Archive | it is well with my SOUL

{she reads truth}

Have you heard about She Reads Truth yet?

If you haven’t heard about it you need to run…not walk…to your closest device and check it out. If you want to learn more about the things of God and grow deeper in his word with a community of other women this is the place for you.

It’s a beautiful, articulate, life-giving app & website with devotions from God’s word. The app is beautiful; it has the entire bible for reference & devotions and gorgeous screen savers. The website has the same and more as you can study along with their ever-changing studies {topics vary from a specific book of the bible such as Titus to general study topics such as Hospitality}.  You can follow along with the current study, look up past studies or order one of their printed study journals if you prefer to write it out. The She Reads Truth team has brilliantly decided to have different artists create these packs and truly wants it to be a place where a community of women can learn more about the things of God. The artwork can be purchased & boy is it fun to check it all out.

Go check it out HERE!

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so long summer {heading BACK TO SCHOOL}

so long summer 1000Summer is almost over {even though it’s still hot around here}. The first half of my summer I was miserably pregnant and the second half I was elated with sweet Blake in my arms 24/7. I did not accomplish anything or even get out of the house from June to September. Remember THIS post about all the things I hoped to do with my two big kids? None of those things happened and before we knew it they were back to school last week.   DSC_0170 DSC_0177 DSC_0154 DSC_0147 DSC_0188 IMG_3809 IMG_3806During our “back to school” festivities we had a special first day breakfast with pancakes in the shape of a K and a 1 for their grades.

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IMG_3767 IMG_3783 IMG_3774  IMG_3781  We also celebrated my Dad’s birthday with his favorite meal and a cake last week {to honor his life and not focus on the day he passed away}. I was nervous about getting the kids to school with a newborn in tow but we made it and even made it to the donut shop one morning!

IMG_3834We celebrated Paigey’s birthday with a small family party and mall outing {she got an Elsa costume, visit from Nana and Papa and many other fun gifts} this past weekend.

IMG_3981 IMG_4048 IMG_4047 IMG_3969Grammy had a birthday in there somewhere, Blake turned one month old, my brother came to town for a visit and Aaron was busy turning our backyard into a fun play zone for the kids {pictures & details coming soon}.

DSC_0196 DSC_0199 DSC_0194He is such a cutie! I have a million hashtags for Blake on my Instagram account but one of my favorites is #spikeyhairdontcare {you can find me there under the username of: everydayVALENTINE}!

With the hope of a new season upon us we are enjoying the last few moments of summer but let’s hope Fall is on its way!

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making faith FUN for kids

It’s Holy Week for those of us who will be participating in Easter festivities this Sunday and believe that it is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

From Palm Sunday, to Good Friday {the day of Jesus crucifixion}, to Easter {the day of Jesus resurrection from the dead} we have the chance to reflect on the events that lead to the salvation of the world. I believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he died on the cross for our sins and that he rose from the grave to save the people of this world from death. Anyone who believes this will be saved and live eternally with Him and I believe this because in the Bible {John 3:16} it says…“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life.”  This faith is free for all and life giving. It’s that simple.

With all of that in mind we have tried to make Jesus the cornerstone of our little family’s life. Aaron and I work hard to teach our kids all about this sweet Jesus we love through prayer, teaching them about the Bible, taking them to church and so on…we take all the help we can get from outside sources as well. Thankfully there are a ton of FUN tools out there to teach our kids about the Bible and God’s ways. Just in time for Easter I wanted to share them with you.

::a few of our favorite faith resources for kids::

easter fun ideas

1. What’s in the Bible – this video series {from the guy who created Veggie Tales} is true of God’s word, fun, silly and it has honestly helped me remember all those FUN & important facts about the Bible that I have learned over the years but need brushing up on! If your kids have questions about the Bible or just want to be entertained and learn along the way you gotta check out this series.

2. Resurrection Eggs -this egg kit contains and explains many of the elements of the Easter story. I keep attempting to make my own version but have not completed it yet {in the meantime this one linked above is great to buy and/or Pinterest has several others versions you can make if you’re in the mood}.

3. Kid’s Worship Music -we love hearing our kids sing about God and learn about God through music. Pandora has a few Kid’s Praise/Worship stations and there are a ton of other options I could mention out there {and maybe I will another day}. For now I will just tell you about two options we love. Little Song Birds is an album we are really into right now with its quirky reggae style and biblical truths. And of course Psalty “the singing song book” is my all-time favorite from growing up {every church kid from the 80’s will agree with me here}. You can find his new songs and old classics from several sources these days.

Little Song Birds found HERE

Psalty found HERE and HERE

4. Jesus Calling -Do you know about Sarah Young’s awesome devotionals entitled Jesus Calling? I love the first one she wrote {from God’s point of view/voice using the bible} for adults. We also like the young adult version but I recently become enchanted with the children’s version {pictured above} for its content and beautiful illustrations. Check it out!

5. There are so many children’s Bibles available to buy that it can be overwhelming. I LOVE many of the versions we have come across but these two are special for their accuracy and unique natures. The Action Bible is beautifully illustrated with a raw, edgy, comic book style {what boy in your life wouldn’t love that?}. The Jesus Storybook Bible has been written in such a way that even in the old testament each story points towards Jesus {every story whispers His name}. You just have to read it for yourself. These can never replace God’s true written word but as a way of teaching and training young hearts about the Bible I think these are both great tools to start with.

Action Bible found HERE

Jesus Storybook Bible found HERE

P.S. If you are reading this and you simply want me to pray with you or have questions about this faith in Jesus that I often bring up…please do not hesitate to email me at laurapanfilio@gmail.com. I will get back to you as soon as I can and I will pray for you. I may not have all the answers but I do want to be as available to you as I can be. Happy Easter!

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{a new year & a life plan}

Dear Life,

Today I celebrate a new year…we have made it through the first year of my dad’s death. Today’s a new chance to move through the hard days with the knowledge that I got through a year…so I can get through the next. I hope I can find a little more joy this year and seek to not take you for granted for one second. Sometimes you are too much for me. I love my LIFE and I love how it has gone so far but I wonder how well I’m doing with you. Most days I want to seek a more meaningful LIFE, but I don’t know where to start to improve it. Should I start with trying to focus on my health or increasing my prayer life? Is it more important to focus on being there for my husband and/or my kids? Or wait…what about my neighbors, my friends, my extended family and the ministries I’m involved in…where do they find a place in my LIFE? My “word” for 2013 has been {FOCUS} because try as I may I cannot seem to stick to one task for more than a few minutes at a time. I don’t even watch TV without another device in my hands. Ahhh. Sometimes I just want to unplug, reset and figure out how to {FOCUS} on you…but how do I do that? Do you understand? You are my LIFE after all…so hopefully you have seen a lot and you know me pretty well. I need a new plan. I’m starting to think about my “word” for 2014 and I want to continue to {FOCUS} but I need to do more {or maybe I need to do less}. I stumbled upon THIS blog post {by Ann Voskamp} last year. If you want to read all about it please be sure to scroll down to the numbered explanation. It is a great way for me to look at you dear LIFE as I know that you are precious and with God’s help I can figure more of you out. I love the way Ann teaches us to find rhythms in our days, to memorize God’s word, to count gifts. I loved her book One Thousand Gifts {and while it’s not for everyone, it was life changing for me}. This post of hers is brilliant and I just love it. I don’t have all the answers yet…but hang in there with me while I try to figure it out this LIFE here on earth…would you? Happy New Year!

Sincerely {and happily},

*laura*

31 days (250)

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{A letter to my DAD}

dear dad 2

If I could write a letter to my Dad today…this is what I would write. For more on my Dad’s death you can read HERE and for more of my thoughts on grief you can read HERE.

Dear Dad,

Happy Heaven Day! We miss you. We miss you every day. If I could write you a letter, I would. Grant saw me texting the other day and asked if I was texting you in Heaven. I wish that it worked that way {and by the way isn’t he funny?…that story would have made you laugh}. I miss seeing you laugh about the kids and light up when they entered the room. I wish I could tell you that Paige is 6 now and really growing up. She is such a delight and a sweet big sister. Grant is as funny as always and every time we call him “Goofus” or “Buster” we think of you. Things will never be the same without you Dad.

Here are a few of my experiences that I jotted down over the last year without you. I hope they help others process their pain if they can relate to losing a loved one. You know that I am a person who wears my heart on my sleeve {I think I got that from you} and I’m not accustomed to being so unsure of how I feel. In those first few months after you were gone and the shock was wearing off I was constantly unsure of how the grief would hit on any given day. I was very confident in our Savior’s love and His hand in my life. I felt peace that you were in Heaven and with so many of our other loved ones but I had never experienced grief like that before. It was an aching and lonely place. I can tell you that things are not as RAW as they were back in October of 2012. God has renewed my mind everyday through His word and the Holy Spirit has been a comfort that I cannot describe. God’s word promises {in Isaiah 40} “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…” and I have clung to that. I am praying now, as I type these words, for every person who will read this…that they can be healed of their grief through the power of Jesus.

 …over the past year…

In OCTOBER we planned a beautiful memorial service {with the help of friends and family} to celebrate your life. So many people supported us with love, letters, food, flowers, stories of fond memories, coming to the service and just “being there” for us all. For the service Jen wrote a beautiful eulogy of your life and read it…Drew & Aaron {and I} all shared some things about you that we loved and many people loved mentioning your three favorite things: Guitars, Guns and Golf {and of course Grandkids made it in there in recent years}. Gary preached a great message and shared the hope of Jesus and Dan did a great job leading people in some of your favorite worship songs. We played a slideshow and had pictures around. People from all walks of your life shared stories about you and how much they respected you {people from your work, your band, your golf life, our family and your friends like Uncle Mark and Bruce and Uncle Ray to name a few}. We were very proud to be your kids that day.

We buried your body in a spot that looks up to the hills where you died on Castlewood’s beautiful golf course. We thought you would have loved that.

And then we just kept going that month…in a fog of sorts…to get through the holidays.

In the beginning of NOVEMBER I spent lots of days in bed…it was a total blur. Upon seeing pictures of the kids {at their preschool} all dressed in western clothes I had a small meltdown. I saw the pictures and I cried…to a mom I hardly knew {who was very sweet about the whole thing}. I blubbered something about not wanting to spend the money to buy them…but explained that my Dad would have loved them…and I was buying the kids bandana’s the day he died…on and on. It was awkward and yet I just had to cry in that moment. Things were just so raw. We spent Thanksgiving with your cousin Ian and we had a great time connecting with him and remembering old stories {despite being very, very sad}. I’m thankful that we have him in our lives and that even though you did not have a brother…you had him.

By the time DECEMBER came around even Christmas traditions that I look forward to all year seemed like such a chore. I could barely even get a Christmas tree up and decorated. I knew this would pass, but it was hard. Thanksgiving & Christmas were the times that you gave us kids a lot of your undivided attention. You were not planted in front of the TV for as many hours on these holidays and you engaged with us at meals a little more than usual. I missed your quiet/humble prayers {however obligatory they may have been from mom’s less-than-obvious-smiling-nudge} before meals. I knew we would get through the coming year…but I just felt sad the entire holiday season.

Mom took us to Disneyland over Christmas. This was not something you would have ever wanted to do and so it allowed us to feel disconnected from you in a way that freed us up {not out of disrespect for your memory but to allow us to have some fun}. Seeing the kids enjoy the magic and wonder of the Disneyland resort was a great distraction and a good way to feel happy during a painful time. Even though you had no desire to go to Disneyland we couldn’t  help but think of you often on our trip. When we were in Frontierland or when Mom took a picture with Walt Disney {saying it was her other Walt} we thought of you. We had a BBQ dinner on Christmas Eve {at the Big Thunder Ranch} and it reminded us of the chuck-wagon dinners at the Bar-D in Durango and we thought of you. Paige loved talking about watching westerns with you and Grant loved the shooting range {just like Grampy would have} and of course we thought of you.

You were everywhere.

As it became a new year in JANUARY I was feeling stronger. The pain of losing you was not as raw. That word raw never made sense until I went through this. But the sudden loss of someone so important in my life was like an open wound that could be ripped open again and again with the slightest move. A cut cannot heal if it keeps getting re-opened and thus is raw. Now I knew what that meant. I would look at a picture and cry. I would drive down the street and wonder what my parents were doing for dinner and suddenly realize that my Dad was not there.  It was really hard.

One day Grant asked me how you died…he wanted a little explanation again…and Paigey piped up with the answer in her sweet sympathetic voice. She said “Bubby…his heart stopped…” and he nodded his head as he remembered. I asked him what he missed about you and he got out of his seat and came running to tell me. He said that he loved that Grampy played guitar and he motioned to show me how you would tap your foot when you played guitar. You know Grant had always found this motion of yours very cool. The whole interaction was so sweet. I hope that he always remembers this about you. Paige anticipated that I would cry and came running over to dry my tears. She was right. I cried. For a moment. The thought of my you playing guitar and the thought that Grant would not get to see this in person ever again and the LOVE that I felt for both you and my boy in that moment ran deep into a part of my soul that has been untouched so far in this life. It was sweet. It was sad. But I wasn’t ripped open. Not like I would have been a month or two ago. I was healing but trust me you were still everywhere.

Just a few days later…the beginning of JANUARY I had worship practice at church and this was perhaps my most painful bought with grief. I always loved that we connected through music. I loved it when you played guitar for me during my high school and college singing days and occasionally for worship at church. It had been really cool to get to do worship with you again when we moved back here. Remember the first time we got to do it again {you got emotional when you heard me sing and that was such a sweet moment for me…to know that we could connect on that level and that you were proud of me}. That night in January I went to find my equipment in the big box that holds everyone’s ear buds and saw your named compartment empty. A flood of emotions filled my heart and I fought back tears the whole rehearsal. When it came time to pray after practice I shared that my grief was very much wrapped up in being at church doing music. I shared that it made me feel close to you to be there at worship practice because that was one of the only ways I bonded with you in life…but it made me feel the loss of you so deeply. I described it as being sweet and painful in the same beat. I ugly cried and snotted all over myself {many of the people on the team that night were strangers to me} in a really awkward way…but I just couldn’t hold it in. Cindy, your sweet friend, was there that night and she wrapped her arms around me and prayed…she really knew you well and I was thankful she was there for me that night. It makes me cry and smile when I think about it. Music will always be our thing.

Drew went through a lot this year in January and February and he has really missed you. He is doing well now and we have tried to encourage him that you would be proud of the changes he is making in his life. Thanks for being a good Dad to him…he is sooooo much like you. Jen changed jobs and I know she misses working with you…but she is doing really well. Her love of sports reminds me so much of you and nobody rooted more for the 49ers last winter…hoping they would win the super bowl {because you would have loved that}. Paige talks about you constantly and has so many sweet little memories with you.

By early MARCH our sweet Grant was finally starting to talk about you more. We were not sure his 3 ½ year old little heart had understood what was going on when you died in October. Thankfully we learned that he did get it…while listening to a worship song that said something about eternal life Paige asked what eternal life was. I started to explain that if we believe in Jesus we get to live with him forever in Heaven {even after we die} and that basically what we describe as “eternal life”…as I was explaining this to her, Grant piped in and said “remember Paigey, it’s like Grampy, we will get to be in Heaven like Grampy…” My mommy heart almost burst with joy that he was “getting it” and something was clicking with him. And then just a month or two later on our way to preschool Grant’s sweet words pierced my heart again when he talked about your heart breaking. Paige made a silly comment about liking Grampy’s car {we recently purchased it from mom} more than our other car because it was your’s and you were now dead. You know that she just says things like they are {in a very sad and dramatic voice…of course}. Grant commented with his thoughts… “mommy, I wish God could make Grampy’s heart not break so that he was here again…” Oh, that one was like a punch in the gut as I replied to him through tears… “Me too buddy…me too.”

You were everywhere.

In APRIL, Grant remembered that you had come to Super Franks for his birthday the year before and that you had given him his first set of golf clubs. You had always told the kids you would teach them how to golf and so Paige continues to ask who is going to teach her now, when the subject comes up.  We have assured her that we will make sure she learns.

Anticipating what would have been your 40th wedding anniversary with Mom, in MAY, brought about many tears as well. She has been so strong and you would be very proud of her. She has completely focused on all the good years you had together and has cried when she’s needed to and smiled the whole way through. I don’t know what it was about your anniversary but it just really hit me. I had planned a party for you guys in my head for a few years leading up to this big accomplishment and it was sad that it was never going to happen. I felt proud that you made it so long. I know you guys {like everyone out there} didn’t have a perfect marriage all the time but it was a good one. I wish I could tell you that you were both great examples to me. Thank for loving and respecting each other and thanks for working hard to provide for Mom. Knowing that she is going to be able to stay in the house and carry on with her normal life has been such a gift to her and to us. Thanks for loving her and showing me God’s love through your marriage.

This SUMMER Mom really missed you {it was her most difficult season to get through}. When Castlewood’s invitational came around we all were sad that you and Uncle Ray were not doing your normal prep to join the tournament. As birthdays and celebrations passed by {like Father’s Day} this year we always felt your absence. This Fall Drew wanted to hunt with you and Jen wanted to talk sports. We made you a cake in August for your birthday. We missed you at the family reunion. We wanted you to be there to share in the fun {even if big parties weren’t really your thing}. Paige wanted you at her birthday party in SEPTEMBER and I found it very sweet how bonded she was with Papa…knowing that kids just need their grandparents. I know that he will be a great Grandpa to them in your absence and I’m thankful that he knew you, respected you and that you guys had so much in common.

It’s OCTOBER now and I could have written more stories but I think you get the idea. In many ways it is still hard to believe that you are really gone. Mom hosted a really nice dinner in your honor for some friends the other night at the club. You would have loved it.

You were everywhere this year Dad.

And you are always with us.

You are in Drew’s looks, Jen’s expressions, Grant’s love of music, songs on the radio…meals we eat and old stories we tell. The kids still talk about your “spot” on the couch. They miss you terribly when they get out of the bath at Grammy’s and want to snuggle with you like they used to. Aaron has even started watching golf more often on TV and just the sound of that game makes me think of the years I heard golf in our home growing up.

Thank you Dad for loving God, Mom, us kids, the grandkids and for having so many passions and interests that you passed on to us.

We miss you everyday and we look forward to the years we will spend with you in eternity.

All my love,

*laura* {Y.F.K.}

P.S. I used to sign all my cards to my parents with Y.F.K. meaning Your Favorite Kid…I’m totally humble.

Please drop me a line {laurapanfilio@gmail.com} if you have questions.

I am praying for each person that reads this.

31 days (250)

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