Poolside Prayers (Holy Committed)

20130820-224304.jpg“The Lord is wonderfully good for those who wait on him and seek him.”
Lamentations 3:25
 

I recently took a much-needed vacation to Florida with my husband, three children, and dear friends of ours and their boys. Vacations are precious to us as a family for a variety of reasons. They are time where we are all on the same sleep pattern. You see, my husband and I both work for hospitals and, as I am sure you know, hospitals never close. So, we work opposite shifts. I work days and he works nights. In between we manage the three children, their activities, our home life and time for ourselves and one another. I would be telling a lie if I said at times I didn’t miss my husband because the truth is I do. But, this is the life God had given to us and honestly, we are good at it (most days) and it works.

God is so amazing (as we all know). Normally on our family vacations (which we take EVERY summer) we rush from theme park to theme park and fill it full of activities daily.  In May of this year I started calling this trip my “Florida vacation” (not the Disney vacation) not for any real reason other than what I felt at that time was a genuine desire to NOT squander away thousands of dollars at Disney theme parks. I now see how Gods plan was completely part of my thinking and the words I was speaking.

I signed up for the Proverbs 31 online bible study in late July. Little did I know how life changing this would be and what an integral part this Florida Vacation would be in my early success at really digging into Gods word. Jeremiah 29:13 says “If you look for me in earnest you will find me when you seek me.” Well, I had so many opportunities to do just that since we planned for a relaxing Florida vacation. First, we traveled by Amtrak Auto Train to Florida 17 hours traveling overnight. Then once we arrived I spent many days with my family in leisurely activities that included quietly playing board games, watching movies together, reading, activities at the resort like paddle boats and mini golf. My children slept later than me most days (something that RARELY ever happens) and even willingly took naps! In addition, we had plenty of time in the pool. It was in those MANY quiet moments (especially at the pool) that I was able to really talk to God. To ask Him questions, to thank Him for his kindness and goodness in my life and to say to him “Whats next, Lord?” And as this online bible study is teaching us all, to say “Yes” to God.

I do not believe that you have to take a trip to Florida to be brought closer to God. Really, you do not have to even leave your house. But, God knows what we need far better than we do. He knew what sort of vacation I needed and he gave it to me ten-fold. He asks for so little in return and I often fall short, but I thank God for his words in the book of Lamentations 3:23 says “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh every day.” So, each day I will continue to try and be better.

I do not think that I have EVER returned from vacation this relaxed and ready. I give God all the praise for making it one of the best family vacations ever!

PS – My children were not TOTALLY deprived of the Disney Experience (See below…)

Magic Kingdom Fireworks 8.12.13

Magic Kingdom Fireworks 8.12.13

We Were There!

Hello? Are You Listening?

“Are you following MY directions?” This is a question that I ask my three children fairly regularly along with “What did MOMMY say?” Many times they respond and many times they do not and just continue to do whatever their little hearts and minds are directing them to do. They ignore me sometimes, develop sudden amnesia, continue to keep kicking their feet, talking with their mouths full, singing at the dinner table, poking one another or just being “themselves”; three very uniquely different children ages 12, 5.5 (soon to be 6 in 4 days) and 4 years old.

Don’t get me wrong, like every mother I LOVE my children and think that they are GREAT! But, I have to be honest, they do not always follow my directions the first time given. Sometimes, they do not follow when my husband chimes in with “Did you hear what MOMMY just said?”

I have just started the On-Line Bible Study with Proverby 31 Ministries http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/ where we are reading the book What Happens When Women Say Yes To God by Lysa TerKeurst. I have had a few things become amazingly clear to me in just three short days of participation. I am an AVERAGE listener. I do not mean listening to my staff, co-workers, family and friends (though I may be average in that realm as well) but an Average listener to God. In fact, average might even be generous.

Like many Christians I pray, read the Bible, go to church, volunteer in childrens ministry, and overall try and be a good person, wife, and mother. Until today I said that “I know God!” Lysa talks about in her book that “We have become so familiar with God yet so unaware of him.” WOW! THAT”S ME!  She also says on page 17 of the paperback book “How it must disappoint HIM when we don’t hear  or don’t listen to HIM.” How many times had God said to me “Darcey are you following MY directions?” “Darcey did you hear what I said?” I quickly realized that I am not much different than my children with the listening skills; especially when I want to just keep doing what I am doing how I want to do it! (just like my children). And, to be 100% honest, sometimes I hear GOD loud and clear and I am slow to respond if at all. I have SO easily become trapped in the routine of family, kids, work, PTO, track practice, swim lessons, Tae Kwon Do lessons, family vacations etc. I cannot listen to follow the directions of God if I am not listening closely to/for HIS instructions.

I can never thank God enough for HIS grace and mercy which is new every morning. As I begin to actively pursue God in a better (more dedicated) way my prayer is that I can not only hear his voice but be better than an average listener and follow HIS directions.

listen

Tears of Joy…

After my swim class last week I cried. I cried real tears in the shower like I was 5 years old. I cried because  (in my opinion) I did SO poorly. I went to class, got into the pool, did the kick board, the barbel thing, kicked my feel blew bubbles but just could not seem to get the arms and breathing “right”. Water in my mouth (no fun), water in my nose (REALLY no fun) and then my teacher suggested a noodle and this belt float thing that seemed to make me float but didn’t do much for my coordination. I watched my other adult swim classmates progressing to the “other end” without me – I wasn’t swimming, wasn’t floating at least not on my own and it hit me that I doing the same things from day one of class! I had not progressed, swimming seemed so far from my grasp – so I cried.

Probably not the best choice of responses but that’s what I did.

I went home to my husband and children only to tell them that it was hard and that I hadn’t done anything new this week and was feeling lousy.

So, the week goes by and I tried not to think about my upcoming swim lesson too much. But, I REALLY did not want a repeat of last week and certainly not the tears. I asked God to help me. Who else is better than HIM right?

I get to the pool feeling like I have nothing to lose and I realize that there is no one from my class present. A young “kid” walks up to me and tells me his name is John and that he is the instructor for the day. He looks like he is 13 years old or young enough to be my child. He hops in the pool and tells me to get in. So, I follow his direction and got in.  John worked with me one-on-one yesterday. He was super patient and easy-going! He had so much faith in me and my ability to get everything coordinated to swim, and he decided that I did not need any extra fotation During the last 15 minutes of class he said “Darcey you just have to swim.  You can do it!” I immediately thought of God and the verse in the book of Deuteronomy 31:6 that says, “…The Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.” i.e. Darcey, God is NOT going to let you drown in 4 feet of water!” So, I just did it! I swam! Then I did it again! and again! and again! (all while telling myself that God is with me here in the pool).

It wasn’t super coordinated, It wasn’t perfect, but I did it.  I can only compare it to a toddler who is taking their first steps in life.

At the end of the class, John (who is 16 and about to be a high school senior) told me “good job, Darcey”. I smiled and nearly cried again – but this time tears of joy!

I’m feeling wonderful right now!

To Swim – Or Not To Swim? That is the Question

I am four weeks into my swimming lessons and am on the verge of week five. I have missed a few lessons due to vacations with the family. During these weeks I have learned something key -

1.  Kids learn to swim because they play in the water so they get a better sense of what they feel like in the water (above and below the surface).

girl swimming

2. I do not play in the water….

But, I AM following the advice of my daughter to “Listen to my teacher”. A progress report is coming.

Stay Tuned

“Mommy, listen to your teacher!”

Words of wisdom from my 4-year-old daughter as I packed up my swim bag to leave for my first lesson yesterday. When she saw me getting ready to leave she asked if I was heading to my swim lesson. I told her yes and she suddenly transformed into my “big” little girl. She told me to sit with her. So I did. She then became my “coach”. She told me how I was going to have to practice blowing bubbles, and put my face in the water and kick my feet. She ran down a long list of exercises I would do including the kickboard complete with a visual demonstration of how to move my arms.  I was impressed that she could explain so much! I thanked her and told her I would do my best. As I was getting up to leave and putting my bag over my shoulder she said “Mommy wait!” I looked back and she smiled and said “Mommy, listen to your teacher!”

What GREAT advice – I wonder where she got that from!

Made With Love, And God’s Help!

strawberriesEvery spring I make an effort to go strawberry picking. It doesn’t always happen though. But, this year I managed to pick the right day, time, and number of children to bring along and I got to Jones Family Farm https://www.jonesfamilyfarms.com/ at 8:30-ish this morning to go picking.

It was a BEAUTIFUL Saturday morning in Connecticut! 75 degrees or so and sunny! we rode on the tractor out to the fields and I just knew this was going to be great! The strawberries were simply beautiful and there were just SO many! The children helped pick (something that is a rare experience since they always seem to want to eat more than pick and just fool around). 12 pounds and one hour later we were back on the tractor to pay and head home.

After a few stops around town in search of mason jars and fruit pectin we were home and the fun began.

MAKING STRAWBERRY PRESERVES!

I am no pro at this. I just learned a few years ago from reading the directions in the box of pectin. But, this year I consulted my new favorite cook book “The Joy Of Cooking” (I LOVE this book) and explored a few new recipes and took some time to learn about liquid versus non-liquid pectin and canning methods. I wont bore you with the details but I will share some before and after pictures

Helper #1 - "Mr. Oh So Helpful!"

Helper #1 – “Mr. Oh So Helpful!”

Helper #2 - "Miss I'm Not So Helpful"

12 pounds of fresh picked strawberried - YUMMY!!!

12 pounds of fresh picked strawberries – YUMMY!!!

So, once I was home and read the directions on the pectin, I got everything ready.

Getting Ready to Get Started

Getting Ready to Get Started

my first batch of preserves

My first batch of preserves

24 Jars of YUMMY Strawberry Preserves

24 Jars of YUMMY Strawberry Preserves

So, while I am by no means a pro at canning or even making preserves. I am pretty good at it (If I do say so myself). I really enjoy making them and luckily it was quiet and peaceful in my kitchen (Children were outside playing). So, it was just me, my berries, my cooking music and God this afternoon.

We will try them out tomorrow morning. Stay tuned!

How Did This All Happen?

I have thought over and over again about why I never learned to swim. I am not 100% sure what happened. I guess that I just never had lessons as a child and the opportunity never presented itself either. I wasn’t a member of the local Boys and Girls Club – and apparently we did not do lots of summer camp. My parents are not really swimmers, and I am sure that hair played a role (more on that in another post) So, here I am as a non-swimming adult.

This is not my first stab at learning to swim. I took lessons in college.  I got a bad cold and dropped out. Thank GOD I did not attend a HBCU (Historically Black College or University) where swimming is a requirement of graduation.  I might have never graduated. I also took lessons while pregnant with my middle child over 6 years ago. It just did not “stick”. I had the maternity swim suit and everything! I did however find that my constant fighting with the water was great exercise and I gained about 22 pounds with the pregnancy and then delivered a nearly 10 pound baby boy. Half of the baby weight gone in the delivery room and still a non swimmer. But, I was determined to try again and I did.

I convinced my father to take swim lessons with me at his local YMCA. He told me that he could not swim. I felt like I could do it this time. I had a partner. We arrived at swim class, hopped into the pool with my dad and was ready. The instructor said to the group “Let me see what you can do.” I quickly replied “I cannot swim at all.” I looked at my father who then puts his head in the water and proceeds to SWIM to about 5 feet deep of water and then swim back to where I am standing in the (very) shallow end. Feet kicking, arms moving he glides through the water!!!  I am 100% confused! He says “Well, I can’t swim in deep water.”  Apparently he “learned” 50 years ago at the Boys and Girls Club back when your friends just shoved you into the pool and you sank or swam. Apparently he swam. So, from day one we were in separate groups within the same class and by class #2 he is in the “other end” (not the deep end). I finish the class the way I started, as a non-swimmer. But I guess that on some level it was good bonding time for me and my dad.

I am the only non-swimmer in my home. My husband and three children all are swimmers of varying degree. My youngest two are in lessons now at our local YMCA and my oldest is a great swimmer, also trained at the YMCA and through summer camp. My little ones ages 4 & 5 currently ask why I cannot swim and today even said, “Mommy when we get to Florida in August I am going to help teach you to swim.” Well, now that’s very nice of them but the idea is to be swimming before then.

So, it is time. I have been looking on-line lots for some inspiration and came across this…

http://www.wric.com/story/22166426/8news-anchor-ava-joye-burnett-learns-to-swim

and

http://www.wric.com/global/Category.asp?c=190525&clipId=8878355&autostart=true
and this

http://www.indeonline.com/photos/x551368289/PHOTO-GALLERY-Seniors-learn-to-swim-at-Massillon-YMCA)

If they can learn then so can I right?
Stay tuned…