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Our children are so fun and smart communicators and I love them all so much!  I have had so many people ask me how we raise them and there are so many things that I could say that it’s hard to know where to start.  We can’t boast about our parenting but we can tell you how awesome our kids are! 🙂  Since the girls were little we have been blessed to be able to be with them at home either myself or Bill or both of us.  We have been blessed to office out of our home for most of their lives.  I know that is an unusual opportunity and yet I would say that contributes so much to who they are as people.

When they were all pretty little we were planting a church and our lives were consumed with so many responsibilities.  We had moved to a new city across the country.  It was overwhelming at times and the children were ages 7, 5 and 2.  The 7 year old was struggling and having a huge issue with me as her mother.  I came to the end of my rope thinking she hated me and that I had done something severely wrong.  I wept and prayed and talked to Bill, my husband, about it.  I felt that I had completely lost her at the age of 7.  (I know…really? Lost her? She was 7!)  But that is how I felt.   So after all our conversations in the privacy of our room. I laid in my bed and stayed quiet when she came in and sat next to the bed to talk to me.  She said, “Mom, I heard what you said to Dad. (She used to stand outside of our bedroom door to hear our private conversations) I’m sorry I said all those things.  I didn’t really mean them.”  I asked what was wrong and why did it seem like she hated me?  What did I do wrong?

She said, “You know in the movie “My Fair Lady” when Audrey Hepburn came home from the big ball where they had made everyone believe she was a princess and they were talking all about her but they weren’t talking to her?  Well, that’s what I feel like sometimes with you and Dad.  It’s like I’m in the room and you will talk about me but when I try to talk to you, you tell me to go away or be quiet because you are busy.”

My heart sank.  She was so right!  How incredible that she was able to communicate with such clarity and wisdom at such a young age!  She “took me to school” that day.  I apologized and told her how sorry I was and that even though I was home I wasn’t present.  I committed to listen and respond and stop what I was doing if she needed my attention.  We have both done that as parents ever since and it was a life changing moment in my parenting for sure!

The next blog I write will continue along the lines of communicating with your kids…”Sit on the Floor”

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I remember going on a marriage retreat last year that we expected to be a 5 star experience ahead.  When we got there we found it to be true.  The cabin was indescribably beautiful.  It was this huge log cabin with the most beautiful designs overlooking Scott River in California just below Oregon.  This is JUST what we needed.  As soon as we dropped off our bags in our beautiful room the leaders said to meet them out front for some instructions for the following days.  We knew there would be some sort of adventure involved in this experience based on past photos but had no idea what it would be, maybe white water rafting or horse back riding, maybe a hike through the gorgeous countryside?

We headed to the “barn” which was actually quite beautiful as well.  This is where we found every kind of sorted camping gear you could need on a trip to the mountains. UH OH, what is this for?  It was true, we were going camping.  We would head out the very next morning to the trail head and hike in several hours to what would be a lush green spot of grass in the forest next to a river.  This is where we would brush our teeth and sort of bathe for the next 3 days.  The hike was strenuous as we followed what was a trail that would at times disappear and we would have to trust our guide.  Then there were times we would have to cross a river on a fallen tree with our 50 lb. packs on our backs.  It was worth it and so invigorating as the mountain air and crystal clear streams were all around us.

We set up camp. Well, we helped since neither of us had ever really camped since we were children.  When they handed me a shovel and told me what it is was for I felt a little panicked for a moment.  Then I thought, “I can hold it for 3 days.”  Then after we ate and rested for about an hour our guide asked if we wanted to hike up to “Log Lake”.  Well, what else is there to do? So we did and it was beautiful!

On our way back our friend and guide, said, “Shhh, hear that? Come this way.”  We proceeded to hike through the dense forest off the beaten path toward a rushing sound and as we rounded the trees there it was, the most powerful and beautiful overflow of a waterfall.  It was amazing!

I wish you could hear the rush and power of this waterfall

God is ALL powerful and draws you to Himself by giving you clues to where He is but just like the waterfall, you must be quiet to hear and follow the sound until you see Him in all of His MAJESTY!  After our first night we had a full night and day of pouring rain when we decided to hike off the mountain through many dangerous rushing waters and spent the rest of the week at the 5 star resort.  I must say the camping was a highlight of my life.

17 “‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee’” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Your Perspective is the Bridge to Your Identity

Through Christ in you there is power to change your identity and be a new person with a new perspective!  I think Bill and my least favorite saying is, “It is what it is.” Really?  No. I see patterns that create an identity in people’s lives.  If you don’t want something in your life you may have to change your thoughts and words.  Sometimes we cannot change circumstances but we can change our perspective and our response to those circumstances.

I have two friends who have been fighting cancer, let’s call them Bob and Jane to protect their identity.  When I think of Bob, I think of cancer and how there is a chance of dying and wonder how his loved ones will cope without him.  When I think of Jane, I think of how she is healthier now in the way she thinks and lives than before she even knew she had cancer.  Perspective is a powerful thing.

There is also a little girl who we know diagnosed with cancer and she is so positive and strong.  She has to endure such suffering as does her family because really when someone is fighting illness of this sort, the whole family is really diagnosed, right?  I find myself being so encouraged whenever I read updates from them because no matter what kind of day they are working through they are encouraging others to believe and they will tell some bright spot of hope.  They are not living in denial but they are identifying with the goodness and faithfulness of God and life and love and why they are able to keep on fighting.

Don’t give up on hope.  Keep your eyes and thoughts on the goodness of God.  This life is not our home, it is a place where we live fully until we can be in the presence of our creator and together with total JOY, PEACE, HEALTH, PROSPERITY and ETERNAL LIFE!  Your identity does not have to be the greatest struggle in your past, present or future.  Your identity can be found in who you are meant to be. Reach for it, think of yourself in victory, speak in words of life and act in a way that shows you are alive and giving to others and thankful for the relationships God has placed in your present day life!

Hebrews 12:1-3   “1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

The Girls

1. Girls...I love these words in a family context like this…Me calling upstairs, “Giiiirrrls?” Then you hear in a cannon, “Ya” “Yes”…silence.  Me again, “Girls?” attempting to get three responses.  Then when I hear all three I proceed with something profound.  I also enjoy when I call the same and their friends are over and the one voice I usually hear is not my own children.  It makes me smile every time.  I also enjoy talking about “The Girls” when speaking of our three children.  It is always a positive conversation filled with love and usually something fun.  I also grew up with the term “The Girls” meaning my three older sisters and I love them so I was happy when we had three girls to call “The Girls” just like them.

“Funny” and “Funny” 1988

2. Funny…When Bill and I were dating I wanted to call him something special but our relationship wasn’t progressed enough to call him “Honey,” that would have been weird.  However, it was perfectly natural and endearing to call him “Funny.”  It stuck.  We started calling each other “Funny” when we were dating 25 years ago and still catch ourselves using that term for each other to this day.  There is one other dear friend, Mark Snavely, who was in our wedding who picked up on that name and calls Bill and me “Funny” still. I like it. 🙂 Our family loves a sense of humor and without it life would not be good for the Shulers so the term “funny” goes a LONG way around here.

Sparky

3. Sparky…that’s our dog. I know, I’ve already talked about him but whenever I say or hear his name it makes me happy.  If you know him or have had the pleasure of seeing him then you will probably agree.  I am not sure that I have ever met anyone that he could not win over.  If so then we kick THEM out of the house immediately.  The only exception to loving this name is when I hear his name yelled with the word NO! before or after it, like this…”SPARKY, NO!” or “NO, SPARKY!”  In which case, I do not like to hear his name.

4. Want to?…this usually means that I want to do something and am inviting someone else to join me or visa versa.  You know if you hear, “You want to go to the movies?” or “Want to go out to eat?” or “Want to go to Cabo for a week?” or “Want to take a trip to Italy?” or “Want to get some new clothes?” See what I mean? It just sounds good.  Again, the exception to this rule is if it comes with a motherly tone, “Want to clean your room?” “Want to pick up your mess?” “Want to go to bed?” I like to hear “want to” when it is an invite to something wonderful.

There are more terms that I love…like your name…but keep in mind I am limited to the Christmas countdown.

Five Gold Rings

1. My parents gave me my first diamond ring in 7th grade.  I was so excited.  I wore it all the time.  I remember telling my friends that some guy would really have to do well to outdo this ring when I get engaged. 🙂 This ring reminds me of my parent’s love for me and my love for my family.

2. My senior year of high school there was a woman in our church named Ruby who adored me.  I loved her back.  She was always so kind to me.  She gave me a catalog and said pick anything you want out of here for your graduation gift.  I chose a simple ruby and diamond ring. Get it ruby for Ruby? This ring reminds me of the value of favor in the sight of God and man.

3. On May 2, 1988 Bill asked me to marry him and gave me a beautiful diamond ring and on July 2, 1988 he gave me the band to go with it.  It’s now 23 years old. 🙂 This ring reminds me of a love that is deep and of commitment that never ends.   It also reminds me of an era, the late 80s and 90s when this style was popular and I love that.  We had so much fun together, and still do! It reminds me of our wedding day and so many other wonderful memories!

4. On May 2, 1988 Bill also gave me several gifts from his mother’s things and one of them was a pearl ring.  She went to the Pearl Factory and took a chance and picked an oyster to see what she might get.  It was a golden pearl!  She and her sister had it made into a ring.  I am wearing it on my wedding finger as I type this. I love it for so many reasons. This ring reminds me of the woman I love because she raised her boy to be godly and full of honor and respect…my husband.  It also reminds me that sometimes it’s worth taking a chance at something and you may find a “pearl of great price”.

5. I also love a ring that Bill gave to me for our 7th wedding anniversary on Portabella Road in London, England.  It is also ruby.  I never realized how many ruby and diamond rings would become so special to me. This ring reminds me of the value of friendship because Bill is my husband and my best friend.  I love that he picked it out.  I was able to go with him years later to the very street where he bought it. I loved it there.  The ring brings back wonderful memories of antiques, cobble stone roads, flower carts, fruit and vegetable stands and a couch coming out of a second story window on ropes being lowered down because the stairways were too narrow.

None of these rings are highly valuable in dollar amounts but they are irreplaceable in sentimental value and for that I am grateful.

Proverbs 8:11 NIV

“For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”

 

Credit goes to Sydney Shuler for the idea for this blog. (Funny because I was thinking special gifts of jewelry but never mentioned it and she came up with this…much better and goes with the 12 Days of Christmas song) 😉 smart girl!

 

1. It was a short but unforgettable road trip through the neighborhood when Aubrie drove for one of the first times with me, Taylor and Sydney in the car.  She was nervous and suddenly she realized the road was leading her to the main road with a traffic signal when we heard Sydney begin to sing softly from the back seat, “Jesus take the wheel, take it from her hand…” LOL We all burst into laughter, Aubrie pulled over and turned around back into the safety of the neighborhood.  Now she is a confident driver with her license!!

2. Virginia to Oklahoma Spring of 2002 we decided to surprise our dear friend Jessica, who was marrying Brad, for their wedding.   A couple of weeks before we left we caught Sydney in Taylor’s room with a pair of scissors in her hair just chopping away. (she was 3) I had to cut it more to shape it up so she didn’t look like an unkept doll.  Somewhere between Ohio and Indiana it was quiet in the car when suddenly, and out of nowhere, Sydney had her hands on her head and said with total shock and disgust a VERY delayed reaction, “YOU CUT MY HAIR!”

3. Germany to Italy 2008 it was July, 102 degrees and we were driving through the mountains of Austria when the A/C went out on the VW minivan which was our transportation for the next week.  This is when we saw some beautiful water and pulled off the autobaun.  It was like we had stepped into a part of heaven!  We followed a green pathway which opened up to this blue river of water on white rocks and the crystal clear water was so cold and refreshing as we looked up at the blue skies and snow capped Alps! (Don’t you wish you were there?)

4. California to Montana 2008 We drove in the 100 degree heat in an RV with 6 cousins, 3 sisters and 2 brothers in law, yep that’s 11 people in an RV with no A/C for 3 days!  We played cards, ate and had a blast all the way to Montana with a stop in San Francisco and Washington and we still loved each other in the end!

5. Oklahoma to Colorado 1987 dating Bill and we drove to visit our good friends for Christmas Break.  We got lost in 2 feet of snow and ended up on a dirt road that paralleled the freeway for an hour, at least. Did I mentioned it was snowy?! Terrible nightmare took us 14 hours instead of 10.

6. Oklahoma to Arkansas 1989 we were newly married and sponsored a retreat for University students (about 50 of them).  On our way we saw a few school vans going in the direction of home and we wondered why. It began to sleet and then it continued all night long after we arrived at “God’s Mountain” for the retreat. Then several inches of snow fell the next day.  We were trapped on the mountain for days as student’s final exams came and went and our food supply was depleted.  We headed home through the ice and melting snow but only after our car headed off the mountain and was only stopped by some mud and ice. Phew! So glad to be home!

Safe travels!

Numbers 6:24-26

 24 “‘“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

1. Little Women because it reminds me of my family growing up with three sisters and a brother and now with our three girls we identify with the warmth and love in the family.

2. It’s a Wonderful Life because it reminds us of all the blessings of life and how the good times and the bad times all work together for good…sounds kind of familiar huh?…for those who love HIM!

3. White Christmas because it restores honor to the General and our family always ends up singing “Sister, sister…” and “Snow, snow, snow…” after watching the movie.

4. Elf because it’s happy and hilarious…”Congratulations! You did it…best cup of coffee!”

4. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (all of the Chronicles of Narnia) I love the creativity…an imaginary place that comes to life.  Plus CS Lewis makes so many truths so much more clear through his writing!

5. The Nativity Story because it’s beautiful and brings the “Greatest Story Ever Told” come to life!

6. Miracle on 34th Street because it’s sweet.  I love the scene where the boyfriend comes over for Christmas in his white sweater and they sit around the dinner table.  Of course the end is so great when it all comes together with the new house and the dream of a family comes to life for them!

7. Tommy Boy, surprised? It’s not a “Christmas movie” but a favorite to watch with our extended family because it makes us laugh every time we watch it!  (disclaimer: we fast forward a couple parts) 🙂 “Luke, I’m your faaatherrrr.” “Do I have a mark on my face? It hurts right here, not so much here, but right here.” “Fat guy in a little cooaat.” “Brothers don’t shake hands, we gotta hug.”

Merry Christmas! Okay, I have to go, we are going to watch The Nativity Story now! 🙂

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