What a great couple of days we've had! Monday the kids were out of school for SNOW and ice. Well, here on our street, Monday was "just" slick with ice in the am. Actually Steve did a bit of slipping and sliding on his way towards the interstate to get to work...but by mid-morning, you'd never know there had been a dusting of snow on the ground. Kaylee was so excited she threw on her clothes and went out to stand in the snow-dust kinda slipping as she went saying she wanted to ice skate. I'm just looking out there and saying this isn't "real" snow." You know - real snow - the kinda stuff you can make snow angels in, pack good snow balls, make a giant snow man - the kind that flocks trees beautifully, that is like a breath of fresh air as you look and sigh at how peaceful, bright and amazing everything looks...sigh... This was definitely not that kind of snow - but in the minds of the kids - they were THRILLED to see any form of white stuff and kept saying - it is real momma it is real snow! Well, yes it's real, but it's not REAL. I'm not saying it was fake snow by any means, but it wasn't a true picture of just how great snow can be!

By 10:30 we were over it...and I was trying to figure out a way to go find some...when the phone rang and it was Chele saying they were going to find some...so...we joined forces together, made phone calls to people we knew that lived in other parts of town trying to find the white stuff that had closed down the schools. We decided to just drive and find it, leaving right after lunch. Let me say I've never see the kids eat so fast in all my life - and they jumped up from the table and almost in one pounce landed in their snow pants and jackets ready for whatever would come our way. We piled into the van, ran down the street to pick up the Condello's...and headed on our way. We ended up about 30 minutes south of here in the town of Turner - and went to the City Park there to find...REAL SNOW!!! About 3-4 inches, maybe more!!! We ran, threw, made snow balls, snow angels, a snow fort, Noah put snow down my back - we had a blast! It was another really fast hour (check out blog just after new years)! I mean time flew so quickly!

Flash forward to Tuesday night...at this point of course there is nothing around. I'm heading out to meet my small group, when I see these big white things floating down from heaven (of course it's a gift from Him). REAL SNOW! I mean big chunky flakes. But about 1 mile south of the house - nothing - so I'm assuming it's a fleeting moment of beauty. About 30 minutes later my phone starts ringing off the hook with Steve and Erik and Chele and Jeanne-Ann all calling saying come home, the roads are covered with white, it's slick...so...I head out. Again, when I step out of church there is nothing...but about 2 miles south of home...beautiful. Peaceful. Amazing! White stuff everywhere! I was so excited. I pulled into the driveway to be met by flying snowballs thrown by the kids. I asked why they were in their pjs...and they immediately ran inside to put on some "real" clothes and we proceeded to make a small snow man, and throw snow balls...etc. A great fun memory of what should have been bedtime which was quickly changed to just having fun together and living in the moment! And the next morning @ 7:45 we were suiting up again to head to the back yard and enjoy the 4+ inches of snow we had! It was GREAT! We built a snow man that even lasted through the heavy rain of Thursday!

Why is it that we don't get tired of simple things like snow balls, snow angels, throwing, building, laughing, stomping, falling in this great white stuff?? Hmmmm... I love snow! It's SO much better than rain - it can be cold and snowy and you'll still go out...but cold and rainy - ick!! Who knows...maybe we'll get more this weekend.


Whatcha readin'?

OK..I'm sitting here with a stack of books next to me...let's see...6 of them actually...not counting my Bible, that'd make 7. I want to be a better reader - why is it that I'm not? When I was younger I loved to read for readings sake. I hated (I know, strong word) to read those required books for classes. I was the geek that would get the list of books for the upcoming school year so that I could read them during summer while I was sitting out in the sunshine. Then I knew I would read them. If I didn't read them during the summer (this was before the world of summer reading lists by the way), then I just wouldn't.

So...now here I am, wanting to read and take it all in...and just not doing it as much as I could or should. I'm a pretty good mom I think - reading with the kids --- Kaylee is getting to be such a great reader...she's super into the Fairies series by Daisy Meadows. So I read lots of those, and we're moving into Magic Tree House books too...exciting stuff. But not "grown-up" stuff I guess. So...I have to start reading more. Will you ask me what I've been reading lately!?? Thanks.

I can say that I've been reading my Bible. The church staff has been challenged to read through the Bible in 2 years. I'm pretty on track which is good for me! Last year I attempted to read the Bible in 90 days when I first started my new position @ Salem Alliance. I did most of it, but not in 90 days...and the thing that struck me over and over last year was how God knew and still knows everyone's names. Have you looked @ the names in the Bible - these are not easy to pronounce, let alone remember. In reading last year I found myself lost in the names - the relationships, the understanding that He knows each name, each face, the number of hairs on each head of each person...He knows their thoughts, their dreams, their fears, their mistakes, their purpose...He's amazing.

This year, here's what I'm thinking so far...we humans love to take things into our own hands. We want to keep control and not have the faith we should. We want to have the faith, but we don't always really exhibit it. For example - as we were leaving for the ski trip on Monday I grabbed the first aid kit to throw into the bus - and Josh said, is that showing faith that everyone is going to be ok today? I think there was a good part of him that was kidding - I mean, come on, 130 people, heading off for the day, someone is bound to need a bandaid (we did have a nose bleed on our bus). And yet, it made me pause and think too...did I really believe that God would answer our prayer that we would have no injuries that day? I don't know that my actions proved that - I'm not trying to say it was "bad" of us to be prepared - yes I took the first aid kit; yes I took all the medical release forms to the ski patrol medic station when we arrived; yes, we prayed that God would put a hedge of protection around each of us and that it'd just be a fun day, and that no one would be injured. And He did just that.

Looking at examples we've read in our Bible reading so far - you can look at Noah - He had faith that God would do what He said - send the flood beyond anyone's wildest imagination; Abraham had faith that God would provide a sacrifice other than Isaac, or if not would bring about this new nation somehow, like raising Isaac from the dead if need be in order to honor His word... (He trusted God, but He went prepared to sacrifice Isaac too...or sacrifice something). But did Sarah have faith that God would provide this heir to she and Abraham? She offered Hagar to Abraham to kinda make sure this nation of multitudes would come to be. Did Rebekah have faith that Jacob would live to be served by his older brother as God revealed to her? Or did she step in to make sure by having Jacob prepare the meal for Isaac, sneaking in before Esau did, so that Jacob could receive the blessing intended for Esau? In these cases the outcome ended up as God had promised, but these people took actions into their own hands. (Are you following me? I hope so. You can check out the stories in Genesis...)

Reality is...I know this will continue...that we, these people of faith, continue to say, yes Lord I trust you - I have faith in you --- but... I think I will make it a little easier on You and I'll just take care of this one myself. Or...we just refuse to turn it over to Him in the first place --- thinking we'll make it easier our ourselves. Why is it that we can't always walk in taking God at His word?? Do we believe it? I hope so (even the demons do...). It's getting late, and I'm losing in my head what I wanted to put on this post...ugh! I don't like it when I do this.

OK... I just want to be mindful of the times when I take things into my own hands - purposefully or unintentionally. I'm watching my life in light of that right now. I want to be surrendered to His plan and all He has for me. I want to listen, to follow, to glorify, to honor Him and Him alone in all I do, think, say, dream... what about you?

P.S. If you want a copy of the reading through the Bible schedule, I'd love to send it to you! Just let me know...it's not too late to join in the fun...have you read the Bible all the way through? Come on...let's do it together!!! =)


Me...Snowboarding...HA! Take a chance...

Yep - it's true - I delved into the world of the pacific northwest...actually, we took about 120 middle school and high school students out to Hoo Doo (yes, that's really the name of it) to go play in the snow for the day! Tubing, skiing, snowboarding, falling, stomping, throwing, burying, eating, laughing, jumping, you name it...we did it! It was a blast! And I'm not just talking about the 50 mph winds at the top of the lifts (no, I didn't get to the tip-top...).

My plan for the day had just been to wing it. I was excited to try skiing again - it'had only been 20 years...I was ready to really just tube for the day - let me say, I ended the day at the Autobahn where they had 9 tubing runs (I think that's right). It was hysterical fun! I never imagined I'd go so fast on an intertube! You start off by clipping a rope to a pulley that takes you up the hill - then you climb out and up to what I call the launch area - you pick a lane and then wait for the ok to take off... 7 and 9 were clearly the most intense, and had been closed for most of the day! One of the girls talked me into doing the double tube and we went down one run together! And it was faster than the single...we were laughing so hard! Soooooo much fun!

OK - Back to the earlier part of the day. I had intended to just chill, and tube, and be wherever the students wanted to go...and then was almost triple dog dared to try snowboarding. Erik said that when I was on the east coast I skiied, and now I was on the west coast and I needed to snowboard instead. (Note - I have nieces that are great snowboarders and earlier in the week they told me I had to try that instead...they are "east" coasters...and they are fabulous girls...who I can assure you are 10000 times better at snowboarding than I am.) Anyway - so...I succumbed to the pressure and I got a board - and out I went.

Gratefully I was not the only "newbie" to the world of snowboarding. Our new friend Paula (who was here visiting and considering joining the student ministries team at Salem Alliance with high school) was in for the same training I was. Wes was kind enough to put up with my complete ignorance about how to do this thing - my only agenda was to get down the hill without falling, because then I wouldn't have to get back up. Let's face it - I had 4 layers of clothing on - thermal underwear, jeans, sweats & then my ski bibs...did I mention that the temp was 1 degree!! YIKES! Anyway - and you may or may know that my back is anything but straight, so it just doesn't bend like it should. (Back story - another story for another day) So, combine too many layers with too many curves in my back and you get the hysterical site of me trying to stand up from a fallen position in the snow! HYSTERICAL! The good news was - my first real run down the easy hill (I'm not sure what they really called it) I made it most of the way down without falling! I was SO SO SO SO SO excited. I tried and tried to stand up, but it didn't work, so I finally decided to loosen the board and just walk the rest of the way, or at least loosen one boot, and then glide like I knew I could. So, in trying to separate myself from my board I ended up with a blood blister on my middle finger of my right hand (Kaylee likes to tease me that I have marker on my finger!). Anyway - it doesn't hurt...just a reminder that I was on a snowboard.

My last run was truly hysterical. I got back on the lift --- fell AGAIN getting off the lift, but I came SO close to not falling over that it was a success in my book. I went over the bench to attach my board (that way I didn't have to stand from the ground, pretty smart huh?) Well, I think I expended all my energy prior to that, because that run, there was nothing I could do to go down on my board. I fell 8 times going down this "easy" hill. I was laughing because I wanted to "master" this getting up thing, and man, did I have every opportunity. At times I couldn't get up because I was laughing so hard at myself. Obviously I did get up after I fell...despite the 4 layers and curved back...and with thanks of another lesson from Erik... Despite the fact that I fell so much, it really was a blast.

It's fun to try new things. It's fun, sometimes, to be stretched to do something you wouldn't normally see yourself doing. Sometimes it's not so fun. It kinda is a picture of faith - sometimes you just have to move forward on something knowing it's what you are supposed to do...even though you don't want to fall, or maybe you don't even want to stand up, or you may be a little nervous or even downright scared...but you've gotta push through it and trust that you'll make it. Here I am, back in Keizer, away from the snow...but not sore anymore - and remembering that I'm glad I get chances to stretch... God's good to bring about those opportunities everyday. It's just my choice as to whether I take the chance to experience what He has for me. I wish I took more of those chances. I'm sure I miss some of them.

So...take a chance on something new today. Remember He has great things for you to experience. Sure - you can be comfortable with the same ol' experience...but take the chance...you may be a little sore, but in the long run...you'll be so glad you did!!!


I love my kids...

I just have to say ... I love my kids! I love how when I come in after being away even for a little while that they race over to me, or when I pick them up from their class at church they let out a big "MAMA!" and quickly clean-up to come over to where I am, or how they curl up in my lap to watch tv or read a book, or how they want to be right with me when I'm in the kitchen cooking, or how they want to play a game, or how they put their cold hands or feet on me or Steve, or how they are protective of one another, or how they just want me to lay down with them every night and not leave the room, or how they...oh, do most everything. They are such gifts to me. They make me laugh. They make me smile. I like them. Don't get me wrong - I have my icky mom moments, frustrated about toys strewn all over, but, that doesn't change that I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!!

Steve and I saw "The Bucket List" tonight (great flick - go see it! some language I'd change, and a comment or two...) and it led us to discussing what would be on our "list". I've already spent time talking about how I'm not this big planner, goal-setter or even dreamer (which is kinda scary sometimes). But...my "list" would include things like: to see our kids living their lives as fully-devoted followers of Jesus, that they still like us when we are adults, to have Jesus say well done good and faithful servant, to be a blessing to my family/friends, etc. Not so much "activity" driven, but people driven. To make a difference in the people world...not the commercial world. To make a difference in the eternal world. Some of those things aren't quite so measureable maybe (not like go skydiving, or get a tattoo...). Just like I can't measure the joy that my kids bring me. I can't wait to give them giant hugs in the morning. Maybe I'll go do it now...

What would be on your "list"? Do I have stuff I'd like to do? Sure. Go on a cruise. Go to some caribbean-like location and enjoy the beach and sunshine. Visit the Grand Canyon. See other parts of the world. It reminds me of Amazing Race (which would probably be on the only "reality" show I'd ever think about participating in...). Just go and do. I think in the "race" component it would push me to do the adventure of it... Sorry - tangent. So...back to topic, what would be on your "list"?

Strengths Finder

OK...this is so unlike me I can't even believe I'm doing it. Our Student Ministries Team is getting ready to spend some time going through a book Strengths Finder 2.0. I'll be honest - I received the book, and while I never intended to chuck it across the room, I received it with a bit of "ugh" in my mind. I'm not a deep thinker - or analytical - or anything of the like...but I am...well...let's wait a little while on that. The premise is that your strengths are most evident through pouring your time investment into developing your natural talents. Does that make sense? I'm obviously not the author of this book, but let me share the example. Someone really wants to play basketball. They spend gazillions of hours on the court. They are not Michael Jordan. They may have the heart to be Michael Jordan, but they don't have the natural ability. And furthered the point by indicating Michael Jordan is clearly gifted in basketball, but did not exhibit the same successes in golf or baseball, which he also definitely fought hard to do. Michael Jordan's "thing" was basketball. How much more joy, passion, enjoyment will you/I have in concentrating on our strengths and recognizing the gifts and pitfalls those talents may bring.

So...anyway (you can tell I'm fairly sold on the idea already can't you). Here's where my attitude changed. Part of this book is taking an online assessment, which most honestly seems a bit daunting. 177 questions, rating yourself in comparions (some of which are completely related and some of which have nothing whatsoever to do with each other). AND...you answer each question in 20 seconds. After completing the assessment you receive a personalized document detailing your "strengths," including attitudes, actions, feelings, common threads of those strengths. I'd detail what it showed but our team is going to be discussing the book, and we're not supposed to discuss our results...but I can say that the individual document nailed me in a number of ways. And the very casual participant became someone who really is looking forward to digging in more and seeing what that means...

So...I'll keep you up to date...in the meantime...go get a copy of Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Enjoy.


Simple Fun...

Ugh...it's been raining! I mean really raining. 6 inches above normal for the month of December. Who knows - we may have had 6 inches already in January --- so what do you do when it's pouring rain outside... You have a beach party! If you'd been @ our house yesterday afternoon you would have enjoyed a little beach party - the kids in their bathing suits - beach towels and "Wipe Out" playing on iTunes. We had a blast surfing, dancing, swimming, making sand castles, enjoying the sunshine & getting a little sun, wearing sunglasses...for that period of time we thought we were at the beach anyway. You gotta have a little imagination... I wonder what the closest beach is to here...the closest Florida-like beach that is...

To my friends in Oregon - enjoy the liquid sunshine - make the best of it (I say that as much to myself as I do to you). To my friends in the ATL - wish I could send the rain to you...if only Georgia and Oregon were a little closer together? Hmmmmmmm...


Do I have the guts??

I wouldn't describe myself as a risk-taker...but I want to be. This clip inspires me...

Not what you expect - unbelieveable - humble - compelling, huh?? It brings to mind a quote.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely ina pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming --- WOW, What a ride!

Now - does this mean that I'm running out to go sky diving? Probably not (sorry Steve). Nor am I going to immediately start craving exotic foods. Nor that I'm going to be wreckless and stupid (sorry Kaylee and Noah - I know we don't like that word - but it's just all I can think of right now). I think there is a difference between wreckless and wreckless abandon. Maybe it's better called passion (Jessica would be so proud - that's her word). Noah a few weeks ago was digging into a box of chocolate for dessert (that boy loves sweets). But it was taking him an unusally long time to pick out his chocolate, so I went in to check on him. Most honestly part of me was thinking he was going to be knee-deep in candy wrappers and chocolate mustache & beard, but no. He was methodically looking through the box. Then he says, "Mom - I'm gonna pick a piece of chocolate that is going to change my life." He didn't just want chocolate - he wanted the best. He wanted to do it right.

I want to live my life in such a way that there is no other way to explain it except that it was Him. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 It's not about playing it safe...it's about living life to its fullest. It's not about status quo (High School Musical fans are singing along) - it's about doing what we are supposed to do...and having a blast in the meantime. Sure, you can just "get by" - you can just coast - you can just go along...but is that enough? I don't think so...

Take the risk - have a blast - and enjoy the ride!


One Hour...

So...if you had one hour to do whatever you wanted what would you do? Sleep? Spend it with family? Watch tv? Wash your hampster's hair? Last night I put in my hour for the church's 1000 Hours of Prayer. I debated about not blogging about this only in that I'm not trying to say hey I did this - that's not the point. It was what happened during that hour that was so cool.

For some of you the thought of "praying" for an hour could scare you to death - it could send you to hide in your closet, not pray there - it could thrill you. I don't know. I was looking forward to my hour, and being part of 1000 Hours of Prayer by our church family asking Him to reveal Himself to us, personally and collectively. I know...you're saying get to this "cool" part of praying. Are you ready?

Two things: 1) Time flew by. Seriously - it was like being on a roller coaster you'd waited in line for for hours, and it was over in just a few moments. I found myself begging that the hour would go slowly, because it was passing so quickly. Before I knew it, the hour was gone. I know time flies when you are having fun, but honestly I thought that getting through this hour might be a little tricky. What made it different? Is it because I'm usually so preoccupied with the clock? I don't know. Here's the next one: 2) It made me long for more. Now, this was surprising to me. I thought I'd finish the hour and sit back and say, ahhhhh that was good, and move forward with my world - fairly unaffected, but grateful I was a part of such a collective experience. But it ended as though I was so thirsty I couldn't quench my thirst. Honestly, at one point I thought I just needed to stop because I knew it was not going to end with me being refreshed. Don't get me wrong - it was refreshing, it was filling, it was exhilirating. But honestly, an hour wasn't enough. I wanted more time to read, more time to reflect, more time to sit in the lap of my Daddy in heaven and just talk to Him.

Why is this so different from my time I normally spend with the Father? Many times, most times, I don't go into or end those times with the same excitement, focus, desire. Hmmmmmmm??? It made me wake up this morning, and I couldn't wait to read my Bible. (Now that may sound surprising, what, you aren't normally excited to read your Bible? Usually morning is not my strongest time of being able to focus on my reading & praying - getting kids ready their day, thinking through my days to-do list, getting up in the first place is hard for me just because it happens so early - it's morning, right? And honestly - are you always excited to read your Bible & pray?) Anyway - I couldn't wait - I couldn't move forward in my day without it. And I wanted to open and read more and more today. Some of it in my "hard copy" of the Bible - some of it @ bible.com - some of it in verses I was looking at for the message I'm prepping for this weekend. Even now I'm thinking, hmmmmm let's read some more. But I don't think it is just words on the page I long for, as it is spending time with God. Again - not that I haven't been doing that - but man, that hour lit something in me that hasn't been lit in a while. And to think, I almost didn't sign up. Man, I really would have missed out.


Happy 2008!!

We're here! 2008!! A new year! How many times have you messed up writing the date? I messed it up all day today. Just one of those silly things that remind you that time flies by...I feel like I just got used to writing 07 on everything. OK...so here we are on the west coast right? (duh) I have a little something I don't really understand about the whole New Year's celebration thing.

Back up a little - we spent New Years Eve with some friends, hosted by the Condello's - dinner and fun, and then the other 2 families headed out to get wee ones to sleep, while we with "older" (ha!) kids let ours stay up until 9 PM!! WOW! That translates to midnight on the east coast - so the kids stayed up to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New York, and set off party poppers and scream happy new year, and make a mess of the family room. It was a blast! Then...we put the kids to bed, and entered the game zone waiting for our "real"midnight to arrive.

So - here we are ready to toast in the New Year - playing our game a little faster knowing that 11:30 is approaching...which means watching New Years' festivities on tv getting ready to countdown with the rest of society...only...here comes Dick Clark & Ryan Seacrest from NEW YORK! Hello - it's 2:30 am in New York - they're not re-living the "live" broadcast for the west-coasters - it's TAPED! it's a REPLAY! it's NOT LIVE! What?? Are you kidding me? We're on the west coast - home to Seattle, LA, San Francisco and let's not forget the booming metropolis of Salem and Keizer. Why isn't there some giant celebration for the world to enjoy from the West Coast? Hawaii needs to know the new year is coming - do they have to endure Dick Clark & Ryan Seacrest, or Carson Daly, or whomever they choose, knowing that it happened 5 hours earlier??!?? That's ridiculous!

Come on Hollywood! Step up! Create a celebration of all celebrations to ring in the new year...or we can create our own "drop" here in Salem - I'm open to any suggestions. (Maybe a rhino drop??) Then we'll pitch it to the networks and get someone to join us in our quest to bring the west coast up to speed on HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

©2009 Until... | by TNB