Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A December debriefing....

an you believe it? More snow here! On Christmas Eve we had an actual (almost) blizzard! We received more than 12"of snow overnight along with winds of more than 50 mph! The results were beautiful!

Our Great Pyreneese Lance thinks this is wonderful! We let him in when he wants to warm up a little, but this is a winter wonderland for him. I keep catching him sleeping out in the snow, all stretched out to enjoy the delightful cold. His favorite winter sport is tackling sledders though! Consider yourself warned if you come over to sled!

We have a pretty good hill behind our house so there has been a lot of sledding going on here. Since Nate is home right now he helped the boys build some pretty fun snow ramps. I have been out sledding with them too. We laughed so hard! I love playing in the snow with the children (both young and older!).

Look! My echinacea were wearing winter hats this morning from an additional 3" of snow we received last night!

I think I introduced you to Dude didn't I? This puppy has some serious cuteness issues~ I think I'm smitten! (Yes, I know, I really shouldn't let a puppy that could easily weigh over 200lbs as an adult get on our furniture!) Seriously we are training him. A good friend directed me to this site~ if you need some dog training info. What a wealth of info you'll find there!

Nate has to leave Friday morning to head back to Ft. Drum, NY. I will really miss him. One morning (before it snowed here) I happened to look out the window to see him leading his little brothers and friend Paul in PT. Love this interaction between older siblings and younger. This is fruit that I cherish.

Nate and Tom horsing around...

And Miss Hannah in her Christmas Dress on our snowy back deck. She reminds me of a cardinal in the snow.

I plan to be back tomorrow with some year end thoughts....


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Word, or Verse....


ey there! We have been enjoying our Christmas break so much here.... Not only have I been blessed to have oldest daughter Micah and her husband Joshua in the area once again, but Nate has also been home for almost two weeks on break from the Army. We have laughed and sledded (we received 12" of snow on Christmas Eve here!) and cooked and spent time in God's Word and generally had a fabulous time together.

This week between Christmas and New Year's Day has to be one of my favorite times of the year. I love looking back to see all that has happened in the past year and also love looking ahead in anticipation of the year ahead.

The last few years I have found myself intrigued by the idea of choosing one word to focus on during the coming year. To check out this idea, you can go here to read Ali Edwards explanation and even read lists of words that others have used in past years. I really like this idea, but have not quite followed through on this in the past to my satisfaction. This year as I considered the "one word" concept, I realized that what I really wanted to do was to prayerfully choose a verse from the Bible to focus on during the coming year.

I am still praying and considering, but I think that the verse I am choosing for this year is going to be Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

As I have mentioned before, the children and I have been working on memorizing Philippians this past year. We are almost done with the fourth and final chapter now. I'm so excited about this! Even the little children can recite the whole book (and correct me when I make a mistake!).

Memorizing Scripture is, without a doubt, one of the activities that I have never regretted spending time on. We will definitely be continuing this in 201o.

As I considered what verse to choose for this coming year, I was drawn to Phil. 4:6 because of the two key words in it: prayer and thanksgiving. Both words have been frequently on my heart.

Prayer: with each passing year, my responsibilities become greater and also my concern for those I love. As my circle of friends broadens and my children embark on the hefty decisions of adulthood, I find more reasons than ever before to lean on my Precious Savior in prayer.

Thanksgiving: as I have learned (and continue to learn) to be fully-engaged and live thankfully and joyfully in each and every circumstance that the Lord places me in, I find myself better equipped to meet the needs of those around me.

Of course the verses proceeding and following Phil.4:6 are fabulous too. But I decided to limit myself to one verse in particular that I hope to focus on and, by God's grace make more fully a part of my life this year.

What about you? If you want to choose a verse for 2010 I'd love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment. If you are reading this on Facebook, you might want to go to my blog to read others comments there. I'm looking forward to hearing what you'll be focusing on!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!


very, very merry Christmas to all!

From our family to yours, we wish you a peaceful and joy-filled Christmas as you celebrate Jesus' birth.

What a gift we have been given!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Words of Kindness...


dear friend wrote to me recently, asking if I would address the issue of being kind and gentle with our children.

What a challenge this area can be! Let’s face it, life is full of opportunities for us to speak in ways that we can regret later.
  • Children bicker and generally act like, well, children,
  • things get broken,
  • we are frequently kept from doing the things we would like to do
  • what mother isn't sleep-deprived, often for years at a time,
  • washers and other appliances break, most likely when company is coming and when funds are in short supply for repairs.
  • Etc!

I have found that when I am tempted to be short-tempered with my children, there are three potential areas that I need to address:

1. Am I focusing on the Lord as I go throughout my day? He is abundantly kind and gentle with me, overlooking many of my faults. Thankfully, He doesn’t try to address all of my shortcomings at once, but deals lovingly and patiently with me. Oh how He loves us!
As I spend time each day in the Word (sometimes multiple times during the day), my heart needs are met and I am reminded of He sufficiency to address all of the difficulties that will come my way that day.

2. When I find myself getting irritated with the children it can be a good time for me to step back and evaluate if I have been lax in training them. I definitely have a tendency to focus too much on “getting things done,” and can inadvertently let bad attitudes slide.

When I mention “training,” please don’t have the mental image of me standing over my children, whip in hand! Not at all! It is my delight to make practicing obeying Mommy a game for all. Yes, there are times when I must address an issue with great seriousness, but oftentimes our “practice” will simply be a game, repeated throughout the day.

“Timmy, when Mommy calls you, you need to run in here to me! OK?” With a grin, Timmy goes into the next room, listening carefully for my call. When I call, and he comes running, there is great cheering and general fun.

My choice to live with general joy and delight in all that the Lord has given me tends to “rub off” on my children. Alas though, on the converse side, when I see bad attitudes reflected (or hear them!), I find the need to check my own attitude.

3. The other area that I find needful to address when I am tempted to be short-tempered with my children is how I am caring for myself physically. I think I have been sleep-deprived for the last 21 years, to one degree or another! Granted, at times my lack of sleep is self-induced, but many times, as moms of many little ones can attest, it can’t be helped. Thankfully I have a husband who does not mind me taking an occasional “power nap” for a few hours every week or so to recharge. It is amazing how my outlook changes when I’ve had enough sleep!

I don’t think that being tired is an excuse to be rude or short-tempered with those we live with, but being aware of our physical needs is important, not only for our sanity and general delight in life, but also as an example to our children.

Eating nutritionally and exercise also play a huge roll in my attitude. We most generally cook everything from scratch, grinding our own grains and are that way able to control the amount of preservatives and other unpronounceable additives that are consumed, in addition to significantly reducing or eliminating the amount of refined sugar in our diet.

Please don’t underestimate the effect that exercise plays in your life. Exercise “burns” not only calories, but stress too. When the temperature is below 45 F here I don’t usually go for a bike ride, but I can do step aerobics at home. When I exercise at home, it is not uncommon for several children to work alongside me. I’m sure we are a comical group, but hopefully I am creating beneficial lifelong habits.

Additionally, I find it helpful to strive to have a peaceful home. While things are not always totally clean, I do like to have a “place for everything” so we can pick up and straighten up in a short amount of time. Peaceful background music can also help everyone’s attitude. This time of year I *love* playing Christmas music~ instrumental music if we are working on school, more upbeat music if we are cleaning or cooking. A little silly dancing with the younger boys to praise and worship music only helps everyone’s attitude. Christ-honoring music can help me maintain a God-ward focus and remind me of truth.

The more I grow in my relationship with the Lord and am reminded of His deep, deep love for me, the more I can’t *help* but overflow that same love and grace and joy as I relate to my children.

Oh, how He loves us!

I stand amazed at His grace in my life and one of my deepest desires is to reflect Him to my children.

Delighting in all that has been given to me,

Tim and Dan playing with our Fisher Price Nativity set... note the car! : )

Friday, December 11, 2009

Around here...

  • School (only three days to go next week until Christmas break!)
  • Crafting/Decorating for Christmas
  • Finishing planning gifts (almost done!)
  • Enjoying new Great Dane puppy Dude.
  • Generally enjoying this season of wonder. I find myself enchanted by the lights, by the snow and by secrets and giving, but mostly by rejoicing in His birth.
  • Love "catching" my children helping each other... caught Miss Abbie here helping Timmy get ready to go out in the snow. He was *so* excited!
  • But mostly striving to maintain a heart which seeks Him. It is *so* easy for me to get caught up in my "to do lists" and totally loose focus.
One thing I am working on this year to help me maintain focus is working on a "December Daily" album. You can see past examples here and here. I will try to post photos from my work in progress soon.

Oh to anticipate His coming as a child...

savoring the wonder of it all,

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wishing for snow...


an you tell we are ready for snow here? The children started with "regular" snowflakes, made with my sweet mother who came to our house to teach "Five in a Row" with the grade-schoolers.... they had so much fun!

And then we saw these snowflakes! Wow!

Amazingly enough, they are not difficult to make at all.... Daniel helped make this one.

You can go here to see how to make them yourselves~ have fun, but don't blame me if you end up with a blizzard!

Now if the snowflakes we made would just call their friends.....


Thursday, November 26, 2009

So Thankful...


appy Thanksgiving, All!

Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. 1Ch 16:8

for brave boys and knives to throw.

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
1Ch 16:34

for plenty of wood for heat.

With them were Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest who were chosen, who were designated by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because His lovingkindness is everlasting. 1Ch 16:41

for the freedom to fly....

I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Psa 7:17

for the pure joy of a swing....

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Psa 9:1

for seeking, and finding

Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Your name. Psa 18:49

for delight of army sons returning home

I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it, And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones. Psa 52:9

for a peaceful morning place to seek the Lord...
and find Him as well.

My heart is finding greatest delight not so much in the things given, but in my discovery of His love and delight in me~ so often demonstrated in everyday life.

Praying heart-delight in the Lord this Thanksgiving Day for you....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Crafting and Gift ideas!


oooh are we ever having fun planning what to make this year as Christmas nears!

I thought I'd take a minute and share some of the links that have inspired me lately. Hope you'll enjoy these.

  • Check out this tutorial for some absolutely adorable sewing lace up cards for the little guys and girls in your life. Timmy will be getting a set of these this Christmas from an older sibling. (shhhh..... don't tell!)
  • How about a toddler-sized backpack? Our little Timmy is *so* proud to be able to carry his own bag when we go somewhere in the car. This will be a perfect size for him. It'll be ideal as a "quiet bag" for church too! (I found some super cute truck fabric for his bag on sale at JoAnns recently that I'll use.)
  • Check out these lovely PDFs which include tutorials to make the best little books of vintage paper crafts or paper dolls.
  • I am totally in love with these little birds! Check out Edie's picture-filled tutorial here. The children and I plan to make a tree full of these this December. I think they'll be hanging around here even after the tree is taken down. I have really taken to decorating with birds~ they're so, well, happy!
  • Is this not a beautiful Christmasy apron? I usually use full aprons (I'm a really messy cook!), but this one is so cute that I want to make an exception!
  • How about a tassel tutorial? Here's a great free one from Mandi who wrote a fabulous tutorial as a guest at Life in Grace. If you are really a bonified tassel-maniac, you will definitely want to spend $10 to learn from The Nester herself exactly how to go about the fine art of tassel making.
  • This tutorial for simple but beautiful bookmarks by Miss Jen would be so easy for even young girls to make as gifts. They are not only pretty, but can mark two places in a book at once! I think I need some of these for my Bible!
Hope that inspires you! Have fun blessing your friends and family with homemade goodness!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

9 years ago today...


find myself especially thankful today. Nine years ago, we were blessed beyond belief by the (very early) birth of our ninth child, Josiah.

Josiah in August of this year.

He was born 13 weeks early, and given only a 30% chance to live. Praise God, he is a healthy and vibrant young man as I write today.

At 20 weeks in my pregnancy with Josiah I had a routine untrasound which, to our great surprise, showed a number of very concerning problems with our dear little guy.

Here is one of his later sonograms.

It turned out that he had bi-lateral hyrdonephrosis, which basically meant that his kidneys couldn't drain into his bladder correctly.

We didn't know it at that time, but he actually had two ureters leading from each kidney to his bladder. Only one of those ureters actually attached to his bladder, so the urine produced and sent into the ureter on each side which didn't attach to his bladder simply backed up, causing him to have an extremely distended abdomen. As you can imagine, this resulted in significant damage to his little kidneys.

In order to try to save his kidneys from further damage, the neonatal specalists preformed a procedure every week or so which was basically an amnioencentisis. Guided by sonogram the doctors used a very intimidating long needle to remove the urine which was backing up in his ureters.

What a trial this was~ the doctors telling me how very, very grim his prognosis was. Not only did they give him only a 30% chance to live, but also told me that is was quite likely that he had additional genetic problems that could be life-threatening. In a word, I was encouraged to "terminate" the pregnancy.

Tom and I made it clear that choosing to end a life which the Lord had ordained was not an option.

We eagerly sought prayers from friends and were blessed beyond belief by the outpourning of love that we experienced.

Tom and I have almost always waited until the end of our pregnancies to name each new little baby, but this time we decided that this special little boy needed his name then, so we could pray for him by name. We both sought the Lord and were convinced that his name should be Josiah. Only after we chose the name did we discover that it meant "the Lord heals."

At that time we really did not know if he would live or not, but I was comforted to learn the meaning of his name, assured that the Lord would heal him. I was confident that the Lord could heal him now but also knew that it might not be until he reached heaven that his little body would be made perfect.

On Thanksgiving, nine years ago, I went into labor, 13 weeks prematurely. (This was most likely caused by a uterine infection which developed a day after having our little Josiah's ureters drained as mentioned above.)

Here we are on that Thanksgiving day, just hours before I had to make an emergency trip to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, the nurses wouldn't believe that I was really in labor. (You would think that having delived eight babies at that time might have counted for something!) While Tom and I were incredibly frustrated by the nurses' lack of response, in hindsight I can see that what at the time seemed like a disaster, God used for His best purposes.

Once Josiah was born, specalists were able to surgically intervene in ways that simply weren't possible before he was born. I truly believe that if he had gone to term he would have had no kidney function left at all.

He spent quite a few weeks in the NICU at our fabulous local children's hospital. Oh the grace that the Lord poured out on our family during that time! It was then that I really saw the body of Christ in action in ways that I had never experienced before. Numerous meals were brought in to our family and we were the recipients of untold numbers of prayers.

Here is tiny, tiny Josiah~ and this was actually taken when he was almost a month old!

I vividly remember how hard those days were. Thankfully, Tom was able to take some family medical leave time off to be with the children so I could spend the days at the hospital with Josiah. Each morning I would hug everyone goodbye (at that time Joshua was only 13 months old!) and leave to drive downtown so I could be with tiny Josiah, crying to leave the children all day. And each evening I would have to leave dear little Josiah alone in his little NICU bassinette to head home. Then I would cry to leave him! Oh how my heart was torn!

He is getting bigger here~ see? Fewer tubes and alarms ringing!

Here was our family that December, Josiah still in the hospital, posing for our annual family photo.

Isn't a preemie yawn adorable?

And here we are today, nine blessed years later. I know that it is in those times of intense stretching and pain that we are able to experience God's faithfulness in ways that we never could have imagined before. Each difficulty that the Lord allows me to walk through gives me greater and greater confidence in His deep, deep love and care for me.

Josiah with some of his brothers (He's in the orange)

Rejoicing in His care and so thankful to celebrate Josiah's birthday today,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trodding this soil....


hey came before me,

trod this same hard-packed soil,

labored, toiled, laughed, cried and lived.

My heart knows but few of their stories

And yet, I do know, because I too am living, laughing, loving and yes grieved, cut to the core by this, this life.

How quickly the years pass... can it be? At 45 I could very well be more than half-done.

I keep pondering these photos, knowing that I too am merely a wave upon the ocean, a passing breeze. In a very short period of time my life, the things I am passionate about, the things that most grieve me, all will be forgotten.

"As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.

But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them."
Ps. 103:15-18

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
Isa. 40:8

Yes, life is fleetingly running ahead of me,
deftly moving ahead,
not pausing to look behind
and see if I can maintain this pace.

But I smile, rejoicing in my secret
as I hide God's Word in my heart,
my investments are secure.

The path will be rock-strewn
but I am confident that my stumbling feet
can find secure footing.

His Word strengthens, equips and readies me.

I tuck verses in apron pocket,
prop on wet kitchen countertops,
pull them out to review during the fray,

confident that His Word lasts
and is an investment that will equip.

My life, the stories that are dear to my heart
will, no doubt be soon forgotten,
but I can leave a legacy

As His Word changes me,
I can impact those I rub shoulders with the most

I pray memorized verses,
desiring to see children
and children's children
impacting future soil-trodders for Him
for His glory.

How can I do otherwise?

*photos at top really are wonderful old family photos that I was recently given. (thanks Mom and Linda!)

Today I join Ann and so many other Christ-following soil-trodders in writing about Scripture Memory. If you have time, I highly recommend visiting Ann's blog for additional resources and inspiration in memorizing God's Word.

holy experience