Wednesday, March 31, 2010

celebrating with a coconana berry smoothie!

Today I completed my walking goal for the month of March... 40 miles! Not a lot by some standards but a ton by mine! It feels good. So, the new goal is 5o miles in April and to train for a 10K. I'm actually looking forward to this goal! And, looking forward to getting new sneakers... shin splints... yuck!

So, to celebrate my goal and to walk the remaining 1.5 miles for March, I walked to our local Christian bookstore to look for a gift for my soon-to-be 15 year old friend, Makayli. Makayli's birthday is tomorrow.

I found a book on Christian dating for Makayli that looked promising and so I thought I'd peruse it while I waited for my "40 mile celebratory coconana berry smoothie" in the cafe of the bookstore. As I was waiting in line, I heard someone say "Hi!". I turned around and greeted a friend that I've known from high school. We exchanged pleasantries while waiting for our respective drinks. I looked down and realized I was holding a book on dating. Hmm..... (currently, my wedding rings and my 10th anniversary ring are being cleaned and repaired and so my fingers are bare....)... awkward! Fortunately, Darrin knows me... he knows Chad... he knows we are happily married. He even promised to start no rumors other than the fact that he heard I was dating a nurse at the hospital.

The entire exchange with Darrin took about 2.5 minutes but I have chuckled a lot since. I love that God gives me unexpected joys in the middle of my days. And, I can't wait to get my rings back and be "officially" married again!

As far as the coconana berry smoothie... what a way to celebrate an accomplished goal! If you are ever in the area, I'll meet you at the Tree of Life and treat you to one! Soooo good!!!

the one who prays for my heart...

The past 6 months have been hard. I told a friend that following Jesus would be easy if it weren't for people. I'm okay with Jesus' words "Love the LORD your God with all your heart , mind, soul and strength." It is the "and love your neighbor as yourself" that I'm having a hard time with.

Throughout this winter, I've made several comments on this blog about how different people have been mad at me or how I have inadvertently offended someone. I'm even probably offending someone right now but I'm not sure I really care anymore.... my blog, my rules... 'nuf said.

Tonight I heard that I am an easy target. This comment was said in love and in truth. My friend, Ami, is right. I am an easy target. I don't necessarily want to be but I also don't want to be totally unapproachable and so I try to find some safe middle ground somewhere and I fail miserably.

So, my heart hurts... again. It's bruised... again. And in the middle of my pity party tonight (of which Chad got a front row seat) a still small voice whispered, "there are soooo many people who would love to be loved the way this man loves you!"

Then my man whispered to me, "I'm praying for your heart."

'nuf said.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday art class....

I'm sitting here enjoying the ambience of the kids' art class. Each Tuesday, we drive to Mrs. Baker's home for art class. This time has become one of my favorite times of the week.

Mrs. Baker is incredible with the kids. She simultaneously works with Eric's advanced painting, Emily's various crafts and Ellen's weekly projects. She gives each one of the kids instruction and encouragement while they work. Her eyes catch little details that my untrained eye over looks. While she corrects their mistakes, they never feel like they are being corrected. Instead, they hear "Yes, that's it!" or "Whoops, not that way. Let's do it this way."

Mrs. B. has helped Eric work on fine art projects for 4H for several years. This year, he not only is competing in fine arts but currently he is working on a painting on slate for miscellaneous crafts as well. She also helped Emme work on painting a small basket to enter in the miscellaneous crafts division of 4H as well.

This winter, Mrs. Baker also helped all three kids do a calendar page art contest. We are anxiously waiting to see if any of the artists in our family will be featured in the Electric Consumer Calendar for 2011. Based on their grade in school, each of the kids had to come up with a drawing or painting that depicted a certain month of the year. Ellen was required to complete something for January, Emily has required to depict Man, and Eric's requirement was the month of July. Ellen's snowman picture and Emily's painting of lily of the valley were sent off without me thinking of even taking a photograph of the finished project. However, Eric thought to do that himself before he mailed his entry in. He's pretty proud of his picture of an American flag and a bald eagle.

While the kids are busy, I enjoy the peace and quiet. Mrs. Baker's fish tank bubbles and the kids work quietly. It's an oasis is the midst of feeling like I run hither and yon....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

our first family Sabbath celebration...

Rest. Hmmm.... sounds like fun, maybe I'll try it sometime!

Seriously, the LORD has been working on my heart over the past few years concerning His commandment "Keep the Sabbath". I have failed miserably in this area and it seems that the older I become, the more involved in church that Chad and I become and the older my children become, the less we "keep the Sabbath". We work had all week and "run" hard on Sunday fulfilling all of our duties and responsibilities. It's become a bit absurd! We have no day of the week where we stop and just rest. I think part of the reason I was so sick this winter was because I rarely let my body stop and rest.

I'm not here to argue the theology of Sabbath being the 7th day of the week or the Lord's Day being the first day of the week. There are many more intelligent than I who argue this day in and day out and still disagree. I'm not sure it truly matters. I think what matters is the attitude of the heart and the desire to set aside a day of the week to rest and worship God. It took me a few years to figure out how this would work in my heart and how it would work for our family.

Chad's work schedule has him working until 11 p.m. or later on Friday nights. However, he then has Saturday and Sunday off from work. My first encounter with Sabbath celebrations came in the form of a book "No Ordinary Home" by Carol Brazo. In her book, she wrote how her family chose to combine the Hebrew tradition of Friday evening to Saturday evening for Sabbath with the Christian tradition of Sunday being the day to worship God. In the Brazo home, they begin their rest and worship Saturday evening by enjoying a Sabbath meal (in the form and tradition of the Jewish Sabbath meal) together, have family worship and then they play games together. Their family retires early on Saturday evening and Sunday morning they go to church together and enjoy the afternoon napping, bike riding, games or movies.

I was so impressed with Mrs. Brazo's idea because I knew it could work for our family. I just was overwhelmed at implementing some of the Hebrew traditions with the Sabbath meal. It's taken me at least two years to work though this and to figure out how to make it work for us.

As I've said before, I am a work in progress. Our family Sabbath celebration is a work in progress as well. I'm reading and learning more and more of the Hebrew traditions and am hoping to incorporate these traditions in our Sabbath meal on Saturday evening. I hope to blog more each week about how our Sabbath goes and how it is working for us.

For today, though, I will tell you that last night was phenomenal! It was better than I had hoped. After our meal and family worship we were all content and at peace. I think we all slept well and going to church this morning was a smooth affair (that in, and of, itself is quite a feat, let me tell you!).

I feel rested. It feels wonderful!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

our first family 5k...

It feels so good to have a personal goal achieved. Today was my very first ever 5k run/walk. Since the proceeds of the race went to support World Compassion Network, Chad and I made an executive decision to require the entire family to participate.

Even though Ellen and Emily told us they were not looking forward to this, everyone woke up this morning excited. The kids were all doing stretching exercises this morning in the living room to be ready!

The morning started out cloudy but as soon as the race began, the sun came out. Over 500 people in every state of racing took off from the starting line. Eric ran most of the race and came in first place for our family. Soon after the 1 mile marker, Emily took off on her own and after passing Ellen off to me, Chad tried to catch up with Eric. Ellen did well for a 6 year old... she conned her dad into carrying her once and she tricked me into carrying her 3 times!!
When it was all said and done though, she and I finished in 53 minutes. She even convinced me to jog several times and we both sprinted to the finish line.

Our family is now "hooked" as my friend, Tangee, said we would be! It was a wonderful!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

why I write...

I'm a writer. I love to write. I write because it is what I do... just as a marathoner runs or a sculptor creates. I write prose and I write poetry. I journal and I blog. I write letters and I write emails. I write fact and I write fiction. I just write.

The funny thing is that I write to quiet the noise in my head. I know... I know... sounds a bit schizophrenic, eh? I think it probably is. For you see, once I write (or type which is my preferred way of writing) the noise in my head is gone because my thoughts are now either on real or virtual paper. Chad will testify that more times than I could ever count, I have gotten out of bed to write so that my head will shut off enough for me to sleep! Once the noisy thoughts have been released to paper, I can rest.

Lately, the noise is getting loud in my mind again. For a time, I have tried to ignore it but it will not be put off. It is as if my mind needs the time for the ideas to cement themselves together into coherent thoughts and sentences. Once the sentences come, the sound becomes deafening and my fingers seek a keyboard in quiet release.

I'm anticipating tonight to be a night of quiet release. For days now, my mind has been churning over partial thoughts and incomplete ideas that need to find their way into coherent structure. These thoughts plague me in my sleep and accompany me everywhere I go. At some of the most inopportune times, the partial thoughts will become complete sentences and I have no way of recording them. It's time to quiet the noise.

I don't write to just string words together to convey a thought or an idea. I don't write to persuade you to join my team or to embrace my convictions. I don't write to use an impressive vocabulary.... I don't write for any other reason than because I am a writer and it's what I do.

follow me Friday...

In this vast pool called The Blogging World, I am a small (actually, miniscule) fishy. However, I love venturing further and further from my safe little coral reef and learning from others about everything from homeschool to housework, marriage to maintaining, and life to living it all for Him!

Today I joined the Follow Me Friday link at The Trendy Treehouse. I don't have a ton of time today but I'm committed to checking out 5 new blogs on the MckLinky at The Trendy Treehouse.

Feel like visiting a few new blogs or having some visitors to your own? Join me on Follow Me Friday!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

God is God and God is good...

Until about 10 minutes ago, 41 looked really old to me. Forty-one years ago, on March 25, 1969, I was born. My 13 year old son thinks 1969 was at the end of the Pleistocene Age...

Honestly, earlier today, someone sent me an email that said "Happy 41st!" and I thought, "WOW! The number 41 looks so OLD!" However, God just send me a cyberspace reminder that every single year from 1969 until now has been a gift from Him. He has blessed me with 41 years of being a daughter, almost 39 years of being a sister, almost 16 years of being a wife and just over 13 years of being a mother.

Please take a moment to watch this video.... Be reminded of the gift of life.... Let Zac's testimony refresh your view of God.... For God truly is God...and God is good.

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

what a week!

I just have to say "what a week!" Most often (like 95.5% of the time) I say that with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Today, though, I am saying it with utmost joy!

I realize that we are only half way through this week but I just have to stop and praise Him for His blessings in my life. He has gifted me with an incredible week of fellowship with friends and my family. I'd like to think it is His birthday gift to me.

Yesterday, my dear friend, Julie, took me to the Peony Tea House for lunch. It was so quaint and so fun! This tea house's specialty is their pastries. For dessert, we were each served a plate of no less than 6 different pastries!! ... and a bag to take home what we couldn't eat then. Bliss!

Julie and I also ventured through Ft. Wayne and found Lakeside Learning Garden. I can't resist a book store and one that has new and used books and curriculum is even better! Of course, I came out with 2 bags!

We ended our time out by going to Sonic during Happy Hour for a Route 44 Lemon Berry Slush. If you haven't had one... by all means, please find your nearest Sonic and go between 2-4 p.m. for Happy Hour. All slushes are half-price... less than $1 for 44 ozs of strawberries and lemon! Way too good!!

If yesterday were not enough, this morning my friend Kelly treated me to breakfast out. We have a standing Wednesday morning breakfast date and this morning she picked up my tab.

Tonight, my man took me out for my birthday dinner. We have this incredible place in town called Noa Noa. It has become own of my all-time favorites. Scott, the owner and chief chef, serves seafood and sushi. I could leave the sushi behind but the seafood...oh my! He grills it on his wood grill and serves it with wood-grilled veggies and fruit. Is your mouth watering yet? Try this... coconut shrimp and bleu fire toast and shrimp (think the best hot wing sauce ever served over shrimp) for your appetizer... spring green salad with homemade chipotle honey mustard dressing... mango & ginger escolar over rice with grilled veggies and pineapple and bananas... and a coco nana sundae for dessert. It was WAY better than I can even describe!

After dinner, we spent a few hours with our friends, the McQuades. This family of 9 just saw their oldest son married this weekend. Tonight we watched the video, looked at pictures, played all while Chad hooked up their new computer. It was a FUN time of sweet fellowship.

All of this would make this week incredible and yet the fun continues.... tomorrow friends in the afternoon and a late night coffee night with my "nest" (those friends of mine who keep me grounded)... and ... Saturday is our family's first 5K and our family's first Sabbath celebration (more on both of these later).

I am soooo blessed! What a week, LORD, thank You so much!! As if salvation were not enough, You continue to gift me with incredible blessings in this journey called "life"!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a challenge for me and a challenge for you...

My friend, Julie, took me out for lunch today. What an sweet, sweet time of fellowship! Julie is the kind of friend who never ceases to challenge me in my faith, my spiritual walk, my marriage, etc. Today was no exception.

Julie shared with me a challenge that was given from the pulpit of her church just 2 days ago. I've decided not only to accept this challenge in my life but also to "pay it forward" by offering this challenge to all who visit this blog. I'm expecting my heart and life to be changed by this and I hope and pray that you not only take this challenge but that your heart and life are changed by it as well....

For the next 30 days, I am committed to a "media fast." In lieu of all that is going on in our nation's capital and in our government, there is much "scuttlebutt" in the media. Frankly, I know the end of the story.... according to my Bible, my God wins. However, I get really fed up with all the bickering, fighting, mudslinging, and name calling that goes on under the umbrella of "news". So, I am taking this challenge....

I am committed to turning off the media... TV, news radio, internet news... and I am instead going to consciously be praying for our nation's leaders.... for President Obama and Vice President Biden.... for Secretary of State Clinton and Senator Bayh.... for those in the White House, in Congress and on the Supreme Court. I commit on this day of March 23, 2010 to pray earnestly for those who are in leadership roles in the United States of America and in the State of Indiana.

By doing this challenge... this media fast... for 30 days I completely expect that my own attitudes will be changed and I expect that I may even begin to see people as just that... people... sinners who need a Savior, instead of seeing them as they are portrayed in the media. I think I will look at the events taking place in our country right now as less frightening and I think I will find great peace in knowing that nothing is happening now or in the future that the One who created the universe does not already know.

I highly doubt that my 30 days of praying will make any drastic changes in DC, but I know that prayer works and that this challenge will drastically change my heart.

Daniel 2:20-23

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.

I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:

Monday, March 22, 2010

What if I don't like it?... part 2

Every other Monday has a standing prayer date for me. The wives of the elders of our church get together for a time of prayer and encouragement. God used our prayer time today to reveal to me more of my own selfish tendencies, self-seeking desires, and foolish pride.

I'm realizing that there is more to my blog post earlier today. My dissatisfaction is deeper than just looking for ministry outside of being Chad's wife and the 3 E's mom. Some of my struggle comes from ministry at church and my personal dissatisfaction with it. Let me explain....

For reasons not completely known to me, I have found myself in a prominent position at church. Chad and I are deeply involved in our little body of believers. I love my church. I love the people in my church. I love the children of our church. I love it all and I love deeply. Therein lies my problem. It is because I love deeply that I am also hurt deeply. Let me explain....

In the past few months, it seems like everyone has been upset with me about something. Most of it is ridiculous, some of it is valid. It seems like I either do too much or do too little. Even today, my friend and prayer partner, Nikki, was laughing out loud at the absurdity of it while she was praying for me.

It would do no good to list all of the "offenses". I am not a weepy woman, and yet, I have cried many bitter tears over the past 6 months or so. Out of hurt and fear, I have avoided some people because I only seem to upset them. I've missed many Sunday services because of either my own illness or one of the children's... some Sundays it was a relief to be able to stay home with a "good excuse." Suffice it to say, I wanted God to "rescue" me!

In wanting God to rescue me, I allowed my own selfish tendencies to envision what He might have for me. My own self-seeking desires wanted God to pluck me out of my ministries at church and place me in an IMPORTANT position. My foolish pride wanted to be able to say, "I'm sorry, I can't help you with that. I have to do... it's very important!"

Through the ministry of my fellow elder wives today, I've come to the conclusion it doesn't matter if there are days I don't like it. Only God, in His sovereign wisdom, knows why He has placed me where He has. I don't have to always like it, I just have to obey. I must stop searching for something else and do what He has called me to do... nothing more, nothing less, nothing else... whether I always like it or not.

What if I don't like it?

Last week I blogged about feeling an intense anticipation of God's leading in my life. Honestly, I was excited about the prospect of what it could be. I thought I couldn't wait to see what He had for me around the next bend.

Hmmm.... I'm such a romantic! Of course, I only thought God could be calling me to do something I wanted to do, something different... something exciting... something worthwhile. I only allowed thoughts of a new ministry, path, etc. I caught myself daydreaming of what incredible thing or things God could be calling me to do.

Guess what? I never once thought that God could be calling me to embrace my life as it is right now. I didn't think that He might ask me to recommit to our children's program at church or to begin anew writing children's Bible studies and Sunday School curriculum. I didn't want to think that the anticipation of feeling Him move in my heart would be because I needed a jolt to re-embrace homeschooling or a kick in the pants to rediscover joy in my marriage. I wouldn't allow myself to think that He was calling me to continue the path on which He has placed me. I didn't want to think that I was STILL called to those things. I wanted to move on.

The naked truth is that I'm bored with my life as it is. It's full. Actually, way too full and yet I'm still looking for contentment outside of my own heart. I'm trying to find new ways to feel good about myself or about what I'm doing. I'm looking for impressive ministries. I want people to notice me. I want to feel important.

Why do I do this to myself? Why do I seek for other's accolades instead of seeking to glorify my Creator? Why do I think that the grass will be greener if I move on to another pasture? Haven't I learned that all pastures have both sunshine and thistles? Why isn't the life God has called me to do enough for me?

I really think the stirring I felt and continue to feel is a recharge for my battery. I think the Spirit is graciously showing me that He wants me to be excited and energetic right where I am. My head knows there is no greater ministry than to be a loving wife to Chad and a loving mother to Eric, Emily and Ellen. My heart needs to get over itself and embrace this ministry.

I need not look any further than that for a worthwhile ministry...even if I think I don't like it... I know it is what I am called to do.

Friday, March 19, 2010

25 miles and counting...

Today's walk marked the 25.5 mile marker for me! I can't remember what day of March I actually decided to start walking to train for a 5K but I do know that on March 19, I passed 25 miles of walking and I am registered for a 5K next Saturday. The entire family is joining me!! My girls are NOT excited about this but I am...I can't wait!!

Only a few know how huge this is for me. I used to walk and I loved it. I thought that was just a few years ago until I realized it was 15 years ago!!!! Somehow life happened...7 pregnancies, 3 babies, major surgeries, broken tailbone, etc., etc. Not only have I gotten way too far out of shape but also walking was no longer something I even aspired to. I always seemed to have far too many things to do in a day to be able to fit a walk into the schedule.

I honestly believe this desire to walk a 5K, a 10K, a mini and a marathon is God ordained. I think He had given me this desire... it's as if He has breathed it into my heart. For the first time in my almost 41 years, I have this desire but it hasn't taken over my life. Usually, when I decide to set a goal, it becomes a "god" for me. I do everything I can to accomplish it and I get angry if someone or something gets in my way. I become obsessed with the goal and it begins to take over my entire life.

So far, it seems as if this goal of walking is different. For instance, I have missed several days of walking this month because of either my own sickness or my kid's sickness. The weather has kept me in as well. However, I walk when I can and I enjoy it immensely. When I can't walk, I'm okay with it.

I want my attitude to stay this way. I don't want this to take over my life and become a "god" or an idol. I don't want it to become about weight loss. I don't want it to become about how far or fast I walk. Instead, I want to enjoy it simply because God has given me the health to be able to walk and He gives me beautiful creation to enjoy while I am walking and He allows me to pray and praise Him for a few minutes by myself while walking down the road.

25 miles and counting of spending some quality time enjoying His creation praying and praising Him!

Thursday, March 18, 2010 making me wait...

Anticipation. It's there. I don't know exactly why... but it's there. So, I wait.

I love the way the Holy Spirit works in me. Often He guides my steps without me really knowing it until I look back and see in hindsight that the path I have been on was ordained by the Creator of the universe. Other times, I doubt and question each little step. It is as if there is no light in front of me and I'm venturing into the unknown with my hand held out in front of me and my steps slow and unsure. Once again, hindsight shows that He was lighting each step one at a time as I stepped out in faith.

Then, there are times like now. Actually, now means the last year or so. I have this soul-deep feeling that I am on the brink of something incredible. Something God ordained, God honoring, God directed... something of which I am an integral part. Yet, I have NO idea what it is. Actually, I have a small idea but for the life of me, I can't figure out how it all plays out. All I know is that there are times, like today, when this feeling is overwhelming and I can hardly stand the wait.

As a child, Christmas mornings held this kind of anticipation for me. I would rally my family, usually around 6 a.m. and we would gather around our Christmas tree. All six of us would be full of anticipation. Not only for what we hoped we would receive but also the hope that others would like what we had given them. I have incredibly fond memories of Christmas morning. Lots of love, laughter and often tears of joy. Anticipation always brings back those fond memories.

I think this current anticipation has something to do with the LORD having more writing or even speaking for me to do. I don't know any more than that. As I was walking today, I was telling my LORD all of the reasons why He shouldn't chose me and at the very same time I was full of anticipation of what He could do in me and through me.

So, my anticipation makes me wait. I don't want to do anything other than what He has ordained for me to do. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.
Psalm 5:3

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

a love story...

I love to read and I love nothing better than a really good love story. I'm a hopeless romantic. I love the few love stories that I have read that are really, really good. You know, the ones that capture the heart and soul of a relationship...

Know what? I'm living a love story. A really, really good one. Written by the Author of love and life. He gifted me with an incredible man. Almost 16 years ago, Chad (perhaps in a moment of temporary insanity) agreed to love me, cherish me, honor me, keep himself only for me and live with me for the rest of his life. I'm sure there have been times (actually, I KNOW there have been more times than I care to count) that Chad really wondered what he had gotten himself into. Instead of giving up, Chad gave in. He gave in to loving me, cherishing me, honoring me, keeping only to me and doing all he could to live an incredible life with me. What more could I ask?

So often, I get caught up in the details of day to day life... cleaning, laundry, teaching, ministry, etc., and I forget to look at the love story. I fumble through my days just trying to get everything done. I fall into the trap of wishing or wanting things to be better or to be different. I fail to see my hero standing before me.

Lately, the Author of my love story has been reminding me of just how incredible my man is... my marriage is... my story is. I have but one regret.... I'm wish I could redo all of the days I didn't see my marriage for the love story that it is and for the times I haven't seen my man for the hero that he is.

I love a good love story and I am living the best one!

Monday, March 15, 2010

making my own Diet Coke?

Over the years, I've attempted to duplicate recipes of major brand items that I feel as if I can not live without. I now make my own laundry soap that I like better than any I have ever purchased and I make my own chai tea that I like better than the local coffee shop.

For over 20 years I have loved Diet Coke. Diet Coke and I have been together for a long time. In fact, Diet Coke has been around long before Chad. I'm sure he would love for me to save us a few pennies by making my own soda instead.

So, I'm entering the contest for a free soda machine from raisingmy4boys. I don't know if I'll be able to make Diet Coke but it sure would be fun to try. Check out their blog and join the contest!

treasure map...

Yesterday, at church, our pastor asked me to read this to our congregation. Pastor Doug was speaking on the Bible being our map to our greatest treasure and when we follow the Bible wholeheartedly, we will live our greatest life. It was an amazing sermon.

I like to think that I hold only to the Bible and to nothing else. I like to think that my heart is loyal only to my Savior and His Word. I like to think that I am single-minded when it comes to this Book of Wisdom called the Bible. Obviously, I deceive myself.

As I sat in church yesterday, I nodded my head in agreement with Pastor Doug. I thought "this is great!" However, at the same time, I was harboring bitterness and anger against a friend. My thought was "YES! I do hold on to nothing else but God's Word! I am not deceived into following any other way. I love my God and I love His Word!" Later, last night, I was venting to Chad (who was either patiently listening to me verbally sort out my thoughts and feelings, or he was fast asleep). At any rate, I heard the still small voice of the Spirit whisper, "if you are holding on to bitterness and anger, you can't be holding on to My Word with both hands and all of your heart!"

I realized, anew, that there is much that takes my heart away from whole-heartedly following Him and His Word. I follow other ways and try to take short-cuts. I doubt. I listen to other voices. And, attitudes and actions that seem innocent grow into sins that choke out my desire to seek Him in His Word.

He has given us "a map"... directions for all we need to live this thing called "life" for His glory. It's all written down in the Bible. It is our life instruction book and when we chase the treasure within, we live our best life for Him!

Be careful to learn, to follow, and to keep following the instructions contained in this letter. With this letter and the directions it contains, you will find your way to a distant place where is hidden a store of treasure more valuable than you can imagine in your wildest dreams.

But, be careful, the journey upon which these instructions will take you is one which involves constant dangers and pitfalls. At every step of the way, your total and unswerving obedience to these directions is not only important, but critical. If you are careful to stay true to the path which I set before you, you will not only take hold of promised treasure, but will experience such delights along the way as to make the journey itself more than worth your trouble.

Again, however, I warn you... doubt will be your unwanted companion, and will often tempt you to look this way, search along another path, to follow your own unreliable "heart", to heed the advice of others you meet who say..."I know this treasure you seek, and where it may be found... follow me!" Test all of this against what is contained in this letter, and if the path these influences would have you take differs in the slightest from my reliable direction, do not be swayed.

Read this map. Memorize it. Obey it. No matter what. And, you, my friend, will be rich indeed!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I am a recovering Pharisee

Hello. My name is Heidi and I'm a recovering Pharisee. It's true. I'm not proud of this, but after years of ignoring this aspect of my heart and life, I'm coming clean. I doubt that I will ever be free of legalistic attitudes, self-righteousness and pride. Therefore, I will always have to call myself a "recovering Pharisee"...for, you see, I know my heart and I see my selfishness. I know I am but one step away from falling in the Pharisee pit again.

I like living by grace. Living by grace frees me from living by legalism. I can obey the rules because I want to, not because I have to. I can pursue my Jehovah God with reckless abandon because I love Him, not because I am required to pursue Him. I can raise my hands in celebration of His love and fall on my knees in worship of His sovereignty. I can reach out and be His hands or walk and be His feet without worrying about becoming dirty because I am doing it for Him, not for me. Grace allows me to be free to worship, love and serve without worrying about what others think of me, or furthermore, what I think of myself. Grace also allows me to mess up and fall flat on my face, over and over again, because Grace never fails me. God's grace always welcomes me back to start anew.

Looking back, I was a great Pharisee. In Jesus' day, I would have been at the temple any time women were allowed. I would have scrubbed toilets, washed goblets, swept the floor or polished brass in order to show how much I loved God. I would have worn my head covering with pride because I was following the rules. I would have walked meekly (well... maybe not...) because God made me a woman, hence a little lower than man. I would have kept silent in the church (hmmm....) because women were to be silent. While I was doing all of these wonderful things, I would have also been looking down my nose at those who weren't. I'm sure I would have been quick to offer gossip (oh.. I mean advice) at the well morning and night while I gathered my family's water. Others, I am sure, would have been as impressed with me as I was of myself.

Yep, impressed with myself, that's me. I was never called a "Pharisee" because a few thousand years later, we don't use that term anymore. Instead, I was called a "godly woman". Some may even use the term "righteous" or "upright". Uptight may have been a better description! I was godly--only serving the wrong god! I did all the "right" things so that people would look at me and be impressed with me. I wanted others to see me as being "righteous" just as Jesus was righteous. Oh! OUCH!! Yep...I bought the very same lie that Satan, in the form of the serpent, gave Eve... "you can be like God".

However, I serve a God who is GRACIOUS! Grace is underserved merit or favor. Undeserved meaning I don't have to earn it. I don't have to be perfect or self-righteous or upright to gain God's favor. He gave it to me. Even when I was wallowing in my pit of prideful sin, He gave me grace. He continues to give me grace. Though my self-righteousness is as filthy rags to Him, His grace clothes me in His righteousness.

Here's the soon as I try to do it, it's not grace. As soon as I think I can handle it, it's pride. As soon as I try to fix it, it's self-righteousness. He promises me that His grace is made perfect in my weakness. So, by giving up my pride, my self-righteousness, my Pharisee attitudes, I accept His gift of grace in my life. Then, and only then, can I extend grace to others.

I love grace! It is because of grace that I am a recovering Pharisee....

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm a wimp

Honestly, I'm such a wimp! I hate being sick and when I am, the entire world knows that I hate being sick (now you know too, aren't you thrilled?!).

I have either a) the flu or b) bronchitis, sinusitis, and otitis. I'm leaning heavily toward option b) but I haven't been to the doctor to be properly diagnosed. My doctor is only in his office M-Th, and I didn't feel this badly M-Th so I didn't call him. In hindsight, I probably should have called yesterday. We have a local clinic that I could go to but I was just there yesterday with the boy who shut his finger in a door and didn't really want to make it 2 days in a row at the clinic. So, here I am sitting at home, being a wimp...too tired to do anything and too sick to care.

Even in these times of my life, my God pursues me. This is yet another reason why I love Him so! He finds me flipping covers off and pulling them up over and over again, all night long, because I'm either hot or cold and whispers to my heart "I'm here with you". He finds me when I'm feeling like my head is going to explode from sinus pressure and my nose is sore from blowing it often and He whispers "I love you!". He sees me awake, yet again, from coughing, coughing, coughing and tells me "You are not alone". He never leaves me, He always loves me and He never neglects to tell me.

Yesterday, as I was feeling puny and sorry for myself, I found out that a dear friend has just been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I don't know what stage Kim's cancer is but my heart hurts for her and for her family. Kim's message on Facebook encouraged all as she told us her diagnosis...

I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma today... Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. Lamentations 3:21-25

As much as I love Him for it, it is also humbling when my God pursues me. Who am I to whine and complain when my friend and her husband are facing incredible unknowns? Who am I to wonder where His love is when my ear hurts? Why do I doubt He is near me when I can't sleep?

Amazingly, all of these questions are true of me in the past 48 hours and yet my friend, who faces a major crises, has no doubts. She knows that His faithfulness is great and His mercies are new. She knows her hope is in Him and that He is good to those who depend on Him. She dares to hope in the face of the unknown.

I'm not sure one can remain a wimp and dare to hope in the face of the unknown. I have much to learn from my friend Kim!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

a few more things in my full day...

Here are a few more things in my full day today...

1~after my last post about today being dreary and rainy, it turned out to be the most beautiful afternoon! God blessed us with sun and 63 degrees. After the library, I came home ready to walk and my man opted to join me. I love the blessing of having not-so-little-anymore kids. We left them here and away we went! Ahhh! Two miles later, I felt refreshed and blessed to have a few moments of time with my man.

2~as of today, I have walked a total of 18 miles in 8 days. Not too bad. Still plugging away at my goal! Hopefully, I will get faster after this cough goes away. I told some friends at the library today that I was hoping to sweat the germs right out of me today. Don't think it worked but I am glad I got the walk in!

3~we collected over 20 gallons of sap and boiled it down to just over 1/2 gal. We finished them Monday evening. Here are some pics of my finished jars of syrup. Of course, we've eaten some already and tonight is French Toast so that we can enjoy some more. I'm thinking I may have to buy some at the Amish grocery store this season to get us through the year, since we seem to be gobbling up ours!

I'm not sure if we'll get any more sap. I don't have covered buckets and our forecast for this week is rain, rain and more rain, so I took the buckets down for now. It's also not getting below freezing at night and so the sap isn't running very fast. If we have another cold snap, I may hang the buckets back up and try for a little more syrup. But, right now, it's nice to not have sap constantly boiling in my kitchen. Although, the smell was very yummy!!

tired...but joyful...

Tired. If I had to sum up how I feel in one word it would be *tired*. I'm sure being it is a combination of staying up until 2 a.m. reading a book I simply couldn't put down, as well as fighting off another round of probable bronchitis. It could be that after 9 beautiful days in a row, it is a rainy, gloomy day here in Northern Indiana. Or, it is simply the ongoing journey of motherhood and homeschooling. At this point, the reason doesn't really matter... because knowing the reason doesn't change anything. I'm just tired.

I'm sitting in a quiet corner of our local library (which truly is my second home...). Ellen is playing with various toys while the older two are in their Spanish class. As I sit here, I'm reflecting on my day and realizing that like most of my days, it's full... full of my life as a wife, a mom and a homeschool teacher....

...Today~Eric had his ancient history and the Bible class at 9, I also had a breakfast date at 9. I got home at 10:20 and took a few minutes to sit and put my feet up as I caught up on life with Chad (today is his day off and so in roughly 15 minutes we filled each other in on our schedules). Then, the girls and I were off to do a little birthday shopping for a birthday party on Friday (found some great deals at our local Christian book store). After which, we drove out to pick Eric up at 11:30 and hit McD's for a quick lunch. Arrived here at the library at 12:10, in time for the kids to get a few books before their class starts at 12:30. I'm hoping to get home between 2:30-3 and to get a walk in before putting supper together. After supper will be gathering co op things for tomorrow, packing lunches for tomorrow and picking the house up before my Magic Cleaning Fairy comes tomorrow.

Why I am rehashing my day? Sometimes it does my heart good to write it all down and read it back to myself. Often I think "I'm not doing enough..." or "Why don't I have time to do...". I berate myself for not doing as much as Mrs. So & So.... Sometimes, I just need to allow myself a few minutes to reflect on what I do and what I get done.

When I do take the time to reflect, I find joy in being tired. I realize that my tiredness comes from doing things and being with my favorite people in the entire world. I'm joyful because I'm finding fulfillment in doing what I feel my Savior has called me to do. He promises in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It's when I take on more than He has called me to do that the burden become more than I can bear.

When I am tired without joy, it is usually because I'm trying to do more than He called me to do or I am trying to be someone I am not. I find myself trying to solve problems that are not my own or I'm trying to keep up with Mrs. So and So... whose children are Rhodes scholars, her house is immaculate and her hair is perfect. I become overwhelmed with other's crises and I feel weak and insufficient when I compare myself to my impression of others.

I need days like today to reflect and to realize that I'm tired... but joyful... because, for today, I have only done what I feel He has called me to do...nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. I need days like today to remind me where the joy comes from. It comes from serving Him and not taking on any more than that.

I need days like today to blog this reminder to myself... to write it down and record it for posterity. I need this reminder readily available because I know I will again find myself tired and overwhelmed, without the joy of my LORD. I need to be able to look back and read this post over and over again.

I will need to be reminded that it is possible to be tired but joyful.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

sugarin' update...

We've almost completed one week of collecting maple sap and boiling it down for syrup. I have to's been fun! The kids go out 2-3 times a day to collect the sap in the buckets hanging on the trees. Yesterday, I was gone for most of the day and the kids not only collected the sap but strained it and kept it boiling on the stove. Dad helped supervise and they all did a GREAT job!! My stove top is a bit sticky but I was so impressed at the good job that they did.

So far, we've collected 17+ gallons of sap. Tomorrow evening will mark one week of collecting and I really think we will surpass 20 gallons of sap by then. These warm, sunny, gorgeous days that get cold again at night have made the sap from the trees run fast.

We have 10, or so, Sugar Maple trees on our property. I was disappointed when I realized that several of our trees are in standing water right now. This isn't a problem for the tree, however, it is a big problem for the sap collector! So, Liann and I opted to just tap two trees and see what happened. All 17 1/2 gallon have come from just two trees.

I haven't canned any finished syrup yet because I continue adding the boiling sap together. I also need to go buy a better digital thermometer (note to self...cheaper is often times not better!!). However, this morning I poured a tablespoon, or so, of boiling syrup over my oatmeal and it was delicious! Still quite a bit runny but sweet!!

I'm still hoping to meet my goal of a gallon of homemade maple syrup this year. I haven't decided if I will quit then or try to get a little more. I have a couple of nephews who would probably really love any extra I can get.

a beautiful morning out...

Yet another Sunday morning has come and I am home with sickness. Not mine, this time...the girls. Last week it was just one girl and this week both. Two different times this week I opened my front door for a few minutes to air out my house. Can't wait to open up the entire house for a good breeze to blow these germs right out!!

I knew last night that we would be home today and so after a few minutes of planning ahead, I was able to really thank God for the rest. It's been a busy week of putting together a new Children's Church curriculum and working on yesterday's ladies' day retreat. After an incredible day with the ladies, we went to a surprise birthday party for our pastor last night. While we were there, I was able to ask my sweet friend, Mary, to take Children's Church for me today. I'm so thankful God gave me a "heads up" yesterday that I would be home today and that He gave me the opportunity to go to bed knowing that all my responsibilities for today were covered.

After sleeping in a little this morning, I was able to leave both girls home (having older kids has opened a whole new world to me...and, I must say, "I love this new world!") and go out for a walk. Here in my neck of the woods, it is another beautiful day! I just have to tell you, this morning was gorgeous! What an incredible blessing from my Creator God!!

For some reason (known only to God, I'm sure), I have this driving desire to walk a marathon. Actually, I want to walk a 5k, a 10k, a mini and a marathon. I told Chad I added this to my "bucket list" and he laughed at me! I think he's realizing that I'm a little more serious than he thought and I think I have him talked into a 5k as a family. Both my sis, Susy, and my bro, Darren, are runners. I have ZERO desire to run. In fact, I equate running with Chinese torture!! However, I have always been impressed that Susy is a marathoner. I'm not sure how many marathon's she's run but I've always been impressed that she has completed more than one. Darren is currently training for the Flying Pig in Cincinnati (not sure who first named that race....). I will so be thinking of him and praying for him when he runs it in May. And, who knows, maybe next year, I'll join him.

I only want to do these races just to be able to say that I've completed these various races. "Slow and steady wins the race" may have worked for the tortoise...I'm not expecting it to work for me. I won't be the fastest. I won't win. In fact, I very well may be the last one in but I will find great pleasure in just completing the race. I don't know if I will ever get to a completed marathon, either. But, for now, it's fun to dream.

So, on this beautiful morning out, I completed 3 miles. Only 10 more to complete a mini-marathon! The shorter goal, though, is to complete a trek around our 4.7 mile block and to finish a 5 k race. I'll let you know when I get there!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

When I Am an Old Lady...a funny!

My friend, Michele, must have known I needed a smile and a chuckle this morning....

My day began at 3 a.m. after 3 short hours of sleep to a 6 year old who said "Mom, I have a headache". In some sort of weird way, the headache morphed into throwing up in her bed and in ours, 75 minutes of constant crying "my ear hurts!" and the finally blessed sleep (...for her) at 7 a.m.

I opted out of trying to get a little sleep. Personally, if I can't be guaranteed a 4 hour nap right now, it's not worth the 1 hour nap that I may get. So, I walked 2.4 miles today and prayed for strength. I didn't pray for joy but God sent it anyway. : )

Michele, thanks for being used of Him to bring some joy to my day! I hope you all enjoy this (G~this may be your "revenge").

When I'm An Old Lady

When I'm an old lady, I'll live with my son,
and make his life happy and filled with such fun,
I want to pay back all the joy he's provided,
returning each deed. Oh, he'll be so excited
. . . when I'm an old lady and live with my son.

I'll write on the wall with red, white, and blue;
and bounce on the furniture wearing my shoes.
I'll drink from the carton and then leave it out.
I'll stuff all the toilets and oh, will he shout!
. . . when I'm an old lady and live with my son.

When he's on the phone and just out of reach,
I'll get into things like sugar and bleach.
Oh, he'll snap his fingers and then shake his head,
and when he is done I'll hide under the bed.
. . . when I'm an old lady and live with my son.

When my son's wife cooks dinner and calls me to meals,
I'll not eat my
green beans or salads congealed.
I'll gag on my okra, spill milk on the table,
and when she gets angry, run fast as I'm able.
. . . when I'm an old lady and live with my son.

I'll sit close to the TV, thru the channels I'll click,
I'll cross both my eyes to see if they stick,
I'll take off my socks and throw one away,
and play in the mud until the end of the day.
. . . when I'm an old lady and live with my son.

And later, in bed, I'll lie back and sigh,
and thank God in prayer and then close my eyes;
and my son will look down with a smile slowly creeping,
and say with a groan, "She's so sweet when she's sleeping,"
. . . when I'm an old lady and live with my son.

Received from Laugh & Lift.

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A cheerful heart is good medicine... (Prov 17:22a)
Mail address: GCFL, Box 100, Harvest, AL 35749, USA

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Blog parade!

I'm slowly inching further and further into the vast pool of blogging. I'm having so much fun reading wisdom from others and laughing at the antics of other's children. So many of us have similar stories...the thread of God's unfailing grace and mercy woven through our lives.

Today I'm participating in a blog parade! How fun is that? Abigail is hosting a fun fun time from now (actually March 1) until March 8 on her blog. Check out the 32nd Street Blog Parade!

Here are my answers to her fun questions:

1) What is your favorite time of day and why?
Any time it is quiet in my home. It seems to vary from day to day but it is either early in the morning or late at night. Love the quiet!!

2) If health wasn't an issue, what food could you live off of?
hmmm... bread! Anything "bready" mmm...mmm!!

3) If you could have one wish granted, besides wishing for more wishes, what would it be?
I would wish for a set of pipes like Mandisa!!

4) What is one thing you get teased a lot about?
Probably my lack of musical ability...hence, #3

5) If you could choose one movie, TV show or book to spend your life in, which would you pick? What kind of character would you be?
I really don't know.... I'm not sure I would rather be any where than here being Chad's wife and Eric, Emily and Ellen's mom

6) If you could have one talent that you don't already have, what would it be?
see #3 & #4

7) If money were no object, where would you go on vacation?
either Alaska or British Columbia...oh wait, money is no object...both!!

8) If you were an awesome singer, which genre would you sing?
Praise and Worship to my KING!!

9) If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be?
definitely Coldwater Creek!!

10) If you could live in any point of time, when would it be?
right here, right now!

11) If every outfit in your closet had to be one color, which color would they be?

12) If you were one of the seven dwarves, which would you be?
I would hope Happy but probably Grumpy!

13) What is the last album you listened to?
Susan Boyle "I Dreamed A Dream"

14) What is something we'd be surprised to know about you?
I have a BA degree in Criminal Justice and I am a homeschool mom.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

meet the press...

I just have to vent. Some are not going to like what I have to say. My blog, my opinion, 'nuf said. (I'm becoming more secure in my blog.... ; )

Here's the rub...I am SO tired of the press who seemingly always puts a religious bent on the homeschool issue. Tonight, Yahoo (not necessarily a reliable source of news, to say the least...) had this Time magazine news report.

I don't doubt the facts of this story. In fact, I had heard of this family's struggles with the German government a year or so ago. I do not doubt the fact that this family chose to engage in an illegal activity. I am not arguing whether the Romeike family should have been granted asylum or not in the U. S. I don't even care that the Home School Legal Defense got involved in this case. What gets me riled up, though, is that Time magazine allowed their prejudice of religious people, in this case, Christians, to slant their article!!

I know many people who are not Christians, nor are they religious, who have chosen to home school their children for educational reasons. Isn't this what the issue is, anyway... education? Why, then, does the press have to constantly insert their bias by only reporting on religious home schoolers? And, typically, they only report on those who are in trouble with the law....

Tomorrow evening our family has the privilege of dinner with the Brown family. I can't wait! Our kids have a blast playing with 4 year old Zack and we love renewing our long friendship with Eric and Tracey. The Brown's invited us specifically to discuss homeschooling. Zack has some special needs and at 4 years old, he has already exhausted what their local school system has to offer. The Browns are not particularly religious people. They are making their decision based on finding the best education for their son.

Some day I would love to do a poll and ask homeschool parents why they chose home education. Contrary to the popular opinion held by most of the press, I would venture a guess that the majority of parents have made their decision based on education not religion. Maybe then I could meet the press and offer them some insight.

Until then, I guess I will just vent here on my religious blog about my religious homeschool....

Sugarin' time!

Warmer days and still cold nights...maple syrup time!! For the first time..EVER... I am making my own maple syrup. My brilliant scientist friend, Liann, has set me up with her knowledge and experience and we're on our way to our own home-grown, homemade maple syrup (it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup and so it's a long journey!).

One of my unspoken rules of homeschooling is to surround myself with people smarter than I am to teach me and to teach my kids. I'm so thankful for Liann! She has taught me so much about plants, gardening, canning and maple syrup. I am equally thankful for another science-minded friend, Julie, who came over today and did a lesson on photosynthesis (complete with a hand-drawn illustrated worksheet) for the kids before we collected our sap.

Here are some pictures of our day! By 6 p.m. we had gathered 4 gallons of sap today. Eric proudly proclaimed "We're 1/10th of the way there!" Wouldn't it be nice to have 9 more beautiful days in a row and be done with the entire project in 10 days? I doubt it will go that smoothly and by the end I may give up before I have an entire gallon of syrup but it's been fun today!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Fun in the snow!

I just have to post these recent family photos...simply because I am amazed at my friend, Marah! She is incredible with her lens!!

Typically, I hate over 90% of the pictures that are ever taken of me. The ones that I do like, however, I use forever (like the one of Chad and I on the sidebar from our vacation last summer). I am not beautiful, nor am I an easy person to photograph and yet Marah did her magic and look at the results! We all look good!! (well...except Ebony who has her back to the camera when we tried to do photos with the dogs...)

If you live in the area and are looking for new photos of you, your kids or your Marah. I think you'll be impressed too!

Kreider: Family from Marah Grant on Vimeo.