Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Joshua and the Treat Bags...

Football is over now. It was such a great season for our 9th grade team...but since this blog was started to record events from our family...and specifically "Joshua stories," I wanted to remember this...

After we got home from the very first game, Clark was cleaning out his football bag and just casually mentioned that he didn't get a "treat bag." I had just spent 3 years helping with the Mom Squad for the Varsity boys when Logan played, and we made sure EVERY player got a treat bag for EVERY game. We'd fill them with peanut-butter crackers, roll-ups, granola bars...things they could eat for a quick snack before the game, or afterwards, on the bus-ride home. I remember Logan saying that sometimes kids would come in the locker room and take the extra treat bags for themselves...but I was still NOT impressed when Clark told me he didn't get one. He said there were "a few" others who didn't get one, either. Argh. Talk about gettin' my Momma Bear genes all riled UP. RILED.UP! I started asking questions and he said, "MOM, chill. Don't make a 'thing' about it."

What? Like I would.
(I might. I jusssssst might)

Joshua heard the conversation. His brother is not going without a treat bag. No ma'am. Not on his watch. So the night before every game, Joshua would come into the kitchen, get a marker and a WHITE lunch bag...and head to his room. After a time, he would bring back the decorated bag for me to fill up with goodies, and we would "hide" it in Clark's football bag. Clark always knew it was in there, but he didn't look at it until he was at school and getting ready for the game. As soon as I figure out how to load pictures on this blog, I will upload some so that I can remember what he wrote on them. For the first few bags, he only used a light blue marker and wrote things like, "we love you" and "go for a win." When I found the GOOD markers, the whole colorful box, I took those to Joshua and said, "look! I found these good markers! Now you can make the bags more colorful!" Joshua goes, "ohhhhh...yeah..." and proceeded to use the BLACK marker for that bag. None of the other colors...just the black one. :)

He also used some quotes from some football movies..."you blitz all night...make sure they remember the night they played the Hornets" and "STONE-WALL DEFENSE." And for some, I had NO IDEA what prompted them: "smell them, show them up! Turn them into girls!" WHAAAAT? And this one "spank them like a 4 year old in K-Mart."

I love that Joshua loves his brother. I love that he is his biggest fan.

I've always cheered for my children...whether in sports or academics, at church or home...any accomplishment or a goal completed...YAY! Let's have cupcakes! My husband says that I've been dangerously close to celebrating mediocrity at times...but I like to reward genuine effort. All 4 of our children are SO different and I love each one of them equally. I tell them I love them. When they were little, I would write them little notes on their napkins..."love na'kins"...and put them in their lunches. I tell them "good job,"or "you'll get 'em next time." I tell them I'm proud of them. I hope they know that I really, really am. I'm sure I haven't told them enough.

I don't remember getting a lot of "atta-girls" from my parents growing up. They loved me for sure, and I knew that...but I only remember hearing the negative words, like when I did the wrong thing, or messed up, or didn't do a good job. I'm sure I did get some praise...but not enough that it sticks out in my mind. I was even in the pep club in high school, and I don't remember either one of my parents ever coming to ANY of our games. Maybe that's why I try to make every game or event for my kids. Whether they "start" and play the whole time, or sit the bench and maybe play the last minute...I didn't want to miss a thing. We would go to swim meets for Holly...sometimes we'd have to drive a long way and spend the night, all 6 of us in a hotel. Then, we'd have to get up early for warm-ups 2 hours BEFORE the meet...and then she might swim a total of 4 or 5 minutes in all her events.

But I would've HATED to miss it.

We all want a cheerleader in our lives. Someone who will tell us to keep going...someone who will pray for us, hold us up when we think we can't go on...who says, "hang in there...you can do it...I'm here for you." Yep...I've had people like that in my life for sure, and it's a great feeling. Who cheers for you?

Who do YOU cheer for?

I love the "faith" chapter of Hebrews in the Bible. Chapter 11. In it, the author lists one by one some men and women of the Bible who lived out their faith in the trying times of their lives. This chapter is SO encouraging to me. As I read it...I can hear the song "Find Us Faithful" playing in my mind...

"oh may all who come behind us find us faithful...may the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe...and the lives we live inspire them to obey...oh may all who come behind us find us faithful." 

Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham...Isaac, Jacob, Moses...Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, David...and many more. The chapter gets more and more exciting as you read it...you can remember each story and recall how GOD was glorified.

And then...Chapter 12: 1-2

This is the best part, because it's for us...now. God is cheering us on in His Word! It's like we have this heritage of faith from the ones who have gone before...and I just picture them standing in Heaven, along with Jesus, God and all the angels, cheering me on..."come on, Marty...it won't be long now...you can do this!"

Read it yourself: "therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

We are to run this race called life...laying down everything that weighs us down, laying down the sin...keeping our eyes on Jesus. It doesn't say it will be easy. In fact, just the mention of the words 'encumbrance,' 'sin,' entangles,' and 'endurance,' kind of gives us a heads-up that it's going to be difficult. Even hard. And WE have to lay those things down. Jesus will take our burdens, and He will forgive our sins and help us each day as we live...but WE have to ASK Him...it doesn't just magically happen. But we keep our eyes on Jesus...who for the JOY SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross and the shame...for what joy?



And for you!

And then what did Jesus do? He SAT DOWN.  Why? Because He was done.

"Jesus paid it all...all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

My very own treat bag from GOD! And guess what? No one is overlooked. He came for all. :)

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another..."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Firsts and The Lasts

Well, it's begun. The lasts of the firsts...or the firsts of the lasts. Not sure exactly how to put it, but it's the thing that happens when the thing which shall not be mentioned happens in your family.

We made it through the football season. What a great year! For the first time in the history of all man-kind (or for this school)...the 9th grade team went undefeated! It was an awesome season! As we were playing that last game, I'm not gonna lie...I had to fight back the tears. I was so thankful that Holly and Aaron drove down to support and encourage Clark in his last game...and Holly took some pictures! Yay for sisters!

And so, for the first time in 4 years...I washed the jersey and hung it up to dry, knowing that it would be the last night it would ever hang on our laundry room door. The boys have a blue jersey, and a white one...and every fall for the past 4 seasons, we've had one or both of them hanging there on the door, washed and ready for the next game. They're the first things you see when you come into our house from the garage...and now they would never hang there again...ever.

I may be sick.

We made it through Thanksgiving...our last Thanksgiving in this town. In this house. We didn't even eat in our dining room. I have loved having a dining room. I love getting out the pretty dishes and eating in that special room...but knowing that it was our last Thanksgiving here...I don't know. It made it more sad.

So, we used the pretty dishes...and we ate around the kitchen table (a first for Thanksgiving in THIS house)...on FRIDAY, instead of Thursday (another first), b/c that's when Holly and Aaron could join us. When I was cleaning up after dinner, I realized I had left the "pad" on the table while we ate. Fancy much? I think NOT. It just never occurred to me to take it off...I never even thought about it. I love that we were all together and it was casual and fun...and not 'fussy' at all.

And now Christmas has passed. I wanted it to be the most special Christmas...our last in this place. I said I was going to get out every decoration we had, and make it look like Santa's workshop had exploded, but in the end...I got out the things that were the most special to us. The NOEL kids that the boys change around to spell LENO, and NOLE; the Caroling Family...someone is always getting shunned (usually the Blue Boy). The kids' special decorations went on the tree and I thought it was the prettiest tree ever. I think I say that every year. I just love seeing all the lights on it...and the decorations that are from our travels...or the ones that the kids have made. There's this one ornament...we don't know what it is, or who made it...but we put it on the tree every year.

And then for the first time...and the last time...I took all of my Christmas decorations down before the first of February. I LOVE leaving the decorations up. I feel like I have time to really enjoy them AFTER the busyness of the holidays...when things settle down. This year, I know there is much ahead of us, much to do...and so I packed it all up right after New Year. NOT ONLY THAT, but I have been known to leave up the Snow Village until Spring Break...but I put it all away, too. The first time I've ever put it away this early...and the last time to put it away in this house.

Next year, it will all be different. Hopefully, the family will be intact...healthy and excited to be together, but there will be a new house. Maybe some new ornaments. A new place to decorate. :) That part is exciting.

In this world, things are constantly changing...the economy is in the tank...the beliefs that our forefathers founded this nation on are being challenged and removed every day. Each day brings new trials and tribulation. And stress. We seem to be spinning quickly toward the end days. COME QUICKLY, LORD JESUS!

During this time in my life when things feel all out-of-sorts, I am thankful that GOD never changes.

Malachi 3:6 "For I, the LORD, do not change..."