Monday, July 29, 2013

A Man, His Dream, and a Little Bit of Green Paint {Behind the Scenes}

Lincoln: This man. Us : This family. Both having dreams of a better life. A better time. 

Or even just a better day.  

That can happen sometimes when you travel with your family.  What starts out as a day full of promise and anticipation ends up being a memory that you would rather forget.  And you ask your spouse, "How can they fight when we are spending so much money to give them these experiences?!" And you shake your head, yet also knowing that they will never appreciate the history of this kind of trip the same way I did not appreciate all of my college classes on writing and the Bible (Seriously, there were SO may kings!). 

So the memories will come even in the tiring times: The endless game of Tag Back that results in tears. Hearing, "How much longer?" so many times you are tempted to say, "We get there when we get there, so cool it!" and you will have just become your father in the wood sided station wagon so many, many years ago.  

I find that I actually understand and forgive my family for many things that happened on my childhood vacations.  There was the one time when I was seven that we climbed Pikes Peak, our family of five, and my father bought us two cookies and one glass of milk to share.  We laugh about that story to this day.  Yet, there we were, last week,  in our Nation's Capitol and I heard myself saying, "No, you do not need your own lemonade, you can share with everybody." (Beverages in DC and on any type of mountain are very expensive!)

And yet, we still have these dreams.  These dreams of perfect vacations and perfect moments that we can fill our scrapbook with Pinterest ideas. And we pray that we can at least get one picture that is Christmas Worthy:

What gives us away as tourists?  
Hmmm, could it be the matching shirts?! 
Please note the lemonade in my son's hand.  Thankfully, they were all sharing!

This place of honor and history and hope. This monument gives people this hope.
We were there just hours before this Lincoln was vandalized. (We had nothing to do with the green paint.  I promise...).  That is what we hope for...not liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but just a vacation that our children will remember fondly. A vacation that will bind us together with a loyalty and love that will stand the test of  time of junior high tween years and high school teen independence.

But as I think back on those moments of my family vacations, I have found that some of the ones I most remember are the ones that we struggled through.  That is what shapes us, that is what binds us, not only for the character that becomes embedded as we have to share, and give for one another, but also because we don't  want to tell anyone else what actually happens during some of those vacations. Those stories get told only to family who understand who we are or maybe to really good friends.  

A gal I have known since high school shared a story when her family visited Gettysburg and her high school son actually said the words, "This is why I like going on mission trips better than family trips, so I don't have to deal with this stuff." and stormed away from the picnic bench after a particular stimulating growth opportunity (read: Big fight).  Yet, this same young man just a few days later was laughing while playing water polo with seven little cousins.  I like to think God designs our minds with the capacity to remember that which will change us - hopefully for the better.

A little twist on Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address eloquently describes a perfect family vacation motto: The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but {we} can never forget what {we} did here.

So behind these smiles, is hope.  A hope that these kids will stick up for each other, call each other for their birthdays, ask each other to stand up in their weddings. And, as Chesterton said, hope  is the power of being cheerful in circumstances we know to be desperate. Lincoln had that hope.  I have that hope.  And I pray that my children will have that hope.

Because let's face it, we know our kids will face much more desperate times as they get older, but at the age of seven, it seems pretty desperate if your mama will not buy you a taser at the Old Post Office Gift Shop. 

Now, your turn:

What are some vacation moments that you still remember from your childhood??

Linking up with some wonderful ladies that get real and encourage at Behind the Scenes. Join us here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Strawberries, Smiles, and Snuggles

My Sweet Strawberry Blond Baby Boy.
Born almost exactly two years after my Blondie Blond Baby Girl.
This picture shows the touches and smiles and giggles of two best friends who love to snuggle.

And if you look closely, you can see that Sunshine is not just patting Jammer's head.  She is not just lovingly making sure everyone knows that he is hers.  Although she did often do that as well, but on this particular occasion, she was looking for something.

"Mama, where are they?"

"Where are what, Sweetie?"

"Where are the strawberries?"

"The what?"

"The strawberries. Everyone says he has strawberries in his hair."

And so I learned the value of words to a little child.  How they listen to everything you say.  They take it in even when you do not think they are listening and they let it steep.  May God remind me of that and may my words be like honey to my children and to those around me.  May they be sweet strawberry honey to the hearts of others.

I am linking up with a dear community that desires to go deep.  To share with each other, to encourage each other.  And to let everyone else know that behind the scenes may not always be pretty, but God is working there just the same! Check out other wonderful photos here.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I am linking up with One Girl for another Chasing History Link Up.

Here are the directions:

"Just pick one of your favorite women in the Bible and then write about her. Do a little research, read the chapter(s) over again. Dig in deep or span out wide. Just learn.

And then come back and tell us all about her - and you. Share how God is using a woman's story from long ago to challenge you, teach you, or encourage you.

It doesn't need to be fancy. It doesn't need to be long. Write however much you feel comfortable. This isn't a bible study - this is community coming together to talk about Him and the Stories He has written."

And last week, I picked Leah.  And we talked about comparing.  Leah and her sister Rachel.

Now, this week, I am going to pick...



Yes, but this week, I am talking about blessing~ an unexpected gift.

Her whole life might have been spent comparing to her sister Rachel.  Her husband had to work seven years for her hand in marriage and the another seven years for Rachel who he really wanted to marry.  

The names that Leah gives her sons show her journey to blessing. First is Reuben whose name means "son provided in my affliction." Then comes Simeon whose name means "gracious hearing of the Lord"; next is Levi, which means "my joining"; then Judah, meaning "the praise of God; next comes Issachar whose name means "a reward"; and finally, Zebulun whose name means "a joyful habitation." So, ultimately, Leah is fulfilled.

So all of these sons, and yet Rachel had no children. So blessings come in different forms for every person.
Jacob's family continued to grow until he had twelve sons and one daughter. Rachel would finally have a son named Joseph, and later a son called Benjamin by his father. While having Benjamin,  Rachel dies in childbirth.

And what about Leah? After Rachel's death she, no doubt, becomes Jacob's chief wife. 

God saw the suffering Leah endured and he blessed her above her  sister. Leah held a special place because of the sons she had. Her son Levi became the father of the priestly tribe of Israel and his descendants include Moses, Aaron, Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, Barnabas and Peter. From the descendants of Judah came King David and Jesus, the Son of God.

At the end of their lives, it was Leah who was buried with her husband Jacob in the Cave of Machpelah.

It might have taken a while, but Leah become content with what she had. Remember her name means content, and not only that, she was blessed.  

At first it did not look like she was blessed for she did not have the full love of her husband, but God is bigger than a husband's love or lack of love.  God is bigger than infertility. God is bigger than not knowing where you are going to be working next year. God is bigger than a dream unfulfilled. God is bigger than where your child will go to college. God is bigger than a family torn apart.

These are earthly prayers that long to be answered, but God desires to bless us even more than we could ask or imagine.

We are content asking for basic things like protection and security.  Those are the things that he gives even to the unbelievers.  As children of God, we have the amazing power to not only ask for those things, but to ask for even more blessings. Deeper blessings.  Deeper gifts from His hand of grace.

We can ask for the blessing of wisdom, the joy of knowing Him better, the power to overcome affliction.

Leah couldn't see it at first, but little by little, she saw the hand of God and knew she was blessed.  Her greatest blessing came at the end of her life ~ being part of the line of Jesus and being buried with Jacob.  Our greatest blessing will come at the end of our lives when we see the face of Jesus, but as our Heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts, if we seek to glorify Him, He will be faithful to give us mighty blessings on earth as well.

And we will be blessed.  Maybe not always how we think, but He is faithful and we will be blessed.

How have you been blessed this week?

Check out even more beautiful stories of women in the Bible. This community of writers sharing what they know, what they feel, what they dream.  They share how His story becomes a part of their own.