Monday, May 31, 2010

8 isn't enough...


This cousin's weekend has been a blast!  We've made a super slide, friendship bracelets and paper bag puppets.  We've had NERF wars, wii wars, Air Soft wars and water balloon fights.  We've dealt with allergic reactions, sunburn, rashes and scrapes and bruises.  We even managed to kill a patch of grass under the super slide.  


Cousin's Court, Cousin's Church and Cousin's Awards all began with these five days over this holiday weekend.  


It's been full....  and it's been fun but it hasn't been complete.  


You see, 8 isn't enough.  We're actually missing three of our cousins.  So this weekend hasn't been a complete Cousin's weekend.  While Clayton and Truman, who are both 1 year old, could probably care less about this cousin time, we have definitely missed 7 year old Jenna!


Next time, we'll plan a time when we can get Jenna too!!

a quieter day...

After a couple of intense days of cousin fun and late night giggling, today has been a naturally slower day.  The kids all pitched in and helped clean the house this morning.  After lunch, they have seemed to gravitate to slower things to do...


...like making paper bag puppets for a puppet show after supper...




...or working with beads...




...or yet another game on the wii...




... and, even homework that isn't due until Friday (Good Boy Drew!).




... and for the really worn out...






Grandma Lois is treating us to dinner at her house tonight and then we have our Cousin's Awards to pass out.  And, sadly, tomorrow another cousin's time comes to an end....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

really?

The following account is completely, 100% true... all names have been kept...

Aunt Heidi... "Lydia, you wear me out."

Lydia... "Why?"

Aunt Heidi... "Just keepin' up with you wears me out."

Lydia... "I give my mom a headache."

Aunt Heidi...  "Really?!?"

all worn out....

After another day of great cousin time, jumping on the trampoline, building volcanoes in the sandbox, sliding on the super slide, throwing water balloons, practicing baseball and just going non-stop, this is what this house of eight kids currently looks like....




Five tired girls watching cartoons and...




three worn out boys watching Worst Case Scenario....


The greatest part of having 8 kids play so hard all day is that bed time happens without many arguments.  They are all wiped out!

Driving to church...

About a month ago, I was talking to my sister about this weekend.  As I was thinking through the dynamics of five days with eight kids (and at the time, I thought I would be flying solo...), I asked Gabe if she minded if we didn't go to church.  Graciously, she said "do whatever works!"

While driving up here on Thursday, I mentioned to Mom that I really didn't want the stress of getting all the kids ready and to church on Sunday.  Her response, "why don't we do a church service with the kids?"  Brilliant!


So on this Lord's Day, the ten of gathered our Bibles and some chairs in the living room. 


Soon, two of the boys drove to church.




They are even dressed in sport coats and carrying their Bibles... and, yes, they are 12 and 13!  


Cousin's Church consisted of prayer, sword drills, a discussion on the Fruit of the Spirit and a closing song.  Not fancy... but funny!  Church should always be as joyful as it is when you have a congregation full of fun kids!!


After church, they graciously gave a ride "home" to another gentleman from the congregation...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

water slide... or super slide?

A water slide purchased by Grandma is a lot of fun on a hot summer day...


... but creating your own super slide is WAY more fun!


...especially when there is an "infirmary" for the injured...

Cousin's Court is now in session....



I love it when God directly answers my prayers in ways that are above and beyond what I could ask or think!  (He does this daily and yet I still doubt Him... but that is a post for another day...).


Thursday night, my nephew had a late baseball game.  His game started late because the game before went over and it lasted late.  So, I had plenty of time to pray.  While Drew was playing catcher and his brother and cousin were watching the game, I sat in my truck where I could see the game.  In the semi-privacy of my truck, I prayed out loud for my children, my nieces and nephews.  I asked for safety for the kids and for wisdom for my Mom and I this weekend.


One of my prayers was this... "God, please help me know how to handle arguments, disputes, complaints, etc."  It's one thing to handle your own children's arguing, complaining and disputing but it's entirely another thing to handle someone else's children's.  


Friday, after school, God answered with "Cousin's Court".  I gathered everyone around to settle the dispute of which group (boys vs girls) got the front yard hose and which group got the back yard hose.  Before I knew it, we were in a session of Cousin's Court with the Honorable Aunt Heidi and Special Magistrate Grandma.  Each side was given 3 minutes to prepare their argument to be presented before the bench.  Amazingly, both sides prepared well organized arguments.  Both sides were also very receptive to idea and they had fun with it.  


The Cousin's Court idea has now carried over to other disputes and arguments and is working great.  There is a Cousin's Court list on the fridge and when someone has a dispute they want settled, they write their complaint down and when the judge can get to it we have another session of Cousin's Court.  While I'm not sure everyone is happy with the judge's decisions, I think they all feel like they at least get a chance to state their argument, complaint or dispute.


Thanks LORD for supplying me with another supernatural idea!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday's fave five at my sister's house...

In honor of spending five days watching my sister's five kids at her house, I'm doing my Friday's Fave Five from her house.  


Here are my five favorite things at my sister's house.... I'm trying hard to keep from coveting...




1) her washer and dryer...  It should go without saying that any mom that does laundry for seven people would have an incredible system but I am in awe of this!  Absolutely amazing the amount of laundry I can get done in a few hours!!




2) her deck... does this not just beckon?  I keep thinking I'm going to take a book to this spot and enjoy it for a few minutes... maybe tomorrow!  Somehow, my minutes keep flying by...




3) her backyard... I tried to take a picture that best shows this incredible haven but it doesn't all fit in one picture.  It is awesome and has endless opportunities for 8 children... a trampoline, a swing set, a fire pit and coming tomorrow... a water slide!!




4) her living room... again pictures can't do it justice, as this is just half of the room.  There is something peaceful about this room.  I love it any time of day.  




5) her basement... this is the absolutely best place for three teen boys to hang!  Love it!!  I don't hear much or see much and they get their own space away from five girls.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

looking forward...

Lately, I feel like life is running me over... there's always someone to take... somewhere to go... something to do....  Some things more important than others but always, always lots and lots of things.


So, I've been doing some soul searching and I am looking to doing some more soul searching this weekend.  Something or more than one something in my life needs to give and I'm not sure what it is.  


In two days, I'm going to WI for 5 days to be Mom to 8 kids.  Honestly, I can hardly wait!  My kids and my nieces and nephews have a blast together.  There will be lots of fun, little sleep and some grumpy kids when it is all said and done but there will also be beautiful memories made.


I'm looking forward to beautiful memories but I'm also looking forward to leaving "life" behind and having a few days where I have nothing to do but be Mom.  


Maybe that is my answer... maybe I just need to return to being Mom and absorbing the beautiful memories that are made.

spring pics...

One of the things I wish I were better at is taking pictures.  When Eric and Emily were little, I took pictures all of the time.  However, as soon as I added one kid into the mix... well, the camera got laid aside.


I've also been bad about having family pictures taken.  Chad's step mom has to nag me to send an updated picture.  I have two excuses reasons for letting family pictures slide.  One is the cost and the other is getting it scheduled.  


My friend, Marah, is a photographer.  This winter I was watching her new posts on facebook and was wowed with her talent and her creativity.   I scheduled a time for her to come do pictures of us in our yard in the snow.  It was so much fun and I loved the result!  And, Marah, took away my excuses reasons... she's reasonably priced and very accommodating to Chad's weird work schedule.


I loved her work enough that I've asked her to do pictures of our family each season of this year.  I can't exactly tell you why I decided to do that.  It could be that I think Eric's looks are changing as fast this year at 13 as they did his first year of life.  When Marah took our pictures last week, I still was slightly taller than Eric.  Last night, he was taller than me! (check out the one of he and I and the 13 year old eye roll!)  Maybe I wanted pictures because I'm fickle and change my hair with the wind (today it went from what you see in the pics to short short).  Maybe it's just because I'm looking at my kids these days and realizing that time is going so fast and I need to preserve some memories.  For whatever the reason,  I'm looking forward to decorating with new pictures after the fall.  


Here is a link to our spring pictures.  

Monday, May 24, 2010

hot...Hot...HOT!!!!

Here in Northern Indiana it is a hot one today!  Heat index reached 90 degrees around Noon and it's still hot four hours later.  


One of the biggest issues I have after having my hysterectomy 4 years ago is heat.  It's not that I have hot flashes (which I sometimes have).  It's more like someone turns up my internal thermostat about 50 degrees.  The best way I can think of to describe it is that I literally feel like I am roasting from the inside out!  


It's hard for me to remember that all of these post-menopausal issues are my new norm and I have to learn to live with them.   I just realized I need to be praying to my Creator, my Master Teacher to teach me ways to deal with a variety of these post-surgery issues... this one being the one foremost in my mind on this hot day.


While I am praying... is there anyone in my bloggy world who is on this path with me and can give me some ideas on dealing with the internal heat when the outside thermostat goes up?


I've done the bioidentical hormone route and  have NO desire to do that again!  Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

with a thankful heart...



It is with a thankful heart, today, that I post more of my 1000 things for which to be thankful.  I know it's not Monday and so I'm not really calling this my Multitude Monday post.  Instead, this is just where my heart is now....


...picking up where I left off...

#7 - #20
~ HIS faithfulness every single time!
~ Friends that are friends forever
~ PRAYER
~ the privilege to pray for others
~ HIS work in the life of my children
~ the incredible sweetness of a child's prayer
~ that sweet T is going home from the hospital today!
~ Eric
~ Emily
~ Ellen
~ the blessing to be able to teach them at home, all the while, watching them learn and grow
~ friends helping friends this week
~ watching my children give up something of their own (time, energy, toys, etc.) for someone else

Friday, May 21, 2010

trust... intense, supernatural trust

Trust.... so fragile and yet so tenacious.  Trusting God sometimes takes every ounce of my being and other times it is the only thing I can do.

At times trust is quiet, peaceful, tranquil.... and other times it is chaotic, tumultuous, rowdy.

Another lesson learned on a field trip... no, perhaps, not...

Perhaps this time is my time to walk alongside... to pray for and to comfort... to share lessons learned on trust and trusting God when it is too scary to do anything else... lessons learned on previous field trips with my Master Teacher...

And while I am praying... I will pray for intense, supernatural trust... the kind of trust that is given by and upheld by the One who holds everything... the One who never changes though the earth give way and the mountains quake.

For it is the intense, supernatural trust that carries us through the unknowns that shake us to our core...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

today...

I feel like I've been out of the blogging loop lately.   I love to blog and to write but I've barely even had time to read a few blogs and comment on them before running off to the next thing... usually when I return to my computer, I'm too tired to put two thoughts together.

Today was one of those days.... full and satisfying, as well as tiring and dirty...  here's a synopsis....



First thing this morning, our beautiful Emme opened her birthday gifts.  I told Emme that eleven years ago I was experiencing joyful agony ("Is that an oxymoron, Mom?")... joyful because a beautiful and healthy 10# 10 oz baby girl joined our family... agony 'cuz said beautiful baby joined our family via c-section.

Eleven is a big age around here.  Our local library allows students to volunteer when they are eleven.  Eric's volunteer career began on his eleventh birthday and today, Emily's volunteer career began.  She loved it!  She dressed up in her new birthday clothes to go work for an hour at the library after she had birthday breakfast out with Dad.



Emily agreed to spend her birthday helping friends prepare for their daughter's graduation open house on Sunday.  Four families of moms and kids joined with another friend from church to weed, mow, rake, and mulch... as well as share a picnic lunch and birthday cake.  With that many hands, the work was soon done and so we all traveled over to one of the family's homes to help weed and mow.

On the way home, we stopped for mulch for our house and for some burgers and fries.

This is what the mulch was for....



my grapes!  My arbor isn't fancy but I'm so excited about the possibility of grapes, grape juice and grape jam in a few years!!  Eric and I put the trellis in tonight, fertilized and mulched.  Tomorrow we need a little more mulch and the grapes will be ready to grow, grow, grow!!

While Emily was mowing here at home tonight look what came out to wish her a Happy Birthday?



Does anyone know what kind of turtle/tortise this is?  It has a long tail and doesn't hide in its shell.

I am tired and dirty and looking forward to a shower and my book tonight... another full and satisfying day!

always something...

It will be so nice when I get this co-op unit study finished!  I'll have so much more time and feel less rushed through my days...


I can't wait to get the Children's Church curriculum up and running.  Not thinking day and night about it will free up my mind and I will be able to relax for a while...


Only 5 more days of school!  I can't wait!!  Why is it I feel so drained each spring from school?


Whew!  We made it... our last day of school has come and gone.  I think tomorrow I will sit around and do absolutely NOTHING all day!!


Hurry up!  We've got to go!  We were supposed to be there 10 minutes ago.  Everyone else is waiting on us!  Yes, I know it is your birthday... HURRY!


Seriously, with the exception of the last one, these are thoughts that I've had in the last month.  The last thought was today.  It is Emily's 11th birthday and now it is filled up with too many things to do lots of opportunities.  This was the day I thought I would do NOTHING all day.  Now, it's another day to be on the run...


Praise the LORD!  I didn't say my thoughts out loud loud to Emily today. However, I said them loud and clear in my heart... 


When will I learn that there is always something around the bend... something I can't see... something lurking.... something waiting to strike when I least expect it?  Sometimes good and sometimes bad but always there to take my time.


I have the hardest time saying "NO".  Sometimes it's because I don't want to let someone down.  Sometimes it's because I don't want to miss out on a spontaneous good time.  Sometimes it's because I don't want to be the mean mom.  Sometimes it's because I think I am SuperWoman and can do it all.  Sometimes it's even a combination of all of these things but I always, always struggle with saying NO!


About 10 years ago, a wise woman sat down with me and said...
"Heidi, there are many good things to do in life... good opportunities... good events.  However, just because they are good things doesn't mean that they are the best things for your family."


Ouch!  Those words still ring true in my life a decade later.  When will I learn to let some things go?  As my kids get older, it gets harder and harder to chose the best things... not just the good things.


...because there is always something...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

a belated THANK YOU!!!!!


This week I was blessed to be nominated TWICE for the Versatile Blogger award!  I'm a little late in my thanks to my sister at in the details and to my cousin at Donley Farm for bestowing this award to me.  I'm sure they gave me this award because they love my blog, not because they feel a family obligation or anything.... ; )


The rules of this award are simple...  
1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked at let them know about the award.


So, first of all THANK YOU to Gabe and to Susan!!!  I owe you some sushi and seafood at Noa Noa sometime!!

Secondly, here are seven, previously unknown to most of the world, things about me....
 1) I love, Love, LOVE tropical fruit... papaya, mango, pineapple, kiwi, starfruit, mmmmm..... love it all!  
 2) I hate, Hate, HATE to be hot!  Hence, the reason why I don't move to a tropical island to enjoy its tropical fruit!
 3) I'm 41, I have a BA degree and I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.
 4) I can not NOT read... seriously, anytime I sit down, I read... sometimes it's only the cereal box or my husband's Field and Stream but I'm still reading.
 5) I'm a dog lover.  Cats... not so much...
 6) I dream of living in the country on 5-10 acres and homesteading.  I would love to be self-sufficient... even to the point of being off grid.  However, my husband often reminds me that I do love my creature comforts that require electricity, especially the fan that sits next to our bed and blows on my face all night....
 7) I also can not NOT write... it kind of goes with reading, I guess.  Often I have to get out of bed and jot down the thoughts in my head to quiet my mind enough to sleep.  Crazy!!!

Seriously, now, you needed to know those 7 things about me, didn't you?!?

As far as me now bestowing this award on 15 bloggers that I feel are deserving... one of the reasons I'm finally posting my thank you several days after receiving this award is that I can not decide on my 15 recipients.  So, for now... I'm not passing the award on.  Perhaps later I will after I think some more on this.  It seems like most of the blogs I read daily have already received this award and I'd really like to bless someone who hasn't received it yet and so I'm doing some research and I'll get back to you all on this at a later date....

Monday, May 17, 2010

the relentless pursuit of my heart....



It boggles my mind how my sovereign LORD uses the blogging community to further His Kingdom...

I'm not surprised that He choses to use it because He is God and He can choose anything He wants to use...

I'm not amazed that He leaves nothing outside of His grasp because He holds the entire world in His hands...
I am, though, simply astonished that HE, the Creator of the universe, would CHOOSE to USE bloggers I've never met... sisters in Christ.. to further HIS work in ME! I'm flabbergasted that HE would CHOOSE to PURSUE ME through another blogger. Thank you JESUS!!

He's been on the trail of relentless pursuit of my heart lately. I gave Him my heart years ago but I keep taking parts of it back and He wants all of it. Not only does He want all of it, He bought all of it on Calvary. It really belongs to Him. I'm the one that steals parts back from time to time.

Not sure I can explain all of the reasons why I don't surrender my entire heart. I'm not sure I really know any other answer than this one word... PRIDE. My ugly pride. My sinful heart buys the lie of pride EVERY SINGLE TIME....

The joy in the pain is that my SAVIOR pursues me EVERY SINGLE TIME. He NEVER lets me GO! He is FAITHFUL and TRUE while I am faithless and false.

So... today He led me to Ann's blog, a holy experience. I've been here before. I love Ann's words, her pictures, her thoughts. Today, God used a few of Ann's posts to really make HIMSELF KNOWN.

I joined the Gratitude Community on Ann's blog. I'm committing to a list of 1000 things for which I am grateful... appreciative... thankful.

#1 - #6
~my relentless PURSUER
~HIS love for me
~HIS gift of my salvation
~HIS grace
~HIS mercy
~HIS Body (the Body of Christ) that HE uses to minister to me

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Friend Friday...

I almost opted out of this meme. Diana at The Girl Creative hosts New Friend Friday simply because I couldn't think of anything to write for this week's topic.

This week's topic is Favorite Childhood Memory. I had a great childhood and I have lots of memories, I think. The problem is that memories of my children's childhoods are crowding out my memories from my own childhood....

So, I finally found a memory from my childhood and dusted it off and here it is....

My all-time favorite place in the world was my grandparent's Michigan lake home. We called it the "cottage" but it truly was a 4-season house. My grandfather had asthma and emphysema issues and so my grandparents would go to Arizona in the winter. This left the cottage empty for several months.

When I was in high school, our family started going to the cottage for Christmas every year. We would drive 1 1/2 hours with the Christmas decorations, gifts and a tree and assemble our Christmas celebration at my grandparent's empty home. It was wonderful! There was no TV, no phone but lots of time to read and play games. Many, many nights of rowdy card games!!

And lots of food. For some reason, that house always had lots of food. My grandmother would cook for an army all summer long (including bounty from her garden and fresh hot cookies almost every day) and we all would cook and bake a lot over the Christmas holiday. And, of course, eat a lot....

This tradition of going to the cottage for Christmas actually continued until after Chad and I were married. To my best recollection, there were about 10 years where we would go to the cottage for Christmas. I'm not sure if we went every year in that time but I know we went often. We all loved it!

So many of my favorite childhood memories are based at that lake house. It was an amazing place to be!

In Feast or Fallow...Sandra McCracken



Honestly, until a month or so ago, I had never heard of Sandra McCracken or her album, In Feast or Fallow... definitely my loss!

For reasons totally foreign to me, Sandra McCracken's music publicist emailed me and asked me to blog a review of Sandra's new album. Here's the hilarious thing... I thought that email was a joke, mistake, or just a fluke of internet communication. So, I listened to the music download but never wrote a review... because, honestly, who am I to review anyone's music?!?

Well, this publicist is certainly worth her title! She emailed again and asked why I hadn't posted a review. Hmmm... guess she is serious about wanting my opinion and here it is, for whatever it is worth....

First of all, I love the title of this album... In Feast or Fallow. I love words that convey meaning or summarize thoughts and emotions. When I first read this title, I thought "I want to meet whoever came up with that title. In four words, they have described my spiritual walk with Christ!"

For me, the title was just the tip of the iceberg. Sandra's voice and music are impressive! She has a unique, gorgeous, earthy voice that is only enhanced by her guitar. Sandra's music isn't a tired remix of someone else's works. Instead, it's original and beautiful. This album is a graceful blend of instrumentals and vocals.

One of Sandra's gifts is to rewrite lyrics to old hymns. While this practice isn't new to her (it's been going on for hundreds of years... have you ever noticed different hymns that have the same melody?), she has an incredible gift of finding words to fit the melody that speak directly to the heart.

Because I love words, I love song lyrics. I often find encouragement or conviction in the words of a song. I have felt my Savior pursue me in through the lyrics of a song. He used Sandra's song "Justice Will Roll Down" to speak to my heart... "she who has been loved much has so much to give... mercy is the fragrance of the broken."

My favorite song on this album is the title track... I really liked "In Feast or Fallow". So much of this song speaks to my soul. This song reminds me of my marriage. I can relate to both the harvest feast and the fallow ground. "Whatever comes we shall endure" After 16 years, I know this is true in our marriage and I also know it is true in my walk with Christ... whatever comes, I will endure.

As I said, I have no idea why I was contacted for my opinion on Sandra McCracken's album In Feast and Fallow. Maybe it's because I never buy music for myself and God was blessing me with a gift from Him. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed this album and would recommend it! I'm grateful for the opportunity to be blessed by Sandra's beautiful music.

You can find out more about Sandra at www.sandramccracken.com and at www.newoldhymns.com.


a one word description....

On Tuesday, my friend, Laura, posted this as her status on facebook....

I began a new book study this morning (yea!) and only got through the first 3 words of Galatians: "Paul, an apostle." I've been thinking all morning - what would my one word description of myself be? Would it be the right one? How am I defining myself for others? How about you - what would your one word identification be?


I've been thinking through this thought often over the past few days... wondering what my answer will be. I know I could say "Heidi, a wife..." or "Heidi, a mom..." and both of those are true and noble purposes and accurate descriptions of myself. However, I want something more.

I want my own word description to be all-encompassing of my life... to be God-honoring, not Heidi-honoring... to be a one word testimony of the work that Christ has done in me to make me more like Him.

After much thought and prayer, I have it. I have my one word description...

Heidi, one redeemed!

One redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. One bought with His blood on Calvary. One adopted into His family and promised eternal life because of His resurrection.

Redeemed...to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment.

Praise the LORD!

favorite quotes... Friday fave 5s



It's another Friday! Another day to post my 5 Favorites hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

The wonderful, classic, 1986 movie The Princess Bride has made another surfacing at our house. The kids are enjoying it again. I have loved, Loved, LOVED this movie since I first saw it. I know, I know... it's not the most intellectually simulating movie of all time, but it makes me laugh every single time.

I have no idea how many times I have seen this movie. It probably is well over 50 and maybe even closer to 100. I can quote much of the movie. In honor of Friday Fave Five I am posting my five favorite quotes from The Princess Bride in the manner that they are said in our home...

1) "Mostly dead" This describes deep fatigue around here and begs the question "Are you dead or just mostly dead?"

2) "My name is Indigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die" Chad starts this and it is often repeated quietly at first and then with more volume and expression until we are all laughing around here!

3) "No more rhymes I mean it! Does anybody want a peanut?" this is especially funny when it randomly comes out of the mouth of the 6 year old. As with anything in life, because we've laughed at it, it's not so random anymore...

4) "LIAR!... I'm not a witch, I'm your wife and I'm not even sure I want to be that anymore!" please, please understand this is only said at times of complete hysteria at our house!!

5) "Inconceivable!" this covers most anything at our slightly neurotic home...


Chad got a new phone and downloaded the Princess Bride ringtones and so the kids have had a blast playing them over and over and over and over and over..... again. We're all kind of warped around here!

Happy Friday! Have fun stormin' the castle!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

field trips...

I love that my God patiently leads and guides me. I love that nothing goes unnoticed by Him. I love that He is constantly at work in my life and in my heart molding me and shaping me more into His image.

I love that He is the Great Teacher and that He wants to teach me how to be a better wife, a better mom and a better teacher to the three incredible gifts that He has given me. I love that He wants to teach me how to be more Christ-like and how to live in the shadow of His love... Though I love that He teaches me, I can't say that I always love the lessons.

I wish I were the type of person who always learned the lesson in the classroom. I'd like to say that when I learn something about God or how I should be as a Believer, wife or mother, I go and immediately put that into practice. I'd like to say that I always do it His way. But, that would be lying....

Instead, I'm often a field-trip learner. It seems like God lets me learn some of my lessons the hard way... on the field trip where I have to have to put into practice what I'm learning and I have to live with the consequences of my actions.

As a child, I loved field trip days. I vividly remember visiting the Gerber Baby Company, the John Ball Park Zoo, the Shrine Circus and other field trips in elementary school. I remember the anticipation and the excitement in the bus on the way to our destination, as well as the fatigue on the way home. Field trip days were awesome!

The funny thing is, I still go on field trips. Spiritual field trips ... over and over and over again (...I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, let me tell you). I look forward to them because I think I learn something better my way than His way. I look forward to them because I want to do things my way, by myself... because, of course, I am more than capable and my way is better than His. My sinful heart convinces me that field trips are still awesome.

And, then, every single time, I find myself lost and alone in the midst of a wild field trip and have to call out "Help!" By that time, the field trip has lost it's anticipation and excitement and more than fatigue has taken over. I'm lost. I'm cold. I'm alone.

He finds me. He wasn't lost, I was... and He draws me close to Him, again... and again... and again. I sob. I cling. I rest. I promise to never, ever, do that again. I promise to stay close, to stay in His classroom, to learn at His feet.

And... I always tell myself it is much better to learn in the classroom than on the field trip... until the next time...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook...



My sister found the simple woman's daybook and is participating in this week's daybook. Reading her post was a lot of fun (in fact, Emme read it at the library and said "Aunt Gabe's blog is funnier than yours"), so I thought I'd chime in with my own daybook....

Here is my journal page for today...

Outside my window... it is dreary, gloomy, rainy, wet, cold, etc., etc. It was a perfect day to sleep in a little and I allowed myself that simple pleasure.

I am thinking... how thankful I am for this rain. I can not imagine how a person lives in a dry climate with little rain to grow green grass and trees. Today, Emily commented on the different shades of green that there are.

I am thankful for... so, so much! My heart overflows. I'm thankful for new life in the birth of Aimee Lane this morning... thankful for my life, my husband, my children, my family and most of all my GOD!

From the learning rooms... I again thanked the LORD this morning for the opportunity to school my children at home. Years ago, I lamented that we don't have a learning room/school room. Instead, our home became the learning room. It seems like the LORD has been expanding our walls to have school overflow to the out of doors, to other places and with other people. It's amazing, really because when I take my hands of the reins and let Him guide and direct, we learn and grow much more.... He expands our learning room and teaches us so much of Him.

From the kitchen... I have turkey quiche in the oven right now. I roasted a large bird over the weekend and we have been feasting on turkey, turkey and more turkey. It's one of our favorite things! I put some in the crockpot before we went to the library today, thinking we would have soup tonight. Eric talked me into quiche. I believe the exact 13 year old words were "If you wanted to be a really good mom, you would make quiche tonight". He didn't have an answer when I asked him why my being a good mom always revolves around what I do for him.

I am wearing... my old stand by... jeans and a white 3 quarter length v-neck tee. I did have a hoodie on earlier today for something different.

I am creating... a VBS/Vacation Bible School program and curriculum, as well as another Sunday School curriculum. I'm getting excited about the children of Israel's journey through the wilderness. We'll study a bit of it at VBS in early June and then the rest of the summer's Sunday School lessons will carry on the theme.

I am reading... Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. ; ) Seriously, as well as that, I'm reading another Francine Rivers novel. I love her works!

I am hoping... to meet with my friend Anne tomorrow night for coffee and to find out that she will be willing to co-write our church's children's curriculum with me. Our little congregation has grown by leaps and bounds this winter. It's exciting to see all of the children and it's overwhelming at the same time.

I am hearing.... the dishwasher, the dryer and the 13 year old rummaging through the pantry. All the sounds of motherhood....

Around the house... all is at peace. The girls are playing American Girls in their rooms and Eric is working on a class project in the kitchen. I love times like this and on the days where everyone is bickering and arguing, I have to remind myself that sometimes it actually is peaceful in this house.

One of my favorite things... is Bible study and writing Bible curriculum. I'm learning that there is a joy to doing what God equips you to do. I love learning through writing.

A few plans for the rest of the week... school is winding down... 4 more days! So, we'll hopefully finish this week on a good note and then Monday will be our final day of school. Saturday I'm planning on making a quick trip to our local homeschool convention for some good deals.

Here are a couple of pictures...




Monday, May 10, 2010

another finalist!



We received Ellen's art work back today from the statewide calendar art contest and she was a finalist for her age, just as Emily was! So, we had another round of excitement in this house!!

Much thanks to our art teacher, Mrs. Baker for her dedication and willingness to do a few extra lessons this winter so that the kids could finish their projects in time to participate in the contest. Apparently, there were over 2,800 entries in this contest with some really stiff competition. If you would like to see all of the winners, check this link out....

I love having this forum, this blog, to brag about my kids!

Shopping with the 6 year old...

Just for the record, I must confess that I am not a shopper....

However, I have been known to have some really fun shopping experiences. Times with my mom when we've laughed so hard it hurt... times with girl friends that bond for life... and times with my kids when I see them for who they are and my heart smiles. Today was one of those days.

This morning the not-so-little one and I went out to do some birthday shopping for the soon-to-be eleven year old. It's so fun to take Ellen by herself. She becomes a big chatter box. She skips and flits from place to place caught up in her own 6 year old world. She sings and dances and then seemingly out of the blue she will share a serious thought out of her young heart.

I'm so thankful for today. Thankful for the times when I spend one-on-one time with each of my children. Times when my LORD gives me glimpses into their young hearts. Time to soak up.

So, for a few moments today, time stopped. Ellen and I enjoyed smoothies in the sun at our local bookstore. I watched and listened and absorbed the world of my beautiful six year old.

My soul soaked it up... for I can never reclaim those moments but I can treasure them in my heart.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thank you to nurses!

Often people will come up to me in the post office, grocery store, McDonalds... anywhere when I am out and about around town... and say "I saw your husband yesterday."

Immediately my response is "Are you okay? Is your family okay?" Followed by, "Did you visit the world's sexiest nurse?"

Yep! My man is the world's sexiest nurse and when people tell me that they saw him, it usually means they made a trip into our local ER.

I am blessed with a lot of nurses in my life... not because I am ill but because God has blessed me with friends and family who have the compassion and patience to take care of sick people. I'm so thankful for these people! Nursing is something I could never do! Years ago, my friend, Tabitha, was studying to be a nurse while we were in college. She took great pleasure in watching me gross out at the pictures in her text books. Nursing is a double-whammy for me. Not only do I get grossed out, I have very little compassion as well. So, if I were the nurse and someone came in to the ER with a deep wound, I would probably hand them a band-aid and tell them to quit dripping on the floor!

So, to all of you nurses in honor of Nurses Week... THANK YOU! Thank you for your kindness and compassion. Thank you for cleaning up WAY TO GROSS bodily fluids. Thank you for your long hours often with little appreciation for what you do. Thank you for making up stories to distract little kids from the needle that is about to poke them. Thank you for your morbid sense of humor. Thank you for the times that you stay late just to care for a specific person. Thank you for being the only smile that some people see. Thank you for holding a hand during a procedure. Thank you for being you and doing what you do and doing it well!!

If you have a nurse in your life... please take the time to thank them personally! Anyone who does what they do has earned your thanks!!

a finalist!



To say that there was a little excitement around here this morning would be an understatement....

Emily received a package in the mail this morning and after opening it, she ran to yell through the bathroom door to me... "Mom! I was a finalist in the art contest!"

A while ago, I had posted a picture of Eric's painting that he did for a statewide calendar art contest. His picture was amazing but after we saw the winners, we knew that he was up against some amazing talent!

Eric received his painting in the mail a week or so ago. We hadn't heard anything on the girls (still haven't heard on Ellen), other than they were not the winners, so it was a fun surprise for Emily to find out that she had been a finalist. She was also excited to know that her friend from Bright Lights not only won in the 5th grade division but was also artist of the year.

It does this mom's heart good to see each of my children succeed in their own areas.

Friday, May 07, 2010

In honor of Mom...Friday's Fave 5



It's that time again.... Time for my favorite weekly meme hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story... Friday's Fave 5!

In honor of Mom and Mother's Day, here are my favorite five things that my mom taught me...

1) MARRIAGE IS FOR LIFE. My parents have been married for almost 44 years. They have set an incredible example for us to follow!

2) STAND BY YOUR MAN. I've seen my mom stand next to my dad in all kinds of situations and circumstances... some good, some not so good. It hasn't mattered if it was good or bad, she hasn't moved from her place at his side.

3) IT'S NOT BOOZE AND IT'S NOT WOMEN, SO STOP COMPLAINING!! I learned early on in my marriage to stop complaining about Chad to my mom. Whenever I complained about him and whatever hideous infraction I thought he had committed, my mom would say "It's not booze and it's not women, stop complaining!" Soon after she first told me that, a friend's marriage broke up over porn and infidelity and another friend discovered her husband was an alcoholic. My problems suddenly didn't seem so significant.

4) THE GREATEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE YOUR CHILDREN IS TO CULTIVATE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR FATHER. Mom told me this the day my son was born. She held him in the hospital and said those very words to me. Those words, later, became the catalyst that propelled me into homeschooling.... Chad began nursing school when Eric was ready for Kindergarten. Our local school only offered all day Kindergarten. If Eric would have gone to school, he would have seen his dad every other weekend for 2 years. Mom's words rang loudly in my heart each time Eric would see his dad for an hour before Chad went to work.

5) CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY, SOME THINGS ARE NOT WORTH THE WAR! I wish I would have been smart enough to heed this warning during our first years of marriage. I'm sure some wars would have been avoided!

Thanks Mom, know that at least some of your words have made an impact! Happy Mother's Day! I love you!!


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

random dozen...



I keep thinking I'm going to participate in 2nd Cup of Coffee's Random Dozen, only I never take the time to answer all 12 questions. So, tonight, I can think of no better way to wait for my man to get home from work than to answer Linda's questions.

1. What was the last thing about which you procrastinated?
Well, obviously there are probably 100 other things I could be doing while I wait for Chad to get home, like balancing the checkbook....

2. How long does it take you to fall asleep, and do you sleep through the night?
If all conditions are right, not long at all. However, there are a lot of conditions that have to be right (mini fan on my face, air filter on for white noise, my man and the dog not snoring, etc). I travel with my own pillow and my own mini-fan to ward off the post-hysterectomy late night hot flashes! I rarely sleep all through the night. Though, when I do, I feel like I just won the lottery! (another annoying side effect of hysterectomy).

3. Which decade would you choose to exemplify your favorite fashion styles?
I used to think I could totally go back to the '80s but when I walked into Kohl's last year and saw 80s everywhere I wanted to scream! So, I really don't know. I have zero fashion sense anyway.

5. Are you an impulse shopper? What was the last thing you bought on impulse?
not so much... I really hate shopping

6. What is one wish you have for your own funeral?
A CLOSED casket. I actually had it written in my will. I told Chad I would come back to haunt him for the rest of his life if people were staring at my dead body!

7. If it's true that joy is in found in the simple things in life, what does your joy look like today?
my children running in and out of the house barefoot

8. What is your favorite type of bread?
I just have to say I LOVE BREAD... love making it, love eating it! My current favorite is my own Challah

9. What trait do you fear developing the most? (Laziness, greediness, grumpiness, etc.)
apathy

10. What trait would you like most to develop?
quiet strength... my mouth has gotten me into trouble for 41 years!

11. Which room in your house best reflects your personality? Why?
my kitchen... seems like I'm always in it cooking, cleaning and schooling...

12. How do you maintain balance in your life regarding, work, family, church, other organizations and activities, and blogging?
precariously....very, very precariously!

why I do what I do...

It seems like God has people seeking me out to ask me questions about homeschool lately. I have to laugh at this.

It's amazing, really....
If they only knew....
So glad they don't see....
Maybe I should send them on to someone better qualified....

Seriously! I stand in awe that anyone would think that I'm qualified to answer any questions!! It's only been in the last few years that I've even known why I do what I do.

Over the years, I have struggled with the internal question..."why am I doing this?" I knew I was called to teach my children at home, just as other's are called to put their children on a school bus. It is one thing to know that you are called to do something, it's completely another thing to KNOW why you are called to do that same thing.

It's taken me years to find my purpose in homeschooling my children. A couple of years ago, I started the month of August with a huge stack of books from our local library. When Eric saw book after book on the subject of homeschooling, he said, "Isn't it a little late to be reading these books, Mom?" At that point I was totally burned out. However, that exercise in brining home all of those books taught me a big lesson... "where there is no vision, the people perish."

I began to pray that God will show me what it is that He has for our homeschool and that He would teach me how to best teach my children. I asked for a purpose for our homeschool. As always, He is faithful. He gave us direction (including giving Chad and I the same desire for our homeschool). He gave us a goal and a purpose and He has seen fit to teach my children far more than I ever dreamt!

I still doubt myself but I no longer doubt my God! When asked why I do what I do, my answer no longer waivers. I am confident in this...

~We homeschool to raise three people to love the LORD their God with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength and to love their neighbor as their self (Matthew 22:34-40). This is our greatest desire in educating our children. We could have no greater joy that to see our children walking in the truth (3 John 1:4)!

There are others who are called to this very same purpose by putting their children in the local school system. It is not my job to question God. Just as He calls one to one road, He can equally call another to another road. He is God, I am not.

All I know is that this is the reason I've done what I've done for 8 years and it is the reason I will continue to do what I do....

I am blessed!

I know I say this often... but I don't feel like I say it enough.... So, I need to say it again...

I AM BLESSED!

God is so good and He is good all the time! I need Him to remind me in daily doses because I tend to forget (remember? I've lost my mind...). He never fails to remind me of how blessed I am. I think the closer I listen to Him the more blessings He reveals until I am overwhelmed at the magnitude of His goodness in my life.

Thank you LORD for I am truly BLESSED!!

~*~*~*~

After I posted this, I went to facebook and read my friend, Rhonda's, status. Amazing reminder of His great faithfulness...

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!