Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Day at OMSI


Before I get started with our field trip to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) I wanted to wish this special little princess a happy first birthday ..




One year ago today I was standing in a softly lit hospital room with my son Josiah and his beautiful wife Monique, as we welcomed Miss Macie Blair into the world. One of the happiest moments of my life, and I can't believe it's been an entire year since it happened ! Macie is the perfect mixture of sugar and spice- lots of both interwoven into this feisty little girl's personality, and we are so so blessed to have her in our family. 








HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, MACIE !!!



We are headed to Macie's first birthday party in a few hours, so this post will be looooong on photos and short on words.

OMSI has long been a family favorite - just an hour and a half away from us in beautiful Portland, it is an awesome place to visit for children and adults alike. We have visited OMSI for years, and it never gets old.

Last Sunday Sam preached both Sunday church services for friends of ours pastoring in Portland. Hayden and Lily and I joined him and spent a wonderful day catching up with our friends and enjoying seeing how the Portland church is doing. I so love being a part of a fellowship of churches around the world, because it doesn't matter where we go - the spirit of our churches is always one of vibrancy and excitement and life !  It was so nice fellowshipping with the saints and soaking up what God is doing in P-Town :)



The next day we had planned to take the little ones to OMSI, as they are the only members of the Rice family who have not been there. We didn't realize it was closed on Mondays though ... it was too wet for the Portland Zoo, and we wanted to save our money for OMSI, so we opted for sleeping in and then heading to one of our favorite places to eat ...




Black Bear Diner !!


The food is delish and the service is always spectacular- it is kid friendly and reasonably priced as well. I could seriously do a commercial for them.







Actually, I probably just did.


Black Bear was the highlight of Monday, and we spent the rest of the day relaxing (insert maniacal sarcastic laughter here) in a hotel room with two rambunctious children and a bag of popcorn or two.

Oh yes, we ordered pizza.

do not let this happy moment trick you into thinking this is how we spent the day. if i posted the other 99 % of non-happy moments here you would  probably run screaming from the computer in shock and terror. you're welcome.


I am pretty sure the occupants of rooms 218 and 222 were ecstatic beyond belief when Sam and I checked out the next morning, taking our very loud, whiny and cabin-fever-stricken children with us.

In fact, I think I heard cheers of jubilation from the hotel lobby as we drove off, but I digress....





PRAISE GOD FOR OMSI !!!!





And this is the part of the blog post where my words run out, because I have herds of children here to ...well, herd...  to a party this afternoon.

These pictures probably speak for themselves anyway, but here is our day in a nutshell :

Lily and Hayden running from exhibit to exhibit, squealing and clapping and smiling, and Mommy and Daddy chasing them while squealing and clapping and smiling because we weren't caged in a small hotel room with loud, whiny, rambunctious stir-crazy children anymore.


I'll say it again...


PRAISE GOD FOR OMSI !!!




... and their food. which was a - MAY -zing.

































If you are ever in Portland, I highly recommend a day at OMSI. A family membership - even for a super-sized family like ours - is very reasonable priced, and you could spend an entire day there without doing everything they have to offer.  It's like Disneyland without the mouse ears and rides and castles.... okay, it's nothing like Disneyland, but it is still a fabulous place to go.




PRAISE GOD FOR OMSI ;)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

His eye is on the ladybug

A few days ago I had a revelation from the Lord.

Now I'm not normally one of these people who walks around "hearing" from God on a regular basis.

Have you talked to people like that before ? It's ... unusual ... to me when I hear some people say that they have daily ongoing conversations with the Lord.

I don't mean the kind where you pour your heart out in prayer, and you feel like God is giving you a scripture verse to think about, or that He whispers something to your soul.

I'm talking about people who have elaborate conversations with God, the kind they can replay for you in precise detail days or even weeks later.

We watched a Sunday School video series at church years ago, and the gentleman speaking did just that : he was talking about financial direction, and he recounted word for word several lengthy dialogues he (supposedly) had in the past with God. And he recounted them verbatim. And the cynic in me thought- I can't even tell you verbatim what my husband and I discussed yesterday, let alone three months ago.

And right now I am having a total deja vu moment, so if I've blogged in the past about my cynical mind while watching Sunday School videos at church, please forgive me.

Anyhoot, my point is this : I am a natural mocker and skeptic and cynic, and that may or may not have anything to do with the fact that I don't go around having daily, lengthy, specific, detailed conversations with the Lord. Don't get me wrong- I have a personal, living, vibrant relationship with Jesus. But our communication for the most part, takes place in the form of prayer (me speaking to Him) and Bible reading (God speaking to me through His word.)



HOWEVER ....

A few days ago I had a revelation from the Lord :)


(Don't you just love how I poked fun at someone else for saying basically the same thing, but when I declare I've heard from the Lord, it's the real thing?? Lord, forgive me if I mistakenly judged others who really did hear from you, even if they sounded like they were making the whole thing up just to be sensational.)



Sooooo ... are you just on the edge of your seat right now, wondering what that heavy revvy (church slang here) was ??





Scroll down for my heavy revelation ...




























Keep scrolling ....




















Here it comes .....












Wait for it .......

































God sees it all .







I know.




Revelatory.




But really ... God sees it all .





I snapped this photo of Hayden in our backyard last week, observing a "wady-bug." (iPhone pics only on the blog today, so excuse the grainy quality. Oh, who am I kidding that's the only kind of pictures I post anymore - no apologies !) There is a little family of ladybugs making their home in our yard, and he had just discovered them a few days before...

He was climbing up and down the stairs outside and babbling on and on in his adorable toddler voice about the birdies (what birdies doing', Mama ?) and the neighborhood cat (what Butters doing', Mama?) when suddenly he squatted down and stared intensely at something on the ground.

I got down on his level and looked in the dirt for what it was that was captivating his attention, and instantly I saw it- a tiny, perfect little ladybug. She (are there he ladybugs?) was crawling around minding her own business, spreading her wings a few times, and then deciding to stay on the ground instead ....and Hayden was fixated on her. He gasped in surprise when she moved, he covered his mouth in disbelief and whispered OHHH, he pointed to her in sheer amazement. There was such an awe-filled reverence in his voice and on his chubby little face. Pictures don't do it justice.

But a video might :)





Fast forward to a few days later, when I was standing in my kitchen washing dishes. Readers, allow me a moment of brutal honesty here ? I was doing more than washing dishes... I was sobbing my eyes out, having a first class Pity Party with a capitol P.

My husband and Mackenzie left last Tuesday for a five day father/daughter trip to San Fransisco. This trip was planned a month ago, and they were meeting my husband's brother halfway through it for his birthday. Jason and Naomi and their children were there on spring break as well, and they all met up for some lunch and sightseeing in downtown San Fransisco. Hayden and Lily do not do well on long road trips, so Sam and I have (since my meltdown !!) planned a getaway for the four of us in May.... Hayden is still nursing (don't judge !) and Lily requires 24/7 care, something that is a little bit past the pay grade of my older children at this point. So while we do have something for the future planned... I didn't have anything on my radar that day.

I was feeling overworked (did I mention that we were hosting potty training camp while daddy was gone??) and underpaid (unless you count the secret stash of Girl Scout cookies hidden in my bedroom closet for such a time as this) and a week of single-parenting was wearing on me.

And in the spirit of "brutally honest" I'm going to make a statement here. I'm sure there will be some real single parents who protest that I know nothing about being one, but I'm willing to bet there are about 50 others who will give me a hearty amen.

But here it is : when you are married to a working pastor ... meaning my husband works a regular 40-hour-a-week secular (paying) job and is a full-time (non-paid) pastor as well ... you might feel like a single mom on any given day.

I am NOT saying this to complain or grumble, I am NOT saying this to exaggerate, and I am NOT saying this for sympathy. I am simply stating a fact : life as the wife of a working pastor can be a struggle.

There are days ... many days ... where I feel like I cannot possibly juggle it all. I wear many hats - chef, taxi-driver, maid, parent, teacher, friend, sister, daughter, pastor's wife, confidante, nurse, counselor (kids only !!), laundry lady, personal shopper (lol) , potty-trainer (?!?!?!?) and I often feel that I don't wear any of them well. Sure, I can put any of those hats on for a few moments and try to give my attention to being the best possible - insert title here - that I can possibly be. But most days I feel like I am stretched to my limit.


speaking of hats ;)



For instance ...


I might wake up one morning and decide that today I am Master Chef Mom, and my family is going to have only the healthiest of meals, the organic-ist of vegetables, the best and most balanced menu I can possibly give them (on a budget of course) ....

... and suddenly Children A, B and C are in desperate need of Taxi Driver Mom. Which would be me.

And at the same time that they decide they need to be in three different places at once, Sister So-and-So from church calls and asks if she can get a lift to her doctor's appointment - because she forgot to plan ahead and take the bus (lots of needy folks we meet in the ministry!)

So we head out the door (shelving Teacher Mom for a few hours, because doctor's appointments and work schedules don't always coincide nicely with homeschool hours), only to discover that Child H is puking violently, and needing Nurse Mommy to run back inside and hold her head over the toilet.

Ten minutes later, puked-on floors mopped up, and Child H placed in the tender care of Child E, Daddy calls and says he "forgot to bring his church shirt to work with him today, and would Laundry Mom be able to touch it up and make sure it gets to church tonight ?" (it's a Wednesday, when we have our midweek service). Laundry Mom makes a mental note (which will be stored and forgotten until five minutes after pulling out of our neighborhood when we are headed to church) to iron Daddy's shirt, and proceeds to shuttle children and sister-so-and-so to appointments, work and the doctor, hopefully all in the correct order.

Later on, Teacher Mommy returns home and frantically answers algebra, world history and English questions (why DO we diagram sentences these days anyway ?? Has ANYONE actually used that stuff in real life???).

Shortly afterwards, Maid Mommy looks at the morning dishes and realizes Children A, B and C did not do their chores before they were deposited at their various locations. Maid Mommy makes a mental note (filed right next to the one about touching up Daddy's shirt for church) to address this forgotten chore with her children when they return home later on today... but in the meantime Children E, F and G need lunch, and Child H is still puking on the couch.

At this point Master Chef Mommy decides that she can't possibly make it to the grocery store this afternoon - not if she is going to get Children H and I down for a nap and go retrieve Sister-so-and-so from the doctor in time. Take and Bake pizzas sound like the only reasonable solution at this point, even though Master Chef/Dietician Mommy is cringing on the inside and kicking herself for not planning ahead. (Except that Monday and Tuesday looked an awful lot like today, and that trip to Whole Foods keeps getting delayed for yet another day.)

I could go on and on ... but you get the point. And of course I've left out the late-night Counselor/Mommy sessions (teenagers always seem to schedule these things directly after everyone else has gone to bed) and Potty Training Mommy, who has donned that hat nine times over the years, and is just this week wading into those (pee filled) waters once again.

But this blogpost is getting long, so I will reiterate my earlier point : motherhood can be a struggle.

I don't care if you are a single mommy, a working mommy, a stay-at-home mommy, a married mommy, a Mommy of One or a Mommy of Many : motherhood can be a struggle.




It is at this point that I take you back to our scene : Burnt Out Mommy, tearfully pouring out her woes to God over a sink of dirty dishes.


And it was right in the middle of that Pity Party, with all of my imaginary "hats" lying scattered across our peed-on, puked-on, toy-strewn kitchen floor, that I had my revelation.


God sees it all.


And the funny thing was - I didn't even get that revelation for myself.

As I was crying and scrubbing and drowning in my own sorrows, I suddenly had the most intense feeling that I needed to text a friend across the country (who shall remain nameless- but you know who you are ;)) and tell her the following :


God sees you.


He sees your heart to serve others and your sacrifice and the long hours you serve as a mommy when nobody notices. 

He sees the fact that you never get a break or a vacation and that you feel alone and that some days you just wonder how you can make it through another day.

He sees all that you have endured and He sees the times you've cried that nobody else sees. 

And He is a faithful rewarder and one day it will all be worth it.


He  sees it all.






And suddenly God spoke to my heart - He really did- and said: those words are for you as well.

I didn't hear an audible voice, and there wasn't a bolt of lightning or a rainbow over my sink-ful of dirty dishes, and a hallelujah chorus didn't suddenly, miraculously fill the air ...

But I knew I had just heard from Heaven.


Just like that earlier moment, when my 22 month old golden haired little boy stared in amazement and wonder, past the dirt and weeds, and he beheld that beautiful little ladybug ... God sees it all.


However insignificant I may feel, however many hats I drop and people I fail, whatever my emotions and brainstorms and crises and disappointments, through the trials and the tears and the heartache and the self-loathing and the Pity Parties, through ALL OF IT -


God sees it all.



And He sees me.


But this wasn't really just my revelation, was it ? It's a revelation from the heart of God, revealed to the ancients long ago.



"From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do." ~ Psalm 33: 14,15


His eye is on the sparrow, don't you know ? And the ladybug as well.








And how about you, dear blog reader ?

Are you struggling like me ?

Do you have moments or days, or even SEASONS where you feel alone and unappreciated and maybe even a little abandoned ? Are you struggling to keep a good attitude, juggling a kajillion hats and watching helplessly as they all fall to the pee-soaked floor ? :) Are you crying over your proverbial sink of dirty dishes and asking yourself if anybody even cares ?

God sees you.

He sees you and He cares, and He is just waiting for you to "cast your cares upon Him, for HE careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

His eye is on the sparrow, and the ladybug, and the mama crying at the kitchen sink ...

God sees it all.

If you don't know the love of that all-seeing and merciful and loving Savior, stop what you're doing this minute- and run into His arms. Pour out your sins and you cares and your burdens to Him, and He will give you rest. 




And after all of that .... .... DITCH all of those wearisome hats for a day and hand the reigns over to someone else . . .







.... SHOPPER MOMMY is stepping OUT !!! 



;)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

We're baaaack !!

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I last posted ... it's been BUSY here to say the least.

March is birthday month at The Rice Ranch, with seven of us turning another year older in our immediate family, as well as: my mom, brother, two nieces and nephew, Sam's two brothers, and my daughter-in-love.

It's just one big party here, the whole month long. Like Christmas, without the caroling and cookies and candy canes. Well, and without the lights and Christmas plays and gingerbread houses and reindeer either.

But other than that it's exactly the same.

So if you don't see me a whole lot for the rest of the month here on the blog ... you can find me buried in a corner under streamers, cake, confetti, and crumpled up wrapping paper. And I'll probably have a child or two climbing on top of me and asking for dinner, so feel free to send chocolate if you missed my birthday on the second ;)

Meanwhile, please enjoy a little Oregon loveliness via pictures, and make sure to scroll through all the way to the end to read about another little party I'm hosting this month ....

















Y'all knew I could not do a blogpost without sleeping babies in it, didn't you ??

Okay, now for the fun stuff...


This month I'm hosting a Scentsy party in my own online Scentsy store to benefit friends of ours in Redding, California who attend a church in our fellowship.



Lee Alvarez is on a waiting list for a kidney and pancreas transplant. His wife Belinda is the sweetest mama ever, and has been trying to make ends meet while Lee has been unable to work. I know many readers here attend one of the churches in our fellowship, so this is really aimed at anyone who knows Lee and Belinda and would like to bless them financially.

However, the Alvarez Basket Party is now open to anyone who loves Scentsy, even if you don't know this dear family personally. Simply click on Alvarez Basket Party and place an order for your Scentsy products there ... all proceeds from now through the end of March will go directly to Lee and Belinda.


Scentsy offers a wide variety of fabulous products including shower gels, laundry soap, room sprays, warmers and scent bars to fill your home with amazing aromas. I have Scentsy warmers and plug-ins in every room in my house ... some of my favorite scents are Sugar, Luna, Black Raspberry Vanilla and Yuzu Dragon ...











...feel free to email me with any questions about Scentsy products, and thank you ahead of time to all
who place an order from my Alvarez Basket Party to benefit Lee and Belinda Alvarez !!



Happy Spring :)