Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Envelopes

I was going to buy fancy dancy Christmas envelopes for our advent envelopes.

But my Mennonite mother had a stash of various envelopes that she decided she wouldn't be using and voila! A little artwork from the kiddos and stickers and they were officially Christmas envelopes.

And way more special than anything store bought.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


A while back I left my camera outside and it got rained on. Now it doesn't work. So excuse my phone pics...

There was a moment today I had to capture from my seat on the couch.

Summer did great on math- so I told her to do more. She was less than thrilled.

Max was very busy lining up blocks.

Brookie was rough housing with Daddy.

And then she kicked over Max's blocks. This is her in time out trying to look ticked.

Not very convincing.

Savannah was playing with this...............whatever it is.

For a looooooooooooong time.

These moments all together. Relatively happy. Comfortable. In the presence of those that love us.

I love that feeling.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What if Christmas Lasted All Year Long?

Yes, my title is cheesy. It's cheesy because everyone knows that it won't happen. A nice, quaint phrase that goes really well in a song. Maybe. I think it might depend on what your definition of Christmas is.

I am once again I am debating how to celebrate. I love, love, love the holidays. And I hate the holidays.

I know most people get excited with Christmas and children, how magical it all is to bring so much joy to their little hearts. I love bringing joy to my children's little hearts. Just not necessarily in the form of Christmas packages.

It is exciting to get so many presents, but after the ripping of paper and squeals are over, it's just another day. Maybe even a downer.

Last year, all the girls wanted Baby Alive. And since they each get $20 to spend on a name drawing, Baby Alive was gotten. I kid you not. One month later, they loathed Baby Alive. I don't believe that this is Christmas Magic.

January is often a very depressing month: 1) because it's winter and there is not enough sunshine to keep our spirits up and 2) It follows the holidays. If Christmas is that great, why does it make us feel all cheery just for one month?

The spirit of Christmas that brings joy to our hearts, at the risk of sounding cliche', is not in presents. It is tradition, family and friends, loving, forgetting everything else to put your effort into being jolly. And it's really about giving.

Christmas has been blown up to unreasonable hype for one reason: money. Greed. Good advertising. That has nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas.

So this year, I'd like to do something a little different. I want to embrace the things about this holiday season I love, but eliminate the things I hate. Because just because something is the way it is, it doesn't mean it has to stay that way.

And I do think that there is a huge potential for a wonderful holiday season. It's Jesus's birthday! And I love Jesus.

Here is my plan:

1) Advent envelopes that will include one gift or activity each day in December until Christmas. Here are some ideas:

  • make Christmas ornaments
  • make a gingerbread house
  • look at Christmas lights
  • write a Christmas story together
  • draw/paint a nativity poster
  • act out a play
  • send Christmas cards
  • donate used clothes to someone in need
  • Christmas movie night
  • (gift) fancy socks
  • put up mistletoe
  • bake sugar cookies (or peppernuts!)

2) The children always draw names. We usually go to Wal-Mart to shop since I only give them $20, there is quite a selection, and because any change goes directly into the Salvation Army buckets. Wal-Mart still allows the bell ringers (at least as far as I know).

3) They will get one gift that will be shared- some electrical device that most everyone else already has :) It will be small, not messy, and will be shared! And well used, I believe. As for the rest of my gift list, I like to buy gifts that also benefit someone else. Here are some ideas.

Bead for Life helps Ugandan women
Ergon helps women in India
Water for Christmas etsy shop helps supply clean water around the world
Fair Trade helps provide a living for people all around the world
This bracelet is gorgeous! From the World Vision catalog.

4) Since we don't believe in Santa Claus, on Christmas morning we will read the real story of St. Nicholas and look in our stockings, where they will see what has been given in their name. Maybe a duck, sheep, clean water, or fruit trees? And probably some candy. Here are some gift catalogs:

World Vision
Samaritan's Purse
Amazima Ministries

5) Otherwise, we will continue our family traditions. We will exchange gifts with extended family. We will soak up the joy. But I think that if we want it to be truly meaninful, giving will bless us and others much longer than one month. I'm really excited about this. And I am thankful that we have the resources to be givers.


    I was just scrolling through my blog and realized that I've been talking a lot about Summer lately.

    You would think she is my favorite.

    Well, she is.

    She is my favorite to go shopping with. She is my favorite to get hugs from. To kiss on the cheek, to cook with, and to dress up real pretty.

    But then there's Max, my baby boy. He's my favorite, too. I mean, he's my baby! And he's a boy! He loves to cuddle while watching music videos. He is very opinionated, which is stinkin' cute for a two year old. He really loves having me around. He steals my heart.

    Who can top your first-born, though? Savannah is definitely my favorite. Her mind is always churning, thinking of how she will do everything. She wants to learn- we learn together! We are a great team. I could not home school without her. She is a self learner and is turning out to be a great teacher as well. I dread the day she will grow up and leave me.

    My heart aches for my niece, Ellie. I long for the day that I can be only 10 minutes away from her instead of 2.5 hours. She remembers everything! She loves to serve, and she remembers the important details for each individual. It's so fun to see her take all her random thoughts and put them together into a meaningful conclusion. Watching her grow is exciting for me. She is my favorite.

    However, my life would not be complete without my Brookie Boo. She is the one who cuddles up so nicely on the couch each morning. She gets my day started with her reports about which of her songs were played on Klove during the night. She is off the wall spunk that might just annoy some people. But I am her mother so I find it pure joy. I cherish the look on her face when I say, "Brooke, you are my favorite."

    When I consider how much I love each of my children, I am aware that they are not special. Each child is so unique and beautiful. They are treasures, that when allowed, will bless all kinds of different hearts. But it must be allowed and reflected back in order for them to know this about themselves.

    I once heard it said that when an adult encounters a child, the child needs to see that adult face light up. Yet it is so easy for me appear unaffected at times. How do my children and other children see themselves through me?

    And how often I need to be reminded that we are God's children. Even the people that tick me off, annoy me or hurt me. They are their Father's favorite. You are His favorite. Everyone has value, but it is sometimes hard to see if they are not treated valued. What a tragedy for them not to know. What a crime it is when I make other's feel worthless.

    During my oxymoron struggle between mercy and prophesy, love and judgement, I see that people may once and a while be open to loving correction, but judgement mostly turns people away. This is especially true since I am far from perfect myself. An attitude of love, mercy, and grace is the best way to positively influence people- my children, other children, annoying co-workers, and discouraged friends. For they are all God's favorite.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Thanksgiving 2011

    At the beginning of the week, we were sick.

    Decided not to go home until the weekend.

    Worked a little on Tuesday.

    Finished my kitchen cabinets (yaaaaayyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    Worked the nursery Wednesday night.

    Went to bed feeling achy and chilly.

    Slept in. Way way in.

    I feel good now, with the exception of a few sniffles.

    Savannah's working on a construction paper turkey.

    Max is getting into whatever he can find.

    Brooke and Summer and playing with stuffed animals.

    We don't really have food. Is anything open today?

    None the less, I am thankful.

    For my beautiful, healthy family.

    For a nice day outside.

    For a house to live in.

    For work to be done.

    For what people have done in order to build a nation I can call home.

    For extended family and their values that have shaped us.

    For the good that I get to see and rejoice for in my circle of acquaintances.

    For the hope that there is more to come.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Thanking For...........And Meaning It

    I am sure of the fact that I could not be truly usable (not in a superficial I have to do this kind of way) until I have collapsed, relaxed my muscles, loosened my grip, and become mold able for the exact use I was created for.

    This leaves me vulnerable. It's scary. It's also scary when I have charge, so I might as well let go.

    Afterward, or maybe just before, there is a time of horror visions flashing in front of me of what might happen. I wonder why I take thing for granted yet worry so much at the same time?

    But my spirit it there, trying to get my attention. And once I manage to turn my mind over to the peaceful promises of God, the horror visions fade to black. It is all a lie.

    It is then, panting in the refuge of these promises (promises that are actually promises), then and only then I can clearly see what I might be without them. This is where my thanksgivings turn into glorious sounds to my Father, due to the pureness of this offering. I see what I have in Him and through Him. I see how I can trust Him, and that He only wants good for me. A good that is as spotless as Jesus Himself.

    Half hearted thanksgivings are a muffled clamoring, even if they are belted out in the most beautiful song. God's senses cannot be compared to ours.

    But I have to let go and be helped, be vulnerable, and receive before anything beautiful can come from me.

    When I am there, in the glory of His promises, I cannot go against the character of God. I have no cares for worldly things. I have no time to look around at what everyone else is doing wrong, because my eyes are fixed on Him. I cannot act for selfish greed because I am completely satisfied.

    That is why some "radicals" cannot stop talking about their love, Jesus. That is why some would like everyone to hear their joy. That is why their interests and actions seem odd to those around them. It is all in or not, and the only secure place is "in".

    Dear God, Your gifts are more precious than silver, than fine gold. What you have already given me is sweeter than the finest clothes and most luxurious house. Thank you for giving them to me. My prayer is that I will live and stay in these promises, and that I would understand them more and more every day.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Summer Love

    Summer, my middle daughter, reluctantly complied with my direction to work on her English.

    "I think I have to memorize something next." she grumbled. "I hate to memorize.
    "Well, you are not going to make a very good movie star if you can't memorize." I responded.

    "Wait. You thought that I am going to be a movie star?"
    "Well, I thought so until now when you told me that you don't like to memorize."

    She paused, twirled around a few times, and said, "I guess that sounds like fun." and walked off to work on her English.


    It was her turn to go to the store with me. After a year and a half of construction, we are now privilaged to go to the grocery store via the new overpass. This is not just any overpass, though. It has colorful lights that change colors every few seconds. Red, Purple, Blue, Green. It reminds me of the horse on The Wizard of Oz.

    But to Summer, it is magical. That trip across the highway was like a magic flying carriage with white flying horses surrounded by ever changing colors. Even though the actual trip only takes a few seconds, time seems to go in slow motion amidst the awe of the experience. Could anything be more beautiful? I know, because I saw it in her imagination, through her huge brown wondering eyes. Oh, the thrill of going over that overpass.


    Turning into our subdivision, I said, "Summer, I like you."

    "You tell me that all the time", she answered.

    "Are you tired of hearing it?"

    "No, I am not."


    She knows life is cruel. She gets her tender heart broken. She doesn't always get her way. And she still has to do school (which she says she doesn't like but I think she might be fibbing a little). And sometimes she has quite a temper.

    But there is a huge burst of pure joy in that soul. I am so thankful for my Summer.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Redeeming Moment By Moment

    My husband has been very busy lately (good thing). This has reminded me how much I rely on him to help me. "I couldn't reach the insurance agent to cancel our meeting, and I have to leave for work." He said in passing this morning.

    I hate it when strangers come into my house. I don't like appointments. And I really dislike being put on the spot.

    "You could trust me to handle it for you." was a thought from God.
    I said a prayer.

    "When is he supposed to be here?"

    I looked at the clock. 9:00. I looked out the window. A small red car pulled up to my curb. My house looked like a bomb had gone off in it. I ran to brush my teeth. After a bit of confusion, we had to tell him that we needed to reschedule. He graciously agreed.

    We needed to be at the dentist at 11:00. I scrambled to get my sleepyheads ready. French toast with a sprinkle of powdered sugar for my children who were forced to eat wherever they could find a place. Max's was on the floor- like a dog. My table was cluttered with paint, brushes, and hardware.

    Max started to dance on top of a folded up metal chair I reached down to swat him, and in realizing he was clueless, I powered down to a pat. None the less, he cried.

    "Don't take frustrations out on them. Believe that I'll handle it for you."

     I realized Max only had clean purple sweat pants to go with his blue and red shirt. Brooke's outfit was interesting. No one could find matching socks, including me.

    "If we had eight legs it would be much harder to find socks." offered Summer.
    Very true. At least I only had two feet per person to cover.

    We were ready to strap into the car when Max whines to tell me he's pooped. I gave him a mad look and said, "Why do you poop?"

    He laughed. "Why do you poop?" he mimicked.
    At least he did it before we left, and not during the appointment.

    My keys were not in my purse so I ran back upstairs to look for them. Realizing that I'd left my eggs out, I opened the refrigerator door. As I placed the eggs on the shelf I said aloud, "God I need my keys." I shut the door, focused my eyes on the desk across the room and directly on my set of keys.

    I got 20 minutes of Klove love on the way to the dentist.

    Savannah was incredibly anxious to arrive at the dentist on time. And we did, right on time. There were no cavities, which is very good, especially since I hate appointments. (And it's good that she has healthy teeth.) We had accomplished one thing today. Good.

    I needed to be home by 1:00 for another appointment scheduled with people to give me a quote for the bathroom. The line in the Taco Bell drive through was extra slow. We made it home at 1:00. I sent the kids downstairs to eat in the basement and scrambled to clean the bathroom. No one showed up. I checked my phone, and I saw there was a missed call at 11:00. I'm now 99% sure the appointment was 11:00 and I wrote down 1:00.  Another missed appointment.

    As the children were eating tacos off the basement floor since the rest of my house left no available spot and I wanted to hide them from the appointment that I thought was going to happen, the bug man came to spray the inside of my house. Including my basement. I didn't know he was coming at all.

    This dear man always seems to keep an iron face when my children embarrass me with questions about him within his ear shot. Again, no double takes or raised eyebrows. He treated me like I was normal when I was absolutely convinced I was the worst mother/wife/citizen in the Midwest.

    It was about all I could handle. I had to grab ahold of anything good to maintain, at the very least, a moderate temperament in the house.

    "I need help, God"
    Immediately my eyes fell on these red letters: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

    "Believe me when I say I can make it right."

    My husband knew my frustration, and obliged to my mysterious requests.

    My girlfriend called with good news and refreshing encouragement.

    The kids watched a movie.

    Sook cleaned the kitchen. He's really good at cleaning.

    I didn't lose it. My failures are redeemed. God does that, sometimes through people, sometimes through other stuff. I wouldn't have even written this in order to avoid recalling this painful day except for the fact that I appreciate others sharing their shortcomings so I know I am actually normal. I was starting to pity myself again when I read this blog.

    And also to praise God, for he addressed each of my failures and frustrations today. That is what a personal, loving God does, and He doesn't get tired of doing it.

    Siestas and Tapas

    The summer before my senior year in college, I was privileged to spend eight weeks in Spain. It was a Spanish 4 class trip. I am surprised they let me go. When I told my Spanish 3 teacher that I was going, she said, "Good. You need the practice." Ha.

    I can't speak Spanish- and I never really could. I have many stories of the stupid American girl trying to make her way through Granada. But I got a B in the class!

    I have a secret. I didn't really go for the class.

    Oh, it was worth whatever it took to get there. The food, the wine, the flowers, the cobblestone street I walked on to have a high carb breakfast and coffee, it was divine. I learned much more than what the class taught me.

    I noticed that overall they didn't have as much as I was used to. Most families lived in apartments, they walked or took the bus- but didn't drive a car, and had no air conditioning. And they were okay with that. I don't remember grumbling (unless it was about stupid Americans).  People were friendly, relaxed, and content.

    All of the shops closed from 2-6 for "siesta time" which included a large lunch that would last over an hour because of lively talk and a few glasses of wine. Next, there was time for a siesta (a nap), and then refreshed and back to work they go.

    Often times, our evening meals were tapas: small meals that went well with a drink or two. There was dancing, sometimes in the town plaza, random guitar players, and wonderful music.

    I have wondered if the reason why, in a country where most meals include bread dipped in olive oil and wine as their water, the people are so much thinner and healthier? Could it be due to their attitudes and priorities? Siestas and tapas?

    I have heard it said several times in one way or another that God is not so interested in our goals, but in the process. Do we value the process? Are we wishing for the goal so that our lives will be better, or are we interested in having a better life as is- right now?

    What would that look like here? Siestas really are not an option- but chillin' with my kiddos next to dozens of reminders of what needs to be done provides some rest. What about a coming together at a meal to talk, engage in people, laugh? Is it possible in our culture? I think so, but it may seem a little weird to people around us. But I'm already weird, so who cares?!

    We work so hard so that we can relax. Please, don't get me wrong. I value hard work. But maybe our hard work is for the wrong reasons. Maybe there is a better way. Maybe we need to enjoy the process, see God at work in every day little things. Value people more than money. Learn to put up our feet when work is staring you in the face. Stay healthy and happy. Hear from God - and tell Him what we think. Thank Him for what we see now that we've actually looked. Rest in His promises.

    Summer and I have agreed that Tuesdays are her night to say up a little later with me. She insists that it is with me, and I'm glad that she does.

    This week we played Angry Animals, cuddled, and made this picture together:

    I said, "Summer, you look like a princess singing next to the river."
    And she said, "Well, yes but I'm a princess eating a hamburger."

    I'd much rather be looking at a princess singing by the river eating a hamburger.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Mysterious Love

    This has been the theme today. Really. From at least three sources. Maybe I should pay attention.

    I have been a very angry person. And I could convince you that at least 85% of it is warranted. Most of my anger was a result of experiences with Christians. Even though I was one, I didn't like the majority of them very much.

    Something kept telling me that my life can't be that bad. Then something told me it was very bad. I should get more mad.

    But getting mad is death and destruction. Love is life.

    We sang this song tonight.

    In Christ Alone (listen here)

    In Christ alone my hope is found,
    He is my light, my strength, my song.
    This cornerstone, this solid ground,
    Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

    What heights of love, what depths of peace,
    When fears are stilled, when striving ceased.
    My Comforter, my All in All,
    Here in the love of Christ I stand.

    There in the ground His body lay,
    Light of the World by darkness slain.
    Then bursting forth in glorious day,
    Up from the grave He rose again.

    And as He stands in victory,
    Sins curse has lost it's grip on me.
    For I am His and He is mine,
    Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

    No guilt in life, no fear in death.
    This is the power of Christ in me.
    From life's first cry to final breath,
    Jesus commands my destiny.

    No power of hell, no scheme of man,
    Could ever pluck me from His hand.
    Till He returns or calls me home,
    Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

    Such a beautiful promise. God will be there.
    I have been mad because of the failure from others to show me and those I love Christ's love.
    I used to think that these lyrics were promises of strength to overcome those that were hurting me.

    Now, I don't think so. Now I think that the power this song is stating is the power not to get angry, prideful, fearful, or self-centered. The power to love.

    Anger, pride, fear, and self-centeredness is death. Love is life.

    God wants me to love in order to have a full life. And He died so that anger, pride, fear, and self-centeredness could not overtake me. This is what I am free of, not mean people.

    This does not necessarily give me the power to prove myself, even for Christ's sake.
    This does not give me the power to be right.
    This does not give me the power to fight.
    This does not give me the power to expose every evil and make it right.

    This incomprehensible sacrifice gives me the power to love. This love is mysterious to me. There is no pride in it. There is no counting offenses. Not even the use of love in order to prove a point.

    Because any other avenue to deal with Christians that dissapoint is not showing Christ's love either. And I am no different.

    It's just love. And it is very powerful.

    He has given me everything, so there is no reason to give in to death.

    My mind is blown.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011


    As I paint my kitchen cabinets, I chuckle. I could never make money doing this sort of thing because I mess up and then like it. It's character.

    Chipped paint.
    Worn hard wood floors.
    Dingy fabrics.
    Dusty books.
    Obvious brush strokes.
    Real. Usable. Personable.

    I love imperfection. If that is what you call it. Perhaps it's actually perfection.

    My body also has character. Scars, laugh lines (or mad lines), worn hands, evidence of childbearing. Clothing might accentuate individual beauty, but cannot take the place of it. Everyone has something beautiful to bless the world with. Living artwork.

    Grey hairs.
    Colorful eyes.
    Dirty smiles.
    Proper salutations.
    Gut wrenching sobs.
    Priceless expressions.
    Real. Usable. Personable.

    Have you ever envied wrinkles? I have.

    But there is something to be seen that cannot be seen with a glance of the eye. Something that could never be faked. It is only produced when pushed, beaten, broken, swept away, restored, failed, renewed, chipped, scraped, pulled, tattered, stained, and washed. That is the most beautiful character of all. It can make the ugliest specimen breathtaking.

    Real. Usable. Personable.

    I hope my children grow up to be characters. I mean that.

    How do you make characters? I'm pretty sure the best way is to fill them with God-inspired expectation. Big dreams, big responsibilities, big results and cheer lead to the very end. Life will then do the rest.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Today My Heart Did A Back Handspring

    Life gets hard sometimes.

    Parenting is hard.

    Work is hard.

    Loving is hard.

    And I have recently discovered that eight is hard.

    Life is hard: I am aware of this, at any age. I don't know if it was my particular circumstances. I doubt it. Growing up was hard for me. And I had a good family- so even with a good family, life is hard. So, I see homeschooling as an opportunity for me to try to help my angels figure some stuff out in a fairly safe environment before being slammed with it somewhere out there.

    Parenting is hard: Because I don't have all of the answers. And even if I did have the knowledge of what all the right answers, I probably wouldn't communicate them effectively at every opportunity. It's hard to see them crying, trying to figure out this life.

    Work is hard: If you stop, it only causes more work. Life is never ending work- with a few breaks here and there. Homeschool only causes double the work. I don't say this to attain sainthood. If you don't want to do it, don't. If you don't understand why I do it, don't try to. I just do. But there is no ignoring the fact that it is hard.

    Love is hard: I don't think I need to elaborate.

    Eight is hard: At least it is here and several parents have concurred, so to me it is a fact. Something is changing at eight and it is darn hard to figure out.

    We have had an increase of loud and painful fights thanks to my eight year old. My heart breaks because I remember (whether I was eight or not, I do not know) having emotions I had no idea what to do with. Most of her tantrums end up by eliminating the problem (her) by a time out. I usually get a long letter slipped under her bedroom door stating why it was everyone else's fault. My fantastic interventions seemed to be getting nowhere. I didn't know what to do.

    Today was no different at first. She went to her room. Several minutes later I notice her bedroom door was opened and sure enough, she was busy writing. This time, however, I took a double take because instead of yer usual "life sucks" note, she was writing a list of offenses and correlating consequences. These were fantastically appropriate. I don't know why I didn't think of this. But I'm glad I didn't.

    "I really like this, Savannah." I said, then cautiously continued, "You do realize that if we do this, you will get the same consequences, don't you?"

    "Yes. I just want a way to stop myself from being so mean."

    She was taking responsibility.

    I admit it. I cried. A little. I praised her. My heart was skipping and flipped around several times. I refrained from doing a happy dance.

    She administered a short meeting, a vote was taken, the list passed and very well received. (except once today when Summer had to vacuum a bedroom, otherwise it was a very pleasant day)

    I say all this to say that once and while, when you have to get up and drag yourself out of bed to do the same thing with the elusive hope that something you are doing is going to make a difference, you see one of them reach up and pull a string attached to a light bulb.

    Aha. Something is working.

    The continuous talk of character, love, and self control. The discipline that is far less fun than fun. The prayers said over each of them. The investment put into each of their lives. Sometimes we can see that something is working. So please, keep trying. Keep working. Keep hoping. I believe these efforts will have innumerable returns now and far into the future.

    I just so happened to stumble across this song tonight. Please listen here. Cause I just love it, but I can't figure out YouTube.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Learning To Be Less Grown Up

    My growing children love to test their Independence. It may be playing "mommy" in pretend play. Sometimes it's ignoring my instruction and trying it their own way. I've witness their buttons burst when they get a new privilege after proven mature enough. Whatever it may be, children long for the days of getting older, hence more freedoms, and more responsibility.

    Even so, whenever I leave the house, reassurance is needed that someone will be watching them. They still need a provider.

    Jesus never admonished children to be more grown-up. He did, however, exhort grownups to become more like children. ~Wess Stafford

    This was a Facebook post from Compassion International today.

    As I have grown in my faith, I am beginning to realize that "the ways of the world" that the Bible warns about has more to it than lying, stealing, drugs, and immorality. It also has to do with trusting in your abilities over in God's. It leads to ignoring to "little" but important things in order to know about everything, to do everything by the book, to invest perfectly, to fix everything yourself, to avoid asking for help, to make enough money to attain your American dream. Interestingly enough, this mindset may just lead you to lying, stealing, drugs, and immorality.

    This is where I find so much freedom in Christ. The world's way and the Bible's way are complete opposites.

    According to the Bible, I can strip myself from the responsibility of providing food and clothing for myself and my family (Matthew 6:25-34), and from the guilt of not measuring up to the gifts of others(Psalm 139:13-16), and I can tear down doubts and condemnation built by religious hypocrisy (Matthew 5:8).

    This frees me up to spend time doing productive work, dreaming limitlessly about how I can use my unique gifts to bless others, and trusting in God fully, whom is showing Himself to me constantly.

    I can spend the majority of my day building up my spirit with God, I can place people high on my list of  priorities, and then I can get twice as much done than the former circumstance.

    And I can trust that God will always, always take care of me- perfectly. Infinity times better than I could. Even when I mess up. Just like a child.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Is This Sad?

    So, Have you heard the news? Of course you have. The Duggar's are expecting their 20th child.

    I have not watched a second of the show, so I have no opinion about it. What I do know is: (1) that they had a miscarriage early in life and then decided to let God decide how many they should have. (2)Their oldest has already started a family, stating that he also is willing to let God decide how many, and even though I sincerely hope he consulted with his wife on that, he must not have thought his experience was all that bad. (3)The dad's name is Jim Bob. (4) A woman at my work "ran into" the Duggar's twice, in two different locations. She said each time they stopped to talk and take pictures. She said they were great, if two-five minute encounters mean anything (5) They are "excited" about their news. Hey! They wanted this person in their life! (6)Several people have made them out to be evil for one reason or another. But today, the comment that really got me was "it's so sad that the older children have to raise the younger ones.


    Those poor Duggar children that live in a home where they are loved and provided for. This is sad to you? Because what is sad to me is the millions of children that are not wanted. What is sad to me is the scared to death pregnant teenager that has no one to turn to. Or children whose parents have both died from AIDS, knowing they are soon to follow. The ones that are 6 years old and weight 10 pounds because there is no food. That is sad. The beautiful children that have parents, but had to be given up because they could not provide for them. Can you imagine? The landscape of children digging through a dump to find a bit of food, feet bleeding from the lack of shoes. Are you sad yet? What about the welfare children that are neglected and abused, sometimes to the point of death. Must I go on?

    Do you think that any of these children I just mentioned wouldn't dream of living in a home like the Duggar's?

    I do not think that everyone should forget any form of birth control and have 20 kids. However, I do think God does lead some people to do this, and they should listen. Before I even heard about the Duggar's, one month after I was married, God told me the same thing.

    Yet, I had my tubes tied. I was so tired, I had lost hope, and I was listening to all the wrong people. Again, I am not saying there is anything wrong with preventing pregnancy. I am saying, I know I disobeyed God. And I am heartbroken.

    Because even when I want to pull my hair out and wish that I could just process one thought, even when I lose it and scream like a lunatic, I would love four more.

    I believe that God is not mad at me, and he heals and restores. His plan for my life has not stopped in it's tracks.

    I also believe that Jesus loves all the little children of the world, and millions of his children are not experiencing it. This Duggar family, however, is not in that category.

    Monday, November 7, 2011


    I woke up this morning asking God what it is I should learn about today.

    "Failures." was the answer.

    Funny, because after a blissfully quiet day at work, a nice "hello" kiss from my husband, a short and sweet and successful school time, something in me turned for the worse.

    I started feeling failure. I felt not so wonderful as the people in the inspirational stories I try to surround myself with- you know, for inspiration.

    I ran to the grocery story because I had nothing for supper. I made tacos. What kid doesn't like tacos? Except I had forgotten the cheese- well, I did have cheese but it was Italian cheese. So we had tacos with ground beef and Italian cheese. And lettuce and Picante sauce if someone wanted it.

    1.5 of my children actually ate it.

    Savannah just didn't get her division.

    I was annoyed with the 151st sticker Brooke wanted to give me.

    Max told me he wanted to potty instantly after I had put his pj's on.

    And I know that Summer annoyed me, too. I just don't remember how.

    I was in full pity party mode. And when this happens, for me at least, I start remembering everything that steals my joy. Every failure, every unrealistic dream, every rotten circumstance. My failures were trying to make me fail again.

    But I have learned enough to know not to indulge myself in my failures. Mostly because what I really wanted was to shout them from the mountaintops so someone would feel sorry for me, but I knew no one would (at least genuinely) because we've all got crap of the bottom of our shoes. I cannot indulge. I am saved by grace through faith. What I need is faith.

    And then something turned again. I read the books, put the kids to bed two or three times each, gave extra hugs, and enjoyed it.

    I am convinced that the key to success is a graceful failure. Because, truth be told, we all fail. Therefore, how we handle it is the key to overcoming it. Perseverance, humility, and a sound mind is what I need.

    I have read before that God isn't so interested in our dreams as much as the journey to get there. Isn't that true? If we reach for something and finally get it, it doesn't solve our problems. Many times it makes things more complicated. What we learned on the way is more profitable than the prize itself. That gives me peace. If the prize isn't that important, then I don't really fail when I have not attained it.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Royal Living

    I have so many life thoughts in my head, one post will not cover all of it. I'm running the risk of someone possible taking me wrong- I'm all about balance. Most of the time. In some areas I'm crazy radical- at least compared to my surroundings. So today I'm just talking about one aspect of life. It's a lesson that I really needed to learn.

    Accepting gifts, favor, blessings.

    Somehow I got it in my head that living without was more righteous. At first, it seemed that I was more self sacrificing and content, because I could live anywhere, in any circumstance. I wasn't picky. This can be a good thing.

    However, as my dreams and my family grew, it turned into self pity, bitterness, and jealousy. I got in a huge rut that seemed as if it would never go away. I couldn't bless anyone because I was always in need. I was miserable.

    What I didn't know was how to receive blessings. But when I started to humble myself (yes, I need humbling. It takes humility to receive!) and to learn more about who God was and what He wanted to do in my life, I was looking at life through different glasses.

    As a follower of Christ, I am saved. I have received salvation.

    What is salvation? From my understanding, and according to various sermons and Bible footnotes, "salvation" in Hebrew and Greek means deliverance, safety, preservation, healing, and soundness of mind.

    Other words connected to salvation are: justification, redemption, grace, propitiation (the sacrifice of Christ that appeases divine wrath), imputation (transfer of Christ's righteousness to me), forgiveness, and sanctification (set apart, made holy).

    Whoa. I hadn't been living like I had all of that. This means, if I am worried about....anything (money, health, safety, my sins) I was not living as though I had received salvation. It's like a pretty gift sitting on a mantel containing value beyond imagination.....unused. Or if you had nothing and was handed an invitation to move into a royal palace and live as one of them. You show your friends and tell them about this wonderful opportunity for you. You carry it around with you wherever you go, put pictures of the Royal Family up on your wall, and collect all kinds of information about what it is like to live in royalty, yet you never actually go.

    Maybe you don't know the way. But then again, if you know the awesomeness of this invitation, wouldn't you do everything you can to get there?

    Maybe you are scared they won't like what they see. Maybe you don't really believe their guarantee that all un-royalness will be left at the door, and you will be adopted in as pure royalness. No questions asked.

    Maybe you are comfortable in your poverty and are scared of leaving it.

    Maybe you don't really understand what it means to be royalty.

    I am grafted in to God's family. I want to know all of the benefits that go along with that. But it doesn't stop here.

    I am finding that God knows me personally- he is the one who created me. He knows the things I love and he knows my shortcomings. He provides perfectly in a way that is tailored to me. My individual needs, loves, joys, gifts, and responsibilities- in accordance with His word. Sometimes it is circumstantial, many times he blesses me through other people.

    I am slowly learning what it means to be a part of God's family. Each perfect revelation reminds me that my heavenly father is the perfect provider, and I am more than happy to receive it.

    There is more to this story but I'd like to point out that God drew me in by his incredible love. He showed me where I was and then what was waiting for me, upon my acceptance. I pray that my children come to this realization earlier in life than I did.

    Here are some verses to ponder:

    Genesis 15:3 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

    2 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His given power as given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, but which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

    Ephesians 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He mad us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

    From: How He Loves (listen to it here)

    He is jealous for me.
    Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
    Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

    When all of a sudden,
    I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
    And I realize just how beautiful you are
    And how great your affections are for me.

    Oh, How He loves us oh,
    Oh, How He loves us,
    How He loves us, oh

    Friday, November 4, 2011


    Are very relaxed here.

    I wrote a post full of wisdom and wit last night- and lost it.

    It said that children are people. It said they practice being serious during their play. I called it "Serious Business".

    Currently, Max is playing with his Legos again....together, apart, together, apart.
    "Wook a dis!" Oh my word. I love watching him play.

    Savannah, Summer, and Brooke are carrying around stuffed animals in a pillowcase. Summer with her backpack on. The one she has been wearing on her back for the past two days. Even in the grocery store. Her style always brings a smile to my face. Her unique, unguarded style.

    Savannah is in charge of their "zookeeper" pretend play. She takes care of the details, gives the orders, and usually is the instigator of the arguments. Her imagination, though, blows me away.

    Brookie tags along with the game, but will break away the second she catches a glimpse of me in order to sneak in one more hug or show me a new novelty. Today, it is her paper plate shield she made at church. "Look. I am RICH because I have this!" She squeezes me, gives me her glittered shield, and runs away to pick up where she left off with her stuffed animals.

    Yes, I believe a healthy dose of play, games, laughter, and hugs might just prepare children for the adult world better than if our day was all work.

    Fridays are good.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011


    Thank you, God

    For November. Halloween is over and I still had 1 1/2 days of gorgeous weather before the rain comes. Thanks for our windy picnic yesterday and extensive play time.

    Thank you for this disastrous house. Thank you that my husband has so much work that we haven't completed our to-do list yet. Thank you for our vision to sell it and move, the reason why all of the cabinet doors are off the hinges. Thank you that my cabinets have doors. Thank you for the four children that are constantly needing to eat and wear clothes. Thank you for the food and clothes. Thank you for the chance to stay at home and to homeschool, which multiplies my messes.

    Thank you for our lunch of banana bread, apples, sunflower nuts, and peas. Thank you that my kids insist on peas...and can/want to prepare them. Even if they insist on half frozen half cooked. Thank you for the freezer and the microwave. Thank you that even though I didn't have the time to take the kids grocery shopping this morning, there was something that they would eat.

    Thank you for the dozens of drawings that are piling high. Thank you that my kindergartner has finally mastered cutting out her drawings. Thank you that my seven year old measures flour for me. Thank you that my two year old puts shoes on and takes them off in random places, and that he is proud of his tall Lego tower. Thank you that they want to write out the lyrics to their Christmas songs, and that they love to play Monopoly. Thank you that my third grader loves math so much that it consumes a huge part of my day. Thank you that she can help clean.

    Thank you for friends that call me to tell me happy news, or text me with a random thought. Thank you for e-mail and Facebook so that, even when I am stuck in this house, I can still communicate with the outside world. Thank you for the computer so that I can write during quiet time. Thank you that you said, "Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind and .... love your neighbor as yourself." and not, "Thou shall keep your house neat at all times."

    Thank you for the pajamas that I am still in. Most of all, thank you that through all of this you will always love me, always give me the best for me, even when I fail miserably. Thank you that I don't feel guilt and shame. Thank you for being a great best friend. Thank you for being a savior, encourager, a mentor, and a provider. Thank you that I can love you.