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Sunday, January 22, 2012

God's Practical Gifts

I have been learning a lot about God's gifts recently.

I have this weird tendency to try to put all of God's gifts in tidy categories like these that sound lofty, intimidating and unreachable, but I am learning that God is much more practical than I imagined.

Take for instance the gift of shopping. Yes it could be lumped in with one of those lofty gifts, but in my world shopping is just, shopping, something we do regularly because we need stuff. But now I am learning that shopping can be a gift. I know it sounds strange, so bear with me a second and I will try to make sense of my thoughts.

A lovely lady (who shall remain nameless so that I don't embarrass her) asked how she could help me and I answered that it would be great if she could drop off bread, milk, and fruit. WELL, I expected to receive just that, a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, and a bag of apples ~ not on this dear woman's watch. We were bowled over with bags of amazing snacks to thrill children's hearts, laundry soap, baby bottles, the specific items that I requested, and much more that we needed, but I didn't even think to ask for. It felt so good, not just to receive the things we were desperate for, but to know that she cares and went to such lengths to help out, even though I'm sure it put a crimp in her own daily routine.

Personally, I am not blessed with the gift of shopping. Had a friend asked me for bread, milk, and fruit, they would have received just that. It would not have occurred to me to bless someone by shopping, but now that I have been personally touched in that way, I can see and feel God at work.

Another really practical gift I have recently become aware of is parenting. A lot of us are parents, but not everyone is gifted in the same way. God knows us, and he grants us wisdom and resources as parents to meet the needs of our children, but the ability to meet the needs of many children at once is not something all of us are able to do.

Then there are people like my sister. She has been given a very special gift. She has not only the passion for many children, but the astounding ability to keep her home running well while chasing several little ones in diapers, educating the older ones, and taking great care to meet the needs of her hearing impaired daughter. God created her this way. It truly is a special calling in her life and I am stunned when I stop and watch her.

God did not create me the same way, and I feel myself struggling to fill my sister's shoes while she is half a world away finalizing the adoption of their newest additions to the family. We currently have 6 adults scrabbling as best we can to take care of their 6 kids and fill the void left by just my sister and her husband. *Have you done the math yet? That is 1 adult to 1 child if we were able to all help out at the same time. The equation is faulty. I swear. Extra kids must be walking through my door when I'm not looking 'cuz the reality is that we are all busy every minute of every day. We are loving it, but we are tired.* Obviously, they (and their God-given abilities) are deeply missed and we anxiously await their return in a few weeks.

God is at work and we don't all serve in the same way. Isn't it interesting how the obvious can become so extraordinary when it touches you personally.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sleep Tight

"Momma, I s'eep in you's bed? Please?"

My little girl loves to be in our bed, whether we are there or not. She doesn't mind sleeping in her room, but if she can't fall asleep for any reason I know she will be asking to sleep in my bed instead. She totters along, dragging her favorite stuffed animal into our big room and securely curls right into the big bed all by herself.

My boy, on the other hand, rarely asks for anything after bed time. Seriously, this kid hardly ever even asks for a drink of water or an extra hug, so I was inclined to indulge his wishes when he snuck to the stairs and asked for a special treat.

"Can I snuggle in your bed too?"

I almost didn't want to carry them back to their own rooms when I found them so cutely cuddled up.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Finally Snowing Again

After the devastation of the October snowstorms I wasn't sure if I wanted to see any more snow, but having made it through all of November and December without a flake, I fully admit that I changed my tune.

Today, I woke up to "Hey! Snow!" from my husband, and not long after "It's Snowing, It's Snowing. IT'S SNOWING" from my little ones. Instant happiness. We love snow in our family. A lot.

The kids were outside playing before I even got breakfast on the table.

Snow angels, forts, snowmen,

and lots of snowball fights.

We even almost got the steps shoveled off ... almost. Well, we thought about it anyway.

With such an exciting start to the day, I knew that school would be out of the question unless I switched priorities fast, so we made the day into a snow focused party. We read books about snow (Snowflake Bentley being the favorite of the big kids, and The Snowy Day won high accolades from Little Miss), did snow crafts, wrote snow poems, and did everything else "snow" that we could think of.

My floors are still littered with mittens and boots, snow-pants and soggy socks. Proof that we played hard.

It's funny what a difference a snow day can make.

A A A A A!!!

Guess which 2 year old figured out how to write the first letter of her name? ... Unsupervised and on carpet of all things.

It was adorable to hear her yelling "Did it! Look Momma, A! Hooray... clap Momma. A. A. A!!"

So we spent the next hour writing one A on each of a thousand little slips of paper and clapping at her great achievement.

I wonder if the rest of the letters are going to be this exciting?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Repairing Grandpa's Boat

My husband loves to keep busy. In the winter this usually means focusing on coaching the ski team. Unfortunately, we haven't had enough snow this season to keep him on skis, so he has tucked into yet another project. A very different project. One that makes me think of summer although it is months and months away.

His most recent undertaking is to restore two old boats, the Bouncin' Babe and the Bug to their former handmade glory. These tiny wooden speed boats are a hoot to ride in. There is something about being only inches above the water that makes you feel as if you are going a zillion miles an hour ~ regardless of the tiny motor.

The Bouncin' Babe was built by my husband's grandfather in 1953. Sadly, grandpa passed away before my husband was born. The two men never met in life, but they have lived their lives in a very similar way. Anytime Grandpa is discussed you will hear about his industriousness and love of a good time. That pretty much sums up my husband. Always working, and loving every minute of it.

I have a feeling Grandpa would be thrilled to see his grandson working so hard to get these boats back in the water.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goals 2012

The beginning of the year always gives me great comfort. I have an entire year to look forward to, and I am not behind on anything. *yet*

So, for this year I have a couple of things I'm planning to work on.

1. Read 12 challenging books. I know, a rather paltry number, at least in comparison to the 52 books challenge that many people take on, but it is an achievable number for me. I really would like to get through Liping Ma's Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics in January. It is a far cry from my favorite reading style, but I have heard so much about this book that I feel compelled to make it through. I'll let you know how it goes.

2. Keep up with my scrapbooking. I "slurp" my blog each year to have it printed into a physical book, but I have failed miserably this past year, so I'm going to work hard to keep up with it in 2012. The first part of this involves catching up with missed events for 2011. That means that all of you will be reading wonky things in Google Reader as I back-date events. I did catch up with my little boy's hot rod birthday party (from 10 months ago) last night, but I have several more parties and vacations to go.

3. Create more often. I love sewing and weaving, although it has taken a back seat recently. I have been busy teaching art history classes, chasing a 2 year old, and educating 2 elementary students, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't do what I love. My first priority is to finally complete a Christmas stocking for my 2 year old (I started it before she was born ... sigh). If and when I ever get it finished I hope to reward myself by dusting off my beautiful loom and signing up for a few more lessons at Harrisville Designs.

Three goals, that's enough for this lady.