Saturday, March 27, 2010

Let Me Introduce You

This weekend I am staying with my four grandchildren-in-love. They are grandchildren that we chose with our hearts. We have been a part of each others lives ever since they were born. Their mom and dad went away for a much needed anniversary weekend celebration and so I was put in charge. Or they were put in charge of me. I'm not sure which.

This is Jeremiah:
He is 10 years old and is one mean bar-b-que griller. He made us all hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner and we agreed that he can grill for us anytime. Jeremiah likes to play GameCube and DS. He is a really good Bible Quizzer at church and he has many, many medals to prove it. His favorite movie is Avatar and his favorite food in the world is a big hamburger. With Cheese. He would love to play the guitar and be in a band someday. Jeremiah is a fine young man.

I would like you to meet Chloe.
Chloe is 8 years old. Chloe is the only sister and she has three brothers. I recently taught Chloe how to knit and she is doing a very good job. She practices her knitting for 10 minutes every day. It won't be long and she will be an awesome knitter. Today Chloe and I spent some time knitting and one of her younger brothers wanted her to come play with him. Chloe said, "Boy's, we're knitting, you'll just have to deal with it." Ha! I loved it! Chloe loves to do all kinds of crafts. When Chloe grows up she wants to be a mom. I know she will be a good one. Chloe loves all the stories in the Bible and she can't pick a favorite. Her favorite movie is Tinkerbell. Chloe loves her little dog Molly and she always takes good care of her.

This is Jordan.
Jordan is 5 years old. Jordan likes to paint and draw with markers. When Jordan grows up he wants to be a rock star. He also loves to play ring around the rosie. His favorite movie is Alvin and the Chipmunks - the Squeakual. Jordan is full of energy and he keeps everyone entertained. Those are good qualities for rock stars. He tells me his favorite Bible story is a secret and his favorite song is Jesus I Know You Died for Me. That is a song he will be singing in the Easter program.

And finally, meet Josiah.

Josiah is also 5 years old and tells me that he loves candy most of all. I think he is telling the truth. His favorite super hero is Batman. His favorite Bible story is when Jesus died on the cross. He is learning how to play Badminton and he is doing pretty well. He loves to play on the McDonald's playground and he always orders chocolate milk and apples.

So this is a busy weekend. I'm pretty sure I will have to go to work next week so I can recuperate. There's nothing like living with four little ones to make you feel your age. Which right about now is feeling pretty old indeed :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another Week

Whew! It's been so busy around here. I think last time I checked in my husband had left for Peru. He was gone for two weeks. Two weeks is a long time for a husband to be gone. Everything went surprisingly well. Nothing broke. Nothing bad happened. And the alarm company from the church only called in the middle of the night once. I told them to call the associate pastor and went back to sleep :) No way am I going on a walk through of the building in the middle of the night.

The Peru trip went well other than most of the team ended up getting the flu. They were all pretty sick by the time they got back. But they said they would do it again so I guess that's a good sign that it went well. My husband said he thought he had been back to boot camp - they worked them pretty hard. And at 11,000 feet altitude it was hard to breath. They were all happy to be back in America again.

In the mean time, I was busy with this project:

I offered to make Ava Claire's Easter dress this year. I should say I offered to knit Ava Claire's Easter dress this year. I have decided that I don't like knitting on a deadline very much. This is my first adventure into knitting any kind of a garment. And it's also my first try at knitting lace. I re-did the lace section three times and I have done the skirt section twice. Whew! That's a lot of knitting. But I'm on the homestretch now and I think it's going to be just adorable. I am using Blue Sky Alpaca Skinny Organic Yarn which is a yarn comprised of many strands of cotton twisted together. The result is that it is really "splitty" and fussy to knit with. I love the feel and the look of the finished project but I don't think I will make any more big projects with this yarn. I have spent a lot of time correcting stitches that have split. As soon as I get this project off the needles I am going to start a smaller, simpler toy project. I love knitting toys. And I like instant gratification!

I am also still doing a lot of couponing. I just don't know why anybody wouldn't do it. I got all this for about $27 this weekend. I just love finding a good deal. And besides with all the money I save on groceries, just think of the yarn I can buy!

And just look at these two:
I can't believe how much they are growing. They are the joy of my life and every moment spent with them is just so wonderful. They provide tons of laughter and fun and even lots of work. But I wouldn't have it any other way. They are such blessings. They are both beginning to talk so much and they absolutely love each other. Tyler is about as "boy" as you can get and Ava Claire is all girl. They love to play together and they especially love to get into trouble together. Michelle calls them Thing One and Thing Two. They are quite a pair. It will be interesting to see how the equation changes when Thing Three arrives on the scene late this summer. The blessings just keep raining down.

I just love how the days are longer now and the leaves are starting to appear on the trees. I spent some time yesterday raking up what is left of last year's leaves. I'm starting to think about what flowers I will plant this year and whether to do another salsa garden or not this year. I want to keep it simple, whatever I do.

Time to get ready for another week. I sure do wish the weekends were longer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unscheduled Hiatus

I'm still here. Just crazy busy. Between knitting on an Easter project, writing assignments, a new Bible Study I'm facilitating and a husband just home from Peru, well, there's just not much time for blogging right now.

But I do have some things I want to share so I will be back real soon. I promise.

In the meantime, all is good at the Nest. God is good. All the time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thank You Dr. Dobson

Because of my working schedule I am not able to listen to radio broadcasts of Focus on the Family. But I do often download episodes on my iPod and listen to them at my leisure, often while I am sewing. Just today I listened to the episodes that honored this fine and Godly man who is leaving Focus. He has been such a major part of my life. As I listened to people who called in to share their sentiments, I wished I had been able to do that. Instead I am going to share my sentiments here on my blog and share a story I have never shared before.

I began listening to Dr. Dobson when we were in seminary and living in Kansas City in the early 1980's. We had two young daughters at that time, one quite strong-willed and the other very compliant. I remember listening to those broadcasts feeling like I had found a life-line. Somebody understood the situation I found myself in as a young mother and helped me understand my daughters. I listened faithfully every day and subscribed to the free issues of Focus on the Family magazine that came every month. I devoured those magazines from start to end and often read them over and over again.

I needed to hear that my job as a mom was full of value and honor and that the strong feelings I had to stay home and raise my children were natural and right. Even though I always had to work some outside the home, I felt encouraged as I found jobs that worked around my husband's schedule so that our children were always with one of us.

I learned and applied the disciplining techniques taught in The Strong Willed Child, Dare to Discipline and Hide or Seek. Our children were raised in love and discipline and while certainly not perfect, we knew we could take them out in public and be proud of their behavior. Dr. Dobson taught me how to tell the difference between childish irresponsibility and willful defiance. I loved how he taught me how to "shape the will without breaking the spirit" of my kids. I learned so much from listening and reading the words of this very wise and Godly man. More than anything I took from him the challenge to "Be There" , meaning that there is nothing more important that being There all together, a family unbroken, when we go to Heaven. It is the deepest desire of my heart to this day.

This brings me to the story I have never shared. It was 1989 and I learned that I was pregnant with my fourth child. We were pastoring a very small church that included a very small salary, my husband was bi-vocational, we had three daughters who were growing and demanding things we found hard to financially supply and I was exhausted and discouraged. The thought of a fourth child was simply overwhelming to me and to be quite honest, I did not want this baby. I felt much guilt over feeling this way because I knew that life was a gift from God, but I could not imagine how we were going to make this all work. After going to the doctor on my initial maternity visit we were handed a bill, the amount the insurance would not cover, and told it had to be paid before the baby was born. It was a few hundred dollars, but it may as well have been a million. There was no way we could come up with that much money.

During this time I received in the mail one of the monthly letters from Dr. Dobson. It often told news of what was happening at Focus and in our country along with much appreciated parenting advice. But this letter was a bit different. It was a letter from the heart of Dr. Dobson as he and Shirley were facing the empty nest. Their children were moving away from home and they were struggling with the feelings and emotions that were occurring because of it. Something in that letter pierced my heart like an arrow and God used those words to help me stop looking at our situation in terms of dollars, to have faith that He would provide and to look forward with joy and anticipation the birth of our fourth daughter. An amazing transformation took place inside of me and I sat down and wrote a letter of thanks to Dr. Dobson. I told him my story and I thanked him for helping me to accept what God was doing in my life.

It was just 3 or 4 weeks later, about 4:30 in the afternoon when the phone rang. I picked it up and it was a man's voice that I did not recognize. He asked for me and then proceeded to tell me that it was Focus on the Family calling. I did not believe it and thought that my husband was playing a trick on me. After the man finally made it clear that he was not my husband and indeed worked for Dr. Dobson he told me a most remarkable thing. He told me that Dr. Dobson had read my letter and been very touched by it. He was sending me something in the mail and I was to be sure to look for it.

I was so excited! What would it be? One of his books perhaps, and I even dared to hope that it would be autographed. Maybe it would be a set of his cassette tapes. I went to the post office every day eagerly looking for my package. Finally, just a few days later a letter appeared in my mail box from Focus on the Family. I must admit my excitement was just a bit deflated as obviously I was not receiving a book or even a tape. I took the letter to my car and opened it and a check fell out of the letter. A check for the exact amount of money we needed to pay the doctor before our baby was born. Tears filled my eyes and I could hardly read the letter from Dr. Dobson that asked me to accept this gift from Focus as though it were a gift from the Lord. And it had to have been because in my letter to Dr. Dobson I had never mentioned any amount of money at all.

God used that incident in my life to grow my faith. I am so grateful to Dr. Dobson for what he did for us. Years later, after we were more financially secure, I began giving a monthly donation to this great ministry and I still do to this day. We have given way above and beyond the dollar amount we received that day, in faith believing that this money has gone on to bless other people as it had blessed us.

I will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude I owe to Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family. I can't imagine how my kids will raise their kids without hearing his kind and comforting voice on the radio every day. But this I know, God will make a way.

Thank you Dr. Dobson for being a man of honor, integrity, faith and wisdom. You have blessed my life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two New Book Reviews and a Giveaway

And the winner is . . . . . Julie from Journal for Women. I'm so happy you won - I have enjoyed your blog for a long time.

Thanks for playing everyone - I always think it is so interesting to get emails from people I had no idea read my blog. Fun!

Relationships. We all have them. Some are easy and some are hard. Some go up and down and all around. Waterbrook Press sent me two books to review and they are all about relationships.

The first one is called Mother-Daughter Duet and it is written by a mother-daughter team, Cheri Fuller and Ali Plum. I was born the oldest of five daughters and I am the mother of four daughters and now the grandmother of a precious granddaughter. I know a little bit about how complicated female relationships can be. Every mother of a newborn daughter holds that bundle of pink and dreams of ribbons and bows, dance recitals and girl scouts. We don't think of all the times ahead of us that are filled with tension and strife. We can't imagine being anything but the best of friends with our little girls. But growing up is hard and this book is full of good advice on how to make it through the challenges that often occur. As a daughter, mom, sister and grandmother I highly recommend this book.

The next book is called Dancing With My Father written by Sally Clarkson. This is a beautiful book that concentrates on the pure joy in our relationship with God. It's about taking the time each day to spend in the presence of our Creator. It's about setting aside all the "stuff" in our day and intentionally choosing to be with the One who finds so much joy in us. It is refreshing and encouraging and a very good read. Sally's writing style is like sitting with a good friend and listening to her share. This book is a true delight.

If you would like an opportunity to read these books, be the fifth person to email me at rgryan(at)nnu(dot)edu. Include your mailing address and I will mail these to you right away. If you would like to buy one or both of them, click on the titles above.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.