It’s My Husband Rocks Friday!

My husband ROCKS because he understands his God-given authority and role in being a man and a husband.  He treats me like his queen and loves me with God’s love in him throughout all of my imperfections.  He covers me with prayer and with protection of all harmful things, especially those things that are spiritually harmful.  He loves me through the times that I am so unlovable.  I am thankful that he leads our family with fearlessness of whatever the future may bring. 

Honey, one of my greatest desires is to follow God’s calling of being a holy and submissive wife with a gentle and quiet spirit  – respecting you and your needs every day.  I know I am not always good at this, but please know that I am working on it.  I love you!

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Published in: on May 29, 2009 at 6:42 am  Comments (1)  

8th Grade Promotion – May 26, 2009

Emma is promoted from 8th grade and is now officially a Freshman in high school!   Time goes by so fast!  We are very proud of you Emma!  Reminiscing our middle school years… 

  • Braces…only a few more months to go! 

    Jorie Smith and Emma

    Jorie Smith and Emma

  • Dance, Dance Revolution                 
    Emma and Katie Olson

    Emma and Katie Olson

                                                                                                                                                                                             

  • Cell phones and text messaging…”hey what’s up?  Nothin. U?  Nothin.”  cell phone
  •  I-pod… and I-tunes!  Music has become such an important part of your life.  As you say, silence is too loud.
  • Heely’s  Skate Shoes – you wore them everywhere. 
  • Camp Paradise… making special memories with Dad!149-4911_IMG
  • The era of “quotes”… endless quotes!
  • Cheerleading during football and basketball games – fun times with friends.

Cheerleading 2008 019 Cheerleading 2008 037

  • Basketball (and getting mono, which ended your basketball career for the season).
  • Field Trips:  Cave of the Mounds, Medieval Times, Snowboarding/skiing at Chestnut, Great America.
  • Girlfriends and drama!  And more drama!  And more drama!

    Emma and Katie Olson

    Emma and Katie OlsonKatie, Emma, Kelly and Jorie

  • Boyfriends and drama.
  • Band sheets – we can finally get them signed on time – and it took nearly 3 years!  On another note (no pun intended), we really did enjoy listening to your flutist skills significantly improve each year!.
  • School dances and rec nights.
  • Father / Daughter dances… your father will miss these most when that boy asks you to your first high school dance!
  • That pose!  

Mary Grahf and Emma
Mary Grahf and Emma

me

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day

Soldiers from the U.S. Army Old Guard place flags at grave stones at Arlington National Cemetery May 21, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia.  It took 1,300 soldiers, sailors and Marines about three hours to place a flag at each of the more than 300,000 gravestones at Arlington ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Birthday Sami!

IMG_2884

Today is my baby’s first birthday!  Sami has brought so much joy to our lives.  Seriously, we sometimes refer to her as our therapeutic dog because she loves everyone and can lift their spirits with the wag of her tail.  Things I have learned this past year from Sami and other wonderful memories: 

I do believe she is prepping me for the time we have a human baby.  She wants my attention always and is often very needy. 

She is excited to see you as soon as you come home.  Why can’t I greet everyone with that much enthusiasm? 

She loves us unconditionally – even when we gripe and complain about whose turn it is to let her outside.  Actually, I have learned that I most often do not mind the “inconveniences” of taking care of her since I love her so much.  I just do them for her knowing I am meeting her needs and that I love her so.  Again, I wish to be just as intentional of caring for my family with a loving attitude. 

Sami loves to tear up paper.  The habit started when she was a puppy.  I used to joke that the only way I could read the mail was to give her the envelopes that she would tear to a zillion pieces.  This holds true to this day.  If she even hears me opening a piece of mail, she comes running and wants the envelope.  She is the only one who gets away with making a mess in the house – and I happily clean up after her.  Shouldn’t I be just as happy cleaning up after everyone else? 

As Sami is a little dog weighing only five pounds, she is sometimes intimidated and fearful of being alone.  I have prayed often over her that God gives her a bold and courageous spirit.  

Yes Sami, you have taught me well to better love people, to be more patient and caring, and to appreciate life while living in the moment.  You have been God’s gift to our family.  Happy Birthday my sweet girl!

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Husband Rocks!!!

It’s My Husband Rocks Friday!  He ROCKS because he…

  • keeps me calm when I am anxious
  • always values, provides for and protects our family
  • knows his Master as God, and me as his Queen
  • is a lovingly devoted and caring Father to Emma and Sami
  • always tells me the truth, even if it’s ugly or hard
  • never tires of my endless gab and questions
  • knows the importance of rest and being still
  • is budget-conscious and fiscally responsible
  • takes great pride and care of our home and yard maintenance
  • inspires me to be a better person

I love you Husband!  You rock my world!

Published in: on May 15, 2009 at 8:30 am  Comments (1)  

Blogging Versus Facebook

Most people I know do not know what a blog is but they do use Facebook or My Space.  I’m probably showing my age with that one.  I have just started to dabble with this blog, a brand new experience.  I do have great ideas once I learn what I am doing.  I also only recently joined Facebook mainly to connect with extended family that live all over the country.  Here are the differences that I have experienced: 

  • Blogging is more formal because it is very personal.  Facebook is more casual.
  • I can spend hours blogging – both reading blogs and learning how to further develop my own.  Generally, I only spend a few minutes on Facebook.
  • Blogging allows you to develop meaningful friendships.  Facebook is used primarily just to keep in touch.
  • Blogging is used to teach, grow, and inspire, whereas Facebook is used to share quick updates.
  • Blogging is for chatters – people who really love to talk.  Okay, I for one really love to talk.  Facebook is for quick messages but not necessarily as quick as Twitter.  Maybe that’s why I’m not very good at Facebook. 
  • I blog in my head when I sleep at night.  I am totally fascinated by this.  I don’t ever think about Facebook but to just check for any “updates”. 
  • I will say though that I have 2 new terrific friends that I met on their blogs but we send personal messages using Facebook.  And my brother loves to play the Facebook games that adhere to his highly competitive spirit.
  • Blogging does take a considerable amount of time so if you don’t have much to give, you may want to stick with Facebook.  But if you can take the time, I think it is worth it.  Since I have just started, we will see how far I get. 
Published in: on May 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Infertility and Mother’s Day… Again

I very selfishly dread Mother’s Day and have branded it one of my worst days of the year.  (Did I really just claim that?)   Certainly not because I don’t want to honor my Mother because I do; she is one of my best friends and I cherish our relationship.  But what trumps my heart is this never-ending, all-consuming burn in my heart for the child I have yet to call my own.  It stings!  Mother’s Day is just a reminder to me of what I am not.  At my age, I am quickly losing hope that it will ever happen.  The pain of this sometimes takes my breath away. 

Since we are talking about the heartaches, I am also gently convicted to look at where God is in all of this.  God, where exactly are you?  Oh, you do have a plan, don’t you?  I am praying for His will and not my own, but also that if having a child(ren) is not His will for me, that he take away this unquenchable desire in my heart for this blessing.  

Pastor Stephen Arterburn of New Life Ministries has written something that finally shows a different perspective to Mother’s Day.  Please know that if you are a Mother rejoicing today, we do really rejoice with and honor you.  But for some of us, it is just a difficult day. 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY – OR IS IT?

This Sunday is Mother’s Day.  And it’s a great day to celebrate your mother or your motherhood.  But, what about someone who didn’t have a great relationship with their mom?  Is that you?  Or, maybe you are a mom and there’s been hurt or tragedy?  Maybe your child was born with a disease or a handicap.  Maybe he or she is in prison.  Or, perhaps your child has died.

Or, maybe you’ve always wanted to be a mom and you’ve not been able to conceive and Mother’s Day rolls around and it just plain hurts to think about what you wish would have been.  We were talking about this on radio the other day, and the emails and blog postings affirmed that we struck a chord with many of you. 

So I took a little time to think about what models of motherhood there were in the Bible.  And I learned that if you’re challenged with being a mom or with your mom, you’re in good company.  Not that it makes it right or necessarily makes you feel that much better, but I hope it’s an encouragement to you that God will use your situation, whether you’re happy or sad this Mother’s Day, and extend His grace and work through your life in ways you would never have imagined.

Consider this:

  • Eve had two kids.  One murdered the other. 
  • Sarah longed for a child and was very old before that came to pass.
  • Rebekah favored one son over the other and helped her favorite deceive his father in order to receive the blessing that was due his brother.
  • Moses’ mother raised him for the first three months of his life then gave him up, putting him in a basket and floating him down the river.   (though she did “arrange” to nurse him and be his caretaker).
  • Rachel died in childbirth.
  • Hannah’s womb was closed for years and her rival provoked her because she had children and Hannah had none.  She was later blessed to bear a son, Samuel, but for years she grieved not being a mother. 
  • Tamar was a mother to twins, and the children’s father was her own father-in-law.
  • Mary saw her son do many great things and teach with passion and great wisdom, and then witnessed his horrific crucifixion.

I know there are other stories and examples, but these came to mind as I thought about a few.   And it was eye opening to me.   Don’t get me wrong.  Mother’s Day is a wonderful thing.   God’s word, after all, tells us to honor your father and your mother.

 But we also live in a world where there’s a lot of hurt and pain and sorrow, and often it’s magnified around Mother’s Day because there’s something about your mom, or your experience being or not being a mom, that makes things a little less than perfect.  

And if that’s you, I want you to stop and consider some of the hardships of the moms who went before you . . . maybe your mom, or your grandmother have some incredible stories of trouble and sorrow.  Maybe the cycle hasn’t been broken and this is your time to break it.  What do you do with that hurt?  Have you grieved your loss?  Have you accepted and surrendered your loss . . . that you’re mom wasn’t the mom you thought you should have . . . that you weren’t able to be a mom . . . that your child left, or your child died and you have no hope of ever seeing him or her again.  It’s time to do so.  

Stop.  Grieve.  Pray.  Talk to someone about your hurt.  Connect with a sibling.  A friend.  A pastor.  A spouse. A counselor.  Someone you can trust.   Share your hurt and let them know you’ve decided to grieve and surrender your pain and sorrow.  It’s time to see how God will use you.   To see how you can minister to others who are stuck in the midst of the hurt you’ve been stuck in. 

If you live in a world that’s a little closer to what Beaver Cleaver grew up in, go celebrate with your mom and soak in the blessing you’ve been given.  I am so happy for you.  If you’re in this spot, would you pray with me for all those folks who are hurting a little more than usual this Mother’s Day?  Let’s pray for moms, right now: 

Dear Lord, I pause this moment and pray for all who read this.  Some have great moms—with great memories of growing up and being nurtured and encouraged and loved every step of the way.  And we ask you for a special blessing of thanksgiving for those mothers and women who are so fortunate.

And, Lord, I also want to ask your special blessing today, and especially this Sunday, Mother’s Day, for those for whom Mother’s Day evokes painful thoughts and memories.  There are many reasons why this might be the case.  And we just turn to you right now for comfort.  For the strength of those who are reading this who need to take a step to grieve the loss they’ve never fully grieved.  We pray that they might get unstuck.  They’ve been living in sorrow, in hurt, in pain for many years in some cases; and right now they realize it’s time to forgive.  It’s time to let the bitterness go.  It’s time to surrender the resentment.  It’s time to accept that you, God, will use them right where they are. 

Let them see that their painful experiences give them great qualification to minister to others who are stuck in their own pain.

Help me, God, to get outside myself.  Help me to remember that living this life isn’t about me.  It’s about you, God.  And I will take steps to get beyond feeling sorry for myself, even though I have good reason to feel sorry.  But I want people to see a gracious, loving God who can take my hurt and turn it into a ministry that gives him all glory and honor.

That’s my prayer, Lord, this Mother’s Day.  I pray this all in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Published in: on May 10, 2009 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cracked Pots

clay-pots-005A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

 ”Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Now, aren’t you glad you are a “cracked pot” too!

-Author Unknown

Published in: on May 7, 2009 at 8:06 am  Comments (1)  

No Matter the Cost…

When was the last time you formally declared to God, ‘I will do your bidding no matter what it costs me or where you lead me?’ ”

 I have to share this inspirational, life changing and life-giving book with you.  It is called The Hole in Our Gospel, written by Richard Stearns.  Here is a very brief summary:

 This is a story of how a CEO faced his own struggle to obey God, whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Believing that the “good news” is more than a private transaction between God and us, Stearns challenges readers with this question: What does God expect of us? Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again.

 Please visit www.theholeinourgospel.com for more information.  Make sure you watch the interview posted with Bill Hybels and Richard Stearn.  There is also a free study guide you can download.  I also highly recommend visiting Richard’s Blog.  I am excited to share this journey with him and hope you will join us!

Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 8:46 am  Leave a Comment