Something So Big

Friday, April 30, 2010

Whirlwind Week

Not only have we had 25+ mph winds the past few days, we've had a week that has breezed by rather quickly!
My niece Kaycie has the windmill motion down pat, don't you think?

It was a real treat to get to see my brother's and sister's kids play softball in our town on Monday night. I got a little flak from Dan for wearing my Potosi sweatshirt, but I was definitely cheering for Iowa-Grant the other night! Here's Marla coaching first for the varsity, right after her oldest daughter got a great hit(and a pinch-runner, courtesy of ACL surgery last year).

Here are my girls cheering on the Panthers. Ally was consumed with the pitching, as she has been working on her fastpitch for about 2 years now. Her season will start at the end of May. Shae (in pink jacket) looks a little tough here because 3 hours earlier she'd fallen off the monkey bars at school and was knocked out for 11 seconds. ER docs found her to be just fine. Scary moment for Daddy and her first grade buddies though!! Thank God she is alright.

The JV game followed the varsity, so we stayed to watch Dani (on 3rd base) and Sammie (shortstop). These girls have grown up together in the big metropolis of Rewey (I jest) and are sophomores already!

That's my sister, the JV coach, our niece Dani on third, and her youngest daughter (my goddaughter) Sammie at the plate. The I-G JVs won their game, but Potosi took the varsity contest.

Remember the Fifth Grade 50 States Float Project? Well here it is, finally finished!!

The riverboat in all its glory. Molly even got to ride on it as a tourist of Louisiana!

Parade day. Not the best picture, but you get a glimpse of who Ally chose to be, native Louisianan Louie Armstrong. ("Oh when the saints....go marchin' in...")

After the parade, we had the chance to snap pictures of the entire fifth grade (which, sadly, contains only 17 kids, I think). They did a pretty good job of studying and building their floats. I'm going to do a little celebrity name-dropping here. Let's see, there was Florence-Griffin Joyner from California, Christie Brinkley from Michigan...even John Wayne from Iowa!

Did you know the first female governor was from Wyoming?

And there's Bill Gates from Washington and Cy Young from Ohio!

The rest of the week, our free time has been taken up with planting 25 baby spruce trees around the property. Here are Ally and Cy taking turns driving around with the lawn sweeper, collecting grass to mulch around the saplings...

...and here's Shae planting a tree instead of climbing in one. (Bump on head almost gone by now!)

Like I said, the week has flown by!
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance...Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Little Lambs

What a treat we had last weekend! Not only did we have float building and a father-daughter night going on; there was also a craft party for the twins to attend, and Mark's brother's family drove 3 hours to see us. It was the first time the kids and I had a chance to meet our new nephew/cousin Tage! Isn't he a big boy? So precious.

Here's his big sister Kierta, 21 months old. Another precious little lamb!

And look who came to (SUNDAY) school one day!

One of our Sunday School moms grew up on a sheep farm. Her dad loaned us a ewe for the morning to drum up a little excitement about sheep, shepherding, and the true meaning behind Psalm 23 (which we are currently studying). I don't know if the kids will remember the immortal words of David (I hope they do one day), but I'll bet they remember what a baby sheep sounds, feels, and smells like!

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever. -- Psalm 23, a song of David.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Knight in Shining Under-Armour

Ally is almost twelve now, on the brink of middle school and adolescence. And although friends and family will often remark that she looks like her mom (we share the same dark hair and eyes), her personality aligns more with her dad. She and Mark are kindred spirits when it comes to playing sports, watching sports, listening more than talking, and having an eye for structure and design.

When Ally came home with the rubric for her next big school project--the annual fifth grade 50 states parade float--she was naturally eager to get started working on it with her dad.

Any chance to work outside and use power tools is a good day for Mark! They spent a few days and nights out in the garage, and I think Ally loved just about every minute of it.

Well, maybe not the minute it took to un-do the previous hour's napkin stuffing. (This, of course, was when Mom tried to help and messed up the whole process! Dad was gone working on another project most of the weekend.)

Dad to the rescue! (The float, by the way, is going to be a riverboat boasting various aspects of Louisiana, Ally's assigned state. Did you know there is a mountain in the Pelican State?)

Ironically, the project weekend also contained another big event for Ally and Mark...our annual Father-Daughter Night. This year there weren't enough advance tickets sold to have the dance, so I ended up organizing a "dinner and a movie" night instead. The staff at the brewery did a fantastic job serving up a delicious buffet dinner in the 4th floor Founders Community Room, where twenty-two daughters and dads enjoyed a special date night together. A speaker followed dinner, who was then followed by the movie "Fly Away Home" on the room's flat screen. Ally's close cousin Claire and her dad Mike came down to Potosi for the event. (I think they had fun!)

After dinner, I stopped by to snap pictures and introduce the speaker, an old friend of my family from my hometown. Jeff and Dani are the hands of feet of Christ in Belmont, helping run the VBS over there for about 20 years and now leading the FCA group and mentoring kids in their walk with Christ. They are filled with the Spirit!!

Jeff did an outstanding job of talking about raising a daughter (in his case, 2 daughters and 1 son) in a godly way. He spoke often of the girls in the room being God's princesses, and the dads were their "knights". He spoke of being intentional in the time you take with each of your children, taking the time to listen to them and just have fun with them. It doesn't have to be fancy, it may just be riding to school together or working on a home fix-it together...but that time we take for each of our children will reap huge dividends in the relationships we have with them (and them with their Lord) later on. His kids are now grown, two of them in college, but Jeff says, "You never stop parenting your child. The needs just change." He joked about how his daughter in college must not have a laundromat in her town, and how Dad becomes the Dispenser of Cash. He quoted Scripture often, citing Paul's letter to the Ephesians urging us to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving with our kids. He credited his wife for her constant prayers and godly example. I could go on and on about how awesome his talk was, but I will just do what God does --give all the glory to God. God had to be pretty proud to be looking down on those knights and princesses spending that evening together the other night.

I am so proud of my husband and the way he stands up for what is right and pure. He is my Knight, and he is most definitely the Knight to our four daughters. Ally adores him, and sometimes I get a little jealous of their easy way with each other, but mostly I thank God for showing me this example of His unconditional love!

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.--Malachi 4:6

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Training on So Many Levels

So I'm training for a half-marathon coming up next weekend. Two weeks ago my knees start aching, as in ALL. THE. TIME. It's not the usual dull ache that goes away after a few hours; it's a nagging pain on the inner side of both knees. I've been doing leg and hip strengthening exercises to counter knee pain, but the miles are starting to catch up to me.

I've been running on the treadmill, 4-5 days a week, for a decade. I'm no speedster, but I have had pretty good endurance and been blessed to have no injuries. Till two weeks ago. It's week 7 of my 10-week training schedule, and I'm hurting. What do you do?

Ice, ice, baby! As the song goes. Read the Runners World reports/research online. Take ibuprofen and extra Vitamin C. Pray. Push through Week 8, log another 20+ miles for the week. Shop for new shoes that have some arch support for my horrendously flat feet. Pray some more. Try not to cry when you can barely walk. Hey, I know the deal--"Listen to your body!"....but I've got $50 on the line here. That's how much I spent to register for this race, and I am not wasting that money!! After all, we are on a single income here, raising 5 kids on a teacher's salary and $50 is hard to come by. I feel selfish having spent it in the first place.

Speaking of money, look at $140:

Aren't they something? Asics Kayano 16s...the gel in the heel, the off-center lacing...all the latest research. My feet are thanking me, and I am thanking my brother-in-law for the employee discount. I never, EVER dreamed I would pay over $100 for a pair of shoes, but these shoes are worth every penny in how much better my legs, knees, and feet feel right now! (And I know it seems like I'm idolizing my shoes, but I thought - hey, we take a picture of our first car and other major purchases, right? Well, THIS is a major purchase for me! So I'm going to remember how pretty and clean they were when I first bought 'em.)

This is not to say that the pain has gone away. Oh no, no, no, no, no. After being on my feet all day last Friday, I still have a long ways to go. The slanted hills I've been running on are probably the biggest culprit. I rested for 4 days, prayed some more, and went into Scripture. (God is saying, "You bonehead Amy, why does it have to take a week of physical pain to get you into My Word further than you've been in a while??" Okay, He probably doesn't use the word 'bonehead', but I'm going for a feeling here.)

Do not have any gods before me. 2nd commandment, Exodus 20:3

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice! Be gentle and kind to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but pray about everything, always giving thanks. And the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:4-7

Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:3

Wow, was I making this training a god? Was I giving it too much of my time, energy, and focus? Perhaps. I can say, that Philippians 4 hit me over the head. "Be gentle and kind to all. The Lord is near." I've been living "the Lord is near" part out a lot, I think, for about half a year at least. I feel like a stranger in this land (cue the Kutless song) and like so many people aren't living their lives for Christ. But then I am convicted--and God says, "Who do you think YOU are?" I'm no perfect follower of Him, either! "Be gentle and kind to all"...Yikes, there I fall. Take that knee pain and let it be a reminder to you, Amy. How kind and gentle are you to your kids? To your husband? To the people who irritate you? But especially with the kids. I'm in the middle of three books right now, one of them being "Love and Logic for Early Childhood", and there it is in black and white: yelling and threatening your kids will send the message to them that you aren't capable of caring for them and that they aren't capable of acting responsibly.

It's common sense, right? Well, take it from someone who's been classified as "book smart"...I don't always have or use common sense. It doesn't come naturally for me. I need reassurance and lots of good examples. And practice. So I read, talk with others, observe, and try to practice this Love and Logic stuff on my own kids. Take the young one, she's the most impressionable and I haven't messed her up as much as the others yet. After three days of sympathy, trigger words "Uh-oh! I'm having an Energy Drain!" and applying's working!!! Last night as the twins were on the verge of another meltdown, Wynne said, "Energy Drain!!" Just put a cap on my head that says "PARENT IN TRAINING". It only took me 11 years to ask for help!

Can I blame my husband for a little of this, please? I've lamented my lack of parenting skills (esp. when it comes to child behavior and helping around the house) with him, and he says, "You don't need to read it out of a book. We don't need a parenting class!" And I've always agreed with him. Did my parents read these books and take classes on how to raise 9 kids? Of course not!

But then it dawns on I've been on this Lenten journey, this physical training schedule...this reading...this praying....this is who I am. This is how I learn best and function best. My husband is blessed with common sense and is innately a good judge of character. He also is more naturally inclined to stay calm and be direct with the kids. Me, on the other hand--I need to study and practice. I need this structure. And I especially need to lean on the Lord. He has given me the tools and put people and ideas in my path to be used. The one constant is that I must put Him first.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

As I sit here typing this and icing my knees, I realize that no matter what happens over the next 10 days, God will work it out. He is first and He is last, and all the stuff I'm doing is really of no significance if I don't point to Him in it.

Be gentle and kind to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but pray about everything, always giving thanks. And the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. --1 Timothy 4:7-8

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lucky Girls

Lucky girls get to ride on Daddy's back with their best friend Ava!

Lucky girls get an early birthday party with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It's a great way to practice the candle-blowing!

Lucky girls get a camping chair from their godmother and EVEN get to sit in it on top of the table while Uncle Dan holds it!

Lucky girls get a muffin tin breakfast on their birthday.

Lucky girls get to play with their best friend Kate at the park by the lake!

Lucky girls get to have a picnic with LUNCHABLES!!

Lucky girls get a "new" 2-wheel bike with training wheels. Really lucky girls have big sisters that help them learn to ride it!

Lucky girls get to go out to eat on their birthday. They even get to pick out the restaurant. Lucky moms get a night off from cooking! (In a Homer Simpson moment, I must add..."Ahhhhh...onion rings. Cheeeeeezeburgers......goood.")

Lucky girls get an easel, art supplies, and a crayon apron to go with it! Woo-hoo!! Project time!!!

Lucky girls get to blow out their candles and eat as much cake & ice cream (or as little) as they want. Without the guilt that accompanies older girls.

He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."--Mark 10:14

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sliding into 4!

Here she goes...


I think you're ready to BLAST OFF into another wonderful year because...'re a loyal friend who delights in good company,

making an ordinary day so much better just by being there.

You have your own style and you're not afraid to show it...

If it's colorful and fun, then you're wearing it!

Like most girls, you love to dress up...

...but you don't save your pearls for fancy occasions.

Sometimes you're the ultimate Girly-Girl...

...but you can get down and & tumble with the best of 'em!

You look up to your older brother and sisters.

Whatever they're doing, you want to do it, too!

I love your imagination, always creating new worlds to explore...

How many Fairy Lands have you built with cardboard blocks and scarves?

And nobody knows how to DANCE like you!

I love your little made-up songs...

...and how you can dance anytime, anywhere.

Sometimes it's boring being the tag-along at the big kid stuff,

but you make friends so easily that you manage to have a good time anyway!

You don't mind a little teasing...(even Dad's "pits and pinchies"!!)...

...and it doesn't take much to make you giggle in delight!

If there's a connection between having a sweet tooth

and being a sweetie...

you'd be the sweetest thing on this planet!!

Even though we call you "Little Bear", "Tiny", and "Short Legs"...'re a pretty big girl, when we put it in perspective.

You're four years old!

Happy Birthday, Wynne! You'll always be my little Kissy. ;)