What a wonderful weekend we had! Every day was jam-packed, but so much fun!! Friday, the six kids and I, along with Larissa, our au pair, spent the afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese. We clipped out a coupon from the paper for $19.99 and went there to enjoy our pepperoni pizza, 4 unlimited drinks, and 40 tokens. (I ended up upgrading to 100 tokens). I just love how excited the kids get about going to places like this. They all lined up with their empty cups, as I went down the line dropping in one token at a time. Christopher shook his cup with the 10 tokens I initially gave each of them. "I'm rich! Look at all my monies." William and Elizabeth went straight for the "older games" while Andrew considered his "purchases" and Christopher and Carolina went to ride in the car with Chuck E. and have their picture taken. Peter fell asleep during the car ride over from our house and slept most of the time we were there; so I inherited his coins :-)). There were lots of children celebrating birthdays that day; so I shouldn't have been surprised when Christopher came walking over holding a cupcake he had de-iced with his tongue. Running behind him was an 8-year-old girl who had come to let me know that he had taken something that wasn't his. I gently reprimanded him; but I understood that he was confused by the table of attractive cupcakes that appeared to be for all the kids at the party. (Unfortunately, he didn't realize that he wasn't invited to that party. :-))
The kids did fairly well earning tickets. Even with the marked up exchange rate, we ended up with 2 bags of cotton candy, a large swirl sucker and three small lollipops. Perfect choices for children of a dentist, right? Oh, well. ;-)
Friday evening, we watched a Bible cartoon movie with the kids about the life of Paul. Sam and I have been studying Thessalonians in our Sunday Life Group at church; so it was nice to bring our study full circle by discussing Paul's testimony with the kids. We have also been reading a proverb a day with the children. Some nights, we will let William or Elizabeth read a few of the verses. We usually read a verse or two at a time and then ask the kids if they have any idea what the verse means or what a particular word in the verse means. This can be quite entertaining at times. More than anything, though, it is a wonderful learning experience. The proverbs are so packed with wisdom.
Saturday morning, I got up and took William, Elizabeth, and Carolina to W & E's swim meet. Sam stayed home with the other three. Carolina sat on my lap at the event. She enjoyed cheering for her siblings. In between their individual races, we entertained ourselves by reading our way through some Sesame Street and Dr. Seuss books she had brought in her back pack. Once the meet finished up around 11 am, the kids and I made our way back home. Sam was all geered up to pull weeds when I pulled in the driveway. Sam is very diligent about trying to take care of our yard. The weeds, at times, though, seem even more determined than he. :-)) I chopped up ingredients for a bolognese sauce, and let it simmer. I then set about steaming some green beans with mushrooms and mixing up a fresh salad. The large watermelon I had purchased earlier in the week sliced up nicely. I threw some pasta in the boiling water as I quickly finished the setting of the table that Elizabeth, Andrew, and Christopher had initiated. (I love having the kids help me set the table, but we are almost invariably missing a plate, utensil or cup from one or two places each time. They mean well, though.) I called the family to the kitchen, and we enjoyed a relaxed Saturday lunch around the table. Our topics of discussion were "What is your favorite thing that you've done so far this weekend?" and "What are you hoping to do this weekend that you haven't yet done?" Sam and I are always posing group questions to the kids when we sit down to eat. It seems to be a good way for every one to get the opportunity to speak. In this way, no one person dominates the conversation, and we don't end up with simultaneous conversations. When lunch was over, Sam was kind enough to put the kids down for nap, while I made my way to our bedroom for a much-anticipated nap for myself. However, a nap was not to be. Instead, I read some friends' blogs and decided I was ready to jump on board. I discussed the possibility with Sam, and he was game. So, together, we navigated through the process of starting up a blog. Before we knew it, the kids were waking and it was dinner time. Where had our afternoon gone?
Sunday was the highlight of my weekend. We have been at Calvary Church since May of 2008 and have experienced so much spiritual growth since then. I sincerely praise God for the wonderful Christian friends and mentors He has brought into our lives through that church. The sermon was on Psalm 1 and the importance of spending time in God's Word. It tied in beautifully with our Sunday School lesson. (Our teacher, Buddy, sends us questions each week via email to complete at home and come prepared to discuss.) I had read through my questions several times over the weekend, but did not sit down to complete them until early Sunday morning when I awoke. One of the questions that really caught my attention was, "Are there times when Satan interferes with your 'Christian walk'? In what ways?" I pondered this for a while trying to come up with specific examples of Satan hindering my walk. I couldn't think of any specifics. What did come to mind, however, was the realization that "anytime I am tempted to prioritize my time in such a way that I 'run out of time' to read the Scriptures, pray , and spend time with God, I grow weaker in my Christian walk. It is then that I am less able to confront the daily struggles and temptations of life". This is so basic but was such a revelation to me. Every time I structure my day in such a way that time with God is not a priority, I am unequipped to deal with the "stuff" of life. We are commanded in Ephesians 6:10-20 to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Without elaborating too much, I really feel the "trials" during the work week. Some days it is all I can do to make it to the end of the work day. I feel like Fred Flintstone waiting for the whistle to blow so I can "high tail it" out of there :-)). I am reminded of the country station I used to listen to in Baltimore, where a different listener would call in each day at 5pm to do the "Quitting Time YeeHaw". The caller would let out the biggest "yeehaw" possible as a means a releasing the pent up stress he was experiencing from his job. Okay so it's not that bad, but you get the point of how I feel at times. Buddy's questions and the pastor's sermon reminded me that I find it most difficult to stand firm with the Lord when I am not in His Word. The more time I spend reading the Scriptures and meditating on His words to me, the easier it is for me to think pure thoughts and respond with kind words and actions. I want to be like the tree planted by streams of water, yielding forth fruit in season, with leaves that do not wither. I desire to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit to every person I encounter.
Sunday concluded with friends (another family with 6 kids) coming home with us from church and spending the day with us at our neighborhood pool. We enjoyed lunch and dinner and hours of conversation while the children played. Christian friends are such a wonderful blessing. What a joy to share in others' trials and triumphs as well as swap stories of parenting mishaps and such. Yes, weekends are the best.
As I enter my work week, though, I am reminded of James 1:2-5. "Count it all joy, my brothers WHEN" (not if)"you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that THE TESTING OF YOUR FAITH PRODUCES STEADFASTNESS. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
Wishing each of you a wonderful week!
Tidings of Comfort & Joy...Merry Christmas!!
4 years ago