To Infinity…….and far, Far, FAR Beyond

[Topics for Teaching in this Post:  infinite mercy, the lavish and limitless love of God, the indescribeable joy of His presence, Heaven
(read the post as inspiration for what you will share with your children about these topics during teachable moments.)]

One of the things that I love about music is that it is always moving. It is not a stationary art form. One note ceases and the next begins. One phrase is followed by another. Underlying chords are changing. The melody pushes forward, embracing the mood of the piece and the message of the lyrics. A moment of dissonance gives way to a glorious major chord. There is dynamic contrast to provide the shading and shadow, as if an artist’s brush were painting a visual representation of the tune. Meter changes or modulations to a new key intrigue us with a surprise twist on the theme. The intensity of melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, and interpretation move ahead to a glorious big ending or a more quiet and contemplative finish. When the movement of notes and patterns comes to a close, the music stops. A final note can only be sustained for so long, and yet the expression of love or joy or hope or longing that was contained in the music seems to linger, as though it is suspended in the air that surrounds us. The experience of making the music or of sharing in it through listening has awakened something within us, and we often remember a certain song or concert or performance.

Talented artists and sculptors can also create a sense of movement visually. In looking at a finished painting, we glimpse the clouds that are sailing across the sky, a breeze rustling the leaves of trees and foliage, an almost solemn expression betraying the smile that is a just a moment away, barely perceptible ripples in the surface of a tranquil pond, or a mother’s gentle, rocking motion as she soothes her child. The work of a sculptor is often a three dimensional study of a moment in time. A horse’s flank reveals muscle in motion, and marble clothing drapes the sculpted human form in fluid movement.

It goes without saying that there is movement in dance. Whether the dance is the refined and intricately choreographed poetry in motion that reveals the work of a true ballet master or a jubilant, impromptu celebration of good news, it is also the expression of our deepest longings. We desire to witness the power of human emotion and the experience of living as it is visually portrayed through movement. The beauty of love, the excitement of a dream come true, or the tragedy of loss are particularly touching when portrayed through the movements that we call dance.

If the arts reveal the soul of mankind, then it becomes obvious that movement is very important to us. What is so appealing about movement?

“I’m goin’ somewhere, and I’m takin’ Teddy with me!”

Movement is life. Movement is a constant for us. Even when we are lying completely still, our hearts are at work, beating in life-sustaining motion. Movement is healing for us. By working and exercising, doing things, and having fun, we strive to make our own lives better and to enrich the lives of those we love in some way. As human beings, we are always yearning for something more, for something better than what we know. Our longing to make things more convenient, more efficient, more comfortable, or more beautiful allows us to use our God-given intelligence and creativity to solve problems. Inventions and innovation result from our desire to somehow continue moving forward in our lives. Most of us are life-long learners, always seeking to know more and to use that knowledge in some positive way. Even though we acknowledge the truth with the phrase, “Nothing’s perfect”, we still long for more and keep striving. Our lives are a journey of discovery. As soon as we recognize a need for change or improvement, we begin to seek a solution and discover ways to make things better. Other than the obvious reasons for personal, relational, and environmental improvement, I believe that there is something else at work deep within each of us.

God’s word has something to say about our longing for something more than what we experience in our day to day lives. Here, from the New Living Translation, is Ecclesiastes 3:11.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

Somehow, our hearts know that we were made for more than a brief span of time in a beautiful and majestic and yet imperfect world. As we look at the symmetry and amazing creativity of God’s creation, we know that perfect beauty and harmony can exist. The astounding complexity of the tiniest creature and the fragile and ferocious balance of nature testify to the supernatural intelligence of our infinitely caring Creator. He has placed a longing for more within our hearts. It is a longing that can only be filled within the context of relationship with Him and ultimately in reaching our eternal dwelling place with Him in Heaven.

“Your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch.” 1 Samuel 25:29 (New Living Translation).

All of our movements, our work, our striving, our creative expression, and our efforts toward life management and self-improvement can never be enough to erase the longing for more. God has set eternity within our hearts. The universal longings of the human heart and soul can all be fully met only in Him.

The longing to love and be loved, fully and perfectly.
The longing to live in an environmnet of perfect serenity and peace.
The longing to live forever.
The longing to live in a place where there is no heartache and no pain.
The longing to have a dwelling place that is uniquely designed to meet all of our needs perfectly.
The longing to know and understand things that seem difficult and beyond understanding.
The longing to find delight and joy in living that goes beyond our wildest dreams.

We cannot find true and perfect fulfillment of all of these longings in this earthly life, but for those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who love God, and who have surrendered their own desires and longings for something better, there is a promise of the life to come. It is a promise that we cannot fully grasp because we don’t know all of the facts. It is impossible for us to completely understand the fulfillment of God’s promise, because we have no basis for comparison. His answer to the longings of our hearts and souls goes beyond anything we have ever experienced. Our eyes have never seen anything like it. Our ears have never heard anything like it. Our minds have never thought of anything so wondrous, even in our most extravagant dreams.

I Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.”

I can’t wait to see, to hear, to experience, and to know! As I am now, I am unfit for Heaven. My mind is too easily distracted from things of eternal importance to the mundane tasks of every day and even the earthly interests that draw me away. I would not be able to fully enjoy Heaven without a change. Although the process of change began many years ago when I said “Yes!” to Jesus, there is much change that still needs to take place in my life and heart. I cannot live in a Holy place as I am now. My presence would render it unholy. However, I will not stay in my current state. God’s promises assure me that He will continue to refine my soul and my life while I am here on earth, moving me forward in my journey toward Christlikeness. In Phillipians 2:13, I find His promise for the here and now.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

This is God at work. I am not alone in this journey. God himself continues His creative work as He creates a clean heart and a right spirit within me. I cannot achieve holiness on my own, but when I have Christ within me, I have the hope of glory.

God also promises to finish His work within me. His work did not cease when the Earth was formed and filled with life. He is still at work, and He never leaves a job unfinished. When he begins a work, He will complete it! Phillippians 1:6 shares the confidence we have in His promise:

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

And on that day, what will Heaven be like? What will eternity with God be like? Although we can learn what the Bible reveals about heaven, there is much that we will not know until we arrive. We do know that we have never seen anything like what we will see. We have never heard anything like what we will hear. And, we could never imagine anything so incredible if we dreamed and thought about Heaven every day for the rest of our lives. It will be that different, that wonderful, and that extraordinary. There are no words in our language that could adequately describe what we will experience, because it will be so far, far beyond anything we’ve ever known. Yes, we will have eternity. We will have forever. We will have an infinite amount of time, a never-ending life. But, we will have so much more than just time! The idea of living on is certainly appealing to us, but the time itself is only a part of the gift of God’s mercy that will alllow us to experience what He has prepared for us.

Think of someone who loves you. Do you remember a time when someone did something just for you? Perhaps you think of someone who planned a special surprise for you, or hosted a party for you and tried to include all of your favorite things, someone who prepared a special meal for you, spent time with you when you needed companionship most, or planned an outing with obvious care that revealed a concern for you in every detail. Perhaps someone invested their time and made a special gift just for you or helped to plan and prepare for your wedding shower or baby shower. Perhaps a buddy invited you to play golf at your favorite course, followed by barbecue at the place your wife doesn’t care for but that you love. Maybe a friend at work went out of the way to help you with a project or to keep things going when you were home sick. Someone has done something nice for you, keeping in mind what you need most or enjoy most or love most. Now, remember the last portion of I Corinthians 2:9: “…neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.” Think about that for a moment. This is what Jesus said about God’s desire to bless us and to “give good gifts” in Matthew 7:11:

“If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

In this passage, Jesus was talking about prayer. His point was that we should not be afraid to ask God for anything, knowing that He is good and that He wants to demonstrate His love and caring to His children. Even though I have not written about prayer in this post; and even though we have been considering the unknown of what God has prepared in Heaven for those who love him rather than His desire to bless us while on earth, the Bible tells us that our God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever! If His desire was and is and always will be to bless us and demonstrate His love for us in this earthly life and in the life to come, we cannot begin to fathom what that means for eternity. He is preparing a place for us. With thought, and care, and love, and every resource at His disposal, the God of Creation and of all Eternity, the Savior of Mankind, is preparing a place for us. Sometimes in this earthly life, we get carried away with our expectations for an event or a surprise, and then the actual event or gift is a bit of a let-down in comparison to our over-active imagination. In Heaven, it would be impossible to be disappointed with what God will have prepared for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He has been creating and preparing and longing for the day when we will finally know Him even as we are known. We cannot begin to imagine the wonder, the beauty, the joy, the love, the peace, the comfort, the surprise, the caring, and the paradise that awaits us.

Welcome….

Infinity (or, eternity) is good. Inifinity is beyond good. It is impossible for us to even imagine infinite time. Then, when we add God’s love and care and preparation for us beyond all imagining… it is mind boggling to even consider. What will it be like to experience something that is infinitely better than the best we have ever known? What will it be like to take the best gifts we know…life and love…and see them manifested in the Divine and Holy? When we are told that God’s best for us is more than we can imagine, we must remember that with God, everything is infinitely more and infinitely beyond. Only in Heaven will we finally begin to understand infinitely lavish Love in the person of God Himself. Here is His confession of Love:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

God is Love

It is as though a bridegroom has secretly built an extravagant and wonderful home for his bride. After their wedding, she sees it for the first time. It is wonderful beyond her wildest dreams. In every detail, she sees the love that the bridegroom has poured into this lavish and unexpected gift. The thoughtfulness and caring, the knowledge of what she would love, and the obvious truth that no effort or expense has been spared overwhelm the bride with the goodness of the heart of her beloved.

Dear ones, you who love the Lord, we are the beloved ones ! Infinitely more than we have loved, we have been loved. We are God’s beloved. We are the bride of Christ. He has given everything for us! He has invested himself in the gift of His creation, sustaining it in ways that we cannot begin to fathom. He has provided us with a Savior, personally coming to earth in the form of a human child who was also fully divine. He has given Himself in caring for us, loving us, comforting us, drawing us to Himself, and helping us to mature in Christ, answering the prayers we prayed in his infinite wisdom and even the prayers that we didn’t know how to pray. And finally, He has given Himself to us fully in His preparation for eternity and in His Presence with us for all of eternity. Your “mansion” will be your smallest gift, not your largest. That’s just one that we happen to know about. What about the surprises that are beyond our imagination? I can’t even write about what He has prepared, because it is infinitely more than my mind can understand and infinitely beyond what my words could ever convey. This is the one thing that I do know: His Presence and our full knowledge of the depth of His love will be our most treasured gifts for all of eternity.

So, meanwhile, here we are in our human bodies with our love of life and movement and fun and joy and song and people. We are using our earthly eyes to try to see as we read or write these words. We are using our finite minds to understand as we try to grasp the meaning of all of this. We are living, loving, crying, giving, hurting, sharing, wondering, knowing, and striving. At various times we are joyful, sad, elated, depressed, celebrating, devastated, confused, happy, bitter, or hopeful. We are experiencing this world with all of it’s ups and downs. And yet, somehow, we know there is more. We try various ways to move toward what we think may be better. Those of us who know the Lord have the answer; but we don’t always walk in it, and we don’t share it with others as we should. What if we knew all that God is preparing for those who love Him even while we were still living the earthly life? Then, would we be more eager to share the best news that mankind has ever been given? I ask myself this question: Why isn’t His promise enough? Why do I have to know what is inside all of the gifts of eternity if I know the Giver? If I know that He is infinitely more and that His love is infinitely beyond, why would I even hesitate to share such incredible news? Why would anyone?

My little boy, Logan, loves Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story movies. The favorite Buzz phrase for every fan is “To infinity…and beyond!” The first time that we heard it, many of us adults may have had an inward chuckle, thinking of the redundancy of this phrase. How would Buzz know that he’s saying the same thing twice? He’s just a toy. We smile, and we enjoy our young ones as they imagine something beyond what their little minds have experienced thus far and sum up all of that unknown stuff that is out there somewhere using their hero’s ‘buzz word’ (pun intended). “To infinity and beyond!” shout the little voices, ready to go wherever that is and do whatever there is to do there. We smile and think about the fact that he or she doesn’t even know what the word infinity means. Our minds expand on that fact. How could you keep going on forever and then go on beyond forever to a place that is beyond the beyond? We chuckle again. Animated movies…plastic toys…big imaginations! They’ll learn soon enough what is real, we think.

Today, I’m ready to challenge those notions. There is a Love without limits. There is a Life without end. There is a reality that goes beyond what we know to be “real”. Who could love beyond infinity? Who transcends space and time? Who is and was and always will be? Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He who gives Himself infinitely and always has more to give. He who knows me intimately and loves me anyway. He who will give us an infinity of time and life….and so much more! He who gives infinity and far, far beyond…

Romans 8:35 “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36. Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

37. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39. nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” *

God loves you, my friend! To infinity, and far, far beyond….

*(from the New American Standard Bible)

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This post was written by C. A. Boyd.  It was originally published on our primary blog, which addresses the subjects of life, ministry, worship, music, and discipleship.  You’ll find many other posts on our original blog which are not on this blog at http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com

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C. S. Lewis addresses the longing for more that can only be fulfilled in eternity with our God and Savior in these writings:

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts,  would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in  this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to  you, but they never quite keep their promise.

At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern  the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We  cannot mingle with the pleasures we see. But all the pages of the New Testament  are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing,  we shall get “in”… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is  only the first sketch.

We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be  united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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We have another post about how much God loves you. It is: You Are Greatly Loved!

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The End of an Era (Almost)

“We tried child-proofing, but….”

I considered several different titles for this post…

“Adventures in Child-Proofing” was one possibility.

“To Insanity…and Beyond” had a certain ring.

Another option involved the simplicity of sticking to the facts, with

“We Survived Three Junior Houdinis!”

(I want the t-hirt!)

Sticky boo bear Camden

All of the possibilities listed above have the “hanging on by your toenails” chaotic edge that captures a bit of the reality of our life at the Boyd house for the last few years. But, alas, none of those catchy titles had the other element that all parents recognize as one childhood phase is ending and another begins: an odd combination of giddy relief and totally dramatic nostalgia. The symptoms are common. As you regain your sanity after realizing that the pre-school years have truly passed, you may find yourself looking at photos of sticky little boo bears sitting in a high chair and wishing you could go through half a tub of wet wipes cleaning up a squirmy little cutie pie’s face and hands just one more time. You watch a video of the holidays and realize how joyful it is to see wonder and delight through the eyes of a precious little one. Or, you see something that your child would have just loved as a pre-schooler… and realize that you don’t have anyone to share those kinds of things with any more. The feeling of treasuring all of the short-lived sweetness of the baby and toddler years lingers long after the outgrown clothes and toys have found a new home. Ah, sweet memories!

Let’s not forget the flip side of forgetful nostalgia, though. I don’t have to view many sticky boo bear photos before remembering all of the milestones that moving forward represents. There are no more diapers, no more potty chairs, no more sippy cups, and no more baby gates. Ah, yes. It’s all coming back to me now in a flood of the aforementioned giddy relief.

No more diapers means: no more changing diapers, no more buying diapers, no more waiting for the stall with the nasty changing table to become vacant, and no more wet spots in your lap.

No more potty chairs means: no more cleaning potty chairs, no more 50 yard dash through a crowded restaurant to a potty that your suddenly persnickety toddler refuses to use, and no more wet spots on your couch (even worse than on a lap).

No more baby gates means: no more parent wipe-outs after the “I think I’ll just step over it this time” syndrome claims one more victim.

And, finally, no more sippy cups means: no more frantic treasure hunts for the elusive favorite cup that fell out of the stroller somewhere on the ten block walk from your car to the arts festival (and then finding the missing cup two weeks later under the seat of the car after searching for the source of noxious fumes in your vehicle).

Are you giddy yet?

Our four pre-schoolers enjoy a moment of stillness during the sippy cup phase. Believe me, it was only a moment.

Braden is the oldest of our four who were all in the pre-school phase at once. Here’s just what he looked like back then. Isn’t he a cutie?

If you are still overtaken with parental nostalgia, allow me to refresh your memory with a tale of aging parents totally outnumbered by four adorable and clever pre-schoolers plus two older boys. Travis and I were experienced parents before we had pre-schoolers times four. We had a daughter who was married, a son in junior high, and another son in elementary school. We’d dealt with all the issues of child-rearing previously, but the years between our oldest three meant that we were dealing with the baby or pre-school stage one child at a time. At least, that was so until the four youngest Boyd boys came along. Braden, the oldest of the four, was three years old (almost four) when his twin brothers, Austin and Camden, were born. In the middle of the pre-school pack was Logan, who was born about half-way between Braden and the twins. So, by the time that twins Camden and Austin were fully ambulatory at age one, Logan was two and a half and Braden was four (almost five). At that stage, we were child-proofing like crazy. We had all of the usual outlet plugs and cabinet latches, but we quickly discovered that we needed to go much further. Though Braden was past the age of getting into everything, he was fascinated by the toys belonging to older brother Zachary (then age 6) and by oldest brother Jared’s Star Wars lego structures. If Jared forgot to lock the door to his room, Braden discovered it and was inside in a heart beat, destroying the complicated Lego builds. The force was with him. In the room that Braden and Zach shared, Braden left most things alone. However, he loved to dump out the baskets and bins of sorted toys (like hot wheels, super hero figures, monster trucks, construction vehicles, and duplo blocks) that were stored in the closet. To prevent all of the small toys from being out at once, we did place locks on the closet doors. Even with the force, Braden could not defeat us. We were undaunted. It was a hassle getting into the closet when we needed something, though.

Precious little snoozers Camden, Logan, and Austin needed a red flashing warning light on their foreheads that said, “Recharging” !

Co-conspirators Austin and Camden

The three youngest pre-schoolers shared a bedroom out of necessity, so at first we had two cribs and a toddler bed in the room. Later on, we had three toddler beds. Yes, we used all of the conventional child-proofing stuff with these three, but we were forced to go far beyond the norm time and time again. Our three sweet-faced toddlers might have looked totally innocent, but these little guys were amazingly resourceful. What one didn’t think of, another one would. Then, they would work together to accomplish their dastardly plan. Logan was our fearless climber. There was no such thing as “out of reach” where he was concerned. Have you ever seen a pre-schooler totally dismantle a lamp, leaving the shade totally torn apart down to the framework and the base of the lamp dismantled (miraculously, without breaking the light bulb)? Logan did. We gave up on having a lamp on top of their chest of drawers. As with Braden, we had to use locks on the closet for Austin, Camden, and Logan’s room. They would even pull clothing off of hangers and drag out all of the linens stored inside if we accidentally left the closet door open. In addition, Travis had to drill holes in every drawer front and install key locks on their chest of drawers. Otherwise, they would pull the drawers out and use them as a ladder to climb to the top of the chest. They would also pull out all of the folded clothing and have a good ol’ time throwing it everywhere in their room. If Mom was in the utility room trying to start a load of laundry, it was amazing how much destruction they could create in just a few minutes. Twins Austin and Camden also had their own twin language. This is not uncommon for twins, and it was quite fascinating. We never figured out what they were saying, but they understood each other perfectly. I think they were conspiring to pull off their next daring feat of destruction.

Logan, our most skillful escape artist and climber, enjoys a moment of pure toddler joy.

One thing that our three little Houdinis did was to repeatedly figure out ways to escape their room. They had plenty of play space and toys, and their room was right next to the kitchen, so we often had them playing in their room with the baby gate to keep them confined to one area and safe. After a while, they figured out how to climb the gate. We got a taller gate. It worked for a few days. It was like watching a military obstacle course in basic training. They were over the top in no time. In response, Travis built a smooth, half door to take the place of the gate. It was rather tall. with nothing that could be used as a foot-hold. That worked for a long time, but Logan eventually learned to scale the sheer cliff face of the half door. What would appear to a little fellow as a rather imposing structure, significantly taller than their full height even on tiptoe, was no match for our little escape artists.

With three toddler beds and three pre-schoolers all in one room, the only time their room looked like this was when Mom picked up while they were all at pre-school.

Then, there was one thing these three did that I have never heard any other pre-school Mom mention. They would not leave their beds intact, no matter what we did. That drove me crazy. Every single day, the three of them took off their sheets and mattress pads. Camden and Austin started doing this when they were still in their cribs. Logan thought they had a great idea, so he was soon dismantling his bed as well. Then, they started taking the mattresses off. We finally wound up purchasing a bunch of luggage straps and strapping the mattresses to the bed frames, with the latch for the strap down below the slats inside the enclosed frame. One luggage strap was not enough. Each bed had to have one strap in the middle and one at each end. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I’m telling you, when those three little boys worked together, they were very strong. We tried everything to get them to stop doing this. We tried praising them when their beds stayed together for any length of time. We did time outs, we removed some of their toys and their favorite blankies, and even tried a little diapered bottom swat to discourage our miniature slumber demolition crew. Then, they figured out that if they all pushed, they could move furniture! Unbelievable! We literally had to fasten furniture to the wall with anchors and “L” brackets and whatever else worked. This kind of determined and systematic dismantling of their beds and their room continued for almost 3 years! Even when they could go anywhere in the house, they still were a wrecking crew in their own room. We finally abandoned using sheets for a while. It was pointles to keep trying since the sheets never stayed on. They all slept on their plastic covered mattresses in their toddler beds for a few weeks. Finally, one day, they asked for sheets. We put them on, and they have never gone back to the daily bedding battles. Whew! Finally!

Room decor genius or toddler graffiti?

Sometimes I wondered if the older brothers were supplying contraband. No matter how we tried to make sure that all coloring was done at the kitchen table or on their high chair trays, a marker or crayon would sometimes wind up in the little guys’ room. You may have seen what one toddler can do with a writing implement. Multiply that times three, and we’re talking graffiti on an epic scale. Walls were not the only target. They also ‘decorated’ furniture, the windowsill, and the window itself. Thank goodness for Mr. Clean magic erasers!

It was such a blessing to have a handyman husband during those childproofing battleground years. Travis was constantly having to come up with new strategies to keep them safe, reconstruct things they broke, and maintain some remnant of sanity for the rest of the family. They actually pulled the door knobs off of their closet doors four times, stripping out the screw holes each time. To replace them, Travis would turn the knob a new direction so that the screws would be in a different place. The knobs are on the doors now only because Travis found a super strength filler that allowed him to re-use the stripped out holes. One day not long after we moved to our new home in Georgia, I looked up to see Camden (who had been sitting on the couch watching a pre-school program just moments before) climbing over the stair rail and catapulting himself onto a table below. It was one of those hide-a-tables (with a plywood top and three spindly legs) that you cover with a floor-length tablecloth. The table was no match for Camden. As soon as his little bottom and the force of his toddler exuberance hit the table top, the whole thing collapsed, with Camden on top of the heap. That incident may have been life-saving. It scared Camden (and his brothers) so much that no one has ever climbed over the stair rail again. To fix the table after this incident, Travis built a rectangular box with a shelf, adding a base for stability; and it became the new support for the table top, with the bonus of some hidden storage. Who else do you know who has an industrial strength hide-a-table? What a man!

A couple of weeks ago, a significant rite of passage occured. The final piece of toddler furniture in the Boyd house has now been donated to Good Will. We had been talking about purchasing a bunk bed for the room shared by Austin, Camden and Logan so that they could finally all have a ‘big boy’ bed. When I found a great deal on a used bunk bed with the sturdiest metal frame I’ve sever seen, we bought it. Austin and Camden now share the imposing structure, and Logan has his own twin bed. The last remaining toddler bed is finally gone. I must admit that I did feel a little wave of nostalgia when we were removing the toddler bed from the room. After all, this toddler bed frame is the one that Travis made after the boys tore up Logan’s two previous toddler beds. The white, metal framed toddler bed that had served us well for Jared, Zachary, and Braden bit the dust when the welds connecting the bed platform to the headboard began to fail. We tried to get it re-welded, but none of the local welders we tried wanted to mess with it. So, we purchased a new toddler bed with a metal frame and molded plastic legs, headboard, and footboard. They destroyed the molded plastic parts of that bed within less than a year. Our final toddler bed was a super sturdy wooden one that Travis made, with rounded corners for safety and total overkill on the strength of the frame and the bed platform. It lasted for as long as it was needed, and we closed the door on nostalgia when it was carried out to the pick-up for transportation to Good Will.

Travis and all six of our boys pose after a visit to the Georgia Auarium in late December, 2011.

Through the years, Travis and I have shared so much joy with our bunch, even during all of the craziness of the pre-school years and constant child-proofing. Each of our six boys is incredibly awesome. We are so proud of them and so blessed to be their parents! If we had been blessed with more than our six sons and one daughter, we would have loved them all and found a way to make it through. Our little guys were not the only ones who knew how to be resourceful. We are just thankful to have survived and to see our boys well on their way to growing up strong and living a life that honors God. We still have locks on the closet doors in Austin, Camden, and Logan’s room, but we don’t have to worry about them climbing on the chest of drawers anymore. Logan has special needs; and he still can be destructive, but we are working on that. He and his twin brothers all keep their sheets on now, and they are growing up. So, goodbye to toddler beds, baby gates, strollers, sippy cups, high chairs, potty chairs, diapers, child-proofing devices of every description, and pull-ups. All of the baby and toddler gear served us as well as possible, but we don’t need it anymore. Those years are behind us now, but we’ll always have a special place in our hearts for memories of all of the love and craziness of those fun-filled and exahausting times.  We’ve loved our little guys through every stage and laughed at all of their antics; but now the three littlest Boydinis are moving on, and so are we!

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This post was written by Cynthia A Boyd.   It was originally published on our primary blog, which addresses the subjects of life, ministry, worship, music, and discipleship.  You’ll find many other posts on our original blog which are not on this blog at http://www.boydbrainmusic.wordpress.com

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DO YOU KNOW JESUS?
The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.
Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus. http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/
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Six Boys and a Supermom

All six of our boys with Dad, celebrating Logan’s ‘Buzz Lightyear’ birthday.

Six boys? Yes, we do have six boys. Life at our house is lively, noisy, and messy. It’s also a lot of fun! Our boys range in age from six to eighteen. Our oldest, Jared, just graduated from High School in May. Our 12 year old, Zachary, is entering Middle School in August. Our 9 year old, Braden, will be in third grade this year. His younger twin brothers, Austin and Camden, will be in first grade at the same Elementary School. Then, there’s our Logan. Logan is eight years old and in a third grade Moderate Autism class at another Elementary School. All of our boys are unique, and each one is infinitely precious to us and to God. They came to us by birth and by adoption, and love for each of them was born in our hearts long ago.

Our five younger boys sit with Dad on a bench at the Railroad Museum. They are (left to right) Camden, Braden, Dad (Travis), Zachary, Logan, and Austin.

Travis and I are older parents. We are both in our mid-fifties, and it is a challenge for us to keep up with our crew. They make us laugh and smile and cry and wonder. Sometimes, they make us crazy! They challenge us to keep becoming the best parents that we can be for them. In spite of our status as “experienced” parents, it takes all that we are to be anywhere close to what they need us to be. The needs can be overwhelming. We take life one moment at a time. We enjoy holding sticky little hands. We love hugs from boys of all sizes. We treasure special moments. 🙂 We don’t buy expensive things for most rooms in our house (whats the point?). We have the benefit of years to know that seasons of life fly by. We seek to savor and to survive.

Our six boys hiked to a waterfall with Dad and relatives in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in July, 2011. Braden is in front in the black shirt. Our soon to be Middle Schooler, Zach, is behind him in the red shirt. First grade twins Camden and Austin are beside each other in the red caps. Logan is wearing a yellow shirt, and big brother Jared is in blue.

It’s impossible not to notice our family when we are out in public. We get lots of comments. Many references are made to the fact that we could have our own sports team. Some people ask, “No girls?” or “All boys?’. Some people ask if we are their grandparents, and one even told us that we should “stop trying for a girl.” Actually, we do have a daughter. She’s 31 and married and lives in Texas. The one question that people ask (right in front of the boys) that really bothers me is, “Are they all yours?”. The answer we give (with a big smile) is “Yes!”. We feel that it is inappropriate to ask about how God chose to make us a family in public and in front of the children, especially when some of our boys are so young. We never want to be unkind in our response; but our first priority is our children and their emotional well-being, as well as their readiness for any type of discussion. The curious people who ask about the gift of our children have no way of knowing whether each of the children has a full understanding of concepts such as birth parents or adoption. They are not thinking about the children at that moment. They are only seeking an answer to their question, and that is the only answer we feel the need to give. “Yes!” is the answer. Yes, they are all ours! Definitely, unequivocably, undeniably, and joyfully OURS!

Dad and Grad
Our high school grad, Jared, poses with Dad after the ceremony.

I’m sure that those who know us best see that we are trying with all that we are to be the best parents that we can be for our boys. They also have to see that we fall short of perfection by miles and miles. Sometimes, people who have not been around us as much but do know our family view us as Super Parents. We’re not. We are all too human and flawed. We are just parents who have a lot of boys and are doing our best, with God’s help, to help them become who God made them to be. Sometimes, people ask me how I keep up (with them, with laundry, with everything). There’s a simple answer to that question. I don’t. I find myself always behind on something. If I work on a time-consuming project like switching clothing sizes for a new season for all of the boys, I get behind on laundry. When I am catching up laundry and mending and picking up, I get behind on other things. We survive. We do the best we can. Travis is wonderful at pitching in on whatever needs to be done, and we are in this together. We are definitely not super parents. We are just normal parents of a grown daughter and six wonderful boys who have an awesome God.

Travis stands in the lobby of our church’s Worship Center with our daughter, Meredith, and 3 oldest boys, Jared, Zachary and Braden, Christmas 2010.

Today is a special day. Travis has devoted several hours this week to listening to the “Preparing for Adolescence” CD series with our Zach before he begins Middle School. They are on an outing today, listening to CDs on the way to their destinations. They will go to Six Flags over Georgia and then spend the night in a nearby hotel. This one-on-one time will allow them to finish the appropriate CDs and talk. The other 5 boys and I are at home. I have promised them a special treat for while Dad and Zach are gone. Tonight, we are having Super Heroes Night at the Boyd house. The boys will dress up in costumes and have all kinds of super fun. We will probably watch a movie together, too. They are so excited and can’t wait for our super night. Camden asked me what super hero I was going to be. I thought for a moment and then replied with a flourish, “SuperMom!” (singing my own fanfare) “Daht dah dah DAAAH!” “What will you put on for a costume?”, Camden asked. I told him that all I had to do was get dressed to be Super Mom. “So, you’re just wearing your reg’lar clothes?” he questioned. Yes, Camden. I’m just wearing my reg’lar clothes (since I’m really just a reg’lar Mom).

Perhaps I’ll don a beach towel cape, strap on a bungee cord belt, make myself a crown of duplo blocks, and carry a plunger. You know, …

Stronger than the odor from a bathroom used exclusively by boys…

Faster than a package of cookies can disappear….

Able to leap piles of laundry in a single bound….

It’s…

SUPERMOM!”

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Superman Braden, Fireman Austin, Jedi Zachary, Lightning Mcqueen’s Crew Chief Logan, and Towmater’s Mechanic Camden

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This post was written by Cynthia A. Boyd.   It was originally published on our primary blog, which addresses the subjects of life, ministry, worship, music, and discipleship.  You’ll find many other posts on our original blog which are not on this blog at http://www.boydbrainmusic.wordpress.com

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DO YOU KNOW JESUS?
The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.
Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus. http://www.familysong.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/
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Extending God’s Grace in Your Family and Beyond

How can we extend the lavish grace that we have been given by God to our families, to our Christian brothers and sisters, and to others who don’t know Him?

Here are some ABC’s of extending grace:

Assume the best in the lives of others, allowing them the grace of your trust that God is at work in their lives.

Bend when possible, demonstrating your desire to extend the freedom of grace in a way that is loving, beneficial, and responsible.

Compromise on the small details of life when love is the consideration more important than having everything done as you like.

Delight in joyful news, knowing that God rejoices with us when we rejoice!

Encourage the hearts of others so that they may come to understand that the wonderful love of God was expressed as He created them!

Friendship begins with a genuine interest in others, just as God cares about every detail in our lives and even knows the number of hairs upon our heads.

Greet people with a smile, remembering about each person that they are God’s unique creation and communicating clearly your joy in seeing them.

Help when you can, pray while you help, and keep praying when you can’t help in any other way.

Invite input for a special family time or outing with friends.  Others may surprise you with their creative ideas, allowing you to invest in building relationships in new ways.

Just be patient!  God isn’t finished me. and He isn’t finished with you yet, either!  Grace is lavish love expressed through mercy and willingness to sacrifice.

Know when to listen and when to speak.  Sometimes we express God’s grace by taking the time to understand the hearts of others.

Love one another, as Christ has loved you.

Make others feel welcome and valued!  God demonstrates our worth through the ultimate grace gift of salvation in Christ.

Now is the time to pray for your neighbors, friends, family, people in the news, co-workers, and brothers and sisters in Christ…whenever they are brought to your mind for any reason.

Open hearts can give and receive love freely!  Help others to feel that their hearts are safe in your presence so that they will be open to the message of God’s love and grace. 

Put aside preferences!  People are always more important than our preferences! Preferences (or what we think is best) in areas of clothing, music, behavior, etc. are NOT the gospel of Christ.  We may associate these expectations with the Christian life in our own minds; but these things that we enjoy or that make us feel comfortable are often just part of our life experience, traditions, or the way the we were raised.  They bring back memories of family times or worship and fellowship times that were personally meaningful.  However, right now is what matters!  If we want the Kingdom of God to come to pass in this world and want future generations to know the Lord, we must be open enough to make people feel welcome even if circumstances are not as comfortable for us.

Question to ask before you speak:  “Will what I am about to say build up the body of Christ and the Kingdom of God?”

Rejoice when God is at work in the lives of people!   We cannot be skeptics concerning decisions to follow Christ or follow Him in any area of life.  The first thought in our minds when someone says ‘yes’ to God’s invitation should not be.  “I wonder how long it will last.”  We must instead be encouragers and also pray for new believers.  If we are given the opportunity, we can also be directly involved in helping to disciple new believers.

Seek the Kingdom of God first!  Leave self behind every morning for a natural outflow of grace extended to your fellow human beings!

Treat the hearts of children with tenderness.  They will more readily respond to God’s love and grace if they have seen the evidence of it in the lives of God’s people.

Understand that we are all at different points in our journey.  Grace lets go of expectations and meets us where we are.

Value the person MORE than any outward manifestations (clothing, appearance, social awkwardness, position, intelligence, special needs, behavior, rudeness, or moral failures).  That’s what Jesus does for us!

Walk in love.  Random acts of kindness are not random when done in the name of Jesus.  He has brought this person across your path.  It is not up to us to make judgements about whether others deserve kindness. Rather, we are to be vessels that God can use to share His lovingkindness with others.

eXpect the Lord to touch hearts, and pray for those around you (even people that you do not know).  Rather than becoming annoyed or upset about someone who is living an immoral lifestyle, pray for him or her!

Yesterday is gone…forgive!  We are to forgive others with the same grace that has been shown to us

Zip your lip….bite it if you have to!   Resolve to speak words of kindness and uphold the dignity of all people as unique creations of Almighty God.  Let Him work on their problems and their hearts!  He’s got the master plan and the power to change lives!

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
— II Corinthians 4:15

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(These ABC’s are far from elementary.  I’ll be working on them for the rest of my life!   The more we know,…the more we grow!)
This post was written by C. A. Boyd.   It was originally published on our primary blog, which addresses the subjects of life, ministry, worship, music, and discipleship.  You’ll find many other posts on our original blog which are not on this blog at http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com

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Do you know Jesus?

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make!  The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation.  Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus.  http://www.boydbrainmusic.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

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A Little Boydie told me…

Just a reg’lar Mom in a house full of boys

praise4ever

praise4ever

I'm a busy wife and mother of 7, with 6 incredible boys still at home and a beautiful married daughter. Our boys range in age from our 10 year old twins to our 22 year old. We have 2 in Elementary School, 2 in Middle School, one in High School, and one High School grad. They are all incredible and special. One of our boys has special needs. I'm a musician, singer, writer, composer, blogger, and teacher. I'm thankful for our home and family, for Travis, my amazing husband of 39 years, and for family and friends near and far. Most of all, I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy and that He has given the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

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Giving a Song to say “Thank You”

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

Travis L. Boyd / WorshipSounds Music

As a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father of 7, and a Minister of Music and Worship, I am very blessed. For a total of 32 years, I have served as a Minister of Worship for some wonderful congregations in the states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. It is a joy to lead God's people in worshipping Him through music, and I am very blessed to serve at First Baptist Church of Duluth, Georgia. I'm also a composer, lyricist, arranger, and orchestrator, with choral anthems, songs, and orchestrations published by Shawnee Press (now with Hal Leonard), Lorenz, Choristers Guild, and Lifeway. My web-based music publishing site, WorshipSounds Music (formerly Boydbrain Music), offers Choral Anthems, Orchestrations, Congregational Praise, and Vocal Solo music. Our worship blog has become an extension of worship ministry, and it is a privelege to share information and inspiration with other worshippers. My desire is to glorify God through my life, ministry, and composition work. I believe that music is a wonderful way to communicate the truths of God's love and mercy and to glorify Him. My wife, Cindy, and I have been married for 36 years. We have 7 children. Daughter Meredith lives in Texas. Sons Jared, Zachary, Braden, Logan, Austin, and Camden range in age from 7 to 19 and are still living at home.

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