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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some writing resources for you


recently came across two resources that I wanted to share here.

The first is a super-motivating program for writers called "Write or Die."

I frequently find my writing slowed or even brought to a complete standstill by my overactive inner editor. "Write or Die" is a web-based (free version), or downloadable ($10 version) program that prompts you to enter a word count goal and time. (100 words in 10 min, for example.) You then choose how harsh your penalty will be for not completing your goal. Depending on what you choose, when your writing slows or stops, the screen gradually changes color to red and assorted sound effects prompt you to keep going.

This has been tremendously helpful for me! Granted, there are times when I need to work more slowly and contemplate what to write, but most often I simply need to "get going" and get something down. Then I can go back and edit.

The paid version even has the nifty feature of allowing you to upload your writing directly to several prominent blog hosts.

I find this helps my productivity not only in writing articles for my blog, but also as I write journaling for scrapbook pages, etc. I plan to place the paid version on the computer that my children use for homework. How fun for them to set up their own challenges in completing homework writing assignments!

Here's a promo explaining how the paid version works, with screenshots.

Secondly, check out this creative resource for memory-keepers.

I am a huge fan of notebooks. Inexpensive notebooks are super-helpful recepticles for all sorts of information. I have notebooks for:
  • recipes I want to try
  • our dairy goat herd
  • my bills notebook
  • sewing patterns (just the packages, slipped in plastic page protectors)~ the tissue paper patterns themselves are in large manilla envelopes filed by pattern number in file drawers.
  • decorating ideas
  • PSE tutorials
  • Sewing ideas
  • Soapmaking "recipes" and info
  • Garden notebook
  • Home education notebook
Log Your Memory is an incredible resource for systematically keeping track of the stories that so quickly get shuffled to the bottom of the heap in my memories. For me, scrapbooking is mostly about documenting God's faithfulness in our life. Certainly the techniques and embellishments are fun to work with, but my time is very limited.

The pages that I most enjoy looking back at don't simply narrate a birthday party, for example ("Tim turned three. He received _____, and _____ as gifts. A fun time was had by all."), instead they document life. The pages I love most are meaningful stories that give me a glimpse into what the Lord was teaching me at a certain time in my life, or provide a window through which I can view my children's character development. The most meaningful journaling documents God's faithfulness to our family so we won't forget.

I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.
Ps. 40:10

Enter Log Your Memory. Available in three different formats, perfect bound, spiral bound and as a downloadable PDF file which you can print and place in a notebook (my favorite, 'cause I can add pockets folders as well), this resource provides not only daily places to record life, but also is full of prompts, suggested photos to take each month, journaling challenges and so many other goodies. It is simple, but very well organized. I think even the notebook itself will be fun to look back at once it is faithfully filled out.

Nope, I don't recieve anything from Log Your Memories, just thought someone might be interested, with Christmas fast approaching and all!

happy writing, friends!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seeking Beauty....


hen I was a little girl I was intrigued and delighted by some glass jars that my grandmother had on the windowsill above her kitchen sink. The jars were not anything extraordinary, but she had carefully filled each one with water that was tinted with food coloring.

These brightly colored jewels delighted me. Now I have my very own kitchen sink (which I love) and I get to have my own little jewels.

The majority of the jars in the window above my sink were found on our old farmhouse property. I think the only one that I actually purchased is the blue flower frog glass. My boys love to fill it with blooming wildflowers during the warmer seasons. I have even found an occasional feather there as well!

My heart yearns for beauty amid the harsh chaos of life. As I seek the Lord, I also seek to infuse our home with small testimonies of Him.

He is beauty and creativity. I so yearn to be more like Him and to reflect Him in all I do. When I can find or create a small oasis of beauty in our home I do it to mirror Him.

This heart-shaped ivy wreath frames a view of the birdhouse in my late autumn herb garden.

I find great delight in simple, found and discovered beauty. I derive so much more satisfaction from finding or making beauty in our home than I would if items were purchased.

These things though, are only a dim reflection of true Beauty. The Lord Jesus is not only the one Who's beauty satisfies my soul, but also the inspiration for seeking and creating beauty in my ordinary life.

That which is sought after is most appreciated.

"But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
Deut. 4:29

Truly the Lord Jesus is beauty worth seeking after.

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.
Ps. 27:4

Seeking and finding His beauty in so many unexpected places,

Today I join Ann at Holy Experience in finding beauty in the everyday...

Come and see what others have found!

holy experience

Saturday, November 7, 2009


hen I was little, I often pretended to fly.

On occasion, I would even soar in my dreams. Swooping low over awestruck friends, I reveled in the freedom of flight.

As I grew older, I "flew" as a runner and on my bicycle. (my bike's a little bigger now...)

More amazing, as I matured, I learned that, while I was tethered to earth in spite of my best wing-flapping efforts, I could soar in different ways.

In many ways, my feet are tethered to the ground as I invest in my busy large family in this season of my life, but my heart soars as I learn in new ways to "wait upon the Lord." Indeed, He does "renew my strength" so I can "soar with eagles."

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
Isa. 40:31

I am learning to rest in Him and rely on Him in new ways. I find Him faithful at every turn.

Yesterday I caught these pictures of Timmy "flying" just like I did when I was younger.

Soar, little bird. I pray that as you grow and mature you will learn to fly spiritually as well.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
3 John 1:4

learning to soar on the homefront,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn blessings around here...


ovember already?

I recently came across this fabulous idea for creating an atmosphere of thanksgiving in your home! I intended to post this a few days ago, but this week has been busy. I still think it could be incorporated into your plans though!

How about a free class from Jessica Sprague? She is a well-known instructor in the digital/hybrid scrapbooking world. Holidays in Hand should be great! And free is a definite bonus!

At our home, you would never guess that it is November.... look what arrived today!

These little guys will be egg layers for us... 25 heavy brown egg layers and 10 Araucanas.

Not only those cuties, but look what else!

Twin girls! One of our Nubian does picked the most beautiful warm November day to deliver~ it was 75 degrees! Typically they choose the coldest weekend of the year (but only if an ice storm is predicted!)

Have a fabulous weekend, friends! We'll be playing with babies here!