Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Funny How God Works Sometimes...

So by now you would think that I would no longer be surprised when God grabs hold of "MY plans" for "MY life," and decides to shake them up a bit.  Sometimes shaking them up isn't even accurate - sometimes he twists them, turns them, flips them inside-out, and gives them back to me in a form that is completely unrecognizable to me.

For example...
My Plan: I will never marry a pastor.  My dad was a pastor, and although "most" of my memories of growing up as a PK were positive, there were also some very painful times my family went through being in the center of ministry.  So, I pretty much decided that being a pastor's wife was out of the question, and I would marry someone who has a "nice, normal job." (You know, Monday through Friday, 8-5, with a cherry on top).
God's Plan:  Well, in our 8.5 years of marriage, my husband Micah has held not one, but TWO pastoral positions in two different churches.  He is currently the Executive Pastor at Harvest.  And God has blessed us as a pastor's family.

My Plan: I won't attend a small church - I was done with small church politics.  When Micah & I met we were both attending Word of Grace, a mega-church in Mesa, AZ.  Perfect.
God's Plan: Within the first two years of our marriage God moved us out to the middle-of-nowhere in San Tan Valley, AZ, and we were faced with the prospect of driving over an hour to church every day, or helping to plan a brand new church in the area where we moved.  We opted for the church plant and began our adventure with LifePoint where Micah would come to serve as the Youth Pastor.  And God blessed us at LifePoint.

LifePoint Groundbreaking Ceremony
My Plan: I will not be part of another church plant, this was hard.  I am ready to go to church in an actual church building.  Fortunately, LifePoint was in the process of building a building so this was looking good!
God's Plan: Through a series of God-orchestrated events, Micah and I felt called to help plant Harvest Community Church in Mesa, AZ - Micah was brought on staff as the Executive Pastor.  We now drive 35 minutes to church each week (we still live in the middle of nowhere) to be part of a "small church plant" (which is growing!) that meets in a movie theater.  It has been so many years at this point, it now feels strange to me to attend a church service that is held in an actual church :)  And God has blessed us at Harvest.

My Plan: After our son Eli turned two, God began pressing on our hearts that our next child would join our family through adoption.  This seemed a little far-fetched, but we started doing our research and knew we would adopt from the foster system... after all, we could never afford to adopt internationally.
God's Plan: Within two years of attending our foster-adopt orientation through the state of Arizona, we brought home our beautiful daughter Mikayla from Ethiopia.  The Lord provided in ways we never would have expected.  And He blessed our family.

So, you would think that after watching this play itself out in my life over and over again, I would eventually come to a point of no longer being surprised when God's plans differ from my own.  But, not quite.  I still often fall into the trap of thinking I know what's "best," or I know "how" something will occur. Can anyone relate?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Fortunately, God has a way of nicely inserting himself into my plans each time and getting my attention.  The most recent example of this began this past fall, as I started thinking about my career.  You see, I have worked in education since I graduated college.  I obtained my Masters degree early on, and thanks to being in the right place at the right time (another God-thing), I advanced quickly from being a teacher to a school administrator to holding a position at the district office.  Even after Eli was born, I was eager to get back to work after my maternity leave (though I did cut back to working part-time).

MY PLAN has been to work part-time while my kids are little, and then once they enter school build back up to working full-time and eventually take the steps to become a school Principal.

Well, here we are... my kids will be entering Kindergarten in the fall... it's finally that time when I can re-focus on my career and work toward advancing in my field... YES!  Just want I've been waiting for!

But something happened.  

Something changed.  

My HEART changed.  

All of a sudden I found myself with new priorities for the year ahead, which pretty much involved a complete "180" from the direction I was going.  I can only attribute it to the Lord.  He had other plans, and He knew that in order for me to "get in line" with His plans, he needed to start with changing my heart.

And I just needed to LISTEN.

After all... if someone would have mentioned to me a year ago that I would be STAYING HOME  from work to HOME SCHOOL my kids next year, I probably would have died of laughter and then passed out in shock.  But, it's funny how the Lord works sometimes, isn't it?  So yes, you heard me right... I'm going to home school... and I'm actually looking forward to it!!

And after all, who could resist hangin' with these two every day? :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Five Years Old

I have had to pinch myself a few times in the past week to make sure I'm not dreaming... I just can't seem to grasp that I have a FIVE year old.  I guess when your child is under five, they can qualify as being in the infant/toddler/preschool stage.  But five is different.  Five seems big. I think it has caused me to stop and think at how fast these first five years have flown by... it means 10 is not far away... and then 15... and I pretty much can't handle that thought right now so I'll stop there :)  Regardless, it has been a good reminder to enjoy every passing day, as these are days we can never get back.  I am so thankful for my boy and am proud of who is growing up to be!

Eli: Age 5 (this list is more for my benefit as I don't want to forget these things... but if you are not interested feel free to scroll down below to the pictures!)

  • Favorite Toys: puzzles, stuffed animals, cars, magna doodle, wii (mariokart & toy story mania), toolset, leapfrog tag reader, books
  • Favorite Foods: Mac & Cheese, hot dogs, cheese crisp, pizza, cookies
  • Favorite Places: Home (yes, he is home body), Grandparents house, Church, Library, Mall (play area), park, McDonalds, the Phoenix Zoo
  • Loves learning - lately Micah has been teaching him easy addition/subtraction with manipulatives, and he asked in the car the other day if we could do "more math!"   (To which Mikayla fittingly replied, "I don't want to do more math." haha!)  He also enjoys sounding out and writing new words - we are regularly surprised at how close he can get to the true spelling of the words he is trying to write.  He also likes studying maps (of the U.S., of the World, of the Zoo... you get the idea) and one of his birthday gifts was a puzzle map of the United States which he attempts to put together a number of times each day.
  • He is a thinker.  Many times we just see the wheels turning in his brain after he observes or hears something that was said... then later typically comments on it (usually it's pretty funny).  For example, the other day he heard me say that I didn't know someone's phone number.  A few hours later, after his nap, he woke up and told me, "I know why you couldn't call your friend.  Because her number has a 10 in it, and our phone only has the numbers to 9." (lol!)  
  • Perfectionist.  Yes, he unfortunately inherited this from me.  He will often not want to do something unless he can do it perfectly.  He gets easily frustrated if he can't do it "just right."  I think Mikayla is wonderful for him in this area, as they are a good balance for one another :)
  • Loves God.  Even at a young age, he has a love for the Bible and for God.  He loves reading through his picture Bible, and always has to be the one to say our dinnertime prayers.  He soaks up everything he learns from Bible stories and Sunday School, and often asks questions about God, heaven, etc.  The other day after disobeying, he was said and wanted to know if God was mad at him.  Part of me was sad that he felt God would be mad at him, but it's a perfect example of his deep thinking, perfectionism, and love for the Lord all rolled into one.  It also led to a great conversation about God's grace! :)
  • And finally, Eli loves playing with his sister.  He had such a tough adjustment the first three months after Mikayla was home, but you would never know it today.  They are best friends, and endlessly play together every day.  Eli loves giving his sister lots of hugs and kisses.  The one thing he consistently will cry very hard about, is if he does something "not nice" to Mikayla and has to tell her he is sorry... it's really pretty cute how he cares so much and doesn't want to disappoint her.

February 10, 2011... In Pictures:
Opening presents... with his audience :)

Sometimes I feel like I have three children...

Eli wanted to go bowling for his birthday, so that's what we did! 
 Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Bonnie joined us for the fun.

To finish off the evening, Eli chose to have dinner at Peter Piper Pizza.  
Nana and Papa met the rest of us there, and we all enjoyed pizza and games!  
Eli isn't a big fan of cake, so we ordered a giant chocolate chip cookie from Paradise Bakery and it was a bit hit.  We even ordered him his own 6" cookie with a number "5" on it that he enjoyed all to himself!

Happy Birthday buddy, you are loved by so many!!