Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A little get away...

 Dear Readers,
  I just have to start with stating God is so good! This week we came home from Mississippi, and hit 'life' full blast. Honestly, it was hard at first. I didn't want to leave- we ended our quick trip with a visit with our amazing home schooled cousins, and it was SO nice to have a group of supporting friends or family everywhere you went! We don't have that in Arizona, just because Arizona is a lot different than Mississippi.
  And then, of course, there was the fact that the wheelchair broke, and the car went dead, and well, yeah. But God was faithful, and we actually now have been given the amazing news that Mason's heart is fine and he will not need surgery!! Hallelujah! And we had an amazing fundraiser for the Ballet Academy of Arizona, so, at least in those aspects, life's going good.  But is was lovely to get away from everything last week. And honestly, I'm ready to get away again! But we had our little escape, and so here's the memories of it...pictures are second best to the real thing, right?

I wanted a sweet picture of mom and dad kissing..but they had to re enact it a few times!! I ended up liking this one better. :)

We LOVED seeing Miss Trish!

Even Benjamin loved on the bulldog...oh yes!

We love MSU!!

outside Oby's...this fall shot made my heart happy!

Miss Trish, Pa Butch, and Mrs.Susan met us for doughnuts the morning we left for Tupelo. We're thankful for such great friends!

Sweet Anderson...what a doll!

Grammie's infamous sign

We had the tradition growing up of Grammie always taking us to the dollar tree...and so of course Cate had to jump in!

She walked away with sparkly hair and amazing memories- it turned out to be the best part of her trip!

Grammie was so sweet to let my sweet friend Lilli come play cello/violin duets with me...we had the most amazing time!

We played the cello like a violin...not too successfully! But this worked quite well. :) I loved it, Lilli!

A trip to Tupelo wouldn't be complete without accompanying Gramiie to the beauty shop!

This chair is the want of every young child

I LOVE taking pictures of these sweet little friends! And I experimented with a function of my camera on them..what do you think? I loved the vibrant but sometimes the blur doesn't work with the subjects!

Sweet family..that was my favorite part of the trip! We were blessed to see so many amazing family members, and I am still thanking God for the chance to love on them! Here we are with Uncle George and Aunt Mary. I loved talking about quilts with her!

Grammie decorated her house completely for Fall..it made my heart smile! Thanks, Grams!

The last night of our trip, Grammie just kept reading to Cate...book after book after book! I think she was as reluctant for us to leave as we were.

Oh, such a sweet trip! It was pure bliss to spend uninterrupted family time in Starkville. I enjoyed and savored every moment! And then to spend time with our loved ones who we don't get to see often....that is such a sweet memory! It was amazing, and I hope you have gotten a glimpse into our beautiful time.
 However, it was a little bittersweet- MSU lost the game, and I just love Mississippi State so much I am dying to go there someday. But they don't offer any of the degrees I'm thinking of right now. Oh, following God's plan can take you away from what you always thought you would do! But I'm just trusting Him right now....and loving every minute of family time we got on Mississippi State!
I hope all of you get a chance to escape life sometime, too. Your Blogger,

Monday, September 12, 2011

 Dear Readers,
 It's that time of year! We are heading down to Mississippi on Wednesday to...

Go through the old pictures in Grammie's house! I didn't finish last time, and it brings me so much joy!
Watch our bulldogs play!

Spend time with our Grammie!!
               Ah, yes- this trip is going to be wonderful! I can't wait... So get ready Mississippi! The Shraders are coming!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A balancing act- and the One who won't fall

 Dear Readers,
  I sincerely hope you won't tire of hearing me talk about Cinderella; because I just can't seem to stop! It truly is amazing, and I hold true to the fact that God is changing hearts and performing miracles.  However, I wanted to share a story with you, and a lesson I learned as a result.
   There are these precious little girls in ballet who have wanted to dance all their lives. Yet they have had to sit and watch friend after friend in performance after performance dance and twirl on stage; and they were never given the chance. For some, it is the fact that they can't walk and so are in wheelchairs, others have autism, and still others are emotionally abused. And there are others who, like my brother, can walk but (due to their special need) don't have the balance it takes to dance, or even to walk across the room without falling. There is one sweet little girl in the performance, I'll call her "Sophia". And on the first day of class, I was caught up in helping one of the little girls learn to navigate her wheelchair around tiny toes, when suddenly Sophia burst into tears. She said she couldn't do it; she just couldn't dance. And Mrs.Caroline (our amazing teacher) took her into her arms and held her as she changed the dance routine into something that would fit her abilities.  And let me add- this little girl is one of the most beautiful ballerinas I have ever seen. Her joy is palpable, and her face is radiant.
  Now, I am always by her side at practices, just holding her hand to catch her when she falls. And she has learned that, holding my hands, she can jump up in the air like the other girls, and you should see her giggle when she does! However, I can't be holding her on stage, because as Cinderella, I have to watch their beautiful performance from the side. Of course, if any one needs me I will be there, but I just won't be included in the dance every second.
    I also will not be there next weekend, because we will be in Mississippi. So when I told Sophia that, she said it wasn't okay, because she didn't know what would happen if she fell. Oh. My. Heart. I nearly told her I would stay; that it would be okay, I would be there. But I knew I couldn't.  And so, I talked with the teacher about finding someone who could stand in for me at the performance.

   Okay- that is probably the hardest thing you could ask me to do.  Really, I don't want to hand over this little girl to a person who I have no idea if she will encourage and uplift while helping her. It's eating at me; I feel so responsible for her, and I love her so much my heart aches. If she were to leave that stage feeling any less than the beautiful ballerina she is I would never forgive myself.
  And so, I just prayed. I've prayed today when I needed to study, because this is on my mind heavily. And I felt like God had no idea what I was feeling-- how many times has He taught a ballet class to a group of kids with special needs? And then I realized that He knew exactly what I was going through.....
  Jesus was on earth, teaching and loving everyone with Him. But He had to go to Heaven- it was better that way. So He left all of His sheep. He called Himself their shepherd- He loved them that much. And yet He had to  leave them with people who He knew couldn't do the job like He could. He had to go and help from afar- the other side of the stage, if you will. That's what I have to do with little Sophia. I have to let her go to one end of the stage, and I to the other. I have to entrust her in someone else's hands. I have to let go, and pray she doesn't fall. Oh, what a hard task for my heart!
  But knowing that my Jesus understands brought so much relief. I can cry over this all night long, and yet have that peace that Jesus understands. He knows what I'm going through and is crying with me.  And that goes for all things- whatever you're going through, please remember that God understands- that's why He came to earth! To better know and love us. What a gift He is! I can't feel more thankful to my King. Although my heart longs for Him to walk with me where I can see Him, hug Him, physically hear Him tell me where to go,  I know it's better for me this way.
   And I know that Sophia is going to be beautiful, with or without my hand. Because God understands not only how I'm feeling, but also how she's feeling. And He is going to show her how beautiful she is- how her beautifully different twirls make Him smile with joy.  And I know His hands are going to guide her, just like they guided me to the remembrance of what He went through for me. I know He won't let her fall.

   My dear Readers, I needed to write this for me, to let out all my feelings. But I felt like it would be a good lesson for you to see how even though Sophia has fallen, she gets back up and keeps trying. If she can, you have no reason to sit in pity for yourself and not pull yourself back up. Don't be ashamed to fall- it's the people who fall and still hold on to Jesus we all look up to. I would rather fall to His arms than go my whole life standing up far from Him.   Also,  remember that Jesus knows every feeling and thought you have; so don't run from Him! He understands and wants to comfort you if you'll only let Him in. The peace that follows will be refreshing, and allow you to love Him even deeper than before. He is my life, He is your life- in every aspect. Not just when you celebrate His birth or go to church. In all things.
  Your blogger who is not afraid to fall,

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Don't let your dream go!

 Dear Readers,
    Today, we don't have ballet practice, so are all watching college football. (it has finally started, much to my dad's relief!) And, while I really could make a whole post about ballet again, I'm feeling compelled to write something different.
 Well, I have to tell you- missions have really been on my heart lately. If you know me, you know that missions are ALWAYS on my heart, but as my friend recently traveled to China to adopt a younger sister, they are REALLY on my heart.  Looking at the pictures she posted, I felt the need to go there. Not just God lightly pressing on my heart- I felt like I would spontaniously combust if I didn't get to China soon. And, just going to China wouldn't be enough. No, I had to go to China and rescue an orphan! She showed a picture of all these babies with special needs just laying on hard steps...when they cried someone came to see to their needs, but otherwise they had no human contact. My heart broke and crashed into a gazillion pieces.  (It didn't help that our next sermon was all about missions...or that the one after that told a story of how babies left alone die...) I wanted to mail myself to China. Or Africa. SOMEWHERE!!!

   Now, I'm sure you're wondering where I'm going with this. No, that last paragraph was not just me venting with no purpose--I do have a point! :) I know that everyone here has a dream. You all have something your heart aches to do, but that is just slightly out of reach. Well, China is that thing for me right now. (it changes  frequently!)  And you know what? I can't, in reality, mail myself to China. We can't, at the moment, bring a baby home. And all of us who have a hope that is far from current reality, need to get to a place where we're okay with that. We need to settle for the fact that today, you can't pack your bags and move to Papua New Guinea. Today, you can't buy the dozen acres of land you'd like. Today you can't open your own dance studio. Today you can't go adopt a baby.  But today you can do God's will.
   He has put these desires in your heart for a reason! He doesn't want to dangle them out in front of you for the rest of your life; but He does want you to learn to trust Him.
"Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." ~ Proverbs 19:21
   God knows what you can do today, and He isn't going to push you past your limits. Where your owns plans and dreams, just might. But hold on to that dream! I strongly believe that everyone is a missionary. Wherever you are, whatever you do- you are an ambassador for Christ. You don't have to pack up and move into a foreign land to serve Him! But if you have a dream you can't reach today, don't give up. We met missionaries in Mexico who didn't have a season in their life where they could pack up until they were 60.  So, even if you can't adopt a baby today, or head to Africa today, if God really wants you to do it- nothing on earth can stop you. So please, don't give up your dreams!! I won't give up mine. Your Blogger,