Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thank God for mini-vacations!

A couple of years ago, our school began splitting our Spring Break up into two separate weeks, one in February and one in April.  What a stroke of brilliance!  We get to enjoy a week off school on two occasions, get caught up on housework (yeah, right!), spend some family time (going shopping), and recuperate from the various viruses that are always circulating amongst the student body.

So far, we've managed two out of three items from the list above.  We spent yesterday going from thrift store to thrift store, searching for bargains, and came home with some nice purchases.  Each of the kids got something, and I was able to buy my class a chess set. They've been asking for one, and they assure me they know how to play.  I've never gotten the hang of it!  Anyway, we had a really great time out shopping in the pouring rain.  We stopped at Sonic on the way home and indulged in their $1 hot dog/chili cheese dog special for Presidents' Day and then went home where the kids spent a blissful half hour trying on (again) all their clothes.  The kids and I haven't had the chance to go thrift store shopping in a long time, so we really enjoyed our day out.

We are also enjoying the down time away from all the sniffling and sneezing of everyone at school.  Katie especially is needing this week off to get over (hopefully for good) this cold she's been nursing.  It seems she's been getting sick every other week this school year.  She's already missed a lot of school, to the point that she really can't afford to miss any more.  I've been very glad for her sake that we get a week off so she can catch up on her sleep and stop being so sick.  She already seems better, only coughing a bit and blowing her nose.  It's so good to see her smile again in decent health!  The rest of us have had sniffles and coughs but nothing like hers.

Our varsity teams are on their last sports trip for the year.  The Presidents' Day Tournament is always an exciting climax to the season, one which everyone looks forward to.  Since Katie isn't playing volleyball this year, no one in our family is gone, but it's still fun to send the team off with a bang.  Last Friday, our school had a pep assembly with lots of cheering, posters, and fun competitions.  The senior varsity members led us in a couple of cheers before announcing the winners of the poster contest:  6th grade!  Then, those elementary classes who chose to could compete in a cheer competition, and my class won!!!  So both 6th grade and 3rd grade will get a pizza party!  There was a guys-against-girls varsity seniors obstacle course; the guys won……but barely!  Bro. Minge then announced each team member's name and had them line up, at which point the elementary classes handed them goodie bags we had put together for them.  We had a lot of fun getting our teams razzed up for the trip.  They left after Sunday morning church because the games started Monday morning.  It's a good thing they left when they did; there're some nasty snowstorms moving through the passes, and this tournament is held over the mountains.  The main pass was closed soon after they crossed!  Please pray for their safe return Wednesday late afternoon.

God is so good to us, daily, weekly, hourly.  Our world is so busy, so frantic, so minute-by-minute, that it takes conscious effort to stop and purposefully thank God for what He does and is.  Don't forget to display an attitude of thankfulness---not just say the words but feel them.  You'll find this thankfulness will spill over into your children's lives and your spouse's and your coworkers'.  God bless you this day especially!

Colossians 3: 16  "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Our God is simply good.

To begin with, GO SEAHAWKS!!!  We are so excited to watch the Superbowl tomorrow and see the conclusion of our team's exciting season.  If you hear wild screaming and loud cheering coming from Washington State, it's all of us 12ers making our opinion known.  Now on to the rest of the blog!

It's my opinion that Dale is either made of sterner stuff than the rest of us or that drowning accident changed his DNA on a molecular level.  He falls frequently---more than anyone else I know!---and still he has yet to give up and stop walking.  Oh, he gets scared a lot; he shows hesitancy when encouraged to walk on his own sometimes, especially in a busy place or unfamiliar territory.  But to see him walk around my classroom or at home or even out of the auditorium and down the hall to the parking lot after church---that's an awesome sight!  To watch the young man whom doctors said would probably never survive the 20 minutes spent in the ocean until those brave men pulled him out actually walk on his own is to witness a miracle straight from the halls of Heaven all over again.  To observe the teenager whom we were warned might never leave the hospital or respond to our voices or feed himself or talk continually prove those statistics wrong is to see the hand of God clearly visible in our daily lives.

Dale has every reason to give up, to quit trying, to make excuses as to why he can't……and sometimes he does!  We find ourselves frequently scolding him for his lack of initiative and his frustratingly accepting attitude toward his "disabilities."  And, it's true, he needs to keep walking every day, keep working on his balance (which seriously needs some help!), keep striving to think clearly and memorize his school work.  He is not quite the same Dale we said goodbye to that sunny morning two and a half years ago.  He struggles with his studies now; he needs assistance walking to and from his classes; he gets shaky when there are too many distracting issues when he's trying to walk.  He doesn't like walking past the basketball team as they practice because he's always afraid a ball or a person might come his way, and he simply lacks the ability to quickly adjust and move out of the way.  This is why his face frequently bears the scars of yet another fall; he can't stop himself once he starts falling.  Chad and I are absolutely astounded that he hasn't injured himself worse than just scrapes and bruises so far.  No broken bones, no concussions, no head trauma.  Just another sign that God takes care of Dale!  Dale is in His hands, and there's no safer place to be.

We wonder what Dale's future might hold.  Will he be able to graduate from high school?  Is there any chance he'll go to college?  Will I be able to let him go to that extent?  Will Dale ever get married, have children, hold a job?  The plain, frustrating, undeniable truth is---we just don't know.  We. Don't. Know.  But we know Someone Who does.  And this brings a smile to my face every time I re-arrive at this conclusion:  God knows.  He has a specific plan for Dale, and His plans are always good.  Since I can't know the future and I won't know until we get there, I have no choice but to trust that unknown future to a known Father.  I can trust unwillingly, fighting against the unfairness of it all, crying and screaming at God, worrying myself into a dozen ulcers; or I can trust willingly, daily letting God keep control of my life and my family's lives, obeying His Word and accepting His comfort, secure in the knowledge that I don't have to be in control for things to work out.  In fact, if I were in control, if I were God, we'd have a lot bigger problems to worry about!  Every time I try to take the reins and run my own life, I wind up careening out of control, crashing, and burning.  Seriously.  God reminds me so many times in so many ways that I am not qualified or capable of managing my present, much less my future---just look at my past!  He is my Captain, my vessel, my charted course, my going……..and He is more than able to provide my son and my daughters and my husband and myself with all that we need both now and in the future.  He will perfect His work in our lives, and His work in Dale isn't finished yet!

We have a big God, big enough to create the entire universe yet small enough to live inside our hearts.  We have a powerful God, powerful enough to hold back the Red Sea yet gentle enough to cradle each sparrow that falls.  We have a loving God, loving enough to die on an old rugged cross for our sins yet compassionate enough to only give us what we can handle.  He's worth trusting.

I'll close with some verses that I know I've used before, but they are so true:

Proverbs 3: 5 - 6  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."