Thursday, November 20, 2008

SHMILY!

I wanted to share something that Kristi and I have been doing for probably two years now. We saw this email come around and really thought it was a great idea. I know this is note is kind of long, but if you used this in your relationship, I promise it would be something very fun! We come up with creative ways of doing this for each other. It has been fun and something I hope to do with Kristi for the rest of our lives. Try it! Read this story...

SHMILY Written by Laura Jeanne Allen

My Grandfather and Grandmother were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word "shmily"in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving "shmily" around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged "shmily" with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where they always had warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring.

"Shmily" was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my Grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave"shmily" on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places "shmily" would pop up. Little notes with "shmily" scribbled hurriedlywere found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows.

"Shmily" was written in the dust upon the manteland traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of theirhouse as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents' game. Skepticism had kept some of them from believing in true love-one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents' relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatiouslittle games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affectionwhich not everyone is lucky to experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other's sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble.


My Grandmother whispered to one of her friends about how cute my Grandfather was, how handsome and old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew "how to pick 'em." Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings:a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in the couples' life: my Grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, my Grandfather was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my Grandfather's steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my Grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally,she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, my Grandfather would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over my Grandmother.

Then one day, what everyone dreaded finally happened. My Grandmother was gone.

"Shmily." It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my Grandmother's funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time.

My Grandfather stepped up to my Grandmother's casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. I knew that, although I couldn't begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-h-m-i-l-y: See How Much I Love You.

Monday, October 13, 2008

God Really Is Amazing!

I was saved 3 years ago, and have had an extremely rocky trip from then to now. I am really starting to understand though how amazing God is -- when I LET him be!!!

I didn't grow up in the church. I went a few times throughout the year, but it wasn't ever anything that did anything to me...at least not at that point in time. The seeds were being planted, and it just took a long time for them to start sprouting. And then after they sprouted, it took a long time for them to grow...but, they are finally starting to grow and I see now why it is such a good thing!

You see, like I said in the beginning, things have been rocky...being a christian definitely has not been easy. I have been tested by Satan left and right, forward and back...and I hated it, like I should! The thing is that I didn't know how to respond to those tests, temptations, whatever you want to call them. I am slowly figuring it out though...and the effects are truly amazing!!!

Without getting into specifics...Satan threw one of the biggest tests at me throughout the last month; and because I have been getting closer to God and His word and because I listened to Him when He was telling me to do what I considered hard, not only did I get through that very difficult time, but good is now coming from it!

I just want to take this time to thank God for everything that He has done for me, for my family, and for what He is planning on doing in the future! He really does love us and He really does want the best for us! He has proven it to me over and over and over again! I have just been so blind that until I took a step back and looked at everything that He has done for me, I never saw it! I, like many others out there, want things in MY time and the way that I planned it...but, God has a plan for me. I keep trying to control things though, and in doing so...God has to do what He can to get me back on track for what He has planned for me! I just have to realize, and then KEEP realizing, that if I just give it all to Him now, things will go a LOT more smoothly and my life will be even more blessed than it already is!

I am not saying that things will never go wrong or life will be great from here on out. No way...I wish though! But, I can do what I can to prepare for those battles...I have to "put on the full armor of God so that [I] can take [my] stand against the devil's schemes." Ephesians 6:11 So, for now I plan on getting even closer to God by digging deeper into His word and by trying harder to "pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Kristi

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dads Dirty Duty

This is the essay I wrote for my composition class. I thought i would share my knowledge :0)


Even as a young boy, I dreamt of being a dad. I envisioned myself having tea parties with my little girl, playing football in the yard with my young son, and having them pounce on me in the mornings because they are excited to see me. However, one aspect of parenting was never part of those thoughts – diapering. Changing a baby’s diaper can be a challenge for most dads because it does not come as naturally for us as it does for moms; however, with instruction, practice, and patience, diapering your child can be an easy process. From a dad’s point of view the three major steps to changing a diaper are gathering the supplies, rounding up the child, and the actual process itself.

Knowing the supplies required is an important part of the diaper changing experience. Without these tools, you will not be able to adequately perform the task at hand. The first and most obvious item to find is a clean diaper. Although all diapers may seem alike, there are certain brands of diapers that do not do the job effectively, causing messy leaks. Luckily, most moms will have already decided the brand for you; therefore, all you need to do is find a clean diaper to use. Secondly, you will need to have a large supply of diaper wipes. There is one very important thing that you need to understand when it comes to diaper wipes – do not follow Mom’s guidance on the quantity of diaper wipes to use. Most moms that I know will use one or two wipes per diaper change. This does not work for Dad. You will need to pull ten or twelve clean wipes out of the box to do this job correctly. Lastly, you will need to ensure that you have diaper rash cream to use in case of a sore baby bottom. Once all of these tools are gathered, you will be ready to go to step number two.

The second step to changing a baby’s diaper is sometimes the hardest. It seems, with some children, that they sense that a diaper change is about to take place and they somehow vanish into thin air. I have found that there are three types of children when it comes to diaper changing: the runners, the screamers, and the fighters. When dealing with the runners, there are two important things you need to do. First and most importantly, make sure that you know where your child’s favorite hiding spots are. This will help you cut down the time it takes to find them. Next, make sure you put on your best pair of running shoes to assist you in catching a child who is somehow faster than you. From my experience, the screamers are an easier group to deal with. The only thing that you will need to do to prepare for dealing with this type of child is find yourself a good set of earplugs to keep your ears safe from the noise. The fighters are normally the hardest group of children to deal with. The hardest part about this type of child is fending off the swinging legs and arms. One suggestion that I could offer for this type of child is the investment of a protective cup, just in case. The last piece of advice I can give to help with this process is this: once you have the child in your control, do not let them out of your grasp until the task is complete. If you do, you will have to repeat this entire process.

Now that you have the supplies gathered and the child in your control, it is time to change the dirty diaper. The first step is to remove the soiled diaper. This may sound easy, but it can be tricky, especially if you have a fighter. An important part of this process is to not take the diaper completely off of the child. Keep it under the baby’s bottom to avoid a mess on the floor. Next you will need to clean up the child. This is the part that most dads dread the most. However, if you took my advice and have a large quantity of wipes available, this process should be fairly easy. The best advice I can give you on this is to be careful not to get the mess all over the place. The method I use, which is unlike most moms, is what I like to call the “wipe and waste” method. I make one swipe across the baby’s bottom and then get a new one out. This method will waste more wipes, but it will also help you to not make a mess. Now that this is done, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The child is now clean and the danger of making a mess is gone. All you have to do now is place the clean diaper on the baby. The hardest part of this process is figuring out how tight to fasten the tabs on the diaper. If you fasten them too tight, your baby will not be able to breathe, causing obvious problems. If you do not fasten them tight enough, the diaper will fall off the baby. This usually happens after the diaper is dirty again which could end up a disaster. If mom is close, ask her to evaluate if they are fastened correctly or not. Once she has given her approval of a job well done you can relax; you have successfully changed your baby’s diaper!

Breaking a diaper change up into these three easy steps will make the dirty duty of a dad a more pleasant experience. For us, it is not as natural as it is for moms, so it takes more practice. However, with time, patience, and lots of energy, I am confident that a dad can be just as good, if not better. However, one last bit of caution to those of you who become experts in this task – watch your back; next time your baby needs a diaper change you may see mom walking towards you with a clean diaper in her hand and an evil smile on her face!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

License to Sin????

I am trying to read through the Bible. That has been a goal of mine for many years. I have read through the New Testament many times. However, if you are like me, getting through the Old Testament is very challenging. I have always found many parts of it dry and very hard reading.

I don't know if it is because I am growing up or what, but my experience this time has been much different. I am finding things in the O.T. that are interesting and are challenging me. That is very exciting to me.

I am using the Bible reader on my Palm Pilot to keep track of what I do. It has an interesting way of doing it. I read out of two different books of the O.T. and two different books of the N.T. each day.

Anyway, on to what is on my mind...

I honestly believe that many Christians almost view Christianity as a license to sin. I have actually found myself thinking at times that if I do __________, that God will forgive me anyway, so it doesn't matter. That is a sad fact, but unfortunately it is true.

God hates sin. The Bible tells us this. He does not want us to have this kind of thinking. He wants to have a relationship with us, and sin separates us from Him.

We, as Christians, know that. However, those thoughts still cross our mind.

So, that being said, what was it that kept Old Testament believers so in tune with Gods desire for us to live a sin free life? What is different that they were so distraught when they sinned. Here are a couple of verses out of the book of Ezra. Ezra had just found out that his people had sinned against the Lord...this was his response.

9:3 When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.
5 Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God 6 and prayed: "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens

and

10:1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly

I just think that is amazing. First of all, they were honestly remorseful. This was not a show. It HURT them that they hurt their God. Ezra pulled hair from his head and his beard...

OK...so the 'pastor' was remorseful. We should expect him to be, right? That is his job. But did you notice how the 'congregation' reacted? It said they 'WEPT BITTERLY'

What kind of people would we be if we reacted this way to our sin? What kind of churches could we have?

Just something to think about.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Raising Kids

I have always wanted to be a dad. Always. I remember as I was growing up thinking I wanted 5 kids. I dont know where that number came from, that is just what I wanted. I always thought that I was cut out to be a dad. I have always enjoyed being around others kids, so why not my own?

I now have 3 biological children and two step-children. Add them together, and that is 5. However, I never imagined what a challenge raising kids was.

I always heard from family and from other church members how challenging it was. I never understood it. What can be hard about it? You feed them, clothe them, and let them climb all over you. You make sure their teeth are brushed and they get baths. That is not hard.

Like I said, I now have 5.

I am blessed, don't get me wrong. I love them. More than I ever thought I could, that is for sure. When I am not with them, there is an uneasy feeling in my soul. I pray constantly for their safety and health. I am the "over-protective" dad that I always promised I would not be. I honestly always thought my parents were too strict with me, but now I realize that it was because they loved me. It is hard to let them be kids sometimes. I find myself worrying that they are going to flip off the monkey bars or break an arm from falling off their bike. I know that is part of growing up, but it still is not easy to accept when they are MY kids.

The hardest part though , to me, about raising kids, is relating to them on their level. I find myself, at times, treating them like they are adults. I expect them to behave ALWAYS and to be hyper only when it is appropriate. I find myself expecting them to not make a mess at the table. I wonder why they can't remember to turn off the light after leaving the bathroom. Or why cant they remember to take their shoes to their room instead of leaving them for me to trip over when I come in the door.

It is all because they are kids. No other reason.

I looked at Ethan tonight as he was watching his sister at cheerleading practice. He was crawling all over me (as is normal for my Ethan to do!), and I noticed his hand....his LITTLE hand...

My 'big' boy is still so little. He is still just a little boy. I need to remember that next time I start a sentence with "Why can't you remember to...."

I love my kids. With all of my heart! It is fun getting to know their personalities. I am enjoying Taylor as she is starting to get into music and is starting to think boys are cute (i am not enjoying that one as much...sigh). I am enjoying the fact that Ethan is loving me more and more and wants to spend lots of time with me. I am enjoying Kaleb as he gets his personality and learns his world. I am enjoying getting to know my "step-boys" and learning how to be their step-dad.

I love coming home and hearing "DADDY!!!!!!!!!" (Kaleb also runs to me, and I love that too!!!!!)

Yes, being a daddy is hard work. It is the hardest thing I have to do in life, but it is SOOOO worth it. I would be lost without my kids!

I pray God will make me a better daddy to them and will preserve their lives and keep them healthy!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008