Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wanna Know Something Interesting?

When you buy Bisquick in the UK and you look for the recipe that you always use for biscuts on the back of the box, the only recipe you find is for scones. Hmmmm. Somehow scones don't sound quite as tasty with fried chicken and mashed potateos. Do they?

We Hide. He Seeks.

Seems we've got some hidin' going on around the Noel household. The other night, during her bath time, my youngest who was told not to stand up in the tub, closed the shower doors, and told her daddy, "My close da doe. Dat's why I ken see you!" (Need a translation? "But I closed the door. That's why I can't see you!) Trying to convince her that we could see her through the clear shower doors was futile. She was quite certain that she was hiding.

And what did I find behind the couch this afternoon but some empty Reese wrappers stashed. I thought about it. Could it have been my son who comes down here every morning to read because he wakes up early? I remembered back to the little padding feet sound that I'd heard just this morning. Yep, it could be him. So, I called him downstairs and he 'fessed up to it. He said, "Remember how my tummy hurt this morning, mommy? That's why." Yeah, 10 Reese wrappers and a few mini Toblerones to boot would explain it!

What strikes me about both of these incidents is how my children thought they were hiding. The baby thought that because the doors were closed that we couldn't see her and didn't know what she was up to. In fact, she kept insisiting that we couldn't see her, when clearly, we could! And my son, did he really think that I wouldn't find the stashed candy trash behind the couch?! I mean, sometimes my housekeeping can leave a little to be desired, but clearly, trash doesn't usually go unnoticed!

And then I thought about myself. And I thought about all the times that I hide, thinking God doesn't see me slink off to one of my idols --those things that lie to me about their instant relief but are full of false advertising. It took me back to a story from this wonderful Bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible) that we're using in our house for morning devotions right now. I can't speak highly enough of this Bible, but I'll post on that another time. But one of the first stories in that Bible (of course) is about Adam and Eve and about the hiding that they did after sinning with the fruit. Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of the Jesus Storybook Bible, paraphrased it this way, "You see, sin had come into God's perfect world. And it would never leave. God's children would ways be running away from him and hiding in the dark. Their hearts would break now and would never work properly again." Well, the whole point of this particular Bible is showing children that Jesus and the gospel are critical to every story in the Bible, so of course, we know that because of Jesus, the Grand Hero of All Stories, our hearts can one day work properly again.

But, what about now? Why do I think I can hide from my Father? Clearly Psalm 139 tells us that from before conception we were seen by him. And that we can't go anywhere to hide from him. "Where can I go from you Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me." Why do I believe the lie that I can hide? Why would I want to?

There's another lie that's been around since that first sin. And it's this. "God doesn't love you. He can't. And if he knew, really knew, the depth of your sin he would never love you." So, we hide. We hide, believing that somehow God can't see us. And then we keep telling ourselves that if He could, that He wouldn't love us anyway, so what's the difference? It's a horrible catch 22, isn't it?

Well, recently we got the the Lord's Prayer in our little Jesus Storybook Bible and here's the difference...(again, quoting Sally Lloyd-Jones), "You see, Jesus was showing people that God would always love them -- with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. So they didn't need to hide anymore, or be afraid, or ashamed. They could stop running away from God. And they could run to him instead. As a little child runs into her daddy's arms."

Yes! We can stop believing the lie that we can hide. We are free to stop believing the lie that God won't love us. He does! Like a Father loves his little child. I think back to when my son was smaller, and he was just learning how to play hide and seek. He would hide, but he could never wait to be found. As soon as someone would start looking for him, he would run out, delightedly laughing, and run into the person and hug them. Not hard to find a guy like that! And I think that's a picture of how we should be. Running to and not from. Not trying to hide, but longing to be found.

So, what about you? Are you running from your Father or running toward Him?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Surely You've Heard About This By Now...

...but if you haven't, check out this video of Paul Potts, the winner of Britain's Got Talent. His is an amazing story of an undisovered gift, and as one of the judges described as a frog who is truly a prince! I love how he described his reality versus his dream, "By day I'm a mobile phone sales person, but my dream is to spend my life doing what I feel as if I was born to do."

Hubby and I were watching this show unfold before we left for Paris and were heartbroken that we missed the last episode. When we arrived home, one of the first things I did was check the BBC website to see who had won the competition. And I was delighted with the results! And now I'm oh-so-thankful for youtube, where I can relive his spine-tingling performances again and again. You know that scripture that says "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" (1 Cor 1:27)? Yeah, Paul Potts definitely fits that category. An underdog is always worth pulling for.

Disneyland Paris Part 2

We were very impressed at the ease with which the "Disney Express" service we had signed up for allowed us to transfer our luggage and head straight to the parks. On the Eurostar train, there are a few Disney cast members (employees) who hand you your park tickets and your hotel information. They then explain the process of checking your bags in (right there at the train station), and give you claim tickets for your bags for at the hotel later that evening. So, thankfully, after the almost-missing-the-train-disaster, that process went really smoothly.

We were shocked at how close the train station is to the Disney Parks complex. The station is literally right at the "door" of the Disney properties. We had checked our luggage and headed off the the Disneyland park (similar to Magic Kingdom in Florida). After a quick and not-so-careful bag security check at the entrance, we were headed right for Mickey-land! I was dying of anticipation. I LOVE seeing Main Street, and we were so close now. Plus, it was going to be fun to be back in a place that was "familiar" in a way, because we go to Disney fairly regularly. Main Street did not disappoint. It was clean, old-fashioned, and oh-so-Disney. Huge Mickey, Donald, and Minnie balloons were everywhere, which started the, "Mom, can we get a balloon?" saga that went on for the ENTIRE week. (My mom didn't buy ballons. I don't buy balloons. I'm a party pooper, what can I say? Do you know how many balloons we saw heading off into the sky that week??!?! Total waste of money! But I digress...)We headed straight for Casey's, which is our favorite fast-food place in Disney. They sell foot-long hotdogs and fries. And they are smothered in cheese! Mmmmm. Casey's was in just exactly the same place as it is in Florida. And the dogs were oh-so-good.

The children were itching to go to Fantasyland for rides, so after a quick lunch we thought we'd head there. But, who did we happen to run into as we were heading there? The Mouse himself. And he was signing autographs and posing for photos (with a very long queue, I might add!). So, we stopped off there for a photo. Hubby was resistant, because he wanted to get to the rides. "We can get a photo later with Mickey. We have all week!" But, even after three children and multiple professional photo shoots and numerous trips to Disney, he still doesn't seem to understand my mommy-ways! I had dressed them up in the identical red Mickey Mouse t-shirts, remember? And I hadn't gotten a good bargain on them after Christmas and dragged them all the way across the Atlantic for nothing! Soon, I reasoned with Hubby, they would be stained with the inevitable Disney ice cream stain. And I wanted a picture with the Mouse before that. So,we got the picture. And I was glad we got the photo, because as I'll explain in a later post, queueing for characters in Paris was, shall we say....interesting. But, more on that later.

After the photo, we headed straight for Fantasyland. We did the Snow White ride first, which is never my favorite because it's too scary for kids! Seriously, folks, why do they call it Snow White's Scary Ride? Are there not enough rides just for grown-ups at Disney, and isn't Fantastyland supposed to be for kids, little kids at that? Anyway, my kids, at least one of them, always get freaked out in this ride. But another one of them always insists on going in. So we went in to Blanche Neige and Les Sept Nains. And shockingly, it was scary. Even scarier than Florida. Which seemed to convince the little person that always insists on going on that ride not to go on it again. Phew!

We rode the carousel, which my son loved, because it was based on a Camelot theme and he is loving the Arthurian legends lately. Next was It's a Small World and other such fun fantasyland rides. We were kind of surprised at how cool it was. We definitely needed our jackets! I know! And it's mid-June. But, then again, we still need them regularly in London as well. It seems that summer has rather forgotten to show up over here!

We still needed to get our bearings in the park, so we headed to Discoveryland, which is similar to Tomorrowland in Florida, to check out what was there. Autopia, a race car type ride, Buzz Lightyear, and Orbitron were on the list, but the lines were really long, so we settled on Buzz. On the way out of Discoveryland, we caught a bit of the end of the parade. And dd4 was going crazy because they princess float was spectacular and Sleeping Beauty was wearing a blue dress! And ds5 was going nuts because he loves the villains (trust me, I've tried to persuade him otherwise) and there was a pretty incredible float of them as well. If you're a villains fan, I suppose.

After that, we headed off to dinner, which we had a reservation for at Plaza Gardens Restaurant, and we were hopeful that it would be a character buffet similar to the Crystal Palace in Florida. Indeed there was a buffet. And the food was good. But, alas, there were no characters. And we were shocked when we got our bill for 70 Euros. Ouch! The rest of the week, we decided, would be fast food or meal splitting for sure. No more buffets. Especially without characters!

We were beat after our long day, so we decided to head back to the hotel. We were pleasantly surprised again about the proximity of the hotel to the park. It was about a 15 to 20 minute walk. So, we walked to the Newport Bay Hotel, which has a similar feel to that of the Yacht and Beach Club in Florida. It was a nice hotel and very full. We got our room keys, located our luggage and headed off to room 2297 to get the kids bathed and in bed. We'd had a busy, busy day.

Stay tuned for Paris part 3, with details of our trip into the city.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why It Seems the Europeans Have a Different Sense of Style

Saturday, while coming back from the Portobello Road Market (a much needed time gift from my husband. Bless him!), I sat with a girl in the tube that was dressed like this:

black ankle-length boots
pink socks
black and grey lace-look (but not really lace) leggings
kelly green mini dress with little white stars all over it
an orange hoodie
a red flower print Cath Kidston purse

And here's the thing, she's not atypical. Many, many people here dress with little to no concern about matching. Perhaps "matching" is an American value. You want to know something else? I'm starting to like it. So much less restraining! Seriously.

Oh, and one more thing, can I just say, Cath Kidston rocks. Why can't I do such cool things with vintage fabrics?

Monday, June 25, 2007

How We Almost Missed the Train to Paris

We had an amazing time in Paris. I'm just getting out from under the enormous amount of laundry brought on by a trip to Disney (all the ice cream dripped shirts, as just one example) to write about all that we experienced there. My first little installment for you, dear readers, is about the experience of simply getting on the train. As with much of the Noel family life, it was a drama. Let the unfolding begin...

We were all set to get to Paris on the Eurostar train from London's Waterloo Station. The whole trip started out a little bumpy though, because although we thought we had left in plenty of time for the train (We only had to be there 30 minutes prior to departure.), we had some hiccups during the checking-in phase of the journey. Apparently, the company had sent our tickets through Royal Mail some time ago, but we had never received them. So, the very kind, but rather annoyed Frenchman behind the counter had to help us get all of it sorted out.

The minutes ticked by. As I watched all the happy families with loads of luggage cruise through electronic check in, I was still waiting for my man behind the counter to figure out exactly what he was going to do with all of us. As he kept writing our tickets out in longhand (I kid you not!), I started to seriously wonder if we were going to make the train!

The train was leaving at 9:37 and it was 9:25 as the service man, longhand tickets in hand and five spazzy people in tow, ran us through the ticket stop and right up to the security check. We had to drop all our goodies onto the x-ray machine because you don't check anything on a train ride, unlike a flight. We also had to unload the baby out of the buggy, fold it, and go through security one by one. That of course meant that we were going to have to reload the buggy with the baby, who lately doesn't want to get into the buggy at all! So, we had to deal with some crying drama as well! Next we had to go through to French passport control. Then we had to take an escalator up to the train. Then we had to find out which carriage we were on. Lastly, we had to load all of our junk onto the train and find our seats. Shoo-eee! as Papaw used to say. I'm tired just from reliving the whole thing!

When we arrived in the carriage, we discovered another family in our seats and realized that Eurostar had double-booked our seats! No problem as of yet, the carriage was not full, but there would be one more stop in Ashford. Hopefully no one there would need the seats we were using. But, yes indeed, when we arrived in Ashford, some others needed our seats. And the seats of the family in front of us. So, apparently, Eurostar had triple-booked the seats! I looked over at the exasperated Brit beside me and he said, and I quote, "Welcome to Great Britain! The service here sucks!" He was hilarious and, being the dad of the the little family whose seats we were double-booked with, ended up being quite a fun part of our trip. We actually even saw them in the Disney Parks later in the week.

I was a bit worried about the "chunnel" part of the journey. I'm a bit of a nervous flier, so being underneath the English Channel in a train with thousands of pounds of water pressing in on the tunnel for any amount of time seemed torturous to me. But luckily, that part of the journey only lasts for around 20 minutes, and because the kids were needing some attention then, I barely even noticed, although I did have some major ear popping!

We arrived safe and sound at La Marnee Vallee. The three children were all decked out in their matching red Mickey Mouse t-shirts and ready to meet the Mouse himself...

Stay tuned for the next installment of our trip!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Where, Oh Where Did My Baby Boy Go?

We sat in front of a sweet little blond-headed, blue-eyed boy in church today. That darling child took me back in time. He looked so much like my sweet oldest boy when he was a baby. I'd say this little guy was about 18 months or so. And he was sweetness wrapped up in a package of boy skin. I remembered back to when my boy was so little -- his fine, white hair that stuck up on top of his head, (so much so that the nurses who cared for him at the hospital called him "the dandelion baby"), his chunky little body that filled out all his clothes contrasted by his short legs that barely peeked out from his shorts, his Fred-Flinstone-esque feet, and his blue, blue eyes.

Then, I peeked over at my now five year old boy (soon to be six, he would be quick to tell you). I pointed out the little toddler behind us and told him that's a bit what he looked like as a baby. He smiled so sweetly. His smile can, pardon the overused phrase, melt a mama's heart. It's just so...smiley. He enjoys hearing about what he was like as a baby. But lately, I've been noticing more grown up things about him. Things like an increased ability to deal with difficulty, a desire to help and protect his sisters, and a voracious desire to learn anything (right now it happens to be chess).

Speaking of protecting and looking out for his sisters, today at lunch his sister mentioned to me that after the children were dismissed to rejoin their parents after being at the front of the church, that he held her hand and helped her get back the seats safely. I was so proud of him because lately every time that this particular sister touches him to kiss him or hug him (which she loves to do --she's a physical touch girl), he throws the biggest fit. And sometimes, just sometimes, he can be a little, shall we say...self-centered...being the oldest and all. So, the fact that he voluntarily looked out for his sister, grabbed her little hand and protected her and guided her all the way to the back of the church to where we were waiting for her --well, that's just huge in my book. I guess we get little glimpses sometimes as mommies. Little glimpses that God uses to show us that they ARE listening sometimes, that they DO really care about each other. That they will be able to function in the world as caring human beings without our constant prodding and reminding.

I guess that chubby, tow-headed little toddler I reminisced over in church today is growing up. And I'm so proud of the young boy he's becoming.

"You don't raise heroes. You raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes." -Author Unknown

Friday, June 22, 2007

More Good Quotes

Can you tell I'm a quote lover? There's something about a good quote that speaks to me like nothing else (but Scripture) can. Do you agree? Here are some favorites I've come across lately:

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another." - Anatole France

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If you're going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead." -Oswald Chambers

"Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world"
-Gustave Flaubert

"As Christians, we're called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound, but as a gift - as God's gift, so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we're loved by God." - Henri Nouwen

"How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives."
-Annie Dillard

Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Chew on those yummy words for a while.

Even Though Things Here Can Be Difficult....

How many people can say they got to do this last week?

Thank you, Lord for blessings to numerous to count....

Ever Felt Dumber Than a Five Year Old?

While playing chess with my oldest, he instructed me, "No, mommy! You can't jump other pieces. That's checkers."

And this one, "Why don't I put this one here and then you can capture my pawn? Okay, mommy? Do you wanna do that?"

Lastly, "The bishops are the only ones that can move that way mommy. This is a bishop."

Ugh. This newfound chess obsession is waaaaaaay out of my league. Thank goodness for smart daddies who also like chess. And understand it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Quirky Things About Our House in London

Our lawn mower plugs in (!) and there are no plugs on the outside of the house. Therefore we must plug it in inside, and keep the door open while mowing. Also, there is no way to get the mower into the front or back garden without bringing the mower through the house.

Our kitchen table is smaller than a card table and seats two people officially. Remember, we are a family of five! ;)

We have no clothes dryer so we regulary use our radiator vents to dry our clothes and yes, it's still cool enough here to have them on fairly regularly.

Our windows are screenless, as that's the way they do it in the UK.

We use a skeleton key to get into our front door.

All of the rooms in our house have a door on them, including living room, dining room, and kitchen. We keep them propped open with door stops.

There is not a proper electrical outlet in our bathroom, so I have to plug my hairdyer and curling iron into the bedroom power strip and drag them into the bathroom.

When the gas and electric meter reader comes, he has to come into the house to check the meter, which is under the stairs.

The post comes in through the front door. Sometimes the noise still scares me to death.

When someone in the neighborhood uses their remote to lock their car doors or set their car alarm, our doorbell goes off!

The lightbulbs in our kitchen cost 6 pounds (12 dollars) to replace, and they seem to go out frequently. We've replaced 4 of them already. (There are 6 in all.)

Even though we live in London, we live by a large forest, and we regularly wake up to a family of foxes who like to inhabit our back garden.

Our oven is set to degrees celcius instead of farenheit.

My son is the only one who can operate our DVD player. And our DVDs from home don't work here. Only European DVDs will work in our player.

We have a garage, but it's so small that our van won't fit into it. In fact, most homes in the UK might have a garage, but only for storage purposes, not for housing a vehicle.

Our phone makes a little chirping sound instead of a ringing sound. When we first heard it, we couldn't figure out what it was.

Even with all its funny little quirks, we still say, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." When we were coming back from Paris, I couldn't wait to get back to our little place in the world where the beds are cozy, a warm bath can be drawn, and the garden is brimming with foxglove and roses. And foxes. An entire family of foxes.

Other's Words Are a Balm to My Soul

In response to this dreary, yet very "where I am right now" post, my friend Tracy, who I used to teach with back in the "pre-kiddo" days, sent a very sweet and wise email. In it, she wrote something about the scripture from Daniel 2:28 that I had quoted. The scripture reads "There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries." Tracy, my wise friend, pointed out in her email, "We don't have to solve the mysteries. They are revealed." Those words echoed in my head throughout the last week, even as we were in Paris. Those words are a balm for my weary soul. I do indeed try to solve the mysteries, constantly asking "What is God trying to teach me?" "I don't want to miss it." "What could God be preparing my for during this time of hardship? Further hardship? I can't do further hardship. I'm not even doing this hardship well!" "Did we hear God wrong?" These constant questions--this constant trying to figure things out--has made me really, really tired. What a relief then to realize that I don't have to figure the mysteries out! In time, they will be revealed to me, if the Sovereign Lord allows.

And in response to that last question, "Did we hear God wrong?", I recently read an excellent blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Mary Demuth. Mary and her family recently returned from a church planting mission in France, where their faith was apparently tested and where Mary perhaps asked these same questions. In fact, in light of the fact that they returned earlier than expected, it seems that others ask Mary that question as well, "Did you hear God wrong in going to France?" This is her thoughtful, heartfelt, and truthful response. And just like my friend Tracy's email, there is something about the gritty truth in Mary's post that puts a salve on my hurting and confused heart.

So, I continue to press on with the Savior, even though his ways are not my ways. In time, perhaps in His grace, He'll reveal His mysteries to me. I do say with Job, "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Obsessed With Weddings and Her Daddy

While away, I woke up one morning to hear this conversation between hubby and dd4 in our bed:

Hubby: "You have such a pretty smile."

DD4: "That's why I decided to marry you, Daddy!"

And then there was this question that I overheard during lunch one day:

DD4: "Daddy, where did mommy find you?"

Just a little girls way of figuring out her place in her daddy's heart. Precious.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Parlez Vous Francais?

Man, I wish I'd paid more attention in those four years of high school French class. And I wish I had listened to my handsome A.I. (Pierre -- oo la la la la!)in college French class more than I looked at him. Hopefully the fact that I could never properly conjugate verbs or couldn't remember if the noun was a "le" or a "la" won't hold us back too much. Actually, on second thought, hopefully we'll run into a few English speakers. That's right--We're going to Paris!!! We're staying at the Disneyland Resort Paris, so we plan to take in the Disney parks, and then we'll head into Paris for 2 days. So, I'll be sure to check in with lots of stories and pictures when we return on Thursday. Prayers for safety, fun, and relaxation would certainly be appreciated!

So, So Sad to Hear About Ruth Graham...

...but imagining her dancing with the Father right now with her heavenly body.

The Secret of the Lord?

****Caution: A very raw and transparent post ahead.
I'm into Psalms now in my "reading through the Bible" adventure. This morning, the verse that stood out to me the most was this one:

"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him and He makes known to them his covenant" -Psalm 25:14

And then this is what I opened up from "Daily Light on the Daily Path" today in my inbox:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us.”

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.—“There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.”—“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him!”

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”— “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.”

Deut. 29:29; Ps. 131:1, 2; Ps. 25:14; Dan. 2:28; Job 26:14; John 15:15; John 14:15-17

I guess I'm a bit confused by all of this. Clearly, God wants me to understand the concept of his knowledge, relationship with Him, and his unknown ways or secrets. But the funny thing is, I don't feel that I can hear His voice at all right now. I feel as if all the time I'm screaming at Him to speak to me, to help me, to change situations in our life. And I feel as if my prayers are going no further than the proverbial ceiling. So, secrets? No, I don't feel as if I'm learning any secrets of the Lord. I don't feel as if I'm even learning anything that everyone else knows! Have your ever heard of the "Dark Night of the Soul" by St. John of the Cross? I feel as if I've entered a dark night of the soul. A time in my journey with the Lord where I'm questioning all that I thought I knew about Him. A time when I feel as if He has deserted me. And it's really lonely. And I'm really sad about it. I long to know His secrets. But I can't hear His voice at all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another Reason to Love Vincent

Remember how much I love Vincent Van Gogh? I found this quote recently from a letter to his brother Theo that made me love him even more. Quite tragic, his end, wasn't it?

“I should like to read more widely, but I must not; in fact, I need not wish it so much, for all things are in the word of Christ - more perfect and more beautiful than in any other book.” ~ October 21, 1877

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Quote That I Can't Stop Thinking About

I've finished "Idoleyes" by Mandisa and "A New Kind of Normal" by Carol Kent. I liked both of them. Each one seemed to have something to say that either I needed to hear or could really relate to. Plus, Mandisa's had lots of great Idol backstory that this AI addict loved! Anyway, Carol Kent quoted Ken Gire in her book "A New Kind of Normal" and I can't get his quote out of my mind. It's about waiting.

"How do we get to the morning, to the sunshine, to the joy? There is only one way. By waiting for it. We can't hurry the dawn, no matter how anxiously we pace the floor or how impatiently we watch the clock. And so the question is not do we wait or not wait, because waiting is all we can do. The question is, how will we wait? Will we wait well...or will we wait poorly?" -Ken Gire

Our family is in a waiting period of sorts. Mainly we're waiting to see what God has in store for hubby as his job phases out by next year. And as the days go by, and that time gets closer and closer, we have started to worry more. I can really see the strain on hubby as he contemplates being able to continue to support our family. I'm quite the problem solver, so I'm constantly asking God what's in our future. Will He continue to provide for us? Will He want us to make another, more permanent move? Can I trust Him, truly trust Him, with my entire life?

One of my biggest fears in life is my husband losing his job, because my step-father lost his job when I was a pre-teen, and it devasted him and his marriage to my mother. Living in that stress as a child, I have always told God, "I can't do that as an adult." That's why hubby and I went to college after all, so that we wouldn't have to worry about these things. But life isn't that simple is it? I know that God has so much to teach our family about giving our entire lives up to His perfect will. I feel like we're beginning to learn that lesson. But have you ever been afraid of God's will? Afraid that He doesn't desire for you what you desire for yourself? That's where I start having trouble with trust. I want what I want. And sometimes the process or pruning, of remolding the clay of my desires and my heart, of firing off the dross of my self-will through giving up my own desires is so painful while it's happening that truthfully, I want to run away.

That's why I love this quote by Ken Gire. Because it reinforces for me that there is a dawn. And that I am not in control of when the sun rises. My Father is. I'm challenged during this time of uncertainty to wait well, to lean into Him completely, to trust that He loves me and will take care of me.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet our Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow? They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, o you of little faith? So do not worry saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34

But how does one wait well in this situation? The verses above from the Sermon on the Mount perfectly describe this kind of waiting -- not worrying, seeking His kingdom first, seeking His righteousness first (above my own desires and dreams). In order to wait well, I need to ruthlessly pursue a worry-free mind. I need to seek after His righteousness in my life. And I need to pursue a continual passion for God's kingdom. Pursuing these areas gives me rest from striving to know or undertand God's will, because when I strive for these things, I learn trust in the character of my Father. And perhaps that's His purpose after all.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Can You Stand Yet Another Kid Quote?!

You know your children have been in London for a while when it starts affecting their play dialogue. Hubby and I awoke this morning to hear DD5 saying these words while playing trains with his sister:

"Next stop --Bank (or as he pronouced it 'Bahnk'). Please mind the gap between the train and the platform. Change here for the Northern, Waterloo and City, Circle, and District Lines, and for the DLR. Alight for the London Eye." All words were said with quite a convincing English accent, I might add.

The boy loves the Underground! Loves it. Last week, with our visitors here, I left him in the city with our four guests and they actually trusted the five year old to get them home, because he loves the underground so much and reads the map so well. You want to know the hilarious part? That kid could actually get them home if he needed to! Today, the movie he rented at Blockbuster was "Underground Ernie" and the kids magazine he chose at the grocery store was "Underground Ernie". He even has a favorite line -- Circle (because yellow is his favorite color, of course!)

Well, that's all about my little "tuber"!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Trying Hard Not to be Offended

My sweet middle dd, the artist in the family, came to me after lunch today with a picture she'd drawn of some royal ladies.

"This is Princess (little sister). This is princess (herself). And this is Queen Mommy."

I stared aghast at the horrid looking woman in the photo with a, shall we say, deeply furrowed brow. The woman looked like the evil step-mother in all of the Cinderella movies. (Much to my villain-lovin' boy's delight, I might add!)

"That's your bangs. I'm sorry you look like a bad guy. Is dat okay, Mommy?"

I relplied sweetly, "Sure honey." She is a beginning artist after all. They do make mistakes.

"And you're yellin' at us."

Ahem. Just the portrayal that my perfectionistic-self imagined in her idealistic mind when she decided to be SuperMommy about 6 years ago!

Yes, it's true that children make us humble. Oh, boy do they ever.

My Anthem Right Now

Life here across the pond can be difficult. Being without familiarity, friends, and supports from home wears me down at times. I was reading "Idoleyes" by Mandisa and was reminded of one of my favorite songs. It's really speaking to my weary, weary heart right now. May it minister to yours as well.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"Envy" by Bob Sorge -- Chapter One

So, one of my recent visitors, Jill, brought me a few little presents from my favorite bookstore friend, Janet, back home at my church's bookstore. I think I squealed a little when she brought them out of her suitcase! Let's see what did my Janet send me? Oooo! "Idoleyes" by Mandisa! I really wanted that one! And what else? Neat! Carol Kent's newest book. I love Carol Kent! And what else? "Envy" by Bob Sorge?!?! Does my sweet friend, Janet, think I have need a book on envy? Jill assured me that Janet said to tell me she didn't send it because she thought I needed it but because it was the latest most popular selling book in the bookstore. I guess I'll try to believe Jill. But, being the transparent person that I am, I won't lie that I don't ever struggle with envy!

Anyway, this little book packs some whopper punches as early as chapter 1. In fact, Sorge asserts, that envy "killed the Body of Jesus Christ when He came to this planet the first time, and it is still killing it today." Wow. Now that's a sobering thought. Sorge defines envy as "the internal pain we feel over someone else's success." That makes it sound really ugly doesn't it? Who in the world wants to admit that they might wish for someone else's failure? But we're all envious. And Sorge identifies some key attitudes to prove his point. You might have a problem with envy if:

  • You are not fully established and at rest in your identity in Christ.
  • You have insecurites that have not been fully healed through the power of His grace.
  • You are ungrateful for what God has given you. His gifts are not enough for you; you also what what He's given another.
  • You are striving against God's sovreignty and wisdom by questioning His giving differing gifts and endowments of grace to both you and a brother or sister.
  • Your heart is motivated at a fundamental level by self-interest, self-preservation, and self-promotion. You cannot fully celebrate a brother or sister's successes because of underlying feelings of competition or ambition in your soul.
  • When all your energies should be focused upon the war against the enemy of our souls, some of your energy has been diverted to struggling over the success of your fellow believers.
  • Since envy, when it is full-grown culminates in murder, you have the seeds of murder within your own heart.
  • Your carnality is impeding the unity of the body of Christ --the unity that is central to the Bride's preparation. Hence, part of you is hindering, instead of hastening, Christ's return.

OUCH. Yes, several of these I must admit to. Since beginning this little book, I have definitely become aware of more darkness in my own soul than I'd like to admit. I'll continue to post more on each chapter as time allows, but I do highly recommend this book even as early as chapter 1.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Proof: The Brit-Speak is Rubbing Off

Me to middle dd: "Don't you just love being a girl?"

Middle dd (looking up from her pink, bubbly bath): "Indeed, Mommy! Indeed!"

Not So Tasty As She Thought It Would Be

After supper, the two year old came in the kitchen from the dining room. Here was the noise she was making, "Phle! Phle! Phle!" I noticed some strange looking black specks on her chin along with a lovely mixture of saliva. What in the world had she gotten into? I headed into the dining room to check things out. She went straight to the pepper shaker.

"I doan yike it, Mommy! It's yucky! Phle!"

And then I realized that while I was doing the dishes, the girl had poured pepper in her mouth. Must not have been the delicious treat that she thought it would be. What'cha gonna do with a two year old?!

New Blog

I'm currently moving all my old HSB posts to blogger. If you're a reader of my old blog at HSB, thanks for following me. If you're a new reader to this blog, welcome. Please be patient as I move my old posts to this blog. Hopefully, it will be easier to use and view. Thanks!

Monday, June 4, 2007

How Weird Is It When...'ve been living someplace for so long that you start saying the words they use and forget the ones you use? Recently, when trying to expain how to get somewhere to one of our guests, I simply could not think of the American word for the English word "diversion". I kept trying to think of it. "You know, oh what would we call it at home? You know, a diversion. No, that's the English word for it." Then hubby chimes in, as our bewildered guest tries to figure it out, "Detour, Jo. That's how we say it in America!"

Here are some more little words that might confuse an American visiting London:

A plaster is a band-aid.
An ice lolly is a popsicle.
A till is a checkout stand.
Give way means yield.
A dummy is a pacifier.
A nappy is a diaper.
A serviette is a napkin.
Pants are underwear.
Trousers are pants.
A biscut is a cookie.
Chips are fries.
Crisps are chips.
A jacket is a baked potato.
Post is mail.
A parcel is a package.
Donkey's years is a long time.
And a diversion is a detour.

Right. Got it. I'd better get home soon before I lose all of my American terms!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Thank You, Jesus

Do you have this little Bible? If you have toddlers and you don't have it, you really should. Today, we read the story of the ten lepers that Jesus healed. Remember how only one leper returned to thank Jesus for his healing?

Then we sang this little song that we learned from Miss Pattycake years ago:

"Ten men came to Jesus,
Ten men, ten men.
They said, 'Will you heal us?'
Ten men, ten men.
One, two, three, four, five.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
Jesus touched their lives and they were well again.
But they all got excited. And they all ran away.
Only one turned around.
He came back to say, 'Thank you, thank you, Jesus. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, thank you, Jesus. Thank you! Thank you!'
Never walk away.
Always stop and say, 'Thank You for the blessings that you give each day.'
Thank you, thank you Jesus! Thank you, thank you! Thank you, thank you, Jesus! Thank you, thank you!"

Then, I stopped and asked each child what they could thank Jesus for today (And it has been a day when we need to show some gratitude around here, if you know what I mean!). My oldest son said, "Jesus, thank you for helping me with my behavior because I've been so naughty today." My middle daughter said, "Even though I'm sad that my doggie can't live with us (Our dog is still back in the States), thank you God that you give us a house here with our family and we get to be together." My youngest daughter, the two year old, said, "Tank you Sheshus for Daddeee!"

A very sweet end to a very cranky, grumpy, loud morning. Thank you, thank you Jesus.

We Have More Company....

Back to the blog soon.