I got into a fight with a good friend of mine.
We have different opinions on an issue, which to me is no big deal -- we should be able to discuss it, argue our own reasons for our stance, and walk away friends.
In this case, it's not what happened. What it came down to was that I had no right to comment on the issue because of her expertise in the field (which is undisputed -- her qualifications outweigh mine).

This has reminded me that as a parent, I need to value my kids' opinions without taking personal insult if they are different than mine. As their "superior," I might feel I know best on all issues, but if I stifle their need to express themselves, how does that foster our relationship? All it does is teach them that I do not value their feelings.

As I discussed my frustrations with my sister (at 3:00 a.m.! who else can a girl call at three o'clock in the morning but a sister?!), she quoted Psalm 34:18 to me:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

"Coincidentally" (I don't believe in coincidence, that's why it's in quotes), that was the exact verse that I'd read to the kids last night in their bedtime devotional!

I know my opinion matters to Neil -- most of the time. (Or, at least he's smart enough to pretend it does!) My opinion matters to my kids too, and to others. But it doesn't matter to all people all the time. However, God cares. It's okay to approach Him boldly and tell Him what's inside. I often have a visual of me crawling up into a great big chair into my heavenly father's lap, just like I did with my own dad as a child, and leaning my head on His chest and listening to His heart and just being held. That's what I pictured last night. I crawled up into His lap and said a simple, "Daddy, my feelings got hurt today."

It's amazing what He can do for you in the quiet, in the stillness. He cares about my feelings -- I don't need to apologize for my opinions or for my feelings if I am mad or hurt or jealous. I just need to spend time with Him, listening to His heart for me and those around me. My opinion matters, if only to Him.
I planted some wheat seeds to have grass in time for Easter this Sunday. I'll try and keep it posted as to how it's coming. I had to adjust plans and now I just hope to have a nice grassy backdrop for some daisy decorations (yet to be determined). I planted the seeds late Saturday evening. Today I noticed the first teeny sprouts.
My mom said she could whip me up a dozen little ribbon butterflies to be buzzing on wires above the grass. They ended up being much bigger than I anticipated, but they still looked Easter-y, so I made 'em work. I had a few guests comment that they didn't realize it was real grass. They also guessed that I sprayed it with water, but the dew (you can see in the photos) is actually produced naturally from the wheat grass and is there all day. Now that it's day 11 or so, I really need to get out a scissors and mow it down a tad.
As you can see, if you can be patient for 7-10 days, you can grow a lovely little field of dreams for yourself.
Ever notice how children can give you spiritual insight far beyond their maturity or understanding?
My 3-yr-old son does this for me often. I think I'm close to him because we are similar in personality and I understand his thinking patterns.

I listen to this kid's prayers every night before bed because they are infused with so much carefree creativity and belief that it's inspiring.
This morning, this is what he told me:
"When I'm quiet, then sometimes God talks to me and you know what He says? He says, 'No hitting your sisters! No scratching your sisters! No pinching your sisters! You have to be nice to them.' God said it's our job to take care of everybody in the whole world, but right now I have to take care of my girls and my whole family."

I love this kid! How right is he? It's our job to be the hands and feet of Christ -- to take care of the world by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs. Your own family is a great place to start. This can be accomplished by the authority we have in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

What an encouraging start to the day. :)
I pulled a laundry basket full of maternity clothes out of storage today. Before you get all excited, it was to go through them for my sister who just announced that they are expecting their second child this fall. I knew I had some of her stuff and some additional stuff that might fit, so I dragged it out.

The clothes were packed in tight, but as I lifted shirt after shirt and opened up layer after layer, suddenly something caught my eye: bright yellow field corn! There was a nice size pile of a few dozen dried up kernels sitting in a little airspace between shirts.

I had the kids throw it outside before I thought to take a picture of it.

So the question now is: What animal stores field corn like that?? My theory is squirrel, just because they tend to store all sorts of foods in little bunches for winter (and then often forget where they stored them). But how did a squirrel get into my house and, better yet, how did it get back out? Neil thinks it was a mouse. I didn't know mice stored food and usually they like to chew up clothes to make little nests, but maybe it made a nest somewhere else.

I'm just throwing out guesses here. Any ideas?
You ever have one of those days where you realize that God has decided to SHOUT at you because you just aren't getting it??

Lately I've been feeling at a spiritual deadlock, an impasse that bound me to a sense of pointlessness about holiness in general. Now, of course, my heart knows differently, but it's difficult to get things through my thick skull.

I go to a spirit-filled church that believes in the individual being baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. And I believe in this too. But I've been someone that's been seeking this out for many years -- dare I say, decades?! -- and have never had this experience. Now, I fully believe I've been filled with the Holy Spirit (and I'll spare you the details for now), but the speaking in tongues thing? Nope. Even though many of my most dearly beloved family have had this phenomenon in their spiritual walk, I have not. Every few months or years, my frustration with this rears its ugly head and I get mad at those who tell me what I'm doing wrong, why it's so important, blah blah blah. I feel like screaming, "I KNOW! I believe it's important too!" After one particularly heartwrenching trial, a dear friend gave me good advice. She said, "Ashlee, stop going after the gift, and just focus on going after the Giver."

And that's what I do. I focus on God and know that He lives in me, evidence in tongues or not. My self-edification comes from the fact that I stand on His Word and know that He says:
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. -Romans 8:11
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. -2 Corinthians 1:22
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? -1 Corinthians 6:19
But there are many times I just want to give up, stay where I'm at, and know that God loves me no matter what.

And then God shouts at me to get my attention. Like today.
Here's a part of what my Oswald Chambers devotional entry said today:
An elevated mood can only come out of an elevated habit of personal character. If in the externals of your life you live up to the highest you know, God will continually say -- "Friend, go up higher." ...Compare this week in your spiritual history with the same week last year and see how God has called you up higher. ...Growth in grace is measured not by the fact that you have not gone back, but that you have an insight into where you are spiritually; you have heard God say, "Come up higher," not to you personally, but to the insight of your character. ...God has to hide from us what He does until by personal character we get to the place where He can reveal it.

And then I went to my MOPS (Moms of PreSchoolers) meeting today. Our mentor mom is teaching us out of one of her favorite parenting books called "Five Star Families." The chapter she did today?
It was on growth -- growth as a mom, growth as a family unit, encouraging your children's growth... She even quoted the author as saying, "If the shoe fits, then you haven't left enough wiggle room for growth." Which leads me to my last item...

I took my two girls out shoe-shopping for spring tennis shoes today. (Another story in itself!) I was amazed that their shoe size had gone up so much since we'd bought school shoes last September! The word that kept tumbling through my head? Yep. Growth.

So yes, Lord, I get it. I will continue to grow and push myself and get out of my comfort zone in order to see what you have in store for me. I will trust in You, abide always in You, and let you mold me into the image of Christ. Help me to stop being so caught up in myself and to remember always that glorifying your name is my highest purpose.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19 (one of my favs)

Be blessed in this spring season of growth and renewal, readers!

My 97-year-old Grandmother that raised me gave me a birthday card last month that expressed her regrets in some aspects of how she raised me (though I think I turned out pretty darn good!). She ended the card with, "I'm learning. May I improve." Now if someone that wise can still be open to personal growth... well, let's say that it speaks volumes to me.

The kids and I took a tour around the pond last week. In 2011, the spring was so wet and the summer so accommodating that there was water in the pond all season. Some years it's just a damp patch where the nearby corn fields drain.

I hope this year is like last year. Neil and I have been toying with the idea of getting a mini backhoe out there to excavate it deep enough to hold water year round. The pond is central to my landscaping. I can't landscape around my house yet because it will get trampled and destroyed with the upcoming remodeling. So instead, I'm focusing my attention on the back 40.

As the kids and I walked around (and through) the pond area, I noticed some cream-colored nautilus shapes against the black soil. Upon pointing it out to the kids, they exclaimed, "Seashells!" I continued to refer to them as pond snail shells, but apparently my use of the correct term did not deter them from their romantic notions of life in the sea.

They collected handfuls of them and brought them back to the house. Their next rainy-day project is to paint them. I'm not sure what happens to them after that, but I know I will find out soon enough.
...Can't say I've missed you!
As weather-related notes:
We saw a garter snake during a walk to the cemetery on March 15th this year!

The first thunderstorm of the year was on March 20th.

We noticed the lilac bushes beginning to bud out on March 21st.

And today, March 23rd, I watched a ginormous leopard frog hop across our lawn.

I could handle a winter/spring like this every single year!
Even my rhubarb is coming up. In MARCH!
I have been on a blogging hiatus for a long time now.

Though I'm not sure the time has come for me to plunge in to full-time blogging yet, I am definitely feeling the push to once again keep a journal of my days in a public forum, if only for my extended family's benefit. (They like to keep tabs on me and my offspring.)

Wish me luck ;)