Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brain Dump - July 28th

Click here to read the previous brain dump.

Click here to read Kevin's brain dumps.

a. Wow! In a way, I still feel like I'm trying to get my bearings in the midst of short bursts of temporary settlements. God is still God, and He's still revealing His unfailing love and compassion.

b. The message we heard at church Sunday was extremely encouraging for Kevin and me. Pastor Leach spoke from Psalm 54 on how to handle trouble. The big takeaway for me: the four words that will change my situation - God is my helper!

c. Those words resonated with me. They are alive and real to me. As I think about those four words, also found in Psalm 121, I'm encouraged, my hope is continually restored, my head is lifted up, and my perspective is changed. God is my helper! This will be my battle cry this week. What will yours be?

d. Our time at the second home, which the Lord graciously provided for us, came to a close Sunday afternoon due to the host family returning from their vacation.

e. We hurried to the home after church, and like a professional maid service, cleaned the home as thoroughly as we could. Our family had a goal to leave it better than we found it. I'm hopeful when the family returned they were pleased with our efforts.

f. As I reflect back over our time at this second home, I'm delighted by the many sweet memories that were made there. I'll share a few with you.

f1. I enjoyed hearing my son literally sit down everyday at the piano and play songs he learned from piano lessons in NC. He also started teaching himself how to play chords using a phone app. I loved seeing him discover a love for something and independently teaching himself how to play certain chords (Kevin helped a little).  Thank you, Caroline, for being Max's first piano teacher, and teaching him music theory and the foundations of piano.

Not only was I blessed to see Max playing and learning, it was enjoyable to see Kevin walk by that same piano bench and get lured in by those elegant black and white keys. It was so pleasurable to hear him play, and not so pleasurable to hear the kids and I sing along to the music.

f2. The home was filled with tons and tons and tons of good literature. Oh, the kids were in book heaven! The kids and I didn't even make it to the library because they were surrounded by an immense supply of books that were perfect for their ages. As a family we read most of Pilgrim's Progress. The kids and I fell in love with The Wheel on the School. We didn't get to finish it (bummer), so we'll just purchase our own copy. I loved how realistic the author portrayed the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed how genuine friendships were developed between younger children and older adults (beautiful)! The school children in the book possessed a determination to reach a goal that inspires one to go and do something good!

f3. As a family we have consistently gotten on our knees each night and prayed together. I have to admit, in Kevin's absence one night, the kids and I completely forgot to have family prayer (Kevin had a meeting and returned home after the kids' bedtime). This was modeled for us when we stayed with friends in Fort Worth. It's not something I've added to my dump to brag about, although I am glad we have instituted this act of spiritual discipline in our home (home has been wherever we are these days). But, I'm hopeful someone reading will be motivated by what we learned from others and have begun to practice in our lives. More than anything, Kevin and I get to hear our kids pray to their Savior, and we get to hear what's on each other's hearts, too. 

Enough about my happy memories from the past few weeks...

g. A sweet friend from our church asked me for an update on our housing situation. I proceeded to tell her that the family of the current home could possibly return before our rental home would be available. Without any hesitation she courteously offered up her home since they would be away traveling for two weeks. At the time I thought to myself, Lord would you please cause this rental home to be ready before the current family returns from vacation?!?

When we heard back from the rental home owners and were told their move out date, we knew immediately that God had provided ahead of time what we needed before we knew we needed it.

So the home we're in now marks the third home the Lord has supernaturally provided for us. Although there are several things I could complain about, there always are, I'm choosing to be grateful for another peaceful habitation and quiet resting place that has been graciously offered to us.

Although I knew about the move ahead of time, Sunday I had an extremely difficult time emotionally having to move into someone else's house, AGAIN.  I found myself dealing with stinking, ugly pride, again. I didn't want to have to lug my suitcases through another threshold except one I could call my own. I've felt totally vulnerable through this entire process. BUT, I've had God to rely on, hide in, and find true perspective from. So despite my feelings, I give God permission to do the necessary purging and pruning in my life that needs to be done.

The song by Mary Alessi called I Surrender All, was balm to my heart.

Surrendering is typically not easy and usually doesn't make me bubble over with joy. But oh, after it's all said and done, my heart rejoices in God my savior and what He has and will do in my surrendered heart. God's plan is higher. 

Wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart. I believe the Bullard hearts are being strengthened more and more as we wait on our home. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Brain Dump - July 13th

Click here to read the previous brain dump.

Click here to read Kevin's brain dumps.

Today was a day of highs for the Bullards. Woohoo!

a. We joined Mt Hebron aka "The Mount" at today's 7:50 am service. It's our new church home, and the place we unreservedly believe God has led us to connect with. Kevin and I spent time this afternoon looking at the list of ministries our church offers so we can get involved with what God is doing at The Mount! (Hey, Sharon!)

b. Thankful that my buddy and I were able to take a Sunday afternoon nap! Four Sundays straight we've done this, and I'm starting to like this habit of ours. ;)

c. We toured a rental home today that we believe may be he one! During my training last week, a fellow homeschooling mom invited my family to join hers under a shade tree for lunch. We obliged. During our lunch conversation I shared that my family was looking for a rental home. She immediately told me she had a friend who was moving to Oregon, and they were looking to rent their home out. We connected with the owners and toured the house today.

d. It was so HOT today! Oh my goodness, this heat is not like NC heat. I had learned to tolerate NC heat and actually enjoy it. This comes from growing up on a farm, and having to work in the hot sun during the summer. Texas heat is like a sauna.

e. Kevin and I took the kids to the community pool today. They swam while we sat under an arbor enjoying a bit of shade. My excuse that I didn't pack my swim suit won't work when we move into our own home. The kids will plead for me (and Kevin, too) to get in and swim. I have to give credit to Kevin: he swam with the kids last week while at the pool.

f. We drove to Dallas to spend some time with my brother-in-law, Chris. We ended up at the Dealey Plaza exploring and reading the JFK displays. It was really cool to visit a place that still captivates so many people for various reasons. The girls found it intriguing, and enjoyed observing the area. But, when bedtime arrived they both piled up in our bedroom for the night. Kevin, Max, and I are ready to watch some documentaries and the movie about JKF's assasination.

g. Although this didn't happen today, I thought I'd share it. Friday one of the homeschooling moms who lives in the neighborhood we're staying in right now invited our family over for dinner. The fellowship was awesome! It was just what we all needed. Their kids connected with our kids, and we all just had a wonderful time together.

Cetelia will bloom where she is planted!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Brain Dump - July 10th

Click here to read the previous brain dump.

Click here to read Kevin's brain dumps.

a. Today the kids and I attended a Classical Conversations Practicum, which provides me with the training required to teach in the program in Plano, Texas. 

b. Attending an event alone is not my idea of fun. This morning Isaiah 41:10 brought me comfort. Knowing that people who care about me (& my family) were praying brought me peace, too. 

c. Two of my kids expressed reluctance in attending their camp: one not wanting to exit the car when we arrived, and the other crying and holding tightly to my leg when we reached the drop off classroom. Once I finally got the kids in their respective classrooms, my eyes welled with tears as I walked down the stairs. Not only had I dropped my kids off into a room with perfect strangers, but I, too, was headed into an auditorium filled with perfect strangers. After finding a seat, I looked up on the wall and there staring back at me was the word, Emmanuel. At that moment, I was reminded again that I'm not alone, for God is with me.  

d. I thought about my North Carolina CC tutor friends often today.  Oh, how I missed them tremendously. 

e. By the end of the day, I had connected with several moms who will participate in the group my family will be participating in. I am looking forward to getting to know these moms when school begins. The kids made some connections in their classrooms, too. 

f. Kevin and I enjoyed an evening chat outside on the patio. We shared with each other about our day and talked about Marriage Works. 

g. House hunting is on hold until next week since I'll be in training (and the kids in camp) for the next two days.  

h. For those who asked me to send the prayer I've been using to help me respect Kevin here it is. I apologize I don't have the source, but will try and find it so I can attribute it to the writer. 

Prayer: Controlling My Tongue

Lord, I ask that you please guide my tongue. When I want to criticize my husband's decisions, remind me to talk to You first ... You may have something to show me that I do not see. Remind me that in trusting my husband's decision, I am also trusting You. Holy Spirit please help me to control and tame my tongue. I pray for wisdom when I speak, and  pray that what I say benefits others. Help me to use my words to encourage, uplift, and wisely advise others. I pray that You would help me in this area in Jesus' Name. Amen! 

i. I end tonight's brain dump with words from the hymn, Let Me Come Closer to Thee, Lord Jesus. 

Let me come closer to Thee, Lord Jesus,
Oh, closer day by day;
Let me lean harder on Thee, Lord Jesus,
Yes, harder, all the way.

Cetelia will bloom where she has been planted! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Brain Dump - July 8th

Click here to read yesterday's brain dump.

Click here to read Kevin's brain dumps.

a. Today was a good day. I spent a large portion of the day with my girls, Caitlin and Kuria.

b. Marty got groomed today, and looks cool again with his new haircut. Poor thing has a runny nose and watery eyes. We think it may be allergies.

c. The family played the game Clue tonight. It took Kevin nearly half the game to figure out exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Max won! It was fun playing a board game with my family.

d. As a family, we are reading through Pilgrim's progress together. Two of the characters, Christian & Pliable, fell into the Slough of Despond while on their journey to the City of Gold (heaven). After falling into the mud & encountering a challenge, Pliable left Christian and turned his back  on the journey. Despite falling into the mud, Christian kept pursuing the path to his destination. This part of the story encouraged me to keep pursuing the path God has us on, and to refrain from turning back. There where days when it would have been so easy to just head back to NC, but we refused to turn back, unlike Pliable in the story.

e, Since Kevin had business to attend to in Waco today, we spent a large part of the day away from each other. But, y'all when he returned it was on! I had to convert to "respect my buddy" mode. There were a few times I cringed on the inside due to that internal struggle. I believe I did a good job (you'll have to ask Kevin what he thinks).

f. Reading Ephesians 5:33 in the Amplified translation really helped me see how far off the path I had drifted from respecting Kevin. It states: and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].

g. I have a wonderful husband, but like all of us, he's far from being perfect in any area of his life. Even in those times when it's completely obvious that he's fallen short, I'm given the charge to RESPECT. Sometimes I wish there were prerequisites, but there aren't. So regardless of Kevin's actions, I have my script (my part) already written out.

h. I realized today that if I'd start back praying more intently for my husband, instead of the ritual prayers ("Lord bless him, bless his day, protect him and keep him safe"), maybe - just maybe - my attitude about deferring to him, noticing him, preferring him, and admiring him exceedingly would change. As a matter of fact it will change.

i. The challenge is on ladies: Let's respect the man God has given us ... the man we have chosen ... the man our children call dad.

j. For me respecting Kevin looks like acknowledging his return when we've been apart, speaking to him in a gentle tone, giving him my undivided attention when he wants to talk, not interrupting him when he speaks, affirming him in his areas of strength, etc. This is just the beginning of my list :)

k. For some reason it has been difficult to verbally affirm Kevin although in my head I think he is one amazingly talented guy. So with God's help, I'm going to focus on verbalizing those positive thoughts and build up my man. Why not? Wouldn't I benefit from it, too?!?

l. Since I know he's reading this, Kevin - you are one talented guy! Even if you couldn't do all the amazing things that you can do, I would still love you! I love you because of you, and not because of what you can do (although that sure is icing on the cake).

m. Today's highlight was hearing Kevin tell me he could see a huge difference in how I related to him today.

Cetelia will bloom where she has been planted.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Brain Dump - July 7th

Click here to read the July 5th brain dump.

Click here to read Kevin's brain dumps.

a. The hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing really encouraged me and became my prayer today. The lyrics "Let thy goodness, like a fetter (chains, shackles), bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above." 

b. I found myself (mind) wondering, exploring the world of what ifs, being afraid of the unknown until I heard this hymn today. I made myself focus on the goodness God  and how he has so miraculously provided for me and my family - just as the hymn stated, let thy goodness bind my wandering heart to thee. 

c. After being out for a few hours looking at houses, it was a nice treat to come back to the house and be able to sit on the back patio and just think, listen, and journal. 

d. During my quiet time, I sensed the Lord saying to me not to try to replicate my life in Greensboro because He was doing something totally new with me and my family. So what does this mean, Lord?!? 

e. It's so apparent God knows exactly where He wants us to be planted, and it's very obvious we haven't discovered that exact place yet. He's working on something, I just know He is! And when my family gets there ,Christ would have done a major work in our lives ! 

f. My friend, Tamika, sent me a prayer right before I left Greensboro that dealt with a wife controlling her tongue in regard to her husband. I didn't need it at the time but I'm thankful for it now! Thanks, Tamika for always encouraging me.  

g. Let's just say, adding my two cents to everything Kevin says doesn't make my marriage work. Neither does cutting him off mid-sentence to interject my point of view. Sad to say, but I'm guilty:( 

h. Y'all, I haven't been the sweet Cetelia I strive to be. It would be easy for me to blame my behavior on my circumstances. I'm human just like everyone reading this blog and very, very far from being perfect. More importantly than that, I have a God who desires to know I love Him by my actions and interactions with my husband and others. I love God by keeping His commands. I have fallen short of seeing to it that I respect my husband. (Eph 5:33

i. More than anything right now, my buddy Kevin needs to feel loved and respected. The wife of the friends we stayed with in Fort Worth helped me to see that Kevin being the husband, father, and provider needed more encouragement now than ever before considering our circumstances. 

j. I feel like the Lord is really challenging me, stripping layers off, and pushing me to depend on Him more and more. Here I am in a place of major instability, yet He's asking me to focus on respecting my husband. Lord, could you at least get my family situated in our own home first? Could you at least let me get my belongings out of storage and get my house in order? Could you not bother me with this right now? Really, Lord, right now?!? 

k. I have my arsenal, my bible verses, and I'll read and re-read and re-read those as I focus on changing a few ugly habits that just aren't making my marriage work. I want to show Kevin respect by letting him finish his sentences before I add my perspective. As my husband, Kevin's thoughts, opinions, and ideas are important to me, and I want to communicate that by listening to him with my full attention and not with eyes on my phone or something else.

l. God is working, in my heart, in our housing situation, etc. He is always working and I'm choosing to join Him in His work on my heart. 

Cetelia will bloom where she has been planted. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Brain Dump - July 5th

Click here to read the July 2nd brain dump.

Click here to read Kevin's brain dumps.

a. Wow! This is the Lord's doing and it's marvelous in my eyes!

b. Last week I traded emails with the director of the homeschooling program where I will be teaching a class this fall. Three days ago, she invited my family to stay at their home during the month of July while they are away on vacation. At this point, she and I had only traded a few emails about my teaching and we had never met each other before.

c. Thursday my family drove to meet the director and her family. Immediately we were given a key to their home, a garage opener, the pool pass, wifi pass codes, and liberty to make their home ours while they were away. My family just stared at their family in utter amazement at what was happening. We were speechless!

d. God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or think! We didn't ask to stay in another person's home, but evidently God has plans and He just wants us to trust Him. I'm grateful for God providing cozy dwelling places as He teaches us to depend more fully on Him and trust Him.

e. As we begin another leg of our journey in Texas, I can't help but look back over our time in Fort Worth with gratitude. I am amazingly thankful for that time of testing and simply waiting. Although it was rough, undeniably my entire family was blessed by it! I even had one child say tonight, can we go back to Fort Worth?

f. Our hosts friends were so keenly aware of their part in what God was doing in our lives. When it was time for us to leave, the wife teared up as she shared how my family was a blessing to them.

g. Our families, including the kids bonded. Additionally, Kevin and I were humbled, corrected, and encouraged. I'm thankful for the friendships we developed in Fort Worth. They were God-orchestrated and necessary!

h. As we enter another round of testing, this one in my opinion is  more challenging than the first. I'm determined to be called a good and faithful servant when it's all said and done. In Matthew 25:14-30, the master left talents to three servants. Two of the servants were good and faithful by putting their talents to work and doubling what they were given. In my eyes, the Lord is entrusting to us someone else's home, and we have the ability to respect it, care for it, and be faithful stewards over it. The faithful servants were able to share in the master's happiness, and I, too, am striving to share in my Master's happiness!

i. As we continue to wait on our home, I trust God to help us make right use of our time in this new place. I want to say, "Lord what in the world are you doing?" But, instead I trust Him to guide us through this season as He refines us and draws us closer to Him.

j. I listened to the hymn, "I surrender all" this evening as we drove down the highway transitioning to another new place. In my heart I surrendered my all to Jesus... my life, my children, my home, all that I have. I know in my heart that God's love won't fail, and everything is going to be alright.

Cetelia will bloom where she has been planted!