"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4

The Gilland Family of 6!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Remember When...

This past week a sweet friend and I cleaned out my closet in my bedroom.  It was a HUGE job and took several hours to complete!  It felt so good to purge!  I love the feeling of accomplishment when a project is completed!  I was so excited to be able to donate so many shoes and clothing items to Must Ministries! 

In addition to cleaning out, I uncovered many things I had not seen in a while.  They had been hidden for some time.  Among those items was a large floral shoe box.  Inside the special shoe box was something so valuable to me.  It contained every card and letter I had received from my freshman year of college until I had married my husband.  I could hardly wait to sit down and go through everything in the box. 

Well last night was the perfect time.  I settled myself comfortably in my bed and I began to read through and study every piece of paper in the box.   I am a very emotional person, so I was prepared to shed a few tears as I walked down memory lane.   Just as I’d thought, for four hours I cried tears of remembrance over the words I was reading; I laughed a lot too!  It is so wonderful to go back and remember the past, the good and the bad!

There were cherished love letters from my precious husband from before we were married.  He was so tender and sweet.  It was a great reminder of our love to read his adoring words.  Also, I found notes of encouragement and congratulations from dear friends like, Courtney, Lisa, Lucy, Betty, Paula, Dee and Lissa.  I had saved all Birthday and Valentine’s Day cards from my parents, siblings, friends and grandparents.  Both of my grandfathers died in 2008, so to see their handwriting in cards was so dear to me. 

I had the most encouraging “love” letters from my momma and daddy.  They were so intentional with their words.   I’m so thankful for the love and support they have always given me.   They taught me so many lessons along the way, about life, love and our faithful God.   

One of my very favorite things ever is getting the mail!!!  Sounds silly I know!  I’ve even been known to even get upset if someone else gets the mail.  Usually the mailbox is full of bills and magazines, but I am always hoping that maybe there is a note from someone.  Do you do that too? There is something so special and even exciting about seeing a hand addressed envelope with my name on it!  It seems like we don’t really write letters anymore, now we type emails.  Its faster, easier and more convenient, but so impersonal and boring!  There is such beauty in holding the stationary and reading the penned words and seeing their signature.  It is truly an art form that I think should be brought back.  

Since discovering this “treasure” I have decided to become more intentional with my words and writing.  The next time I sit down at my computer to email someone, I’m going to think twice and consider getting out my lovely stationary and black ballpoint pen and blessing someone with a handwritten letter. 

Altogether I think I read about 250 cards, letters and notes last night.   Each one I read encouraged and touched me so deeply.  I am so thankful that I saved them all.  I am going to start visiting them and remembering more often.  I am also incredibly grateful for the prayers, encouragement and support from so many people represented by these letters during such a crucial time in my life.  I’m already thinking about who I can bless by sending an encouraging note to and make their trip to the mailbox a fun one!  How about you, who can you bless this week?

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Hebrews 10:23-24

Joyfully Remembering,

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What a Mess!

I used to be so neat and organized…and then I went and had all these children!  Haha!  I would rather have them and the mess than to have a neat, organized life and not them!  It’s taken me a while to say that!!!   My minivan is a great example of a “mess”.  It’s just down-right embarrassing.  I’m not even joking.  Right this very minute it smells so bad that I am certain an animal had to have gotten in there and died!  How does that happen?  When I open the doors I am constantly reminding my children not to let any trash or shoes or dolls or cups, etc. fall out!  It’s a disaster! 
Let me switch gears here and tell you about this past Tuesday.  It was just another summer day, except that daddy was out of town.   We played with friends, went to the pool, ate popsicles on the front porch and were silly together.  We had fun!   My children also screamed at each other, some hit and pinched each other and they grabbed things from each other.  At other times we didn’t have fun!  At 6:00pm I went to break up another tussle in the playroom.  This time I meant business!  I said to my children, “I have had it with your behavior today!  That’s it, mommy’s done, everyone upstairs to bed!”  And with that we all went upstairs and began putting on pajamas.   
I was helping the girls get their princess nightgowns on and we were talking about how they had not been acting like princesses during the day.  They agreed.  I was talking specifically to Ruthie (2 yrs. old) about having a heart of kindness and love.  She looked at me and as serious as could be said, “me want purpy (purple) heart!”   So much for that!  I just had to laugh!  But I couldn’t laugh about how they had all behaved that day.  All except 8 week old Jack, he was wonderful! 
Is there a connection between my messy van and my children’s behavior?  I think there is!  Just like my van is mess, so are our hearts.  My van is full of junk that we have to be careful not to let fall out.  My children’s hearts and mine are full of junk (sin) that comes out in what we say and what we do.  Luke 6:45 says, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” 
All our words and actions are merely a reflection of our hearts.  There is good news though, our God is wonderful at cleaning up messes!  We are people with messy hearts and lives, but nothing is too messy for Him to bring cleansing to.  Not only does he clean up the mess, but he replaces it with His Spirit which brings healing, joy and new life!  He is SO worthy of all our praise, for there is no one like HIM!!!   
So I was one tired momma Tuesday night.  As usual the Lord used my children to teach me something wonderful about His character.  How often has God “had it with my behavior?”  Probably more than I would care to count.  Oh my goodness I’m so thankful that He’s never said to me, “that’s it, I’m done!”  Instead, he’s patiently and lovingly cleaning my heart out one behavior, one sin at a time.  Praying to be more and more like our amazing God as I raise my children to know, love and serve Him!  More of You, Less of me…that is what I want!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God;  and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10