Monday, March 16, 2009

welcome signs

This is a rewind post.  Back to our drive from Minnesota to California at the end of January.  We've been here for about six weeks now.  Still at my sister's for now, so we're not really settled yet.  But it's good to be home.  I miss Minnesota though.  The friends we made, our quiet little town (strange now that I miss it... I was in such culture shock for a while when we moved there, but it really grew on me).  The beautiful sunrise over the snow in the morning.  The slower pace.  

We'll get into our own place soon, and will have our routines and such in place again.  For now we're living as nomads... staying with one sister for the most part, taking little trips to visit others. 

This weekend we're in Monterey.  Joe was asked to fill in at a tattoo shop here, and the kids and I tagged along for a visit with my sister Kelly and her family while he worked.  Joe and I lived here for about a year, before children.  It's so beautiful, with the ocean and the sand dunes.  Later today we'll go to Santa Cruz to visit Joe's sister and her family.  Santa Cruz is always a fun place to visit because it's where we met and went to college.  We love Santa Cruz.  Again, the ocean.  And the food we love, the culture of the area.  

On Friday, Michelle and I took our kids to Tahoe, to ski/snowboard/play in the snow.  It was gorgeous.  A beautiful, bright, sunny day in the Sierras.

I love California.  I love that where we live, we can drive just a couple of hours and be in the snow, or at the ocean or in the redwoods.  I love that our family is here, and our friends that have become family.  It's good to be home.

These pictures were from our drive west.  Joe drove his truck, loaded down with essentials for the next few months, until we go back for the rest of our stuff which is in a storage unit in Minnesota.  I drove the Odyssey.  We each had a couple of kids.  Judah stayed with me, but the rest shuffled around.  When they were apart, they asked to call the other, just to see what they were doing.  My car has the dvd player, and both Brooklyn and Zeke thought it would be fun to have a Shrek marathon, but they were with me at different times.  So for two days in a row I listened to Shrek, Donkey and Fiona for the length of three movies each day.  The other two days were full of games, talks, music and sleep (them, not me).  Our kids are great travelers.  We really want to do a year of homeschooling on the road in an rv sometime, journeying throughout the US.  We figure Joe can be a guest artist at tattoo shops along the way.  Maybe I'll be an accomplished artist and can sell my wares as we go.  Someday.  Now seems like a good time, since we're not tied down to a house.  But maybe when the little ones are a little older.  Although if we had an rv I'd jump at the chance to do it now.  I love road trips and think it would be a great way to learn and teach more about our country.

So this is me driving.  Not sure what day or what state.  Still snow on the ground.

I was so excited to get on interstate 80!  Knowing that it goes all the way to San Francisco Bay, right through our home town just made it so real that we were going home.

Depending on where you are, you may or may not get why I was excited for this next one.  It had been below zero for a few weeks in Minnesota before we left.  I was hoping that the day we loaded our stuff into the storage unit, it would be at least 20 degrees... but it never got up to zero that day either.  As we drove west, it got warmer and warmer.  One day we stopped for lunch at a fast food place and it felt so warm, I thought it would be great to eat outside... until I went to sit down and saw that the bench was covered in ice!  I took this picture when we got back in the car.  35 degrees was like being in the tropics compared to where we'd been!

And this sign pretty much speaks for itself.  Except that if you have a wealth of these near you, you should really appreciate it.  Because some people have to drive 20 miles to get to one.  And they are not located at the base of every exit along interstate 80 when you're in the middle of Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.  So when this sign was in sight, it was a happy thing.

Here's another luxury you may take for granted if you live where Baskin Robbins' abound.  This is my favorite favorite treat, and the guy at the place I frequent knows my order.  But they don't have Basin Robbins in Minnesota.  I told this to the guy who knows my order (because that was one of those important searches I did online before moving).  I asked him to move there too and open one, in the name of good customer service.  He said he'd see me when I come to visit.

And last, but certainly not least, these signs greeted us when we finally arrived at my sister's house.  There were at least four of these throughout the house.

It is good to be home.

Friday, March 6, 2009

these are the days. part 1

My first "these are the days" post.  Because really, they are.  Seven cousins in one house.  Two sisters (wives/ moms/ aunties).  And two dads (husbands, uncles, brother-in-laws).  We're having fun.  Yes, sometimes things are a little difficult.  But mostly it's fun, bonding, memory making going on around here.  Like tonight when I proved once and for all that I am not the great cook my sister had thought I was.  I gracefully stepped down from the pedestal she had me on.  I was making popcorn and after starting to heat the oil, walked out of the room.  Oops.  Kinda forgot what I had started and waited too long to come back.  When I did come back, I lifted the lid from the pot, and there was billowing smoke which soon burst into flames.  I put the pot quickly into the sink but did not add water (at least I have some sense).  The flames were at least a couple feet high by this point.  I stood back while Michelle grabbed some Bisquick from the cupboard and put the fire to rest.  Needless to say, this caused quite a commotion among the kids (sleeping brother-in-law upstairs never seemed to notice... smoke detector going off and all).  No photos from this event.  We were too busy putting out the fire to think about a blog post complete with pictures at the time.  But here are some fun ones from the backyard on a much less stressful occasion.

These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago.  Last summer/fall my brother-in-law and the kids built an amazing tree house in their backyard.  This thing is top of the line.  There are working windows, hammocks, even electricity and a tv for watching movies.  I've only been up there once because I never outgrew my fear of heights, and it is way up there.  But the kids love it.  Mercy even got to go up with her daddy one day.  I love the clear corrugated roof.  I can imagine a cozy rainy day lounging in the hammock reading, while listening to the rain over head.  

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Scripture memory #5

I've been committing more Scripture to memory this year, along with Beth Moore and thousands of her blog readers.  The goal is to choose a Scripture the first and fifteenth of each month and work on memorizing it for two weeks and then pick another little chunk of the Word to study and memorize next, so that by the end of the year, it's a great new habit, and we'll be armed with truth and full of His Word.

I haven't posted all of them here yet, but these are the verses in my little spiral notebook so far for 2009:

1.  Jeremiah 33:3  Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  (NIV)

2.  Isaiah 33:6  He is your constant source of stability; He abundantly provides safety and great wisdom; He gives all this to those who fear Him.  (NET)

3.  Jeremiah 20:9  But if I say, "I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name," His Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shot up in my bones." I am weary of holding it in.  Indeed I cannot.  (NIV)

4.  Malachi 3:16  Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.  A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored His name.

and for this time,

5.  Psalm 37:34  Wait for the Lord and keep His way.  He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.  (NIV)  

I also like this one in The Message:  Wait passionately for God, don't leave the path.  He'll give you your place in the sun while you watch the wicked lose it.  (MSG)

Now if you see me in the street, please be gracious.  I'll admit I don't have these all down yet.  Maybe that's part of why I'm posting them here.  When I was in high school, I was in a discipleship class at church, and we had lots and lots of Scriptures we were memorizing.  I had a big test coming up, and I was given a great opportunity to spend a day studying.  I was in BMP (Behavior Modification Program, also known as in-school suspension).  I was caught cutting class... I know, the things you learn from a person's blog, right?  So my fellow delinquents and I were confined to this room for the entire school day.  There was to be total silence.  We could do school work, read a book, write... just as long as we were silent.  So I used the time to memorize my Bible verses.  I spent the entire day writing out the Scriptures over and over and over.  It really helped.  So I think (if I ever get a chance this week.... oh for the days of in-school suspension, forced to silence in my own little world!) I'd like to spend some time writing these five out over and over until they're inscribed on the tablet of my heart.

This week's verse was found this morning.  We went to look at a house down the street from my sister's house a few days ago and absolutely fell in love (more on that another time)... I updated my facebook status with "Jenny is praying, hoping, wishing, dreaming about the house we looked at down the street today. So perfect for us in so many ways. It's in God's hands."  A friend commented on my status and included the verses John 15:7 and Psalm 37:4.  So this morning I took some time to read through Psalm 37.  I have an NIV/ Message Parallel Bible, so I read it through in both translations.  The whole chapter is basically saying to cling to God and keep to His ways.  Don't worry about what anyone else is doing, just keep trusting Him.  He'll keep His promises and He'll never let us go.  

Since the middle of December when Joe lost his job, God has been providing for us in amazing ways.   Psalm 37:18-19 says, "The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever.  In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty."  This has definitely been true for us.  I have been so impressed with Joe throughout this time.  He has been the bigger man and not lost his temper or tried to get revenge or be in competition with his old boss (as some felt he would be justified in doing).  We put all of our trust in God and had total peace that He would lead us and provide for us.  For Christmas, we had family coming to visit from Colorado and didn't know how we could provide food for everyone, but we received a couple of unexpected checks in the mail so I was able to go shopping.  Then while they were here, Joe's mom and sister-in-law and I went shopping again, and our cupboards were fuller than ever.  We ended up with enough food to last until we moved out at the end of January (just a few runs for butter, eggs and milk now and then).

The whole chapter also talks about the righteous inheriting the land.  I know we can sometimes make the Bible mean to us what we want it to, so I'm careful to claim that as a specific promise about a certain house, but I do know that God is preparing a place for us.  And according to Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  There is a specific house right down the street that seems so perfect for us (more of a realistic dream home than the HGTV dream home I posted about before!).  It's in His hands, and we trust that He knows our desires and knows what's best for us.

I went to Beth Moore's blog this morning to leave a comment with my verse and the one she posted goes right along with it.  I think I'll try to get my #5 down this week and do the one she chose next week.  It's Hebrews 10:35-36:  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded, YOU NEED TO PERSEVERE so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.  (NIV)

I feel like we're on the verge of a breakthrough and I'm excited to see what God has in store.