Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back to Work

Ever feel like your world is turning a little bit upside down? Well ours is, and I’m starting to feel a little bit dizzy lately! And I don’t really “DO” those upside-down, spin-you-all-around rides at the amusement park anymore. (It’s one the few flaws in my otherwise adventurous nature.)

Anyhow, I’ve shared how things have been kind of out of sorts here the past several months. Well, the latest in our change of events is putting my equilibrium to the test.

When the beginning of this school year came into view, I was flourishing knee-deep in family life, writing, word counts, reading, studying my craft, and teaching some fun classes at the local co-op and private school. Since then, however…Emma was brought home for school, our tumultuous series of unfortunate events began, T and I surfed through the holidays applying for new jobs, Olivia began home schooling again too, and NOW apparently I’m the one going back to the 40-hour-a-week working world!!

A few jobs have finally come along--on God’s timing, of course--making sure we didn’t miss another sound lesson on trusting completely in Him! He’s been beside us through the struggles this far. So,
I’m reminding myself daily that I won’t step out of the comforts of home and back into the great wide working world alone.

Who would have dreamed a short time ago that my darling husband would take over my Gourmet Cooking class, that we’d be “Team Homeschooling” the twins, starting a family business, considering a little cattle ranching on the side, and that I’d be breathlessly anticipating the offer of a full-time RN “office job”??

Yeah, well—me neither!!
I’ve been drawn to this soothing familiar scripture lately…

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven….

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

...and, I'm bracing myself with that thought until the ride is either OVER and I can get off, or I miraculously acclimate to the centrifugal force!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's NOT just another season…

…of American Idol. It’s the 7th season of what has been named America’s #1 television show.

I honestly can’t attest to that because last night is the first time our family has ever watched an entire episode. Anyone who hangs around here knows that when it comes to Movies-- "ask the Barlows" we KNOW those--blockbuster, indie, foreign, you name it!; Sports (at least Ted's up on them)--we're cool; Music (between the lot of us)--it's covered; but TV shows??--I admit it-- with very few exceptions, we're pretty much total NERDS!!

Some of you who have watched it can imagine then, our initiation episode was quite an experience! WOW, what a curious menagerie of talent and painful experiences, we thought. NOT really #1 in our opinion, but we won’t judge it as harshly as Simon Cowell might. It’s obvious we’re a little “wet behind the ears” still, as my 15 year old son’s initial reaction was, “I don’t know if I can keep watching that show every week. I mean I KNOW they were REALLY, really, really, bad, but I felt just terrible for some of those auditioners!” (Hmmm, think that’s what the producers are trying to get at??)

You now ask, “WHYee??...then are the Barlow’s suddenly deciding to spend Tuesdays nights watching 'Idol' this season?” OR perhaps blurt this out instead, “Umm, I know you guys are adventurous, and all, but this is a new one for the record--are you getting THAT desperate from lack of travel this year, or excitement around the house?”  nope! The answer is simple…we can’t help ourselves.

We are thrilled with excitement, and on our knees in prayer for some friends of ours, whose son is competing this year!!! Tania Grace our oldest who has spent a little time with him, says, "mom...he is such an amazing guy." Knowing him to be a very talented and godly young man at only 20 years of age, we are anxious to see what God does in and through him during this experience.

Saturday night he was leading worship...

Wednesday night on our tv screen, yellow ticket tight in hand!

So, IF you’re a FAN, and perhaps a little more seasoned in American Idol than we are, then please join us in praying and cheering for our one and only reason for
suffering through, oops, I mean watching an entire season of American Idol this year!! (Yes, that’s right we plan on watching it right up until he wins!)

Adventure, fun and blessings Jason!!

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

-Ephesians 2:10

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Book Review: Chill Out, Josey! by Susan May Warren

Since attending my first writer’s conference this past fall, I have had an enormous stack of books sitting by my bedside waiting to be read. The wealth of talent, challenge, encouragement and fun was put in to them by many of the “dear” authors that I met!

Overwhelming stack or not, I jumped at the opportunity to blog on this new book by Susan! I didn’t know anything about the story, but Susan is one of those endearing writers that I actually had a chance to learn from. Ok, so we only met briefly and chatted, while she signed my fresh copy of “Reclaiming Nick”, but I came to appreciate Susan and her talent by attending a couple of her writing skill seminars.

The seminars were rich and witty, and full of vivid detail. So, I was excited to see if her books would match.
Chill Out, Josey--does just that!!

Josey Anderson is a newly wed, happily intent on becoming the Proverbs 31 woman in this new role. Ideals set in place, Josey is sure she is on her way to “surpassing” as a wife. At least until the first wrinkle sets in—her husband accepts a job in Moscow, Russia. After all, that’s where she was working as a missionary when he up and followed her to proclaim his love! Josey isn’t so sure about going back. She’s ready to settle in to her dream house, with 2 kids and white picket fence. Didn’t her biblical mentor have all that?

Unexpected events, well kept secrets, and seductive co-workers keep Josey on her feet once they arrive. As her hopes and dreams seem to fly right back home to Minnesota with out her, panic begins to set in. “What’s the perfect wife to do?”

I invite you to enjoy this entertaining and delightful story. It made me giggle, as I recalled being intimidated myself, as a new bride, by the perfect Proverbs 31 woman! Yes, I finally got over that!! So, it was fun watching Josey mature into the woman God created her to be here, too! Nope, not her perfect plan…because His is even better. There’s a message here for all of us.

Susan is adept at teaching and encouraging you in a Christ honoring life, while you simply curl up for a fun read.

Having spent over 6 weeks in Russia for our various adoptions, I can attest to the description and humor that she brings on the life of an American in Russia. 

Susan talks about her experience behind writing the series, “I laugh that finally, I got to write about all the fallacies, all the frustrations, and all the foolishness of being a freshman missionary. Mostly, I got to write about the one thing that God taught me – that He’d been at work in my life to bring me to this place, and the places beyond, all my life. And that I didn’t have to be perfect. I just had to surrender and trust.”

Click here, to
read more about Susan May Warren, and use THIS link or the one in my reading list to order Chill Out, Josey now!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Is it REALLY a NEW year?

2008. How did that happen so fast? 

I guess in the same way that my oldest is about to turn (gulp) 21?

With a year flying by so fast, I’m not sure why I can’t manage to keep a New Year Resolution for a full year. But at some blink of a moment in time, it finally hit me that was true! Being the truly "reformed-from-my-perfectionist-tendencies" woman that I am, I immediately resolved to give them up the next year! I haven't made one since. In
my book they're right up there with the Proverbs 31 woman. One of those things I'm just not ever going to achieve--this side of heaven!!

We have, however, been trying to use the first of each year to sketch out some plans. As a family we address the latest issues and upcoming events or ideas. 2007 has held quite a few “surprises” for us (more like our own little “series of unfortunate events”). SO, either we didn’t plan thoroughly for September on, last January, or we’re in need of a few “lessons”, and our Father decided that this was just the right time in life. ??

Our “planning” is minimal for 2008. We decided instead to focus our family goals on strengthening communication, relationships, unity, and each trying to seek the best for the others as a whole. We figure no matter what comes along in 2008 those are the things to carry us through in the long run!

All that said, our “luck” (or “lessons”) don’t seem to have come to an end (or is that a new beginning??) with the annual midnight toast.

We must be acclimating to this new way of life a bit, because now T & I just look at each other and shrug when something goes completely and unexpectedly wrong, or when an added expense or bill pops up from nowhere.

“Hmmm…wonder how that’s going to work out?”
“Not really sure.”
“Guess we should pray about it, huh?”
“Probably..., add it to the list!”

Others are isolated events, like the one on New Year’s Day that reassured us our lessons weren’t over.

It was freezing cold out that evening, so I threw our little dogs in the car for a ride around the corner to feed the horses. Relatives were over watching the game, but we planned to be back in a few minutes. I tossed a couple of flakes of hay over the fence while listening to Winston, who RARELY barks, yap like a fool at the “strange creatures” in the paddock. A split second later I realized that he was in the front seat, and simultaneously heard the a strangely familiar sound--sort of a mechanical “thunk”! "Oh no, is that what I think it is?" Uh, yeah, it was him-- stepping on the automatic car lock. OF COURSE the keys were hanging in the car ignition!!! Where else would they be?? The dogs were warm in the car for the next 45 minutes while my not too happy (but still darling) husband worked in the cold, to get the door open. The good news is we didn’t end up with a “double-time” bill for calling out a locksmith. T sprang the locks just as help arrived. We did have a good laugh afterward--once we warmed up!

Tonight’s "surprise" event was a little more sober. As we arrived to feed again, we found my filly was injured. Thankfully, she’ll make it, but the bill—yep, another one of those sweet surprises!

So you see, NEW seems to be relative for
us so far this YEAR!

One thing refreshingly remains the same. God is sovereign, He loves us just as much as he did in 2007, and we are grateful daily for His divine provision and protection.

Here’s to 2008! Cherish the ups AND the downs, ‘cause I’m sure that’s what it holds!