Our Journey Home

Friday, August 31, 2012

sacrificial love

Yesterday, the girls were happily playing with their Squinkies (these small rubbery toys, shaped like animals and people) at the kitchen table. I was busy preparing dinner, and JJ was having a snack in his high chair. Everything was going great- until tragedy occurred! Bella's dolphin Squinkie had an accident and his little tail ripped. That teeny tail was beyond repair... and Bella was devastated.
In an attempt to cheer up her little sister, Wubs suggested, "I know, Bella! Why don't you just cut off the tail and then you can pretend your dolphin is Winter from Dolphin Tales!" Dolphin Tale is Bella's all-time favorite movie. I listened to see if Bella would accept Wubs' creative idea. Bella considered it and then requested her scissors. *snip* The tail was completely removed. "I don't like my dolphin without a tail! I'm sad now!" Bella retreated to her bedroom, leaving the dismembered dolphin abandoned on the table. I decided to let Bella have a few minutes alone; usually she will reappear in no time, ready to play with a happy heart, if she is left alone.
Wubs asked, "Mommy, why is Bella sad? She loves Dolphin Tales!"
" I think she is a little disappointed because that was her favorite squinkie. But I'm sure she'll feel better in just a few minutes."
"Ummm... I have a question. Would it be okay if I cut off my dolphin's tail, too?"
"Why do you want to do that, baby?"
"Well, I was thinking that Bella would feel better if my dolphin was just like hers. And then we could play Dolphin Tale together. Don't you think that would cheer her up?"
"I think that is a very kind idea! You know what that is called, Wubs? That is called a sacrifice. You are giving up something special to bless someone else and show them how much you love them. That's exactly how Jesus loves us! He sacrificed His life for ours, didn't He? You are showing Bella a little bit of Jesus' love, by cutting off your dolphin's tail!"
"Can I go show Bella?"
"Yes! And tell her I'll get out some big bowls of water for your dolphins to swim."
"HOORAY! Bella! Bella!"
Wubs ran out of the kitchen to show Bella her trimmed dolphin and report the exciting news of water play. wink! It blessed my heart so much that Wubs saw an opportunity to give sacrificially and she didn't allow it to slip away! I pray that she'll continue to develop this gift for the rest of her life!
Oh, and Bella was t.h.r.i.l.l.e.d, to say the least! The two girls played Dolphin Tale for nearly an hour!

Below are some pictures of our little man driving! We were waiting for David while he ran into Lifeway the other day, and I let JJ get out of his carseat and have a little fun! wink!

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."- Romans 5:8

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A journal entry: cake dollars!

On Tuesday afternoon, Wubs was writing in her journal without a prompt. (In our curriculum, there are times when I'm supposed to give her something to write about, but on this particular day, I wasn't supposed to give her any prompting. ) Tuesday happened to be the day that I delivered my very first cake order for our new adventure, Sweets by Sarah Jane! It was very exciting! Anyway, Wubs noticed that I got paid for my cake and it intrigued her because until now, mommy has never earned dollars for cake. wink! I laughed and hugged her when she showed me her journal entry:

I loved her illustration, too, because it looked very much like my cake! I made this cake for Richland Creek preschool. I am so thankful for the way the Lord is blessing Sweets by Sarah Jane! And I am so grateful to all my friends who have passed on my contact information; I have three more cake orders coming up! Wow! Go God!

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: beautiful

"And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
-Genesis 9:16

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our 1st week of homeschool

Last week, we started our homeschool year!  Emma Grace started her new 2nd grade Sonlight curriculum, along with Saxon math and Apologia science.  I love our new lessons and I must say, the science has been fascinating so far! Wubs likes our schedule and she literally runs to the kitchen table when I say, "It's time for school, girls."
Bella is enjoying another year of preschool, but this year, I'm pushing beyond coloring, cutting, and crafts. We are learning how to write her letters, recognize numbers, and even memorize scripture! She loves all her work and she enjoys read aloud time best.
And speaking of read alouds, our new curriculum has an amazing reading list. Our first chapter book this year is Charlotte's Web. I had to stifle my laughter (and tears, wink) when Emma Grace saw our copy of Charlotte's Web and said, "Wow! They made a book about the movie Charlotte's Web!" *sigh* Note to self: Always read the book before allowing the children to see the movie. Ha ha!

ps... For some reason, I am having lots of trouble uploading photos to our blog! But once I get it figured out, I have lots of 1st week of homeschool pictures to share! For now, here is a picture of the girls picking out pizzas at Papa Murphy's. (The girls each got a 'mini-murph' which is a box with uncooked pizza dough and all the fixin's! Wubs and Bella got to make their very own pizza for lunch at our house!)  Bella had just finished her very first ballet lesson, and I surprised the girls with this 1st day of school treat!

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."- Matthew 5:8

Monday, August 27, 2012

the wiping of my heart

                  Bella drew this picture of the two of us. It blessed my heart so much!

If I had to guess how often I sweep and wipe down our kitchen floor, I would say ten times every day. Sometimes the cleaning necessity varies, depending on what crumbly snacks and deliciously messy meals have been served. And, just when I think I've gotten our floor clean, I step on a mysteriously sticky spot! wink!
Our dirty kitchen floor reminds me of my own heart. Just when I think my heart is clean and all my intentions are pure... uh, oh! It is daily that I come to the Lord, asking forgiveness, asking Him to remove that yucky sin from within my heart, asking the Lord to help me as I struggle with my flesh yet again. And just like the kitchen floor, the need for my heart to be cleansed is directly related to what  has been served. Have I been serving my heart temptation, gossip, prideful thoughts, or jealousy? Have I been discontent, unkind, or judgemental?

I'm so thankful for our sticky floors... it gives me many opportunities throughout the day to spend time on my knees!
"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."- 1 Thessalonians 3:13

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday funny: Airplane music?

The other night, our family went on an evening walk together. A car drove by, and the windows were down. The passengers were really jamming to some loud music! Simultaneously, an airplane was flying overhead. Bella looked up and pointed to the airplane soaring above us. "Mommy! An airplane! And I can even hear it's music!"
"I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus."- 1 Corinthians 1:4

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweets by Sarah Jane

Guess what, friends? David and I have decided that we are going to try selling my cakes and treats! For years now, I have loved making goodies for our friends and family. David helped me create a new tab at the top of our blog, Sweets by Sarah Jane; please click on it and take a peek. If you like what you see, maybe you'd consider passing on my name if you know someone who is looking for a specialty cake or baked goodie? Thank you SO much for your help! We are excited to see what God will do with Sweets by Sarah Jane!
ps- Thank you to all my dear friends who gave Sweets by Sarah Jane a 'shout-out' on their Facebook page! That was so kind!

"All the believers were one in heart and mind No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had."- Acts 4:32

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: School is in session!

(We are all back to school at the McNeill house! David started his new semester at Southeastern and our Academy of Grace homeschool year has begun as well! )
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."- Psalm 150:6

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

He uses all things

The other night, during my (failed) attempt to make fried green tomatoes, I had no idea that the Lord would use that experience to encourage our oldest daughter. But He did! Once again, God demonstrated how He can use all things for His glory. 
Emma Grace was having her morning quiet time in her bedroom. She was reading about the Tower of Babel, and apparently, she was struggling to sound out some of the words from this familiar story. Frustrated, Wubs came out of her room with angry tears filling her eyes.
"Mommy, I am having so much trouble!! This Bible is too hard for me!"
" Hmmmm. Would you like to read your story to me? I can help you sound out the hard words."
* mad sigh* "I already read my story. I just skipped over the stinky words."
"Wubs, there are no stinky words in the Bible. Come sit down and read to me. When you get to a word that you don't know, put your finger on it and I'll help you. Okay?"
Emma Grace began reading. She read several paragraphs before she stopped abruptly and stabbed the page with her finger. I gently cupped my hand over her finger and we sounded out the word. By the end of the story, her body language had softened, but she still looked disappointed.
"What's wrong? Are you disappointed that you needed help on a few words?"
"I just wanted to read my Bible without any help. But I kept on messing up and messing up!"
"Wubs, remember how you thought our house smelled funny this morning? Well, I have to tell you what happened last night while you were sleeping! I was trying to bless daddy and cook him some fried green tomatoes and okra. But guess what? After I poured the oil into the pot, I left the lid on for a really long time and the oil got too hot. And when daddy opened the lid, I had accidentally caused a fire! There was smoke everywhere, and we had to take the pot outside, and we had to open all the windows! Do you want to see a picture?"
I got out the camera and I showed Emma Grace several pictures from the excitement with the fire.
"But you know what? Even though I had a lot of trouble cooking and I messed up, I didn't get frustrated. Do you want to know why? Because I had tried my best. God knows that mommy isn't perfect, and He doesn't expect me to be perfect! Only Jesus is perfect, right? God knows that I will make mistakes... lots of them!  But God does expect me to try my best, with a happy heart. And you know what? When God hears you reading His Word, and He hears you trying with a happy heart, He is so pleased. God knows you are trying your best and that's all He asks from you. Do you understand?"
"Yes mommy."
"Next time you are reading and you get stuck on a word, what will you do differently?"
"I will try to sound it out and ask you for help. (pause...) And I won't be so grumpy."
"Wow! That will be really pleasing to God, huh?"

A few years ago, I attended a powerful Bible study and I learned these tools:
1. My goal in life is to please God. (2 Corinthians 5:9)
2. I please God by being like Jesus Christ. (Matthew 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 10:31)
3. God knows I won't be perfect, but He does expect me to be growing. (Ephesians 4:22-24, 2 Corinthians 3:18,  and 2 Peter 3:18)

It was such a blessing to be able to teach Wubs that God doesn't expect her to be perfect, but He does expect her to be growing. He does expect her to try her best, with a happy heart.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of out Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!"- 2 Peter 3:18
ps- JJ got a big boy haircut this weekend! He looks so handsome! Just like his daddy... wink!

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Southern belle mishap...

I was not raised in the south. In our nine years of marriage, we have lived in South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina. Some aspects of living in the south have come easy; I think I may even have  a little bit of an accent! wink.  However, last night, we laughed and laughed at my lack of southern roots. That is, we laughed after we put out the fire. Let me tell you all about it...
 David had gone to the grocery store with JJ and he called me to suggest that we make some fried okra and fried green tomatoes. He asked me to put some oil on the stove so it would be ready when he returned from the store with cornmeal. Now, before you read any further, let me just tell you that I have never fried anything in all the years we have been married. I love love love to cook, but I am a baker, not a hot grease kind of gal! wink.
So, I got out a medium sized pot, filled it with vegetable oil and set it on the stove to heat. I decided I had better put on the lid so the oil wouldn't pop and splatter. *gulp* I'm guessing many of you know where this is going...
When David got home, I put JJ in his jammies and reported to David that I was pretty sure the oil would be good and ready! David grabbed a hot pad and opened the lid. FLAMES! Giant flames shot up from the pot!! The hot pad caught on fire and David dropped the lid and hot pad into our sink. David then quickly grabbed towel to pick up the lid and replace it on the pot. SMOKE! Smoke filled our house as we scurried to open every window and fan the smoke detectors. My eyes were watering from the billowing smoke that was streaming out of the pot. I grabbed a towel and a hot pad and took the pot out to our deck. About ten minutes later, David went to see if the oil had cooled off, but as you can see, it was still pretty warm. wink.
Lesson learned- Fried food is bad for you. And it is even worse if I cook it for you! ha ha!

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."- Romans 12:12

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday funny: peek-a-boo!

JJ made us laugh and laugh when he was 'hiding' from David behind the umbrella pole! Silly little guy!

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgment, and his paths beyond tracing out!"- Romans 11:33

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bigger than the ocean

I love the ocean! I have only been to the ocean a handful of times in my life ( I grew up in Iowa ), but I think I have made some of my favorite all-time memories at the beach. Our trip last week was no exception! God blessed our time so very much and He filled our trip with moments that I know I won't ever forget.

The second day we were on our vacation, we spent the entire day at the beach. David packed an umbrella and a tent, we were prepared with gobs of snacks and drinks, and our children brought sand toys to dig and build castles. We got all settled into our perfect spot on the beach and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. As I looked at my precious family, as I heard the sound of the ocean, as I felt the warm sun on my face, I thanked God. I could not ask for more; God has given me so much!

It wasn't long before Emma Grace asked me to take her jumping in the waves. I am not as much fun as daddy when it comes to jumping in the waves; David is much stronger and braver! wink. But I agreed and the two of us walked hand in hand out into the water. While we jumped in the waves, we had a wonderful conversation about God's love.
"Wubs, look out there! Can you see the end of the ocean?"
"No mommy, it keeps going and going really far."
"Do you suppose you can look and see how deep the ocean is?"
"Well, I didn't bring my goggles."
"I mean from where we are standing; can you see the bottom of the ocean, from right here?"
"No way!"
"You know, God loves us even bigger than the ocean! And you know how we can't see how far the ocean goes or how deep the ocean is from where we are standing? Well, that reminds me of God's love. Because here on Earth, we can't really see or understand just how very much God loves us! One day, when we are in heaven and we are praising God all day long, that is when we will really know how big God's love is for us. Won't that be exciting?"
"Yeah! But mommy,  I know who knows how deep the ocean is."
"Jesus! Remember, He made it!"

We are continuing to pray for the salvation of our children. We love teaching them about their Savior and we are praying for the day when they accept Jesus into their heart!
"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known."- 1 Corinthians 13:12

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Family vacation photojournal: JJ!

JJ loved our family vacation! He told me that he liked digging in the sand the best! JJ enjoyed sleeping in the tent daddy set up for him, too; listening to the sound of the waves was the perfect lullabye for naptime! Unfortunately, JJ ate waaay more sand than any little boy should ingest- everytime his paci hit the sand, he just put it right back in his mouth and crunched away! Eeew! wink. Here are some pictures of our little man...

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."- 2 Corinthians 4:8

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Family vacation photojournal:Bella!

Bella enjoyed our beach trip, too! Bella was a little timid about the ocean at first, but once she got a little more comfortable, she thought splashing in the waves was the greatest activity ever! Bella said her favorite part about our trip was dancing with her daddy at the beach house, looking for seashells with mommy, and swimming in the pool with our family. (A couple of times, we had the pool all to ourselves! That was really neat! And having the pool to ourselves saved me lots of embarassment because the girls liked watching their mommy do handstands and flips in the water. ha ha!)  Here are some Bella pictures...

"Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear."- Isaiah 65:24

Monday, August 13, 2012

Family vacation photojournal: Wubs!

Last week, the Lord blessed our family with a trip to the beach! We had such a wonderful time, filled with memories. Emma Grace loved our vacation! She enjoyed playing in the tide pools, jumping in the waves with her daddy, and swimming in the pool at night.( I took lots and lots of pictures during our three day trip, so I've decided to make a several beach posts this week, one post for each of our children. )Today, I'll share a few pictures of Wubs...

"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."- Isaiah 7:9

Friday, August 3, 2012

a little break, and a big blessing!

Next week, we have been blessed with an opportunity to share some very special family time together!  (Thank you again SO so much, Robinson family! xoxo!!) I'll be taking a little break from blogging so we can enjoy our time, making memories. We'll be back soon, and I'm sure I'll have lots of stories and pictures to share!

"He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue."- Proverbs 28:23