Friday, August 22, 2008

Taking Flight

About three weeks ago, our oldest son, Joshua, had a monumental experience. I have been wanting to write about it for awhile and just haven't had the here it goes.

Back in May, our friends in St. Louis called and invited Joshua to go to Florida with them for a week. To give you some background: our friends moved from Louisville about four years ago. We were in a small group with them and their son, Andy, and our son Joshua were big buddies. We see them about once or twice a year and Joshua and Andy always look forward to reconnecting. Andy is an only child and they thought that it would be fun for him to have a buddy on their vacation this year. But there was a BIG catch: Joshua would have to fly by himself to get there. My first thought was, well that is way too expensive. Even if we were willing to let him go, we really don't have money set aside for him to fly somewhere. But that thought was soon squashed. Our friends' happened to have frequent flyer miles that they insisted that he use. OK. So cost is no longer an issue...

Joshua is our cautious firstborn who likes to be in control. He has struggled with fears on so many different levels since he was itty bitty. He is not a risk taker. He had expressed to us before that he was scared to fly. I honestly doubted that he would want to go, even with the enticement of spending a week with his buddy, Andy.

So we began with asking Joshua if he would even be willing to fly by himself. His initial response was, 'no way.' However, after he'd had a few hours to mull it over, he began to warm up to the idea. By the end of the day, he was actually getting excited about the prospect of it and began hoping that we would decide that he could go. OK. So cost is no longer an issue. And fear is no longer an issue....

I was stunned that we had gotten this far. Now the ball was in our court. So, I began thinking upon this. It sounded something like this in my head: "Joshua is ten years old. TEN. Fly???!!! By himself??? WHAT IN THE WORLD??? ARE WE CRAZY TO EVEN CONSIDER THIS???"

Strangely enough, from the intial conversations Eric and I had about him going, our gut instinct was saying, 'yes, let him go.' We spent a week praying about it; we wanted to know if those 'gut instinct' feelings were from the Lord. After that week of praying, we still had an absolute peace about sending him and felt the Lord was saying 'yes'. So, we finally concurred.

Over the next couple of months, there were times when I talked to others about this decision that I could sense them thinking: "You are crazy, you are so crazy...over my dead body would I let my child do that..." There were times I would begin waffling and catch myself wondering "Are you crazy??? What are you thinking??!!! Are you sure the Lord said to do this?" I had to keep reminding myself that Eric and I had prayed about this and had both felt clearly that the Lord had said yes. I had to remind myself over and over and over and over.

The Thursday morning before Joshua was supposed to leave, we sat down as a family while Eric read the first chapter of Joshua outloud. While up to this point we had had a peace about Joshua going, at this moment I began to tangibly feel the Lord in this decision. For many reasons, it was very fitting to be reading the first chapter of Joshua outloud to prepare Joshua for this departure. For one, Joshua was named after this Joshua in the Bible. The verse Joshua 1:9 hangs on a canvas in his bedroom and he considers it his 'life verse'. This verse says: 'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.' Secondly, the Lord repeats over and over again to Joshua in this chapter: 'Be strong and courageous!' What better words could our Joshua hear right before this trip?

As the Lord often does, He had even more to teach us that morning. Verses 7-9 specifically say: 'Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.' As we read these verses we were able to talk to Joshua about the importance of the following:

  • reading his devotional and Bible even when his mom and dad are not there to tell him to.
  • obeying the commandments in scripture even when we are not there to direct him, such as shielding his eyes from things that might come on tv, talking respectful in our absence, etc.
  • that he need not be nervous about flying because God is always with him wherever he is.

Verse 11 says 'Go through the camp and tell the people, 'get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession o f the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.' I do not believe it was a coincidence that we were reading this three days prior to Joshua's flight! Eric, Sophie and myself had each written down bible verses on index cards for him to pull out while he was taking off and anytime he became nervous or scared during the flight. We talked to him about the importance of getting your 'spiritual' supplies ready before you venture out on your own. We each gave him the bible verses we had for him, explaining that these were his supplies. He could read these outloud and internalize God's truths as he was flying.

So, Sunday arrived. We were at Kentucky Lake for the weekend with our extended family. The plan was that I would take him to the Nashville airport and then stay all night with some friends that night and head back to Louisville the following day. So it was just me and Joshua. A mother sending off his son. Joshua was visibly nervous the whole morning. I kept reminding him of God's truths. Once we began the process of checking bags, going through security, etc, all of Joshua's fears seemed to vanish and it was replaced by anticipation and excitement. Everything went without a hitch. Everyone was so friendly and overly helpful (gotta love those Nashvillians!).

Finally, it was time to board the plane. We hugged and said our goodbyes. As he walked away I felt a tug on my heart. As I watched the plane back up and begin taxiing away, I felt a bigger tug. Amazingly, I was able to watch the plane taxi to the runway, takeoff, and ascend into the sky until it was just a tiny speck. As the plane got smaller and smaller, the void in my heart got larger and larger. Questions bombarded my mind: 'what if he is scared? what if someone who doesn't like kids is sitting next to him? what if they crash? what if...what if...what if....???' Joshua 1:9 came back to me as clearly as if the Lord was speaking it aloud: 'Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. For I am with your Joshua--my Joshua--wherever he goes.' He also reminded me that He loved Joshua much more than I could ever love him.

As I walked out of the airport, I could see in the distance the Nashville skyline. The sun was setting behind it and it was illuminated by the clouds that surrounded it. It was absolutely beautiful. It reminded me of the love I have for this city. The city that I came to know God as my Savior. And now the city where I was sending my son off for the very first time, with the promise that His Savior was protectinwith Him. I was trusting the Lord with Joshua, even though it felt as if my heart had been ripped out. I thought about all of the mother's of missionaries...all of the mother's of soldiers sent out to war...I realized I had just had a small taste of their experience. I thought about how this was just the beginning of many times that I would be sending my children off. With every year that passes they are getting older and 'taking flight'. Somehow, I knew that it was going to be hard to send them out but that the Lord would give me the strength to do it, just as He had tonight.

Well, the week sped by, Joshua had a blast and flew home without a hitch. I thought about all of the lessons Joshua and our family had learned through this adventure. Lessons about faith and facing our fears through leaning on our Lord. I thought about how this was a definite spiritual marker in all of our lives, specifically in Joshua's. I thought about all of the lessons we would have missed if we had said 'no'. I am thankful that we listened to the Lord and said 'yes'.

A Sweet Birthday Present

This morning I had to do my dreaded long run for the week--seventeen miles. I was dreading it, anticipating it and scared out of mind all at the same time. Today also happens to be my birthday. And my sweet husband and kids did something worth more than a hundred presents. They surprised me at mile 8 (literally--by jumping out from behind the bushes) with signs sporting my marathon bible verses and with yelling and hugging and cheering! And they had Grape G2 waiting for me--my favorite gatorade drink of all time! It was like an oasis in a desert. I thought when I walked out this morning that the humidity was low but was I ever wrong! I had just thought in my head, I wished I had some gatorade--I don't know if I can run the rest of this thing without it. So they were such a welcomed sight! Then, at mile 12--once again, there they sat in the white van with more gatorade and more cheering! Then at mile 16 (one mile to go) they had more gatorade more cheering and little runners who decided to run the last mile with me! What a sweet cheerleading crew and what a sweet birthday present. Love you guys---you are the best!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Donations!!!!

So I just checked my donations for team Worldvision and was so psyched to see that I have received two donations!!!! I am so excited!!! Thanks Nicole and Linda! You guys rock! And thanks for the encouraging comments! You guys made my day !!! :)

running thoughts

I was reading in Runner's World the other day that Deena Kastor, USA Olympian marathoner, has little 'one liners' or sentences that she repeats over and over in her head to keep her motivated while she is running. Here are the thoughts that I repeat over and over as I run:
  • Isaiah 40:31: And those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like wings on eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
  • Hebrews 12:1: therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for me.
  • Phil. 4:13: I can do All things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • No excuses, no exceptions, no explanations. Do what you do. (from Tony Dungy's book: Quiet Strength)
  • Mind of Steel - I don't know where this came from--maybe I made it up?
  • God is Who He says He is, God Can Do what He says He can do, I am who God says I am, I can do all things through Christ, God's Word is alive and active in me, I'M BELIEVING GOD! (from Beth Moore's Believing God bible study)
  • Give it all to Jesus: Ready, Steady, Go! (For those of you that don't know, this is a song)

So, all you runners out there, what thoughts do you focus on to encourage you?

Also, I am going to focus on a different bible verse for each mile during the marathon. So far I have: Isaiah 40:31, Hebrews 12:1-3, Romans 5:4-5 and 2 Cor. 12:9-10. I have been doing this for my last two 'long runs' and it has helped me tremendously! I would love any input on verses...Please share any that have been particularly helpful to you. Thanks :)

Front Porch Blogging

Well, I am sitting on my very favorite porch in the world, with my very favorite drink in hand (Starbucks peppermint mocha). This covered porch is very southern-style. it has green ivey growing up the walls and onto the ceiling. For August, the humidity is next to zero. The wind is slightly blowing. There are lush green plants and palm trees all around me. Ok, so depression is starting to settle in because tomorrow is our last full day :( . I do this every time. I get so sad on the last two days of vacation because I keep thinking 'it's almost over!' that I almost can't enjoy them. So I can here you right now saying this is the smallest violin in the world saying I feel for you! Okay, okay. I am going to snap out of my whoa is me attitude and enjoy our little bit of time left!!!! :) See? Now I am smiling.

Anyway, it is afternoon. Eric and Joshua have went back to the beach (the beachcombers of the family!), Owen and Jeremiah are napping, Sophie and Wes are watching a movie and I am sitting here getting ready to read one of the ten books that are calling my name and write down some things that I have been wanting to write for quite some time before they disappear into the vast land of forgetfulness. So here's to the next two hours of just hanging out in book world and blog land!

Hope you are having a wonderful afternoon!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Sad Sunshiny Day

Yesterday started out perfectly. It was day #4 of our vacation in Destin. My mother in law had come with us and my father in law was to fly down mid week (Wednesday). We were so very excited to have them with us and just have some hang out time with them--something that just doesn't get to happen as much as we'd like it to with our busy lives. Eric was especially excited about spending time with his dad. So far, we had had the most relaxing and enjoyable time. We had settled into our routine--beach, pool, lunch and more beach. Thus far, the weather had been beautiful. This morning proved no exception. The water was crystal clear--there was hardly a cloud in the sky. A perfect beach day. Eric and I started the morning off running together, something we rarely get to do, but were able to because my mother in law was at the house with our kids. We completed our run, had breakfast, played some Uno on the front porch, got ready for the beach, life was good.

We got to the beach, set up our stuff and did our 'thing'. Rode the waves, looked for shells, played in the sand, played some wiffle ball, watched our 18 month old throw some fits...just a typical day. But, life can change in a blink of an eye. My mother in law's phone rang. She looked panic stricken and motioned for Eric. I was a ways down the beach with Sophie and Jeremiah collecting seashells. Eric yelled for me and I could tell by the urgency of his voice and arm motions that something terrible had happened. It seemed to take forever to get to him, all the while my mind was plagued with terrible thoughts of what it could be. When I finally reached Eric he gave me the news that his uncle had died--his dad's brother. His dad was the youngest of five boys. This was his only brother that had still been living--his other three brothers were already deceased. We stood there trying to absorb the shock and did what only seemed to be fitting in that very moment--we held hands and prayed. We prayed for the wife who is now without her husband, the son who is now without his dad, the brother who is now without his siblings. In a moment, our entire day and entire vacation had changed.

Numbly, we packed up our stuff and went back to our beach house. We spent the next few hours on the phone with the airlines, trying to find the most cost effective way to get my mother in law home. We finally found a flight for the following day. Once all of the phone calls had been made, the rest of the day was surreal. We tried to go back to our normal activities. You know-- beach, pool and beach. But somehow it just felt weird. We were on a vacation and so we were supposed to vacate. But yesterday I couldn't vacate all of the questions that bombarded my mind: Why, Lord? Why did this man have to die and leave behind a wife, a son, a daughter in law, a brother, amongst many others? Why did this have to happen, now? Why couldn't my father-in-law have come to Florida and relax for a few days with us rather than have to now go through this? Why, why, why??? My thoughts drifted further...why did my mother have to die the way she did? Why did Stephen Curtis Chapman's daughter have to be taken in such a quick, tragic manner? Why, Why, Why??? Sadness, frustration and anger wrestled within me as we went about our regularly scheduled vacation plans....

This morning, as I did my bible study, I felt the Lord's love pour over me like a well needed shower. As He has been teaching me over these last six months, I am not always going to get my 'why' answers answered. God's ways are not our ways and we will never know the answer to sad things that happen. We will never know or understand God's timing. But one thing I have learned through and through: God walks through the sadness with us. Faith is trusting that God will walk with us up the mountain side--it doesn't mean it won't be rough terrain at times. It doesn't mean that you can't talk to him about how much you don't like it, but it does mean that you are willing to walk step by step 'with' Him. I was reminded this morning that I can choose to throw in the towel and say forget it and turn around and find my own way up the mountain. Or I can choose to walk with Him. I am beginning to learn through experience that He gives us a supernaturally joy through the heartache and disappointments if we choose to stick by Him. This morning, I was actually able to thank the Lord for the present circumstances and to say 'I trust that Your way is the best way, no matter what.' I am thankful. I am trusting God in difficult circumstances. I am resting in God's perfect plan.

"...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 5:3-5

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to You!

Just thinking about this brother tonight!

Vacation Countdown

3 more days until we are at this house! Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We are going to Destin, Florida and staying seven days. I CANNOT WAIT. This is my most favorite family time we spend together all year long. We relax and kick back and do absolutely nothing. Here is what I like most about our vacation:

  • Going in August makes us anticipate it and look forward to it all summer. It is also a great refresher before the school year kicks off. And it is almost half the price. And it is not crowded at all!
  • No cleaning, no bills, no phone, no worries.
  • Drinking coffee on the front porch
  • 'Phase 10' tournaments on the front porch
  • The front porch
  • watching my kids play on the beach with their daddy
  • spending individual time with each of our children
  • playing all of our favorite boardgames
  • having bible study in the morning on the veranda off of our bedroom
  • kicking back and actually getting to lounge around and watch tv
  • Reading, reading, and more reading!
  • The crazy backroad route my husband takes to get us there
  • Browsing the beach shops---not really sure why I like this
  • Twilight on the beach with picnic in tow
  • taking cute beach pics
  • early morning runs beachside
  • big breakfasts (actually, I don't like breakfast all that much, but I do enjoy the fact that Eric makes all of them on vacation!, now that I think about it, he makes all of them at home too. Oh well, anyway, there is something about them being special on vacation!)
  • having cinnamon raisin bagels and strawberry cream cheese, pretzel sticks and Mountain Dew and Double stuffed Oreos...for whatever reason, these things we don't typically eat but always buy to eat on vacation. And we crave it like crazy.
  • Going running beachside
  • playing in the sand
  • searching for seashells
  • catching crabs
  • riding the waves
  • eating seafood out
  • playing miniature golf
  • the front porch--did I say that already?
  • shopping the discount scrapbook store
  • walks on the beach
  • dates with my husband
  • celebrating my birthday in our most favorite place with my favorite people

    OHHH, I can hardly stand it!!!!!!!!! It's so close I can almost smell it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I don't like about our vacation:

  • Leaving.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sacrificial Love

During my bible study this morning, I was reminded of what love is from God's perspective.
God has called us to love even when:

  • we don't want to
  • we don't feel like it
  • we get nothing obvious in return
  • they don't deserve it
  • they're not worth it
  • they don't even know it
  • it makes no difference

In contrast, the world entices us to love only when

  • we want to
  • we feel like it (this is getting too hard; I'll move on now)
  • when we get something back (I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine)
  • someone deserves our love (Look what they did to me--forget them!)
  • if they are worthy of it
  • they acknowledge it
  • it seems to make a difference

Love from the world's perspective has one common denominator: me, me, me. It's all about me and what it does for me.

Love, from God's perspective is all about sacrifice and not about self. We have been called to live a sacrificial love. We may do this for years and even the rest of our lives and see no apparent fruit. We are to love by faith not by feeling. The reason we often have such a hard time doing it is because we draw on our own emotions' pitifully small resources. Romans 5:5 says: "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." One definition of this word 'heart' in the Greek is this: 'the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours'. Wow, to literally think of our hearts as fountains. What a word picture. What do fountains do? They pour out water. If we allow God to pour his love into us through daily prayer and bible study, our hearts can literally pour out--like a fountain--onto all of those around us.

I really needed to be reminded of this today. I think an index card is calling out for this verse, how about you? :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Luke Ryan Newton



Born: Monday, August 4, 2008

Time: 12:30 PM

Weighed: 7 lbs, 10 ounces

Joshua, Soph, Wes and I traveled to Indiana yesterday morning to welcome our newest addition to the family!!! So, so sweet and cute! We love you Lukie!
Proud Mom and Dad:

Lots of big cousins to love him!


Just thinking about my like-minded, spirit filled friend today.

So blessed to have a friend who:

  • has a passion for God's Word

  • I can talk to for hours and it just feels like a few minutes

  • thinks the way I do

  • cracks me up

  • thinks I'm funny

  • encourages me

  • is about as unfake as they come

  • accepts me just like I am

  • speaks Truth in my life

  • thinks the Office is as funny as i do
"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17

Iron sister, so glad to have shared the Beth Moore conference with you this past weekend--a memory to treasure forever. Love you friend!

PS -- And remember--STOP THE JOKE :)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fulfilling Sunday

Today was one of those days that MUCH got accomplished! And it felt so good! Eric (along with many friends) has been building a deck on the back of our house and today they FINISHED! Yippee! Also, a friend (a GOD SEND!) offered to come and help me organize some things...last week she helped get our school room cleaned out and organized. Today she came over and we cleaned out and organized Sophie's room. It just makes me feel good all over. Now I can walk by Soph's room without having heart palpitations! :) ...the basement is next and watch out--I just might get radical.

Polly Grogan Bates Reunion

We went to the lake for our annual Polly Bates Grogan family reunion. This was year #6 and I think my favorite so gets better every year! The kids live for this weekend!!! Thanks, Mi and Gigi! You guys rock!