I will be leaving in the morning to go on a one week mission trip to Nicaragua. While I am there I won't be able to post anything, so it will be June 5th or 6th before I can post again.
Oh, and that's all.
(This one's for my Mom because she is always amazed by small children and how they use their own ideas and personality to figure things out.)
Little James had been sick. His momma was relieved that he was now over it and was returning to his busy happy normal little self. He likes adventure and he realizes there are lots of things to learn about in this giant world. So he has to keep constantly busy to learn it all.
Although it was the wee hours of the morning a trip to Wal-mart would give mom and her little boy a nice change of atmosphere. By 3:30 am the shopping was finished and it was time to go home. While passing through the entrance area, the three year old told his mommy he wanted to play one of the vending machines. It was the crane machine that uses a "claw" to pick up a toy. It was full of lots of small stuffed toys. Jimmy would love to have one of them so brightly colored as they filled the bottom of the machine. When his mommy told him no (she didn't have any change at that time), he got mad and threw down his juice bottle. It took his mother about 2 seconds to bend down and pick it up. But when she stood up her young son was literally inside the machine! He had climbed through the slot where the toys fall out.
The store employees didn't know what to do. They figured he would have to stay there until 8 am, the beginning of a new workday when the vending machine company could open the machine with their key. James' mother wouldn't allow her son to be in there that long.
The store employees tried various keys on the machine but none would work. As they struggled to solve their unusual problem shoppers began to gather around. Finally the Elkhart fire department was called. When one of the firemen, Anthony Coleman, saw the little boy he said he was swinging from a bar, jumping around and having a ball! It was a sight hard to believe especially at 4 in the morning. His mother told him her son was very good at squeezing into small spaces. Coleman commented that he's gonna be the next Houdini! After 20 years of firefighting when you think you've seen it all this one was a surprise to the firefighter.
Despite the early hour about 40 people had gathered around the little boy inside the vending machine. He loved it. He would hang from the bar of the claw like a little monkey. Dressed in his Pj's, he had a giant smile as he looked out of the vending machine at everyone. He thought it was hilarious that he was getting so much attention.
Then something interesting happened. Everyone wanted a picture so they went inside the store and bought disposable cameras. His mom did too. Despite all the excitement James didn't end up with a toy as you might think but he definitely had proof of his escapade in a photograph taken by his mom.
Children definitely go through the stage of the terrible twos but what about adventurous little boys like James who get even busier in their threes. I think in order to give some credit to mommas of such little toddlers, they need to have a new category. Maybe they could call it the thrilling threes!
I hugged my 7 year old baby girl. "I love you Ginny and I'm so glad God made me your mommy." I told her this as I held her, studied her young freckled-sprinkled face and then seriously looked into her pretty blue eyes. "Mommy, do you wish God didn't make me with CAH (genetic chronic medical condition)?" "Yeah, I wish you didn't have CAH." I told her. "But Ginny did you know since you and Jonathan have that it has helped other mommies and daddies to still have their children. Their children are still alive because God chose to make you with CAH."
My husband's a computer geek whiz. I don't know of any other person in my life who has as much computer programming ability as my husband. In fact, the only other remote possibilities would be the two IT guys I see from time to time at work. About one year after Ginny was born, Danny started searching the internet for message boards that were solely there to discuss the CAH condition. There was one. And then a good thing happened. The people who ran it asked Danny if he would be interested in taking control of it. So he did in April of 1999. It has been very beneficial to families who have this condition. The information has literally saved lives and been a peaceful refuge where serious questions are discussed.
I wish my children didn't have this potentially life threatening condition but it's what God has given us. There are certainly many more conditions that children have in this world that are much more fearful, worrisome and stressful for parents. I seriously don't know why these exist. And I really, really wish they didn't. But in our families situation the real life drama of dealing with a genetic chronic condition has caused me to realize that the Bible verse of Romans 8:28 is true, "For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose."
When Danny and I dated we talked of how many children we wanted. In general we wanted a big family. I wanted four children about three years apart. And Danny wanted a dozen! (He was partly inspired by the book, Cheaper by the Dozen)
About two years ago Ginny's Sunday school teacher came up to me after class, glanced down at my stomach and asked me if I was expecting. She said in prayer time Ginny said a prayer for a new baby in our family. I had to laugh and explain how Ginny really wants a baby sister.
This morning Danny, Ginny and I were talking about our family size again. I started calculating what it would take for me to "deliver" eight more children to fulfill my husband's desire for a large family. Well, since I'm 38, almost 39 now and my mother really did have her last child at 47!, I would have 8 more years. Danny jokingly said I could have one a year. I said "Yeah, right". Then he said we could just shorten it and I could have a set of triplets, boys, and then a set of quintuplets, girls. Then we would have six boys and six girls in the family. Ginny liked the idea and wanted to start the praying. I told Danny that I don't think so. I know God puts me through struggles in my life to help me grow in unselfish ways but I know He also loves me and my body was not intended for such conditions. I told my husband, here I am at 110 pounds. In the summer when I put in 10 hours of work I come home tired and dizzy from the physical stress it put on my body. My body could not handle such stress. If I had that many babies at once I would have a stretched mark flap of skin that used to be my stomach area that would probably hang to my knees. Then I reemphasized to my husband, "No, I don't think so!"
I still wonder though what the future holds for the definitive number of children in our family because my little girl still prays on a regular basis for twin baby girls.
My 12 year old went on a retreat last weekend. It was on Friday and Saturday. It was the second time he had been away from home. The first was to a friend's for a birthday slumber party. He loves going to the youth group and about ten of his seventh and eighth friends also went. They traveled to New Life Ranch near Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He did things like participating in a canoing contest, eating pizza out and staying up until 3am in the morning.
The retreat cost $30 and I'm proud to say my son earned half of it by mowing lawns. He's is starting to get a good reputation in our area for doing that.
The church bus returned about an hour earlier than scheduled after their trip. They called us and I managed to get to the church as earlier as I could. My son had to wait about 20 minutes. When I got there I saw something good. Randy, who was in charge of the trip was sitting by Samuel. I guess they were having some guy time. It made me smile as I drove up. Randy, (I'm pretty sure I remember this correctly) played the role of Jesus in our Easter pageant. On the Sunday before the pageant, he invited the congregation to attend in a very humble manner. He was almost apologetic in that he was chosen to play the role of Jesus because it was the greatest honor to him. I hope he had the opportunity to influence my son as a Christian man. I've been praying that my children would be under the influence of godly role models as they grow. I've done that by regularly praying through the book The Power of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. After I thanked Randy for waiting with Samuel we headed home.
In the car I asked Samuel if he enjoyed himself. He said yes and talked about the canoe contest he had won. I asked him if he learned anything from the Bible. He said our Pastor talked to them but he was too tired to remember the details at that moment. He started getting short and impatient with my questions.
After Samuel had been home for awhile he kept getting loud, rude and impatient when we would talk to him. While he was being loud and rude at supper one night, I asked Danny if this is the beginning of our teenager years. Danny said it could be. I told him I remember staying away from home and when I would come back I was rude and snappy just like my son. Danny said he remembered doing that too. I'm not sure why this happens. I think part of it deals with getting a taste of freedom. Freedom from the humdrum frustration of your "always there" family life. When you're away you get to be independent, for the most part, everyone is nice to you and you get to do fun things. When you return home and life as usual you must get back to doing chores and studies, dealing with siblings and doing what Mom and Dad say. I can see now why this happens.
Today as Samuel and I went to buy groceries I talked with him about his attitude and why it happened. He listened without saying much. In life while you're growing up if you can figure out why you react in certain ways or have certain emotions life can be easier to deal with. As our family grows into the teenage years,(There will be a time in the coming years when all four of them will be teenagers at the same time!) Danny and I will have many opportunities for discussions about such life situations. We both really like to analyze psychological aspects of life and I know this will help.
In the middle of last week Samuel came to me and told me he did learn something during the retreat. Then he gave me a demonstration as he wore a giggly grin. He cupped his hand in his armpit and made a disgusting sound that I know you can imagine on your own.
In the dark night I would lie awake saying a prayer in my head. Oh how I really wanted the prayer to come true but I couldn't see or feel any change. I was around 12 years old. Momma would take all of her children and attend our small country church each Sunday. I liked it all, Sunday school, singing songs and the preacher. I wanted to be a Christian but honestly, I didn't want to tell anyone. So I prayed. "Jesus please come into my heart." I would say the words over and over and nothing would happen. Sometimes I would squeeze my eyes tight and cry the words. Still I felt no change. In the back of my mind, there was a reality I had to face. I knew I would have to tell others when I became a Christian.
Summary Sentence: You were formed for God's family.
In Day 15 of the Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren tells us that God treasures relationships and wants a huge family. In fact, He has placed before humankind an invitation. He wants us to be a part of His family. But there is one condition: faith in Jesus. One of the earliest Bible verses I memorized during vacation Bible school says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead thou shalt be saved." In other words that tells us, you go through Jesus to become a part of God's family.
There is one more step in becoming a member of the family of God. In a healthy family there is pride. Having pride in who you are and who you belong to is important. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 that we should be baptized. Being baptized tells those watching that you are not ashamed that you belong to God's family.
Becoming a part of God's family and becoming a Christian gives us the great privilege of heaven when we die. The author tells us of the inheritance we will receive when we get to heaven. We will become exceedingly rich in the things of God. Here's what our inheritance will include: we will get to be with God forever, we will be completely changed to be like Christ, we will be freed from all pain, death,and suffering, we will be rewarded and reassigned positions of service and we will share in Christ's glory.
I was almost too old to attend the kid's camp in Disney, Oklahoma but since my best friend, Christine was going I wanted to go too. During that week, after the Pastor gave a devotional and talked about a passage from the Bible I told him I wanted to become a Christian. So in our small cabin he and I knelt by a bunk bed and he helped me say the right words and I prayed as sincerely as I could to make Jesus the Lord of my life. My hands were shaking as I said the words but that didn't matter because I really meant them. And then it really happened I knew Jesus was now in my life as the leader of my life. When I came home from kid's camp I went to my little church and stood with the Pastor to announce my decision. Then I was baptized in the church baptistery which was just big enough for two people to stand in. The water was about 4 ft deep. The Pastor dipped me under the water. All of this getting wet was a symbol. Just like the author of PDL says, it declared my faith, it showed I share in Christ's burial and resurrection, it symbolized death to my old life and announced my new life in Christ.
The fear and worry I had had on those sleepless nights when I wanted to become a Christian but not tell anyone, were now gone. I had done as Jesus wanted me too and it wasn't that bad after all.
The above title is a good description of the thoughts that permeated my brain when I went out to the backyard and found my shoe I had just bought yesterday with a hole gnawed out on the inside sole. Our (not my) dog did it. Her name is Sandy. She must have had a heyday today while we were gone. The shoes only cost $2.00 but I figured they would work well with the dresses I have to wear during my mission trip that's coming up soon.
When we first came home this afternoon we found several gnawed pieces of Ginny's Barbie dolls on our one person trampoline. There were probably 10 or 15 chunks of dismembered legs and arms scattered all over it. I knew some damage had been done here. Once again our dog was guilty. When my little girl saw it she let out a shriek full of aggravated frustration. As my husband and I looked down upon the body parts I knew this was the worst I've ever seen. I was thinking there was probably a doll lying around somewhere in our home who once had an enviable perfect figure but was now definitely handicapped for the rest of her life. I kind of wondered which one it would be. My daughter had three blondes and a brunette. I liked the brunette the best. The victim's legs were probably stubs now and cut her modelish sized heighth in half! Ginny would need to surgically (pretend to) apply our human size band aides to the newly made pair of stubs. To my sad regret Ginny later brought me the brunette and one of her legs was barely still there while the other had three quarters of the leg left. Ginny had to toss her in the trash. (Whaaa! This one had been a Christmas present.)
Back to my shoes . . . after looking at my shoe I went to Danny with a fast-talking, emotionally charged and loud tone of voice. I showed him what Sandy had done. Sandy was in close proximity to my husband and most dedicatedly guarding her humans when Danny took the shoe and started repeatedly lightly bopping her on the head and saying no. This is the only way we know to get the message to her that it's wrong. And then Danny, since he is the "alpha male" of the family, growled at her.
Sundays are frustrating because in the morning we are hurriedly running around trying to make it to church by 8:15. I mean, were focused on finding any random child's "other shoe", combing hair and brushing teeth. We are not focused on hiding our shoes and toys from our dog. It sure is aggravating to me that we must be submissive to the whims of our silly dog. She has chewed up over a dozen pair of our shoes and regularly gnawed on Ginny's Barbies. She also likes to drag papertowels or any other item that may tickle her fancy out the dog door as her playful decoration for our yard.
Danny keeps saying when she turns a year old she should calm down and be a good watch dog for our family. I sure am hoping he's right.
At our church our Pastor is doing a sermon series on the life of David. You know, the one in the Bible who killed Goliath, was king of Israel, wrote many of the Psalms and cheated with Bathsheba. A very interesting person who's life deserves to to be thoroughly studied. In the scriptures, God actually said David was a man after His own heart. It would be the greatest honor to be described in that way.
I really enjoyed the sermon last Sunday and it challenged me more so than I have been challenged in a long time. Our Pastor talked about five ways to defeat giants in our lives like the young David did when he killed the human giant named Goliath. When the pastor talked of the third point, that a giant killer trusts in God, I was challenged. The Pastor told us of a "dangerous" prayer and then encouraged us to pray it. This is what the prayer said,
God, would you bring me to a place in my life where all I can do is trust you?
During the service as I wrote that down I figured I could pray it for my children. I figured I was going through enough financial struggles in my life that I already had a "giant" project to trust Him about. I kept thinking all through the week about that prayer. I figured I didn't have to pray those words because in my early twenties I really dedicated my life to God and sought Him out to trust Him in an utmost way. Since then I've been married for nearly fourteen years, have had four children and been through "giant" situations where I needed to really trust in Him. Wouldn't you think that's enough! It's not. How do I know? Because at different times during the week my prayers have felt distant from God. And to be real honest since I plan to take a flight and go on a medical mission trip. I was afraid that God could choose for us to be in a plane crash which might cause people to wake up to their serious need for Him. I know that situation may sound a little "far fetched" to you but that's what I was thinking. I told Danny. He didn't think I was too weird and we talked through it. It all came down to, do I trust God with my future and the future of my family.
So today I pulled out my sermon notes and prayed that prayer just like the Pastor said. In the fourth point of the sermon the Pastor said if you really trust in God you will see the giant of fear fall. I plan to pray that prayer he told us until I have it memorized and it is a mindset for me. I know my trust in God is seriously lacking. And I've been realizing all through the week the fears that are in my life. Characteristics like worry because I fear rather than trust God, fear of what others think of me, fear of failure and dwelling on past regrets and being indecisive so I won't fail, and the fear of taking on new challenges and all the stress that I have trained myself to have because of fears.
In I Samuel 17:44-47 David courageously stands up to Goliath and tells him how he's gonna definitely be defeated and then quickly thereafter kills him by using a homemade sling with one little pebble that was deeply embedded into his forehead and then caused him to fall flat on his face. I love the part when David, right before he kills Goliath, makes this incredible statement, "This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.[!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]" (I Sam. 17:46)
The Pastor also said that this prayer was a victorious prayer. And that's what I'm looking forward to seeing. I really want to have such bold confidence as David and show others that God really is the spine chilling powerful God of all existance.
The evening was nice for going on a bike ride. There was a gentle breeze. It was quiet as our neighbors all around had mostly retreated to their home, a soft chair, television and some good tasting comforting food. The path we'd take went past the high school. It was one many students had traveled many times to get to their destination of necessary learning. At first it was narrow and a well-trodden dirt path. Bumpy but bearable for bike riders like us. Then it became a sidewalk with about a six inch drop off all around the edges.
Jonathan and I were on a mission. We were headed for the Wendy's Fast Food Restaurant about a mile from where we live. Jonathan had been awarded this opportunity because he was the nicest kid in the Carlton household. My others had tried but after much thinking and discussion as the mother I chose him.
I had invented a new contest for my children. I'll call it the kindness contest. Lately my sons and daughter were becoming annoying to me and especially my husband because they were constantly at each others throats yelling, teasing and pestering. Last week when we started our contest I asked Danny on Thursday night who had acted the nicest and he said they had all been bad all day long. He said he deserved the treat for having to put up with them all day. So I drove to Wendy's and got something for Danny and me.
Today I didn't have to go to work so all through the day for this week's contest when my children would start getting rude with each other I would remind them to be kind. And most of the time they would stop. Some of the other things they had to do were their chores and their schoolwork. No one completed the day perfectly but I could see obvious improvements. They were all trying. Finally, I decided Jonathan would get to go.
When we arrived at Wendy's we both got a Frosty. It cost $2.18. We sat on the sidewalk by our bikes as we ate our cup of chocolate soft serve ice cream. Jonathan enjoyed talking about anything that would cross his mind. We talked about driving a car, ice cream headaches, the oldest Wendy's restaurant and that I ate Frosty's when I was his age. It was good. Jonathan said he was glad he ordered the Frosty rather than French fries.
Going home was fun too. When we came to the high school we went all around the the new sports building. I liked the parking lot. It was a big open expanse of smooth pavement where I could liberally ride and then coast on my bike. I enjoyed this. Riding bikes with Jonathan made me feel as carefree as a kid.
When we made it back home a police officer drove by as he slowly patrolled our area. I waved at him and then opened the gate to our yard. When Jonathan went in our home he wanted to sneak up on everyone in the living room. Samuel and Danny were having some serious conversation. (Samuel asked Danny if you could stop time could you change the direction of a bullet!) Then Jonathan quickly yelled out, "What's going on?" There wasn't the hoped-for startled response. So Jonathan then settled in to the TV watching like the rest of the family. And as he sat on the couch he probably thought back on our bike trip and the good ice cream he had got to enjoy.
Tonight I went to an awards assembly at church for my children. They are in a program in which they memorize Bible verses. And as they work through books they receive a ribbon for each book. Ginny got a blue ribbon because she finished the first book. Benjamin got an award for participating. Samuel is too old to participate. But when Jonathan stood before the audience he didn't even receive a reward for participating.
I couldn't understand why he didn't receive one. I kept waiting for them to say his name but they never did. Finally his group sat down. I was concerned that he would feel left out as everyone sitting next to him took a good look at their rewards and probably quietly commented about what they received. I thought he might feel isolated.
My motherly instinct of protecting my innocent young was kicking in. I didn't want him to be upset. I remember when I was young. I was very timid and shy. When I moved to a new school in the sixth grade my timidity became dominant in my life. I had fears of rejection, embarrassing myself and being made fun of. My two friends were the least popular in the class. And I always felt I would never measure up to the "as good as" level of everyone else. I would smile a lot if I felt rejection starting to happen as a barrier. Such feelings were branded on my emotions and I wanted to make sure Jonathan wouldn't have to go through that.
As soon as the service was over I quickly began searching for Jonathan and then the teacher. I went to the teacher and asked him if my son should have received an "Awesome Job" award and he said he should have, that the teachers thought they may have missed someone. So the teacher and I went to Jonathan who wasn't acting upset but was probably wondering what was going on. He "officially" congratulated him and gave him the reward. Jonathan was satisfied. When we got out to the car he was happy and said he was glad he finally got a reward for being in the program. When we got home we framed it and Jonathan hung it in his room. Not a tear was shed. I'm glad because such things can be heartbreaking for children. I know, I know. They're gonna have to go through hard times in life and those hard times can make them stronger. Well, I'm glad it didn't happen this time.
I pray my children, Samuel, Jonathan, Benjamin and Ginny would be like You and they would increase in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
In Your name I pray, Amen.
That's a prayer I've prayed so many times since my 12 year old was a preschooler. When I taught a little preschool class I memorized a Bible verse found in Luke. It's really the essence of what I would like my children to be. The verse is found at the end of the second chapter of Luke which tells the most complete description of Jesus childhood. It was written by a person with a talent for details. His name as implied was Luke and he was a physician. The verse can be broken down into four parts. It says, Jesus increased in
3. in favor with God
4. in favor with man
In other words, as a child Jesus grew in wisdom -- mentally, stature -- physically, health-wise; in favor with God -- spiritually, and in favor with man -- socially. As a parent I want my children to be like Jesus. In fact, I need to be more like Him too and so does my husband. But whenever I want to say a serious prayer that's quick and to the point turning the verse of Luke 2:52 into a prayer is the best way I know!
I have also figured out a way to practically apply this verse in training my children. At night before they go to bed we read a passage from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John that all tell about Jesus' life on earth. It takes about 5 minutes and I use the One Year Bible (New Living Translation). This Bible is organized into daily readings so you could read it in a year. It is written so it can be easily understood. For instance, today I went to May 1st and read from John 1:29-51. Here's some exciting info to know, if you wanted to, you could read the entire Bible through by reading it for just 15 minutes a day! After we read from John, I then read from the Beginner's Bible by Karyn Henley. I want my children to know the details of Bible stories and in this book they are told in a simplistic manner. The last thing I do with my children before bedtime is say a prayer for their day tomorrow. I usually start it with Luke 2:52.
It's been about eight years since I started praying that verse for my children. I know my children will do great things in life because God has stored up and remembers all those times I've asked Him to help my children to become like Jesus from the verse of Luke 2:52.