December 29, 2011

Word of the Year

So...I'm going to be a copycat. This last year, I noticed several bloggers had picked one word that they wanted to focus on the entire year. I thought it was a neat idea and immediately thought of about 50 words that I could focus on, but I've finally narrowed it down to 1. My word of the year is....servant. This small word contains a lot of conviction and challenge, doesn't it? Why choose this word? The first and biggest reason is because after doing a Bible study of the word servant, I've come to the conclusion that this word best describes Jesus Christ, and after all, isn't that what being a Christian is about....imitating Jesus? My favorite book of the Bible is Philippians, and my second favorite passage in Philippians is:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, AND TOOK UPON HIM THE FORM OF A SERVANT, and was made in the likeness of men: ~ Philippians 2:5-7

If Jesus could give up the glory of Heaven and even His relationship with His Father (during that terrible time of separation on the cross), can I not give up my small agenda for the day? When I think of all that Jesus sacrificed for me, it makes my "sacrifices" seem petty. My heart's desire is to be more like my Savior, and I believe with all my heart the best way to do that is to be a servant.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. ~Matthew 20:28
The second reason for choosing this word is because it is commanded that we be servants.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. ~Luke 9:23-24

I find the next verse to be one that I love, but one that continually convicts me.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
~Romans 12:1

Offering my life each day to serve God in any way he asks is only my reasonable service in exchange for all that God has done for me.

The third reason for choosing this word is because it's just where I'm at in my life right now. While being pregnant, I sunk into a bad habit of thinking that everybody owed me something. I may not have said it out loud, but my thoughts went something like this:
"I only got three hours of sleep last night. You should be grateful I'm serving you Ravioli out of a can for supper!"

"I just washed dishes for an hour. I think you can sweep the floor."

"I'm the one who gives you clean underwear everyday (well, most of them anyway!)!"

Yes, these were some of my despicable thoughts...not very servant-like, huh? I've decided it is time for an attitude change. Maybe it wouldn't kill someone to sweep the floor after I've washed the dishes, but was my attitude one of humility? Ummm....probably not! And what example did I just give my children? Yes, this is truly where I am need of a big attitude adjustment.

In the next few posts, I'd like to continue sharing more thoughts on being a servant. Until then, what word would you choose to focus on this year? It's definitely something to think about.

December 27, 2011

Three Exciting Things!!!

I am so excited about so many different things today! I'll only bother you with three of them today! :) The first is my new blog look...isn't it sweet? I had to do a lot of googling (is that a word?) to figure out how all this is supposed to work, but I think it paid off! :) I have also updated each of the pages, so take time to check them out if you have a chance!

I haven't sat down to blog since our little one arrived. So, in case you haven't heard, we have a sweet little boy who is absolutely adorable and so far fairly well-behaved! :) I have enjoyed sitting in the rocking chair and holding my sweet boy an awful lot these last few weeks. It's hard to believe that he is already five weeks old. Time sure does go by quickly! (Sigh!) So, that was exciting thing number two!

Exciting thing number three: I feel almost normal again! :) Between recovery from a c-section and those crazy pregnancy hormones, it's been a roller coaster month, but this last week, I have finally begun to feel like my old self. I am looking forward to starting school back with the kiddos, blogging again, and setting small goals for this next year! I have spent today writing away in my journal and calendar making lots of plans for the year to come. I know, I know...this event always sets me up...I have such idealistic goals but forget to add the realistic life! :) It's still fun to do, though, and I really do believe I accomplish more than I would if I never made my lists at all!

I hope that all of you are looking forward to a New Year with new goals and fresh starts. I'm so glad God gives us opportunities to "start fresh" again. I'd love to hear what your New Year's goals/plans/resolutions are. I'll be letting you know more about mine soon! Thanks for stopping by and reading. I do hope that I can bring encouragement to your heart and a smile to your face each time you read! Have a beautiful night!

November 10, 2011

Rambling Thoughts...

I have come to the conclusion that blogging during pregnancy is difficult - at least it has been for me during this pregnancy. It seems like life has so many more negatives than positives right now! I hate admitting this because I'm usually such a positive person, but even my facebook statuses have been few and far between because I'm trying to go by the motto, "If you don't have something good to say, then don't say anything at all!" But, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because of some small complications, we only have 10 more days left until we finally get to meet our chubby little miracle! Finally having a date set has helped me mentally and emotionally (yeah, I know what some of you are thinking!) get into baby preparation/excitement mode! I am trying to finish up some of my extra house cleaning this week. There are also still some carrots that need to be canned, and we are trying to diligently keep up with our school work. Knowing that we only have one more "work week" left is an amazingly great feeling.

Hopefully, by next Saturday, we will have all of the house work done and school books put away, so that Miss E and I can cook our Thanksgiving dinner and freeze it! Now, the Mr. thinks I am absolutely ludicrous for doing this, but I am such a traditionalist at heart! I was even able to talk my doctor into doing my c-section on Monday instead of Tuesday so that we could be home before Thanksgiving Day. I figure if the good doctor can work that out, surely, I can still manage a fairly decent Thanksgiving Day meal!

Earlier I mentioned putting away the school books. One of the things we are all looking forward to once the baby gets here is not doing any school work until after New Year's Day! Miss E and Mr. A are thrilled about this, and Mom is looking forward to the break too! We are still going to do our reading because Mr. A especially needs to keep up his practice, but we all enjoy reading time, and so we don't really count that as school! :)

We have lots to do these next ten days, but so much more to look forward to! It has been so much fun to hear the kids talk about their new brother or sister coming! I am so thankful that he/she is already so loved by the brothers and sisters! They have even asked if they could take some of their allowance and buy the baby a gift to give it at the hospital! So, we are going to do that sometime in the next ten days as well!

Thank you for reading through all my rambling thoughts in this post. I just thought I'd write for a few minutes while I had a chance. I think that now, I will go dust the living room and put out a few more fall decorations that I forgot I had!

I pray you all are also having a great time celebrating the month of Thanksgiving! There is so much we all have to be thankful for. I'm praying that God will continue to open my eyes each day to the little blessings He so graciously gives me even as much of my focus tends to be on the one big blessing coming in 10 days! :)

October 17, 2011

What's Happening Around Here...

It seems like we have a lot going on in our house right now, but then again, who doesn't? I thought I'd share a little of what's been going on with us. So, taking a deep breath....BEGIN!

We just finished up helping our church's school with a huge fundraiser! It was a great success, and the school was able to raise thousands of dollars. Although, we have chosen to homeschool our kiddos, we've always been able to have a fairly active part in this ministry of our church, and we always enjoy it!

Because of the time we took helping out with the fundraiser over the last couple of weeks, our schooling put it mildly....slightly unorganized! However, one of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool is so that we can have the flexibility to do other things that other families may not have the opportunity to do. This last week has been busy catching up and getting back into a school routine (using the word routine very casually at this point!).

We were also hit with the stomach flu! Can't leave that one out! We haven't had it visit us in over three years, and so we really couldn't complain! It made for a long week with some extra laundry, but overall, we weathered the storm well and are glad to be done with it!

In the middle of all this, we were also able to finish up some gardening. We were able to can over 50 quarts of green beans - our family's favorite vegetable! We also canned some tomatoes although the chickens raided our garden one day and ended up with more than we did! We've also been able to get about 35 pints of salsa! We've put up quite a bit of squash and earlier this fall, we were able to freeze our corn. All that's left now are the carrots and onions. We will probably start working on the onions this week. We were waiting for the first frost before we picked our carrots, and that still hasn't come yet - believe it or not! We are expecting to have quite a few carrots to can once the frost comes!

We have also been trying to get extra cleaning done. For those of you who have children at home, you know that extra cleaning never ends. We are getting ready for our little one to arrive, and even though we did a lot of spring cleaning this summer, we have several rooms that need redos already! We have also been told to expect our little one to come earlier than we had planned. So, I am feeling the pressure of getting everything ready before Thanksgiving. It will be nice though to just sit back and enjoy the baby and all the holidays with my little family!

Wow! It's making me tired writing about this, and it's reminding me of all that I have left to do in this day! So, I better close for now. I hope you are able to enjoy the tasks God has given to you today. Some days are better and easier than others. I'm thankful today is one of those easy days for me! ;) Hoping the same is true for you!

October 15, 2011

...For in Due Season, We Shall Reap

Ever heard the phrase "tomorrow never comes?" Well, it obviously took a while to get here! I really am wanting to blog more regularly, but the last two weeks have been consumed with "well doing"....and doctor's appointments....and the stomach flu! Thankfully, everyone seems to be feeling better now, and we are trying to get caught up a little at a time.

The last time I posted, I was in the middle of meditating on Galatians 6:9: "And let us not be weary in well doing..." Shortly after I posted that, all four of my kiddos came down with the stomach flu - three of them all at the same time! It was rough, but God continued to bring this verse to my mind. I'm so thankful He gave us the end of the verse too. "...for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not."

There are many times in my life (and I'm sure in everyone else's too) that I become tired of the well doing. I see so many people taking short cuts, and they seem to be doing OK. I'm tempted to do the same. Their lives look so much easier...and in some ways, they probably are. But I have God's promise that if I will live my life His way, He will reward me in unimaginable ways! I just need to keep going! I need to give a little more. I need to strengthen my character. I need to spend more time with God. I need to be more unselfish in my attitudes and actions. I need to continue to train my children. I need to be my husband's help meet in every situation. I need to not faint but keep going. Because I know, God has something out there way better than all the shortcuts in the world, and in due season, I will reap the reward of not being weary in well doing.

Praying that you all have a wonderful day finding ways to accomplish the well doing that is placed in your lives!

October 3, 2011

Be Not Weary in Well Doing

Do you ever become overwhelmed with life? It seems like we are pulled in so many different directions all the time, and we always say, "Next week won't be so bad." Then, the next week comes and goes, and it seemed busier than the last. There are many times that I just feel like quitting EVERYTHING! I walk through the house in my silent (or sometimes not so silent) rant, and I list all the things I am never doing again. "I will not cook another meal. I will not wash another load of laundry. I will not homeschool another second. I will not go to church another Sunday (yes, I've actually thought that...). I WILL sit on the couch and eat bon-bons and watch movies like everyone thinks a stay at home mom really does anyway!"

Thankfully, I have a wonderful gift called the Holy Spirit who quietly works in my heart and Who in a slightly annoying way will not let me sit on the couch with my Reese's Cups (because I don't really know what a bon-bon is, but I'm sure Reese's Cups are far better anyway). When I reach those points of being overwhelmed, I am always reminded of Galatians 6:9. "And let us not be weary in well doing:" I am reminded of my sweet Savior Jesus and how He walked and ministered to people every day all day. He was constantly surrounded by people who had needs but did not appreciate Him for Who He really was. Yet, He continued to give. He was tired and had no place to call His own. Yet, He continued to give. He knew the terrible things that lay ahead of Him. Yet, He continued to give. And even today, He continues to give...unconditionally and without becoming weary of us.

Then, the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that if I call myself a Christian, I am to be Christ-like. I cannot quit. Yes, there are times when I need to reevaluate my priorities and accomplish the most important things first. There are times when I need to say no so that I can minister more effectively. Many times, though, in my honest evaluations, I find that I have wasted a lot of time on things that are not of true importance.

So...guess what I am off to do right now? Get out of my chair, put away the Rolos (because I had no Reese's Cups), make a list of what needs to be done, prioritize it and get busy. Oh yeah....and I can do all this because I know the rest of Galatians 6:9 which I'll tell more about tomorrow!

September 28, 2011

The Desires of My Heart

Yes, if you happened to notice the time of the publishing of this post, it is accurate...4:52 AM to be exact! Sleep has not come very easily the past few weeks, and it is becoming a habit to watch the clock slowly click by from 1 AM to 5 AM. So, I thought I would try to make my time a little more profitable and see what kind of thoughts I could place on "paper" at this insane time of the morning.

God has been working so much in my heart and life this week. It has been so good to see this because, to be honest, I have felt many times this summer, like God just kind of....well....dumped me off His project list and moved on to someone else! As I look back, though, I am beginning to see where God was still very much working in my life to prepare me for His exact purpose. There have been prayers that I have prayed for YEARS that I have seen answered this week! Some have been really teensy tiny prayers, but some....some have been prayers that came from the very depths of my being.

God once again reminded me of how well He knows me and cares for me as I was reading Psalm 139:2 to my kiddos yesterday. "Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off." It may seem like God has forgotten us or dropped us off in the middle of craziness and chaos just to see what our next reaction will be, but the truth is God knows and cares about every detail of our lives...big or small.

This brings me to one of my favorite verses - Psalm 37:4: "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." What do you do when you feel as though God has forgotten where you are and what you are doing? Continue to delight in Him - please Him, take joy in serving Him, draw as close to Him as you can because He is watching the big picture, and one day, when you are least expecting it, He will give you that desire of your heart in a more amazing way than you would have ever dreamed!

So...sit back and delight in your God today - the God who has created you, the God who knows you better than you know yourself, the God who will never leave you, the God who has promised to give you the desires of your heart....and so much more!

September 13, 2011

Impressing God

It's strange how our our human minds think. We look at a title like "Impressing God" and think, well, that's impossible so let's not even try. Yet, we spend much of our day trying to impress every one else when in reality that's impossible too. I have spent many days doing things in hopes that various people will notice what I'm doing and congratulate me on my efforts. Instead, many times things go unnoticed or even criticized after I have worked so hard to make them just so. It is extremely frustrating, but it has also allowed God to work in my heart.

To begin with, God has showed me that this is a pride filled life, and maybe, just maybe, all my hard work is criticized or unnoticed to put that pride in it's place! Secondly, God has really been showing me that I need to live my life according to His expectations - not mine OR anyone else's. Then, if I am criticized or unnoticed, I can rest in the fact that I am doing it God's way.

I read an article from the magazine "Home Educating Family." The article was entitled "The New Proverbs 31 Woman" and was written by Mary Hall. It was essentially describing what the world would consider to be the model mom and wife in today's world. The article closed with this:

"If these things exceed all your dreams and desires,
Remember they're more than our Scripture requires.
When we strive to emulate what we are not,
We may impress folks, but we won't impress God.
And what is the point of impressing each other?
Does it minister to our sisters and brothers?
We should do good things, but with right motivation -
With grateful hearts filled with pure adulation!
For God seeks the hearts of those who want to pray,
Who know that they need His forgiveness each day.
Because there's not one of us who can achieve
What our awesome Lord did for us, if we believe."

It is in many ways very liberating to realize that we don't need to impress anyone. We just need to humbly come before God, lay our expectations at His feet, and ask Him to humbly use us to accomplish His expectations for this one day He has blessed us with.

September 8, 2011

Slow re-entry!'s been awhile, and I hardly know where to begin! I don't know how many of you are this way, but I am very much the kind of person who does not want to do something unless I can continue through with it wholeheartedly. This is sometimes a good thing but sometimes a not so very good thing! This is the reason that I took an unplanned "vacation" from blogging. This summer was absolutely nothing close to the way I envisioned it. Yes, you remember those previous blogs.... I pictured my LITTLE pregnant self sitting on the porch basking in the sun while I watched my four little perfect angels play happily together after having taken the time each day to work with them on character training. BAHHHHAAAA!!!!!

Instead, my summer was more like this....I gained weight at an unmerciful rate, felt like a huge blob, had terrible headaches that left me in bed for days at a time, and had so much to catch up on when there were no headaches that I could feel myself sinking into the "Great Depression" as I looked at my house! I finally felt human again for about 4 weeks and was able to catch up on a lot of my to-do list. But alas I feel that plummetting feeling again as I try to make it through each day after very long sleepless nights due to allergies and back problems!

Wow....nothing like an encouraging blog, huh? I hesitated as to whether or not I should post this, but my goal since becoming a mom has been to be real. I had such an ideal picture of motherhood that was slammed into outer space before I even brought my first baby home from the hospital. I determined then that, yes, I can be positive, but I can still be real too. I am not going to pretend like I have it all together because I don't. I am not going to act as though other moms are horrid for saying "that" because, usually, I've thought much worse! Right, moms? Admit it. We have so much pressure on us to be perfect and to make perfect angels, but all we are really doing is showing our children what a perfect hypocrite we are! (Ok...I'll step down from the soapbox now!)

So, how's that child training been working for you, Christy? Well, to be has not been ideal, but my children have learned how to help and sacrifice when Mommy isn't feeling well. Some of their behaviors and attitudes are not what I want them to be due to a lack of discipline and routine while I have not felt well, but all in all, I must say the summer was not a complete failure...and there is always a new start. How thankful I am for those! We began our school year a couple of weeks ago, and we have begun incorporating our character training into our schedule. It is a work in progress, but isn't it always? I am looking forward to the gardening being finished up and slowing down a little more so that I can be a well-rested mom (there goes that unrealistic thing again!) who can example the character traits a little better than what I am right now! I'm also trying out some new vitamins that will hopefully energize me a little more and maybe a few more trips to the chiropractor will provide more sleep. I can always hope, anyway! :)

So, all that to say was not ideal this summer, but I have learned a lot. I've learned that sometimes my expectations are not God's. I've learned flexibility. I've had to exercise humility. Most of all, I've learned that I have lots more to learn. So, I will take each day one at a time, accomplish what I can with the strength God infuses me with, be grateful for what was done and wake up the next day ready to do it all again! :) And soon, less than 12 weeks to be exact, I will finally get to meet this little one who has done a very good job at upsetting all my plans. What a great reward!

May 30, 2011

Summer Fun and Summer Training

School is done for this year! We are excited about the idea of no more setting the alarm clocks in the morning or being in bed by 8 at night! Where we live, it is not getting completely dark until 10 o'clock or later. The 8 o'clock bedtime thing flew out the window awhile back. At least now we don't have to wrestle them up out of bed despite the late nights! We are looking forward to swimming lessons, long walks, bike rides, picnics and lots of "exploring."

Even though our schedule during the summer becomes very relaxed, I am planning on using this summer to catch up on some character training. Yes...that never-ending job we parents have. The thing I have discovered with this training is that you can train for a month on one thing, but if you let it start slipping for even a week, your month's worth of work just went out the door! Unfortunately, due to mommy not feeling very well the last TWO months - well, let's just say, I'm feeling like a whole year's worth of work has gone out the door! :) Adding another little one to our family is definitely not going to help the chaos, and so I figure we better start working to tame the chaos now.

A few months ago, I wrote a review about the book ESP (Explain, Show, Practice) Character Training by Kim Doebler. I am going to try to begin to follow her methods again because they really did work well when we were consistently using them. We are also, as a family, going to study the character and attributes of God and memorize Bible verses that describe God. I am very excited about this! Someone passed along a list of different Bible verses they had found that described God. For my quiet time, I have been going through these verses and have found so many that I love! I am praying that our entire family will develop a personal, more devoted love for God as we get to know Him better this summer.

Well, I just thought I'd share some of our plans for the summer and encourage those of you are going through this character training time with your kiddos not to quit completely this summer. It will pay off. We are setting aside 30 minutes each morning for character training time and 20 minutes after lunch for our Bible time. Then, we also spend a few minutes at the evening meal practicing our Bible verse. An hour or less every day this summer spent on these things will produce some amazing results that I'm looking forward to seeing in our family! :)

May 24, 2011

Summer Preparations

It has been an amazingly long time since I have had the motivation to sit down and write! If I don't even have that motivation, well you can imagine that the rest of my life has been the same! I think things may be looking up though! (Although, I do believe I've said this several times over the last few weeks!) However, with summer around the corner, how can it not be?

We are working on our last week of homeschooling. It's hard to believe Miss E will be going to third grade and Mr. A will begin 1st grade! On Thursday, we are going to have a little graduation party for Mr. A! I was telling him we would make some cupcakes and have a party, and he explained to me that we can do all this "because I can read now!" He's quite impressed with himself! :)

We were hoping to go camping this weekend, but I looked at the weather, and the forecast has changed - for the worse! It's only supposed to be in the 50's for the high and rainy. Doing all that preparation for a nice sunny time is one thing, but doing all that preparation so that we can sit in the camper and dry out and drive each other insane is totally another! Mommy's suggestion: let's pretend like next weekend is Memorial Day. (It's supposed to be in the 70's then!)

Also, on the list of summer preparations is spring cleaning! Yes, I know....I blogged about spring cleaning plans a long time ago! This pregrancy has really stopped me in my tracks this time, though, and so the only things that have been accomplished in our house have been the absolute necessities. I am hoping to tackle the spring cleaning this week and get most of it done so that I can focus on fun with the kiddos this summer.

Speaking of fun with the kiddos...I am working on making a summer calendar. Yes, my lists again. I've just found that if I don't write down and announce to the world what my intentions are they usually don't happen! So, as I begin to work on this, if you have some great summer fun ideas, let me know! I am so excited about enjoying my family this summer and taking a break from the routine!

Well, those are my well laid plans for summer preparation. I'm sure they won't go completely as planned, but at least there is a goal! I will just keep reminding myself as I try to accomplish these goals that interruptions are God's opportunities for me to be a blessing to others and to be blessed by others! Happy summer preparations to you! :)

May 9, 2011

Our Exciting News

Most of you have probably already heard, but I am ready to announce to the blogging world that our family is expecting another blessing during the first week of December! We are sooooo excited and already can hardly stand the waiting! Baby number five, or "George" as all of our kiddos have been named before they were born, is already a much talked about and asked about person in our family. The internet is such a neat tool to use to be able to show our kiddos what our little one looks like as it grows in Mommy's tummy. This has been a wonderful way to show them how God knows and plans every little detail of our bodies and how intricately designed we are. I have always loved Psalm 139, but whenever I am carrying a little one in my tummy, I especially love to read verses 14-16.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

What an amazing love God for each of us - every individual created with loving attention to every detail. I pray today that I will remember how lovingly God created me, and that I will trust my Creator in all things. I also pray that today I will see each of my children as the individuals that they are - created by Him, loved by Him more than I ever possibly could, but for some amazing reason, loaned to me to treasure for a very short time.

May 3, 2011


This morning, I read from Henry Blackaby's short devotional book Experiencing God Day by Day. I love this devotional book and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick but very concise and practical thought to focus your day on Jesus. Today, the quote that really made me stop and think was this.

"Contentment frees you to enjoy every good thing God has given you."

Wow! That's a pretty powerful statement! To think that contentment sets us free. We usually don't think of contentment in that way - at least I don't. I think (very inaccurately) of contentment more as finally settling with what you have - as in a last resort. "Well, I guess I'm not going to ever get anything better, so I guess I'll learn to be thankful for what I have." That's probably not quite what God has in mind when He wants us to be content.

By being content - truly satisfied and thankful for EVERYTHING God has given me - I am then free to enjoy all the good things God has to give me. How many times have I missed the good things right in front of me because I'm too busy complaining? How many times have I wished things had turned out the way I had planned them only to look back and see so many wonderful things I would have missed if God hadn't stepped in? It is only when I become truly satisfied with all God has given me that I begin to see life from His perspective instead of my own. I remember then that God sees and knows everything, and that this moment of my life is really very small in comparison to all that God has planned for me. When, I am content, I can choose to make the best of this moment, even enjoy it, looking forward to all the good things God has for me because of it!

Dear God, please make me a content Christian, wife, mommy and friend so that I can be free to enjoy all the good things you have given me!

May 2, 2011

Celebrating a Blessing!

Today is my baby girl's third birthday! It's hard to believe it's been three years since the Mr. brought her over for me to see her for the very first time after waiting for nine very long months. Miss M was a big surprise for us! When we found out she was on the way, her brother was only 5 months old! Her oldest brother and sister were 2 and 4! When she was born, we had a 4 1/2 year old, a 2 year old and a 14 month old! I spent most of my pregnancy with Miss M overwhelmed and crying! My thought the entire time was, "I cannot handle the three I have. What in the world am I going to do when we throw a newborn in?" The Mr. and I still laugh at how excited we were to drop the three older kids off and go to the hospital where we would have nothing to do except have a major surgery and take care of a newborn! It truly was a mini-vacation, and we were so excited for it!

Well, here we are three years later, and I can say it has not been easy, but it also has not been as difficult as I imagined it would be. God truly does give you exactly what you need to complete the task He has given you to do. I remember when Miss M was 2 weeks old trying to go grocery shopping with all 4 kiddos by myself. We did it! I was exhausted by the time we got home, but it was a great feeling of accomplishment! I've also found that about the time I begin to feel like things are getting easier, a new wrench is thrown in! But that's ok. The mister's and my's motto now: "Just go with the flow!"

People look at us like we are crazy, and we just look back at them and say, "Yep, we are!" But, it's a great and fun craziness. I sometimes think on all we would have missed out on if my life had gone exactly as I had planned it. It wouldn't have been nearly as fun or exciting, but most of all, I really don't believe I would be the kind of Christian I am today if everything would have gone as I planned it. God has begun a work in my heart that has left me more and more dependent upon Him for the answers I am looking for. He has changed my heart and my perspective in so many different ways.

So, to those of you moms who may be feeling slightly (or as was my case - extraordinarily)overwhelmed at all there is to do, remember God has given you your little blessings, and He will give you everything you need to accomplish what He wants you to accomplish with them. Take time to celebrate and enjoy your blessings - not just on birthdays but everyday! Oh yeah, and don't forget - "Just go with the flow!"

April 28, 2011

Great Is Thy Faithfulness!

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21-23

These verses came to my mind when I first heard of the tornado that ripped through the section of Alabama where every aunt, uncle, cousin, grandma, grandpa and parent I have lives! We are so thankful for God's mercy and faithfulness to us. There were some close calls, but every one that we know has been found alive and without serious injury! Entire towns that I grew up in are completely gone and many people are facing a loss of every material possession they have. It is times like these that show you how strong your family's and friends' faith is, and I'm blessed to be able to say it has stood the test!

Please be in prayer for those who have been affected by this disaster. I have several family and friends who have lost everything, and there is a lot of property damage everywhere. Even this morning, though, we saw God's goodness as people volunteered to help out, and this afternoon, God showed his greatness again as we finally heard from two family members who had not been heard from since the storm! God has been good to our family, and we thank Him for it.

April 25, 2011

Catching Up and Celebrating Resurrection Day

Wow! The last two weeks have been crazy...thus, my absence in the blogging world. We had the unexpected opportunity to go see my sister and her new baby (and the rest of the family, of course) last week. The big catch - we did it in a semi trailer. One word description - EXHAUSTING! I think I bounced enough that I should have burned enough calories to have lost 10 pounds! The ugly truth - I gained three! I was also thinking on the way home that I have not one single funny incident to report....our life has officially become boring despite the fact that we traipsed halfway across the United States in a semi!

So, the trip consumed last week. The week before that was just a struggle in everything. A day like that is bad, but an entire week like that is AWFUL! I am looking forward to beginning this week with a fresh new start and hopefully a lot more motivation.

We celebrated Jesus' resurrection yesterday. Our church always begins the weekend with a Good Friday service. This is something I had never been a part of until we began this at our church a few years ago. It has become one of my favorite services of the year. Focusing on the Last Supper and Jesus' death makes Resurrection Morning so much more meaningful. On Saturday night, we read about Jesus' crucifixion to the kids. It was so thrilling to answer the kids' different questions and to watch their faces as they realized that Jesus did this for them! Then, the next morning, we woke up to joyful celebration that Jesus did not stay in the tomb, but He rose again and lives for us today!

In my personal quiet time, I read the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in John 20. Everytime I read it, I cannot help but cry. The tenderness and love that Jesus expresses to Mary as he says just one word - her name - just leaves me in awe! How personal Jesus was to her! Her response as soon as Jesus said her name showed that she loved Him in return and knew Him well. I began thinking of the song written from Mary's perspective. "I've just seen Jesus. I tell you He's alive. All that I've done before won't matter anymore. I've just seen Jesus, and I'll never be the same again." I realized that because my Jesus is alive, He can be and, praise God, is as real to me as He was to Mary! I've never seen Him in person, but I can have such a sweet, personal, intimate relationship with Him because He is alive. Because of that, I'll never be the same again!

Then, I began to think of all that I've studied this year in the books of Philippians, Ephesians and Galatians and of how God has given me so much more than salvation. He has made me His heir. He has adopted me. He lets me call Him Abba Father. He infuses me with His strength. He allows Jesus to intercede for me. His love for me is measureless. He has sealed me with His Holy Spirit. He has empowered me with the Holy Spirit. The list could go on. I am so thankful that Jesus is alive and that He is my Savior and so much more! And that is why, today, the very least I can do, is live my life completely for His glory!

April 9, 2011

Letting God Write My Song

I came across a song this morning, and I cannot seem to forget the words. The name of the song is "How Emptiness Sings" by Christa Wells. I am not a big fan of CCM, but the words to this song were very captivating. The verses speak of how different people are going through hard times - struggling to keep their heads above the water. The chorus then says this:
Glory to God, Glory to God.

In fullness of wisdom,

He writes my story into His song

My life for the glory of God.

God uses our heartache to write a beautiful song! Our life can be better used for His glory when we let Him write our story. I sometimes forget what a wise and all-knowing God I serve. He sees the entire story. I cannot. He knows how my song will end, but I do not.

But the part of the song that captured my heart and thoughts is at the very end.

Glory to God, Glory to God,

This is how emptiness sings,

Oh this is how emptiness sings!

Did you catch that, hurting heart? The way we bring glory to God is by emptying ourselves and letting Him fill us with His glory! You may be hurting, bleeding even, with a wound so great you can't imagine how anything good could ever come from this trial you are in, but God has promised that when we are weak, He is strong (II Corinthians 12:9). It seems that those who experience the most hurt are able to bring the most glory to God.

Maybe you are not one of those going through a painful experience or trial right now, but you can still empty yourself of yourself everyday, and by doing this, you are allowing God to fill you with Himself. Emptying yourself - a daily, sometimes minute by minute, decision that requires sacrifice and self-denial but allows God to write your story into HIS song - a song of glory to Him!

April 8, 2011

A New Cooking Goal with Two Recipes for You

Is there anyone else who absolutely despises the time of day between 4:30 and 6:00 in the evening? I DO!!!!! It seems like that is when everyone suddenly becomes bored with the day and wants to try something new and amazing (mom's interpretation: messy and dangerous)! It is also the time of day when that dreaded chore of the day comes - cooking supper. There are some ladies who absolutely love spending time in the kitchen, but I am not one. I do everything I can to stay out of it! It makes me grumpy just thinking about it! Unfortunately, this means that the mister sometimes comes home from work with chaos abounding and a grumpy wife complaining.

I have come to realize this is not good or pleasant, and this is one way that I can serve my family better - particularly the mister. I must admit, as the kiddos get older and actually appreciate the food a little more, it does make cooking a little more worthwhile. In my search for the answer to this great dilemma of mine, I came across a great idea but just haven't had the chance to implement it. So, next week begins with a new goal. The great idea - to have as much meal preparation done by 2:00 as possible. Now, the original idea was by lunch, but because I homeschool, I try not to plan anything else in the mornings except for maybe switching a load of laundry. So, my goal is 2:00 PM! Imagine, being able to put an already made lasagna into the oven at 4:45, pull out the freshly made this morning salad, throw the breadsticks that have been rising all afternoon into the oven and be done! Sounds a little too unbelievable to me, but I'm going to give it a try. Unfortunately, this means shortening what I get to do during my quiet time, but I think the sanity it will provide later on will be worth it!

This last week, I also had the chance to go to a Taste of Home Cooking Show. I must be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. Like I said, I am not one who is usually thrilled by the opportunity to cook, and if all I can find on TV are cooking shows, I'll turn off the TV and read a book. It wasn't bad, though. The biggest benefit I found was that she cooked some recipes that I probably would never have tried, but as I watched her, I thought, "I should try that at home." In honor of my new goal this coming week, I thought I'd leave a couple of recipes for you to try as well. If you'd like, I'd love for you to share some with me! (Just keep it simple. If I'm going to have to search for ingredients at 20 different stores or spend more than an hour in the kitchen - it's not going to happen! I can only do so much at once, you know!) I'm looking forward to seeing some of your recipes! Happy cooking!

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

1 small onion, chopped

2 teaspoons oil

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained

1 tub (10 oz) Philadelphia Santa Fe Style Blend Cooking Creme, divided

1/2 cup Mexican style finely shredded cheese

8 (6 inch) flour tortillas

Heat oven to 350*. Cook and stir onions in hot oil in large skillet on medium heat 4-5 minutes or until crisp tender. Stir in chicken, tomoatoes, 3/4 cup cooking creme and shredded cheese.

Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of each torotilla; roll up. Place seam side down in 13X9 in. baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining cooking creme. Cover. Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through.

*The cooking creme can be found right next to the Philadelphia Creme Cheese.

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup white wine or broth

1 (4 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup mozarella, grated

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a pan. Add the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until they start to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine or broth, deglaze the pan and cook until it has evaporated.

Puree half of the mushrooms in a food processor. Mix the mushrooms, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano and place in a baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350* oven until bubbling and golden brown on top, about 20 -40 minutes (which our "culinary artist" pointed out is a huge variation. She said it is usually closer to 20 minutes.). Garnish with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve warm with tortilla chips or crackers.

April 6, 2011

A Great Child Training Book

I have noticed in my short parenting career that children (well, at least my children) seem to go through cycles. My children will behave like mostly perfect angels for an entire week or two, and then suddenly, they become little terrors, and unfortunately, that cycle seems to last longer than the angelic one. To my dismay, I have also noticed that these cycles are due mostly to my lack of consistency. I am outright jealous of those parents who have the ability to be black and white in their judgments of children's behavior. I am not one of those. I always see the possible exception or even place blame on myself for the behavior of my children. In training my children, I've had to do a lot of training myself, and I still have a long way to go.

Our family has been experiencing one of the terror cycles over the last month that has been due to a busy schedule, lack of routine, and utimately lack of consistent training. While reading a magazine, I saw an advertisement for a book on child training focusing on Biblical character traits. I ordered it, and it arrived just before I left for Wisconsin. Despite all the busyness of my short trip, I finished the entire book before I got back! The book - ESP (Explain, Show, Practice) Character Training by Kim S. Doebler. I really enjoyed learning about her approach to chararacter training. The entire basis of the book is that when you observe your child doing something wrong, you then explain, show and practice the right behavior over and over. By doing this, you are able to train or teach your children more and discipline or punish less. She focused on 9 different character traits: obedience, honesty, respect, orderliness, contentment, patience, diligence, self-control and wisdom. She began each chapter with a definition of the trait and a Scripture verse for the family to memorize. Then comes the part I love. She devoted an entire chapter to specific things you can do, games you can play, phrases you can use to train your children in these character traits. I have read many books on character training, but this is by far, the most practical one. For example, under the character trait of obedience, she gave these practical ideas:

Play "Mommy says" like Simon Says.

Practice calling your children and having them answer immediately.

Play a listening game: Tell your child to pat his head while you are rubbing your belly. Tell him to touch his toes while you pat your head. Have him obey what he hears not what he sees.

Role play: anytime your child disobeys at home or in public or maybe you just know there is an unusual or new situation coming up, practice that situation over and over again at home until he knows what he is to do the next time.

She had many more ideas, but these were some of the bigger ones. Of course, in child training, the main ingredient is consistency. In order to have this consistency in her home, Kim would have a 30 to 45 minute Bible/training session each day with her children. She would teach or review the character trait and Bible verse they were working on. She would read a Bible story to go along with that trait, and then they would spend the rest of the time child training by playing some of the games such as those listed above or by role playing specific situations that needed work.

We have begun doing this at our house this week, and I must say, I'm already noticing a big difference. If nothing else, it has made all of us (including the kiddos) focus on a character trait. The kids love practicing it throughout the day as well. For example, our focus right now is obedience. During the day on Monday, I set the timer for 15 minutes. When it rang, I would randomly pick one of the kids and tell them to go do something. It may have been to go stand in the bathtub or to sit under the table or to stand on a chair or to go to the back porch. They loved this and saw it as a game when I saw it as an opportunity to train my children to obey quickly and immediately no matter how strange the command. (I had to set the timer because I kept forgetting to stop and practice with them. It worked great!)

To some, this may seem a bit overboard, and I will admit, that some parts of the book can seem extreme. However, if you are serious about child training and looking for a practical tool to use, I would highly recommend this book. You can find more information about Kim Doebler, her family and her book at her website

If you take the time to review her website or order her book, let me know what you think. If you have your own child training tips, I would love to hear those as well!

April 4, 2011

Things I Said Before I Had Kids....

This is a painfully embarrassing, yet humorous, post to write. I was just thinking yesterday afternoon of how much my parenting ideas and ideals have changed since finding out I was expecting my first baby. When I became pregnant with my first, I was a 1st and 2nd grade teacher to 21 students. I had decided that my children were NOT going to do a lot of things, and that I would have the perfect family. So, here are my top five most regrettable things I said - starting with the least and working my way to the most regrettable! You are so going to laugh when you read it - well, if you're already a mom, that is!

#5: My child will never whine! you know how many times I have said TODAY, please do not whine. Talk like a big boy/girl. It is not an acceptable form of speech in this house, but the children still do it. I am a firm believer that every child will resort to whining at some point. I have found that consistently pointing it out and not allowing it to continue does help keep it at a minimum.

#4: My child will never look like that! You know you have said the same kid will never be in public with a runny nose or uncombed hair or in an outfit like that. A lot of ideals change when you become desperate and in many cases have no choice! I have walked through the entire Wal-Mart store with puke all over me and my kiddo because I only needed two more items before I was done with my shopping list. Yes, we went to the bathroom and cleaned up as best we could, but it still was not pleasant, I can assure you. However, the option of driving an hour home and driving back another hour to the store again and then driving yet another hour back home was - well - really not an option at all! Just for the record, I do try to make sure we all look normal before going out into public, but a lot can happen between the house and the store.

#3: My children will be potty-trained by the time they are two! Well, if you know me now, you know that philosophy has changed greatly! I was so determined to accomplish this goal, and my oldest was just as determined to not let me! :) None of my children have been potty-trained until they are 2 years and 8 months. Weird, I know, but it's been the same for every one of them, and they really have completely trained within 2 or 3 days! My conclusion on this: every child is different. Every family is different. I will never criticize a mom if her kiddo is not potty-trained by a certain age. Well, age 4 might be pushing it a little, but again, it's her business!

#2: I will never homeschool! I am so glad God changed my heart in this matter. You see, I grew up being homeschooled, and I loved it. I really did, but I always felt sorry for my poor Mom having to be with us all the time. Please don't misunderstand. My mom never made us feel like we were a burden to her - ever. But, when I had my first kiddo, I began to look forward to the day that I could actually be alone and away from this child for a few hours! A very selfish viewpoint - I know, but it was mine. I always thought I would get my kids into kindergarten, and then I would go back to teaching. Because I did love teaching and we lived too far away from a Christian school to justify the driving for a half day of school, I began going through a kindergarten curriculum with my oldest. It was amazing! We bonded so much because we both found we loved to learn and read. This is not to say that there are not days that I would love to send my kiddos away for the day and have some time alone. They can actually be quite frequent at times, but I've found when I have those kind of days, it's because my heart isn't right, and I need to check in with the Holy Spirit.

#1: Are you ready for this? It still makes me cringe when I remember that these words actually came from my mouth. Here goes....I'm not afraid of raising kids. That's the easy part. I'm afraid of labor! Yes, folks, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I SAID THAT! I vividly remember standing there 8 months pregnant saying those words. Thankfully, I cannot remember who exactly I said them to. I remember it was several ladies - all mothers of older children. God bless them for never having come to me and reminded me of that very prideful comment. God shows me every day how incapable I am of raising my kiddos in my own strength, and I also now know how sobering the responsibility is.

While I was thinking of these sayings of mine, it made me wonder how many more I will say? I have a tendency to speak before thinking, and so I am sure there will be more. I am thankful for God's patience and gentle teaching as well as for the patience of other moms who have tried to show me an easier way. So, to moms of little ones, watch what you say. It will come back to haunt you. Yes, it does get tiresome to hear everyone else's opinion but take it as an opportunity to be a blessing to them in allowing them to share something that is obviously very important to them. We moms do not know everything, but we feel like we have to act like we do. Remember, those ladies have been there and have had that same feeling. And one day, I'll be the one laughing once the door closes because of the comment that young mother just made, but then, I pray that I will pray earnestly for that mom as she searches for the answers when she becomes overwhelmed and realizes that 10 labors would be far easier than raising these heatherns! :)

April 2, 2011

The Car Story!

My friend and I went to a music conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this last week. Six days of music, classes, good food and shopping. It was a great time of learning for us, and we learned more than music. For example, did you realize that you need to be aware of every detail when you park a rental car in a parking garage in a city that you have never been to before?

My friend and I were looking for cheap parking. That was probably our first downfall. The parking at the hotel where our conferences were being held was $25 a day! Outrageous! So, when we saw a sign close to the hotel for $10 a day and discounts on the weekend, we whipped into it. Of course, we already had a ticket by the time we realized this was probably not a good place. It was very run down and small. I even had to back up to make a couple of the turns going up the ramps. (Please note this was NOT because of the driver's expertise or lack thereof!) After we got into the garage, we realized that "public parking" was not until the 5th floor which happens to be - the rooftop! It was snowing, 30* outside with a 20 mph wind, and did I mention yet that neither my friend or I brought a coat with us to Wisconsin?

We finally parked the car right under a light as close to the stairway as possible. We were running a little late due to direction malfunctions while trying to locate the hotel, and so we rushed down the stairway and out the door. When we opened the door, we found the street name we were on. At least we did remember to do that! We were on the corner of Michigan and 6th. The hotel was within sight, and so we rushed across the street through the snow and wind - with no coats.

We had a lovely first day at our conference! Around 3 o'clock, we decided we were ready to do some shopping, and so we headed out the door to the parking garage. First problem - our hotel takes up a literal block. You can walk out one door and be on a totally different street than if you walked out another. We did not take note of the door we walked in that morning or out that afternoon. We walked out assuming it was the same door we walked in and followed our route to the parking garage. This did not work! Do you realize how many parking garages there are within a few blocks of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Milwaukee? LOTS!!! After walking toward three different ones, absolutely sure that THIS would be the one, we became quite frustrated and discouraged. Keep in mind it's still only 32*, and we have no coats. We are dressed in business style outfits (including shoes). We have now walked downtown Milwaukee for over an hour and still have no idea where the stupid car is!

My friend finally decides she is going to call our car rental company and see if they have a GPS on the car that could tell us where we parked it! They reply, "Ummmm....nooooooooo," as if that was the stupidest question they had ever been asked. We finally went back to the hotel lobby and asked for a map of the city. I found where all we had walked, and we decided to systematically walk the areas we had not been to yet. Keep in mind - we KNOW we parked only a block or less from this hotel! Very frustrating! We marked on the map where we wanted to look next. The next big question was how to get out the right hotel door so that we did not have to spend any more time walking outside in the freezing cold than necessary. By this time, we were so confused, we couldn't even figure that part out. We finally asked the doorman at one of the doors. Of course, his first question is, "Where are you going?" Try answering that question when you really have no idea what the answer is. We finally decided honesty is the best policy and confessed our situation. Believe it or not, he knew exactly which parking garage we were parked in, walked us to the other side of the hotel and showed us our parking garage from the hotel door! That's how close we were.

I wish I could say this was the end of our story, but alas, it is not. We walked toward the parking garage, discovering along the way, that our mistake was that we did not include north or south in the street name we took note of. We were parked on 6th Street South, but had been looking for the garage on 6th Street North! We finally reached the garage, but now could not locate an unlocked door to go up the stairs to our car. We walked around the entire outside of the garage twice before finally deciding to walk up the car ramp to get to the car. When we reached level 1, we were able to locate the staircase and walk up to level 5! YAY! We finally arrived - only to find the door was frozen shut. Yes, folks, it is the truth! The door was open a crack but would not open anymore. We pulled. We kicked. We pried. My friend even wrapped her purse straps around the door knob, and we heaved together. It would not open! Remember, when we first parked, we realized it was kind of a creepy place. By now, we were close to panicked. It is almost 5 o'clock. We are in an unknown city in a parking garage that is creeping us out. We've been walking the town for almost two hours. Our fingers are so numb we cannot feel anything anymore. We finally decided to walk back down the stairs to level 4 and then walk up the car ramp to level 5 where we finally see our beautiful car - the best sight we've seen in awhile! We had to sit in the car for a few minutes to let our fingers thaw and our feet rest!

We did learn our lesson well. The next day, we went to a market place. Before we got out of the car, we wrote down every single detail of where we were and what was around us. We made it back to the car with no problems! We also found a parking area right across the front door of the hotel, and we parked there the rest of the week for just a couple of dollars more each day! We decided it was worth the extra money! It turned out to be a wonderful six days. And thankfully, when we returned the rental car, there was no mention of "Oh, I see you found the car!"

I hope you enjoyed a laugh! We certainly did! Have a great weekend....and don't forget where you parked your car!

March 25, 2011


Today, I am amazed by the goodness of God to me.

Today, I am reminded of God's love for me.

Today, I am determined to enjoy every moment God has given to me.

Today, I want to show to others the same love God has shown to me.

"Today is not forever grace but amazing grace." Ann Voskamp

What will you do today? You are only given this one moment this one time. Will you make it count? Will you find a purpose for this moment?

Praying you all have a beautiful weekend celebrating the little blessings and moments God gives to you.

March 23, 2011

The Methods and Madness of Spring Cleaning

March and April are my spring cleaning months! Yes, I do spend two months spring cleaning. Actually, I spend the first half of March procrastinating and finally become motivated in the last half of the month! My Mr. pokes horrible fun at the way I spring clean. You see, I have accomplished most of the spring cleaning in both of the kids' bedrooms, but the rest of the house looks like an absolute wreck (only for the moment - I promise!)! The Mr. says that I don't really clean the room. I just take the mess from one room and put it in another! Does anyone else have that problem?
Well, today, I tackled the girls' room. It was quite messy because Miss E, the eldest, inherited her father's pack rat tendencies. The poor kiddo even offered to help clean, but I sent her outside so that I could throw stuff away! (Please don't tell my secret!) It's amazing what you find when you really begin to clean. For instance, I found where some certain someones (and we really aren't quite sure yet who they are) colored all over a part of the wall and dresser! Thank goodness for washable crayons and Clorox wipes! I am so glad I finished that job. Last week, I cleaned the boys' room and our bedroom. So, I am feeling very accomplished! :)
So, why, might you ask, do you stretch the spring cleaning all the way into April? Well, six people living in less than 1100 square feet of space make it quite difficult to keep everything clean for a long period of time. If you also throw homeschooling, teaching choir and a good dose of procrastination into the mix - tada! - it does take two months! Usually, in the month of March, I try to clean each room really well, but inevitably, I will not be able to finish or become overwhelmed, and so I leave what I don't accomplish in a reasonable amount of time for the month of April. Also, in April, as I finish up each room, I wash the walls and ceilings down. (Secret: I only do this because we have a wood stove, and it tends to build soot up on the walls and ceilings! If I did not have a wood stove, this would definitely not be a twice a year deal!)
Well, there is some of the methods and madness to my spring cleaning. I think it probably contains more madness than method, but it works for me! :) From what I hear, most everyone is doing theirs right now in some form or another. How do you spring clean? Do you have any nifty, time-saving ideas? I'd definitely love to hear about those. Would anybody want to come volunteer to finish mine? :)

March 22, 2011

Letting God Control My Day

Happy Tuesday, everyone! The mister and I had an amazingly wonderful weekend getaway and came back refreshed and ready to conquer the world! :) I also became an auntie again this weekend and have a brand new niece! All in all, a great weekend!
Have you ever come to the place where you have so many things you want to do and try that you know if you try them all at once, you will not succeed at any of them? That is where I am right now! I have several books that I would love to finish. There are several things that I have thought of that I'd like to begin doing for the Mr. so that I can let him know how special he is to me. I want to try a new idea my sister-in-law gave for incorporating the fruits of the Spirit in the kiddos' lives. I want to begin baking my own bread. I want to finish up some spring cleaning. I want there to be no clothes in the dirty laundry basket, and that, is just the very top of the long, long list!
I know if I tackle all of these at once, life will become a major disaster. My expectations will become impossible, and I will become an irratable grouch! I do feel like I have gained ground in that at least I recognize this! :) However, I realize I have so little time on earth, and I want to use every second to acccomplish something good and enjoy the time I am given.
I read this today in Stormie Omartian's Book of Prayer.
"Lord, I pray You would show me what work I am supposed to be doing. If it is something other than what I am doing now, reveal it to me. If it is something I am to do in addition to what I am already doing, show me that too. Whatever it is You have called me to do, b0th now and in the future, I pray You will give me the strength and energy to get it done well. May I find great fulfillment and satisfaction in every aspect of it, even the most difficult and unpleasant parts."
I am so thankful God gives reminders right when we need them. God gently reminded me that He has a plan for my day. I need to pray over my day, carefully and wisely choose what I believe God would want me to accomplish this day, and then be willing to change those plans if God opens up new opportunities later. There is no need to be overwhelmed by all that I want to accomplish. God is in control of every detail of my life - all the way down to whether I bake the bread or not! :) Now, if I could just remember this ALL DAY! :)
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
~Psalm 90:17~

March 17, 2011

The "Little Blessings" from This Week

This morning as I was driving into Twin for school, the kids and I were amazed at how beautiful the day was. It has been raining all week long, and today the sun finally came up shining. The rain had cleared the air and made the grass that was burned in last year's wildfire a brilliant green. The mountains looked as if we could reach out and touch them (even though they are almost a hundred miles away)! It was a beautiful, beautiful morning - the kind that makes you start counting your blessings - and so, I thought I'd share them with you.
I'm thankful for the blessing of creation and a God who made it just for me! Well, actually, I believe that He made it for Him and His glory, but what a wonderful God He is to share it with me and to display it in front of me and all around me each and every day!
I'm thankful for friends. I have so many friends who genuinely care about me and what's happening in my life. I realize that sounds somewhat selfish, but God did give us friends to help encourage us, and I'm so thankful for the great ones I have.
I'm thankful for God's protection. The mister ended up riding through the interstate median at 80 miles per hour yesterday in order to avoid a near accident. I am so thankful that God made him alert to what was about to happen and gave him a place to go. It makes me wonder how many times God has protected us, and we may not even realize it.
I'm thankful for God's Word, and it's practicality. I am studying the book of Ephesians in my quiet time, and it seems like every time I look into God's Word I am finding things that I can work on in every day life. It has kept me under conviction, but I'm thankful that God is working in my heart through His Word.
I'm thankful for unlimited long distance. :) All of my family lives on the other side of the United States - or close to it! :) I'm thankful that I can pick up the phone and call my mom and talk to her as much as I'd like. I like talking to you, too, Daddy! :) I'm thankful that my sister can pick up the phone and call me - every day - and that even though long distances separate us, she can still be my best friend. Ok...getting too mushy! :)
I'm thankful for my kiddos. What would I do without them? What would I laugh at (or should I put it a little more nicely and say laugh with)? How many things would I miss if I didn't have them to point them out to me? The blessing of children is absolutely indescribable!
I'm thankful for my mister! He is such a hard worker and wonderful provider, and yet, he still takes the time to make my day! He encourages me in my goals, and he never says anything negative when the house is topsy turvy. The words I most often hear are, "Well, the house is still standing, and every one is alive, so in my eyes, you did a great job today!" I LOVE HIM! :)
I'm thankful for weekend getaways. The mister and I get to take one this weekend. I'm especially thankful for the people who watch our kiddos so that we can go. There are very few souls out there who are brave enough to take them all at once! :)
As I was admiring the beautiful morning God gave us, I was also reminded of one more thing to be thankful for - the rain. Yes, my kiddos have driven me absolutely bonkers being indoors for so long, and yes, my entryway has a constant flow of mud in it, but if it had not rained, the air would not have been as crystal clear as it was this morning. The green grass would not have been as brilliant. The sunshine would not have been as dazzling. It made me think of life. Without the rain (trials) that comes into our lives, we would not see or appreciate the things God has blessed us with or the ways He is using us. We would not grow as close to Him. We would have no NEED of Him if we never had trials. Thankfully, this week, my biggest trial consisted only of four wild hoodlums running through the house - really not that big a trial at all! :) I pray that when the trials do come that my heart will still overflow with gratitude and thankfulness to my God who loves me and knows me and has my very best in His plans for me.
I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. I know I will! :) There is much to do before a weekend getaway, though, and so I shall say goodbye for the week. Have a blessed weekend and don't forget to count all the "little blessings" God has given you.

March 15, 2011

Ministering Grace to the Little Hearers

Well, our sunshine left and today we've had a dreary sort of day. It's been a cozy day, though - snuggled up in comfy stay-at-home clothes, homeschooling, reading books, drinking coffee and hot chocolate, watching a movie, spending some extra quiet time in God's Word. I have been continuing on my journey of looking for ways to make the ordinary extraordinary. Sometimes, it requires a stretch of the imagination, but I'm thinking maybe God did give us an imagination for a reason. :)
In the last couple of months, I came across the blog published by Ann VosKamp. She is an amazing, poetical writer and a deep thinker. She has also written the book One Thousand Gifts which I just purchased and finally had the chance to sit down and read a little of last night. Her emphasis in her blog and book is finding the everyday gifts in life and being thankful for them. I have been amazed at how many things there are to be thankful for when you begin to look for them.
Today, Ann posted this on her blog, and it made me really stop and think of how I look at my kiddos in everyday life. She said, "When did I start seeing children as commonplace and stop seeing motherhood as a holy place?" I have been so blessed with the gift of my kiddos, but why do I not see them that way? Life is such a gift - a beautiful, wonderful gift. I want my kiddos to know that their lives are valuable and precious to God and to me.
I began to be convicted especially of the words I speak to my kiddos and the way in which I speak them. My mission: to find as many Bible verses as I can that speak of words and the tongue and print them out and place them everywhere in the house. I do not want impatient words to come from my lips. I want my children to know that I am blessed because they are in my life. One of the best ways I can think of to accomplish this is by speaking words of encouragement and love - even when disciplining. Will I use my words to build up my little hearers and show them how important they are to me, or will I use my words to show them that are only commonplace children who usually get in the way of my plans? My prayer today is that I would let no corrupt communication proceed out of my mouth, but that I would use my mouth to edify and minister grace to my little hearers. (Ephesians 4:29) I want my children to know that they are not commonplace, ordinary kiddos, but rather, they and my mister are the most valuable and precious treasures I have in this life.

March 14, 2011

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

I love sunshiny days, and we finally had one today! Today, I have been reminded of how ordinary things, just like sunhine, can make an extraordinary life if you have the right perspective. For the last three weeks, I feel like I have been surviving from one thing to the next, juggling to keep it all together for just one more thing! It gets very tiring. I try hard not to let life get that way too often, but there are times when you don't plan for life to become so just does.
Today has been a much-needed return to the ordinary - homeschooling, cleaning house, doing the laundry, planning meals. Sometimes in doing these things over and over and over and over, we forget how much our family relies on the constancy and rhythm we provide. Our steadiness gives them the opportunity to experience an organized, uncluttered routine that gives security. In plain and simple words, the kiddos behave better, and the mister isn't grouchy! :)
My kiddos reminded me of how extraordinary the ordinary could be when they pointed out that almost every night last week we did not do our bedtime reading like we usually do. They missed it! I began to see how other things that I do (which are by no means very grand things) are missed by my family when they aren't done as usual! How blessed I am that God uses me to make my family's day special!
It is all based on perspective though. I can see that mound of laundry as yet another thing on the to-do list, or I can see it as an opportunity to prepare my family for their extraordinary day! I can see the meal preparation as a lot of work that is completely demolished in a short 30 minutes, or I can look forward to making my family's dinner time an extraordinary time to make memories, provide stability, celebrate the day's accomplishments and grow together in the Lord by memorizing Scripture and talking of Bible stories.
So, as I have tackled my house chores today (which seem insurmountable at this point), I have asked God to help me see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I have asked Him to give me a grateful heart for entrusting me with the opportunity to make my family's day! I have even tried to be thankful for all those ordinary interruptions that come while I'm trying to make the ordinary extraordinary! And you know what? Today's been a sunshiny day - inside and out! :)

March 10, 2011

The Gift of Music

This week has been another busy week! Wait...I think I say that about every week! Truly, though, this week has been busy. We live an hour away from our church and the school that I teach choir at, and we have driven there every single day this week, and we will drive there tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday! I will have spent approximately 16 hours on the road this week! That is CRAZY! However, I have really, really enjoyed the week. I have had the opportunity to help prepare our high school choir for a competition tomorrow. I have watched them blossom this week. Our practice today was amazing, and they sang from their hearts! I've also been able to work one on one with many of the students as I've helped them prepare for their personal performances in the competition! Tomorrow is the big day - competition day! The best day of the entire week because I have the opportunity to listen to individuals and groups sing all day long and give them comments to help them become better singers. It is so neat to see the improvement in the students from year to year! I am excited to hear them tomorrow!
My little Miss E also has her piano competition on Saturday. She has been practicing these two songs since Christmas and is doing quite well. The songs must be memorized, and that is the reason for so much practice. She is looking forward to playing. Mommy on the other hand gets so nervous for her that I almost throw up. I'd rather perform myself than have her perform! I guess I can empathize too well with that nerve thing that comes with performing! Thankfully, she is at that age where she doesn't get too nervous yet!
I am so thankful that God gave us the gift of music and that we can use it as a tool to give Him praise. I am also thankful that our school participates in a Christian competition so that we can sing music that has a true message. Our choir is singing an arrangement by Dan Forrest of "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross." The message of that song has become so beautiful to me as we have practiced it over and over. I love the words, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!" You know that you are singing a meaningful, Spirit-filled song when after practicing it for several months, you are still brought to tears with the words you sing! For some reason, it struck me anew today that NO ONE has ever given his life to save me from anything - no one except for Jesus. NO ONE has ever loved me so much as He has!
I pray that God will use this song tomorrow to speak to many hearts in the room, but most of all, my own. I pray that I will give my soul, my life, my all daily to the One who showed me such an amazing, uncomparable love.

March 7, 2011


I think sometimes we say God loves us, but we forget how MUCH God loves us. Our pastor preached an amazing two messages yesterday that reminded me that I AM SO LOVED by God. I'm not just loved - I am LOVED with an everlasting, never failing, unconditional, measureless love, and the amazing thing is....He loved me FIRST!

All day today I have been thinking on the vastness of God's love for me.

He knew me and planned me, and yes, even loved me before time even began.

He redeemed me.

He called me by name.

He has a plan for me - a hope and a future - that is better than anything I could ever imagine!

He will not leave me.

I am PRECIOUS in His sight.

He gave His Son to take my punishment.

He is faithful to me. His mercies are new every morning.

He comforts me.

He rejoices over me!

To think on these things - to REALLY think on these things - leaves me amazed and humbled by God's love for me. How can I ever repay such a love as this? I cannot. I can only humbly offer my life back to Him to use as He pleases just as the woman who sat at Jesus' feet and washed them gently with HER TEARS! What a picture of brokeness! What a beautiful picture of human love being offered as best as possible to the Lord and Savior. Jesus said her sins were forgiven because she loved much.

God, help me to never forget how much You love me, how much You sacrificed to show Your love for me, how much You have forgiven me of. I am loved, but with that love comes the opportunity to love much in return. Do not let me be guilty of returning such love with complacency or self-satisfaction. Help me, God, to love You much!

March 5, 2011

A Perfect Saturday Morning

I love lazy Saturday mornings at home. Unfortunately, because the mister has a small business of his own on top of his usual 40 hour work week, we don't get a lot of lazy Saturday mornings. Here lately, we've been able to have more of them, and I have decided that I LOVE THEM! :)
For some unknown reason, all the kiddos slept until 9 AM! That hasn't happened in a long time. The mister and I snuggled under the covers and talked about life - whether or not to start building our house on our own, when we could go snowmobiling again, if we should buy a car or not, an upcoming trip that I'm getting ready to go know, the little things in life that you don't have time to talk about when you're surrounded by four chatterboxes.
Around 9 o'clock, Mr. G came in, and then Miss M, and before you know it, all six of us are laying in the bed, snuggling. Then, as always, snuggle time ends with a tickle fest! This is when Mommy exits the bed! :)
After the tickle fest, Daddy made blueberry pancakes for everyone, letting each of the kiddos take turns being a helper. Then, we sat down and ate and listened to all that the four chatterboxes had to say! Mr. A declared that his pancake was so hot, it burnt his butter! :) He also decided to be an ornery little brother and took the number 17 off the school calendar so that Miss E cannot have a birthday (which is not until July, but this still greatly bothered her). Of course, Daddy was Mr. A's accomplice in convincing Miss E that she would never have a birthday unless she could find the number 17! Miss E was almost in tears, and so Mr. A tried to cheer her up by doing Mommy's famous, "I see a smile on your face" routine! It worked! It always does. :) The next thing we know, Miss E and Mr. A are laughing so hard together that they fall out of their chairs.
Miss M finished her pancakes and found a pair of goggles to try on. With blueberry smeared all over her face, crazy morning hair, pj's and goggles on, she made quite the picture!
As you've noticed, I haven't mentioned Mr. G yet. He must have been unusually quiet this morning. Don't worry, I'm sure he will make up for it later, and we will have an entertaining tale to report soon! :)
Now, all the kiddos and the mister have headed outside into what looks like will be a nice sunshiny day, and Mommy has been left to enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet before returning to the Saturday house cleaning.
Yes, I'm thankful today for the little blessing of lazy Saturday mornings and for a sweet family to enjoy them with! :) I hope you're enjoying your Saturday, too!

March 2, 2011

Dirty Laundry AND Praising God?!?

Wow! It's been awhile since I've been able to post, and I have missed it! We had an extraordinarily busy week last week, and then I began this week by being sick! I think we may be finally getting back to our routine. On top of being sick and an unexpected trip out of town, my washing machine also gave up the ghost. The last load of laundry I did was at 9PM on Thursday evening - shortly after an explosion of vomit by Mr. G. In a house of 6 people (some being sick), you can only imagine the state of the laundry now! Then, Mr. A. had an accident in the middle of the night last night. Thankfully, it is Wednesday, and we will be going into Twin early today to check out some used washers. Under penalty of no clean underwear, the mister is not allowed into the house without a washer tonight! :)
Well, that is totally not where I was going when I began to post today, but I do think a little humor in life is very necessary - especially when the only other option is to sit and cry! :) As I began this week, I was quite overwhelmed. My goal this week has been to speak only encouraging words. Do you realize how difficult that is when you are sick and surrounded by dirty laundry? In order to speak those encouraging words, I have had to change my perspective. Instead of focusing on the negative, I must see the positive. Instead of seeing all the things that are going wrong, I must see how God has a plan for it all and praise Him for what He is doing in my life - whether I understand it or not. So, in my quest for encouraging words, I have also begun a quest to praise God with my whole heart, and guess what? It has been so much fun to just sit in my chair and think on all the things I can praise God for. Take a few minutes and try it today! Here are a few verses that I have been thinking on, and there are SOOOO many more!
Psalm 86:12
"I will praise thee , O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore."
Psalm 71: 14-16
"But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only."
Psalm 145:2-3
"Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable."
Psalm 104:33
"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being."
What are some of your favorite praise verses?

February 23, 2011

When Things Don't Go As Planned

Last weekend, I distinctly remember sitting down and making a to-do list for this week. I knew this week was going to be a bit busier because we are helping out some of our friends by keeping their 2 year old who is great friends with our 2 and 4 year old. My mister was also going to be leaving to go out of town for a men's retreat. plan....put the house in immaculate order, have 5 homeschool days in 3 so that when Daddy left for his retreat, the kids and I could do absolutely nothing!!! Sounds heavenly, but also...very unrealistic. This is the flaw my sweet mister probably brings to my attention more than any other! (I consider myself lucky because he definitely has plenty he could choose from!)
This week has turned out to be absolutely crazy! And that to-do list is nowhere to be found. I'm assuming I will find it under the piles of laundry (which was completely caught up on Saturday), toys or just plain dirt, but of course, by then, the week will be over, and I'll have no need of it for I will have made another one out!
God has reminded me several times this week that my times are in His hand. He knew what my week would be like. He knew what my plans were, but they weren't His. I can either take this week and complain about the interruptions and chaos, or I can use this week to find opportunities to be a blessing to my family and others around me. Maybe it wasn't just coincidence that I lost my to-do list - maybe it was God's way of telling me He had other plans.
So, will I be a willing vessel who can be used or will I ruin an opportunity that God has for me? Will I be a good example to my kiddos in teaching them how to respond when things don't go my way, or will I show them through my actions that getting what I want is most important? Am I looking at my interruptions as opportunities from God or as annoyances that are getting in the way of my plans?
Here are some Scripture verses that I've found to encourage me this week. I pray they will encourage others who are having the same kind of week as I am.
Galatians 6:10
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Ephesians 5:15-17
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Colossians 4:5
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Another thought that God gave to me this week is that the interruptions God has brought into my life are so petty compared to others. God has not asked me to give him my daughter. He did ask that of our friends, though. I've been given so much, and I am so blessed! How can I complain when God asks me to change my plans so that I can bring honor to His name? Yet, I do!
God, help me to bring honor and glory to Your name - even when things don't go as planned!