August 23, 2009

August 22, 2009

Yep, It Is Definitely A Sunflower

So, the other day I was walking out to the fort my boys made in the trees. The easiest route is through part of the field. As I was going on along, I saw this. What do you think this is?

Need to see it a little closer? What do you think now?

You are probably thinking a sunflower, and you are right! (You are also probably thinking, "Kim has really lost it!" But hang with me here.) Your keen eye probably noticed, as mine did, that this is not a sunflower field. This field is actually growing durum, but there is that sunflower right out in the field with the durum. Now, this is not necessarily an uncommon sight around here. It is a volunteer sunflower. But seeing it made me stop and think for a moment and I just had to take a picture.

You see, that sunflower represents what we are supposed to be as followers of Christ. When I saw that sunflower, I never had to stop and think, "I wonder if that is really a sunflower?" No, I new immediately that it definitely was a sunflower, there were no doubts. Is that not what we should be like in the world? The unsaved of the world should be able to just look at us and our lives and know, without a doubt that something is different. There should be no question in their minds that we are not just like them, no we have something special going on in our lives. That something special is the power, peace, love and joy of the almighty God flowing through us!

We Christians look too much like the "world" these days. I am not talking about how we are dressing (though for some that may be an issue, that is between you and God). I am talking about our lives, our actions, our words. Where is the love for the lost, and all people really?! God tells us over and over in His Word that we are to love, we should be known for how much we love people, no matter who they are. Can others even tell the difference between us and the rest of the world in the way we treat people?

What about our words? How are we using them? What are we allowing to come out of our mouths? Are we gossiping, slandering, and hurting others with our words or are we complaining and negative all the time?

What about our actions? Where are we choosing to go, what are we choosing to do, what are we filling our minds with? Yes, you may have the right to do some things, you may have the freedom. The Bible may not say that particular thing is wrong, but does that make it best? How is it affecting those around you? What are we watching, listening to and playing?

Seriously, can people look at us, like that sunflower, and know without a doubt that yes, that person is a follower of Jesus? Do we stand out? We need to stop blending in to the world to reach the world, the world wants something different. People have tasted the world and found it had nothing to offer and they are as empty as ever.

I am not saying we should shelter ourselves so we don't become like the world. Notice where that sunflower was. It was in the middle of that field, surrounded by durum. We need to be out there with the lost willing to come along side them and carry their burdens, willing to get dirty for the Lord and reach people where they are. But, we need to stop being just like those that don't know Christ and start standing out like that sunflower. People need to recognize the hope and joy that we have. They need to see love in our lives.

I write all this talking primarily to myself. God really made me stop and think about my life when I saw that sunflower. I had to ask myself, what do people see in me that is different? Is it obvious right away? And, finally, am I in the world reaching the lost?

One final thought. When I went back through the field, I couldn't find my little sunflower. It wasn't standing out any more. It took me a while and I found it trampled down. You know, that sunflower stood all alone. It wasn't surrounded by a few other sunflowers. We can't go through this life and out into the world without the support of other followers of Christ. We need those friends surrounding us, supporting us and praying for us.

So, how about you? Are you ready to stand out like that sunflower?

August 20, 2009

What they have been doing

This girl has just learned how to sit herself up and is just figuring out how to move forward and how to clap (Don't you just love the hair here?!)This girl has recently mastered crawling and is starting to pull up on things

This guy is learning how to count (despite the fact that it doesn't look like it, he loved the tire swing)

This guy just learned how to pump and is flying high

This guy just started 1st grade today

August 18, 2009

Snakes and Trials

There are two things I have been thinking about lately. The first is this, I heard a speaker a few years ago and her words deeply impacted my life. She was talking about eagles, as she had spent much time studying them. She was saying that an eagle won't let anything near its nest. A snake, however; can sneak up to the nest and then out of nowhere pops its head up. I can still see her using her hand to demonstrate this idea. She said that eagle instantly takes off the head of that snake. It knows better than to let the snake hang around for a while, that would be deadly.

She used this as analogy for our lives. When we allow anger, bitterness, grudges, hard feelings and unforgiveness to stay in our hearts, we are in essence allowing Satan (like the snake) to pop his head into our nest. We are giving him a foothold in our lives and allowing him to have victory in our lives. She used this in reference to our relationship with our spouse. She said harboring any of those things in our hearts toward our spouse was giving Satan victory in our lives and we need to chop the head off the snake as soon as it rears its ugly head by humbling ourselves, apologizing where we need to and working things out with the other person.

I will never forget what she talked about that day as it changed my life. The Lord began teaching me to humble myself, to forgive, to say I am sorry. Arguments between Todd and I have been resolved much quicker because no matter how mad at him I may be (justified or unjustified) I remember her words and it makes me more mad to think I would give Satan any victory in my life! I then usually swallow my pride and go apologize and begin to resolve the conflict.

The second thought I have had is also related to a speaker I just recently heard. He was speaking to a group of pastors. He told them to be ready and know that when real ministry is happening, when the Lord is at work and people are being reached, it is not if trials will come but WHEN. Satan will throw all sorts of attacks to discourage and stop the Lord's people from serving. He encouraged them, when those hard times come it is not time to give up but to put your head down and plow forward even harder.

What do these two things have to do with each other you may ask? A great deal I believe. They have a great deal to do with the church today. In our ministry we work with many different churches and hear their stories all the time. I have several family members in church ministry and we hear some of their stories. We are also involved in a church ourselves. The one common denominator in all these churches is that none of them are perfect and all of them face persecution when the Lord is working through them and people are being reached.

So often in churches today people carry around grudges, unforgiveness, hard feelings, and anger. The reality is, we are so often giving Satan a foothold not only in our personal lives but in our churches. We are allowing him to have victory because we are all unwilling to swallow some pride be the first to apologize and then begin the road to reconciliation. It should make us so mad to think we are allowing Satan to have victory in our lives and our churches!!!

We should also stop and look at the big picture. If we would, we would see that God is at work and people are being reached through the ministries of the church! Satan wants nothing more than to stop that and one of the primary ways he can do that is by causing discension in the church. Now is not the time to become discouraged and give up in our churches, now is the time to put our heads down and push forward even stronger doing the work of the Lord.

However, we can not push forward until we are willing to chop off the head of that snake! It is time in our churches to say we are no longer going to allow Satan to have victory. So lets put our heads down, move forward, and protect our nests!

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galations 6:9-10

August 17, 2009

Time to Reconnect

Our summer is a little different than many other people's summers. We are around people all the time. We are either with people at camps, or have staff or teens living with us, or have parties with friends or teens at our house. There is always something going on around us that involves people ... and we LOVE IT!!! We are so blessed by the many people that we have the privilege of spending time with and working with. God has used many people in our lives to challenge us, encourage us, make us laugh, cry with us, and carry the burden of life and ministry with us. We wouldn't trade any of it, however; by the end of the summer our family definitely feels a great need to reconnect. Our kids are the most important relationship that Todd and I have besides the one we have with each other and we have a short amount of time to cultivate that and build into their lives, thus we try to end every summer with a week long camping trip.

So camping is precisely what we did this last week. We headed out only a day and a half after camp (which makes us somewhat insane) with our 5 kids 6 and under to go camping (which makes us mostly insane!) and we had a blast! We went to Door County, WI. I had been looking into a trip there for the last two years and it finally worked out this summer. I reserved a camp site back in March at Peninsula State Park where we spent 4 nights. Then we went down to Wisconsin Dells to the Yogi Bear Campground (at the recommendation of my sister and her husband) for one night, then up to Bemidji, MN to visit my grandma and grandpa as my grandma just had open heart surgery. Here is our trip in pictures!

Can you BELIEVE this pic?!!! All 5 actually looking and smiling!!! This may be a one time event folks, take note!

This is my little miss KK, she is my adventurous little ladyHotel + hotel beds + 5 kids = wrestling, jumping and fun
We got to our campsite at Peninsula State Park much later than we wanted (that is definitely the way it always goes!) and so no one was at the entrance and we forgot our paperwork. We had no idea which site was ours and it was dark! Gotta love an adventure! I was prasing the Lord for our technilogical age and good cell service as we used Todd's blackberry to get online and look up our account to find our site number. I figure leaving only a day and a half after camp, and that being the only thing I forgot, I did okay. The middle man had one job while we set up the camper...don't let the babies eat rocks! He was fairly successful. :)
We had lots of things go wrong at the beginning of our trip. A water jug leaked in our camper and soaked most of Todd's and my clothes. I am sure it will be funny later!
The first day out there we went to Whitefish Dunes State Park. That had an awesome beach but other than that wasn't so great.

We took a hike there that was somewhat of a disaster! It was a really cool trail but much of it was lined with poison ivy on both sides. Try keeping a four year old and a 2 year old in the center of a trail! We hiked to a look out at the top of the tallest sand dune which was 100 feet above the water. Here is super dad carrying one of the babies and trying to contain the little man.
I was there too, here is my shadow to prove it!
Next we went to Cave Point County Park which was connected to the Dunes State Park. This place was awesome. We climbed all over rocks and played in the water here. The waves have made sea caves into the rock here and it is really beautiful. The boys loved it here!

The water really was that green
There was a neat tree there that the boys just Had to climb
The boys were great helpers on this trip. The hauled alot of water, and dried dishes for every meal.
They also helped dad build the fires
The girls roasted their first smores...but will have to wait till later to taste them! The second day out there we went to Washington Island on a ferry. It was so sad because I forgot the most important thing besides food for the babies, my camera!!!! Oh well, we had some fun anyway. It was a little challenging as there was so much to remember and bring with. We realized this day that some things are just not fun with our family at this stage of the game. We require large amounts of transition time so moving around to many places, especially if our bikes were involved was not always worth it. The day was fun and we sawa cool things. We went on a "trian" tour and learned about the island and its history. We saw Schoolhouse Beach and later biked there. It is an amazing beach of smooth stones. But in the end, it was not the most relaxing day. If you want to see Washington Island pics check this out as my sister went there as well. You can also see pics of the fish boil at her site. We did that on the way back from Washington Island at the same place she went, and again I still did not have a camera. Fish boils are a tradition there and a really neat experience. It also happened to be our anniversary that day so that was something fun to do for our day.
The girls needed a good scrub after a few days so they both got baths
The third day there was the most relaxing. We went to Nicollet Beach right at Peninusla State Park and spent a few hours. It is a great beach with very shallow and thus warmer water. All of us had a blast here. Even the girls loved playing in the water!

KR is so funny because she always sits with her legs spread way far apart

A teenage girl befriended us at the beach and loved playing with the girls. She built this little pool for them to play in. We also met another nice couple from Chicago that had two kids 13 months apart. We always enjoy all the neat people we meet along the way on these trips.
Todd and his girls
There was an observation tower at the park as well. The older boys and Todd really enjoyed this. I made it to right below the second big level and my fear sent me packing, oh well.
Here is a view of Horseshoe Island from the tower
We enjoyed the Cave Point County Park so much that we went back for an afternoon. We were so glad we did too because it was very windy and there were big waves crashing in. The guys had a blast getting soaked by these waves! Here are my men, I sure do love them all!
This was one of the first waves to get them
It didn't take them long to get right in there!
The big man took on some of the biggest ones. Check out the person jumping in the background here. Scroll down to see Todd doing this too.

The girls and I kept our distance, I didn't think they would be too impressed with geting soaked by cold water

So Todd decided to try the jump that many people were taking. If it had been the other day, I amy have too. It was warmer then and clamer and I am not afraid of water at all. However, this day was cold, the water was cold and the waves were thanks. He did it though and here is how it went...

Camping is not complete with out some smores and just plain marshmellow stuffing!
We biked to a lighthouse and the a park in our state park on the last night there. That was very fun too. The girls love to swing! Here is KK
and KR
Our crew at the lighthouse

Like I said above, we wrapped up our trip with a night with Yogi Bear. All of us really enjoyed this place. There is a great little water park there and they show old Yogi Bear cartoons outdoors on a big screen at night. Here are my little sweeties all bundled up after swimming.
They love the water!
The middle man and the big man loved the slides

We have found with twins, as those who have twins already know, that we draw a crowd most or at least much attention most places we go. These kids were fascinated with the babies and the boy in the front followed us around and wanted to be in all our pics! He was so cute!
In case you have noticed or wondered why there are very few pics of our little man. There is a very good reason for this. He is very hard to get pictures of! He is never, ever still and when I do get a pic he always seems to be blinking or something. I will have to try a little harder in the future I think.