Thursday, September 30, 2010

he takes my breath away...

I've been struck lately at how fast time flies..
and how slowly my heart and mind keep the pace.

I look at my children every single day...
but do I really see them?

My heart sees this...
and my mind agrees...


my vision is faulty 
and my perception is skewed

this is the new reality
and I can barely keep up.

so much less the child
and more the man

I say "no" less
and "I don't know"more
less black and white
and a lot more gray

parenting is now about 
heart's issues... heart's cries

I thought this road of parenting
would get easier as we journeyed...

it's just a different kind of hard

I don't know how to do this...
I only know he takes my breath away

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

apples and!

One of the greatest fall snacks is apples and popcorn.  
Pair that with a rousing game of Uno! 
... you can't beat it for a fun family night!

Simple Woman's Daybook...

It's been a while since I linked up with The Simple Woman's Daybook and today seemed like a great day to join in...

For today, September 28, 2010...

Outside my window...'s the last of a beautiful, soaking rain from last night.  

I am thinking... 

...of how thankful I am for two slow days in a row!  
This is what I found when I went to take the sheets off of my bed... 
apparently Ebony is thankful for slow days as well.

From the learning rooms...

...with one in bed with an upset tummy and another congested with a cold, it's pajama day at school today!  I love seeing my kids snuggled under blankets 
working on their school work!

From the kitchen... 

...the aroma of sourdough bread baking.

I am wearing... 
...jeans, an old long sleeved white tee and 
a very old comfy fleece shirt.  
Seriously, I bought this fleece shirt when I was expecting Emme
...almost 12 years ago!  I still love it!!  
After I run to the store today, 
I am seriously considering putting my pj's back on... 
it's just that kind of day.

I am creating... 

...if I were diligent, I could say I am creating a cross-stitch blanket 
for my new niece or nephew due to arrive at the end of December.  
I haven't been very diligent and thus, it isn't very far along.  
Perhaps I should add this to my list of things to do today...

I am going... the store.  
We are almost out of dishwasher soap 
and I highly dislike washing dishes by hand.

I am reading...

...The Wrecker by Clive Cussler.  
Love, love, love reading Cussler.  
He has written over 40 books and I have read most of them.  
Nothing better to do than read on a rainy day!

I am hoping...
...I have so many hopes and dreams.  
Thankfully, I serve a God who is the God of Hope!  
Today my heart hopes and prays that my children 
grow up to be people who love the LORD their God 
with all of their heart, their mind, their soul 
and love their neighbor as themselves.  
I don't think I could hope for anything better.

I am hearing...

...the snap, crackle and pop of bread cooling
and Ellen rummaging through the "junk drawer"
looking for a screwdriver...
not sure why!
(I think a drawer of odds and ends in the kitchen
is one of those "universal" things...
it seems everyone has one)

Around the house...
...aside from Ellen digging frantically
for a screwdriver, it seems to be
a quiet day around here.
Currently, Eric is helping her replace
batteries for her microphone 
so that she can be the Diva!

One of my favorite things...
... is quiet, rainy days
just like today!

A few plans for the rest of the week...
...depending on how everyone is feeling,
the kids have art lessons & homeschool cooperative.
Emme has volunteer time at the library and
Eric has two art classes to teach and a 5th grader 
to tutor in math.
Chad and I have a date this week
and the family is participating in another 5K!

...this is why I savor slow days!

Monday, September 27, 2010

multitude of gratitude...

It's been a while since I added to my list of 1000 gifts.  I'm joining Ann at A Holy Experience listing 1000 things for which I am grateful.  Today is one of those days... the kind of day where my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the "little" things in life.  

...starting where I left off at #38, a multitude of gratitude...

#38~ fall!
#39~changing seasons
#40~serving a creative God!
#42~cool breezes
#43~a man who comes home to me each and every night
#44~3 growing children
#45~abundant food to feed 3 growing children
#46~"store bought" lasagna
#47~home-made bread sticks
#48~dinner together
#50~great friends for each of my kids
#51~incredible friendships for Chad and I
#52~a camping trip to look forward to
#53~sleeping under a down comforter with the windows open on cool fall nights
#54~Bible study
#55~a Bible study that challenges me to my very core
#56~free Fantasy Football that connects cousins across the miles
#57~a living room large enough for 2 big dogs to wrestle
#58~the privilege to uphold friends in prayer
#59~knowing the journey is not alone
#60~a homemade ice cream freezer
#61~the yummy stuff that comes out of that freezer
#62~friends who challenge me in my walk
#63~blogging and the internet to keep up with family & friends
#64~a day at home
#65~spending my days with 3 amazing individuals
#66~Grandma's sewing lessons and the joy that it has brought
#67~days of quiet reflection
#68~a sure diagnosis for Ellen's foot
#69~an amazing homeschool cooperative
#70~a church community where all five us feel like we belong
#71~a man who teaches my kids the meaning of working hard
#73~hot chai in a comfy mug
#74~early morning fog
#75~a few extra minutes buried under the covers in the morning
#76~Honeycrisp Apples for $1.99/lb this week!
#77~warm baths before bed
#78~chores done well today
#79~my computer for which I prayed be continued...

shhh.... can you hear it?

shhh... I want to share something with you.  

You will probably have to be really, really quiet to hear it... 

but, if you listen closely...  

It's the melody of peace, joy and contentment and it has been playing its symphony all day around here.  

It's the harmony of three children gathered around the table for Bible and Greek (an upcoming review that we are LOVING!) this morning.

It's the solo sounds of each one working on their own individual assignments.

It's the melodious laughing as they now each play with a friend... three extra kids' voices blending in the mix.

It's the sweet sounds of encouragement of a dear sister in Christ this afternoon.

It's the notes of fall in the air... the warm sunshine and the cool breeze.

It's all this...

...and so much more...

blending into a perfectly harmonious day.  

Thank You LORD!

Can you hear it?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

remember the hoodie...

Just in case there has been any miscommunication... case you misunderstood...

...just so we completely understand each other.

...enjoy a real life true story at my expense...

While at a birthday party this afternoon, a couple of women from church approached me to help straighten out a problem of an overcrowded nursery.  Seriously, this is NOT my area of expertise... I can handle the overcrowding part of the issue... nursery, though...YUCK!  I don't do little people well.  So, why come to me?

...because you are in charge of the kids...

...because you always get things done...

....because you know what you are doing.

Seriously about five minutes after I was told I know what I'm doing... I grabbed my hoodie and managed to put it on backwards... much to the amusement of all.

If I act like I know what I am doing... remind me of the hoodie.

And, if you think I have it all together... remember the hoodie.

...and I will thank God for hoodie moments that keep me humble!

Friday, September 24, 2010

sewing lesson....

Last year, Emily bought her own sewing machine.  She was super excited until she got it home.... This mom doesn't know much about sewing machines... doesn't know much about sewing... and doesn't want to ever know much about either. 

Fortunately, my girls know who to ask when they want help with something that Mom can't handle.... Grandma!

Grandma came for a visit today and brought her sewing machine and a bag of goodies... thread, fabric, patterns, etc.  She taught the girls how to sew a straight line, how to lay out and cut a pattern and how to thread your machine.

She even managed to keep them both busy with their own individual projects.

An hour and a half, or so, was all the lessons that either of the girls could handle.  So they packed everything up for "next time" with Grandma.

Before Grandma's sewing machine got put away, Ellen decided she had learned enough to be able to teach her brother a thing or two... she's telling him to be sure he doesn't get his fingers in the way... definitely a good lesson to learn!

Thanks Grandma!!

a day like today....

Some days it's just too hard to be indoors...

After a few days of really warm September air,
today is a cool, cloudy, breezy day
and it's been just too hard to stay in the house
to do our school work...

...and if you are 7 years old
it's equally hard
on a day like today
to do your school outside as well...

 on a day like today
you might as well just
be a princess!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press... TOS Crew Review

It's that time again... time for another review for The Old Schoolhouse's Review Crew and I must say, once again, that I love that I get to do this!

I love books... new books... old books... used books....  Needless to say, when I saw my name on the list to do a review for Salem Ridge Press, I was thrilled and when I got an honest-to-goodness brand spanking new book in the mail from Salem Ridge Press, I was ecstatic!

Salem Ridge Press was established in 2005 distinctly dedicated to republishing some of the classical children's literature from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Literature that is chosen for republication by Salem Ridge Press is both well-written and morally excellent.  This company has taken great pains to find books that teach godly character and high moral values and then to republish them so that children of today can learn from the characters of these classic books.

Daniel Mills, publisher of Salem Ridge Press, chose to send me a copy of Dearer Than Life (softback $14.95/hardcover $24.95) by Emma Leslie for review.  This is the story of Dr. John Wycliffe.  In the mid 14th century, Dr. Wycliffe began to question the Church's authority to pardon sin.  This book is the story of the political and religious strife and upheaval throughout England and Europe in the mid 1300s.

Dearer Than Life is one book in the Emma Leslie Church History Series published by Salem Ridge Press.  The Emma Leslie Church History Series is a 12 title fiction set that spans the time of Paul to the beginning of the Reformation.  All twelve titles were written by Emma Leslie in England in the mid to late 1800s.  

In republishing these classics, Salem Ridge Press has done a wonderful job of keeping the original language of the books. They have also expanded each volume to include... historical notes, timelines, word definitions and maps to help today's children understand more of the background and historical significance of the book that they are reading.

Here's what my 11 year old daughter thought of Dearer Than Life... 

         Dearer Than Life is a book about Dr. Wycliffe.  He                         went around Europe sharing the word about Jesus Christ.  This book is in the setting of the late 1300s.  I thought that the book would be boring.  Actually the first chapter was but the rest was not.  I liked Dearer Than Life.

Salem Ridge Press also sent me two ebooks to review...
The Sign Above The Door by William W. Canfield and

Honestly, I am not a fan of ebooks.  Perhaps if I had a more portable way to read them (ie a Kindle or an iPad) I may be more apt to use them in our homeschool.  As it is, we tend to use actual books rather than ebooks or internet sources. 

(However, I am planning on bringing my computer on future road trips and having Eric and Emily read both of these books.  They are definitely worth the effort to incorporate them in our home education.)

Overall, I LOVE these books published by Salem Ridge Press.  The only issue I have with their website is that it is most certainly geared toward the homeschool family.  I would highly encourage those who do not homeschool and yet are interested in these great historical children's books to wade through the many comments toward homeschoolers when you peruse the Salem Ridge Press website and continue in ordering these books for your children.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

You can see what other members of TOS Crew thought of Salem Ridge Press here.

**disclaimer: I received these products free of charge for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

crumbling walls...

I'm currently working through Beth Moore's Breaking Free Bible study.  I've finished the homework for the first week.  It's been awesome and awful... all at the same time.  

I know that this is going to be the kind of in depth Bible study that quakes my heart and crumbles walls that I've carefully erected.  It is also the type of study that makes me dig deep and face strongholds in my heart and life.  It's awesome because the God I know and love crumbles the walls in my heart like he tumbled the walls of Jericho.  It's equally awful because I am facing walls that need to come tumbling down and strongholds that need to release my heart.  

At our first Bible study meeting last week, I bravely prayed silently that my LORD would show me strongholds that I have allowed in my heart that are holding me back from complete freedom and reckless abandon.  My heart has been heavily weighed down with "stuff" that I couldn't quite recognize and articulate.  I needed the Holy Spirit to intervene. 

He is always, Always, ALWAYS faithful.  He is also gracious, loving and kind.  Slowly and kindly He is revealing those things that are weighing me down.  Things that I've let creep in until roots have taken hold and walls have grown up.  Honestly, it's ugly stuff... heavy stuff... 

I'm looking forward to the day the strongholds are gone... supernaturally removed forever.  I'm looking forward to the day my heart weighs much less.  I'm looking forward to crumbled walls.

Monday, September 20, 2010

to write or not to write... write... or not to write... that is the question of my heart...

I just finished writing my next homeschool review.... (you'll see it on Wednesday when it goes live.)  At any rate, I'm realizing how much I really enjoy writing for TOS.  Just today I sat down and had an hour to write and ninety minutes later, I realized that I had lost all track of time as I was including photos, links and personal testimony.

I had to walk away from it for a few hours and when I got back to it, Chad came in and glanced at me and my computer.  

"Is that your next review?"


"Wow!  That's really cool!"

Yep, it is!  It's a really cool thing to do... and I'm really, really glad I have the opportunity to do it.   I enjoy it.  It gives me great pleasure and fulfills a deep need in my heart.  I find myself wanting to write more and more... to pursue other avenues of writing... to investigate publishing other things I've written. 

However, there is much to do each day in my world...things that I also love to do that take my time and energy... I am wife, mother, teacher, children's ministry facilitator, homeschool cooperative member, wife of church elder and friend.  

I think every woman struggles in finding balance in her life... her marriage... her family.  I'm looking for balance... finding the right mix of pleasure vs. responsibility... searching for the balance of doing stuff for others and stuff for me... knowing how to best manage the 24 hours in a day that God has given me.

Is pursuing more writing right now the best choice for me and my family?  

THAT is the true question!

**a small disclaimer... this post is 100% rhetorical.  I'm not looking for an answer from each and everyone that may read this.  I'm just "talking" aloud...working through things in my heart and mind... thanks!

Friday, September 17, 2010

not above bribery...

I'm not above bribing my kids... today we went to Wal-Mart and all three kids had their "own" money.

I had visions of getting in to Wal-Mart... getting my shopping done... and getting out.  There isn't a Mom on this planet who doesn't know what it is like to go to Wal-Mart (or KMart... or Toys R Us... or the mall... or... or... or...) with kids who have their "own" money.... multiple trips between the toy section, the clothing section, the candy section and the craft supplies section... makes me exhausted just typing about it.  Multiply 3 kids with their own money and a mom who hates Wal-Mart and you've a disaster in the making.

Is it okay to praise the LORD for bribes?  hmmm....  that may be a doctrinal question for another time.  Today, though, I was seriously saying THANK YOU LORD!  

This is what is right next to Wal-Mart...

Eric reminded me of this fun fact about Steak 'n Shake...

This mom had an "ahhhh" moment and offered a bribe...

if we can get in and out of Wal-Mart in 35 minutes, we can have Happy Hour

I don't think I've ever had a faster, more enjoyable shopping experience with 3 kids, their own money and Wal-Mart!

So glad I'm not above bribery!


treading water but never alone!

Sometimes the days feel like treading water 

and yet the years looked back upon show a steady wake of swimming forward.  

Sometimes in the midst of treading water, I tend to forget to look back at the wake of His providence... His sustenance... His hand all over my life...

...and I forget to look forward to His goodness... His faithfulness... His kindnesses to come...

...and I fail to see those He brings alongside of me to encourage me... love me... spur me on.

When I feel like I tread alone
and am getting no where...'s time to open my eyes and look around
for He is always there!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

a little wine with that, please...

Whine... there's been a lot of that around here today...

My children are amazing.  All three were born with a 6th sense... the sense to know when Mom isn't feeling well and the ability to turn up the whine exponentially.  

Do you see this pouty face...
that is the face of a 7 year old who has whined a great deal about writing thank you notes.

Not to make it too much of a chore, I even brought everything we needed with us to the library so that she could write them here while Emily was doing her volunteer time.

Honestly, I don't feel well.  I seem to be struggling through another sinus infection.  Someone should tell my children to develop a 7th sense... the sense to keep their whine to themselves when Mom doesn't feel well.

or... I just may have to ask for a little WINE myself when they turn up the whine on days like today!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

splash pad...

About 25 minutes from our home is a fun little splash pad...

God granted us a beautiful 80 degree day to enjoy it!

A few hot dogs, lots of chips, lemonade and birthday cake...

and lots of gifts to open...

with 10 friends...

made for a GREAT 7th birthday!


...because of the tender mercy of our God...
Luke 1:78

Because my God is a God of tender mercy and His Word promises that His mercies are new every morning, this child is named Mercy...Ellen Mercy.  His gift to us of tender mercy and faithfulness.

My sister and I have often remarked at how God can take one thing and use it differently in different lives to His glory.  In our family, pregnancy seems to be that "thing".  Four women...four different stories of God's faithfulness and mercy through pregnancy...

...for one sister... mother of five says it all.  Pregnancy hasn't been an issue... well.. actually it has.  She's mother to five on earth and one in Heaven.  She and her husband have had to reconcile some unexpected pregnancies and the torn emotions that go with them.  Five children... five hearts... five souls held dear by their parents all have been used by God in their hearts and lives.

...for my other sister...mother of one was her long time description.  Years of waiting and losing one baby have been hard.  Thankfully, there are gifts of tender mercy there as well... for number two has lived with them on and off for the last 18 months as a foster child and number three is due soon... eight years after the birth of number one.  God has used years of waiting... hoping... longing to bring about His perfect work in my sister's heart and life.

...for my dear sister in law... mother of none was how some saw her for ten years.  Graciously and without complaint, my sister chose to live her life with my brother as a couple rather than as parents.  God used them mightily during that time and I think He was able to use them so well because of her obedience and surrender to His will.  Days after their eleventh wedding anniversary... God blessed them with the birth of their son... a gift of His tender mercy and great faithfulness.

...for me...mother of three is how most people know me.  However, in my heart, I am a mother to seven.  Seven?!?  Isn't that CRAZY!  In fact, the neurologist looked at Ellen's health history last week and said, "She was your SEVENTH pregnancy? How many children do you have?!?"  I have three here with me and four waiting for me... how COOL is that?!?  God has used each of my children to chip away sharp edges on my heart... to smooth rough patches of my soul... to mold me... to shape me more in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  

On the morning of September 14, 2003, God granted us a tender, new mercy... Ellen Mercy. 

...thus named so we will always remember.

Monday, September 13, 2010


When I started this blog last year, I committed to myself that I would be real... I would be honest... and I wouldn't worry about what people think about my writings.  Yeah, well... that commitment lasted about 24 hours....

These many months later, I still think...

...I shouldn't have said that!

...ohhh! I should learn to keep my opinions to myself!

...I've said too much...again!

I've thought much about the last post I wrote... the one about my dream being shattered.  I wonder if I shouldn't have said it or if I said too much.  I feel guilty for sharing what I shared.

Here's the deal... the dream that was shattered was a simple as a fall camping trip to the UP of MI (my ALL time favorite place) including a chance to once again stand on the shore of Lake Superior.  My view of that trip wasn't the same as my man's view.  And, honestly, he had the healthier view.  Sometime over the past month, I had allowed my heart to get involved.  I no longer viewed it as a possible fun vacation, I allowed it to become a "must have" and my heart had convinced my head that I must have that vacation at that particular time in that particular way!

See... not very earth shattering but definitely pride shattering!  My pride had reared its ugly head once again.  Even to the point of thinking that I NEEDED that vacation to refuel my tank after this summer.  

So... I write a post being real... being honest... being raw... and also probably saying too much and yet so many of you reached out to encourage and pray for me.  You, who are either working through much bigger and deeper shattered dreams than mine or those of you who have walked a journey littered with broken pieces. Thank you!  Jehovah used you in incredible ways to begin a new work in my heart.  

Once I looked past the shattered fragments of my dream... my pride... I saw so many friends who have dealt with shattered dreams far deeper and wider than mine.  And.. I saw lives that are a beautiful mosaic that God designed using shattered fragments and broken pieces.  

I am humbled that you would pray for and encourage me over my pieces of shattered pride while the love of Jesus shines through your mosaic.