I finally figured out how to edit my images and get them into my computer and onto my blog. I may be a little slow, but, I don't always have the time to play around. I'm a busy girl (despite what some people might think LOL) Nonetheless, I am super excited and you can expect many more pics to come!

Yes, I realize there are no pics of Brant, but, it would only let me upload so many per post. Next time, I promise, there will be pics of him! He is my little cutie!

You've Been Hugged!

July 30, 2010

Have you ever thought about how much influence or effect you have on someone else's life? Sometimes the smallest, most insignificant things make the biggest impact.

My godchild gives the best hugs in the whole world. Her hug is special enough to make me notice it and ponder it. When she hugs me, she does so with intent and purpose. It is not one of these "willy-nilly, put your arms around the other person with a gratuitous tap" kind of hug. It is a "I am conscious of my action to hug you and am an active participant" kind of hug. Her hugs don't make me feel like it is something that you do as a courtesy when you greet someone. Her hug makes me feel like she cares about me. Like this is not some ordinary hug. It is strong and tight. I love her hugs. I want to be a hugger like her!

Now, I am not a touchy feely kind of girl. I am not your normal Cajun. When Freddie walks into a room, he greets everyone with a kiss on the cheek and a hug. Not me. I have walls. (That's a whole other story.) I don't often welcome people in. If you approach me for a hug, I will oblige with the "willy-nilly, gratuitous" hug. I am polite. I just have a hard time giving away what I hold so precious to anyone besides my children and my husband. It's not that I never offer hugs, or kisses, even. It's just that I am more reserved and sparing with them.

But, from now on, when I do give out hugs, I want the recipient to know that he/she has been given something special. If I am going to let another person into my personal space, into my vulnerable heart, I want them to remember it. I want to make a positive impression, whether I initiate it or not, I want them to walk away knowing that they've been hugged!


It's Not Time to Cut the Cord Yet!

July 29, 2010

Last night I went into Karli's room to talk. Just to connect. It seems that we don't do nearly enough of that these days. When she was little we spent every minute together. She would cry if I got more than 10 feet away from her. But now, she's 11. A lot of the time she wants to be alone in her room. This is difficult for me to get used to. I want to give her space, but I don't want to give her distance. I want for us to remain close. I know it's natural for her to venture out on her own. Testing the waters, if you will. She wants to spend more time with her friends these days. More time doing "her own thing". But, I still want to be part of her landscape. I want her to want to come back to the safe harbor of me and our home.

We talked about when she was Aubree's age. I would constantly tell her (and her brother's eventually) "I will always love you more, I will never love you less. There is nothing you can ever do that will make me not love you." I would also explain to her that there was probably gonna come a day when she would think that I was mean. (She has seen many of those days since then.) There would come a day when she would have to be disciplined and she probably wouldn't like me very much~ but, I want for her to remember that I love her and that's why I do everything that I do. I asked her if she remembered those one-sided talks of ours. She said that she did and that she also remembers me reading "Just In Case You Ever Wonder" to her. At the time, I thought to myself, "She will probably never remember these moments, but I'm still gonna tell her these things over and over again~ just in case." I am so glad I did.

We made a pact last night, Karli and I , to make an effort every single day to seek each other out, even if for just five minutes, to make a quick connection with each other~ if only to share a funny thought, or to say "I'm in a really crabby mood", or to see where the other's head is. I told her how proud I am of her, and that I notice the efforts that she often makes to "be better", even if she's not always successful.

She's growing up, and our relationship is changing. I need to change with it, to make sure that as she grows up we don't grow apart. She needs me less now than she did when she was 2 in many ways. But, she still needs me. And, actually, it may be of more importance now. When she was a baby, she needed me to hold her, feed her, keep her safe, keep her clean. It was also very important that I taught her how to walk, how to talk, to say her ABC's. But now, the lessons I teach, though maybe not as vital as they once were, are more important to her eternal life. I am teaching her that her Father will always hold her. I am teaching her that she should seek to be fed by His word, that He protects her always, no matter where she is in the world, and that if she follows His instruction, she will have a clean heart. I am teaching her that she should use her feet to follow Him, her words to praise Him, and her mind to constantly want to learn more about Him. My job now is to teach her how to become independent from me and her daddy, and dependent on her Father. And one day, all that I have taught her, she will, hopefully, teach her children.

"You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them on to others."
2Timothy 2:2

"Tell them especially about the day when you stood before the Lord you God at Mount Sinai, where he told me, "Summon the people before me, and I will instruct them. That way they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will be able to teach my laws to their children'." Deuteronomy 4:10

"Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it." Proverbs 22:6


Never Wake a Snoring Bear?

July 28, 2010

Today was not the best of days. I am sitting here thinking, "tomorrow has got to better". I had to end up punishing Brant to the extent of no TV or video games for today. Furthermore, it was so bad that I stopped school and didn't let him finish. He will have to make it up on Friday when the others are off. Sometimes they need a reality check to see that Mom means business and that she's not all talk- or yell, whatever!

I know that a big part of the problem is that our sleep schedules are not the healthiest. No offense to you late sleepers out there, but I do so much better when I go to bed by 10:00pm and wake up by 7:30am, instead of going to bed by midnight and waking up after 9:30am. This morning, Master Calverette woke up early to go with his dad to have coffee with Maw-Maw. He did not get enough sleep, hence the bad day!

It can be easy to let the kids stay up really late because they don't have to "catch a bus for school" in the morning, but we still pay a price. I know that when I sleep later in the morning I have a harder time to get myself going. My day usually ends up not being productive at all. I tend to feel lazy, and ironically, tired.

I know they are gonna kick and scream, but I have got to get everyone in bed earlier at night! If that means doing it cold turkey, then so be it. Tomorrow morning I am going to have to wake myself up early enough to drag them out of bed by 8:00am. Then, by 10:00pm they might not put up such a fuss when their TV's go off. I could always remind them of the "public school" schedule~ in bed by 8:00pm, TV off by 9:00pm and wake up at 6:30am. (I don't want to do that again!)

"My child, listen and be wise. Keep you heart on the right course. Do not carouse with drunkards and gluttons, for they are on their way to poverty. Too much sleep clothes a person with rags. Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don't despise your mother's experience when she is old. Get the truth and don't ever sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and discernment." Proverbs 23:19-23


Be a Magnet

July 27, 2010

"My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart, for they will give you a long and satisfying life. Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:1-6

Life has come with an instruction manual~ it's called the Bible. God has given us clear instruction as to how to live. He has also given us the "good consequences" of living such a life. Who wants to die young and miserable? I know I don't. I want a "long and satisfying life". How do you attain such a thing- well, the Bible tells us. Obey God. We should behave in a way that we know God would approve.

We should be loyal and kind. The loyal part is pretty easy for me. It may have been a tad more difficult when I was alot younger and still trying to figure out who I was, and claiming my own life. But now, I find it easy to be loyal- most of the time! I have lived long enough to know who is really important in my life. Obviously, my husband and kids, my parents, siblings, and in-laws, and there are a few friends that I cherish as much as my family. I would never want to hurt these people because they are truly important in my life. I would defend them to anyone because I know their heart and intention. I will always be someone they can count on to be in their corner, cheering them on. I will not betray them!

The kindness part is not as easy. Who wants to be nice to someone who has been unjustly rude to you? Who wants to show kindness to someone who seems to never have heard the word before? Some people are just so angry and miserable that it is really super hard to be nice to them. But, you know what? Attitudes rub off. If you let someone else's bad attitude rub off on you then it will eventually have a domino effect into the lives of everyone around you. BUT~ if you force an attitude of kindness that will domino, too. I want to be surrounded with kind, happy people, not mean, angry people!

I was at McDonald's the other day. The woman behind the counter who took my order exuded an air of kindness that was unchallengeable! I thought to myself- "I want to be like that. When people see me, they don't have to know me to know that I have a spirit of kindness and love." Imagine how happy her life must be because of what she attracts? I know that my instinct was to make an effort to show kindness to her. It lightened my mood and made me feel happier. I want that! I don't think that it just comes naturally. I bet she had to work at creating happiness deep within herself before it got to the point where it just pours out of her now.

So, I am going to give my best effort to act the way I want others to act. I want to be surrounded with happy, helpful people who are encouraging and optimistic. So, I am going to act happy, helpful, encouraging, and optimistic. I am going to be a magnet for loyalty and kindness!

"Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example. And when the head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor." 1Peter5:3-4


Bring on the Rain

July 26, 2010

It's raining. It's a good kind of rain- not too hard, but enough to make a difference in whatever it touches. I can hear the thunder gently rumbling in the distance. It's not threatening or angry, but gentle and comforting~ kind of like the purring of a cat. Nothing about this rain is rude or bullying. The plants are drinking it in and I can almost see them smiling! The air is cooled and still. It feels generous and calming, all the while I know that it is bigger and more powerful than I am .

We all need rain in our lives. Our Father can rain on us whenever we ask Him to and cleanse our spirit and make us new. He sent His Son as a gift of cleansing rain for each one of us, because we are all dirty and thirsty. We all need the life-giving showers from our Heavenly Father. He will sprinkle us with His grace and mercy, renewing our spirit, washing our sins away.

"Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin." Psalm 51:2

"There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you." 1Corinthians 6:11

"He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5


Love Language

July 23, 2010

Ever since Drake & I went on our "breakfast" ("it's not a date, Mom"), Brant has been very eager to go on a "date" with me! Today was his turn! He didn't have a whole lot to say on the way to Sonic. He was quiet and I was a bit worried that it may not go well. I tried coaxing conversation out of him without much success. When we got there he hopped in the front seat with me and ordered ice cream and a burrito. (It was a date, what can I say? LOL) We watched a squirrel playing in a tree. We had some small talk. I tried the whole "you know you're special to me, right?" thing with him. But he was just not interested. So I dropped it.

I realize that Brant & Drake are two very different boys, with two very different languages. Drake loves to talk and be heard! He could sit on the sofa and talk for hours, maybe even days, if I'd listen! Brant likes being with you. It doesn't really matter what you're doing. Just as long as he is breathing the same air as you are. Don't get me wrong, Brant loves to tell stories as much as anyone, but, that's not how he connects, it's not what really matters.

Now, I am trying to figure out what Karli's language is. This may take a little more time and investigation on my part. She's not a big talker or doer. We connect when I sit on her bed and hear her and explain me. She also loves for me to do things with her that she enjoys. I think that Freddie is an action kind of guy. His language involves more doing than being or talking. Aubree is still developing her language, so I will be watching. My language is more like Drake's. I like the whole talking and being heard thing.

It is a special gift we give to others when we learn their language and make an effort to communicate with them on those terms. It shows that we really care enough to exert the extra energy and time to show our love, commitment, and compassion in whatever way speaks best to their heart. It validates the other person as special, the way God sees them, and us. So go out and learn to speak in a new language~ you just may be surprised what you learn in the process!

"If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1

"And it's the same for you. If you talk to people in a language they don't understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room." 1 Corinthians 14:9


Sprinkle in Some Right

July 22, 2010

I am really enjoying (Freddie's) vacation week. We went to the camp last night and I cooked a chili over an open fire while Freddie and the kids fished off of the bridge. Aubree caught her first fish- a "poly-wog". LOL. It was really enjoyable to be able to get away from the "noise" of life, even if only for a few hours. No TV and no radio and no internet can be a blessing! We didn't want to leave, but, we had to get back home because this year, Freddie is spending his vacation catching up on his "honey-do's" with bits of fun scattered in for good measure.

I returned home to check my blog (my baby) and felt blessed to see so many people reading it. I hope everyone is enjoying reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

I want to share a blessing with you. Everyday I check my email inbox for a devotion that I have subscribed to. And more than once, the devotion of "today" is about the blog that I wrote "yesterday". And this morning was another case of such "confirmation", as I like to call it. It brought me to tears because I could almost hear the audible voice of God telling me that I am doing right by my children. I know I am not perfect at parenting. I do mess up, and sometimes big. But, I believe that if I can douse them with enough "right" parenting then it'll all be okay.

So, be encouraged as I am. Just try your best, in spite of your failures, to sprinkle in some "right" as often as you can! We are doing okay guys! We are doing okay!

Deuteronomy 6:7 says, "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." This verse is speaking in regard to instructing our children in God's Word. It also shows the importance of taking advantage of all times during the day to interact.


Find the Best

July 21, 2010

I took Drake on a "date" to McDonald's this morning. We rarely have an opportunity to do anything just the two of us. I wanted to make sure he knew that I think he's special. I want him to know that he is important to me. I want him to know that I don't love the others any more than I love him. Turns out, he already knew those things. I guess I am not doing as bad of a job as I sometimes think.

He enjoyed experiencing "frozen coffee" for the first time and he got to eat two hash browns! I made sure to tell him how important being honest and always telling the truth is. I told him that whatever he chooses to do in life it should be something that he loves, that way work will not be as hard as it could be otherwise.

He quizzed me about what I think is "special" about him. He knows already, but, he loves to hear me repeat it as often as I can. He said, "Mom, do you think I am the funniest?" "Yes", I answered. "And am I the smartest kid?" "You are," I confirmed. That's all he needs to know. He knows he is loved. He knows that there are things about him that make him special and different than everyone else.

We all need that. We know that we are not the best at everything. But, there is something in each one of us that is special and validating. Something that is of value to the world. I encourage you to make an effort to look for that special quality in everyone you know and do something to encourage it. It might be that someone is a good photographer, or they make the best pie, or they give the best hugs or advice, or they inspire you to be a better parent, spouse, or friend, they may have an air of peace about them that has a calming effect on everyone around them.... whatever it is- everyone has a unique value to the world! Seek it out and cultivate the goodness and you will harvest goodness in return!

"If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." Romans 12:8


You Want Some Cheese with That Whine?

July 20, 2010

My blog has never been intended to be a place for me to rant. But, sometimes, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I am feeling very frustrated. I look around me and see bowls & plates of food everywhere! Glasses and glasses of juice scattered about. Shoes- don't get me started on shoes! Snack wrappers are not only on the floor of the boys' room (who are not supposed to eat or drink in their room by the way), but they are all over the living room and kitchen. Food is scattered on the floor throughout the house. Wet towels & swimsuits and dirty socks are lying on the floor waiting for mold and rot to set in. Sounds like I haven't cleaned in a few days, huh? Well, it looks like it, too. But, the sad truth is that I picked up and did all the dishes after supper- this all happened after that! And, what's worse- this happens every single day. No matter how much I clean or don't clean.

A common scene in my house looks like this: I tell the boys to clean their room. They go in it for a while, all the while fussing because the other one is not cleaning. After a while, they come out like they're done. Then, when I notice it's not done I get this big ole song and dance about how they cleaned but the other one made the mess and yada yada yada! But, if I fuss about it, then "all (I) ever do is fuss, no one listens 'cause everyone is tired of the fussing." So, what is the answer? Do I give up? Do I concede and just put on a little black (maid) uniform? Do I let them become lazy, entitled, selfish, disrespectful adults? Do I let the filth take over their room until the board of health makes us move out and condemns our house?

I am just in one of those "ruts" that I have talked about in the past. I feel like it doesn't matter what I do or don't do because tomorrow everything is gonna look the same or worse than it does today. Nobody cares enough to even try to keep up after themselves. I don't know how to get any of them to understand that even though it is my job to keep up the general housework, I still need them to pick up after themselves so that I have the time and energy to be able to do fun stuff with them instead of always fussing about what needs to get done in the house. It absolutely drains me more than it annoys them!

I feel defeated and disrespected. It makes me angry that they think I am nothing more than a nagging maid because they cannot seem to get their own trash in the garbage can. Most of the time I have to tell them more than once to let the water out of the bathtub when they're done bathing! I think that what bothers me the most in all of this is that I am the bad guy because all I ever do is fuss! You think I want to fuss? No! I want everyone to do what they're supposed to do. Then maybe, I wouldn't be so "yucky". I have all but given up on this house. I feel like I am on a sinking ship, like I am fighting a losing battle. The last thing I want is for my days to focus around the housework, but, it has to get done! I could easily sweep 5 times a day. I feel like I am constantly doing dishes. We have a bottomless laundry basket! What's strange is that those are not the things that get to me. What gets me is the fact that no one tries to pick up after themselves. Okay- in fairness, it's not no one, it's mostly the boys.

I don't want this to continue on the road it's on. I want to get my housework done just like I always have in the past with a happy heart. I don't want to be filled with dread and exhaustion like I am now. I don't want it to be the "issue" at our house all the time! So, I guess it's time for a different course of action.

Step one- Identify the problem. I need my boys to take initiative. I need them to actually clean their room when I tell them to. I need them to let the water out of the bathtub when they're done bathing without being told. I need them to put their dirty dishes in the sink when they're done. I need them to throw their trash in the garbage can right away. I need them to put their dirty clothes in the hamper right away. Step two- Identify the solution. I have tried fussing. That does not work. Punishing them does not work because some way or another the punishment doesn't stick- we cannot be consistent (that's a whole other story). So, I am gonna try Red Ruby (aka the fly swatter). Hopefully, it will be effective, because I am not sure that I have a "plan D".

If you have read this far- thank you! You are a saint! LOL! If you have any advice, PLEASE, feel free to leave it for me. I need as much support and encouragement as I can get.

"Train a child up in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6


Wish List

July 19, 2010

"And be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" Hebrews 13:5

Let's talk a little bit today about being content. I think it is not in our human nature to be content. It is something that most of us need to work at. It can be difficult to practice being content without becoming complacent and lazy. We should strive to always do better and be better and have better. But, at the same time we have to be careful because if we are constantly setting our vision on the future- who we want to become, what we want to have, what we want to give, we can easily sacrifice the present. This is kind of like how our kids write out their wish lists at CHRISTmas time. They get so focused on the things that they want, that they miss out on enjoying the things that they already have. What's even worse is that they (we) have set themselves up to be disappointed if they don't get everything on "the list".

We don't have alot of extra money after we pay our bills every month. Some of that is because we have made some bad choices in the past. Some of it is because of our current economy. Some of it is because we have chosen to be a one income family. Whatever the reason, we don't have a fancy brick house. We shop at Goodwill and clearance racks. We carefully plan our meals and snacks. I plan errands to get the most out of my gas money. We have made an effort to become less wasteful. We cannot always find the money to go on vacation. I have at times looked at others' lives and thought to myself, "I wish we could build a nice house like that." or "I would love to go to the mall every weekend and buy clothes without a second thought." My pride is hurt when we cannot afford some of the things that other people can. But, I do know that "things" will not make you a better person. They might give you a feeling of temporary happiness, but they will not enrich the value of your life. Things can make your life easier, but they cannot make your life better.

I realize, that having a nice house is well, nice, but, it is not as important as having a nice home. And you know what? My kids don't mind that some of their clothes come from Goodwill or "Once Upon a Child". It is not important to them what our bank account looks like. What matters is that at the end of the day they lie down to sleep in a warm bed, with a full belly, and a happy heart. We don't need anything we don't have. We do have unforeseen needs that arise just like everyone else. But, we know that just as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, God will provide for that need perfectly. I also know that if you look at your own life, whether or not you have a nice brick house, two incomes, a nice savings account, you shop at the mall, you can see that there are things you don't have that others do have. Things that you want. Our lists may look different, but we all have a wish list.

I know people who obsessively worry about money. It consumes them to a point where it is difficult at times to be around them. It makes them sick at their stomach when something unexpected comes up. And it's not because they don't have the money in savings, it's just worry about the "what if's" that the future might hold. This worry robs us of the joy of trusting God and being pleased to witness His wonderful mercy and grace! It let's Satan sneak in the door of our heart and put distance between us and God.

So, I am going to make an effort to focus on what I have. I am going to not focus so much on what we might have later. When tomorrow gets here, I will enjoy that. But for today, I am going to be grateful for the time I have with my kids and my husband. I am going to be grateful for our cozy, safe, happy home. I am going to be grateful that I can be the one to teach my children. I am grateful that we have enough to eat. I am grateful that I have friends who love me. I am grateful for Freddie's job. I am grateful to live in the United States of America. I am grateful that my children have their grandparents. I am grateful for everything that God has given me and everything He has spared me from.

"So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:31-34


Don't Worry, Be Happy

July 16, 2010

I am reading a book called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. It's about this woman who realizes that amidst her wonderful life- great job, great husband, healthy kids, wonderful apartment- she could stand to be happier. So she does a ton of research on happiness and decides to pursue happiness over the course of a year. Kind of like Elizabeth Gilbert in "Eat, Pray, Love". I am only two months in to her experiment, but, I have discovered something interesting. She quotes a line from William Butler Yeats. He says, "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure not this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." Hello. That's it! It is so true!

Think about it. At some point in your life years ago, you probably thought things like, I'll be happier once I'm married, once I have a bigger house, a nicer car, more money, kids, more free time... etc. Then you obtain those goals and realize that you still have a list of "I'll be happier when..." I don't think we can feel absolutely content and supremely happy (at least not here, in our mortal lives). I think our humanness keeps us striving for more, at whatever pace we are driven.

So, will there come a day when we are happy just where we are, without a desire for more? I don't know for sure. My suspicion is, not until we get to Heaven. I think we all have some innate drive for growth. We are all, on some level, seeking to get closer to something. We don't all realize what that something is, but, I believe that it is God. We all want to get closer to where we have come from- and ultimately where we are returning to, our final destination.

This sort of changes my perspective on how I am going to look at happiness from here on out. Although I feel very happy when I am spending time with my husband and kids, my friends make me feel happy, I feel happy receiving gifts, I appreciate the happy feeling of having a car and a home, I know that irrefutable happiness will not be realized until that day when I stand before Jesus and he welcomes me home! I should spend my time, until then, growing toward that goal. I should try to improve my life here so that I will be worthy of a life there. I should spend more time in my Bible, more time in prayer, be more forgiving, be more generous, more tolerant, more respectful, more loving. I should spend my quest for happiness trying to be a better person! I think, that I should not strive for my own happiness, but instead, I should strive to bring happiness to others, especially God.

What do I want to teach my children about happiness? Well, I want them to be happy. Duh. But, I think that they are going to learn most by my example. The fact is, in order to know what being happy is, they are going to have to experience being unhappy. I need to make sure that I model for them how to not get stuck in that unhappy place and let it consume you. I have to be diligent about always striving for more, never letting setbacks and obstacles keep you where you are. I have to make sure they learn to identify the problem quickly and immediately formulate a solution. They need to know about Heaven, and how to get there. They need to know that there is always room for growth. I have to show them that they must always be true to who they are as individuals, the beautiful, unique creation of God. And most importantly, even though we should strive to advance ourselves here on earth, we should be very careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that stuff will bring us utmost happiness. Things can evoke feelings of happiness, but they need to learn to recognize that "the real deal" is only found in Heaven.

"You do this because you are looking forward to the joys of heaven- as you have been ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News." Colossians 1:5