Saturday, March 29, 2008

Outback Steakhouse Giveaway

I entered a giveaway at Promises Fulfilled, and although it pains me just a teensy little bit, I'm passing the love along to each of you. The chance to win a $25 Outback giftcard ends at 9pm on March 31st, so throw your hat in the ring and see what happens. Of course, we're competing against Linda, who has had an incredible run of good luck winning stuff recently, so don't hold your breath!

The Lone Survivor

There were at least 60 others with him mere hours ago. Some were adrenaline junkies, some had a sweet tooth and yet others enjoyed decorating. All were lost in an inexplicable digital accident, and he alone remains. Sad and forlorn, all alone in his own little folder on my desktop.

Thanks to my texting/picture-sending habit that I have with Courtney, I have ONE picture of Nathan's birthday. (I promise, this is the last post about the stupid camera!) I took a picture of the goodie bags on my cell phone so she could see them, and it's a good thing I did! I present for your viewing pleasure:
The Lone Survivor

Adding Insult to Injury

I've already complained about the camera debacle yesterday. I'm coming to grips with it today, and just keep telling myself that Nathan won't care in 15 years if he had pictures of his 7th birthday party. I don't have pictures of any of my birthdays, but I remember them. Can I just say that he had a really cool cake, and that I rocked with the homemade goodie bags? I would prove it with pictures, but unfortunately, unseen forces are working against me. Trust me.

Nathan invited 3 friends over to spend the night for his birthday. Two of them had somewhere to be early this morning, so they came at 5pm for dinner, cake and presents, and then were picked up around 8:30 to go home. Nathan's friend Kaben stayed the night with us.

They had big plans to sleep outside in a tent, and stay up late playing with Legos. Towards the end of the first leg of the party, Nathan started to complain that his stomach hurt. I chalked it up to too much sugar on his birthday, gave him a Tums and sent him back outside to play. After Travis and Zachary left, the boys went to Nathan's room to play. Not long after, Nathan came in the kitchen to ask me for something to eat.

I had noticed that he didn't eat his pizza at dinner, and barely touched his cake and ice cream, but I figured he was just excited about getting to the present opening portion of the evening. I made him a ham sandwich, and he obtained permission to take it to his bedroom. About 20 minutes later, he came bolting out of his room en route to the bathroom, where he proceeded to throw up copious amounts of...well, suffice it to say he fully emptied his stomach.

I KNOW. Poor baby...throwing up during his birthday celebration! He didn't have fever and he felt immediately better, so I used my powerful skills of deduction and figured that he must have eaten something that upset his stomach.

I may need to work on my intuition/deduction skills.

About an hour later, Nathan was once again clutching the toilet. (Sidenote: I am really glad that I cleaned the toilet before the party, because 7 year olds don't care about the fact that they are throwing up in a toilet. He was resting his head on the rim! Ack!) We had already dashed the boy's hopes of sleeping outside because of Nathan's unpredictable emesis, so imagine the weeping and wailing when we told Kaben that we had spoken to his mom and she was coming to pick him up.

I KNOW. It was so unfair. We promised to have Kaben over again soon, and Kenneth and Kellye came and got him around 11pm. You have never seen such a sad birthday boy.

I got up with Nathan two more times throughout the night, and then woke up to the sound of him in the bathroom this morning. Bless his heart...he didn't have any accidents, and made it to the bathroom every time! (We take the blessings where we can find them, amen?) I made a quick trip to the store for Sprite and Popsicles, and now we are settling in for a decidedly disappointing birthday.

Today is really his birthday, and he felt well enough to take a phone call from my mom, but refused to talk to anyone else. He's napping right now, and I hope that this is a quick, 24 hour bug so that we can do something later this afternoon or maybe tomorrow.

It's hard to believe that the 9 lb, 13 oz toddler baby I had, is seven years old! In honor of his day, here are some pictures to show how much he's grown.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stupid Camera

I think I may vomit. Seriously.

Nathan's birthday party ended about an hour ago, and I decided to sit down and edit all of the pictures I took of the cake, decorations and party. I inserted the memory card into my computer and eagerly opened the folder.

It had 3 pictures on it.

I am fairly confident that I took more than 3 pictures over the course of the last two days. As a matter of fact, I'm positive. I even reviewed them on the camera as I took them to make sure I was getting good shots of the cake, etc.

They were ALL GONE! The three photos still on the card were from earlier in the week when Nathan lost his second front tooth.

I feel physically ill, and think I am going to spend the rest of the evening mourning the fact that I have ABSOLUTELY NO PICTURES of my son's 7th birthday party. And I made some really stinkin' cute favor bags. Not to mention that the cake was awesome. Of course, I could say pretty much anything about the caliber of the party, because there is NO PROOF that we ever had one!

Stupid camera.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm Finally Posting the Easter Pictures

Click to play Happy Easter

My Week in a Nutshell

This has been quite the boring week. I have sat down at the computer no less than 12 times this week, intending to write a witty post about the kids, or my life or whatever. I got nothin'.

Nada. Zilch. Zero.

This week has pretty much been one of those weeks where I can't remember what I've done. You when you are driving, but really deep in thought and then realize that you don't remember actually driving from point A to point B. I mean, obviously you did, because you arrived at point B, but you could not describe one single thing about the road or the scenery.

Yep. That's my week in a nutshell.

Oh, we've had a few events that have startled me out of my routine. Nathan lost both of his front teeth in the past week, and has apparently joined some sort of club on the playground for kids who are missing their two top, front teeth. He's understandably proud.

And Grace had a bit of a meltdown involving a sandbox, peeing in her pants and shoes, and some screaming as she went down the hallway of our church preschool department during Parent's Day Out. I am understandably proud. Or not.

And, of course, there is the stress of Planning the Firstborn's Seventh Birthday Party that has had me searching the web for age appropriate games and ideas for things to do. Have I mentioned that dealing with kids is not my gift? It stresses me out to think that I am responsible for entertaining 3 additional boys for several hours this Friday. Did I mention that it's supposed to rain?

Being the organizational freak that I am, I feel compelled to have indoor and outdoor activities planned, so that I'll be ready for anything. The reality is that the boys will probably end up entertaining themselves as seven year olds are wont to do, and I will feel silly when it's all over for worrying about it to begin with.

Ooh! Ooh! I just remembered something worth mentioning here! I had my first complete year of blogging published in a book! It's really cool, with all of my posts and pictures. I had it done as a keepsake for Nathan and Grace so that they will be able to see the struggles and triumphs of my life, when they are adults with kids of their own. If you are interested in doing this with you own blog (or an actual story you have written), just go to to check it out. I got the idea from Buffi, and I'm glad that I did it.

In closing, here is a picture of Nathan with his snaggle-tooth grin. Now he really looks like a first grader!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

I cannot offer enough thanks to my God for the cross, the tomb and His victory over death. "O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be." Amen and amen!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Day of Fun

My mom and dad are in town for Easter. They arrived Thursday night, and we have really been enjoying the visit. I made plans with some friends to go to the zoo Friday morning, and so Gracie and I drove to Houston to meet them there. When we arrived, I called them to see if they were already there, and discovered that they hadn't even left their house. It would be at least an hour before they arrived, so Gracie and took advantage of the fact that the crowds were virtually nonexistent, and quickly made our way through the zoo in about 2 1/2 hours.

I let her lead the way and see the things that she was interested in. It was not crowded at all, so I felt comfortable letting her run ahead and and be loud since there was no one to bother. She had such a good time, and we finished the trip with a visit to the gift shop. I'm not generally an overpriced souvenir kind of girl, but I let her pick something out anyway. She was really excited about that, and made me proud by wanting to get something for Nathan too.

Click to play Don't Feed The Animals

Meanwhile, Nathan was with his Nannie at the bowling alley. It was his first time to bowl and he had a blast. The stinker got an 80! I'm sad to report that even on a good night, I'm doing good to break 100!! I love to bowl, but I really stink at it....

After they went bowling, Mama took him clothes shopping for his birthday. She bought him some really great shorts and shirts, so now he is ready for the summer. They enjoyed their time together, and I was glad that she was able to spend some time alone with him.

When we all got home, we lounged around for a bit, and then Mama and I went and did some shopping together. This was such a treat, because usually their trips are so quick that we don't really have time to just hang out and do any shopping. We went to a few shops here in our little town trying to find some things for her to hang on the walls of her covered porch. She wanted some rustic things that gave a nod to Texas, and we found some really cute items.

We went home to collect the rest of the family and then went out for BBQ. We rounded out the evening with some time around the piano singing hymns. We sang many of the traditional Easter hymns, as well as some old favorites. It was the perfect ending to a really wonderful day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Christmas Has It's Cradle

Christmas has it's cradle, where a Baby cried;
Did the lantern's shadow show Him crucified?
Did He foresee darkly His life's willing loss?
Christmas has it's cradle and Easter has it's cross.

Christmas has it's cradle, shepherds came to see,
Little Son of Mary, Lamb of God to be;
Had His Father warned Him none would grant Him room
Save in the Christmas cradle and in the Easter tomb?

Christmas has it's cradle, wise men came to see,
Myrrh and gold and incense, offerings for a King;
Myrrh alone stayed with Him, death's balm for this Boy,
From the Christmas cradle and to His Easter joy.

Christmas has it's cradle, where that Baby cried;
In the Easter garden, Christ lay, crucified;
When death's power was conquered, God's life through Him poured,
Christmas has it's cradle and Easter has it's Lord!

Just as the cradle is nothing without the cross, the cross is nothing without the cradle. God had to come and be man in order to complete the ultimate sacrifice for me. As we reflect on His death on the cross, let's not forget the cradle. He was someone's baby boy. He took first steps and lost His first tooth. He had friends as a child and went to church with His parents. He was all that we are, and more.

I often wonder what that last week was like for Mary and Joseph? As a parent, I can't even begin to fathom what that must have been like. Could you watch your son be tortured and crucified? Could you bear to watch Him hang on a cross and take the sins of the world on His shoulders for all time?

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

There is a Fountain

This is probably one of my favorite hymns ever. I get teared up almost every time I sing the last verse. "Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die." With Easter fast approaching, I wanted to share some of my favorite hymns that speak to the sacrifice and grace that took place at the cross that day.

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he,
washed all my sins away.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

(I often write about singing with my family, and my love of hymns. This is a video taken in June of 2006 when we sang at my parent's church in Louisiana one Sunday morning. It is my parents, my brother and sister, my uncle, Trevor and myself. I feel compelled to apologize for the lime green dress and total rear end shot before you even view it.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Matthew 18

I had quite an experience Monday morning on the way to work. It was 7 o'clock and I was driving the kids to the baby sitter's house. We live in a small town, and at that hour of the morning it is still dark, and many of the streets are not very well lit. Like the one I was on when I heard Nathan dump his bag over in the backseat and turned around to see how big the mess was. When I looked back up at the road, I realized that I had drifted to the left a bit, and just as quickly realized that there was a jogger right in my headlights. I pulled the wheel to the right and avoided hitting a man who was jogging in dark clothes with no reflector or flashlight.

I counted myself lucky that I didn't hit him, and continued on to Heather's house. After I dropped the kids off and was driving out of the subdivision, I saw the jogger running directly at my Tahoe and I had to come to a complete stop to avoid hitting him. I rolled my window down to apologize for the near miss, but before I could form a sentence he spewed out the most vile words and names at me. He accused me of doing it on purpose, and called me several names that I have never been called in my life.

As he started to jog off, I realized that this man attended church with me. This man, his wife and little girl (who is in Nathan's Sunday School class). I was so shocked by his abusive language, that I felt I had to plead my case with him, so I turned the Tahoe around and caught back up with him. I tried again to reason with him and apologize, but he just repeated the vulgarities again and again. He said that I was the same person that tried to run him over the day before in a gold truck, and that he was going to call the police. I encouraged him to do just that, if for no other reason than to prove that I was not the person he thought I was.

I finally realized that he was not going to be reasonable, and so I apologized one more time and wished him a blessed day. As I drove off, I was shaking and called Trevor to tell him what happened. Right after I hung up with him, my sitter called me and said that the jogger (who knows her) had come by her house to find out who had just dropped their kids off. He had jogged by the house of the person who had actually tried to run him down, and both the Tahoe and gold truck were sitting in the driveway. When he realized what he had done and who I was, he was completely and totally embarrassed by his behavior.

He left a letter of apology for me, and although it seemed genuine, it disturbed me that (as someone who claims to be a Christian), he would talk to anyone like that. After studying the scripture, Trevor decided that he needed to have a conversation with him to clear the air. By insulting me, he had also insulted Trevor. As the spiritual leader of our household, he felt that he had responsibility to determine if this man was repentant and to counsel him as a Christian brother.

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17

The man was receptive to Trevor, and all was forgiven. We all make mistakes. We all stumble and do things for which we are incredibly ashamed. What really matters is how we handle ourselves after the fact. Do we become defensive and try to shift the blame to someone else or our circumstances? Do we shut out loving Christian counsel to spare ourselves the "indignity" of being called out for our sinful behavior? Or do we submit to one another in love, and repent of our sin?

I am certainly not saying that it is easy to confront our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It can be a delicate matter indeed, but if we are to be true to the gospel, we must encourage and exhort each other regarding sinful behaviors. Our society tells us "judge not lest ye be judged", but that does not apply to the church. We are not to judge the world...but we are clearly called to hold one another accountable so that the church (and by extension, Christ) does not receive a bad name. This is not judgement...this is loving counsel and it is necessary and useful to the health of the church.

For even if I made you sorry with my letter (counsel), I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle (counsel) made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Therefore, although I wrote to (counseled with) you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you. 2 Corinthians 7:8-12

My brother said something that made a great deal of sense to me. Apologies are for non-Christians. Repentance is for believers. If all we are doing is apologizing for our sin and then doing it again and again, we accomplish nothing. True peace and joy comes from repenting and turning away from that sin. Does this mean that we will never commit that sin again? In some cases, yes. In others, no...we will still stumble sometimes, but forgiveness is just a prayer away.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lazy Sunday

This has been a lazy Sunday. We went to Sunday School this morning, but then left right after instead of going to worship. I was just so tired and mentally exhausted, and I just wanted to come back home, get into my pajamas and watch TV. Horrible, I know, but I couldn't face the music (no pun intended) at our church in the funk I was in.

I'm not going to use the word hate because it's not nice, but I intensely dislike the presentation and style of music at our church. Some Sundays are better than others, but most times I have to grit my teeth through the off-pitch, I-only-know-three-chords-on-my-guitar music that I am subjected to each week. It's no secret that I prefer a more traditional music selection. I would be in my element with a piano and four part harmony to as many hymns as they would let me sing.

But even with my preference being on the traditional side of the fence, I can handle the contemporary praise music when it is done well. But our music minister sings pretty much everything just off key, and even when he plays an occasional hymn, it's so pared down musically, (not to mention that he doesn't seem to know any of the lyrics) that it's barely recognizable as the same song. For those of you out there who enjoy music as background noise or for the uplifting lyrics, this will sound like a petty rant. But to those of you who are musicians and understand how hair-raising, nails-on-the-chalkboard awful off-key and badly performed music is, I hope you will understand. It hurts my soul to hear it as I'm trying to prepare my heart and mind for receiving the word.

It's so loud that I can't even hear myself singing (and I do participate), and don't think I haven't tried to remember to JUST FOCUS ON THE LYRICS AND YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS! I know it sounds terrible, but I would prefer to just hang around my Sunday School classroom until I'm sure the music is over and slip into the back of the church.

Anyway, I couldn't take it in the mood I was in, so we played hooky. Played hooky, and had this for lunch:

Can I say that my mood improved somewhat? That's right, it's the beginning of crawfish season and we celebrated with 10lbs of hot, spicy boiled crawfish. I wiped my hands for just long enough to snap this picture and then went right back to peeling and eating! We are having beautiful weather, the kids have been playing outside and we've been lounging around and falling asleep intermittently.

We are having family in town for Easter next week, and so I am glad that we have had a few days to relax and be together. Trevor will be leaving for China at the beginning of April, and will be there for 3 weeks this time. I will be flying to Denver to see my cousin the weekend after he gets back. We have a lot going on in the next month or so, and we needed a little break from the ordinary. It will be here soon enough tomorrow morning.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fun Day with the Family

We took the kids on a short hike today and then to the airport to watch the planes land. Here are a few of the pictures I took....

Click to play Day in the Woods

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day One, Year Two

Well, actually it's day 6 since I haven't posted at all since my blogoversary. Details.

I have not fallen off the face of the earth, but I have been very busy over the last week. I plan to post something more substantial than an excuse for why I have been away, I just don't know when. Maybe I'll have a few minutes to collect my thoughts this weekend between Sunday School lesson preparation and doing our taxes!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

I made it one whole year! I went back to read my very first post, and decided to re-post it here as an encouragement to others who are just starting out with their blog. I really didn't think that I would stick with it. I figured that I would have a month or two of posts, and then I would find something else to do. But clearly that didn't happen.

Part of the reason I'm still here is because I want to have something to show my kids when they are older. I want them to know who I was when I was in my 30's. But I'm also still here because of the beautiful, godly, compassionate women that I have met in the last year. I've grown to care about you and your families, just as though you were all friends here in my hometown that I hang out with. I have been encouraged, motivated, brought to my knees and loved by so many of you, and I can't thank you enough.

So, here's to my blogoversary and to all of the friends I've made along the way!

March 7, 2007

So I have a confession to make: I am a virgin blogger. I don't generally read blogs and I have never had one of my own. This is not a judgement on blogs or a statement about my ability to use technology. It is simply a reflection of my own laziness and the certainty that I will use this blog for a time and then as the newness wears off just stop. Cold turkey.

I named the blog "Heart of Service" because it has been pointed out by my good friend Kellye that I have the spiritual gift of service. I've known this for comes naturally to me to help out and volunteer myself for all sorts of things. (Kellye says that I'm all "volunteery") What I struggle with is that I want to "do it all" and that can make others who are also service minded uncomfortable. They want to help as well and I tend to hog all the work for myself.

Whether a need for praise or acceptance or maybe a little of both, I figured that the title of this blog would be a daily reminder that I need to embrace my spiritual gift but to also temper it with an awareness of the needs of others. Anything that I do should only be an avenue through which I can glorify God. Doing things because it makes me look good is unacceptable. My new memory verse is:

Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 1 Corinthians 14:12

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Favorite Things?

Don't you just love the little things the kids make in Sunday School to bring home? It's amazing what a 3 year old can do with some paste, construction paper and scissors in just one hour. We like to hang them on their bedroom doors for display. Until this Sunday.

This Sunday, I received a single sheet of orange construction paper. On it was written a list of my favorite things according to Grace. There was also a list of Trevor's favorite things, but this isn't his blog, so I won't list them here. The following is the list dictated by Ms. Crystal:

Mommy's favorite:

Color: red (actually it's blue)
TV show: Lilo and Stitch (huh?)
Food: Spaghetti (not even in the top 10)
Thing to do:

(I think I might need a drum roll or something....)

Spank me.

Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently my 3 year old thinks my favorite thing to do is spank her. This, of course, comes on the heels of a week that was heavy on the discipline but it didn't lessen the blow one bit. I was crushed to think that the first thing my baby thinks of in terms of activities I find enjoyable, is spanking her.

Needless to say, Trevor has been the primary disciplinarian this week. Maybe I can work my way up in her eyes to playing with her or snuggling with her as my favorite things by this Sunday.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

She's Just Like Me

Trevor made a comment this past Friday that really got me thinking about my personality. I have to begin by giving some background, so that you will understand what he meant.

Friday afternoon, the kids and I pulled up into the driveway and I turned off the engine. I got out to go around to Gracie's door so I could get her unbuckled, and noticed that Nathan had gone around the back, opened her door and was trying to help her out. I say trying, because she was screaming at him to stop touching her and generally being unreasonable. I made her calm down and let Nathan help her, and then thanked Nathan for being so helpful. I turned to Gracie and told her to tell Nathan thank you for his help.

She pressed her lips together and glared at me. Sigh. For the hundredth time in 2 weeks, we had this conversation:

Xandra: "What happens when you don't obey Mommy?"

Grace: "I get a spanking."

Xandra: "So would you rather obey Mommy and tell Nathan thank you, or would you rather get a spanking for being disobedient?"

Grace: "Say thank you."
Great! Problem solved and we moved on. We tackled disobedience and manners in the same lesson. Too bad it didn't actually work out that way. When it came to actually saying thank you, it was quite problematic. She pressed her lips together and glared at me. When after some prompting she still refused to speak, I followed through and gave her a swat. I then instructed her to go tell Nathan thank you.

Again, the pressed lips and the glaring. We had the above conversation again, and she made the same choice. And we went through the same thing, again. Two swats, and no "thank you."

People, she took three spankings and when she finally said thank you it was barely intelligible. So much for absorbing the lesson on politeness. I sat her on my lap and held her for a bit and told her that I loved her, and all was well with the world.

Until later.

I actually can't remember why we were going through the cycle of conversation, choices and discipline, but Trevor was home by then. After it was over, I told him about the earlier incident, and he said, "She's just like you."

At first, I dismissed it as joking about how stubborn I am, but then I realized that he had a point. It is true that I am stubborn, particularly when I think I'm right. But what he was talking about was my pathological hatred of being told what to do. For example, if Trevor and I are wrestling and he has me down he will tell me to say uncle. I would rather have my finger snapped off than to give in. Maybe it's because I had a big brother. Who knows?

But that is the spirit in which Gracie is disobedient. It's not that the thing we are asking her to do is beyond her or even distasteful. It's the fact that it's not her idea and so she does not want to do it. That's when I started thinking about this shared personality trait in terms of my relationship with God. Sometime I don't want to be obedient out of pure obstinancy. Just like Gracie misses the blessing of harmony with her family when she disobeys Trevor and me, I miss the blessing of being in communion with the Father. I go through discipline and refining when I choose disobedience.

But when I finally let go of my will, and submit to God's, the homecoming is so sweet. Love and forgiveness wash over me as I confess and repent of my sin. I (foolishly) vow to never disappoint my Father again and, at the time, truly mean it. But inevitably the cycle begins again, and I find myself on my knees confessing and repenting. But here's the kicker:

He is faithful to forgive my sins and welcome me back with open arms.

Every time.

As much as I love Gracie and only want good things for her; and would never turn her away, how much more does my Father in heaven love me? When I fall away in sin and disobedience, I have the sweet assurance that my Father in heaven will never turn me away either.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10.