Monday, January 17, 2011

Endless Gifts....

Life.  It's full, isn't it?  Laundry, overseeing homework, children who at times lack diligence in completing homework, meals to plan, chemistry to be both learned and taught, oh how I can be tempted to ungratefully multi-task my way through the day.

When I slow to count and enumerate the small everyday blessings, I glorify God.  My eyes turn heavenward and even the pile of dirt and food crumbs on the kitchen floor becomes a reason to rejoice.  He loves, He cares for me.  Even. me.  Imagine!

I do not have time each week to post here my ongoing list of blessings found, but I do count.  I list and number because if I don't .... if I don't continue to look, to see His hand in my life I quickly forget that it is not about me~ my problems, my trials, my pains, instead it is all about Him!  Oh!  How He loves!
So, I cut and paste and document.... and then I am tempted to forget so I list some more.
And He meets me there.... here in my (very ordinary) life, with my very ordinary trials.  He *is* there!
If you are reading this post via a Reader or in your email via Feedburner, please go to my blog to watch the following short video.  Trust me, your heart will thank you for watching this!

I read very few books.  My time to read is extremely limited so my selection is most often limited to books about "practical" things... how to run correctly, homeschooling, photography or some other craft I am interested in.

Last October I pre-ordered Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Blessings, and after reading her blog for several years, waited anxiously for what I was sure would challenge and encourage me.  Over our Christmas break I gave in and purchased an instant download of the book for Kindle on my iPad. (Ann's book is now out and available not only for Kindle and Nook~ and other cool e-readers, but also in beautiful hardback~ yay!)

I was not disappointed.  Ann's poignant prose captured my very heart.  She shares, honestly about her struggles, her pain and how, as she accepted a friend's challenge to thankfully list blessings, her entire world changed.  There are very few books that would warrant my saying this:

You *must* read this book.

To make it even more fun, the new book club "bloom" over at (En)Courage is featuring Ann's book as their book of choice to read together and discuss this spring.  Ann, herself, is contributing via video each week/chapter of the group study.  How cool is that? 

Me?  I'm off to continue my list and re-read and highlight Ann's book....

278. crunch of apples
279. frigid runs with Tom
280. Sun's out!
281. Longer runs without stopping!  Yay for a stronger hip!
282. Screws holding me together.
283. needtobreathe~ new music
284. new pink running shirt with thumb holes!
285. getting to read books aloud to the children~ love The Jesus Storybook Bible
286. running in the shadows of tall, rocky bluffs.
287. iPhoto and Lightroom~ more visual evidence of a rich, full life.
288. this year's Project Life album.
289. click, click, click as my new tri bike soars!
290. romping puppies in our back field.
291. multi-colored eggs~ browns, greens and even some blue.
292. My hip injury last year. (learned so much through that)
293. Running dates with my honey.
294. Warmth of home.
295. Azure order~ so grateful to be able to purchase good organic food.
296. Deep blue sky behind naked cottonwood branches at a local lake.
297. Time with Hannah and Abbie~ laughing fun.
298. early morning noises...
299. crackle of fire.
300. whisper of flame
301. yawning of Great Dane puppy Dude.
302. Crinkle of pages turned in my Bible.
 303. Timmy's delight in his wet little footprints on a towel after an early morning bath.
304. Little boys who still request "baby" pancakes.
305. Curly duck tails.
306. kitchen window January sky.
307. Big boys wearing flannel shirts and boots.
308. spontaneous birthday songs for me.
309. a frosty, fast bike ride.
310. daughter-made black forest birthday cheesecake.
311. iPhoto slide show on my iMac~ love catching glimpses of our past year.
312. Abbie's fun company as we drove to Manhattan, KS.
traveling to Kansas~ photo by Abbie!
313. Successful surgery on oldest daughter Micah's fractured arm
314. Safe (and stunningly beautiful) travel.
Abbie's capture of the sunrise on our trip.
A fabulous sunset over the Flint Hills in Kansas on our way home.
315. learning to run (correctly, this time!)
316. warmth of woodburning stove.
317. cozy naps.
318. our bedroom, newly organized and cleaned out.
319. fluffy snow.
320. giggling children
321. Micah home from the hosptial (arm healing nicely)
322. pouncing Great Dane puppy on happy snowy children
323. Cardinals bright against snow.
324. smooth bread dough kneading in mixer.
325. warm soup and fellowship around table.

Rejoicing in His provision for me,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Snow adventures

Last week we had our first "real" snow of the year.  A new heavy snowfall is *magical* to me.  I am always compelled to take camera in hand and worshipfully explore outside.  I stand in awe of His creative hand.
The boys *love* walking with me in the woods.... "Please Mother, won't you take *my* picture?  Please?"  Love that.
OK, I admit it, I have this "thing" for fence posts.... especially when there is rusty barbed wire involved.  Pretty, huh?
Aren't the Land's End hats that the boys received for Christmas cute?  Gotta love those little furry "ears!"

Um, yeah,... it's another fence post.  Sorry.  I just couldn't help myself.
What's a fresh snow without snow angels?  I was busy looking through the viewfinder of my camera, trying to get a good shot of Daniel when overzealous (and overly huge) Great Dane puppy Dude decided to pounce on Daniel....
Funny shot, huh?  I wish I would have had the presence of mind to take one more photo right after this one!  Don't worry, Dan was fine and we all had a good laugh over the "pouncing puppy" photo that I captured!

Aren't the garlic chive flower heads pretty with their snow hats?
And my snowy (almost antique) bird feeder in my herb garden.  I *love* this old bird feeder!
Thanks for strolling along with me on a snowy walk!  Hope you are staying warm in your "neck of the woods!"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hey There!

It's hard to know what to write after taking so much time off! 

Here's a little "recap" of what's been going on here:
We took a two week break from school at Christmas which was extra-fun as our oldest son Nate was home from Ft. Benning, GA where he is stationed in the Army, *plus* our oldest daughter Micah and her husband Joshua were in town!  I love having the dining room table extra-full!  
A quick, blurry Christmas morning photo with all dozen kiddos!

January 3 we were back to school here.  I love being "back to normal" in routine here after a break, but I'll readily admit that the spring semester is more difficult for me, motivation-wise, than the fall semester.  Once March arrives we have a myriad of outdoor activities to attend to, the older boys' lawn mowing business begins in earnest, the baby goats take extra time, the garden needs to be put in, etc, etc.  We do get all of our state requirements met, but inevitably I end up feeling like the schoolyear ends with a "fizzle" rather than ending strong.
 In addition to my busy homeschooling schedule with 10 children here at home, I have been thrilled to be exercising outdoors pretty much every day again now that I am getting past my hip surgery last October.  I began cycling outside in December and added running at the end of the year.

I have been super-encouraged to be learning "correct" running form this time around.  Check out ChiRunning for some fabulous running info.  Tom even purchased a spot for me in a local ChiRunning workshop as a birthday gift!  I found the 4 hours to be very, very helpful and highly recommend attending a workshop if you have opportunity.
Tom and I on my birthday
The ChiRunning book and DVD are also full of information enabling you to teach yourself proper running form, if you study and apply the principles.  One thing that I haven't done yet, but I think would be very helpful would be to have one of our children videotape me running so I can watch and get a better idea of mistakes I am making.  I'm afraid that what I *think* I'm doing and what I really look like when running are two totally different beasts! 
 Just a little word of encouragement: after having 12 children I am no svelte teen super-athlete runner.  I am getting stronger and more fit each time I go out and run though.  So I say, don't worry about what you look like.   It doesn't matter *what* anyone else thinks.  Just get out there and do it! 

One of my favorite memories from our Christmas break was a four mile trail run that I was able to take with Tom, Nate and Jake.  The dirt trail ran up a bluff overlooking a river near us... there were switchbacks and rocks to look out for, with stunning views as a reward.  It was fabulously fun!
Bringing Jemima Puddle Duck home
A few weeks ago Tom and I went out to our favorite local lake to work out... me on my bike and him running.  When we stopped in the parking area a lone duck waddled up to us, looking for a handout!  She was most certainly someone's pet that had been dumped at the lake.  We agreed that if she was still there when we finished our bike/run, we would try to catch her and take her home to live on our little farm.  She was still there when we returned, so hungry that she practically jumped into my arms.  She rode home on my lap, looking out of the car windows like a dog.  Adorable!  Jemima Puddle Duck is now happily at home in our chicken coop.  The "girls" (our chickens) were a little wary of her at first, but have warmed up admirably.
Timmy's favorite activity right now... Brio.  He spends hours every day building and playing with his trains.

Other things I've been thinking about:
  • Project Life: I am completing last year's album and am excited to be embarking on a new year.  Last year I stuck pretty close to one photo/day, adding in occasional "filler" photos when I missed taking a daily photo for some reason.  This year I am going to be a little less structured, simply including photos from each *week* on each two-page spread.  I also want to add more ephemera~ receipts, pictures drawn by the children, etc to the album.  Check out Ali's posts here and here for some great inspiration. 
  • If you are a blogger using Blogspot, check out this post telling you how to back up your blog!  I have learned to be very diligent about backing up my computer, both to an external hard drive and off site (using MOZY), but had never considered backing up my blog.  Apparently it can all be lost. 
  • Have you chosen a "word of the year" for this year?  While it can be tempting for me to make New Year's Resolutions, I find prayerfully choosing a "word of the year" to be much more meaningful.  My word this year? "Here."  As in striving to be fully engaged in what I'm doing and avoiding the deeply-ingrained tendency that I have to multi-task my way through the day.  More about that in another post soon.  If you are interested in the concept of a "word of the year," check out this post by Ann at Holy Experience... or this one.  Also, Ali Edwards has this good post.  If you have chosen a "word of the year" this year I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below!
That's it for now.... I've missed "hearing" from everyone!  Hope you are having a fabulous week!