Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eternally significant...

Phillipians. The children and I are continuing to work on memorizing this book on joy. At times it seems more tedious than others. We continue to work... currently almost done with chapter 3.

Today as we worked I thought it might be a good time to take a minute to encourage the children about the significance of scripture memorization.

"Children, do you remember? What three things are the only things that will last forever?" I queried. I scan upturned faces and wait for responses...

"God?" responds one of the little boys. "Yes! That's one," I cheerfully answer. "Anyone know what the other two are?" pause.

"Homework?" answers Josh.

oh my. It does seem that way some days, doesn't it?

smiling today... even routine can be very, very good.

*the other two eternal things are: God's Word and people's souls. Trying to invest wisely......


Josiah, "Mom, do feathers grow?"

me. "Not once they are off the bird."

Later I walk in the kitchen and see this:

Love having so many boys. Absolutely love it.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So this is the God I serve....

I find myself totally in awe

Tell me again why I at times doubt His ability to care for me when He can create this....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Endless Gifts #s37-52

holy experience

I can't even begin to tell you the delight I am experiencing as I am learning to search for (and find!) the many, many blessings that I am surrounded by. The sheer magnitude of His gifts for me~ incredible!

37. my Precious Savior... unchanging even when I am tired or overwhelmed.
38. practical, durable hardwood floors
39. bicycle + 65 degree sunny day + nearby lake + autumn = pure delight
40. oldest married daughter Micah and husband Joshua's visit the past weekend and

41 birthday celebrations for both!
42. chocolate chip counting

43. a quiet moment in late afternoon dappled sunlight.
44. swaying zinnias and dry end-of-summer sunflower heads
45. birds gathering, noisily discussing southern travel plans
46. raindrops on garden flowers (and unexpected bokeh in the background!)

47. God's faithfulness in my children's lives
48. A swaying, swinging wooden hummingbird gift. Autumn breezes keeping it quite busy this afternoon.
49. Distant laughter of children playing with tarp
50. Silly boys with gargantuan insects!

Doesn't it look like this praying mantis is telling Gabe a secret here? So funny!

51. A delightful "girls morning out" with my mother and all three daughters!

52. A husband whom I love now more than ever. He is that deep stream, where I can be so wide and shallow. As the children grow older I appreciate his insight more and more...

Finding myself totally enchanted by the multitude of previously undiscovered blessings which have overtaken me.... (and reveling in them!)


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Throw your hat over

Tom has been listening to some fabulous talks lately~ and I am the happy recipient of the gleanings thereof. This morning he shared the following story with me which John C. Maxwell, related in a podcast about being stretched by the Lord:

J.F. Kennedy relates that when his grandfather was growing up in Ireland he and his friends would walk past very tall stone walls on their way to and from school each day. As little boys are prone to do, they would challenge each other to climb the walls (some of which were as much as 10-12' tall).

One day J.F.K.'s grandfather decided to toss his cap over a particularly tall wall. He knew that he dared not return home without his cap. Once his cap was over the wall, he was sure that he would have to climb and retrieve it before heading home for supper.

Thus began the phrase among his friends, "throwing the cap over the wall."

Are there areas in your life in which you need to "throw your cap over the wall" in order to commit yourself to do what you already know the Lord is calling you to do?

Let's toss that cap, what do you say?

top photo: stock photo, bottom, my favorite gardening hat and apples from our apple tree......

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A reason to pray...

I'm going to make this a quick post. It's an important one though. Do you need a reason to pray? Here's yet another reason to pray about events on a national level.

Muslim leaders have called 50,000 observant Muslims to come to the Capitol this Friday, September 25, for a day of Jummah (Friday congregational prayer). The sponsors promise that from 4AM to 7PM, "the Athan [the call given five times each day for Muslims to participate in mandatory prayer] will be chanted on Capitol Hill, echoing off of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and other great edifices that surround Capitol Hill." The goal of this event is that "the peace, beauty and solidarity of Islam will shine through America's capitol." In fact, their website for this unprecedented event proudly declares, "Our Time Has Come!"

Here's the web site with additional info....

one more reason to beseech the Lord,

and to trust Him as well.

Praying for our country, "land that I love..."


ps- you can pray for me as well... not nearly as important as the above request, but a bug and my eye had a little run in on my bike ride today. I'm not sure how the bug fared, but my eye isn't very happy right now. The boys suggested that I wear swim goggles when I ride tomorrow.... hmmmmm.

Prayer for Beginners- How to Cultivate the Discipline of Prayer

Joining in today with Ann at Holy Experience in discussing the discipline of Prayer.

holy experience

I definitely do not join in on this discussion as someone who has arrived in this area, rather as someone who is increasingly aware of my desperate need to commune more consistently with my Precious Heavenly Father.

My heart so often lies malnourished due to my stubborn busyness and pursuit of things that I deem "needful" throughout the day.

Two things that I have found to be fundamental in slowing me down and turning my heart toward true Sustenance.

1. I mentioned this yesterday, but it bears mentioning again, the 60/60 challenge that I am taking part in. Here's the challenge: Set your watch to chime every hour and use that small prompt to turn your heart and thoughts heavenward. The second part of the "60/60" refers to the duration of the challenge~ 60 days.

I can already tell you that I do not wish to stop when two months are up. My desire is that I would eventually "pray without ceasing" on my own, but for now, my stubborn self needs these little prompts. This has been *so* good for me.

The amusing thing about this challenge for me has been that there have been quite a few times that I have caught myself looking at my watch wondering if my watch was about to beep so I could pray again~ looking forward to communing with my Precious Savior. As though I couldn't go to Him at any time! Silly me!

2. The following quote from George Mueller, the founder of the famous faith-based orphanages in England has been very instrumental in changing my focus in praying. I have been putting his thoughts into practice not only during my morning time with the Lord, but also throughout the day. Such a fabulous way to feed my soul... this is not "work," but rather an outpouring of love for the grace given me....

"While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost though now. . .more than forty years have since passed away.

"The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.

"Before this time my practice had been, at least ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed in the morning. Now I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental, communion with the Lord. I began therefore, to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning, early in the morning.

"The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God; searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, very soon after, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.

"The difference between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer. . .But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray.

"I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.

"It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man.

"As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. What is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God, so that it not only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts. . .

"I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow-believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God I ascribe to this mode the help and strength I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials in various ways than I had ever had before; and after having now above forty years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it. How different when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials and the temptations of the day come upon one!"

~ George Mueller

Here's to finding delight and true heart-fulfillment in the Lord~ not from a sense of duty, but from total delight and joy in all of the gifts given so freely to us!

Seeking Him alongside you and learning to pray in baby-steps,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

10 Things

I occasionally like to post random things here that are on my mind right now. Things that I think I would enjoy looking back on in the future. There is a huge possibility that this info might end up being a scrapbook page in the near future...

(I'm trying to be brave and include more pictures of me in our photo albums/scrapbooks~ even silly ones like this! It's a good thing to give your children the camera!)

1. We are getting fully in the swing of school this year... working on our fourth week. With nine in school now, I find myself stretched in new ways. This can be intensely frustrating at times as I try to help certain older children handle their time more effectively. (Working on consistency with natural consequences).

2. On the other hand, school has been really fun as I get to spend so much one-on-one time with each child. Honestly, there is not much sweeter than being able to snuggle up on the couch with a bunch of boys and work on reading, etc. I totally *love* working with them and seeing them “get” new things educationally.

3. I am head-over-heels in love with autumn. My very, very favorite time of year. Came across this fun post here with some fabulous decorating ideas. I don’t have a lot of autumn decorations, but I do have fun with the ones we have and I know that over time I can gradually collect/make more.

4. I’m so proud of Tom who has been running almost every day. He is up to 6miles/day and at the lowest weight he has been at in 8 or 9 years! Yay for him!

5. Our oldest daughter, Micah, and her husband Joshua are coming in town this weekend! They live in Orlando now so it will be super-fun to have them around for a few days. The plus? Their birthdays both fall this weekend as well. I think some Black Forest Cheesecake just might be in order! And yes, I plan to take some pictures of the cake ( and festivities too!) and post that recipe! Yummy.

6. Timmy is finally beginning to talk! I wasn’t really worried about him, as it was obvious that he understood all that was going on…. But at almost three, it was about time! He gets to hear a lot of cheering from older siblings at each new accomplishment. Such fun it must be to have a built-in cheering squad in your life!

7. Hannah and Abbie just began teaching a “Good News Club” at a local elementary school. This is Abbie’s first year and Hannah’s fourth. I *love* seeing them both have a heart to reach children for Christ. Totally psyched about this!

8. I am working on a 60/60 challenge and my heart is loving this. Here’s the challenge: set your watch to beep on the hour and let that be your prompt to pray and “reconnect” with the Lord, with the goal of staying in a prayerful mindset all day long. This has been fabulous for me as I am in many ways a “sprinter,” racing through my days. The quiet little beeps every hour remind me to pause and reconnect with my Source. So it is every 60 minutes for 60 days. So cool! (I’m thinking that 60 days definitely won’t be enough for me!)

9. Completely awed by this site. I’m not going to give it away, but suffice it to say… awesome photography and fabulous text. Be sure to visit this one when you have some time!

10. Autumn has me in the mood to do some sewing. I’m thinking perhaps a new apron, some new floral overalls or some new skirts… just in the planning stages right now. Or what about a cute floral backpack? I really have a renewed desire to “nest” when the weather cools down.

Love creating things!Happy autumn to you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Endless Gifts... almost Autumn installment

Today I join Ann at Holy Experience in celebrating the purposeful giving of thanks... I'm working my way to 1,000 and then some.

holy experience

21. Cool autumn mornings
22. Giggly children
23. Warm bread- fresh from the oven
24. antique pitchers~ brimming with freshly picked flowers
25. Afternoon thunderstorms (especially grateful for this after a dry spell here)
26. Pumpkin garden bounty

27. Pond water
28. Curious children and
29. a Microscope (what wonder! An unseen world all around us!)
30. Heart-warming spontaneous hugs from a five-year-old
31. Long auburn hair in the midst of many boys
32. Little boys loosing their first teeth

33. Baby bunnies... (found by an older brother while mowing)

34. Toddler-gathered wildflowers

35. a full (and oftentimes messy) life. It’s never what we think it should be, is it? But in so many ways it is so much more! Thank you Lord
36. Grace in abundance….

Rejoicing in the many, many gifts given...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Summer highlights and thoughts

We've been hard at work on school for the last three weeks, and now that we seem to be getting our routine down, I've had a little time to reflect on our summer. In many ways it was the best summer I've ever had.

For the first time in many, many years I don't have a little baby around. While I would very much welcome a new little blessing into our family, I also want to joyfully embrace each season of life that the Lord has for me.

This summer I experienced God's grace in my life in my life as I was able to slow down and focus on the many simple blessings bestowed here. I am rich, indeed!

We went blueberry picking .....

were able to sing together as a family at a church that Tom spoke at,

At the end of June, Nate, who is in the Army, stationed in NY, was able to come home for a visit! You would think that with 10 children still at home, I might not miss the two that are gone so much. I'm here to tell you that it's not true. Definitely not true.

While Nate was here, we celebrated his 19th birthday a few weeks early with our fabled Black Forest Cheesecake. I'll put on my list to share the recipe here sometime. It's about as close to gourmet cooking as I'll ever get. If you really want gourmet, you'll have to go visit my friend Lisa's blog, Elbows on Our Table,. or The Pioneer Woman, ... but I digress.....

Having adult children who love the Lord is the most fabulous thing.... I find myself totally humbled and grateful. And yes, I do miss them. But I already said that, didn't I?

The boys had a blast this summer, just being boys! Don't you love these little guys our boys created? I'm telling you, no piece of hardware is safe around here.

Slingshots have been really big around here of late. (All windows still intact at last check!)

The cooler and wetter than normal summer resulted in a bounty of flowers and veggies too. I must admit that I am totally unpractical and I really do love the flowers best! (shhhh, don't tell my poor veggie garden!)

And here is a picture of one of the many tomatoes harvested here (just so the veggie garden won't be too upset with my for posting all the flower pictures!)

Our oldest (and now married daughter) Micah was able to make a surprise trip up here in August. We had so much together~ worked on scrapbooking etc. I love having so many ages of children to relate to!

This summer was unique for me in that I had lots of time to exercise! Almost every day I rode my bike for 13 miles at a nearby lake. Early morning rides are my favorite~ totally love praying and watching the sun rise over the lake as I ride.

Don't ask how I took the next picture.... the boys saw this one and reprimanded me for taking it! Interesting perspective though, don't you think?

Some end-of-the-summer flowers at the lake...

And could it be officially summer without the boys finding varied and asundry wildlife? Love Jon's expression here with the box turtle!

Jacob found a little Goldfinch. I think it must have hit one of our windows. Poor little birds do that with some regularity here~ and it's not because my windows are perfectly clean, either!

I think the highlight of our summer for our family was a trip to Gulf Shores, AL. Many, many years we have vacationed there with my parents. Our preference is to go once schools are in session as the beach area where we stay is deserted then.

This year, after lots of preparation (the girls and I precook all of our meals so I get a little vacation there as well) we were almost done packing when little Tim fell off of his favorite riding toy and cut his chin open!

So the afternoon before we left I spent several hours in the local children's hospital urgent care center while he received 5 stitches. With nine active boys, I have been there more the last year than I care to admit. This time I was offered "frequent flier miles" with Children's Mercy Hospital!

This visit was funny though as Tim wasn't upset about the whole deal at all. The poor nurse was ready to strap him down for the doctor and I told her "I don't think you'll need to do that." She gave me the "whatever!" look, but said that she'd let him try it before she wrapped him up. I guess two-year-olds aren't usually the most cooperative patients for receiving stitches.

Tim was so relaxed during the stitching up that he actually yawned. The nurse looked at me in amzement and said, "Do you guys do yoga together, or something?" So funny! Me, "Um, noooo."

Actually I don't think I can take credit for his good behavior~ but I am grateful! Here he is right afterwards as we waited for Tom to pick us up. Funny boy!

Then we were off to the ocean! Here we all are, minus Micah and her husband Josh, and Nate, all of whom were unable to be with us this year. sigh. Change can be sad. We forced ourselves to have a good time anyway!

Timmy had a blast playing in the sand~ it was fun to watch him being so delighted in his new surroundings.

Look what we found on one of our walks down the beach... the fabled angel fish! (see the wings?)

We were totally blessed and surprised to see a rainbow~ amazingly it lasted for at least a half an hour!

A double rainbow, even!

I was delighted to be able to have my quiet time outside on the porch...

This was my view....

One final evening walk on the beach to say "goodbye" to the ocean...

And now we're back home... working hard at school this year. I'm really excited about some new things we're doing in school. I'll try to share some of them later this week.

In closing, I thought you might like to see some pics of "the boys"... the last six of our children are boys, so I frequently find these guys together, up to something! You know how groups of animals have different names, like a flock of geese, or a herd of deer? I decided that my little boys should be called a "brevey" of boys.

Here's what I saw on our front porch a few days ago... the brevey of boys.... ok Tim's not in these, not sure what he was up to, but he finds his way into so many of my pics, so that it's ok.

And another one of them hamming it up in the kitchen... so fun!

Delighting in life here and the many gifts given...