Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring Good News...

5/30/13 First LAST day of school
I was reading an article someone had written about their strong-willed child, and I love what she penned.  She basically said this:

Strong willed children often turn out to be leaders who are not swayed by peer pressure...their passion can become compassion and their stubbornness persistence. They will be fearless in tackling the causes they care about...

I was thinking of how I'm often told that I'm "paying for my raising" regarding dealing with my very high-spirited, dramatic, and strong-willed daughter.  But I really don't like the negative connotations that follow the label of a "strong-willed" child, because it's not really so much what personality traits your child has as it is about how you guide and develop those traits.  So, rather than label her as a "strong-willed child," I like to use the word, "determined."  You see, if I could explain Lucy in one word, it would be passionate. Whatever she does, she does it with passion--that can mean she is passionately excited about something, passionately happy about something, or passionately MAD about something!  She is either all into something, or she could absolutely care less.  It takes a lot of determination to live life with passion.  You don't give up or give in easily, or really at all; it's all or nothing.

Nonnie Snuggles
We have had a pretty full past few weeks.  Lucy got to play with some friends after school one day last week and even had a sleepover with one of them on a school night!  She had so much fun and we were so thankful for sweet and giving friends.  The next day, Nonnie and Opie came in for a visit:)  Let me tell you, we had one HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY little girl on our hands! 

Opie Fun
(And, of course, little GP just loved all of the sweet Nonnie snuggles and fun Opie games:)  But after a weekend filled with several "ice cream with Opie" dates and "Ok, you can stay up just a little bit longer" nights, we have ended up with one very MOODY 5 year old, let me tell ya!  She got in a much-needed afternoon nap and then was able to run off some crazy exhausted-energy (parents, you know the kind of energy I'm talking about, right?  The kind where they're so tired that they go extra crazy out of fear if they stop they might actually fall asleep and miss out on something.) at Sunday's Graduation Cookout at the church after the Baccalaureate service. 
Enjoying the cookout at church after Baccalaureate
I almost got into it with her over her taking her shoes off and then I thought, ya know, is it really the end of the world for her to run around in the grass and on the playground with no shoes on?  I mean, I used to do the same thing when I was a kid, so why am I being so anal about it?  So, I set germaphobe tendencies aside for the evening and decided her happy feet were more important than being a stick-in-the-mud-mommy, and I watched a very happy girl play away and away and away...until she finally made her way back to me with almost unrecognizable feet!  I'm not exaggerating at all when I tell you it was the dirtiest I think I have ever seen my child--EVER!  Her feet were literally covered in BLACK (from the playground rubber and just from dirt in general...and who really knows what all else!)  Her nails and fingernails were caked with dirt, and her face showed the signs of an evening filled with sno cones and Doritos.  But you know what else she was covered in?  The biggest smile, because she had literally played out there with everything she had (well, and DIDN'T have on, too, I guess!;-)  She had played without abandon...she had played with passion...she had played with a determination to enjoy everything surrounding her and

jumping for joy!
After we got home, I carried her straight to the bathtub and scrubbed and scrubbed and SCRUBBED away at those dirty little piggies!  All of a sudden, she said, "Mom, LOOK!  My feet are brand new now!"  Yes, as we had washed the dirt away, her feet certainly did look brand new.  I know it's kind of a cheesy parallel, but I just smiled to myself as I thought how that's exactly what Christ does for us.  We find ourselves living passionately for the wrong things sometime, and we end up right in the dirt, but God comes alongside us and washes all of that away.  He doesn't just cover it up to try to make it match up to a specific appearance. No, He makes us into something entirely brand new!  It makes me ask myself, Where are my feet traveling today?  Are they passionately following their own path, or are they passionately stepping out in faith to follow Jesus?  I pray that my children will see the latter from me, and that my daughter's passionate lifestyle will be transformed into a passion for the ways of the Lord...

5/30/13: LAST day of pre-k
One thing I've prayed daily for Lucy this school year is that she would live up to her name of being a light-bringer.  But not just someone who brings encouragement to others, but someone who actually shares THE light--God's light--with the world around her.  I've prayed daily for God to protect her--mentally, physically, and spiritually--throughout this school year.  I've experienced a small taste of what it means to start letting go by letting God take control of what is already His in the first place.  I've watched her precious feet jump out of the car every morning at around 7:57AM to walk (and sometimes run) excitedly into the school building.  As she did that this morning, on her FIRST last day of school, I couldn't help but feel a BIT sentimental that she's growing up so quickly, and a BUNCH thankful for God's hand in her life thus far.  Even though the school year has ended and I will no longer see her feet run excitedly towards her daily pre-k adventures, I will still pray that God will guide her feet to walk in a newness of life that only He can offer...

Lucy's FIRST 1st day of school: 8/27/2012
Lucy's LAST 1st day of school: 5/30/2013

Isaiah 52:7:
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Flowers in my Garden...

Graduating college in May 2006
It's that time of year again...the time when "Pomp and Circumstance" rings through the air like an ongoing round of "This is the Song That Never Ends..."  I love any opportunity to tickle the ivories though, so I'm not complaining.  I think I just always worry that I'm going to stop playing too soon, or, like last year, that I'll lose my place while glancing up to see where everyone is and have to start improvising on one of the most well-known tunes.  (DH thought I just got bored with it last year and started making stuff up!  LOL:)  This year went off without any improvisational hitches though:)  It's always a blessing to lead worship alongside my husband, and seeing students participate is so encouraging to me, too.  (I have such a passion for seeing children and students learn how to be active participants in leading worship.)  One particular graduating senior read a passage from Ecclesiastes.  Like the aforementioned song, this particular passage is very well known, but it really spoke to me in my particular "season" of life right now...

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

an actual picture of my sad-looking flower bed
If I'm being perfectly transparent, this year has been filled with a lot of hurt.  I've experienced a "changing of seasons" in many ways, and it's not been a very easy transition.  While we certainly have so very much to be easily thankful for, we've experienced some trials that have been much harder to be thankful for.  Yet, through them, God has reminded us that He is in control, and He is working everything out for His ultimate good and glory.  My precious mother reminded me of something last night though.  She said, "God isn't going to bring you to this point to just wither and die."  I immediately thought of my horrible flower bed.  After planting what was said to be one of THE heartiest plants, I succeeded in killing them all (or so me and everyone else thought.)  I told my mother how it all made me think of my sad state of a garden--so dead and hopeless looking, but it was little wonder because the conditions (the extremely strong winds and blazing hot temperatures) had not been kind to it.  If I'm being honest, this year has felt like that, where the conditions in life just weren't too kind.  Friends betray us, plans fail, tragedy strikes, etc.  We get misunderstood by people and deemed useless, and just like each leaf that gets blown away and each bud that gets scorched by the elements, we are left looking less than thriving and feeling less than purposeful.  Our soul feel like its withering away...

And yet, if you were to try to pull up those sad-looking plants that once resembled a lantana, you might find it rather difficult, because their roots have grown deeply into the soil.  That's probably why I've left them in my flowerbed all winter long, knowing that it was going to be a bit of a pain to uproot them.  So, there my dead ugly plants have sat in my flowerbed.

Well, this morning we had a chance of rain, and a cloudy day is perfect for a photo session, so Gabriel and I headed into the front yard for a few photos.  After we finished, I gathered up our props and started heading back inside, only to stop and do a double take at the flower bed.  I literally couldn't believe what was before my eyes: 
My lantanas were blooming!  

There, in the midst of the weeds and the dried and dead looking branches were beautiful flowers bursting forth.  I couldn't help but stare in amazement at realizing the timing of it all.  It felt like God had placed those blooms there just for me, to remind me and to encourage me.  What a kind and loving Father we have!  Just think of all of the elements He had to set in place days and weeks before this day so that those flowers would be in bloom at that particular moment for me to see, knowing I needed a visual of His great Truth that no, He is not going to let me just wither away.

So today, I'm reminded to take root in His love, to persevere through the elements, and to remain faithful to my calling, trusting fully that He can take even the flowers in my garden and make them bloom into something beautiful for His glory...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Trusting and Waiting...

Lucy & Gabriel: 5/26/13
I'm having one of those days where I'm a bit of an emotional mess.  My heart is grieving for a dear friend who is waiting to bring their baby home (why does the adoption process have to be so difficult?)  My heart is anxious with thoughts of some upcoming events (and the two cups of coffee I had this morning probably aren't helping that anxiety any!)  My head is spinning at my to-do list.  My eyes are filled with tears at all of the what-ifs that are making themselves known.  But my heart is filled with joy as I look at all of the things that the Lord has done, helping me to be confident that He will surely continue to work in His amazing ways.

As I was having my "Java with Jesus" this morning, I noticed a theme in my prayer time.  With each request that I was presenting before the Lord, I felt Him responding to me with one simple word: trust.
  • Do I trust that God knows what is best in this situation?
  • Do I trust that God is able to use this and use me?
  • Do I trust that God is going to provide?
  • Do I trust that God is going to work this particular situation out?
  • Do I trust how God is going to answer this request?
  • Do I trust God's leading and ability in this area?
GP's first time swinging--He LOVED it!
My human mind immediately cries, "But God, what if..." and, "But Lord, what about..." and He continues to respond, "Trust me." I think the issue (for me) lies in this: We don't necessarily trust that God won't answer our request, but rather we worry HOW God will answer our request, because what if His answer isn't the one we are wanting?  Basically, it all boils down to this question: Do I trust that God really knows what is best for me?  Sadly, I often times do not, yet He still shows me again and again that He does.  I can't help but shake my head at myself as I look at an entry I posted about this time last year, and then bow my head before the Lord in thankfulness for His patience with me.

Yesterday, Gabriel turned 11 months old.  I know people say all of the time how quickly time flies, but seriously, these past 11 months have flown by at the craziest pace!  In less than 1 month from now, I will be the momma of a one year old son...this just does not seem possible to me!  I couldn't help but think of where we were this time last year, not knowing that it would be the last month of our long time of waiting to expand our family.  (Pleas note: I know our adoption process seemed very short to many people, and we are so thankful and blessed that that process alone was not near as lengthy as what many endure.  However, our desire to expand our family started many years before our son was born, so for us, it was a very long-awaited time in our lives.)  As I looked at the devotion in "My Utmost for His Highest" dated May 26th, Gabriel's "11 month birthday," I couldn't help but notice a section I had underlined in a previous year's reading:

"God answers prayer in the BEST way--not just sometimes, but EVERY time..."

In another daily devotion, "Streams in the Desert," May 24th and May 26th's entries stated the following:

"Take heart when God requires you to wait.  The One you wait for will not disappoint you!"
"Nothing pleases the Lord as much as PRAISE...have you learned to praise Him in advance for answers yet to come?"

sissy and baby brother--they love each other so much!
God knew years ago that Gabriel was the baby we had the desire to parent and that Lucy would have the desire to be a sister to.  He began working long ago to bring His plan for us into fulfillment, but we just couldn't see it then.  Oh, how blessed we are that we not only can see it now, but we are also experiencing it now.  What a reminder this precious little boy is of God's faithfulness, His might, and His love.  I am so thankful that through my impatience, the Lord was still patient with me!

Monday, May 20, 2013


I was at the checkout line at the grocery store today, and the guy bagging my groceries asked, "How old is he?"  I looked at my sweet baby boy who was chomping away at my mommy-necklace and I replied, "10 whole months!"

The same question had been posed to me earlier in the day by someone else.  She followed up my response with, "Wow...already?!"

Double Digits.

It hardly seems possible that Gabriel will be one year old in less than two months from now.  As the "spring cleaning" bug has hit me (just in time for the 100 degree summer-ish temps of Texas to start rolling in!) I've spent the past several days cleaning out the kids' closets and drawers and sorting through clothes that no longer fit them.  It's so crazy to look back on all of his soft little sleepers and rompers and swaddling blankets that he was in just months ago, and yet now here is my baby boy sporting shirts that don't have snaps underneath them (which is a good thing considering he won't stay still long enough for me to get his diaper secured, much less get his clothes snapped on!  His overalls today had moments of resembling a denim romper as he scurried away from me after changing him!)  But the past ten months haven't just been about growing (or OUTgrowing, rather) clothes...

We've not just watched Gabriel grow in size, but we've watched our hearts grow, too.  Our family didn't just welcome in a son--we also welcomed in his birthmommy.  I will never be able to fully express in words how blessed we are by this special woman and how much we love and appreciate her!  We got to talk on the phone this past weekend, and she told me to give both of the kids kisses from her.  After we hung up, I gave Gabriel several kisses from Rachel, and then I turned to Lucy and kissed her as well...only she wanted to know why she didn't get several kisses, too!  LOL:)  I told her that Rachel sent her just as many, but the reason she didn't get all of them was because I couldn't keep her still long enough!  I know that at the age of five, Lucy cannot fully understand the dynamics of everything, but I do know she understands two things very clearly: We love Rachel, and Rachel loves us, too.

...So what all is Gabriel Paul up to at ten months old?

He now has 4 teeth that have popped through, and you can see two more trying to come through as well.

He isn't loving his baby food so much these days...because he wants the REAL stuff!  Today, he tried a chicken nugget for the first time, and boy did he love it!

He had a horrible sinus infection last week--we're talking (TMI alert!) snot bubbles as thick as bubble gum:(  He is feeling much better now though and back to his smiley self:)

He loves music, especially the "Crazy Joyful Noise" DVD by Hillsong Jr.  "Funny Man Dan" always cracks him up, and he is just glued to the songs!  I think he was trying out his Elvis impersonation today though;-)
 He is pulling up on everything and chewing on everything!

He plays constantly with his toys, and he loves snuggles with Mommy and Daddy.

He looks up so much to his sissy, and his sissy is just crazy about her baby brother!

The past 10 months have been filled with so much love and growth, as we've grown in our love for each other and we've grown in our knowledge of our Heavenly Father's love for us as his adopted sons and daughters.  We are blessed.  We are thankful.  And we are GROWING!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mothers Day 2013: I Celebrate You...

On this Mother's Day, I have three very special women in my life that I celebrate...
From my precious mother who carried me as a baby, a child, and even many times now, and gave me life...

To my beloved mother-in-law who raised a son to become the man that would give life to me as a wife...

To my baby boy's amazing birthmother, who chose life for her son, and then chose to give life to me as a mom again.

Mother's Day 2014
...Today, I celebrate each of you. You have impacted my life in a way that no one else could. Your sacrifices have helped mold me into the woman, the wife, and the mother that I am today. But most importantly, the way you have lived your life, the way you have given your love, and the way you have sacrificed on so many different levels--each of your lives have helped draw mine closer to my Jesus in different ways. My words, my actions, and my tokens of affection will never measure up to what each of you has done, but that doesn't mean I will stop trying to figure out a way to be able to express to you the gratitude and love I have for each of you. I celebrate you today as an outpouring of my thanks to God for blessing my life so richly because of placing your life in mine.

...and I thank Him, that because of these two gifts I have been given, I have the privilege of participating in this day as I proudly wear the title of their mother. Lucy Shea and Gabriel Paul--I love you with all of my heart!

...My husband, as always, made Mother's Day a special day for me this year.  Lucy used money from her piggy bank and got me a Vera Bradley tumbler, Gabriel got me a chewbeads necklace (I'm not sure which one of us is more excited about that;-) and DH found Les Miserables on sale and we watched it that evening.  (If you haven't seen it, you MUST!  It is an amazing story of redemption with so many spiritual parallels.  And, of course, it's awesome because it's a musical:)  DH got me the sweetest card, too and grilled hamburgers for Mom and me.

My mother came in for the weekend, and she got to be at church with us on Sunday. (DH's parents are coming next weekend, so we will celebrate with her then:)  Several years ago, I wrote a song for her as her Mother's Day present, and I got to sing it at church this Sunday.  The point of the song is that through my mother's example, I am the woman I am today, because she showed Christ to me.  I pray my life, like the lives of all of the mothers in my life, will be an outpouring of love and sacrifice and will ultimately point others to my Jesus! 

Happy Mother's Day!

(As a side note...the introduction and the closing to this song contain the melody to "Hush little baby," because that's the song my mother always sang me to sleep with.  I couldn't get a recording of it to come out very clearly though, so I will just post the lyrics.)

Momma's Song 
by Paula-Beth Toller
I remember the days of pigtails and curls
Of Barbies and Cabbage Patch Kids
Being tucked in at night by the sweet lullabies
As my momma would sing me to sleep

Those times may be no more
But one thing is for sure

You kissed the scrapes, wiped the tears, through all the years
Never asked for a thing in return
You showed me love, gave me hope, that one day I would grow
Into the woman you knew I could be
And that's why you mean everything to me

Looking back on the years of my childhood days
I remember one thing more than the rest
How the faith that you showed and the love that you gave
Led me closer to my Jesus each day

It may have been long ago
But I remember it more than you know

You kissed the scrapes, wiped the tears, through all the years
Never asked for a thing in return
You showed me love, gave me hope, that one day I would grow
Into the woman you'd be proud to see
And that's why you mean everything to me

And now I can see
Everything I am now is because of all you've been to me

'Cause you kissed the scrapes, wiped the tears, through all the years
Never asked for a thing in return
You showed me love, gave me hope, that one day I would grow
Into the woman you knew I could be
And that's why you mean everything to me
Yes, that's why you mean everything to me
My momma you mean everything to me

Friday, May 3, 2013

Because I'm the momma...that's why!

Lucy loves to assert her independence.  She wants to crawl up on the kitchen cabinet so she can open the door by herself and show me what she wants to eat, even though it's the same thing pretty much every day.  She insists on zipping up her own jacket, pressing "play" on the DVD player, feeding the cat on her own, getting the milk out of the fridge "all by myself," etc.  These are all good things for her to do on her own, but the thing that is often not good is the ATTITUDE she possesses while doing them.

"NO, Momma!  I want to do it myself!"

And, as a result of wanting to do things on her own, she often doesn't understand why she needs to respond to what Momma and Daddy tell her to do.  A simple requests turns into an, "I don't want to," or even just a "No!"  But the most common response is this: "Whyyyyy?"  Which leads to the age-old Mommy response: "Because I'm the Momma...that's why!"

I took the kids on a walk after church Wednesday evening to enjoy the weather before the crazy May cold front came in (seriously?!  It's MAY people and it feels like February!)  I pulled Gabriel in the wagon and Lucy rode her bike.  I told her she could be the "leader," which to her also meant that she should get to be the boss.  I had to keep reminding her to ride on the far left side of the road as she kept wanting to stray over to the middle or the right side of the road.  (Normally, I would be OK with her leaning towards the "right";-)  Her defense was this, "But I thought that I was the leader?"  My response?  "You are, honey, but mommy's still the boss.  I've lived just a little bit longer than you, so there are things that I know that you haven't learned yet.  So, when Mommy or Daddy tell you to do something, it's not because we are trying to make up rules that are not fun--it's because we love you and are watching out for you.  We want to protect you."  As the words exited my mouth, I immediately thought of my Heavenly Daddy, and how so often we view the Christian life as a bunch of "rules" that keep us from having any fun, when, in reality, God's "rules" are actually loving boundaries.  He is able to see so much more than we can, and because He loves us, He wants to protect us.

I'm still trying to plow through Leviticus in my daily Bible reading, and let me tell you--it's a struggle many days to read so much of what seems like the same thing that really doesn't seem to pertain to life today at all...except, if I allow God to really speak to me through His word like He wants to, He always reveals sweet truths to me, even in Leviticus.  In my reading this morning, I found myself almost nodding off as I questioned why in the world I needed to know what Aaron wore into the Holy Place and how much of the bull's blood he needed to sprinkle.  But then God gave me a little "holy nudge" that woke me up.  In Leviticus 16:34, I read this:

And Moses did as the Lord commanded him.

But whyWhy did Moses do what God told him to?  Well, we get that answer in chapter 19...over 12 times!

I am the LORD your God.

Just like when I tell Lucy, "Because I'm the momma, that's why!" God tells His children the same--not to be domineering or mean, but because He LOVES us and wants what is best for us.  Before Jesus came and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, God had to create another way for His children to be able to draw close to Him.  Moses did what God told him to do because He knew Who God was and the love that God had for him.  Do I allow myself to see God's true intentions in the daily happenings of my life?  Am I stubborn and set on asserting my independence, or am I allowing myself to recognize Who God really is and how much He really loves me?

If you can get past all of the bloody bull sprinkling, Leviticus is actually a pretty beautiful picture of God's love.  And why you ask?  Well, because we are reminded that He's our Heavenly Daddy--that's why!;-)

Thursday, May 2, 2013


One of these days, I'm going to have a shirt made that says this:

Life is a's meant to be sung!  
It's no secret that I love musical theatre.  My not-so-secret ambition in life since I was in junior high is to get the role of "Little Red Riding Hood" in a production of Sondheim's "Into the Woods." Sadly, I think my ship may have sailed on that one, but I would totally be OK with getting to potray one of the older ummm, "more mature" characters in the show. My last theatrical opportunity was for a different show though: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." 

Potiphar's Wife in "Joseph..."
Lucy loves the story of "Joe-fuss" and asks to watch the DVD of it all the time, and since the theatre I performed with is a very family-friendly theatre, their version of the musical is one I don't have a problem with her watching.  And I think Lucy knows I have a soft spot for musicals, because it's hard for me to say "no" to her when she asks if we can watch it:)  Well, yesterday was one of those days when she "twisted my arm" into watching part of "Joe-fuss."  It was funny because when I turned it on, not only was Lucy glued to the television, but so was Gabriel!  This may sound totally ridiculous, but honestly, my heart melted just a little bit seeing both of my children so excited to watch a musical!  LOL:)  When we turned it off, Lucy said, "Momma!  Even baby brother likes Joe-fuss!  That means we can watch it ALL the time now!  I'm going to watch Joe-fuss forEVER...even in Heaven, I'm going to watch there a TV in Heaven?"

I smiled:)

After a performance of "Joseph..." in 2010
"Well, Lucy, I kind of doubt there's a TV in Heaven, because you know what we're going to be doing in Heaven?  Praising Jesus!  We're going to be SO excited to be in God's presence that we won't want to do anything else but praise Him...but if a TV will help us praise Jesus, then there will be one there.  But you know what, Lucy?  We have to ask Jesus into our hearts and let Him be the Lord--the boss--of our lives if we want to go to Heaven..."  Oh how I pray for our children to come to know Jesus at an early age!  And what a blessing it is to see all of the ways that conversation can come up:)

Fast forward to this morning when I was having my quiet time and read the following words in "My Utmost for His Highest":

The proof that we have the vision is that we are reaching out for more than we have already grasped...Our reach must exceed our grasp.

When I read those words, a song immediately popped into my head (remember my t-shirt slogan??;-) that I hadn't heard in probably 12 years.  The song is called "Reaching," and it is by Carolyn Arends.  (If you haven't heard of it, it's probably because it's from 1995!)  The chorus says this:

We are reaching for the future 
We are reaching for the past 
And no matter what we have we reach for more 
We are desperate to discover 
What is just beyond our grasp 
But maybe that's what Heaven is for

"reaching" for a win--Lucy's Track Day at School on 5/1/13
I never used to understand that song. The part that says, "that's what heaven is for" struck me as odd because it seemed to place the focus of Heaven on something we are to attain, and I don't believe that's accurate.  But after reading Oswald Chamber's words this morning in my devotional, the song's meaning struck me in a different way.  The point I was struck with is this: Until we reach Heaven, we will never fully "arrive" at where we are supposed to be. And once we have tasted just a bit of the Lord, we can't help but want more and more and more. We long for what is out of of our reach, and that's what we live for-to attain more and more of HIM in our lives...and that really is what Heaven is about--that place where we will finally reach what we so long to grasp but are unable to on our own: Jesus.

These days, Gabriel is constantly reaching for things "just beyond his grasp." He pulls up on everything and anxiously grabs for whatever his little hands can maneuver his way. His favorite place right now is the organ bench in our entry way that has several crosses on top of it. He's always trying to reach for the crosses and pull them down. As I picked him up for the fifth time today to move him away from the crosses on the organ bench, I was reminded at the importance that I ever find myself reaching for the cross.  Heaven is not something I can attain, because it is a gift that God gives His children, but the journey from here to there is one I have to consciously make an effort towards.  Our purpose is to bring God glory.  Am I truly making that my goal and reaching out for Him in all that I say and do?  I pray it is, and that my children will do the same...