Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So Long 2013: Lift my Life Up (Tuesday Tunes)

As I was reflecting on the past year I wanted to come up with a song that could put it in words how I feel. There are so many that God has used in my heart over the past year or so so I think that I am going to start a temporary "Tuesday Tunes" series to blog about favorite songs. For today though I found a post that I'd started a couple of months ago about a song that I heard on the radio and loved. Below is that post, with some additions I've made today.

A few weeks ago I heard a song on FLN online. I caught the first few words as I was in the middle of doing something else:
You brought me this far
So why would I question you now
You have provided
So why would I start to doubt
As I worked on dinner or whatever I was doing the words kept repeating in my mind. I could have written those very words. That is the cry of my heart. I needed to know the rest of the words so I got on the internet to try to figure out what song it was so I could look up the lyrics and see if I could hear it again. I finally found the recent songs playlist and from it figured out that it was probably "Lift My Life Up" by Unspoken. I searched for it on youtube to listen to it again and only found this video of a live performance. I listened to it a couple of times and searched for the lyrics online somewhere. It was kind of difficult because it turns out that the song wasn't actually going to be released for a couple of days. I guess that FLN got an advance copy.

I finally found the words on another radio station's website and they resonated with so much in our lives in the past, in the present, in the future. It goes so well with the Anything study I am doing.
You brought me this far so why would I question You now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I've never been stranded, abandoned, or left to fight alone
So I'm giving You control
(Chorus) I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord, I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me

If this is a river, then let it sweep over me
If I'm under fire, I know it's refining me
When I hear you calling out
I follow now wherever the road may go
I know You're leading me home

(Chorus) Take my life and let it be
All for You
Take my life and let it be
All for You

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
Take my life


My whole life God has been at work in my heart about seeking Him and wanting His way in my life. This has been especially true over the last year as we sought Him about where we should go for residency and handed Him our options with open hands asking Him to pick, knowing that He would put us in the place that would be the best for us even if it was not the place that we would prefer. We truly wanted what He wanted more than we wanted what we wanted because we know that His way is always better.

So now we are in Fort Worth, TX. "A big change from Upstate New York" as everyone says. Texas is not a place I would have ever chosen to live but I know that God has a reason for bringing us here and we have given Him control. He has allowed many trials into our lives in or short time here. I know that He is refining me and leading me home as the song says.

 This year hasn't been easy with the crazy hours of intern year, the emotional ups and downs that all the changes we have encountered have provided personally and in our family, the challenges of finding people and making friends, homeschooling, the heat, the cold, the break-in, the dog, the chicken, etc.  But God... "You brought me this far so why would I question You now, You have provided so why would I start to doubt, I've never been stranded, abandoned, or left to fight alone, So I'm giving You control"

This song has been a reminder of God's faithfulness and that I can trust Him no matter what challenges He allows. He has brought us this far through moves, friendships, years of waiting, fun times, rejection, acceptance, loss, gain. We have never been alone. I can let Him control my life.

So "I lift my life, lift my life up, I give it all in surrender, I lift my heart, lift my heart up, You can have it forever, All my dreams, all my plans, Lord, I leave it in Your hands. I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me."

As I look back on 2013 I am so grateful for how God has taken care of us, allowed pain into our lives, given us SO many blessings and showed us more of who He is. As I worked through the 20 questions to review 2013 the last one was "Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you." My answer was "learn and lean in through the changes that God allows in your life." I look forward to getting to know Him more in 2014 and the pain and blessings He will bring into our lives over the next 12 months should the Lord tarry.

So long 2013.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Jesus Storybook Bible: $1.99 on Kindle now (What's Working Wednesday)

 I want to make a plug for The Jesus Storybook Bible. It's only $1.99 right now on Kindle (probably temporarily, Amazon changes prices all the time so check the price before you by it though it is worth paying full price). NOTE: THIS DEAL HAS EXPIRED. We were originally given a copy of this book when we first started going to Missio Church and they were using it as a tool to use with the kids as they were preaching an overview of the Bible in a year.

This year we are reading though The Jesus Storybook Bible as our advent readings with an ebook guide I downloaded here. In the ebook there are little ornaments to color and decorate that go along with each of the stories. (I was planning on hanging them with little clothes pins on twine on our mirror but since none of them have been colored yet maybe I'll just stick them in our Christmas box so we can do it next year.)

We have read it most nights though this month and many times I have had tears run down my cheeks in amazement at God's plan and His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." I love this book. It's not perfect. There are some things that are said in ways that I wouldn't have said but I really do like it. I especially love how every Bible story that is shared points to the main character of the Bible: Jesus. As it says in the introductory first story: "There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them."

We read Jonah tonight with our Advent devotional and even Jonah points us to Jesus:
     "Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness.
     "But this Messenger would be God's own Son. He would be called "The Word" because he himself would be God's Message. God's Message translated into our own language. Everything God wanted to say to the whole world - in a Person."
We have the hardcover version of the book but we bought the Kindle version today and tonight we were able to all see it without passing it around and all read along because it had been downloaded to our Nooks and a laptop. The pictures are great. The kids loved it! These stories really bring out the  expression in their voices as they read (and exclaim in wonder at what we've read). They really get into these stories.

If you don't already own a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible I would highly recommend you buy this Kindle edition now while it is only $1.99. It will not work on a phone but it will work on most larger devices with the Kindle App. Even if you don't have a tablet you can get Kindle for your computer and read it on your computer screen. If you haven't done that yet (which you should - Kindle offers great free books often) I would do it just to have this book.

OK, commercial over - and I'm not even getting anything for this free advertisement ;)

NOTE: I just saw on the Jesus Storybook Bible facebook page that this book is free through 1/5/14 but I would still spend the $2 today to buy it and not wait and forget (I hate when I do that!). It will also give you a chance to read though the before Jesus is born on earth stories before Christmas.

I haven't done one in a while but  I guess this is my What's Working Wednesday post for the week. It is working for us. I'm sure it would work for you too ;)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Where We Went (Fall of 2012 through Spring of 2013)

We spent a lot of the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 travelling and living out of our minivan for residency interviews, second looks, service opportunities, visiting friends and family, family vacation, etc. Last month I found a website that someone linked to on facebook that you could color code a map of the US. I had posted our map to facebook back then but wanted to put our map on our blog so we could look back at it/ find it in the future.

In the fall of 2012 through spring of 2013:
Green: we lived there
Purple: we slept there more than 1 night
Orange: we slept there 1 night
Pink: we drove through
I'm not 100% certain we drove in MI and I think CO may have only been 1 night though we had 2 interviews there. It was a fun, crazy few months! We got to see some awesome sights and spend time with some great people. 

 You can make your own color coded map of places you've been, places you've lived, place you want to go, etc. here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mommy Guilt

Mommy guilt/ envy is one thing that I think all moms deal with. There are no perfect moms. There is always going to be someone who is more _________ than you are. Mommy guilt/envy comes in many forms and many faces.

Yesterday I had an attack of mommy guilt. In the mail we got the cutest invitation for a birthday party from some friends for their son. As soon as I saw it all kind of thoughts ran through my mind. After the initial, "That is one of the cutest invitations I've ever seen!" thought all kinds of self deprecating thoughts came after me, "I'm a horrible mom because... I never organize fun birthday parties for my kids, I never make fun invitations, I'm totally not organized enough to get invitations to people three weeks before an event, etc, etc, etc." This was all magnified because I really don't do birthdays well which always makes me feel guilty and because my baby turns 8 next week and she and her sisters were planning her birthday party and making invitations with crayons and pencils to hand out at church on Sunday afternoon so people could be informed a few days before her "party" (AKA hopefully have a couple friends over and probably paint nails and eat cake). "Oh, why am I not together enough to throw my own kid a birthday party so she has to plan it herself??"

Glenn had just gotten home and he saw the direction of my thoughts and my wonderful husband asked me a simple question, "Did you ever just have a two year old?"

That caused me to pause and reflect. I have just had a 2 year old. For one month. The party we threw when that little guy turned 2 was a big event- we stayed up late several nights before it making fish out of Starbursts and Laffy Taffy for his amazing aquarium cake and creating fun Veggie Tale themed carnival games to play. We had made cute invitations and I made homemade pizza for the 30+ people of all ages that came to help us celebrate that wonderful occasion. I did just have a 2 year old back then. His sister came a month later. I've not thrown a party like that since.

I'm thankful for my dear husband helping me with my perspective yesterday. I'm not a big party person. I feel mommy guilt/ envy often when I see pictures of the spectacular birthday extravaganzas from people who are that they have for their kids and think that I really should do all of that but I don't. I don't have big parties for my kids. They get homemade cinnamon rolls and a favorite meal for their birthday - usually Hawaiian Haystacks. They sometimes have a friend or two over if we've met people where we are living at the time or are not homeless. One child didn't have a cake until a couple of months after the birthday had passed because of the sickness and chaos in our lives that was going on at the time, another child got to celebrate while living in someone else's house two years in a row. As a general rule birthdays are simple events in our home but the kids still feel loved and special and they've never complained they don't get extravaganzas every year.

It is enough. I am enough. God didn't give my kids a great party planning mom but He knew what He was doing and for some reason in His infinite plan He gave them me. Imperfect, disorganized, not a party planner me.

I surrender my mommy guilt and envy to God once again. I can't live anyone else's life. I get to live mine. I am not anyone else. I am me. The me that God created perfectly for His plan and purpose and to glorify Him.

For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. (Ephesians 2:10 AMP)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Tree

About 4 years ago I drove to the grocery store quick to pick up some food after Glenn got home from school and the kids were put to bed. On the way there I noticed a big Christmas tree box on the side of the road a few blocks away. When I got home I told Glenn about it and asked him if he wanted to go check it out with me. We went and grabbed it figuring we could put in on our curb if it didn't work. It was a 7.5 foot prelit tree that was in great condition except the prelit part didn't work. That was OK with us. We had lights. We had thought about buying a tree after Christmas that year when they went on clearance but God gave us one before Christmas for free (very helpful on a medical student outgo).
 The previous Christmas we had covered a pile of boxes we'd stacked in our living room to look like a tree with a green sheet and put lights on it. 
 It looked nice in the dark and it was fun to make. There wouldn't have been room in that little 600sq ft house for a 3D tree anyway.
The year before that we had to throw out our old hand me down fake tree from my aunt and uncle because it was all falling apart.

Every time I see advertisements for prelit trees I smile and thank God again for our tree. A friend wondered yesterday what to do with her tree that the prelits didn't work anymore. My suggestions: put your own lights on it or give it away and bless someone with it. I know our tree was a huge blessing to us through our med school years and it moved with us to TX so we'll get to use it again here.

Linking up with LisaJo for Five Minute Friday. 
Five Minute Friday

Friday, November 01, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Grace


That's what I have been given a lot of. Grace. So amazing. So free to me. So costly to the One who has given it to me. God has given me so much that I don't deserve.

3 things have come to mind with the word "grace." 5 Minutes doesn't give me much time but there they are:

1. The Youngest Pilgrim by J.G. Green. A great little book I found at the church library that we've read aloud in the past couple of weeks about a boy in Korea who meets Jesus through his visits with the shopkeeper who owns the corner store. The first Christian song he heard was "Amazing Grace" and it made a great impact throughout his life. I loved hearing my kids sing it whenever it was mentioned in the story.

2. A woman named Grace that I am so grateful for. She has been a kind of mother figure to me (and Glenn and my brother). When I was growing up her family would faithfully visit my dad whenever he was in the hospital for some complication with his diabetes (which was often!) on Sunday afternoons. It didn't matter which hospital it was they would make their way there on Sunday afternoons and spend time with us. Almost every Sunday of the year and a half that mom lived in the nursing home they were there. Loving us, encouraging us, making us laugh. I really don't know what we would have done without her dear family over the years. They have the dearest servant hearts of any people I have ever met. Always giving, always loving, always serving, always caring. I am so grateful for the grace God has given me in Grace.

3. The grace that God has given me in parenting. I am far from a perfect parent but God's grace is producing some amazing kids that I have the privilege of living life with. They challenge me with their faith and their questions. They cause me to grow and to be more and more grateful for the grace that God gives me on a moment by moment basis as my Father.

Grace, grace, God's grace. 
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. 
Grace, grace, God's grace. 
Grace that is greater than all my sin.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maybe Jesus likes Chocolate

I just want to take a minute to brag on my Jesus.

First, a bit of a back story: Halloween is this week. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with Halloween this year. We never go out and buy costumes but my kids do like to dress up. Each year we have done different things for Halloween depending on where we live, what's going on in the area, etc.

Glenn is on nights this week so I was tempted to just stay home with the lights out and watch a movie with the kids until I read a blog post. Glenn had already told me about it and had Caleb read it before I read it.

These words stuck out to me:
"This is the only night of the entire year that most of your neighbors and mine are going to come knocking on our doors. The only night."

I haven't met many of my neighbors but that post made me realize that my neighbors may be coming to my door on Thursday. I say may because I'm not sure if people actually trick or treat in my predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. I'll let you know after Thursday.

Ok, that was a lot of back story before getting to what I actually want to share. I want to have good candy to share with the people who come to my door but I didn't have any so we went to the store today. My printer is out of toner so I couldn't print any coupons but I could upload a few candy coupons to my Kroger card so to Kroger we went.

When we got there I searched through the candy checking bags for candy count to find out which was the cheapest per item from the chocolate section. My coupons were all for Mars so that's what I was looking at mostly. I grabbed a bag of Twix to see how many were in the bag and discovered the bag was popped open. I put it back to grab another one and it was open too. It didn't look like the bags sealed properly from the factory because all of the bags were popped open and wrapped Twix bars filled the box. Two of my girls ran off together to find a store employee to tell them about it. The ladies in floral told them that they didn't know what to tell the girls to do but that the girls should make sure they each took at least one. When they told me my girls were offended... We can't take candy we haven't paid for!!

I found a man stocking shelves and pointed out the box of open candy bags and I explained that I'd found the box and just wanted the store to know so that it could be taken care of and not just sit there like that tempting people. The man seemed surprised and asked me if I would like to buy them for a discount. I wasn't expecting that question but I said, "Sure. I guess. Maybe." He went off to talk to the store manager and I went back to the candy aisle in my quest to figure out which candy was the best price per item. The manager came to talk to me. He told me that it was about 12 bags of Twix in there and that he would give it to me for $10. I was kind of shocked but I said sure and he proceeded to find a SKU that I could use at the checkout. The girls each ate one on the way home and then, when we got home, the guys helped count them. There were 236 Fun Size Twix bars in there that we got for $9.99. Thanks God.
 Now I just hope we get trick-or-treaters who like Twix tomorrow or I am going to have to find some other way to get rid of all the chocolate we now have in our house!

So that is why I think that Jesus may like chocolate. Or at least Twix. Or at least for some reason in His infinite wisdom He chose to bless me because I want to bless my neighbors. I don't know why He did it but I know I love Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's Working Wednesday: Learning Geography and Trying to Gain a Love for the Lost

What's Working Wednesday is my weekly post to showcase something that is working for me or my family at the moment. It may not work for us forever and it may or may not work for you.

I listened to Radical recently. I had borrowed it from the library on Overdrive. One of Platt's challenges at the end of the book was to pray through the nations of the world so we've started doing that in the mornings this fall.

We have a World map and a US map that hang on the walls in our dining room. On the maps there are flags for people that we know that live around the country and around the world. It gives my kids a personal connection to various places that they may never visit knowing the people that live there and having the opportunity to hear the stories that happen there. It's also handy having maps on the wall because whenever we hear news about some place in the world we can go to the map and look at it to see where that place is. (I really missed my maps when we were living out of our van.) My kids are being raised in the US (which was not my original plan, though it has been God's plan so far) but I want them to realize that the US is not the center of the universe.

There are three different apps or websites that we visit daily to help us learn geography and pray for people around the world:

1. VOM Pray Today App
This app (links to the app are on the bottom of the above linked website) gives one prayer request each day for persecuted followers of Jesus in restricted nations around the world. The prayer requests focus on one country for several days in a row. There is also a link to information about the country we are currently praying for and some news updates. Praying for these requests has made me very grateful for the freedom that we have in this country.

2. Joshua Project's Unreached People Groups
Caleb used this website often in doing research about various countries we studied a couple of years ago. They have an app that features one people group that is unreached with the gospel each day. You can also sign up to get the information emailed to you daily. There is information about the people groups giving a bit of their history, some of their struggles and a recommended prayer request. Praying for these requests has burdened me for people who don't have the gospel in their language and has made me so grateful for my Bible in my heart language.

3. Operation World Pray Today
If you go to this website daily and click on "Pray Today" you will learn about and pray for every nation in the world over the course of a year. This website has maps, flags, and statistics as well as challenges for prayer.

Every morning we read through the information, jot the countries' names down on a white board, find them on our map or globe and then pray over the requests. I know it has opened my eyes to the needs of the world and how blessed I am to have been born in the US and I'm praying it will impact our kids as well.

Bonus, non-religious, resources:
We are getting quicker at finding various countries on the map which is fun. A couple of other resources to help with learning geography that we enjoy are:

- World Geography Challenge - This is an app. You can look it up on your app store. I'm not sure how to link it. We have also used map puzzles on this website which has similar fun geography games. I am using these to try to help me know where countries are located. I really struggle with finding African and Eastern European countries and this app has helped.
Geography Songs
We LOVE these songs. We got this book and CD the year we tried Sonlight. We haven't found the CD since our move so we haven't listened to them in a while but they are great for helping to memorize country names and, using the maps in the book, the locations of said countries. We still sing many of the songs when we are looking for countries on our world map to give us a clue as to what part of the world we should be looking in.

What resources do you use to help learn about the world?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Family Fun at Day in the District

A couple of weeks ago was "Day in the District" where a bunch of the museums downtown in the art/ museum district were free for the day. We went to a few of the museums to check them out. 

We went to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to check it out and see if we wanted to get a membership there. We had a good time there but because of the ages of the kids, our busy schedule, having only one vehicle and the cost of parking downtown we decided it probably wouldn't be worth it for us to get a membership. We did have fun though

making a snowman on a giant Light Bright,
 laying on a bed of nails,
 making and testing paper airplanes with Dad,
and then trying to corral cattle at the Cattle Raisers Museum upstairs.
We then got to go to "Energy Blast" a 4-D theater "Journey to the Center of the Barnett Shale" and then learned about fracking in Texas. The opinions about fracking here are much different than the ones I heard in upstate NY.
 Another one of the museums that was free for the day was the National Cowgirl Museum. While there the kids all had a chance to "ride the bronc." The printer wasn't working for the two younger girls so we weren't able to get the video codes for them but below are the videos of my two older bronc riders for your viewing pleasure. One of them did better than the other as you will see but neither of them had very good form. I think we need to take them to a rodeo so they can get a better idea of what they were supposed to be doing. Maybe next year their form will be better.


Here's Lydia on video that I secretly took with my phone. I wish I would have taken one of Abigail.

Day in the District was fun and it was especially enjoyable because Glenn had a rare day off and could come with us. I look forward to doing it again next year if they have it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

I'm not ordinary. At least I think I'm not.

Some days I do long to be ordinary.

When it comes down to it I don't think I really have ever wanted to be ordinary. To be honest I'm jealous of the friends whose blogs I follow raising their families overseas whose lives are way less ordinary than mine. I always thought I would be doing that and the idea that I may always be here in the States living an ordinary life has been a hard pill for me to swallow. I know that if that is what God has for me He will give me the grace everyday to live this ordinary life for Him here. I know we'll be here for at least the next 3-4 years of residency living the ordinary lives of a resident physician and homeschooling momma of four. God calls us to obedience to Him in the every moment of every day not just in the extraordinary.

I long to be obedient to Jesus and to bring glory to Him in this ordinary. If, someday, He calls me to something different I pray that I will be obedient to Him and bring glory to Him then as well.

For now I'll be be an ordinary servant of the Most High God and a life spent chasing after Him is never ordinary.

Linking up for Five Minute Friday.
Five Minute Friday

Saturday, October 05, 2013

It's a cold wet night in Fort Worth. I'm glad I'm not homeless.

Normally, being from NY, I would be grateful for this change in the weather and today I was but...

It was about 80 when I took my run this morning and in the low 70s when I picked Glenn up from the hospital at about 9. As the day progressed the temps kept dropping. I was loving the day that felt so much like fall to this New Yorker. By about 4 when we met up with our Sunday School class it was in the low 60s. We ate a quick supper, did a quick Bible study then packed up to head back to Fort Worth.

This is "Love Fort Worth" weekend at our church and each class was supposed to do a service project somewhere in the city. Our class decided to do a "dog drop." We grilled a bunch of hot dogs, wrapped them in foil and stored them in coolers to keep them warm. We then drove to the part of the city where the homeless shelters are and set up tables to give out hot dogs, chips and bottles of water. People came over and grabbed some food and we got a chance to talk to some of them.

With the sudden cold some people asked if we had any blankets. We didn't. Some people asked if we had any coats - one guy gave his away. Some people asked if we had any hot cocoa. We didn't. It was in the nineties when we planned this event. In fact it was in the 90s all week.

Then it started raining. It started with sprinkles then on came a full downpour. We escaped to our vans and the bus. The people out there had no place to go. The impact on us was great. Yes, we're wet but we have dry clothes to change into, we have warm dry homes with beds that we'll sleep in tonight. The people we were "out there to minister to" didn't. The temperature dropped but the rain eased up a bit and we got out to give out more food. We were directed to another area where more people were and went there and passed out the rest of our hotdogs and some more chips and water, chatted and prayed with a few more people. Then we headed back to our cars.

The impact on my crew was strong. We've been "homeless" before but to us that just means we didn't have a place to call home. Every night of our homeless times God has provided a place for us to stay often through great friends and strangers who became friends and if we stayed outside it was in a tent and it was because we CHOSE to sleep in a tent because we like camping not because we had no other option. Seeing these people and realizing we're cold and wet but it's temporary, a problem quickly fixed in an hour when we get home with a change of clothes and a cup of hot chocolate. We've never been homeless like those people we saw and talked to are.

It was interesting to hear some of the kids thoughts afterwards. I'm sure it will be a topic of discussion for the rest of our lives. Here are some things they said:

- "some of the people kind of scared me that toddlers were there."
- "it was kind of sad to see all those people out there homeless but I'm happy that we could give them hotdogs and chips and stuff"
- "I thought we did good. We gave out all the hot dogs"
- "sad. There was a bunch of people we passed driving there that we didn't have hot dogs out to give them"
- "I'm so thankful that we have a home to sleep in on this cold wet night. We have dry clothes, blankets."
- "We are sooooo blessed." (Stated many times by everyone.)
- (with sadness) "They must have no friends to help them. Whenever we were homeless friends helped us."

I'm not sure that we'll ever think of a chilly, rainy night the same again. The kids have plans to go to Town Talk and buy a bunch of hot chocolate mix and styrofoam cups so we'll be ready next time it's cold. In our debrief we discussed how to collect coats and blankets for these people because winter is coming. Yes, it won't be a NY winter but it will be cold, especially to bodies that have been out in the 100 degree days of Texas all summer long.

So tonight I'm grateful. More grateful than usual that I'm not homeless. Grateful that I have dry clothes, a warm dry house, and a bed to sleep in. I have a pantry full of food and enough stuff to fill 15' of a semi trailer - too much stuff. I need to be listening. I don't know what God wants us as a family to do with regard to the homeless but I'm praying for guidance and longing to be obedient to what He asks us to do.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Write

Yesterday as I was scanning my email I saw a blog post something about 31 days of something. I thought to myself, "Someone else was doing a 31 days of something else. Huh. That's interesting." A few minutes later I realized: Oh, it's October! Nester does a blog for 31 days challenge in October. Last year I did 31 days of flashbacks. When our computer was stolen in June I was so thankful I had done that because it gave me at least a few of the pictures of the last year that I'd lost.

My next thought was, "I am no longer a blogger since I'm not doing that challenge." Last year when I was doing that blogging challenge I thought "Next year we'll be all settled into residency life being normal people who live on a paycheck and I'll have my world all straightened out and I'll pre-plan and make a great 31 days of something blog series."

Um. That didn't happen. Glenn starting residency and me homeschooling older kids and volunteering has thrown me for a loop this year and I just haven't blogged like I've wanted to. I miss blogging. There are scads of started blog posts on my phone that I've jotted ideas down and started but never finished, often covering me with guilt and regret.

Today when I saw the writing prompt was "write" I felt like it was a message from God for me. No, I'll never be a perfect blogger (there probably isn't such a thing) but I still need to write. I have no challenging, meaningful, life changing 31 day series with a cute button but I'll still try to blog more this month. I may never be "one of those bloggers" with the cute blogs and buttons but God says that's Ok. I just need to be obedient to Him and be what He's called me to be: child of the King, wife of an FM intern, homeschooling mom to 4 great kids - me. For this season that is enough.

PS- Yes, I wrote this on my phone and, emailing it to my blog, my signature came with it including my favorite quote. I needed to read it again (when do I not) and thought it might bless some other reader as well:

In time of trouble, say, "First, he brought me here. It is by his will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest." Next, "He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child." Then say, "He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow." And last, say, "In his good time he can bring me out again. How and when, he knows." Therefore, say, "I am here (1) by God's appointment, (2) in his keeping, (3) under his training, (4) for his time." ~Andrew Murray.

Linking up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday. Join me?
Five Minute Friday 

Monday, September 30, 2013

We got our second choice and I am so grateful

A new residency interview season is upon us. Last night we got to go out to eat for a 'dinner with residents.' This time we were part of the residents representing a program instead of the ones being interviewed. (No, I'm not a resident and, no, I was never actually interviewed but in the whole two becoming one part of marriage I've always thought of it as "where we got into medical school," "where we were applying for residency," "where we were going to match/ matched." Glenn's the one that the programs were deciding on but when you get Glenn you get all 6 of us. We are a team. We're a package deal.) It was interesting to learn about the applicants and it was fun that one of the residents who came for our 'dinner with residents' last year was there with us again.

Coming home last night there was a lot of reflecting going on in our van. There are good things and bad things about all the programs we applied to. There are no perfect programs because they are made up of people and there are no perfect people.

We didn't get our first choice in the match. I am grateful now.  March 15th I wasn't. (There are funny pictures, lost forever because of the break in that show on our faces that that is true.) At the beginning of the interview season last year we were told by a resident at what ended up being first on our rank list that ultimately how we arrange our rank order list didn't really matter. God was ultimately in control and would put us in the place He knew was best for us because all He needed to do was tweak a computer program a little bit which, in my mind, is so much easier than tweaking a stubborn human. He said that on Match Day you may feel a bit foolish and like you weren't really listening if you got the last choice on your list but you would still be where God wanted you.

Throughout the interview season we were comforted at the knowledge that, ultimately, we were not in control. We prayed and discussed our options countless times always trying to hold them in an open hand, lifting them up to God and telling Him, "You pick. You know where we will get the best training for what You have for us. You know where You want to use us for our years of residency. You know where would be best for our kids to spend these critical years of their lives. You pick." Sometimes I would see something in one of our options and think, "Oh, I really don't want to go there because of that" or "Oh, I really hope we end up there because of this" but would always come back to: "God, You are in control. I want what You want because I know that is best."

His choice was for us to move to Fort Worth. It wasn't my choice but, just like "not my choice" Houghton and Lowville before it, I know that God knows best and He will make our time here full of priceless memories and will use us and challenge us and grow us in ways He could only do here for this season of our lives.

On our way home last night we discussed once again about how grateful we are that we got our "second choice." We are grateful because we know that God didn't put us here because we asked Him to but because He wanted us here. We probably would have been happy at our first choice but when struggles came we might have wondered, "Are we here because we put it first? Is this really where God wanted us?" Instead we are certain: we didn't put this first so we know that this is where God wants us.

We are currently on question 11: "What is God's providence? A: God's providence is His completely holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing every creature and every action." Over and over as we've read parts of Esther as a family I have thanked God for His providence in our lives. He has allowed so many things that I never would have asked for and not allowed so many things that I would have loved to have had at the time. Sometimes He has given me a window to see what He was doing after a while. For many of the circumstances that He has allowed I may never know the why. Always, always I am certain that He is good and does good. Therefore I know that He is good and did good in allowing us to move to Fort Worth 'for such a time as this.'

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Year Ago Today - Our Road Trip to Residency

One year ago this afternoon I was at the Lowville Library to check out books and for the kids' Art and Literacy Class. While there I got a call from Glenn that I tried to take discretely. He told me that we had gotten our first interview offer! Not too long before we had finally gotten the residency application done and submitted. All of the required letters of recommendations were still not in but we had our first interview offer from JPS!

We were excited. JPS is one of the 4 programs that are always mentioned whenever you ask about the kind of broad spectrum family medicine residency training that Glenn was looking for. One of my first thoughts on hearing that he already got an interview though was, "Oh no. We are not ready for this. I have no idea how we are going to work out all the details and how we are going to arrange travel to all of his interviews." We had only applied west of the Mississippi because they do not offer the training that would give us the best preparation for our future on the East Coast and that meant expensive, time intensive travel. Looking at the map we had no idea how we were going to work out all the details of the travel that would be required to get to all of the 11 places we applied to. I don't think we called to schedule his interview for 2 weeks because we weren't sure what we were going to do.

After much prayer and discussion we decided that driving would be the cheaper than flying and, since we all wanted to check out all of our possible future cities, we thought we'd make it a big family homeschool field trip. A quick plot on google maps revealed it would be a 8000 mile field trip if we went to every place in the most convenient order. Yikes! The thought of it frightened me a bit.

We prayed about it and looked at the map and the calendar and wrote down a penciled-in, hypothetical, "if everything would work perfectly" schedule. We knew that we wanted to go to the Global Missions Health Conference in Louisville, KY at the beginning of November so we made that our first stop and started plotting destinations after that. As more interview offers started coming in we just stood in awe of how God orchestrated our itinerary to match up almost perfectly with our with our penciled in hypothetical "if everything would work perfectly" plan. We decided for various reasons to not interview on the west coast removing 3 of our options and one of our Colorado options didn't fit in our itinerary so we decided that was God's hand in saying no to that location. In our schedule we were able to meet my niece for the first time in Ohio on our way west, visit with some of Glenn's family in Wyoming and even have Thanksgiving dinner with them and meet up with some friends.

I am still amazed at how God worked out all the details. We left right after we voted last year to head out on our interview trip. The GMHC was amazing. So glad we could all go (Glenn and I get to go back this year and represent JPS - yay!). The theme printed on big posters all over was "Find Where You Belong" - a fitting theme, I thought, for setting out on this interview trip. God allowed us to meet an amazing couple at the conference that has been a huge help, blessing and challenge to us over the last year.

Most of our pictures from the past year were lost when our computer was stolen but here are some pictures from our trip that were on Glenn's phone to give you a bird's eye view of our crazy ~7000 mile residency interview roadtrip adventure.
A trip of 7000 miles begins with a new set of all weather tires of course.
We finally got to meet Naomi!
The kids were super excited to see The Maverick, a flying car, in person at the GMHC.
We got to meet up with our friend Cortney at the GMHC. We hadn't seen her since we left TN in 2001!
The kids had heard of Lambert's their whole lives and we decided to take a slight detour to let them experience it.
A new battery we picked up in College Station.
A poster seen in an office Glenn interviewed in reminding us Who we were doing this for.
Abigail lost a tooth in the dark somewhere in Kansas.
You might be in Texas if you see packets of salsa at a gas station condiment bar.
An early view of the Rockies.
One of many tunnels we passed though.
Front porch view in Idaho.
Wow.... on the way to Utah.

This could have been our back yard.

One of many dinners with residents we enjoyed (This was the fanciest one - yak)
Chickfila with family in Cheyenne
Bighorn sheep on the side of the highway in Glenwood Canyon on Abigail's birthday.
More wow.... we got to drive through Colorado National Monument.
Thanks for the recommendation Grandpa Earl!

The one hotel we had to pay for (the rest were paid for by residency programs) was comped for us because we woke up with lovely bites. Thankfully, since we've conquered bedbugs before,  we knew what it was and treated all of the very limited amount of stuff we brought into the hotel with us before returning to the van and brought none home with us.
This elaborate display was across the street from the home of a resident who hosted us for an interview dinner.
Crossing back over the Mississippi on our way home.
A quick stop in to play with cousins in Ohio.
We were a little over the every 5000 mile recommendation but we stopped back by to get our new tires rotated.
 It was a great trip full of amazing views of God's creation and God's amazing provision (our only expenses ended up being gas and some food because God provided free housing for us for every night we were gone). We heard so many stories of credit cards being maxed out and people having to take out more loans and then moonlighting during residency to pay for their interview travel expenses of flights and hotels, rental cars and food. I'm not sure why God is so generous with us but I am so thankful for His provision and for the opportunity to see so much of the country during the month of November (and on the 2-3 crazy long road trips that followed this one which will have to be a story for another day).

Friday, August 23, 2013

A New "Class" for our Homeschool

This week I "enrolled" my kids in a new "class" this fall. It is a bit of a combination Spanish immersion/ Hispanic culture/ PE/ nutrition/ people skills/ slave labor class. This year we are going to volunteer one morning a week (maybe more once we see if it will fit in our school schedule) at the food pantry that is run out of a church near us. On Thursday mornings they get in a big truck of food for the food pantry and they have volunteers come and help unload the truck and put the food where it needs to go for distribution on Fridays.

We went yesterday for the first time. I'm not sure that the kids really knew what they were getting themselves into. They are good at hauling boxes though and at some point in the day Caleb told me, "This is way easier than moving!" They have each mentioned achy parts of their bodies today though.

The volunteers are primarily Spanish speaking so that has caused me to start speaking Spanglish around the house remembering words and phrases that I learned back in high school. It has also motivated my kids to want to learn Spanish so we all set up accounts and have spent quite a bit of time on Duolingo today practicing some Spanish words that we can use next week.

I had been wanting to volunteer with the kids this year and I am excited to have this opportunity to serve walking distance from our home.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

14 Years

14 years ago today I married my best friend on a steamy day in Upstate NY. We were young and in love with big dreams of serving our big God.

We've had many adventures over the years, 4 kids, 5 vehicles, 18 adddresses in 9 zip codes, 2 seasons when we had no place to call home. We've walked through the loss of 2 parents and 3 grandparents, times of great joy and times of deep depression, many jobs, many rejection letters, 4 years of undergrad at 2 different colleges with 2 years helping family in between, 4 years of waiting to get into medical school, 4 years of medical school, and most recently a 1600 mile move from all that was familiar in NY to all that is not in TX where we now have 1.5 months of residency under our belts.

It has been a crazy ride and I'm so thankful to have been buckled in beside Glenn for all of it with our gracious, merciful, generous God at the controls. God has been our constant, a firm foundation holding us steady amid all the chaos and many changes He has orchestrated. He has been our peace, our rock, our joy, our provider, our refuge, our strength, our Savior, and so much more. We wouldn't have made it here without Him.

Thank You, God, for helping us through these last 14 years. It is only by Your grace that we are here today.

Thank you, Glenn, for loving me, helping me, putting up with me and walking beside me through thick and thin. Looking forward to many more adventures and many more years together loving each other and serving Jesus together, Lord willing. I look forward to welcoming you home from night call soon and celebrating with you after you wake up.

Happy 14 years, Glenn. I love you!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The UnWired Challenge

I am joining in the UnWired Challenge that Sarah Mae is having on her site. It starts today. I know that I have allowed the internet to have too great of a hold on me. Being new here I have allowed it to fill social, emotional, community and time requirements that it should not. We are in the middle of our first week of school for the year and I think that this is a great time to address this stronghold in my life. I am supposed to be blogging about it a couple of times through the challenge so you will hear about this again. We are going to be without power for 4 hours this morning so I guess God and the City of Fort Worth both think I should unplug a bit more too.

Here are the challenge titles for each day:
Day 1: Stronger With a Friend
Day 2: Write Out Your Why
Day 3: Set Up Internet Controls
Day 4: 10-15 Years From Now
Day 5: Prepare for Time Offline
Day 6: An UnWired Day
Day 7: Don’t Judge
Day 8: Your Ideal Day
Day 9: Your Realistic Day
Day 10: Interview Your Kids
Day 11: Get Together with an “in-the-flesh” friend
Day 12: Goals & Priorities
Day 13: Set Realistic Perimeters For Your Babes
Day 14: Have Purpose

If you'd like to learn more or join me in the challenge you can check out Sarah Mae's blog posts about it here. Email me or leave a comment if you'd like to join me in this challenge. I am sure I am not the only one who struggles with balancing time online.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A New Holiday Proposal: Armadillo Day

I'm petitioning for a new holiday. At least a new Texas holiday. I am a Texan after all. I have a Texas address, a Texas library card, Texas license plates on our van, as of last week a Texas driver's license, and I own a pair of cowboy boots. (The lady at the DPS told me I wouldn't officially be Texan until I owned a pair of cowboy boots. When I told my family they reminded me that I do own a pair that I got at Sierra Trading Post a couple years ago in the Bargain Barn. So I guess I am a Texan and the rest of my family is not. Yet.)

Sorry about that rant... Now on to the real reason for this post. This has been the first Texas summer for a most of us (Glenn has had one before when he spent a summer in Houston on a mission trip). It it hot in Texas in the summer. I know that this has been a mild summer as far as Texas is concerned with only 12 days reaching 100 degrees in July but it has still been hot.

In New York around late October/ early November you need to start psyching yourself up for winter. "It's going to be long and it's going to be cold. There may be days when 3 feet of snow fall and there may be months when the temperature never rises above 20. Stack the wood. Find your shovel. Get out the blankets, long underwear, hats, gloves, scarves, snow pants and warm socks. Make sure your heater works. Adjust your budget for winter utility bills. We can do this!"

I think we'll have to do the same here in Texas in late April/ early May: "It's going to be long and it's going to be hot. There may be nights the temperature never dips below 90 and months when it's over 100 every day. Drag out your fans (probably only people from NY do that). Make sure your a/c is working. Put up the darkening curtains. Locate the nearest places to go swimming and to buy ice cream. Put away your blankets and sweaters. Shave your head or buy a lot of hair ties. Adjust your budget for summer utility bills. We can do this!"

In the north there is a holiday to celebrate "This will not last forever! The end is in sight! Only 6 more weeks!" called Groundhog Day. It doesn't really matter if that little rodent sees his shadow or not. Either way it's 6 more weeks of winter or 6 weeks until spring. Hope glows for a day in February when all hope of seeing grass ever again is fading. There is a holiday that gives hope and proclaims "The end is near. You can make it." Rarely does the end actually happen on March 16, six weeks later. There are often deep snows and freezing weather for another 4-6 weeks beyond that but... the end is coming. Hope.

I propose that in the south we should have a comparable holiday. Why should northerners have all the fun? A day to give hope. "This will not last forever. You will be able to once again step outside without sweating. The end is in sight." I think it should be named after another obscure, illusive animal that exists in the area. A quick google search told me that some in Texas already celebrate Armadillo Day on February second but I propose that Armadillo Day be August 2: a day to bring hope to those of us unable to breathe, sweating it out in the south that there will be an (admittedly temporary as I've been warned by those who've lived here longer) end to the 100+ degree days and water restrictions. Just like in the north I know there will be nights when it doesn't dip below 90 and long stretches with highs over 100 after September 13th but it will a day to breathe hope into heat weary souls. "The end is coming. You can make it."
'Nine-banded armadillo' photo (c) 2013, Robert Nunnally - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So tomorrow we will be celebrating Armadillo Day as a family. If you'd like to join us here is a link to some fun facts about armadillos, an armadillo recipe, an armadillo crochet project, an armadillo paper craft and some armadillo coloring pages. NOTE: not much research has gone into finding these links. My apologies if there is anything inappropriate on them.

Happy Armadillo Day!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken


Often when I am in the kids' rooms I pick up broken bits of toys or papers and throw them away. Broken things are useless. For some reason my kids often still want to keep them so I often cull them when they are not looking.

When I was in 5th grade I broke my right arm. After that point for a while my arm was useless. My piano teacher had to play the right hand of my piece at the year end recital and I had to sit on a bench when all of my friends got to play on the newly built playground for gym and at the end of the day at school. I can't remember what I had to do for school work but it was the end of the year so I imagine we didn't have much of that. My broken arm rendered me useless in ways.

In my eyes broken things are useless. They are not in God's eyes. In God's eyes broken things are some of the most useful. I'm reminded of a quote from Elisabeth Eliot that I once read in my mom's Bible, "If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad."

That lunch would have only fed one young boy. When it was handed to Jesus and He broke it it fed a multitude. My life has been broken many times. I have wondered, "Why?" and "What are You doing?" It hurts. It's not easy. BUT GOD... my 2 favorite words in scripture. My two favorite words in my life. But God makes beauty out of my broken pieces. He helps people because I have been broken.

I can trust Him when He allows me to be broken knowing that He is going to use it for His glory. I praise Him for breaking me because I have learned so much in the process. He is conforming my broken pieces into His image so that He can use my life to glorify Him.


Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday. Join me?
Five Minute Friday