Monday, August 29, 2016

Happy 9th Birthday, Olivia!

Today is Olivia's 9th birthday!  It's so hard to believe she's already this old.  I got to go to Dalhart and stay with her two brothers while she was born.  There was so much excitement when they brought her home from the hospital!  By the time she was three, when you asked her when her birthday was, she'd reply, "20 August 9!"  And she said that for years.  I really hated when she outgrew it.

She's always had the prettiest eyes and most adorable cheeks!

She's always been full of giggles, too.  (I still love getting Olivia alone--her silliness and laughter come out!)

She was hiding from us.  (She's done some of the cutest things!)

Those rosy cheeks!

Her brothers loved her.  They still do...most days.

This photo of Olivia in her tutu was almost foretelling.  This girl has loved to dance!

They were visiting and watching a movie together.  Olivia was a thumb sucker.

Did I mention her dimples??

And here we go!  Olivia's two brothers are both musicians--so she has always had music to dance to.

 Her dance recital.

Olivia is a big sister--and she fills that role so well.  She LOVES her little sister!  They share a room--and secrets, I'm sure.

She has a good role model.  She adores her mom.

Olivia has always been quiet.  When her two brothers were being home schooled, she would entertain herself for hours--no joke.  She is very compassionate and has a really tender heart.

Olivia is such a good friend to others.  She forgives easily and is a giver--she loves to share her things with her friends.  But she also loves her alone time.  It's not unusual for her to tell her neighborhood friends that she just wants to be alone--and then she'll go to her room and read or play alone.

And I leave you with this.  Olivia is singing "Happy Birthday to You" and it changes to "Amen."  
My favorite video of all time!

I love you,

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Happy Birthday, Gus!

Gus turns 4-years-old today!  I remember rushing to Lubbock for his birth and then waiting...taking a nap in the pickup...waiting.  But it was so exciting when he came!  

His big brother, Dax, has watched over him since he was born.  Dax would make sure Gus had his pacifier--and open his own mouth every time he tried to get Gus to open his mouth.

His first Christmas as Santa...with his pretty mommy.

We were babysitting Dax & Gus while Zach & Shanna went to Alaska.  We went and got Gus a walker since he was wanting to follow his big brother so badly.  He loved it!

This guy has always had the best smile and most beautiful eyes!

Gus kind of likes his Pot, too.

We'd gotten chicken for dinner and gave Gus some mashed potatoes.  
He liked them!

Gus was showing me his muscles---and making a grunting noise.

We went to the lake in Dalhart so the boys could throw rocks in the water.  Gus got a ride.
(Notice how he's holding on!)

Gus loves to laugh!!  And his greatest delight is making others laugh!

Gus was hiding from Dax.

The boys had watched Horton Hears a Who.  Gus was listening for the Who.

This was a picture I got when I was on my way to babysit the boys.  
(I was more excited than Gus!)

Gus had "thrown up in his mouth" so Dax made him lay on the couch and covered him up.  And then he began to read a book to Gus since he didn't feel well.  (He really could read!)  Gus didn't stay sick very long.

Gus was pretending to be dead.

This kid keeps me in stitches!!  I've only known two little guys who began to exemplify a sense of humor as early as one-year-old--Gus and his older cousin.  I was amazed!  I'd never seen such a young child understand humor--and how to make others laugh.  Both of these guys are the second child with an older brother--I wonder if that's why.  Gus also knew how to push his older brother's buttons and get him all upset...and then laugh.  
Gus is also very sensitive.  He knows when someone is unhappy or has their feelings hurt and will quietly go sit by them--and usually touch them in some way.  It's not at all unusual for Gus to randomly sit in your lap and whisper in your ear, "I love you!"  He has such a tender heart.
He's crazy about his family!!  He gets so excited when his mom and dad come home from a trip!  And he's anxious to meet up with his brother and sister when they've been separated for a short time.  I love this guy!!
Gus, I can't wait to see what amazing thing God has for your life!

I love you,

Friday, August 5, 2016

Change the Atmosphere!

This week, Andy & I set aside time to have our own P&P--praise & prayer.  We've been anxious to hear God for our church and for our own lives.  As we've met, we've listened to praise music and praised in our hearts along with those songs.  And we've asked the Holy Spirit to meet with us, teach us, and instruct us.

Can I just tell you that it's pretty amazing to listen to your children's music and praise God through it?  God spoke to us each time through their music.

(Zach Dietz in A Road Less Traveled)

But as we met with God this afternoon, I had a profound moment.  We were listening to Matt's song, Sound of Heaven, and a realization washed all over me!  As we live out WHO WE ARE and DO the things God has put right in front of us, we are breaking open the jar of perfume (like Mary used to pour over Jesus).  We're breaking open the PURPOSE God placed inside of us.  Because He lives in us, we are releasing HIM.  He's placed an expression of Himself inside each of us at the point of salvation.  We are releasing heaven on earth!  As we release heaven, it changes the atmosphere of earth.

(Matt Dietz)

Who are you?  What is your purpose?  You can begin to find that when you understand your name--your spiritual DNA is wrapped up inside of your name.  What do you love to do?  DO THAT!!!  I wake up every morning now and say, "What is right in front of me that I can do?  What can I do that is an expression of who I am?  What can I release?"  And I do that.

My purpose is to be a life source.  I am to source life to others--the life of the Father.  I love to teach and I love to minister to pastor's wives.  It's such a need right now--lots of pastor's wives are falling apart.  So what I could do that was right in front of me was to start a pastor's wives blog and Facebook page.  I used those two mediums to teach and to bring life to those I knew were hurting.  And then I began doing videos to put on the Facebook page--it's what was right in front of me that I knew I could do.  Talk about scary!  You're completely putting yourself out there!!  Out there for criticism or critiquing.  But I'd put my yes on the table.  I've been amazed at the results--I've had influence where I'd had none before.  Women were messaging me with questions and need for help.  I was SOURCING LIFE to women.  And it's changing the atmosphere.

You can change the atmosphere, too--and bring heaven to earth!!  Do what's right in front of you that you ALREADY LOVE to do!!  USE it for the kingdom of God.  Break it open.  Pour it out.  It will change the atmosphere around you and fulfill you in ways you never thought possible.

THIS is the Sound of Heaven--filling the earth as we break open our giftings and fulfill what we're called to do.  Changing the person at a time.  Bringing heaven to earth.  

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Happy Birthday, David!

Today is David's birthday!  He's our third child--and comes within the birthday week of our first three children--who are spread within four years of one another.  David's birth was so exciting.  When I was about 3 months pregnant, the doctor was sure I was having twins.  (Andy is a twin, so we knew that was a possibility.)  I was very excited--I wanted twins!  So the doctor sent me for a sonogram to see if that was the case.  It was my very first sonogram and it was so vague, I really couldn't see anything specific--even a head (sonograms weren't what they are now!)--but we did find out we weren't having twins.
We lived in Amarillo at the time and we'd just had a flood which came within feet of our driveway--it began at the lake by Western Plaza and went for blocks!  Since our street was one which was passable and where people could view the traumatic event, streams of traffic were going down our street and turning around in our driveway to go back the way they'd come--with waves washing into our yard.  I was certain we'd never be able to get out of our driveway if I were to go into labor!   When I did go into labor, the waters had receded and the crowd had diminished.  I'd begged my doctor to induce labor on July 28th--so my kids' birthdays would be in chronological birth order on the 26th, 27th, & 28th.  He refused.  But he told me I could take castor oil and see if that worked.  It didn't.  So we waited a week for David to make his his own time.  Little did I know that this was prophetic of David's personality.  (Of course, we still didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl.)
After David was born, Andy brought Matt & Amy to to the hospital to see their new baby brother.  They were so excited!!  Amy stood at the hospital window looking at him and I could hear her saying, "She has eyes!"  For a month, Amy called David "she or her."  We could NOT convince her that she had a brother.  She also couldn't remember his name.  When someone would ask her what her baby brother's name was, she'd reply, "Goliath!"  David was the best baby...he seldom cried and was perfectly content wherever he was.  That also became an indicator of who he would become.
Let me tell you about David...

  • David is a very easy-going person. 
  • David is a doer. Even though he's very laid back, he doesn't let grass grow under his feet.  He's either working on a computer, building or remodeling something, or maple syrup!
  • David is very generous.  He'd honestly give the shirt off his back if someone needed it--and probably has.  He thinks nothing of loaning something that is his and if it's not returned, he'll just go buy a new one.  No hard feelings.  (Don't tell him I sent you!)
  • David loves to laugh--and he has a great laugh!  He also loves to make other people laugh by  imitating others.  He can laugh just like my brother, Bob.  He can imitate a singer from our old church, comedians, actors, etc.
  • I've watched David build strong friendships.  He may surround himself with lots of friends, but I've noticed through the years that he usually spends quality time alone with one good friend.  He doesn't need a crowd.  
  • David has a memory like an elephant!  I once bought him a t-shirt that said, "I Speak Fluently in Movie Quotes."  I hated watching movies with him when he was a kid--he'd tell me everything that was about to happen and then could quote the whole movie after watching it one time.  I laughed when I saw that his children have this same gift!!
  • David is a good, good daddy.  He loves his kids and would do anything for them.  
  • David is a wonderful provider.  Anytime David's been without a job, I've never worried about him.  He's willing to do whatever it takes to provide for his family--even if he has to hold down three jobs at a time.  He'll go to any measures to make sure they're taken care of.
  • David has a genius mind.  He's always learning and figuring things out.  Even as a little guy, he would take his toys apart and then put them back together.  He wanted to know how things worked.  He's created computer programs, put whole systems together, figured out how to help a company advertise with an app (before that was a thing)--and how to train their employees to work better, and how to link benevolence ministries in an area together to compile information.  I'm guessing his brain never shuts off--he's always looking for a better way.
  • David is a peacemaker.  He can talk people down who are overwrought and bring understanding between two sides.
  • David is a gifted musician.  He's a guitarist, a songwriter, a singer, and has been a worship leader.
  • David has a teachable spirit.  I remember when he began leading worship, he would take suggestions from his dad (a hard thing for most teenagers to do).  But I've watched him do the same with others through the years.  He has a humble heart--willing to learn from others.

David's name means Beloved--God has heard--Defender of Mankind--Ruler of the People.  David is all of those things.  He is greatly loved by me, his dad, his family, and his many friends.  God has heard him and is answering--He's very passionate about David.  David has an intense desire to defend others.  David is and will be a benevolent ruler of others--he's gifted to rule.  This is who God created David to be.

I love you,

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Happy Birthday, Amy!

Today is Amy's birthday! I remember several things about her birth.  The night before she was born, we'd celebrated her big brother's first birthday.  I was pretty worn out after the family party.  Andy and his twin brother were supposed to leave the next day to go sing at a Christian Artists Contest in Estes Park, Colorado.  I went to bed that night pretty emotional...tired and emotional.  I just remember crying out to God as I lay there--believing this baby was going to come while Andy was out of town for several days.  (We didn't have sonograms back then--so we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl!)  I said, "God, you know when this baby is going to be born.  If it's going to come while Andy's gone, would you just let it come tonight while he's here?"  I woke Andy up at 4:00 AM with labor pains.  We waited a bit until the pains were coming pretty close together and then called Phil and asked him to come watch Matt while we went to the hospital.  Amy made her beautiful appearance that afternoon.  (And the guys never made it to Estes Park.)

One of my favorite memories of Amy was when she was about 10-years-old.  I don't remember what she'd done (probably fighting with one of her three brothers), but I'd gone to get the paddle and brought it into the living room and told her to bend over for a spanking.  She was sitting on the couch and began crying and screaming, "JESUS LOVES YOU!!  JESUS LOVES YOU!!"  I began laughing my head off and replied, "He loves you, too---now bend over!!"  There was never a dull moment in our home when Amy was growing up.  What fun memories!!
Let me tell you about Amy...

  • Amy loves lavishly.  She gives fully to the people in her life.  Her husband is well-loved, her children are well-loved, her friends are well-loved, even her neighborhood is well-loved.
  • Amy has a tender heart towards God.  She pursues Him big!
  • Amy is an organizer.  She sees the big picture--but in detail.  She has great ideas in creating community.  She's helped organize Halloween block parties, outdoor movie nights, book clubs, bunko parties, children's ministries, etc.  She could easily be the director of a very large ministry!  She's not afraid of big challenges.
  • Amy is musical.  ;)
  • Amy is a beautiful mother.  I love watching her with her kids.  She loves them!!  But she also enjoys them.  She encourages their hilarity, craziness, dancing, music, art, and creativity.  Their house is loud and FUN!  
  • Amy has home schooled her kids at times.  She loves teaching her kids to read.  She loves watching the lights come on in their little minds.
  • Amy loves art.  This is a passion-in-process.
  • Something Amy has recently tried is building with wood.  She made some open shelving in her kitchen--she's not afraid to try anything!  She's created things from many Pinterest ideas and does a beautiful job decorating her home with them.
  • Amy is introverted--although she's so much fun you'd never know how reserved she really is.
  • Amy has a heart for pastor's wives.  I believe God is going to give her a large platform from which to minister.  It's going to be fun to watch!
  • Amy loves to cook.  This is really interesting since she never wanted to learn how to cook as a kid.  Ha!  She's learned all on her own and now feeds her family amazing meals.  She's not afraid to try new things.
  • Amy is kind.  She listens intently to others in an open and thoughtful way.  She's very non-judgmental and looks for the best in others.  I've learned a lot just by watching this in her--I love this!
I love this girl a lot!!  It's an amazing thing giving birth to someone, watching them grow up, and then becoming someone you admire and learn from.  I think she did a great job picking out a husband--because we love Jay.  But I think he's a pretty lucky guy, too.

I love you,

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Shanna!

Shanna is my daughter-in-law who is married to Zach.  The funny thing about her birthday is that my first three kids were born within a week of each other (and due within 2 days of each other).  We usually celebrated their birthdays together.  Zach felt a little left out with a January birthday--but then he marries a girl whose birthday falls within the birthday week!  We love it!  (Zach may still feel left out--I'm not sure.)  Shanna recently attended a pastor's wives retreat that I led.  Who does that?  Who would subject themselves to their mother-in-law's teaching--and even receive?  Someone with a heart like Shanna.  I was so blessed.
Let me tell you about Shanna....

  • Shanna has a very pure heart.  She loves God with all of her heart.  She is constantly seeking new ways to pursue God.  God loves that.  Shanna is probably very hard on herself because she's an overachiever--even in her relationship with God.  She pursues hard!
  • Shanna loves others deeply.  If you are blessed with a friendship with Shanna, you are truly blessed.  She's loyal, faithful, and gives great effort to her relationships.  She's very intentional in pursuing those relationships.  She's not afraid to put her heart on the line.
  • Shanna is hysterical!  She's not afraid to insert one-line zingers into an intense conversation just to make people laugh and lighten up.  And then she has the cutest giggle--it starts out with a little snuffle with her hand over her mouth and develops into a belly laugh when everyone else begins laughing.  Her humor is so unexpected--which makes us laugh all the more!
  • Shanna is a beautiful mother.  She cares about big...and little things.  She's developing some very caring, helpful, and funny little people.  She's lost a lot of sleep in the past 5 years but will still bring out the play-dough, art materials, and science projects to stimulate the minds of her little ones.  She gently disciplines and guides them.  And again...Shanna is much harder on herself in this area than she should be.  Her heart is fully invested in her children.
  • Shanna loves my son.  She's had an unconditional and sacrificial love for him.  She encourages him and wants to see him fulfilled and successful in kingdom things.
  • Shanna is very creative.  She would never call herself an artist, but she is.  She is developing her hand-lettering skills and her art.  She's not afraid to try a new craft or Pinterest idea.  She just jumps in--and it always turns out great!  Her home is decorated with her creativity.  And her kids' birthdays are always adorable.
  • Shanna loves her family.  She stays in close touch with her mom & dad and her sisters and their families.  She refuses to allow distance to make a difference in their relationships.  She does the same with our family.  I love that about her!
  • Shanna loves investing in young people.  In fact, Shanna became a youth intern at our church when she was still in high school.  And her love for young people hasn't stopped.  You'll often find her mentoring young women--and planning activities to develop relationships.

  • Shanna loves coffee!!  
  • Shanna loves missions.  She went with Andy & I to China a couple of times before she and Zach married.  And since they've been married, they've gone on mission trips together.  She loves sharing Jesus with others creatively--and as you can imagine, she quickly develops relationships to aid in that.
  • Shanna is a worshiper.  In fact, that's what drew Zach to her.  God dwells in her worship.
  • Shanna is FUN!  She is constantly coming up with fun, crazy ideas and making sure her family is in on it.  I wanted to show you some pictures so you could see for yourself!  She's a party waiting to happen and her fun spirit draws others in.  She makes herself vulnerable to make others comfortable.

Shanna's name means Possessor of Wisdom.  And she is--very wise.  She wisely pursues God and then invests what she's learned in her relationships with others.  Shanna has a very tender heart which is fertile soil in which God can plant His fruit.  It has grown and spilled over.  Looking back over this list, I'd say one of Shanna's greatest strengths is relationships.  She knows how to build them and keep them.  I'm so glad Shanna is a part of our family--she's such a gift!

I love you,

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

Thirty-eight years ago today, this guy was born.  His story involved a few miracles.  We were living close to poverty level at the time and about a month before he was born, I'd gone to a doctor's appointment and was told I needed to go by the hospital.  Andy was out of town, and I assumed they just wanted me to pre-register, so I went alone.  The hospital director met with me personally and told me I had to have full payment to the hospital before Matt was born because we had no insurance. I began crying, but looked him in the eye and told him, "God will provide.  I'll bring you your money."  And then I went home and cried again.  What had I done?  I had no clue if God would really come through--but I began asking.  I cried again when I told Andy about it.  About a week later, some sweet friends from Pampa showed up at our door and gave us a check.  They'd given themselves a bonus from their company and felt led to give it to us.  It was exactly what we needed to go pay the hospital--to the penny!  I was overcome with love from my friends--but especially from God.  It was amazing to see Him work!
When I went into labor, I felt the need to go to the fabric store to get fabric for kitchen curtains. (I have no clue!)  Andy's mom had promised to make them if I got the fabric--and I wanted curtains!  And then Andy wanted to take our van into the shop, so I followed him in my car--knowing I could deliver any minute.  When we got to the hospital, I was reprimanded by the nurse!  (I was so naive--it was my first baby!)  And then Matt was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.  I could have killed him with everything I'd done.  But God protected him.
Here are some things I love about Matt...

  • Matt's passionate.  Whatever he's focused on, he's passionate about.  It could be his girls, building, music, politics, friends, or food.  But whatever it is, he pursues with all of his heart.
  • Matt loves to laugh!  He may poke at his nieces or nephews or his siblings just to try and make them laugh.  Matt even laughs at himself for following in his uncle's footsteps.  Whenever he's late to a family gathering, he'll call to let everyone know to go ahead without him.  It's a reference to his Uncle Bob and how Bob was always late and held us up from opening Christmas gifts--which was quite irksome to his nieces and nephews.  
  • Matt's a forward thinker.  He doesn't get bogged down in the past.  He's always moving forward and helping others do the same.
  • Matt writes beautiful songs.  He's a deep thinker--and it shows in his songs.
  • Matt loves God.  He's not afraid to let others know how much he loves God!  He's pretty passionate about Him, too.  He's also quick to listen to God.
  • Matt is a warrior.  He's not afraid to challenge the thinking of others.  He's also been known to stir things up--he learned this well at the extended Dietz family table.  ;)
  • Matt loves his girls.  He's a good father--being persistent in their lives.  I know he loves them deeply.
  • Matt is a great designer.  He sees things and knows quickly how to put things together--whether that's with a building plan for a house, an album cover, or a person's life.  He sees how it should be and can make it happen or speak into it.
  • Matt is prophetic.  God has developed this gift in Matt and he's not afraid to use it.  In fact, he's used it with total strangers and it's been life-transforming.
  • Matt has a heart for prayer and helps lead prayer at his church.  He's passionate to see the bride of Christ press in to God.
  • Matt loves to travel.  If time and money were no object, he'd be going to lots of new places.
  • Matt loves investing in the lives of others.  He sees to it that his nieces and nephews are encouraged in their giftings.  He invests time with other men in his life.  He spends time with his girls and their friends.  He loves to see people find their purpose and then breathe life into that purpose--even mine.

Matt's name means "gift from God."  He was...and is...a gift.  And not just to me and Andy--he's a gift from God to the world.  Matt's a gifted musician and song writer.  His music was meant for the kingdom of God!  The combination of his names means Gift of God--full of strength and bravery--who is meant to help and defend mankind--and rule in the kingdom of God.
I love watching the process...

I love you,