Friday, March 26, 2010

My Basket Now Has More Bread

You know the story.  I certainly did.  Well, at least I thought I did. 

*There was a huge need:  Jesus was preaching to 5,000 men (remember this number for later).  The disciples wanted Jesus to send them away, to find their own food and lodging. 
*God took a small offering:  Jesus, instead, took five loaves of bread and two fish. 
*God blessed them to overflowing proportions:  This fed all of them AND they had twelve baskets of leftovers!

Yeah, yeah.  Heard the story one-hundred times.  Good for them.  What does it have to do with me?  Let me tell you.............

We got a sizable tax return this year.  Five thousand dollars to be exact.  Does that number ring a bell?  I had all these thoughts of putting some in savings.  Paying off this.  Buying that.  Going here.  We did go "there" for Spring Break and had a wonderful time.  But, as soon as we came back from vacation, the hospital bills started rolling in. 

See, Joe went to the ER in December.  He was vomiting for 5 days and we were afraid his kidneys were shutting down.  After an IV and a few hours of observation, they sent him home.  In January, Jack got very sick.  After 3 days of not eating, walking, or talking I took him to the ER.  He, too, was severely dehydrated.  Turned out, he had RSV with Bronchiolitis and had to be hospitalized for 4 days.  He finally came home, but had to be on oxygen.  But our adventure doesn't end there.  In February, Joshua had to get stitches on his forehead.  We thanked God every time for healing, that we have a hospital so close, and that we have health insurance (of which, I pay $550/month). 

We knew that we would have to pay a portion of each of our hospital visits, but were unsure how much.  The insurance company tried to deny coverage for all 3 boys.  Finally, after fighting the insurance company, they paid the hospital and doctors and sent us a bill for our portion.  It took all of our remaining tax return.  All of it.  *I had a huge need.

I went to bed Sunday night, mad at God.  Actually, that's saying it nicely.  I think I was closer to "pissed off".  I was upset that life wasn't fair.  I didn't get to spend any of the tax return on me, yet I work 5 jobs to pay our bills.  Then I started to get more mad that I do work 5 jobs, yet still live paycheck to paycheck.  How come I don't have a nice, new house?  How come I don't have a nice, new car?  Life isn't fair, and I was upset about it. 

Through the week, God was working on me.  I found that I was excited for my friends who were experiencing blessings.  I was grateful that I did have 5 jobs, when some people can't get one.  I was grateful that we did have a tax return to pay the hospital bills.  Ultimately, I was grateful that God (and doctors) had saved my 3 boys in the last 3 months.  And then, I woke up Friday morning......

I woke up and realized that I had no money to give to God at church on Saturday.  It was all gone to bills.  All of it.  I wept.  I prayed for forgiveness at not saving even a small portion to give back.  How selfish of me!  I resigned myself to give the change in my wallet.  It wouldn't be much, but it seriously was all I had.  *God took my small offering.

Later that day, my boss walked into my classroom.  She handed me a check for $130.  *I had been blessed past my expectations.  I had completely forgotten about that check.  It was my meals check from a few weeks back.  Turns out, it was sitting in the office for a few days and the ladies were waiting for me to get it.  But I know the truth.  God was waiting for me to come to that place.  I can't wait to write that check Saturday night at church. 

And then I read the sermon notes for this week:
Luke 9:12-17
1. God let's us feel our need for provisions.
2. God blesses us by letting us participate with Him.

3. God blesses us by the way He abundantly meets the need.
So, now I get it.  I can't do it on my own and God is still molding me.  Lord knows, He has plenty to work on...........

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Take Me to Your Leader

Josh has my sense of adventure.  And Joe's great map skills.

It's finally warm enough that the snow has melted!  whooo!  We figure we got about 10 feet this winter.  We had 5 feet in one week alone! 

True to Spring Fever, the boys and I were just itching to get outside and go for a walk.  Our backyard has a great trail system through undeveloped forest.  One trail leads out to Show Low Lake.  This "hike" is a favorite of ours, as it's easy, secluded, and ends in a beautiful, big lake.
We set out on our course, with me in the lead.  I know which trails intersect where and how to get to the creek the fastest.  Josh gracefully hopped across the rocks across the creek.  Jack slipped into the water. 

After our "hike", we were headed back.  I decided to test them to see if they could find their way back home.  I thought that Jack would lead and take us back on the trails we had used to get there.  But, he didn't want to lead.  Instead, Josh said, "Our home is that way!"  Funny thing is, he was dead right and you can't  even see the houses from the creek.

As Josh started leading, I kept thinking that he was heading towards the nearest trail.  He wasn't.  He was heading in a bee-line towards our house.  We crossed over 2 or 3 trails.  We climbed over fallen trees.  Nothing deterred him from his path to the house.  I guess he knows the fastest route.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Break

Ah, Spring.  One thinks of flowers, birds, and ROAD TRIPS!!!!!!!!!!!

We decided to take some of our tax return money and head out West, to Cali.  Goin' back to Cali, to Cali, I'm goin' back to Cali............(sorry, couldn't resist).

Our first full day there, we went to Huntington Beach.  Although I lived on two sailboats and lived in San Diego for 3 years, I am not a beach person.  It's windy and sandy.  And, it's usually cold.  Therefore, I hadn't been to Huntington Beach in about 17 years.  The HB I remember growing up was much different than the one today.  Back in the day, there were long stretches of marshy-swamp land.  There was a "downtown" area near the peir, but they were real laid back and you could walk in wearing your bathing suit and flip-flops.  Now, the marshes are gone.  In their place are two huge resorts.  Not just a hotel-kind, but fancy-smancy kind.  And the downtown area is all glitzed up and fancy too.  What happened to the sleepy, laid-back HB? 

And parking!!!!!!!!  Parking!  Joe and I had a bet on how much it would cost.  Joe said $7.  Ha.  I said $10.  Ha.  Parking was $15 (more than the parking at D-land)!  But, it was worth it.

As soon as we pulled up, Jack asked if we could take his shirt off.  But, "I want to keep my sunglasses on, Mom".  Ok, big boy.  He was in the water instantly.  Now, a little background on Jack.  Jack will sit on the edge of a pool for over an hour with barely a toe in the water.  We usually get so fed up that we just pick him up and carry him into the water.  Yet, at the beach, he stayed in the water the whole time; even after a wave knocked him over.  Joshua, on the other hand, stayed next to the blanket the whole time.  He is usually my fish when it comes to pools.  He will jump in the deep end with no one around.  But, he never even touched the water at the beach.  Isn't that interesting? 

We noticed a lot of kites near the pier.  I mean, A LOT of kites!  As we walked closer, we noticed that it was an exhibition.  There were teams that would fly their kites together.  It was really cool to watch.  As we stood on the peir watching, one kite came close enough to touch.

We finished the day off with an ice-cream.  Ah, California.

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Disneyland truly is the "happiest place on Earth".  We had a BLAST!  I don't know who had more fun: us or the boys.

First off, I have to tell you how we scored on the tickets.  Have you noticed that D-land does not offer coupons or discounts?  They just know that you are willing to spend big bucks.  But not good-ole Susan.  Not this bargain shopper.  A friend told me about buying tickets on eBay.  Seriously?  Is that even legal?  Is that honest?  Is that safe?  Yes, yes, yes! 

There are local companies that are licensed through the city of Anaheim to do this.  They auction tickets on eBay and you pick them up, use them, and return them.  As simple as that.  In the one hour or so I spent online bidding for the tickets, we saved $180!  How's that for return on investment?  And, they were Park Hopper Passes. 

None of us (Joe, myself, Jack, Josh, and my dad) had never been to CA Adventure.  Since we had Park Hoppers, we decided to have a look around.  They had Mater and Lightning McQueen!  They had a really cool Redwoods area that sooooooooooo reminded us of Yosemite.  We spent most of our time in Bug's Life.  Joshie was afraid of the big bugs.  ha ha.  Jack got to drive the bumper bugs with my dad. 

We then just walked across the plaza to D-land.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh (can you hear the angels singing?).  We had perfect weather.  It was semi-crowded.  Our longest wait in line was 40 minutes for Materhorn.  We snacked on our pb&j sandwiches while standing in line so we didn't have to waste time or money at the "restaurants". 

The boys enjoyed Toon Town the most.  I could tell that my dad and Joe were bored stiff.  I offered to watch the boys for 2 hours in Toon Town, so they could ride the fast rides.  They were gone before I could blink.  As soon as they left, Goofy walked out.  We were second in line to get his picture.  The boys were smiles from ear to ear. 

They raced around Toon Town and then wanted to look at Mickey's house.  I thought it was just a living room and kitchen kinda thing that would take 5 minutes tops.  Well, the house kept going and going.  We were outside in his garden.  Then, inside his barn.  Then, watching a cartoon.  Then, they opened a door and there was the Big Cheese himself!  In the flesh!  or, um, in the fur.  The boys were soooooooooooo excited!

They then wanted to visit Minnie's house, but she was on break.  Girls.  Probably powdering her nose.  That's ok.  We got in line for the Inspector Gadget roller coaster.  I was a little afraid for the boys sake.  Once again, they had a blast!

We then took the train to New Orleans and rode Pirates.  Josh was a little afraid.  I guess he thought it was all real.  They climbed the tree house.  We rode the Jungle Boats.  And just about then, the boys started to get cranky.  They had walked the whole day.  They couldn't take a nap.  So, it was time.  Overall, we were there 6 1/2 hours.  And I can't wait to go again!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thanks for the Gas, Man

Thanks for the gas, man.  We really needed it.  I mean, REALLY needed it!  Like in the middle of the desert on a hot day, with the two boys, with an empty tank REALLY needed it! Thanks.
I will not point fingers, but "someone" got into the minivan to drive and neglected to look at the gas gauge. They drove past gas stations. Past signs that cautioned "no services for x amount of miles".  Kept driving after the gas tank warning dinger dinged.  Sixty miles past! 

From the backseat, I notice that my very confident, competent husband is frantically pushing overhead buttons.  He freezes when he gets to the display showing how many more miles until the tank is empty.  It shows 12 miles.  Twelve miles.  There's not even a road sign for another 12 miles, let alone a gas station!

Ahhhh, a road sign!  Next town:  45 miles.  Gulp!  Start praying.  I could have thought of all the things that could have happened.  We could ahve run out of gas on the freeway and had the van die.  We could have been hit from behind.  What if Joe lost control with it turned off?  We could have run out of gas and had to park on the side of the freeway.  Flashbacks to our move to AZ 4 years ago (flat tire, not empty tank).  We could have had to hitch a ride to the nearest gas station (remember, 45 miles away).  I could just keep going.  Remember, I'm all about the adventure.

Yet, God miraculously kept the van going 24 miles past the empty mark.  We rolled into a gas station and filled her up!  Here's the crazy thing.  She has an 18 gallon tank, yet she took 20 gallons when we filled her up.  I think God took some of your gas and gave it to us.  So, thanks for the gas, man.


Are you familiar with the art of weaving in the craft of writing?  It's when an author "weaves" a phrase or word into multiple works.  I have wanted to start weaving with my blog and I was racking my brain about what my "thread" would be.  Would it be a Bible verse?  A favorite saying?  A single word?  I was leaning towards "JOY" as God has blessed me with abundant joy.  But....adventure just seems to follow me wherever I go.  So, "adventure" it is.  Be looking for my "thread" in my future (and past) posts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm All About the Adventure

Today was another snow day.  Yet another.

In their 4 and 3 years of life, I have never taken the boys sledding.  Oh, I know.  I could have driven over to Pizza Hut Hill and slid them off the hill.  I could have driven up to Sunrise Ski Resort and gone tubing with them.  But, where is the adventure in that?  I'm all about the adventure.

We borrowed sleds from our friends who live at Sky High.  They gave me directions, but seriously, following the right road is sooooooo, um, predictable.  So, I got lost.  Yeah, drove right past the turn off and drove down the dirt road for an additional 2 miles.  In a snowstorm.  Adventure!

After turning around, we found the right road.  We had to walk in, as I was afraid to get the truck stuck all by myself in the middle of nowhere, in a snowstorm.  Although, that would have been adventurous.  The walk was at least 1/4 mile, but seriously, it feels more like 1/2 mile when you are pulling 65 pounds in knee deep snow. 

Finally, we rounded a corner, and we could hear angels singing and the heavens opened up.  Sort of.  It was beautiful though.  And, we were the only ones there!  That's cool, it adds to the adventure.

As we entered the open field area, we began to sink.  Every step, I sank to my hip.  I soon learned that I could "walk" better on my knees, as my weight was distributed along my shins.

Honestly, by this time, I was wiped!  Pooped!  And I turned around just staring at the steep walls of the cinder pit.  Which hill would we climb to go sledding?  Which hill COULD we climb?  Which hill could I climb while pulling the boys?  The nearest, short hill.  That's which.

Jack got off the sled and went running up the hill.  Show off!  Yeah, you have energy cuz I just carried you half way across America.  After what seemed to be an hour (probably closer to 5 minutes), we made it to the top of the hill.  I resolved for one sledding trip down the hill and then trek back to the truck.  I told you I was tired. 

The boys had a blast!  They grabbed the sled and ran back up the hill.  The same hill that I was sitting on top of, out of breath, and afraid that I would sink to my hips again. 

 Up and down.  Up and down.  Over and over.  At last, it was time to leave.  The snow was starting to accumulate and Josh's hands were pink, they were so cold.  Back down the road, pulling the 65 pounds of cuteness.  Nothing but pure adventure.  Pure, fun adventure.

where Glory meets my suffering