleness (Isn't God great!).  Pastor Ritch quoted Matthew 10:24: A disciple is not above his is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher."  Jesus is my teacher.  And it is enough that I would be like Jesus.  Thus, Jesus is enough.  It is not a new concept.  It is not a new revelation.  But it has been a fresh revelation that has brought me to tears this weekend.  Does anything in my life (singleness, marriage, children, career, popularity, etc.) matter more than this?  Sadly, in my life, I often have to say "Yes.  I let things matter more in my life than Jesus."  But, the reality is that Jesus is enough.  When I can sit myself down in this truth, I can find contentment and joy and a gift in whatever I am about at that moment.  Is it wrong for me to want to be married?  No.  But when I put being married above Jesus, I say that Jesus is not enough.  Jesus has to be enough for me whether I am married or single.  Jesus has to be enough for me when I look at this sin habit in my life, because when I give in to the sin, I am saying that the sin is more important than Jesus and I am seeking temporary pleasure in a sin that will only rob me of the joy of a relationship with Christ.  And now when I am tempted, I can continue to say, "Teresa, Jesus is enough.  You don't need to let this sin have its way in your life."  Or I can say, "Teresa, Jesus is enough.  You don't have to be discontent with being single. Find joy in serving Him."

And those are my jumbled thoughts on this Monday evening!  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Upon further examination...

Last night I looked in my Blessings Jar to see what the date was. First, I discovered that I was a few days behind, oops. Then I was writing the date for last night and wrote "July 17, 2014." I started laughing at myself because it is totally not July (in case anyone was confused by the snow outside). Then my brain clicked a few more cycles (it was late and my brain was not running on all cylinders yesterday).  I looked back in my jar and found this:
Apparently, I've been thinking it was July for a few days now. :)  And I'm not even one of those people who is trying to wish winter away!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Snail Mail that is not a bill!

I got an envelope in the mail from my sister-in-law today.  I'll admit, at first I was a little confused because I wasn't expecting anything.  Isn't it sad that you never "expect" to get anything good in the mail?  But I eagerly opened it anyway, because it was from Ann, so I didn't think it would be anything bad!  And here is what I found:
Artwork from both of my nephews!  John got this paper for Christmas and I think I was more excited about it than he was.  The day I was leaving, I finally got him to sit down and work on a page with me.  The kit he got even came with stencils so it was even more cool.  When we were finished with the picture, he gave it to Grandma.  I tried really hard not to be jealous or claim it as my own, since I had worked on it too! :)  I asked John if he would work on another one for me, but he was tired of doing art and wanted to do something else.  So, I suggested that it would be fun if he made me one sometime and sent it to me in the mail.  And that is what I got today!  With a bonus picture from Michael.  Michael is very into tracing hands right now :).  And if you look closely at John's picture, you can see he drew a turtle.  I haven't gotten a single piece of artwork from him that hasn't included a turtle in several years.  Because he knows I like turtles.  And I might add, he is very good at drawing them!

Thanks John and Michael!  You made my day!  Snail mail from my nephews will definitely go into my blessings jar tonight!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A New Refrigerator, 2014 edition

Our refrigerator is newly decorated with all the picture Christmas cards from this year (plus a few missionary cards and one care from last year that I wasn't ready to part with).  I had fun switching them out again. It's always fun to wander into the kitchen (and let's face it, that happens a lot) and see friends and family on the fridge.  This was the last of my January organizational tasks that I needed to tackle, so now I am apparently all organized!

Snowball fight and other games!

For the last couple of years (we debated this year how long we've been doing this) New Year's Day has been a day to get together and play games. For almost the whole day (this year we got together from 11am to about 9pm).  Last year, Ginger came up with some Minute to Win It games so the kids could play with us.
The snowball fight was so fun, we did it again this year.
We played boys against girls.
Basically, you have several minutes to throw snowballs at each other.  Whoever has the most snowballs on their side at the end of the time loses the game.
It was fun to watch because it is gets pretty intense when you're actually playing.
It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.  Notice Hudson in Ginger's arms.  She may have hit him in the face when she was throwing snowballs.  If it makes you feel better (because of the crying kid, and all) the guys won.  Even when I joined and it was 5 to 4, they won the second game too.
Then we moved on to "adult" games.  We played 7 wonders for most of the day, although others joined us for a couple of hours so we also played Wits and Wagers.  Did you know that the Happy Meal is the same age as I am?  I did, so we won 3 tokens!  We also "graze" from a buffet of food all day (notice Joe in the background!
It is great fun and a day I looked forward to because I remembered how fun it was the year before.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Playing with blocks

I don't even know what these alphabet blocks are actually called.  But they are great for many things.  You can lay them all out flat and make a road.  Or you can build a tower, turn it on its side and have a tunnel.
Here is Michael going through the tunnel.
They are good for making funny faces through.  But you have to find the right letter.  Punch out the "D" and you're good to go.
As long as the photographer can get the right angle and flash on you instead of the block!

It's hard to get a regular pose out of John because he likes to make funny faces if he knows you are taking a picture of him. the "8" also makes for a good hole for your head.
Just a couple of block heads! :)
Michael walked around the house with this on his head for quite awhile.

And then discovered that he could climb inside.  He was in the block for a good half hour but I had to keep putting it together because he doesn't quite fit and the back would eventually bust.
And he thought it was great fun when I put another block on top of him.  When that would fall apart he would say, "Again."

Christmas "Activity"

The week I was in Chicago there was much activity in the household.  Here is some of that activity in pictures.
Michael giving Santa a ride around the house.  John had been pulling Michael around but got tired, so Michael was just walking around with the blanket and Mom suggested he give Santa a ride.  So cute!
Lots of rest time and naps happened too.
Chris and John building Legos.  John got several sets with a bazillion pieces each.
Playing one of John's new games--Tumblin' Monkeys.  Ann didn't want to get any monkeys and John was hoping she would!
Playing with Mr. Potato Head.
Playing the "Night-Night" game.  This time we put Llama, Llama, Lambie, and Tony to sleep and tucked them in.
Game night with some family.  We played Telestrations.  And laughed a lot.
Building more Legos.  John can build sets pretty much by himself but likes to have help.
Watching the pizza bake in the oven.
How many french fries do you think Michael has in his mouth?!
Playing Call of Duty.
Playing Mario Kart on the DS.
Playing the Wii.
Copying John.
And trying to get as close as possible! :)

Christmastime is Here

Here are "some" Christmas pictures :)
Getting ready for Santa and the reindeer.
All ready for the boys to come downstairs in the morning.
Riding the motorcycle and sitting at the new table.
Stockings first!
Starting on the pile o' presents.
Michael unwrapped every present and then insisted on playing with it too.  Josh and Daynah had these blocks when they were little and I loved playing with the blocks with them.  I'll post more pictures of the boys playing with them later.
Obviously, putting a bag on your head is what you should do after opening a present.
Michael driving his train through all the paper.
I surprised Mom with the purse she really wanted.
And DS games!
Reading a book.  Michael literally had to play with every toy before he moved on to the next.
So intent.  He also had to make sure every single piece of wrapping was off the present before he would look at it.
Again, so intent.  He loves Micky Mouse and these are little figures of all the characters.
My new ornament.
Even the pets got toys.  A turtle figure for Dorothy and Marlin (the fish).
A tug toy for ZuZu.  Although she had it almost torn to shreds before we finished opening presents.
And cat treats for Tabitha and Bucky.