Friday, May 30, 2008

Looking back --- impact

I received an email from a wonderful woman today. It was a short note of friendship and prayer. This woman is extra special because she is the pastor's wife of our former church home, a beautiful compilation of God's family in a building called, Amazing Grace.

I've heard from, Mrs. Schaal several times over the years but for some reason her note today brought tears to my eyes. After thinking about it, the reason is quite simple....I miss her. I find myself looking back today. Normally I don't like to get caught up in that act but.......

We had made plans to leave Southern California years prior but the Lord didn't pave the way until June 2000. The job literally fell into Jeff's lap and the doors were flung wide open. From interview to moving truck, it was a 4 week process. We bought a house during that time as well. Controlled chaos.

We went from the crowded craziness of Orange County, CA to the quiet, mountain rimmed community of Twin Falls, ID - population: 35,000. We knew no one. Jeff, myself and girls were on a life-changing adventure. Little did we know what kind of adventure......... Perhaps the name of the town should have been a clue (Twin Falls)? The name of our new church should have served as another clue (Amazing Grace).

In California we were members of Saddleback Church, home of the author, Rick Warren. It is a large church with several weekend services. If I remember correctly, the average weekend attendance soared around 5,000. I'm told that number is higher now. It was at Saddleback that Jeff made the decision to walk with Christ and for our 7th wedding anniversary, we were both baptized, side by side. For all the wonder of Saddleback, it was an imposing place. It was easy to get lost in the shuffle and hype. We are forever grateful for the teachings of Pastor Warren and Lee Stroebel, but we knew we wanted something more familial and intimate for our next church home.

Enter Amazing Grace, a small church with a tall steeple right down the street from our new home. From the moment we walked into the foyer, we felt love. This wasn't just any community church -- this was a building of believers, not only in Christ, but in one another. There were smiles, hugs, laughs and an eagerness to form relationships. If you left that building feeling lonely or unloved, you must have been wearing blinders and/or a coat of quills.

Shortly after getting settled in the new town we discovered I was pregnant. We were thrilled. A new baby for our new adventure. By this time, Jeff had joined the church choir (he has a beautiful deep voice), I had become a Daisy leader, and the girls were adjusting to new friends and schooling. After a men's group meeting at church, Jeff teased me that I was having twins. I slapped him on the arm and rolled my eyes. He just laughed and said, "I don't know, Kim. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but I really think it is true. Call it a whisper from God."

The next day I began bleeding. Because I had been planning on a home birth with a midwife, I didn't have a doctor in town. I called a friend from church and asked for a recommendation of a caring OB. I called his office and was able to see him that afternoon. On the way to the office I stopped by the clinic to see Jeff, who wanted to come with me, but was stuck in a state inspection. He hugged me tight and said, "Everything is going to be OK. I know it." and rubbed my tummy and said, "You two need to be nice to your mom." I got upset and said, "Jeff! It isn't funny. We may have lost the baby and you are talking about twins. Please stop." He kissed me and sent me on my way.

It's a good thing I was laying down for the ultrasound. Jeff was right. I was in shock. My placenta was in a weird place, thus causing the bleeding. I won't go into the pregnancy story, but even after 14 weeks of bedrest and several preventative measures, the boys still arrived early. They were born at 32 weeks, weighing 4.3 and 4.13. About an hour after the boys arrived, my door opened slightly and Mr. and Mrs. Schaal (pastor and wife) were there, smiling and clapping. They had come from evening service, where they lifted the boys and I in prayer during delivery. They stayed only a short time but left a mighty impact on my heart.

Backing up a bit, it was during my bedrest time that my new church family showed me their angel wings. I have never experienced such pure love from non-relatives before. Very basic, but important needs were attended to with care. I remember looking out the window one afternoon to 3 teen-age boys riding up in their truck loaded down with lawn equipment, prepared to take care of everything so Jeff could rest a bit. My freezer was stocked with casseroles. My hands were held in prayer. My girls were loved on by other moms and teen-age girls.

Back to the boys - all was running along as smoothly as possible until day 10. Jacob contracted a horrible virus and needed to be life-flighted up to Boise, over 2 hours away by car. Jeff called the men of church and within minutes, we were surrounded by loving prayer warriors. We were instructed to call pastoral care 'just in case' for Jacob. Through tears, we watched as Pastor Lynn lovingly, yet with deep conviction, placed his hands on Jacob and prayed. I will never forget that moment. Ever.

Jeff and I headed to Boise, praying the whole way that our son would still be alive when we arrived. Caleb had to stay behind. Mrs. Schaal, the pastor's wife, lovingly volunteered to sit with Caleb every 3 hours. What comfort that was to me during a horrifying time. Just knowing that her loving arms were cradling him while whispering prayers over his tiny body allowed me to concentrate on Jacob.

Before it was all said and done, both boys ended up in Boise. I was alone in a big city, dealing with NICU babies. The Ronald McDonald house was my 'home' (a very wonderful organization, by the way). Amazing Grace called their sister church in Boise and several times a week I would find someone waiting for me in the family room, open to prayer and errand running. What a gift.
After 34 long days, the boys and I headed back to our real home.

A few Sundays later, the boys and I found ourselves surrounded in the community room. Little did I know, a baby shower had been planned. The ladies formed a circle around us and for the next 2 hours, the boys were lavished with heartfelt gifts, prayer and song. A cherished memory, for sure. The next week, with one boy in the arms of Jeff and the other in Pastor Schaal's arms, they were dedicated. I have pictures of Pastor Schaal nuzzling Jake's head that still brings tears to my eyes.

When the boys were 5 months old, Jeff was faced with the news that the clinic was closing. Because it was a small town, job opportunities were severely limited. We prayed for answers. Within a month, one was sent. Our time in Idaho was to come to an end. We were heading to Indiana, much to our surprise.

With an overly optimistic mind set, we put the house on the market, fully expecting it to sell quickly. Jeff was set to start his new job in 7 weeks. The house didn't sell. The day arrived - Jeff left for Indiana, leaving the kids and I in the house, hopeful it would sell 'soon.'
During that time, we stayed connected to church and once again, the church loved like Christ. They were my lifeline.

The 'soon' turned into 4 months and I was on the proverbial edge. I remember calling Jeff and crying, "I don't care about the money. I don't care about the house. Come get us now, please. It was a mistake to separate the family over a house. I can't do this by myself." Within a week, the moving trucks were in the driveway and we were on our way to Indiana.

Our last Sunday at church was emotional. I wasn't excited about moving. I was overwhelmed. We had been through so much in just under 2 years. I didn't understand why the Lord had put us in this beautiful place for such a short time. I was a tired woman longing for answers.

We arrived in Indiana, set up house in a tiny rental, and proceeded to get acclimated. Within a week, the Idaho house sold, which was a major relief. It was as if God was saying, "See. If you would have given up control all along, I could have shown you my plan much sooner."
Lesson learned.

We have been in Indiana for almost 6 years now. The first 12-18 months were rough. My attitude was not right and my heart was not content. With time and His mercy, it now feels like home. We have been incredibly blessed in this town. We have a new church family. Our roots run deep. We'll save that story for another day since this post has grown exceedingly long.

Before closing - I am left with the word, impact.
One definition of the word is - to drive or press closely or firmly into something; pack in.

Amazing Grace understood this word with precision. Whether it was through sound Biblical teaching, a warm smile, understanding hug, warrior-like prayer or acts of service, Amazing Grace had a multi-generational impact on our family. With their tender touch and Biblical example, they have equipped my family in ways I am still learning. In those 2 years, we learned more about God's grace than any study could ever teach.

I am off to write a note to Mrs. Schaal. Do you have a person and/or community location that impacted your life? Tell them today. Honor their impact by continuing the cycle. Who can you love? Who can you teach? Who needs a smile today? It all starts with one person. Let it be you.

Five on Friday

1. The kids have their end of season dance recital tomorrow. They have worked so hard on this project. I can't wait to see the end result. The recital will be held at the beautiful Scottish Rite Center.
2. I have started drinking green smoothies every morning for the past 6 days. Wow. What a great way to start the day! My cravings have all but disappeared and my skin is much smoother. My current favorite is kale/spinach/banana/walnuts and honey. I know it may sound kinda 'out there' but really, it is very refreshing.
3. Speaking of veggies - our garden is doing so well. The lettuce and peppers are especially happy out there. Now, if I could just keep the rabbits away without resorting to violence, all would be great!
4. Did I tell you about the game, Ticket to Ride? I think I did back around Christmas? We have really enjoyed playing this as a family. We are going to get some of the expansion packs this summer.
5. What is your church doing for VBS? We are doing SonWorld Adventure. We have been working on the decorations, back drops, etc. for a couple months now. I think it is going to be an amazing time for the children.

Have a blessed weekend.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Remember our heroes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Just call me Dr. Doolittle

Because six children, 2 dogs, one cat, one guinea pig, and one hamster JUST isn't enough.....

Meet little tiny, Bree. Bree is a lion dwarf bunny and the cutest darn critter I have ever seen -- so cuddly. Sarah has 4H plans for Bree.

This is Jess and Rory. They are my little lovies. They are very shy and quiet right now but I look forward to their sweet song filling the house soon.
Have a blessed day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In memory

Steven Curtis Chapman, a well known Christian artist, lost a precious gift - his 5 year old daughter, Maria.
May the comfort, mercy, and love of the Almighty bring peace to the family.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A May meme

Tamara over on Noble Character tagged me for this spring-time meme. Thanks, Tamara!

Favorite person (outside family): Oh, I don’t think I could name just one person. I really do enjoy people and make friends easily.

I do have a very special place in my heart for my best friend, Gina. We have known one another since 7th grade. We have been through the gamut of emotions and experiences. She lives in Japan now with her military hubby and 4 daughters. Thank goodness for email! Gina, if you are reading this -- hugs and smooches!

Favorite Food: I enjoy Mexican food the most. I have to say though, after living in Southern California, I have become spoiled. Try as they might, the folks here in Indiana just don’t get it quite right. There are few places that come kinda close, but I dream of the fresh corn tortillas from the little markets in Tustin. Fortunately, I have retained a few secrets and can make a mean batch of enchiladas and fresh salsa. I’m trying to learn how to make tamales, but they are a true art form.

Quirks about me: Perhaps my husband or children should answer this question? :: smirk ::

I have a wide range of music tastes. In my van right now you will find, in no particular order, Bon Jovi, Michael Buble, Reba McEntire, Toby Mac, Journey, Cece Winans, Chris Rice, Rascal Flatts, and various soundtracks (Notting Hill, Footloose and The Big Chill).

I start more than one book at a time. I finish them, too!

When I pump gasoline, I have to finish at a zero. I can’t have odd cents. This drives Jeff crazy. I don’t know why – it keeps the checking account neater.

I cannot stand dirty fingernails but I love to garden. Thank goodness for gloves and soap.

I can touch my tongue to my nose. The kids think this is so cool.

How would the person who loves you most describe you in ten words or less? (Ask them.) Jeff used the following words, “feisty, caring, intelligent, beautiful, devoted, crafty, passionate, busy, loving, and quick-witted.”

Any regrets in life? Yes, unfortunately. They happened long ago.

Favorite Cause/Charity: I feel deeply about many things. For a long time I was very involved in Le Leche League and peer support groups. I also did some work with preemie support networks. Now, I do what I can to help the community via our church ministries. We have a tremendous outreach for food, prayer and teaching. We also lend financial support to the USO.

Favorite Blog Recently: Oh, there are so many WONDERFUL blogs out there. I have a new favorite almost daily. Right now, I am really enjoying Pink Icing on the Cake
and One Woman's Cottage Life.

Something you can't get enough of: Books, music, hugs, drives in the country.

Worst job you've ever had. It was my very first job at the ripe old age of 15. I worked at Taco Bell. I lasted 2 shifts. It was horrid. I smelled like an onion and looked ridiculous in the brown polyester clothes. I could tell you a few things to make you never want to go there again….

What job would you pay NOT to have. Hmmm….I don’t like stinky, gooey things so anything to do with garbage/sewers would keep me away. God Bless the hard-workers that do these jobs though!

If you could be a fly on a wall, where? I want to sit in Laura Bush’s office and follow her daily schedule. I would also like to sit in on a cabinet meeting with President Bush, C. Rice and other top leaders. What is really going on? I want to be in the backrooms of the Senate and try to figure out why they keep ignoring the will of the people on so many issues.

Favorite Bible verse right now:

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4

Guilty pleasure? Dark chocolate and red wine. Hey, they both harbor health benefits so it’s all good.

Got any confessions? If I could join the Amish district with relative ease – I would give it a whirl. What you wanted something juicier? Too bad. :: smirk ::

If you HAD to spend $1,000 on YOURSELF, how would you spend it? Super fun rental car and ROADTRIP! I would stop at all of the Starbucks, blare my music, take loads of pictures, and hunt down fabulous antiques.

Favorite thing about your house? The master bedroom/master bathroom. They are comfortable, pretty, and quiet. My bathroom has a big ol’ tub that is my personal retreat most evenings.

Least favorite thing about your house? I would love to be out in the country a bit more. I would also like a basement.

One thing you're bad at: Talking on the phone. I really don’t like doing it.

One thing you're good at: Loving and laughing

If you would change one thing about your circumstances, what? I pray daily that Jeff will have a more fulfilling work experience.

Who would you like to meet someday? Beth Moore, Condoleezza Rice, and Fred Thompson.

Who is your real life hero? You know, I don’t really have an answer to this question.

What is the hardest part of your job? The monotony can be very draining

When are you most relaxed? After a long bath and the house is quiet.

What stresses you out? When the house tasks get out of hand and I can’t get caught up easily. It is like a vicious cycle at times.

What can you not live without? My husband and children – knowing they are close and well.

Do you agree or disagree with the recent article that reported that blogs are authored by narcissists? In some ways, I agree. This medium has the ability to feed the hungriest of prides. Having said that, I think we all share the common goal of wanting to be heard, even if it is on a colorful blog entry. I think those that blog with caution and humility have an awesome ability to reach out in love, joy, humor and kindness.

Why do you blog? Initially, it was a great way to stay in touch with far away family/friends. I still believe that to be true, but in the last 18 months or so, it has become more of a personal journal/family timeline. I am lousy at keeping a written journal (though I keep trying) but for some reason, I have no trouble jotting down regular items on the blog. Once a month (or so) I print all of the entries and place them in a binder. It is a nice way to keep track of everything.

*****
I am terrible at tagging others but if you decide to do this meme -- let me know in the comment area so I can visit your blog. Thanks!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Team work = amazing results

We had an odd thing happen this weekend. Everyone was home! We made the most of this valuable time and slipped on our team work caps. It is amazing how much the 8 of us can get done when we share the same goal.

We decided to put in a larger garden this year. Before, we had a small 6x6 square for tomatoes and herbs. It was nice. This summer, we are going bigger. Much bigger!

We started with lots of seeds about 6 weeks ago. We babied them daily. Here is Paige watering them several weeks ago.

Last weekend we started the tilling process. What back breaking work. Jeff and I took turns. We also let the kids help but the machine was loud and menacing, so they needed dad there to stabilize things. We tilled the area about 8 times. I found muscles that I didn't know existed.


This is what the area looked like when we were done tilling. We have a lot of clay in our soil which is not garden friendly. Jeff bought wood to raise the bed and we had 2 tons of dirt delivered to fill it. Yes. Two tons.


See? That is what 2 tons of dirt looks like in your driveway. All of that dirt had to be carted to the backyard. Shovels, wheelbarrows, and buckets were constant companions. The dirt arrived early Saturday morning. By 6 in the evening, every speck of dirt was placed in the veggie and/or flower gardens. We worked so well together! I am proud of the kids.


The raised veggie garden complete with seedlings in place is shown here. We have lettuce, corn, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, squash, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, beets, and onions. In the mound of dirt outside the bed, we have watermelon and pumpkins. I've never had success growing melons or pumpkins but the kids were insistent that we try. So, we are trying.


Yesterday I dug out this old wooden lounge chair from the garage. It is from our Belmont Shore days in California. It has seen better days. I sanded it down a bit, wiped it clean and primed it.

This is the end result. It looks great on the porch against the yellow house.

Behind the chair you can see our front flower garden. It lines the living room windows. All of the flowers in that bed are white or purple (I have a thing about coordinating my flowers). The big bush like plant you see is lavender. It smells so good. Look at these little guys --- you can't help but smile, right? Have a happy day!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Six word memoir

Holy Mama! has a fun little meme for blogosphere folks. Write your personal memoir in 6 words.

Here is mine.
Saved by grace - thank you, Jesus.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

From my quiet time this morning

During my Bible study, one of the ministry coaches handed out a sheet of paper on being a prayer warrior. It gave awesome tips on how to use the shield of faith and Word to stand against opposition. In an attempt to deal with a family relational issue - I was going through the process; searching the Bible and concordance for helpful scripture.

I was feeling frustration. Why is this so hard? I don't understand! I pushed everything away and put my head on the table and closed my eyes. I took a deep breath and mumbled the universal prayer, "God, help me."

And He did.

"Kim, I am not, 'I was.' I am not, 'I will be.' I am the great, 'I Am.'
Who am I to you? I know who you are to me."

God wins. Again.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mom Day weekend


When the kids were a bit younger, you would often hear me say, "Let's go ducklings - stay with momma." It always made me smile. I remember a few times, busting out in laughter when the boys would "QUACK" while grabbing for my hand. Precious times.
To this day, one of our favorite bedtime books is, Little Quack.

Have a blessed Mothers Day.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Cupcakes

Bakerella inspired me with some of her cupcake creations last week.

Our Youth Group at church has a big talent show tonight. They are raising money for their Canada and Mexico mission trips. There will be lots of smiles and goodies.

We are taking these for the bake sale.....




I think they turned out pretty cute. My 9 and 11 year old free-handed the flower decorations which adds a touch of whimsy. The frosting is a thick, gooey butter/cream cheese mix.
Yum.

Have a happy weekend.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Have a teen? Know a teen? Read this book.

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations

They reference 1 Timothy 4:12 for the base of this book.
This is the same scripture that Emily's volleyball team uses for building spirit and expectations.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

The writers have launced a website called, The Rebelution.
Great stuff!


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Indiana finally gets a vote!


I just got home from voting.
We sure do have a late primary, huh?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Where am I on the obedience scale?



Have you noticed that a lot of Christians submit willingly to Biblical guides that fit our habits but are fearful (or lazy!) when it comes to issues that may challenge or inconvenience us?
We have a way of rationalizing our thinking when it comes to this issue.

I was lead to Romans 12 this morning. The Lord had a lot to say. I found myself in a posture of repentance, almost immediately.

Lord, help me tip my scale back to your perfect will.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Five on Friday

1. The girls have their dress rehearsal this afternoon for the Pure Fashion show tomorrow. They are doing several dances with their studio during and after the program.

2. If all goes well, we will start tilling the garden area tomorrow. We will plant over Mother's Day, provided the weather remains cooperative.

3. Last weekend we had a guest speaker at church. She is from Shiloh Place and shares the Father's Love in a wonderful, special way. It was a great message, despite the tears that came as a result. The Lord is really working on me in a few areas.

4. The boys are sick. Nasty throat and respiratory infections.

5. We saw Expelled several days ago. It was a well done film. I would like to see it again, this time with paper and pen in hand.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

National Day of Prayer


National Day of Prayer


The 57th Annual National Day of Prayer will take place Thursday,
May 1, 2008. The theme for this year is "Prayer! America's Strength and Shield" and is based on the verse from Psalm 28:7 which states: "The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped."