Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Thing Called Rest? What is That?

I am sitting at the end of my very long dining room table that hubby and I bought from IKEA about 4 years ago. I am looking at all the little dents and scratches etched from little toddlers spoons from the last few years. The table was only 300 bucks or so. It is just a block table to be used for eating, crafting, sewing and art. I love our humble table. Presently it is the only thing tidy in the house. The breakfast mess has been cleared off and my 10 year old is loading the dishwasher. There are toys all over the living room floor. The twins have been crying on and off all morning because they woke up before the roosters crowed. Sounds chaotic huh?

Now, I could be doing laundry because the smelly mountain is calling my name. And I really need to get a couple of the kids going on their Math. However, it has been a stressful morning and I am going to take a writing. Sometimes my mind gets really cluttered. That means, "Time to pen some thoughts!" And when I do so, I only share what is going on with me in hopes that maybe someone can relate. So, anyone? Anyone? Do ever wonder what that foreign word "rest" means? I have been silently mulling over it this week.

Personally, I often have trouble entering true rest because of an internal pressure called, "shoulds and ought tos". Why is it I get into my head these standards that I think I should meet up to? Here are a few of my present pressures . They like to scream at me! And I am still in the process of learning how to silence them.

1.I should be able to be everything for my children all day every day. And if I am not, I am falling off the job of what it means to be a "good" mother.

2. My house should be more organized and dust free. The laundry should aways stay caught up.

3. I should be able to go to the gym at least 3 times a week, eat salads for lunch every day and never eat chocolate again.

4. I should be out in the neighborhood and the community helping others and making more friends. After all, we are called to be the salt of the earth, right?

5. Everyone of my children should be involved in sports, clubs and activities to make them more "rounded".

6. I should invite people over to my house more often for dinner.

7. And the list goes on and on.

Now tell me that I am not the only one. I can only imagine the multitudes of women, wives, and moms who wrestle with their own internal pressures to be this and to do that. And if we do not meet up to the "list" then we think ourselves failures. So the cycle goes on and on . We become work horses of endless striving and urgency. How exhausting!!

On the other hand I have been pondering this: If I gave myself over to half of the list above, in reality I would be cheating. Yes, cheating. In life we either cheat someone or something. If I am a slave to my house, to having a lot of friends, to an over emphasis on appearance, to even being a minister outside of my home, then someone is cheated. And who is that? My family. However, if I daily choose my family, who is really the most important in the first place, I am cheating other people and tasks. The reality is that something or someone is going to be short changed. I am reminded even now, that my first calling is to relationship with God and my family members and that means making sacrifices! There is no human way to do it all even if we try.

To everything in one's life there is a season. For me, I have been in a 20 year season of having and raising children. Twenty years seems long. However, I look back and those years have been a vapor. And if the Lord chooses to give me at least 18 more years, that is when the twins will probably be on their own. Think of it, I will be 63 years old. If the next 18 years zooms by like the last 20, I want to soak in every moment because I can never get them back once they are gone.

So as I age and mature, I am still learning as a child of God to let go of certain things. Sometimes we have to let go of certain relationships that can be very difficult and painful. And most importantly, we are constantly being challenged to let go of certain mind sets.

Several years ago, our family was blessed in a very special way. We were expecting our ninth baby. We were moving out of our home during my first trimester. Because of the fatigue and morning sickness, it was difficult to accomplish anything, especially packing boxes. My laundry room was so cluttered with dirty clothes that I could not even walk through. One day I was feeling so defeated by everything around me, I threw myself down in the middle of all the dirty laundry and began to loudly cry out to God for help. A couple of weeks later, two precious Chinese woman flew over from Taiwan to help us. For two weeks they worked diligently packing boxes, cooking meals, doing laundry and caring for the other children. Every time I would try to help, those sweet ladies would look at me and say, "Ange, go take a rest! Go take a rest!"

I am reminded that God never puts half the pressure on us that we put upon ourselves. And sometimes people put pressure on us that God never intends. We have to learn to draw the line sometimes and say, "NO!" And if it costs a friendship, then maybe the person was never a real friend to begin with.

So can we learn to rest? WE can gain a new perspective that:

1.We can learn to see our lives in seasons. Our lives will be different 10 years from now. This insulates us from thinking that certain goals and dreams have to be met within this year or even next year. God wants to give us many things, but not all at once.

2. Find "down times" that work for you and your family. We can get so bogged down by tasks at times that we can easily fall into looking at our children as interruptions instead of priorities. Put down what you are doing and join in with what the kids are doing. Sit under the stars on a blanket, play Lego's, sit at the table and color, sit up later to talk with your teenagers.

3. Guard against overcommitment. When we are going in too many directions, we as moms often feel like we are spread too thin. Keep enough space in your schedule so you can truly enjoy moments instead of being stressed out by too many activities. A life too cluttered by business makes for a grouchy mom. I want to be a cheerful mom!

When we can practice resting, we truly can find our individual nitch of what it means to live peacefully. Our hearts will be more settled and we find more harmony in our relationships and day to day responsibilities. So, I sit here now and think about how I can "take a rest". I desire to savor every moment and to live this day in abundance for tomorrow is never promised.

"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Take a moment to listen today
To what your children are trying to say...
Listen to their problems
Listen for their needs...
Tolerate their chatter
Amplify their laughter
Find out whats the matter
Find out what they're after
But tell them that you love them
Every single night...
Listen today, whatever you do
And they will come back to listen to you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Once Upon....

a sunny day in toasty AZ,
this family went to the park. I mean this here family....the Cogburn family!
And this sunny day was so sunny the brilliance was almost blinding. However, everything was so colorful and vibrant.
Seems like the skies are about this blue most days here in the Valley of the Sun. And every palm tree looks majestic against sapphire blue skies. One could just soak in the beauty all day long...except you might fry from the heat!
Oh happy happy day! Little girlies got to go play!
And here is another cute girlie who had a blast playing in the sunshine! Little roses bloom in the sun Heather Rose. Too bad big sister chose to stay home and study. She would have enjoyed the outing!
Well hello there freckle face Josh! The more you play in the sun, the more pennies appear on your precious are rich!
And Dan, you are the man! You have a nice investment of facial pennies yourself! So cute!
Jamie! We were so glad you had a blast exploring the outdoors. I am surprised you did not want to bring your novel with you to read under a tree!!
Tiny Tim! Oh so dirty! Did you get hungry and try to eat some desert dirt?
Brothers really do make the best buddies!
Peeka boo I see you Heather!
Daniel you know how to talk to the camera don't you?
Hanging out, hanging around and just going with the flow huh Josh?
It was such a fun day! The simple things are the best! No price tag can be placed upon making special memories with the family.

So until next time, we will keep living happily ever after because we just choose to!

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!
Phil. 4:4

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Blessed Wife

It is within the tough times, the stressful moments, and the walks through the valleys which test our marriages. We are either pulled away because the clouds of the storms distort our view of one another, or we are knitted together because we have a strong foundation in Christ. There have been several seasons in my marriage where the thickness of the clouds caused me to lose my way a bit. The scope of my vision became paled and I lost sight of the truth. However, I am very grateful that God always parts the clouds and helps me to see once again the reality of all my blessings. I daily need my Savior!
My greatest blessing on this earth is not my children, but first my husband. As time passes I am more and more amazed by his strength, gentleness, and patience. When my grandfather died a few weeks ago, it was John's idea that I should probably go to back East to attend the funeral and spend time with my family. And even though it was a busy time at his job, John took several vacation days off to take care of the children. The airline ticket was not cheap either, so I know it was a bit of a sacrifice for him to buy my ticket to go. He never complained once about my being gone. And he said nothing negative about having to get up in the middle of the night with both babies for feedings. I really have never heard of too many men like my husband. I know they are out
there, but there really cannot be too many.
The other thing that has really drawn my attention was the grace and patience John showed this past weekend when most of the family was sick with a virus. I mean this was his two days off and here he is again taking care of everyone while I too am laid up in the bed sick. Wow, I think I might be too blessed if there is such a thing.

When my husband demonstrates these acts of kindness, I feel very loved by him. There have been some nights he has gotten up with the twins to feed them both because he knew I was tired and needed the rest. And what kind of man would want to have 11 children with his wife? That must be a man who loves her a lot!

So I count my blessings once again. No, we do not have a perfect marriage, nor a perfect life, but we are abundantly blessed in a very special way. God chose the perfect man for me. How he puts up with me at times I do not know. I guess it is just the patience and grace he has. Sometimes we get stuck in ruts in our relationships with our spouses. It is within those times we need to back up, press the gas, and get our attitude back on the path. Life is so short. We do not know how long we will have them. Here are just a few things I have been pondering on lately.

1. Choose to think positively about your spouse. We all have our weaknesses. However, do not let his or her flaws cause you to be blind sighted to his or her strengths.

2. Live each day as if it is your last with you spouse. You never know if today might be the last day.

3. Say less and hug more.

4. Your countenance mirrors your heart. Smile more at your spouse and always give eye contact in conversation.

5.Trash all negative words. For every negative word you feel tempted to speak, replace with 3positive statements.

6. Most importantly, find your significance in Christ. The more secure we are in God the more secure we are in our marriages.

7. Say I love you several times a day!

You know, I think I am bragging on my dear husband. But we need to do that! It is not that we are being prideful. We are recognizing the goodness of God in our lives and we need to testify of His blessings! Also, we need to let our loved ones know how much they really mean to us because one day it might be too late should we put it off. We do not want to have one regret!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Happy 9th Birthday Daniel. You have been so blessed. I cannot even remember the last time you even had a cold. And today, on your special day, you were sick. I felt so sad.
I am not used to seeing you all laid up on the couch so still. You are such a strong active boy. Always wanting to help and needing to be doing something!!
And here is the infamous ice cream cake...our family tradition. You picked out some yummy flavors..Dutch chocolate, french vanilla, Twix bars and Butterfingers! Yum Yum! I am glad you at least felt like eating a little of it!
Awww, look at your big blue eyes. So tired!
And here is our big,long family table. We have made so many memories around this simple table. I pray there will be many more!
And here are Daddy and me. We love you so much!
Daniel,you have had such a sweet,cheerful spirit today even though you were sick. But you are so sweet most of the time anyway!
I hope you liked all of your gifts and that you will enjoy them. Hopefully you will feel more like playing tomorrow.

Happy Birthday my sweet son. I will see you in the morning and I will show you this post then. I love you so much. You are a gift from God and a joy to this mother's heart...


Thursday, April 8, 2010

More to Smile About!!

Today the girls are 5 months old. I cannot believe it!
Yes I have so much to smile about!
To grin about!
There is not much more to say except...WOW I AM SO DOG GONE BLESSED!!
My home and my heart are full.....
running over....
with blessings!!
My God is good!
Times are tough sometimes...
But I serve a giving and loving God...
who loves to pour out His goodness to anyone who is willing to receive HIS best!!

Love you my friends!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Much to Smile About!

Last Monday morning my Pa Pa went to be with the Lord. He is no longer suffering and is having a blast in Heaven with Jesus! When a loved one crosses the other side to be with the Lord, we have much reason to celebrate. And when I think of my Pa Pa, I can only smile. His life was blessed. It was full and abundant here on earth. He was a blessing to many. Now he is reaping his rewards! To look into the face of Jesus! There is nothing better! To literally hold God's hand and to live with Him in His house....Pa Pa is resting in His eternal home where he belongs!
After the funeral in N.C. I went back to Ninety Six with my parents to spend time with them. What a great memory! I went to stay with them in hopes of being a help to them in some way. However, the blessing was mostly mine as I enjoyed several days of quiet,enjoying the scenery of the lake and flowers in bloom. I mainly enjoyed spending time with my precious parents!
In Momma and Daddy's yard is a huge Camellia tree. The petals were beginning to fall off the blooms and they graced the lawn with their beautiful hues of pink! It was breathtaking.
This is one of the Camellia buds just beginning open.
This is one of my favorite photos. The skies were blue every day I was back home except one day which was party cloudy. The birdhouse is where the purple martins stay when they fly in from South America every year to breed in the spring. My daddy told me that the martin comes back to its birth place every spring. In July, they leave and go back to South America for the winter. Look at the blue sky....sigh...I love the simple things in life!
This is the lake view out of the bedroom window in which I grew up! I was one blessed kid!!
One thing I am smiling about right now are my two precious nephews Allan and William. I knew I loved them, but this trip just did something to my heart. I am just crazy about these two. I could just take them home with me. This is William. He is 15 years old and a freshman in high school. He is the sweetest and kindest young man!!
This is my other nephew Allan. He is 21 and such a joy! I love his quiet demeanor and his laugh! He giggles just like my brother!

My brother Chris is such a blessing. He is my only sibling and we are only 13 months apart. We were always close growing up. He is a wonderful man and father! I love him dearly!
Momma and Daddy! They have to be some of the sweetest and most loving people on earth! I am so blessed to have them as my parents!
Daddy and Momma again with my sweet sister in law Mandy. We had the best time laughing and cutting up!
Another wonderful blessing that came from my visit back home in Ninety Six was my visit with some of my former classmates. This is Angie. She was my first friend when my family moved to Ninety Six. I was in the 6th grade. She and I have remained close through the years. She was one of my very best friends!
Here I am with Rinda. Rinda is such a strong and godly woman. When we moved to Ninety Six, many of the kids were mean to me because I was the new kid. Rinda always stood up for me. An amazing lady!
Debbie and me. Debbie was always one of my closest friends too. This lady always kept me laughing and smiling! She is such a precious person!
And here we are together. Rhonda (middle) was one of my best friends too. She was in my wedding and we are also still close. I love her dearly. She is a faithful friend!

Here is another beautiful lake view from my parent's home on Lake Greenwood.
Raisin, my parents' little doggie. He is the sweetest dog in the world. When I started missing my babies I would just cuddle with him!
This was one of my favorite things about my trip...sitting out by the fireplace on my parents deck after dark. We would wrap up, make a drink, prop our feet on the hearth, and just talk and laugh!!
Another lovely lake view!
More pretty petals!
I took this photo laying in the hammock. What a gorgeous blue sky. I have so much to smile about! I am a grateful woman. I am rich with family, friends and faith. Life is to be celebrated and treasured moment by moment. I celebrate my Pa Pa as I know he lives in peace and joy with God now. And it is moments like these that bring a little slice of heaven into view.