Saturday, February 28, 2009

vacation mode/ my little valentine

We've been back here in California for four weeks now.  I still think my sister and her family are saints for taking in our large crew.  We're having a great time together.  It's going really really well.  All of our kids are homeschooled, so sometimes getting school work done is a challenge.  And little Judah is way off from his normal routine.  He is sleeping better than when we first got here, but it will take some time to get our usual flow back once we get into our own place.  Other than that, things are going so smoothly.  I love all the cousins playing and working together.   From the tallest to the smallest, they all genuinely enjoy each other.  And the sister time is pretty special too.  

I've been sort of in vacation mode or something, because I'm forgetting things and not in my usual rhythms of correspondence (email, phone calls, blogging, facebook) yet.  So you haven't heard from me here in a while.  I have things in my mind that I'd like to get into a post, but having a chunk of time to think clearly enough to get it from my head to the keys to the blog just isn't happening much.  

I'll give you a little glimpse of what's to come though... a couple mornings in a row I woke up with the Cranberries' song "These are Days" in my head.  And truly, these are the days.  Right now what we have here is pretty special.  I'm sure some days they're thinking it will be nice to have their house to themselves again... and somedays I think it will be nice to be in our own space where Judah will sleep good again... but for right now I want to savor these days.  I don't want to just look back and enjoy the memories of this time.  I want to enjoy every moment we have here in this sweet circus now.

So I'm going to start a series of posts called "these are the days."  You'll hear stories and see photos of this sweet season of families blended.  A few other posts will be scattered in there too.  Because I enjoy blogging and reading blogs and keeping it up helps me feel connected to old and new friends (bloggy friends included).

So for now I'll leave you with a couple of sweet photos of my little valentine and I.  Our fourth and final baby turned one last weekend.  (I could go on and on just about all that that evokes in me... but I don't have that much time or emotional energy at this writing.)  When Zeke was a baby, I put on dark lipstick and smooched him up real good for some pictures too.  (Wish I could show you, but they're not scanned in yet and the prints are in storage.)  He melts me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

remembering one year ago

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

hgtv dream home giveaway

Have you seen this? I'm hoping it's our new home. Every year, HGTV (Home and Garden channel) build and give away an amazing dream home. I've been entering for the past few years. THIS year, it's really perfect for us. 

We just moved back to California from Minnesota, and it's only about 40 miles from San Fransisco in the lovely little town of Sonoma. We are technically homeless at the moment, though we've been so blessed to stay with my sister and her family while we catch up and save to get into our own place. So I'm thinking this place would be just perfect for us. 

I'm sure there are reasons it would be just perfect for you, too... so go enter! And while you're on the site, you can take a tour. My favorite is the kitchen. And the backyard with it's amazing patio area. And the front porch. And the big tree. We recently went to Sonoma, just to check out the area. I'd been to Sonoma Train Town before, but didn't explore the area beyond that. When we went a couple weeks ago, it was a rainy evening.. but we drove around to see the nicest little town. Perfect for bike rides and walks and spreading our creative wings artistically. We also stopped at Ben and Jerry's. Have you had their cake batter ice cream??? Seriously SO good. It has ribbons of chocolate ice cream swirled about. YUM!!!

Ok, so go check out the house and enter. You have two more days. The winner will be announced in March. If you win, I promise I'll be thrilled for you and know that it wasn't meant for us. Just invite me over for a barbeque. (please!)

Monday, February 9, 2009

you can learn a lot from a hermit crab.

My sister got an email today and I asked her to forward it to me so I could share it here.  Unfortunately, the two hermit crabs pictured above are no longer with us.  Kermit (rainbow shell) died before we left Minnesota, and Santa (red butterfly shell) froze the first night of our travels because we forgot to bring her in to our hotel. 

Good lesson here though.

-Personal Word of Challenge - Are You Satisfied In Ministry?
Over the past years, I have determined to constantly be on the lookout for the Lord's leading, direction, and word even in the most unusual situations. During our business meeting, God specifically challenged me with a word that He impressed on my heart was for you.

We often find ourselves in places or situations in which we believe that we could be doing something better or more constructive with our time. I know that in the busyness of my daily schedule, every moment counts. Well, this past Sunday evening was our church's annual business meeting. Though necessary and extremely important to the operation of the body, it does often lack a certain appeal for most. Some might find themselves echoing Nathanael's words from John 1:46 where he asked, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Some might say, "A business meeting! Can anything good come from there?" Well, check this out.

Upon opening the meeting, Pastor John shared this illustration. "The hermit crab, in order to live, must continue to change its shell. However, as it makes the move to change its shell, he becomes exposed. He risks being eaten. As he gets older, he begins to enjoy the safety and comfort of this last shell so he does not make the change to a new shell. And the shell that keeps him comfortable is the very thing that kills him because his body has been squeezed to death."

Be challenged to Never Become Satisfied! Never become satisfied with your understanding of the scripture. Never become satisfied with the level of relationship you have with your Heavenly Father. Never become satisfied with the level of spiritual growth you see in the lives of those to whom you are ministering. It's okay to want more! You read that correctly. In this case, God wants you to want more! And, God wants to give you more!

Isaiah 54:2-3 says, "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes for you will spread out to the right and to the left."

I'm sure you have heard the adage "Us Four and No More." Sometimes we become so satisfied with where we are, what we are doing, and how we are doing it that we never realize we have developed the hermit-crab mentality of safety which eventually will lead us to our own demise.

Seek God this week for ways that you can enlarge your tent. Do not hold back. With ALL of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, do ALL for the glory of God. Place all you do into His hands and He will cause your plans to succeed! (Mark 12:30, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Proverbs 16:3)

Pastor Gary R. Linn