Sunday, December 29, 2013


     "The Year of Loaves and Fish" is what we're calling it.  It's the year that just didn't turn out quite as we had planned, but man oh man, has the Lord provided for us!  It's been the toughest year financially Mike and I have ever encountered, but we've also had some of the most amazing memories ever this year.  This year has been a year of pruning, pruning, pruning.  AND in the pruning comes pain.  And in the pruning comes clarity.  And in the pruning comes sprouts of goodness.  Sprouts you would never see when things are so bountiful that you can't see down to the root and watch those first buds come. 
     We have also seen God's goodness through others' in ways we've never expected.  Talk about blown away on Christmas morning.  Both sets of grandparents showered the girls with everything they needed and more!  New clothes, pajamas, passes to Knott's Berry Farm!  We are reminded of what is truly important as little things around our house seem to be falling apart, we recognize the strength in its foundation.  We recognize the only way we are going to stand is to stand firm upon our God and His providing, His plan, His wisdom.  One of our favorite things to do on Christmas morning is to have everyone over for pancake breakfast.  It's an Open House type of thing, and we LOVE hosting this event.  
     One of the most amazing moments of the season came after our daughter Lauren got her tonsils out a couple of weeks ago.  I sat with her for a much longer recovery period than originally expected.  I got to read her prayer journal.  I got to see and hear her heart when I could hardly hear her voice.  In reading her journal, I got a glimpse into what her relationship with her Lord is.  It was so beautiful to see that she gets it.  She gets that God is her ultimate healer, her ultimate provider and caretaker, her ultimate comfort when this world lets her down, when life lets her down, and when we let her down. 
     I think of how many times I must settle down to hear God's voice.  I have to prune away all the unnecessary stuff to get to the root of what He's telling me. I have to stop, even write down what He's teaching me. 
   Today I was writing things I was thankful for.  I wrote down my joy in Him and understanding patience better.  I quickly thought, "There's a verse that says those things in it somewhere."  I found it and also read the next verse. 

Romans 12:12-13  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

Lauren finally felt better on Christmas morning.  Talk about a gift!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Following Your Dreams

     Sometimes I feel like I just don't get it!  You know when you seem to be having to learn the same lessons over and over again?  Maybe it's just me. I hope not...
     Well, this time it came in the form of Taylor's PTA Reflections composition.  Each year she writes a song, with or without lyrics and enters into a competition.  She's always done a great job and has gone to the next levels several times.  Over the years, I've learned to take video of Taylor as she sits down to play and just composes naturally.  She loves to just play and tinker around on the piano, and it is mostly just beautiful stuff that flows from her fingers and heart. 
     This year was no different.  She had several pieces just waiting on my phone to be refined and "published."  Well, that was NOT going to happen!  She wanted to do a totally different piece, start from scratch, write the lyrics, and "sound a little like Lecrae," a Christian rap artist. Not MY idea of what would be amazing.  Taylor persisted, much to Lauren and my dismay.  I mean she already had these amazing classical pieces nearly done, and time was NOT on our side here people.  Plus, this classical stuff was really beautiful!
     I talked with a friend who has a homemade recording studio and asked if Taylor could record her finished piece (or pieces as I was hoping she would submit her favorite AND mine!)  This wise friend said a few words to me, "Well, Kim, it is supposed to be her reflections piece, isn't it?"  OUCH!  The sting of truth. 
     Often times, I think I know what's best, but I have to let these girls spread their wings and fly.  I see God doing the same with His children.  We think we know what's best, but He does know what is the VERY best for us, and yet He lets us choose.  It's in the choosing that we learn.  I have to learn to do the same thing with my girls, within reason of course.  Let them make their choices and soar!
     I have to laugh at myself when I hear this song of Taylor's.  I have had so much fun listening and catch myself singing, "Whoa, whoa whoa, following your dreams," all the time.  What a silly mom I can be!  Hopefully I will finally learn this time that MY way isn't always best.
(Beth is Taylor's remarkable piano teacher.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Finding the Son

     This summer was simply the BEST!  The greatest highlight was going to Canada for 2 full weeks.  There was no internet for us, no cell phone reception (unless we paid over $1.50 per minute...we didn't even take the phones for fear temptation would take over!)...Unplugged for 2 weeks!
     One of my favorite parts of each morning was my daily walk alone along the gravel path.  I didn't realize until later there were bears spotted along the same path I had walked.  There were also mosquitoes that buzzed quite loudly or even worse the ones that bit me in places I didn't even realize would draw blood until it was too late. (Imagine mosquito bites behind your ears, along your hairline, yuck!  I'm itching just thinking about those bites.)
     There were so many beautiful things about these morning walks that I will treasure.  I loved the birds chirping, the rustling of the trees in the gentle breeze, the smell of the fresh rain in the bush, the flowers.  Oh those flowers!  One morning in particular, I noticed the wildflowers reaching through the thick bush trying to get to the sunlight.  It was almost as if they were straining their stems to get into the sun's warmth. 
     My life feels often times like I am straining to get into the SON's warmth.  I so desperately need Jesus every day!  I need Him in His Word where I can claim His promises for me, His child.  I need Him in His peace for my life.  I need Him in the love He shows for me every day no matter how many times I blow it.  I need Him for hope when circumstances feel hopeless.  I need Him for joy when I feel so down.  I need that warmth to remind me He's there when life feels cold and empty.
     The other thing that I loved seeing was how tremendously full those blooms were.  The flowers reached out to the sun and bloomed so full and bright.  Guess what...I can bloom full and bright when I too reach out for the Son.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

    Our church has been a part of Operation Christmas Child through the Samaritan's Purse organization for a few years now.  The goal is to pack a shoebox for a child somewhere in the world who will receive THAT box and that box alone for Christmas.  The joy abounds, overflows, and is contagious when you see videos of the children opening their boxes.  A huge part of packing the box and receiving the box is hearing all about the true gift of Christmas, Jesus.
    Each year Lauren and Taylor pack at least one box of their own with their own money, shopping for items they love and that they think the children will love.  What was most precious this year were the letters they wrote to these children.  Here is a line from each letter that brought tears to my eyes.

Lauren, "By this time, you may have already received your gift.  I want you to know that God is my best friend and as you get older and have struggles in your life, you can always count on Him."

Taylor, "One thing I want you to know is Jesus loves you."

I pray these children enjoy their gift boxes as much as Lauren and Taylor love giving them.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Taylor Gets her Driver's License

     This summer we were lucky enough to be gifted with 5 tickets to LegoLand. (Thanks to our Carlsbad cousins.) We took Hanna and Bella, two of the girls' best friends. One of the great stops throughout the day was to the car ride.
     It was the only ride that Taylor had to navigate completely on her own without anyone else helping out. She'd have to drive a car entirely on her own, but Hanna and Taylor had figured out a way to team up and work together. They convinced the ride operator that Hanna would get a car right next to Taylor and would tell her how to steer and where to go, gassing and braking when necessary. They got the plan together and headed off the two cars side-by-side. Hanna explained each part of the car to Taylor, the gas pedal, the brake, the steering wheel.
     As she was doing all this, a kind gentleman turned to me with tears in his eyes and told me how touched he was with Taylor's courage. (I was watching from outside the track with excitement over how this whole thing was going to pan out.) It's always special when I see how others are affected by Lauren and Taylor.           
     The ride started, and within seconds, my eyes were filling with tears...because of my inappropriate laughter! Taylor had immediately turned hard left and crashed into the curb. Then, to make up for it, she turned hard right and rammed right into Hanna's car. Another ride operator approached HANNA and whispered to her, "Does your friend know how to steer?" to which Hanna responded, "Of course not, she's blind."
     A second operator went over to Hanna and asked, "Does your friend know how to drive?"
     Again, Hanna said, "I already told you, no, she's blind."
     At this point, I was laughing so hard I missed the next moments. Apparently, the second guy tried to get onto Taylor's car as she pressed the pedal to the metal instead of braking and ran right over his foot. He jumped on and drove Taylor (with Hanna nearby) to the front of the track. The entire ride was stopped, and everyone got right off.
     Hanna just guided Taylor on out who was so proud of getting her Driver's License! I laughed so hard it was totally inappropriate, but I started thinking that this is how life really is. I am constantly trying to drive on course, and follow the Lord's guidance, but sometimes I turn hard right and crash. Other times, I try to compensate and turn hard left, crashing again. I have to just stop and let the Lord gently guide me. This is one ride I'll never forget!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kaila Jo

"Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
     A few days ago, I got to meet my newest niece, Kaila Jo. She was born Saturday, August 10th at 9:02 a.m. after a 21-hour labor. My remarkable sister-in-law, Kendall, pushed 20 minutes and Kaila arrived!
     As I’ve said before, I pray diligently for friends and family who tell us of their anticipated children because we know things don’t always go as planned. Our family prays for the unborn child and mom from the time we hear a new baby is on its way. I don’t ever feel settled until my mom lets me know the baby and mom are doing great, and all is well. Yesterday was no different.
     We heard that Kendall was going to be induced on August 9th…my birthday! I couldn’t wait to share a birthday with my niece! We realized that wasn’t going to happen later in the evening, but I didn’t sleep all that soundly since I would wake up looking for phone updates on Kendall’s progress throughout the night. Kaila did arrive on August 10th at 9:01 a.m. with some complications. She had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid and was having problems. Kendall had her in her arms for seconds before she was taken to the NICU and put on a respirator and given antiobiotics. It was an excruciating time for Will and Kendall to say the least. I could only imagine the heartbreak of meeting your daughter and not getting that bonding time you’ve looked forward to for 9 months.
     It also brought me back to Taylor and all the anxieties, unanswered questions, fears, concerns, and grief that come when the unexpected delivery comes. I was reminded of many verses that sustained Mike and I through those difficult first days. In particular I kept thinking of this verse in 1 Peter about casting our anxieties on Him.
     We’ve just come back from 2 weeks in Canada where we spent lots of time fishing…casting. When I cast, I throw that line as far as I can to catch the biggest fish I can. It isn’t like you drop your line, no…you cast it out FAR. I kept thinking of “casting my cares” for Kaila and for all I hang on to everyday out to the Lord. I kept picturing throwing all these anxieties onto the Lord because He cares for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows His plans for us which are good. It is a huge comfort throwing my anxieties on Him. I don’t want them. I want them as far from me as possible. I want to rest in the care God has for me and get rid of anxiety which can be paralyzing.
      Kaila is home with Will and Kendall. They brought her home with them, something unimaginable at the beginning. The doctors said it was a miraculous turnaround that happened those first 24 hours. I am so grateful for God’s miracles. I am so grateful for this little girl and for the future plans He has for her. Congratulations Will and Kendall! Welcome Home Kaila Jo!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Maybe the Lord will bless me with..."

I always love summer...that's an understatement! I'd love to shout it out from rooftops...I LOVE SUMMER!!! As a part-time teacher, summer comes with so many rewards. Recently, Taylor and I were discussing how much more relaxed summer is. We were talking about how hard homework can be for both of us since it just takes a LOT of time with the brailled pages, making sure we have all the work in braille, finding the right places in the textbook, balancing the books with her brailler and braille is a LOT of work. Taylor has always done an amazing job of keeping up with her regular classroom work, including homework, though it does take us longer and can create some stress around our house in the evenings. Taylor was thanking me for learning braille and helping her with her work all the time..."even when you're not always so patient, Mom." Ouch. So true. Then she got real quiet and was thinking. I asked what she was thinking about. She asked, "How am I going to help my children with their homework? I can't even read it or find the right pages for them." I was choking back a few tears, so I couldn't answer, but then Taylor burst forth. "Mom, maybe the Lord will bless me with a blind child! Then I could help them with everything!" Wow! Out of the mouths of babes. Talk about a sweet paradigm shift. Taylor's comment made me think of the sweet gift it is to learn how to be the best Mom I can to be to each of my girls. Each one is so unique and needs totally different things at different times. What a treasure to think of the blessing it is to grow and learn alongside them.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lauren's Birthday- Part 2

"A friend loves all times."  Proverbs

This year has been interesting for friendships for Lauren.  She definitely has been through some of the "growing pains" of middle school girl friendships.  Some of the girls she's known for years have formed their own new relationships or are becoming closer knit without knitting in some of the elementary school girls.

It's been hard for Lauren, but it's much harder for her parents.  It's one thing to watch it happening.  It's quite another to hear your child express their sadness and grief over changing relationships.  A few weeks before Lauren's birthday, her dearest friends from Kindergarten moms...follow that?...asked me if they could bring their girls over on Lauren's birthday and surprise her with balloons, cinnamon rolls, and presents for her birthday.  What a gift!  I was beyond ecstatic to see my girl honored on her special day by the girls who have stuck by her side always.  This picture says it all!

Thank you Wendy and Lori.  Thank you girls. The gift goes far beyond just Lauren.  It's a gift to the whole family to see your child honored and blessed, cherished, and appreciated.

This is how the Lord must feel when He sees His children treat each other with lovingkindness.  Let me do this more.

Happy 12th Birthday, Lauren!

Lauren's 12th Birthday hit me in ways I wasn't expecting.  This girl has always amazed me.  She is an athlete, scholar, special sister, daughter, and friend.  She's just an amazing PERSON!  This year Mike and I decided it was time to get her her own cell phone.  Now, she may not be the only middle schooler without a phone, but she probably is the only middle schooler without a phone, iTouch, iPod, iSomething...  It was time to give this responsible young lady her own phone.  (Plus if you read her persuasive essay from Christmas time, you'd have to give it to her too!)

While at the store buying the phone, I was super excited thinking of how excited Lauren would be.  I didn't think I would get emotional...I mean really...Mike and I were at the PHONE STORE!  I got totally choked up while getting Lauren her phone...seriously, I did.  I wasn't expecting to realize what this phone actually symbolized.  It symbolized her first true steps toward complete independence.  I am excited about seeing my little girl grow up, but I just don't think I am quite ready to let her go...even if it starts with a phone.  I totally sympathized with Mike when he said, "I wish we could bottle Lauren up right here and keep her from growing up."  I just adore this girl for who she is.

She got the phone and has loved it!  Mike wrapped it up in a bag.  As she was opening the bag, he called her phone.  It was ringing, and the surprise on her face was priceless!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Mother's Love

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"  1 John 3:1a

Recently, a couple of incidents involving our older daughter, Lauren, and her softball really sparked an understanding of God's love for me, His child. 

First I have to post a disclaimer that the two incidents really do seem to contrast each other, but hey, nobody's perfect!  The first one involves paying Lauren for her awesome performance, and the second is understanding that my love for Lauren isn't dependent upon her performance... conflicting I know!

So the first "a-ha" came as I was handing Lauren the last dollar bills out of my wallet for her amazing homerun and extraordinary catch in the outfield.  It was going to be a few days before any more money would be deposited into our account, but I handed that cash over to her with great joy.  It was such a pleasure giving her the last of what I had, what I was counting on for a lunch date with a friend, and what seemed like precious cash.  It dawned on me as Mike and I were struggling that this is exactly how happy the Lord is to lavish His blessings upon His children.  Those blessings come in so many different forms, but the joy HE gets from heaping gifts upon His children is magnified from what we experience here on Earth.  Of course, the greatest gift is in the gift of His Son so we can have eternity with Him where there are no concerns, frets, anxieties, sadness, fears, disappointments as we experience it here on Earth. 

The second sweet moment came in the midst of a disappointing game for Lauren.  She had a rough game where some pivotal moments just did NOT go her way. She was so down on herself and was blaming herself for so much.  (She has pretty high expectations for herself, and is really tough on herself.  This is for sure an area we work on with her.)  As I watched my daughter's shoulders slump, her eyes brimming with tears, her confidence completely gone, and her hope diminishing, I kept thinking, "Lauren, if only you could see my heart and how much it adores you.  I don't care how you perform.  My love for you is unchanging!"  It then seemed as though the Lord was saying the same things to me, "Kim, I have never cared how well you perform. I love you always!  I love you the SAME always!  My love for you is unconditional.  I loved you enough to die for you when you didn't even know me." 

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us!

Monday, February 18, 2013

I am NOT Special Ed

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  Luke 6:41

Several times over the last years Taylor has come home telling us about the fun times she's had in the "Special Ed Room."  She's had several group sessions for Occupational Therapy and Adaptive P.E. in this classroom of several moderate to severe autistic children and others with communicative handicaps.  They are awesome kids!!!

We've asked more recently if Taylor realizes she is "special ed."  We explained what it means and that many children are labeled special education because of their special needs.  Taylor was adimant that she is NOT special ed.  It's been comical in many ways because it is just so obvious to everyone else that she truly is special ed if there ever be a kid in that category! 

This past weekend we had our dear friends over for dinner.  Their daughter Hanna is Taylor's best friend and had the same kind of negative reaction when she overheard other students pointing out that Taylor is "Special Ed."  Apparently, the negative stigma is pretty heavy! 

Then I started thinking about the whole "plank idea."  How many times do I miss the obvious in my own life because I am so concerned about others?  I really do want to own up to my own faults and shortcomings to see God change me from the inside out.  I love being "Special Ed!"