Saturday, March 30, 2013

Celebrate Easter---celebrate Christ's resurrection.

It's so easy nowadays to lose sight of the true meaning of Easter Sunday.  When I was growing up, my mom always had a nice Easter basket filled with goodies for us kids to enjoy; Chad and I always get some yummy chocolates and less yummy Peeps for our children.  Our family plans to spend part of today dyeing eggs, and tomorrow we'll join our church in our annual Easter Egg Dash held after the morning service.  All of these things are fun and traditional, but they do not reflect the reason why we as Christians celebrate Easter Sunday.  Jesus rose from the grave---that's why we rejoice on this day.  If Jesus had been born, lived, and died, we would still be on our way to hell.  He had to rise to prove He had power over death; He had to live again to truly conquer death for all who believe.

Can you imagine that morning when the angel rolled back the stone?  Can you imagine the initial disbelief of His friends and disciples when they were told the tomb was empty?  This was the Son of God Who had already foretold the events that would take place, and yet, when told of His resurrection, His disciples didn't believe at first.  Can you picture the looks on their faces when Jesus showed up in the room that night, proving that He had indeed risen from the dead?  I wonder, if I had been present during that time, what would my reaction have been?  Would I have believed what Jesus had said?  I wonder if I would have, like the disciples, been in such shock that God's Son could actually die that I would have forgotten His words that He would rise again in three days.  Surely Jesus expected them to be waiting to for Him when He arose, but they were still so stunned by His awful, tragic death that they lost faith.  I'd like to think that I would have held on to His words and been ready the third day to welcome His triumphant resurrection, but I know me.  My faith is not strong at times, either.  I'm glad I get to look back on that day and rejoice, not live through those days.  I'm so thankful that Jesus rose again from the dead, that He didn't just die but lives again.  We serve a risen Saviour, not a dead God.  Thank You, Father, for creating this master plan to save us from our sins.  Thank You, Jesus, for being willing to die such an awful death to save us from an awful eternity.  What a reason to celebrate!

Our kids (and I) are rejoicing extra today because we have a week off school next week!  This is our official Spring Break, and it looks like we might actually have some really nice weather this time.  Amanda already has a job for the week, and I'm sure Katie and Ashley will find some work as well.  Dale, Emily, and I plan to laze around and act like we have earned the right to do so!  I'm sure we'll do some spring cleaning---the girls' closets definitely could use it---but mostly we'll just be lazy.  :-)

Chad has settled into his new schedule pretty well.  It's so nice for him to know what each week will bring, rather than having to call in each day just to find out what the next day's schedule will be.  God has certainly blessed us with regards to Chad's work and our finances.  We have what we need but not more.  You know, I'm glad we've never been "rolling in the dough" because I don't think I could handle having tons of money.  I am well aware that I don't trust God to supply my needs as much when I've just cashed my paycheck as when I'm waiting for it.  God's plan for my life is perfect; He knows what is best for me!

Happy Easter, everyone!  Don't eat too much candy or ham!

Matthew 28: 5-6  "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye:  for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here:  for He is risen, as He said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hooray for spring!

Officially, according to the calendar, spring has arrived.  However, judging by the most interesting weather we have been experiencing, I'm not at all sure which season we are presently in.  Over the past couple of weeks here in Washington state, we have had gloriously warm weather, scattered showers, heavy mists, and even snow!  Yesterday morning there were snow flurries mixed with rain (everything here is mixed with rain!), and again in the afternoon there were quite a bit of flurries.  Of course, nothing stuck, but it was pretty to watch.  Our temperature has dropped considerably, leaving the house freezing at night but warming up a good bit during the daytime.  Who knows---maybe spring is actually here but winter is giving her last best shot?

Our annual school auction is being held today.  You know this means that for the last few weeks our staff has been running around madly, scrambling to get donations, workers, decorations, etc. to make our auction a success.  Our theme this year is a tailgate party (minus the alcohol!) and the servers (high schoolers) will be dressed as fans at a football game.  Miss Caryn Coffey and I are in charge of the nurseries again this year; we took over that job a few years back, and apparently we do a good job.........either that or no one else wants to do it!  :-D  This year, we only need be concerned with the children ages birth - three years old, although we are keeping an unofficial eye on the K4 - 1st graders room since they are in the same building with us.  Next year we might be in charge of the kids all the way up through sixth grade; this idea was presented to us yesterday by one of the main people in charge of the auction, after a particularly stressful day trying to work out last-minute snags that always arise in the undertaking of a big event like this.  Caryn and I were somewhat taken aback by the offer but agreed to give it some thought, especially since this would relieve the burden that some of the higher-up people carry.  We may change our minds after tonight!

Our family is finally getting over the worst of our illnesses.  I still have a lingering cough which causes me to consume scads of cough drops; Ashley got sick last night but she slept pretty well afterwards so I hope it was just a temporary bug.  Chad started his new schedule yesterday after months of being a relief driver; his hours are still crazy some days, but at least we know what he'll be doing on each day---and what services he'll be able to attend!  Chad has been fixing up a place in our garage for his father who will be moving in with us next week.  We don't have a spare bedroom, but we've created a space in the garage with room for his bed, dresser, microwave, and fridge, plus a space heater or two.  I hope he'll be comfortable there; Chad has gone to a good bit of effort to make the place seem homey and comfortable.  We wrapped up the third quarter of school this week; now it's on to the home stretch!  With Amanda graduating this year, there are all sorts of extra plans to be made and expenses to be handled, not to mention getting her ready for college.  She wants to attend Golden State Baptist College in Santa Clara, CA, and is already trying to get herself ready to go (although the actual departure date isn't until fall).  Life is certainly going to be different without her here! We've gotten used to five children, and she, being the oldest, has assumed a good deal of responsibility around the house.  Katie, next in line, will have to take up the slack, I guess!  (I say that like Katie does nothing in our house already, which is absolutely false.)  Ashley, our third daughter/fourth child, is going into the seventh grade next year, so she is eligible to attend Youth Conference in Santa Clara this summer.  She (along with Amanda and Katie) is busily trying to earn the money to pay her way.  She does odd jobs for some people and is also selling candy bars to help pay her way.  Emily is going to be the only child still left in the elementary classes.  She's getting so big now but is still that mixture of baby and young girl.  She's missing her two front teeth on top; this makes for an adorable smile but difficulty pronouncing some words!  Dale is plugging along, having trouble walking some days and others doing all right.  He's resigned himself to having to stop frequently whenever he wants to walk somewhere---something which his father and I (and sisters!) have been at pains to tell him is simply not true.  But he's still growing so his arms and legs seem extra long and his steps are not settled into their permanent gait yet.  If he were a normal 14-year-old boy, we'd call him uncoordinated and gangly.  Since it's Dale, his sisters have come up with all sorts of other names to call him!!!  He's got a small moustache growing on his upper lip; I know we need to shave it off, but, frankly, I'm not ready yet to acknowledge that my son has grown up so much that he needs to start shaving!  He's only fourteen!!!  And I am dead sure not handing him a razor to take care of the matter himself.  He'd lop off an ear!  We keep teasing Dale that we're going to wax it.

All things considered, God has been very good to us.  Especially when the things you consider include our salvation, our health, our jobs, our children, etc.!  Our God loves us, indeed, not because of who we are but because of Who He is.

I John 4:  7 - 8 "Beloved, let us love one another:  for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Are we a normal family?

Perhaps I should ask, Is there any such thing as a "normal" family?  And who gets to decide what's normal?  I mean, even if you go all the way back to the first family---you know, Adam and Eve and their kids---you find problems.  Cain killed his brother Abel out of rage and jealousy, right?  At least we Ostranders have not gotten that bad, so maybe there's hope for us yet!  (Although the Bible does say, As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he...........)

We have always had a good sense of humor running through our family.  Chad has always liked a good joke and been ready to laugh at life, as have I.  Either he and I have always had similar funny bones or we've simply grown that way throughout our marriage.  My mom is a fun person and my dad has a warped sense of humor (inside joke!), so there was no possibility of any of us kids reaching maturity without learning how to be silly.  Chad and I have passed that on to our own children, poor things!  If there is any chance of cracking a joke or making a play on words or being just plain sarcastic, we'll find it..........and then spend the next ten minutes enlarging on the possibilities until we're rolling on the floor.  (This makes it difficult to sit soberly on the front pew during a service!)  Anyone who does not know our family may well think that we hate each other's guts sometimes, due to the lack of compassion shown to each other during one of these silly spells.

For instance, Amanda's thing with her brother is to say, "If you don't stop that, I'm going to push you over."  Mind you, Dale probably has been doing something annoying and deserves to be suppressed (anybody read Alice in Wonderland?  the Red Queen saying, "Suppress that pig!"), and of course Mandie would never actually push Dale over just to see him fall.........well, maybe!  But, to someone who is unaware of our family's sick idea of a joke, she sounds like a mean big sister.  :-)  After Sunday school this morning, Dale was trying to talk me into letting him get a second donut before the main service.  I was not in the mood to try to keep Dale upright (he's gets shaky when surrounded by crowds), steer through the jumble of kids in the gym, and keep him from squashing his donut when he jerks---all at the same time.  So I said no to the donut.  Dale began semi-whining about how unfair it was and how much he wanted another donut, trying to change my mind.  I stood firm, saying no repeatedly, until I finally said, "Dale, you know I can just walk off and leave you here."  Now, to those around, I probably sounded rather uncaring of my poor son's condition, him having drowned in the Pacific Ocean a year and a half ago and being miraculously brought back to life and being unable to just up and walk away on his own.  Whatever.  He laughed; I laughed; and together we ignored any looks anyone may or may not have given me.  (I don't know if there were any looks; I didn't look to see!)

If we didn't have laughter, if we didn't have a smile, if we didn't know how to look for the humor in every situation, our family would be in a world of hurt.  I am, by nature, a very depressing person to be around.  I tend to see the negative in any given situation; I make myself sick with worry any time we plan even a day trip for the family; I can instantly list a dozen things that will go wrong if we are asked to help out with something.  I'm not kidding........ask my family---they'll tell you, "Mom gets overworked about the smallest thing."  I try to balance this natural negativity with humor as much as I can (sometimes to the point that I feel bi-polar).  I try to deliberately see the light side of things because I don't have to work to see the dark side.  Are you this kind of person, too?  Do you habitually see all the bad things that could happen and have to work at seeing the good?  I know our God is not a depressed individual---although He could be, seeing how very wicked mankind has become.  God implores us to look for the good in life, to focus on His blessings and not on our troubles, to seek to make ourselves and those around us better each day by our attitudes.  I do not want to be one of those people who others dread to see coming, thinking, "Oh, no!  They're going to pull me down with them."  I want to be one who lifts others up, who makes them feel better about themselves and their day, just having talked to me.  Who knows---maybe I'm expecting too much of myself.  Who am I to think anything I say or do could seriously impact another person's life?  Of course, I'm being deliberately negative right here.  But, sometimes, that's how I if I'm no good, as if there's no point in even trying.  And then the Holy Spirit smacks me upside the head and says, "This is why Jesus saved you?  So that you could wallow in your self-imposed misery?'  God did not create anyone to be miserable.  He loves us each the same and desires us to rejoice in the Lord.  Sure, sometimes it is impossible to rejoice in life itself; I do not take joy from Dale's drowning, nor do I believe God expects me to.  If you get into a car accident, you do not have to say, "Oh, yes!  This is wonderful!"  If your children get sick (as one of mine was this week), God does not demand we clap our hands for joy.  But, there is that verse in the Bible that says, "In everything give thanks......."  Not for everything, but in everything---while you're in it.  This I can do!  I can stop and deliberately say, "Thank You, Lord, for allowing this into my day today.  Please help me bring glory to You by my actions and reactions to this."  Easier said than done---takes a great deal of practice---but well worth it!

Our family is no different from yours; we have our ups and downs; we get sick and pass it all around; the kids fail tests at school and bring down the wrath of Dad and Mom on their heads; we fuss and fight with each other and then make up and be best of friends again.  (A little too much of that last one!)  Chad and Katie and Emily have been fighting a nasty cold for a couple of weeks.  Just when Katie starts to get better, she catches another germ and starts coughing all over again.  Emily started throwing up early Saturday morning and continued until about 6:00 Saturday evening.  I caught the family cold around Thursday and am steadily getting worse with it.  My throat was horribly scratchy until Saturday morning; now I'm just snuffily and sneezing and coughing.  I made it to morning church, but Chad told me to stay home tonight.  Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow for school or the day's lessons might be unintelligible.  Dale started out the day rather roughly yesterday---he almost had a seizure twice on the stairs, coming down in the morning.  His legs were jerking nonstop and his eyes got wide; he called out "MOM!" twice even though I was right there.  Dale said he can hear a high-pitched whine in his ears when a seizure starts; if it gets louder and stronger, then the seizure will take over.  He also feels a sensation (maybe like numbing?) in his feet each time a seizure starts.  Both of these were present yesterday, causing him to panic.  He hates knowing he's about to have a seizure, and who wouldn't?  I held his legs still for him and tried to help him calm down.  When he was able to listen I told him, "Dale , if you do have a seizure on the stairs, I can handle it.  It's happened before, and I know what to do.  Don't worry."  This helped him realize that, even if he did have another seizure, he'd be safe and taken care of.  We still haven't figured out yet what brings on his seizures, although my husband believes it may be attributed this time to the change in his sleep schedule.  We had a couple of days off school, so Dale stayed up a bit later and slept in each morning.  Chad's probably right---he always is!

Well, find something to praise God for!  We each have our own problems and cares in this life; if we choose to focus on those, we'll miss all the wonderful blessings and downright joy God has for us.  God made us to praise Him.  Are you fulfilling your purpose?

Psalm 150: 6  "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD."