I Love Oklahoma

It’s never easy to leave home. Even though I’m so thankful that I am now part of such an amazing church family, I must admit that I sometimes feel homesick. I miss the trees, the fall colors, the honeysuckle, and most of all, the warm ambiance of one very special brown brick house – the place where I left my heart. I miss seeing my mother frequently, and the memories that welcome me each time I crossed the threshold of my childhood home. One thing that helps me adjust to the changes is knowing that no matter where we are, there is always something to miss. No matter where I am, I miss my Dad, my partner. I long for Heaven where I will  be together forever with all of my close family and friends. Also, no matter where you are, there is always something to good. If we look long enough, we can always, always find the good! I didn’t have to look long to see there are many things about Oklahoma – not just my wonderful friends – which I love.

Last July while my mom visited us, Terry and I had the opportunity to explore a little bit of Oklahoma City. We live far enough away that making the drive often with several children in tow is unappealing. What a blessing that my mom would babysit so we could go off on our own! Here are some photos of our day in the Bricktown area of OKC. We started our date off by eating lunch at Toby Keith’s restaurant. It was very good! After that, we rode a water taxi on the river walk. We finished the day off with some shopping. This was our second excursion to the capital city, and I still have many more things on my list to see and do there.

IMG_2216

Mickey Mantle is from Oklahoma!

IMG_2218

This group was performing live in the hundred degree heat!

IMG_2220

Bricktown has…wait for it…bricks!

IMG_2223

While we wait for our water taxi.

IMG_2232

Part of a mural on the river walk.

IMG_2237

The Sonic headquarters! That’s right, my fellow slush addicts, Sonic began in OKC.

IMG_2238

A view from the water taxi.

IMG_2240

Lovely.

IMG_2257

This only part of a huge monument to the Boomers and the Sooners – the historical ones, not the football team. Our tour guide knew a lot of Oklahoma history. I hope to bring the kids over sometime so they can all enjoy a water taxi ride.

The more I learn about Oklahoma, and her people, the more I love it. I don’t feel like Oklahoma is “my home” yet, but I think I will someday. I’m off to a good start, anyway.

With love,

sig

Does Prayer Work? {Giveaway}

DOE03BP_200x1000

My prayer life stinks. Really. I don’t pray as often as I should, and I certainly don’t always pray for the right things when I do pray. I’ve mentioned Dr. R.C. Sproul before on the blog. I enjoy his writings. He is very descriptive and has a way of putting things so that my teeny brain can comprehend them. When my husband re-subscribed to Tabletalk magazine, he received a free copy of a little book called Does Prayer Change Things? from Dr. Sproul’s Crucial Questions Series. I’ve certainly asked this question many times over the years. Even more so as I’ve learned about the sovereignty of God. It could be argued that, if God is in control of all things (and He is), then why bother praying? If He knows the outcome (and He does), then why implore the King of Kings for anything?

In chapter two, Dr. Sproul addresses the question, does prayer change God’s mind? Or, does prayer change things. Obviously, we cannot change God’s mind with our prayer life. However, prayer definitely changes things. God’s will shall be done, regardless of that which you or I should desire or implore of God. This reminds me of an outlandish statement I heard a preacher make years ago. He was preaching on prayer and used an example from his own life. “I prayed for my Dad’s health every day after I got saved. I prayed for his safety.” He declared in vehemence. “One day, I overslept and hurried out the door, forgetting to pray. That day, my Dad died.” This preacher seemed to think that his prayers were the only thing keeping his father alive! Friend, if it’s up to me – in any way, shape, or form – to keep my mother alive (my father is already in Heaven), then she is in grave danger. My prayers do matter to God, but I have no weight to change His plan! I’m a sinful human being. Yes, I’m saved, but I’m flesh. I’m thankful that I can boldly bring my petitions to my Father in Heaven (Hebrews 4:16), but I’m also very grateful that His will be done.

So, why bother praying? We pray because God wants us to pray, and we are here to glorify God.

Chapter three discusses the pattern of prayer, which is from the model prayer that many people have memorized. This does not mean we are to parrot those words back to God, but rather, we are to use that prayer to outline our own. Dr. Sproul uses the A-C-T-S acronym for prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. I’ve been working to make this part of my regular prayer time.

Chapter five discusses the prohibitions of prayer, such as harboring sin in our hearts. He has a very  interesting analogy for this on page 73.

A few cautions to this book must pointed out. First of all, Dr. Sproul is Presbyterian. There are serious flaws to parts of the Presbyterian theology, the most glaring is the baptizing of infants. Secondly, Dr. Sproul is not at all Catholic, but is not averse to some points of their doctrine, which is clearly wrong when held to the light of Scripture. Dr. Sproul seems to like one of the Catholic prayers as an example of contrition. While I see his point, I have to say that a memorized prayer is rarely heartfelt, and in the context of Catholic beliefs, it’s a means of “earning” our way to Heaven – or someone else’s way to Heaven. However, as long as you’re aware of these differences and ignore them, you can glean much good from this little book about prayer.

There were several good tidbits throughout the book:

Regarding Thanksgiving:

God is never required to be merciful. As soon as we think God is obligated to be merciful, a red light should flash in our brains, indicating that we are no longer thinking about mercy, but about justice. We need to do more than sing “Amazing Grace” – we need to be repeatedly amazed by grace. (page 60)

The issue in the story [ about the one leper who returned to give thanks to Christ for healing] is not one of gratitude but of thanksgiving. It is one thing to feel grateful; it is another thing to express it.  (page 62)

On the practice of prayer:

To become accomplished in anything, we must practice. If we want to learn how to pray, then we must pray – and continue to pray. (page 88)

There is so much more to this book, even though it’s only a whopping eighty-eight pages! It got me thinking, searching, and most of all, praying!

If you would like to win a free copy of this book, just leave me a comment. Each comment will count as one entry, only one comment per person. A random winner will be selected Friday, October 3, 2014 at 8 AM.

May God bless you on this journey of life,

sig

Homeschooling Today…and Every Day

There are days when homeschooling is the last thing I feel like doing. For example, last week, which I spent in a medicated, foggy haze from a cold. I rose each day, somehow accomplished what was in the lesson plan, then collapsed  just before supper only to emerge the next morning sad to see the night had passed. Fortunately for me, the kids managed with very little assistance from yours truly. Today, things were better. I got up, inhaled deeply and smiled –  just like the lady on the Ny-Quil commercials. (When I was actually taking Ny-Quil, I didn’t smile.)

Ah. It feels great to be back!

I thought I’d pop in and share a few homeschooling photos from my ever-growing backlog. Oh, and most of these were taken with my phone, so I apologize if they appear blurry.

LK

Lauren has been enjoying our microscope. And yes, she’s had to share. :)

IMG_2307

I sure am thankful for Dr. Shormann and the DIVE learning CD Roms! They have saved me *mucho* time and energy in teaching math. Leslie is using them for the first time this year.

IMG_2309

Laci is stuck with having me teach her math this year.

IMG_2473

Leslie found Norway! Maybe someday she’ll see it in person?

 IMG_2504

Mitch did an experiment where he had to separate chorophyll from leaves.

IMG_2491

Lauren is an ever-present joy to her mother. On one really busy day, where real life interrupted my “perfect schedule”, she pitched in by listening to Laci read.

IMG_2332

When Matt isn’t pretending to be the red Power Ranger or a Werewolf, he does some hands-on preschool.

IMG_2333

I was told this says, “Mommy”.  :)

Homeschooling is a thankless job. There are some days, frankly, when I’d like to hear a “thank you”. There are those, like my pediatrician, who think I’m crazy for homeschooling. Others may think I’m arrogant, that I “know more” than professional educators do about learning. Some may think I’m an elitist, or a rebel, because “No one is as good as I am for my children”. But none of that is true. The truth is something I meet head-on, every day when I look in the mirror. I know better than anyone that I’m not as smart as Mrs-public-school-teacher. (And please don’t think I’m against public school, my mom was both a teacher and a principal.) I definitely don’t have all the answers for training my children, that’s for sure! And I don’t think I’m crazy, not yet anyway. So why do I do this? I could certainly get a job at Walmart and help the husband with the house payment. Maybe I could manage to get a degree and make real money? But money can’t buy the one thing that I want with my children: Time. Maybe someday I’ll get that degree, or revise that 80,000 word novel on my laptop. But if I don’t, that’s okay. I’m getting to spend these days – in sickness and health – with my children. I’m watching them learn and laugh and grow. I’m able to place God’s Word in their hearts, listen to their goals and just be with them. That’s something that money cannot buy, but it is definitely worth my life.

With love,

sig

All Clear

Between homeschooling, appointments, sports, housework, church and sleep, I haven’t had the time (until now) to give a final update on my heart situation.  I went last Monday for my appointment with the cardiologist to hear the results of the heart monitor I wore for two very long weeks. To sum it up, I received the best news ever: I don’t even have mitral valve prolapse, which is what another doctor told me I had! Hallelujah! She found no physiological reason for my heart palpitations, which leaves me to assume it was all nerves that caused the rapid beats. She said I can follow up with her in six months, if I feel the need, or I can forget it. Since I’m booked already for the next six months, I probably won’t go back.

Even though she found nothing wrong, I’m really glad I had the entire work-up done. I had been erroneously listing “mitral valve prolapse” on medical information sheets. It was good to have it checked out and get the official “all clear”. :)

Thanks so much for reading, praying and commenting. I appreciate all of you folks in the blog-world.  I hope to resume regularly scheduled programming soon.

Wait a minute…what’s that?

Love,

sig

Seven Years of Blabbing

I mean, seven years of blogging. Yes, that’s right Okay, who am I kidding? It’s blabbing. In fact, I’m not even sure that this blog has a point. But I don’t let minor things like that get to me. I believe writing is the cheapest form of therapy, and everyone knows I need all the therapy I can afford.

I look back at the thousand-something posts I’ve written and cringe at many of them. I recently took down my Proverbs 31 series because my husband wants me to revise it for publication through our church’s ministry, the Watchman Press. As I re-read it, I sighed, blushed and winced. It’s awful! I am hoping that I can improve upon it, at least enough so that in a few years I won’t hate what I’ve written.

Since 2007, I’ve written about grief, ministry, family, sorrow, joy, loneliness, depression, worry, words, my personal walk with God, and more. Through it all, you’ve been there. You’ve been my free therapists, enduring all of my blabbing. And I appreciate it with all that is in me.

To celebrate this little blogging milestone, I bought some mini cupcakes for the me and the kids to enjoy. (Terry is anti-cupcake.) (I’m kidding.) (He just didn’t want any.)

cupcakes

 

If I look worn and weary in this photo, it’s because I have a very good camera. That is exactly what I am. This has been a killer week. How nice that I am ending it on a high note. It would have been nicer if I could have remembered my blogging anniversary sooner, so I could have hosted a giveaway or something. But that would have required planning, which would mean I had a brain in my head. And we all know that I do not. Since I can’t giveaway anything, I’d like you to go out and buy yourself a cupcake – or make one if you’re so inclined –  and eat it, that way we can celebrate together, even though we’re apart. See? Makes perfect sense.

LK

Matt

MLB

 

I think I’ll go to bed now.

With love from your therapy patient,

sig

Visit with Nana

Way back in July, my mother was able to come for a visit. I’m just now getting around to sharing about it. We didn’t really do anything big while she was here. The kids played several games of Scrabble with her. We went to the library’s summer reading program activity, which was a singing duo called “The Sugar Free All Stars”. She watched some movies with the kids, listened to them all play their instruments and she read books to them. Of course, she got to hear the world’s greatest preacher while she was in town. ;)

On her last day, I realized that I had’t gotten any photos! I wanted to capture some memories, so I called everyone together and we snapped a few.

call

Matthew likes using Terry’s compass for all sorts of things. It can be a radio, a laser gun and even a phone! Here, he had to take a “phone call” on the compass right before we snapped some photos.

group

Where’s Lauren?

kids2

There she is. It took us a while to get everyone gathered round.

kids

Nana and a few fans.

older-kids

nana-laci

Laci loves to climb the tree in front of our house.

me-mom

Me and mi madre. Oh! While mom was here, I went down and got my hair colored! I am trying to go back to my natural color, which has gotten pretty dark over the years. However, this is quite an adjustment when you’ve been highlighting your hair for years.(Guilty!) It’s fading quite a bit now so it’s not as shocking to me as it was at first.

After we snapped some outdoor shots, we went inside. The glare of the sun on the driveway was really making it hard not to squint or close our eyes.

grandkids

The whole gang with Nana. Yes, Matthew is still holding his compass– I mean phone!

Even though we didn’t do anything fancy while Nana was here, we enjoyed just having her with us. She loves being with her grandchildren, whether we’re out and about or just snuggling on the sofa. And the feeling is mutual.

Love,

sig

Vintage Valerie: Lauren and More

As I mentioned in my last post, I had several photos of Lauren that I wanted to share, but they would have exceeded my self-imposed fifteen photo limit. I thought I’d fit in with “Throwback Thursday” and share some of them today…along with a few others I came across. :)

Nursery

 

I was so excited to be able to set my six month old Lauren down on the floor to play with toys one Sunday morning, that I snapped a photo of it! The church in West Virginia had just completed this new nursery and Lauren had just learned to do something new – sit up all by herself! Hard to believe this girl is wanting to start driving now!

 

dad-LK

 

Lauren and her dad showing off her new purple coat, Christmas 2000.

one

 

Lauren is one year old in the above photo, and I just love her little face as she sees the lit candle coming her way!

 

laugh

Great Grandma got Mitchell (3 months old) laughing so hard when we visited her and Pawpaw in Mattoon in November of 2002. Mitch still has the same sweet smile – except with teeth! Lauren isn’t quite so sure what to think of Great Grandma’s silliness. ;)

 

VBS

Lauren’s first VBS at Hot Springs Baptist Temple, summer of 2001. She was two years old.

mowing

Lauren, taking a break from bubble mowing, in Topeka, Kansas, 2003.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I showed a similar photo yesterday which had Terry in it. Terry and Lauren were getting ready to go out witnessing in Burnet, Texas. She was so excited to get to go for her first time! She put a pen in her shirt, to be like Terry, who always had one in his shirt pocket. It was so sweet, I had to photograph the moment. She was seven years old.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Mitchell is all decked out for church on a Sunday morning in Burnet, Texas. He was about four years old.

ice

 

Mitchell got this HUGE icicle off the house when we lived in Hope. We had something like eight inches of snow in one night and it pretty much shut down the town. Which was fine with me. :)

Florida

Last, but not least, I found this old photo from our one and only trip to Florida in April 2004. Unbeknownst to us, it would the last time we’d all be together with Dad on this earth. This was taken at a restaurant in Titusville, Florida. I didn’t think I had many photos of that trip, since I didn’t own a good camera back then. Stumbling upon this and a few other photos from that time is like tripping over a block of gold! It makes me gasp, stare, smile and want to tell the world.

So world, thanks for letting me share. :)

With a heart of joy,

sig