Walking by the play yard at our apartment complex I was sure I had fallen down Alice's rabbit hole after the White Rabbit when I encountered the biggest mushrooms I've ever seen.Truly I expected to see a little blue caterpillar blow smoke into my face and ask me "Whoooo are Youuu.?"
Baby Brenton just turned 2. He's a delight and his personality has blossomed and we are seeing more and more of who he is everyday. He's "Mr. Mischief" for sure and it's all I can do to keep him out of finding trouble. I'm sure we'll be memorizing many verses in the future about avoiding mischief.
Brenton is a Worsley through and through and is a big fan of Mickey Mouse. He calls him "BoBo". Not sure why as the sound does not occur anywhere in the word. But we all know that name very well. Being a Mickey Mouse fan and a family who loves Disney we gave him a little family Mickey Mouse Party.
We used our many sets of Mickey Mouse ears from our trips to Disneyland as party hats. We invited our sweet friend Micah, who also recently moved here from Santa Clarita and whom Brenton adores; and we had a blast swimming, playing "pin the nose on Mickey", and "mystery Mickey", having cake, opening presents and, of course, watching a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode.Mystery Mickey Mouse - I hid these little Mickey Mouse heads all over the house and the kids went looking for them. When they found them they added them to their chart. Micah was partners with Brenton. Happy Birthday Baby!
I wrote this blog entry a year ago and was waiting to get my first picture of Cade and Isabel transferred from old fashioned negatives to a disc to download (since I don't have a scanner). And so here I am a year later, waiting again for the same thing. Maybe I'll never get it transferred but I still love these sweet Fourth of July memories and so want to share them. This year we celebrated our first 4th of July in Texas and so missed our annual picture with Cade, but he was not forgotten as you'll see at the end.
Nearly every Fourth of July for the last 8 years we have been with our good friends, the Lycklamas. Beginning in 2002, when Isabel was 2 months old and Caedmon was 7 months old, we got together for a BBQ, and watching fireworks and all the fun that comes with Independence Day. That year we took a picture of the two of them along with another good friend, Pearson Gardner. Ever since that time we have been doing the same thing every July 4th. We have many other friends who get together too and we always enjoy swimming, BBQing, and fireworks; and we always try to get in an annual picture of Isabel and Cade. We have only missed one year in the last 8, 2006, thus no picture here. Enjoy watching the kids grow below.
The youth group at our church was selling tickets for a Texas Rangers game. Jason took advantage of this to take James to his first ever Major League Baseball Game: Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners. James had a blast hangin' with his daddy and Mr. Kiningham and his three boys and all the other people from Grace Bible Church. He ate...and ate...and ate...Jason's means of keeping him awake through the whole game. When he came home at ELEVEN O'CLOCK that night he proceeded to tell me about the cotton candy and the Spiderman fruit snacks from Mrs. Zeller. Oh what a happy night that was. Oh what a happy boy (and daddy) to get to enjoy a baseball game together.Here the boys are checking out the Dallas Cowboys stadium across the way from the Rangers stadium. I guess it was pretty impressive!
James with the Kiningham boys - Caleb, Nathan and Grant with the Cowboys stadium in the background.
While Easter was nearly a month ago already it is good to think daily of the death and resurrection of Christ and the new life bought for us with His blood. It seems that new clothes at Easter goes well with the celebration. We buy a new dress or new shirt for the girls and boys and wear them proudly. What a great symbol of our lives in Christ! With His death and resurrection our new life has been bought. We are able to put on the new clothes of His righteousness and wear it proudly, not because of how nice we look but because of the beauty of His mercy poured out upon us. So, every Easter we put new clothes on our kids. It's fun for them and I hope as they grow older they learn to recognize not only the pretty new dress but the glorious new life found in Christ!
I read Psalm 22 this morning and was struck by where the meditation on this scripture led me. David is so real! He's so like me. He goes back and forth with his faith and perception of God. "Why have You forsaken me God?" he asks, and catches himself with what he knows to be true - "Yet, You are holy; You are enthroned upon the praises of Israel; our father's trusted you, so should I; You delivered them, You do not disappoint" These are all thoughts that were likely running through David's mind, heart and pen as He honestly conversed with His God. Then, so like me, he turns again, to focus back on himself. Yes, God is all those things, He was all those things to those people, but "I am a worm". Those truths of God don't apply to me. I am in despair, I am discouraged beyond comfort, I...I...I... and suddenly the truths of our great God get buried under our pain and hurt and feelings of loneliness and we're sure we've been forgotten. This is where it is imperative that we know and understand the character of God. He IS faithful, He can be trusted as or fathers have trusted Him before us. He is always the same and therefore true to Himself and His promises to those who love Him. In Isaiah 49 God promises to faithfully bring His people back to their promised land and He promises them that He could never forget them, for they are inscribed on His hands. Our hope in Him will never be put to shame. How do we come out of the place of despair, the dark recesses of our hearts where we live; and the more we focus on them the darker they become? Both David and Isaiah tell us how to turn from our anguish - it is through praise. Psalm 22 verse 22 says "I will tell of Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You." And Isaiah 49:13 says "Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted." The remedy for discouragement? Praise! Oh that I would put my eyes, heart and mind on God and allow His light to shine into my soul, chasing away the darkness of discouragement. When we praise God, we can no longer feel discouraged for our eyes have been taken off of ourselves and lifted to the heavens to see His glory. And David adds a little insight into it - not only does he praise but he tells others about God's greatness and he praises God in the midst of the assembly. Try speaking of God's greatness to others and see if it doesn't lift your eyes to Him. We can't speak of Him without it lifting our hearts because it is out of our hearts that we are able to speak. And speaking it aloud also speaks to our own hearts as we hear for ourselves the greatness of our God. Praising God in the midst of others who love Him can also lift the clouds from our hearts, if we will allow for them to be lifted and not choose to dwell in the dimness of our circumstances. Hearing voices raised in praise and joyfully joining in replaces the anguish with rejoicing. So, I seek to have a greater heart of praise that I might sing the goodness of my God, remember the truths of who He is and encourage others to do the same!
Well, we've been here for about 4 weeks or so. We've hung our hat in Hurst, Texas for now, staying with some very lovely people, Pam and Randy Buster, while we wait to get into our apartment in Grapevine. We were a little like Abraham when we left California. I say a little because we did know where we were going generally, but details for where we would land had not been worked out. We knew God had called us out of Southern Cal. into a land that He had shown us but just not exactly where in that "land". The Busters graciously offered us their home as a resting place while we searched for our own home since searching from California was a little tricky. We thankfully took them up on their offer and were grateful to have a place to arrive at when we got here four weeks ago. We put our belongings in a storage unit and have made ourselves at home in the upstairs of the Busters' home. Our kids have quickly fallen in love with Mr. and Mrs. Buster and look forward daily to when they get home from work. Pam is a generous with her home and kitchen, willingly sharing all with me. And to make all things great, Randy let the girls play some of his instruments last night. It can't get any better. While we love them and their hospitality, we can't stay with them forever and we have reserved an apartment in Grapevine, just blocks from the church offices and school where we meet. That move will come in May. Until then we are loving our home in Hurst and the Busters will always be special in our hearts as people who made our move to Texas welcoming and pleasant.
My dear, sweet Jamesy was playing Cowboy today. While riding his pretend horse, holstering a squirt gun in his pocket and using a jump rope as a lasso he turned to me and said "Good cowboys live in Texas!" So there you have it. We had just had a discussion about playing good cowboy instead of bad cowboy and as James says "Good cowboys live in Texas".
This morning at the breakfast table Isabel declared to Jason that she loves living in Texas. Why? For no other reason than that there is a mall and Red Robin. We chuckled at this but realized for our kids it's these little things that help a transition from California to Texas to be a little easier. It's different here, but not that different, after all we can still go to the mall and eat at our favorite restaurant. Those little things are important. Transition is never an easy process and there are days where it's no big deal and then days when the entire family shuts down. On those days we go to our Great God for strength and then put the kids to bed. In their case it's usually a culmination of new places, new people, new schedules and too many late nights. We have enjoyed dinner with a number of families in our new church and the kids have made some new friends. We have spaced out our evenings away from home but it doesn't get past the girls' perception. "Why do people keep having us over to their house Mom?" Isabel asked last week. She loves to go to people's houses and has enjoyed each evening out but noticed that it's been happening rather frequently. I explained to her how people want to get to know us and we hope to return the favor when we get into our apartment next month. Acacia has always been very observant and from an early age was able to recognize where we were, where we were going and if we were taking an alternate route, which bothered her greatly. With that type of mind, it took Jason taking her once to his office for her to be able to recognize the street and know where we are. Even driving through downtown Grapevine at night Acacia (and Isabel both) were able to spot the church offices before Jason and I even saw them and shouted out "Daddy's office". So, they're starting to know where we are a little more and I am incredibly grateful for my GPS system that tells me where to go as I learn my way around Hurst, the city we currently live in, Grapevine, the city where the church is and where we will be living next month, and Dallas, the city where the zoo is, as well as a number of our new friends. The girls have also taken to home-schooling fairly well. We began talking about Texas a little last week as an introduction to their new state. We've done the basics like a map of Texas and the state flag. In discussing the state flag we talked about what the colors symbolize and what the lone star means. It is not difficult to find the Texas state flag around here. It's flown from many buildings, is used as part of companies signs and labels and painted on sidewalks and door fronts of people's homes as well as flown on their front porches. So I now hear as we walk or drive around town "The Lone Star Mom!" Even James joins in, excited every time he spots it. Unity for God and Country - that's what the lone star stands for. Well, we are here to help people learn more about having a heart after God and are excited for any way in which He wants to use us for His glory at Grace Bible Church. If you think of us, please pray that our transition will continue and that our move to our apartment in May would be smooth. We are still adjusting to the time difference, the weather and driving the speed limit but enjoying our time here in Texas.
Raise your hand if you know the old song by Nat King Cole. That song has been running through my mind for the last week. As we pulled out of Santa Clarita I started to notice names of towns that were familiar to me but where I had never been before and I realized that I was traveling down that classic road, route 66, just in the opposite direction from the song. "You'll see Amarillo; Gallup, New Mexico; Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona; Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino..." Well we didn't hit San Bernadino and we didn't drive through Barstow but we were in that general direction as we headed out of California. Theresa Bischoff supplied us with Trip Tiks from AAA and those were fun to read as we drove and, being a map lover, I followed where we going on the map and found the little towns mentioned in this song along with the big ones.
Arizona had some fun topography and there were times I felt like I was in the middle of the Disney movie "Cars". I kept looking out my window expecting to see rock formations the shape of old cars. But this was as close as it got.
I also saw this beautiful mountain side and thought it looked like a man's face.
Our God is amazing, making beauty abound in many ways. It's a different kind of beauty than the Great Northwest which I have been more familiar with up to now, but beautiful just the same.
We drove through Arizona and stayed our first night in Flagstaff. We had checked weather ahead of time and knew that it had recently snowed and was supposed to be cold. We weren't disappointed. The kids were excited to see the snow and really wanted to touch it.
On Saturday, we left Flagstaff and began our longest driving day, planning on driving all the way through New Mexico and into Texas, spending the night in Amarillo. The sign for New Mexico as we crossed the border stated that it was the land of Enchantment, but I have to say that maybe they were talking about another part of New Mexico. Where we were driving was not all that enchanting. But the miles rolled by and the kids traveled well that day. God gave grace to everyone in the van so that Brenton didn't cry his day away, no one got car sick (Isabel got pretty car sick the first day on the way to Flagstaff) and we had minimal potty breaks considering we were traveling with three potty trained kids and two adults. James and Brenton loved seeing the many trains along the way and Brenton sat in the back seat saying "choo choo" over and over again. Michael kept his own pace driving the big moving truck and the kids looked forward to every stop that they might be able to see him. We saw a couple of other Penske trucks as we drove along and each time the kids would yell out "Uncle Michael!" Sometimes it was him, sometimes it wasn't. We met up in the end in Amarillo and enjoyed dinner at Red Robin before heading to bed. Sunday was our final travel day and the kids eagerly anticipated arriving at our new home. We left Amarillo and drove through the great state of Texas all day, some 350 miles, in order to reach home in Hurst, Texas. Along the way we saw miles and miles of open ranch land, many small towns that were once oil towns but now that the oil is gone they are little more than ghost towns. People who have stayed on because that's where their family has always been, even though there is no oil industry there anymore. We chuckled a little as we came through Wichita Falls. I hadn't thought about a town in Texas having the word "falls" in it's name before but once considering it it did seem a little out of place. Thanks to Trip Tiks I found out that the original falls was a mere 5 ft. falls but so unusual to find in the area that the first settlers named the city after it. But 5 years after settling the area a giant flood washed the falls away and the falls that you see now as you drive through Wichita Falls is a man made falls in memory of the original 5 ft. falls. The things you learn as you go... It was a great opportunity to see and learn about things we haven't seen before, never having traveled that way. We enjoyed our trip on route 66, but enjoyed even more arriving at our destination.