Thursday, November 27, 2008

So Thankful....

Happy Thanksgiving all! To celebrate this year we were blessed to have both my parents and my grandparents with us. Unfortunately Micah and Joshua and Nate were not here. Perhaps at Christmas we will all be together!


The children wanted to post what they are thankful for this year....

Hannah- "for my piano."
Here's a picture of Hannah at her recent piano recital. What a blessing it is for me to have such beautiful music as "background noise" in our home.


Jacob- "for my parents homeschooling me." (No prompting on my part, honest!)He didn't choose this picture, but I thought it was pretty funny!

Gabriel- "that I have been chosen by God for salvation." (Col.3:12)

Abigail- "for my parents."

Caleb- "for Lance." (no, he is not a horse, he's a dog, really!)

Joshua- "for my swing"

Josiah- "for my new bike!" Josiah, our little preemie baby (born 13 weeks early) turned 8 last Monday.

Jonathan- "for being such good friends with my brothers..." (Jon is in the middle in the orange shirt.)

Daniel- "for our bantam chickens."
No, I don't usually have chickens in the house, but it was getting a little dark out for pictures...

Timothy- "for chocolate chip pancakes!" (ok, so this one's a little blurry, but so cute!)

Tom (the patriarch of our family)- "I am grateful for our boys being such a big help to me around the house." Here's a picture of Jacob jackhammering a hole in our garage for a sump pump. What a job that was! Four hours running a jackhammer is a big job!
In addition, today Gabriel replaced a GFI outlet in our rec room without any help (or trips to the ER!)

Now it's my turn. I suppose since it is my blog, I don't have to abide by my "choose only one thing to be thankful for" rule that I imposed on the children, do I?

I am so very grateful for:
  • My precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Truly I am more aware each day of how little I deserve and how very much I have been given.
  • My husband Tom, the most fabulous leader for our family. He truly leads by example, loving the Lord and serving his family with all diligence.
  • My twelve children, plus son-in-law Joshua! My heart is full to overflowing with gratefulness to the Lord for each one of them~ with their own unique talents, personalities and ways of blessing me.
  • My parents, Tom's parents and my grandparents~ they each contribute a richness to my life that fulfills me and serves as an example for me to follow.
  • Friends... all of you~ you have loved and encouraged me this past year in so many ways. "As iron sharpens iron, so one (wo)man sharpens another."
  • The many, many material things that I am blessed with here~ our beautiful old farm house, etc, etc. I find myself embarrassed to mention them as I know that so many in the world have so little.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I pray that your day has been as blessed as mine has been.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The toddler has drawn an amazingly Picassa-like picture on your freshly painted wall, the bathroom looks worse than a roadside rest stop, one child is discouraged while others are just plain silly during school time, the laundry monster threatens to consume you when you descend the stairs to the basement, the septic system is overflowing and, to top it off, you haven't planned dinner ahead of time! "Mamma said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this Mamma said..." It doesn't matter if you have only one child or a dozen, discouraging days are a fact of life.

As Americans I believe we often mistakenly believe that God is obligated to make us happy. Nowhere in God's Word is happiness listed as a right for us as believers. On the contrary, we are told that trials will come (James 1:2-4, I Pet.1:6-7). I am not sure that a bad day qualifies as a trial, but I know that my response to life's small difficulties can either glorify the Lord or not. Like a spoiled toddler, we can be tempted to stomp our feet at the Lord, demanding Him to make us happy, instead of embracing the joy that He offers in the midst of daily difficulties.

Want to experience joy in the midst of life's difficulties? Here are twelve tips to help when days don't go as planned.

  1. Spend time early in the morning in God's Word. This helps me to align my thinking with the truth of God's Word and equips me to handle, the difficulties and temptations that surely await me in the coming day. I have found that if I don't make time first thing in the day, the tyranny of the urgent often keeps me from ever spending time in God's Word.
  2. Scripture memory. This allows me to contemplate the truths of Scripture even when I don't have opportunity to sit down with my Bible. Believe me, if I can do this, so can you! I will share specifics in another post soon explaining how we have used a scripture memory system that has enabled us to memorize whole books... even my three and four-year-olds have significant portions of God's Word "hidden in their heart."
  3. Prayer My desire is that I would live a life characterized by 24/7 prayer. We are commanded to "pray without ceasing" ... I know that the Lord wants us to run to Him first in all of life's difficulties. It can be so easy for me to run to other things first... the freezer (those chocolate chips are calling me...), a phone call to my husband or a friend, or any other diversion that keeps me from clinging to my Precious Savior.
  4. Pray and humbly ask the Lord to reveal any area of sin in your life that you might be ignoring. Refusal to obey the Lord will surely remove the joy from your walk with Him. On a more practical note.....
  5. Plan meals in advance. When I preplan our meals, I am able to do whatever prep work is needed in advance (or delegate it) and glide into dinner-time without that sickening "what-am-I-going-to-feed-twelve-hungry-people" feeling. Batch cooking has also been a tremendous help for me. I will post additional thoughts and information about both meal planning and batch cooking in the future.
  6. Go to bed on time! Consistently getting 8 hours of sleep will cause anyone to become discouraged. As a parent of both teens and toddlers, I know how challenging this one can be.
  7. Rise early. When I rise early I am able to spend time alone in God's Word, throw a load of laundry in and get breakfast started before the children are up. If I don't, I feel that I am being drug through the day by a band of wild horses. If one of the little guys does get up earlier than I expect and "interrupts" my time with the Lord, I don't mind. I consider it a time for them to see their mother spending time with the Lord and I welcome them. I do require them to sit quietly nearby with a Bible story book of their own though. It can be a sweet time together.
  8. Exercise. Consistently spending time really working out has been huge for me through the years. In different seasons in my life I have exercised in different ways. My current favorite is bike riding. There is a 13 mile-long path near my house that I love riding on. When the weather doesn't cooperate though I will do step aerobics in the living room. It's pretty cute really... toddlers stepping right along with Mommy. At times I have walked or jogged. Find something that you can do consistently and just do it.
  9. Delegate. Step back from the things that are most frustrating you and pray and consider what the Lord might have you do differently. Many times I find that the fault is my own. I have not taken the time to joyfully and purposefully train my children in a certain area and I am reaping the fruit of my training neglect and haste to "do it myself." Children can do an amazing amount of chores to help lighten the load around your home. Plus it is fun to work alongside them.
  10. Tackle a small project that you have put off. The satisfaction of crossing something off of your "to do" list can be an encouragement to work on other projects. I especially enjoy working on an aesthetically pleasing small project.... like hanging a new picture or cleaning a window that I enjoy looking out of. Consider breaking larger, more unpleasant projects up into 15-minute bite-sized pieces. I might not be able to sort that mountain of summer clothes that I need to put away all at once, but I can make a huge dent in smaller 15-minute increments throughout the day.
  11. Listen to encouraging music. I enjoy music that reminds me of the Lord's loving care and faithfulness in my life. Hymns are fabulous as is a great deal of praise and worship music. Quiet instrumental music is most often my choice when we are working on school work, but even that can remind me of the great truths of Scripture.
  12. Remember that "this too will pass." If I were there with you, I'd give you a big hug!

Sometimes the most difficult thing about life is how "daily" it is. I believe that it is so important to glorify the Lord even in the small things that we do. Placing our hand in His and joyfully trusting Him in the midst of life's small trials not only brings glory to God, but is a wonderful example to our children too!

(If you are experiencing more than discouragement, I would encourage you to read Terry Maxwell's article on depression here. I found it to be full of excellent advice.)

Psa 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. Rejoice! You are loved with an everlasting love.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Daybook Entry- Nov. 24 entry


Each Monday I plan to join with Peggy from the The Simple Woman and many others who are celebrating the joy of simplicity. Here's a peek into my life right now...

FOR TODAY (November 24, 2008)...

Outside my window...
the eastern sky is brightening... doves are already gathering under the bird feeders. The skeleton trees are silhouetted against a baby blue sky.

I am thinking...of plans for a busy and fun week. Josiah turns 8 today! I can't believe our little preemie baby is so big and healthy now. Lots of cooking and baking to do this week~ fun!

I am thankful for... Micah and Joshua are going to be in town for a few days~ they will be here for Josiah's birthday party! So grateful for a large family to cook for and serve in other ways too.

From the kitchen...a gluten free birthday cake, plus pre-Thanksgiving baking too.

I am wearing...floral overalls, white mock turtleneck, white tennies.

I am creating...mostly food this week... but plans for Christmas crafts for the children, several sewing projects.

I am going... to the library and to Nature's Pantry to pick up a bulk food order, then home for the rest of the week~ hooray!

I am reading...James, contemplating faith and works...

I am hoping... to check lots of things off of my to-do list this week as we take a week off of school.

I am hearing... George Winston "December" playing, little boys discussing their plans for the day, the drier making little rhythmic "clinks" as a load of the boys jeans dry.

Around the house...cozy, homey, winter plans. I *love* this time of year~ woodburning stove warmth, soups simmering on the stove, secret plans for gifts afoot!

One of my favorite things...a snuggly little boy sitting on my lap, still nestled in his blanket sleeper and not fully awake yet.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Thanksgiving baking and delightful family together time.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... a shot of one of my kitchen sinks... bountifully full of freshly washed eggs and a 15 bean mix for soup ready to be rinsed.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homeschooling benefit #127

I love it when I "catch" my children helping each other! When I walked in the kitchen on this particular afternoon, I found Jacob helping Caleb open a (very large) Sams size can of crushed tomatoes. This makes me so happy!


Our days frequently contain scenes like these..

I have been sorting some photos and realized that these pictures of the children helping each other mean so much to me. They speak volumes of the character development that is going on "behind the scenes" as we live, work and learn together here at home.


Here Caleb is helping Jon use chopsticks! My dear Mother likes to come by when she is available and teach the younger children. They had just finished studying a book about Japan, hence the chopsticks! Fun!



and sisters....


learning to work together and enjoy each others company.

I love catching my children doing things like this....


Don't you?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sacred Oughtness

Tom was sharing with me this evening an excerpt from a book he recently began to read. I found the author's thoughts to be so "on" that I originally typed it up to send to Nate as I know that he will find it to be a confirmation of what he is experiencing as he shares Christ with other young men in the military. I felt compelled to share this here also. Please take a minute to read this. I promise you will be challenged and blessed.

Sacred Oughtness

You can’t escape the sacred oughtness. You can neglect it, suppress it, even abandon it, but you can’t break away from it. It gnaws at your soul, seeps in through your activities, makes a background noise in your conscience. You can’t run away from it, even though like Jonah you tend to run away in disobedience. Instead, like the Lord Jesus, who sensed he must go through Samaria to reach one person, a tabloid-headline-prone woman (cf.John 4:4), you sense a ministry necessity. Jesus transfers that oughtness to us. Notice the plural pronoun accompanied by necessity when Jesus says, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me” (John 9:4). That’s why Paul writes, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:16).

If you are highly committed to evangelistic preaching, you must be deeply convinced that anything other than pursuing God’s calling will be less than the best. You wouldn’t give a serious thought, at your saner moments, to looking back after laying your hands on the plow. If you look back, you’ll only remark, “You mean God did that through me?” How risky to have walked that scraggy edge of a ministry cliff to survive with perfect hindsight about “the one who is faithful who called you (not only to salvation and sanctification, but also to service) and who also brought it to pass” (1 Thess. 5:24, author’s interpretation). There is no full-blown empirical proof that explains your convinced oughtness, only an interior sense of summons and necessity, observable but not describable by others, contagious but not infectious, for it is too personal.

Richard Ramesh Preparing Evangelistic Sermons

I pray that none of us will neglect our "sacred oughtness."

Simple Woman's Daybook- Nov.17 edition


Each Monday I plan to join with Peggy from the The Simple Woman and many others who are celebrating the joy of simplicity. Here's a peek into my life right now...

FOR TODAY (November 17, 2008)...

Outside my window...the sun is rising... it comes up late in the little valley we live in. I believe it is going to be a sunny, but chilly day.

I am thinking...about Heb.12:4, "You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin." I read in Hebrews this morning in my quiet time and was convicted about being wholehearted in my devotion and walk with the Lord. Am I willing to strive to resist in even "small" areas of sin in my life that I can tend to "wink" at?

I am thankful for... all of the little (and big!) noises in my house this morning~ I love having a big, busy household!

From the learning rooms...we will be focusing on finishing strong this week in school. We will take next week off for Thanksgiving~ hooray!

From the kitchen... basic foods on a busy homeschool day... oatmeal for breakfast, baked potatoes for lunch and a crockpot meal for this evening.

I am wearing... favorite floral overalls, white long-sleeved T-shirt and new white tennis shoes.

I am creating... black velvet dresses for Hannah and Abbie who have a piano recital on Friday this week. Plus beginning plans for some "year in review" photo albums which will be gifts (shhhhhh.....)

I am going... to take some children to piano later this afternoon and then should be home the rest of the week! Yay!

I am reading... the books listed on my blog home page, plus spending time in God's Word in little breaks in my day. I am aware that when I am not desiring to spend time in God's Word, I am in danger of becoming complacent in my walk with the Lord.

I am hoping... to complete our school work in a timely manner today. I really run out of energy for school after two or three pm!

I am hearing... Donut Man music playing in the kitchen as the children eat breakfast.

Around the house... cleaning and planning for Thanksgiving next week.

One of my favorite things... how cozy and warm our house is with the woodburning stove on winter mornings.

A few plans for the rest of the week:sewing, school, other Christmas crafting, baking for Thanksgiving, piano recital on Friday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...


Sunday, November 16, 2008

On trusting God, and His faithfulness

I received an email from my father that I would like to share with you. Here's what my father had to say: (he gave me permission to share! ; ) )

Susan - I've been thinking about the economy and it's impact on the lives of people in the near to mid term future. I thought I'd share some of my contemplations with you in the hope that as you interact with others you might be able to give them some guidance. Everything I say is with the caveat that no one knows what the future holds and the surprising events in the recent economy prove beyond a doubt that God is the only one who knows the future. All of the disclaimers are out of the way so here goes.

I'm increasingly convinced that this downturn isn't a short term deal. It appears to me that there is a strong likely hood that we could see several (maybe 2-3?) years of major retraction in the economy. What that means in a practical sense is that we Believers should prepare for a lengthy term of difficult economic times. That means such things as:
- avoiding debt at all cost. Pay off all old debts and don't take on new debt for anything (except maybe a house)
- keeping your job as secure as possible. I don't think now is the time to take on risky new ventures.
- downsizing our vision of keeping up with others. Other people are broke; don't try to keep up with their image
- it's no shame to simply hold a plain old job (or maybe two or three part time jobs).
- people need to be on a budget. I really think every church should teach budgeting to it's members.
- If you were advising friends as to a career path right now I think the best field is health care. By that I mean direct health care, nursing etc., and indirect health care such as hospital administration.
For the next few years health care looks like the most secure field in which one can be employed.

Unfortunately people in America have been living beyond their means for too long. The good thing about what is going on now is that it will force some people to more realistically deal with their personal finances. We have had our image of success defined by advertising. Folks think they need a new car (with the debt that goes with it) rather than an older (or even a simply old) car that was paid for with cash. Advertisers try to convince us that if we are really successful we will have a BMW and a $600/mo payment rather than 7 year old clunker without any debt. Advertising has defined far too much what success should look like.

I believe that people are going to be under a lot of financial pressure for a long time and they really need to get control of their income and expenses so they aren't overwhelmed by the events that are unfolding.

These are probably not new thoughts in any meaningful sense but they have been on my mind so I thought I'd share them with you. You have influence with lots of people. Maybe you can share them with others in your circle of friends and church members. You have demonstrated most of these things already.


My father has been a christian for many years. He has both an engineering and a seminary degree. When I was young he was a pastor and then owned and ran a business making large wooden spools for wire rope. He recently sold his business in order to retire. He and my mother now spend their time investing our family's lives (with an occasional trip to Arizona or other beautiful destination thrown in). I count it a great privilege to have grown up in such a godly home with such wise and God-fearing parents.

I do believe that there is a great deal of wisdom in my father's email, so I wanted to share it along with some additional thoughts that I have had.


One of my favorite old hymns is "His Eye is on the Sparrow." Click here if you are not familiar with this dear hymn and would like to hear it. I have been thinking of my precious Savior's love and care for us and how it related to our use of finances. I believe that we get into trouble when we forget His compassion for us. When we want something and must have it now, even when finances clearly aren't there, not only do we challenge God's plan and timing for our lives, but we also miss out on seeing Him provide for us.

Tom has been a policeman for the last 18 years and while we make a nice salary and have good benefits (I am grateful!), it has been a challenge to raise a dozen children on a single income. We have been able to stay out of debt (except for our home~ which we are now working to pay off early). But there have been many times that I have gone months in a row with no money for "extras" in our budget. I can remember quite a few times that I did not have the finances to buy fruit for the children or new shoes, etc.

But oh the stories I could share with you of the Lord's provision in our lives! Truly He has been so, so good to us to provide much much more than we ask or even dream of! Just recently we were given huge quantities of almost new clothing for the boys...

(Here's Timmy showing off one of his new outfits.)


a truck load of pumpkins~ for our goats, chickens and us too!


A tree full of apples was given to us also. We dehydrated, canned and otherwise preserved them. Here are some of my helpers with the fruit of our labor!


We heat with wood and Tom and the boys went last Saturday to a yard waste recycling center nearby to look for wood that had been dropped off. Before they left home, they prayed that the Lord would provide them with wood. When they arrived, the prospects were disappointing... only brush and leaves had been deposited that day. Sadly, they began to pull out of the recycling center. As they started the truck not one but two pickup trucks pulled in with not only cut, but split wood! They arrived home with wood for the stove and boys who had seen God answer prayer.


More recently, as I mentioned in an earlier post this week, we were blessed with many, many pears! We put those to good use too.


My conclusion? Wait on the Lord. As some good friends like to tell me "They who wait on the Lord will receive it free or at a greatly reduced price!" (Thanks Dickersons!) Just because you have the funds doesn't necessarily mean you should spend it, but I know that if you don't have the money the Lord has other (and often better) things in store for you! Rejoice in what He has given you and in His timing and be content in all circumstances. Phil.4:11b,12 "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity."

I am still in the school of learning contentment, but hoping that I can encourage you as I document His faithfulness in our life.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


School days are full, full, full here. We begin classwork at 8am and work hard until our noon break. After lunch the younger children are usually almost done with their work and the older children have only independent work to do, so I can sometimes sneak away at about 1 or 2pm for a little excursion...

Autumn is by far my favorite time of the year, and today was classic. 57 degrees won't last long around here in November. A bike ride was definitely in order. Biking is my very favorite form of exercise right now. It gives me time to not only work out, but also enjoy the outdoors and have some uninterrupted prayer time.

There is a lovely park near my house that I frequent as often as possible for the delightful 13 mile path there. ZMany times one of the older boys will go with me, but today they were busy, so it was just me. It usually only takes me about 45-40 minutes, but today my camera tagged along also, so I won't say how long it took! LOL!

I thought you might like to see how lovely my afternoon ride was:

It was cloudy when I started, but the blue sky was peeking out... absolutely beautiful. After a few minutes the sun came out.

I don't know if you can see it in the photo below, but there are whitecaps on the lake. That always means tough going at least one way on the ride for me. Fortunately I faced the wind on the way out today and had it helping me on the way back!


I wish I could post the sounds that I heard.... the wind whistling through dried grasses, birds calling and even some insects still making insect noises!


This is what I love about taking pictures, it allows me to see, not just look and to observe the beauty around me. I can celebrate the "everyday" and rejoice in the simplicity an beauty that the Lord has placed all around me. My camera slows me down and forces me to evaluate and enjoy the moments that pass way too quickly.





When I walked in the door after my ride, I was greeted by the little boys singing "We love you Mommy, oh yes we do, we love you Mommy, oh yes we do!"


Life. Simple and so good.

To top off my day, our oldest son Nate called home this evening. He is away at basic training in the Army at Ft. Benning GA right now. It does my heart good to hear his strong voice. Each time he calls he has new adventures to share. Best of all, many involve his input spiritually into the lives of the other young men in his platoon. He has had many, many opportunities to share the Gospel there and as a result has quite a few of the men reading their Bible in the free time that they have in the evening. "Send more Bibles, Dad," is music to my ears! Truly I have no greater joy than to see my children walk in the Truth. (3 Jn 1:4)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Never Bored

What a delightful full day! The children and I worked on preserving a mountain of pears that were given to us. We have made pear butter, dehydrated pears and canned whole pears. I suppose that I am easily pleased, but is this not a lovely sight?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here we go!

My desire as I begin this blog is to be a "Titus 2" encouragement to other women. I certainly don't see myself as having "arrived," but I have experienced His faithfulness over and over in our lives.

We now have twelve children, but I distinctly remember when I found out that I was expecting our fifth baby. Our fourth was only 4 months old (the oldest was only 6) and while I was incredibly thrilled at the prospect of having another dear little baby in our family, I was feeling quite overwhelmed at the prospect of months of morning sickness. That morning as I spent time in God's Word (my quiet time), the Lord graciously led me to 2 Chron. 20:15 where I read: "thus says the LORD to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's." : )

That has become my rallying point, my calm in the midst of the "storm." As I am faithful to seek the Lord, He has been more than gracious to "fight the battle" for me, to give me all that I need to joyfully and graciously carry out all He has called me to do.

My desire is to encourage other women as He has encouraged me. Thus the blog.

Be encouraged. You are loved with "an everlasting love."