Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh How He Loves You and Me


Oh, how He loves you and me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.

Words and Music by Kurt Kaiser
© 1975 - All Rights Reserved



I have so much to thank the Lord for this Christmas season...and every season, for that matter.

This year has delivered surprises--good and bad, smiles, tears, and an abundance of lessons. I've been learning how to love stronger, be more devoted both to my faith and to my loved ones, listen more and talk less (although I still fail miserably at this), and a plethora of other lessons. I'm not done, of course. As the children's song goes: "He's still workin' on me."
Mercy, He still has an awful lot of work to do.

Our family has gone through a pretty big change lately with Matt accepting a new job. It's been anything but easy. We sure could use your prayers. In the midst of this, we're also having to walk through deep wounds of the past, and the only hope we have is that He will be exalted and we will be healed. There is so much healing to be done. And He will--He will.

Our faith has grown more than we imagined it could this past year, and God has taught us more about His church. We worship with such amazing people who have shown genuine love for us and for Christ, and that's such a blessing. So many of our church family members have lost family members and other loved ones this year...I can't even keep count. The pains have been devastating. But Christ's love has been sustaining. Just this week one of our family members had a horrible car wreck with her two babies in the car. She has undergone a six hour surgery, and today she has become conscious...thank the Lord. I can't imagine how much her babies miss her and she them. Please keep her close in prayer and her immediate family as well. God is sovereign, and He has a purpose for this all.

I pray that this Christmas you will learn more about how much He loves you.

"...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8b ESV).

God sent Jesus out of His presence to ours as a sweet baby so that He could grow into a man and die for you and me. So that we may live in His presence forever.

Oh how He loves you and me.

Merry Christmas and
Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Unattainable Goals

"The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24 ESV).

My study Bible says "the ends of the earth" refers to unattainable goals. So, I asked myself:
What are some unattainable goals I've made for myself and even for those I love?


MYSELF: To have a perfectly ordered house. Laundry done at all times. Dishes washed within 10 minutes of a meal. To never get angry at the kids or Matt. To have a model body. To be an incredible cook.

MATT: To always understand my feelings. (ha!) To be a natural-born leader. To be romantic every day. To remember everything I say.

KEAGAN: To talk as well as other toddlers. To eat neatly. To conquer potty training NOW! To eat every meal. To never have accidents.

KATE: To reach milestones when or before Keagan did. To have the exact same schedule every single day. To walk NOW!

As I write these, I recognize how ridiculous they truly are. Yet, I've found myself fully expecting them on some level.
Here's the truth:

MYSELF: Keagan dumped his basket of HotWheels in the living room floor last night, and I was too tired to pick them up. Last night we had dinner early, but had to rush off to visit family who lives states away, so my kitchen is a mess right now. I probably have more than 50 loads of laundry waiting for me in our closet. I need to wash the sheets on our bed. Our bath tub needs a little attention. I'm no model, and I'm too short to ever be. There it is. And my menu looks strangely familiar every month.

MATT: Matt's a male, which means his thought process consists of numbers, statistics, and plans of action--not feelings. And he thinks I'm crazy for mine. He wasn't taught to be a leader. He's been learning on his own, and I have to help with that--encourage rather than point out flaws. And no matter how many times I tell him who is in the hospital, he won't remember it tomorrow--breathe in and tell him again.

KEAGAN: Keagan is Keagan and no one else. He is stubborn and will accomplish things when he sees fit, not when I or the rest of the world see fit. He is still just 2; he will spill things and wipe jelly on the wall. His stomach is quite small, and I can't force food in there--he'll eat when he's hungry enough. And he is going to have plenty of accidents, but I must see them as teaching moments...not moments of shame.

KATE: Anyone who knows this little thunder bolt knows Kate is just...Kate. She will come and go as she pleases, thank you very much. She is demanding, and I have to help her with that, not get angry with her. I don't have the exact same schedule on everything every day, so why do I think she will? If she doesn't want to walk right now, then she won't. And when she does, she will. Period.

Lord, help me to remember these truths and compare them with the misconceptions I have of the way life should be. Give me patience with myself and my family, as well as room for learning and growth. Thank you for the joys You've offered with them and also the obstacles, as I know they will only make me lean on You all the more.

Have you set any unattainable goals for yourself or those you cherish? Ask the Lord to redirect those goals with Christ's perspective on things.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Monday, December 15, 2008

He Was Born to Die

This is my favorite Christmas song, thanks to Matt and Angie. I am enamored by these lyrics and overwhelmed by God's love for us. Thank you, Jesus. I want to really live for You.

Watch the video.

Savor what Christmas is really about today. Are we teaching our children the wonder and majesty of our Savior, or are we teaching them about Santa Claus and getting presents? This day is all about HIM, and very little about US.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Friday, December 12, 2008

Diaper Diaries

There's a lot to learn from a diaper, I learned yesterday.

Since Keagan had started saying, “Diaper,” getting one out of the drawer, lying down, and then proceeding to try doing it himself, I thought to myself: “It's time to potty train.” I talked it over with Keagan, and I showed him his “big boy” underwear. He was ecstatic and insisted on sprinting around the house in nothing but his tidy whities right away. Oh, what freedom!

I explained that big boys don't wear diapers, and they don't pee pee in their big boy underwear either. He said he understood.

As we proceeded and managed to potty numerous times in the big boy potty chair, Keagan began figuring out that this whole growing up thing was a lot of work. And it wasn't fun. We have to stop building bridges and tunnels with our Mega Blocks and press pause on Larry Boy and pee pee when we're still sleepy from just waking in the morning and right after nap time.

It takes a lot of effort.

Yesterday I noticed that Keagan was beginning to struggle with the effort. After going potty, he said, “Diaper!” with passionate despair and anguish in his eyes. “No, you're a big boy now, remember?” I gently tried to encourage. He shook his head, “Want diaper!”

After a few times of this scene throughout the day, he broke down and wailed. We sat in a chair and I began my diaper pep talk. I told him how I know that it's hard to grow up, and that it would be so much easier just to go back to the diaper where he won't have to remember to go to the potty, where he can poop and wait for Mommy to clean it up...because she always does. But that he can't possibly wear diapers forever! I told him that if he'd just work hard now and get through this stage, it will be so much better on the other side. Underwear provides so much freedom! He could play outside and run faster without so much extra baggage on the booty. He can go swimming better, and so many other big boy activities! And I told him he doesn't have to do it on his own; I'm here to help him.

Right in the middle of my diaper speech, I felt a gentle nudge in my heart.

What about your diaper?

What diaper? I don't wear a diaper, Lord; I'm 26 years old!

I think you know what diaper I'm talking about.

What? My fear of dealing with things? That's not really a diaper. That's just my personality. I'm a worrier. You made me that way, Lord. So really, it's your fault.

Silence.

Okay, Lord, that wasn't right. What am I worrying about? The changes our family is trying to make? The job Matt's about to start on Monday? The painful issues You're making us face head on? Oh, those diapers.

So there I had it: I am a 26 year old in a diaper.

Lord, I need you to potty train me and walk me through this hard time. Remind me that even if I pee my pants, you'll clean me up and we'll try it again. I love you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cake and Steps, a Wee Little Man, Provision, and Praise







Here is Kate walking with her push toy!

Our baby girl is no longer a "baby." (sigh) She turned 1 year old on Saturday and now walks with her push toy. This past year has been so wonderful, and it disappeared so quickly. We look forward to many more with our wonderful children!

Keagan also can now sing the "Zacchaeus" song by himself, and it's so much fun to hear! His favorite part, of course, is "Zacchaeus, you come down!" He's pretty much a finger pointing expert. And right now, he's singing along with a Hillsong tune with my phone in his ear!

We are so blessed. So blessed. One other note of importance: Matt has accepted a new job, and it looks like it will fulfill our requests we've made of the Lord for provision for our family! Matt will no longer be driving to Ft. Smith every day, not on our gas bill, anyway. He will have a company van, and the company will pay for travel expenses. He still will get to "tinker" with technology, so God has smiled on us with that...even though Matt was willing to do whatever needed to make a better provision for us. I asked you all to pray a while back because we were praying about some "shifting" in our household structure, and it seems that you did! So thank you if you prayed for us! We're looking toward lessening my work load so that I may focus on our children and our family. I'm so blessed to have a husband who will work hard for us and who loves Christ so much.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!"
Psalm 100:4

Thank you, Lord, for your sweet blessings.

Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Friday, December 5, 2008

Smackin' a Starvin' Baby

So I'm pretty sure I was involved in my funniest story yet on Tuesday night at Walmart.

Matt and I took both kids to grab a few groceries, and as you can see here, Keagan was not a happy camper about it. We were on the cookie aisle, and of course he wanted to open the package immediately. This shot is after we told him NO.
Well, an older lady happened to be on the aisle while this happened, and I glanced up just in time to receive her “You're going straight to hell” glare. I smiled, and continued shopping.

Matt and I split up to get the shopping done faster after that—I had Kate and he had Keagan. When we met again a little later, Matt came around a corner, pushing the cart and ducking down a bit with wide eyes. “Some lady keeps following me around trying to tell me what to do with him,” he said as he pointed to our wailing angel. Before I could even respond or react to this, I look to our left and see said woman whipping around the corner yelling, “Sir, I wish you'd just STOP!” She has a package of crackers in her hand, and she is not happy. “Would you please just give that baby a cracker or a cookie?” She just keeps coming closer and closer. When I thought we couldn't get any closer, she takes the package and shakes it in my face! “Can't you see that that baby is just starving? He's just hungry.” Matt pipes up with his brilliant “We're his parents, and he's got enough to eat—he's just throwing a fit” thank you very much speech. She tells us that this has just RUINED her day! She actually looked like she was going to cry! Then, the best part happened: “I heard you smack him on that other aisle, and he just cried and cried.” At this point, Matt and I stared at each other with “Is this really happening to us?” looks. (It should be noted that while this conversation ensued, Keagan was quiet.) “See, he's quiet since I came over here with these!” the crazy woman said. I had to physically turn around so she couldn't see my upheaval of laughter. I kept waiting for the camera guy to pop out and say, “Gotcha!” Nope.

“Thank you, but we're his parents and we're doing what we think is best for him. We don't want him to be a brat.” (Did I mention my husband is wonderful?)
After she realized she wasn't getting anywhere with him, she turned to me, shaking the crackers with more fervor than before. I told her I was in agreement with my husband. To show his appreciation for my support, do you know what my wonderful husband did? HE LEFT ME THERE WITH HER! (I was supposed to follow, but if you know me well, this is not in my make-up.) So, I stood with this insane human being and listened while she told me how she works in the Baptist church and had 5 (did you hear that?) children, and nothing this atrocious ever happened to her! And her daughter has two glorious children who are perfect angels and she was going to get them so their mommy could go to the Baptist church. Once she knew I was not going to take her cracker charity, she huffed around and said, “Well, I certainly hope you guys can figure out how to work this out!”

Only me.