Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christmas Lesson - Learning God's Generosity in a Lean Season

My husband is an amazing and generous man. He's generous with his time, his advice, his heart and with his money. Money never really meant much to him. Understand, he likes nice things. He has NICE taste in things. He never likes to buy less than the best (usually most expensive). But he isn't greedy. He doesn't need to keep up with the Joneses. He likes nice things, he's willing to pay more for them, but he doesn't really "value" money as some do. I say this meaning he doesn't really think about money. He doesn't worry (too much) about money. And he is generous with what money he has.

I am not generous. I think about money, a lot. I worry about money. I fret about money. I think of ways to earn more money. I try to spend less money. I am, above all, cheap. Not thrifty. Thrifty is for those who like to get all the value from a dollar. I am cheap, I care less about value and more about how far I can make a dollar stretch. I would love to give to people, but I always think I can't.

Years ago, while I was still working full time, my husband and I took a class called Crown Financial Ministries. It challenged us to tithe. Yup, the full 10%. Ouch. We both worked then and made reasonable money (I taught public school, so not an extravagant salary, but not bad for a couple 25 year-olds). We were always broke, but my hubby said we should go for it. I wanted to ease into it, slowly. Increase by about $10 every couple weeks to make sure we could afford it. He said we needed to trust God and give it a shot.

God is good, and we never felt any more struggle financially when we started tithing. It was a large extra expense, but it was not felt. I would love to say we struggled even less, but that isn't true. However, we struggled no more after increasing our giving ten fold. We were amazed.

Fast forward a few years. I had quit my job, dropping our income by more than half, to be a stay at home mom. I then began having even more babies, numbers 1 & 2 were already born while I was employed, we are now awaiting the joyful arrival of number 6. We had far less income, still we always managed. Times got hard and we missed a few tithes and I felt extremely guilty, yet God always showed His love and kindness. Each year during tax review I would discover that we were still on target with 10% even though we missed a few "payments" (this is because I round to the nearest $5, sometime $10 to make my life easier). I have now been unemployed for 7 years. Our income is back to where it was when I quit.

Sorry for all the prattling on, but you need to understand, this has been years of growing, all "culminating" if you will at this Christmas season.

As I said, my husband is generous. When the bell ringers are out, he gives each of the kids a buck or whatever change is in his pocket do drop in, I stress over the extra $2 in change I give them to donate. When a friend's family was struggling he hid $100 bill for them to find, I worried we needed that money. When someone needs, he doesn't think much about it. He does. He's not irresponsible, he's just giving. I'm not. Or I wasn't. This year God changed me, in a huge way.

For months leading up to Christmas I began to realize I couldn't always think the way I had about money. I would not buy tennis shoes when I really needed them not because we didn't have the money, because I was afraid we wouldn't have the money. That may not make sense to you, but that's how I thought. I always worried there wouldn't be enough. As this year wore on, I began to realize I needed to let go of the stress and buy things when they were needed and trust God for the outcome.

Going into Christmas has always been a stress for me, I worry about all the others we have to buy for, the parents, grandparents, etc. It adds up quickly at $20 here, $20 there. This Christmas was worse. I realized in October that the Christmas bonus we always counted on for gift buying wasn't going to happen due to company changes. I panicked. I worried. I bought a few things ahead to relieve the December burden. But I worried. Then God blessed me.

God gave me a change to go shopping for a needy family. Our church had groups shop for different families and my group got a family that I knew. They were going through some really tough times, not just financially. Our group spent around 9 hours trying to stretch every penny to bless this family with the somewhat small resources we had. I found myself volunteering to buy coloring books for the family. This was one thing they had all asked for that I didn't want to waste our precious allotted money for. I found myself saying I'd buy them, figuring it would be good for my kids to shop for other and the extra $20 would hardly be noticeable. (This is not typical thinking on my part, remember). I briefly wondered if my hubby would care, then knew immediately he wouldn't. This is how he thinks all the time.

I came home late that night exhausted and feeling so good that we were able to find almost everything asked for and get some donations for other items that would allow us to spend our allotted dollars on more "fun" stuff. We found coats and snow boots to be donated, freeing the money further.

When I returned home, I received a message from a sweet friend at our church that someone had recommended our family for this same program. What?!? We didn't have much this year, true. But with grandparents and aunts and uncles, my kids would be super blessed. They would not do without. We had enough to buy them some stuff and the rest of the family would spoil them. How could I accept this? Others, like the family I had just shopped ALL day for, needed it so much more. I was nearly in tears. I didn't know what to say. I just couldn't accept this. It wasn't pride, but a huge sense of being overwhelmingly blessed that made me want to say no.

I talked with this friend who recommended that think about it, but suggested that sometimes God wants us to learn to receive. She said we are often giving of our time and our resources and should consider receiving. I prayed about it, wondering if God had a lesson for me. I really didn't want to do it.

The next day, while I was pondering the dilemma, I was excited to find a coat for the mom of the family we were buying for. It was used, but nice and I knew that it might be gone before the person in charge could get there to buy it with the church's money, so I bought it. I didn't even worry about it. This is so not me.

After buying the coat, I could tell God was working on me. He wanted me to agree to this opportunity to allow the church to bless my family. I still didn't want to do it. I didn't think was pride causing me to want to refuse, but figured that God was working on me somehow. I reluctantly agreed.

As my husband and I went shopping for the kids, I found myself less burdened than usual for getting them just the right stuff. We had a little extra cash come in that we set aside for that purpose so I had the needed money. I found myself thinking very little about cost. I usually worry, "$19.95 is a lot to spend for this". I didn't do that. I encouraged my husband to buy things I would usually feel knots in my stomach over. Odd.

As the weeks progressed, I felt no stress over buying gifts for the parents and siblings. I didn't worry over how much it was going to cost to buy such and such a gift card, etc. I even encouraged my husband to buy the more expensive items when necessary,THIS IS NOT ME!

When time came to shop for my husband, a horrible chore (sorry honey) because he is very particular (remember, he likes nice things), I didn't worry. I decided to buy him some odd and end things, not to worry over getting just the right this or just the right that and I didn't worry about money. Again, God blessed me with a little extra unexpected income that I set aside for the dear hubby's present. I can't say that I bought him the coolest gifts this year, what I can say is, I tended toward the more expensive rather than less and even impulse bought something I knew he'd never splurge for.

I began this Christmas season with dread, but found that shopping was more joyful that it had ever been. I finally got into the sense of buying something to show them I care and try to pay attention to their interests, instead of buying just the right thing. This Christmas taught me the JOY of giving over the DREAD of giving. We still spent less this year than in previous years, tried to be aware of not overdoing it on the kids, but the burden was gone.

I suppose many of you that know me will read this and be surprised by what I say about myself. I wouldn't really want to share these insights about myself normally. However, I felt this really needed to be shared to show how God can take a stressed heart like mine and turn it toward Him and those I love during this holiday season.

By the way, just days before Christmas, when all the shopping was quite nearly (miraculously) finished (and wrapped before Christmas Eve I must add), my hubby got a Christmas bonus. God is Good, all the time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Goals

Everyone is supposed to have them. Every preacher or self help specialist will tell you that with no clear goal in mind, you will reach it every time. I've heard messages at church, in books and on the radio all extolling the virtue of having goals. A plan. One must have a plan in order to achieve anything. I have struggled with this for years, unsure why but unable to adequately plan goals. I never understood why. Today, however, I have a more clear understanding of the problem. I still don't know exactly why, but I do understand a little better the block.

Goals do not work for me. At least, not short term goals. Goals and I are like oil and water. I am, well, untidy. I don't mean to be, I don't want to be. I just am. I can clean. I can clean like a machine. You would be amazed how fast I can turn my pig-sty into a livable environment, I just lack the ability to keep it that way. Goals, the cleanies tell me. You need to have a routine (don't get me started on that word) and goals. Set a plan for the day. Decide what you will do that day. Sounds like a great idea. Problem? It doesn't work for me. Oh, you just aren't committed enough, too distractable, people tell me. This is true. I'm horribly distractible. However, I contend it isn't my fault. Murphy must have a law governing my life as it pertains to goals and plans. If I set a housecleaning goal for a day, before breakfast it will be destroyed, due to things outside my control. This happens often to me.

If, however, I get up, start working on something and get lost in whatever project I take up for the day, I am likely to get at least something accomplished. It's a poor plan I agree, but so far it is the only one that seems to work for me. I can decide on a whim to clean my kitchen or my living room and it will look great. Or, I can get up with the plan of cleaning my kitchen and end up with a trip to the ER for a head wound or wrangling a 6 year-old out of a tree.

In short, I find goals to not be something one chooses and plans for. Rather I find goals to be something one must sneak up behind and catch when they are least expecting it. Well, I am off now to see what befalls me as I continue my day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Three Year-Old say WHAAATTT?

Okay, so perhaps I have watched too much Hannah Montana. I have young children, it could be worse. Anyway, back to the purpose of this post, my three year old and her ability to say just the right thing.

My family and I spent the weekend with the in-laws while my husband helped roof their shed. It was a beautiful weekend and the kids spent much time playing outside. They all had a great time, as they always do with the grandparents who feel it is their duty to spoil them insanely (yet manage to expect the behavior we expect. They are awesome grandparents!)

The kids took turns joining Daddy on the scaffolding that was about 7 feet off the ground. The boys actually got on the roof, the girls were content to help from the scaffolding. The three year old was sure she was big enough to climb the ladder and join Daddy. She was so proud of herself. She said "See, I am a big girl. I am Queen of the World! I am a brave Queen!"

This child makes me laugh endlessly. Later Saturday evening, we were beginning to clean up the backyard for the night. Emily was riding her tricycle through the big, open backyard. "Look, Mommy, I'm doing it. I'm riding my bike!" She was so proud.

As Uncle Josh headed to the garage with the air compressor in tow, Emily and Josh's paths intersected. Completely indignant that Josh should be in her way, she says loudly and clearly in her best big girl voice, "Excuse me! I'm riding my bike here!"

Grandpa, Mommy and Daddy all begin to laugh uncontrollably while Uncle Josh tries to stare her down. I believe she won the encounter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Will They Say Next?

If you have children you understand how entertaining they can be. They have a way of saying things that can make the meanest, crankiest, most irritable mommy laugh. I believe I am qualified to make that statement based on the following two pieces of information: 1) I am said mean, cranky, irritable mommy and 2)I have a lot of children (5 1/3 at present).

I always want to document these things to remember them, but never seem to have anything handy for writing. My sweet hubby likes to remind me that I have this handy device that I carry everywhere that has a place for notes - my cell phone. Since then I am trying to remember to jot notes in my phone so that later I can share my laughs will all of you. So here were go:

My 6 year old was pestering his 4 year old sister. She hit him back. He says to her "you aren't supposed to return evil for evil" precisely as he was kicking her back. Pause, let you laugh. Funny huh. Then I explain to him that he can't lecture his sister on the bible if he wasn't going to try to follow it. His response? A huge grin! He knew all along!

Background for this story, I babysit for my friends' boys a few days a week. They have a nine year old who gets along great with either my 10 year old son or my nine year old daughter, but not both at the same time. He likes to irritate and aggravate that girl just to make her whine. She's good at whining. She could have a PhD and teach graduate classes on whining, she is so good. One can understand why both her brother and the other boy like to aggravate her (by the way, her daddy does it, too). Anyway, she comes storming in the other day with a major whine, foot stopping, the whole nine yards and says to me, "I don't see how boys ever get married! They are all stinkers!" The funniest part is I have told his momma that I can see them marrying when they are grown!

Finally, for now, a story about my sweet 3 year old. Man is she cute. She has a way of saying things that make you have to hide your face as to not get caught laughing. Last night our family went on an impromptu camping trip. We arrived at the campground and looked around. We went to look at the lake. On our way up from the lake, my sweet daughter says to me, "Last time we were here, there wasn't a lake."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Helping Your Kids Build Healthy Relationships

It really annoys me when people ask my small children, even my four and five year-olds (oops, six year-old) if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Why do they do this? Really. I know older, grandparent types think it's a cute thing to ask them and tease them about growing up, etc.. The problem, which I doubt many grandparent types realize, is that in the world in which my children are maturing and growing, many children at seven, eight and nine years old have "girlfriends" or "boyfriends".

It seems like every year, kids at younger and younger ages begin to talk about the opposite sex as more than friends. What happened to the day of "cooties" and "boys are gross!"? I have become well known, not only with my children but with their friends as well, as the authority on the fact that they are too young for that boy/girl nonsense.

As my two older kids begin to approach that age, the age of hormones and finding some interest in the opposite sex, I have found that it is now important to explain better to my children why I feel that ten year-olds don't need to worry about boyfriends and girlfriends. I was inspired the other day, while driving with my children, with (in my opinion) a good explanation as to why girlfriends and boyfriends are not something God would want them dealing with right now. Here is my explanation to my kids. Maybe it will help some of you, maybe you have better thoughts you can share with us.

I discussed with my children God's view of marriage, that it is forever. We talked about friendships. I asked if they could have a friend now that would still be their friend in 5, 8, 10 or 20 years and they agreed that they could. We talked about how they could be friends with Sally now (names changed to protect the innocent) and in 5 years could meet Sandy and become friends with her. Does that mean that Sally is no longer a friend, of course not. In another 15 years they could meet Sami and become friends. We discussed that, although perhaps things would happen causing Sally to move away or change interests and they may over time lose touch and not be friends, they still COULD be friends even if new friends came along.

Then we discussed boyfriends. If you have a boyfriend named Bob now, is it likely that in 15 years you are really going to marry Bob? No, so in order for you to get a new boyfriend, the relationship with Bob has to end. So, I explained, if you have boyfriends or girlfriends now, you are entering into a relationship planning for it to end. God doesn't want us starting relationships planning to end them. We discussed that some day they would find their future spouse and if they'd had 10 "boyfriends" in elementary school and junior high, then that is 10 relationships that they started, knowing for sure they were going to end. I told them that it was like practising for divorce.

I don't yet know what we will do when they are 16 and 17. I don't feel pressed to make that decision now, but I want my kids to understand that this "harmless" flirtation with relationships isn't harmless. It starts them down a path of looking at relationships as disposable, not lifelong. I want my kids to know that, although things change and friends move on, you should never begin a relationship with the end in mind.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What won't a Mommy do for her kids!

Actually, parents in general. We will do about anything to make our kids happy. I don't mean the kind of making our kids happy that means we forget about our rules, principles and priorities. But those moments when it is in our power to do some thing that brings joy our children, we will do it. Even if it adds stress, chaos and pushes our limits.

I love my children, but I am not an artist. Not at all. Normally daddy is left to decorate all the cakes. This year, however, birthdays have come and Mommy has had to make the cake. Well, they aren't great, but I have to say, I am pleased. First I managed a castle and a spider web. Today I made an Earth cake. Next up, a robot and a dog. Then, cakes will be done for the year!

I will add pics of the robot and dog when they are ready. Hopefully, they will look as good as the Earth!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Too Much to Do!

I know all moms feel the same way. I have too much to do. How is it possible that each passing day brings more to do, not less. I am sure many other people, those not actively raising small children, feel the same way. I can't remember the last time I sat on a porch swing and thought, "I have nothing to do today."

I remember those days as a kid when I would sit on the front porch, nothing to do. I would read until I just didn't think I could read any more. I was a book a day kind of reader back then. I could pick up a chapter book, as we called them, and finish it before supper, often picking up another to finish in the wee hours of the night.

Now, I feel lucky to finish one novel in six months. Actually, I feel guilty. I can still read a whole book in a day, but then nothing else gets done. I actually feel a little guilty right now for updating my blog instead of cleaning my house. And my "book"? Ha! Right!

How have I gone from a carefree child with no real responsibilities, to an overwhelmed adult in need of 3 full time staff just to get my affairs in order? Did I sleep through the change?

I don't know how other people do it. You know who I mean, the ones with perfectly clean houses, perfectly clean kids, 2 jobs per family, 15 missions they work on, boy scouts and girl scouts, 4-H and dance, studying part time for their degrees in astrophysics. You know who I mean. Do we all have the same 24 hours in our day?

Enough ramblings for me today, house full of the most amazing people you'll ever meet coming over tonight hoping for decent food and a place to sit, right now, I couldn't offer either!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Experiment Day, Who am I kidding?

So, the experiment was a good one. The record keeping was a remarkable failure. I didn't manage to actually conduct the experiment daily as was the original hope, but it did prove to me an invaluable tool in my school planning.

I learned two remarkable, in the sense that they are completely unremarkable and make complete sense except that I got so caught up in life I forgot these two truths, pieces of information.

First I learned, or was reminded, that children love to read. Even kids who don't know how to read, love to read. Kids should be given daily time to just be with a book, without a grown up. Constant contact with the printed word is a fabulous tool for the instruction of or introduction to reading.

Second I was reminded that the brain thrives on math. Don't give me that "I hate math" junk. I don't care. Math makes the brain work. Even simple math problems that a child already knows helps keep the wheels turning and reduces brain rust. The simple act of daily doing math problems keeps their thinker thinking.

Remarkably unremarkable results. Yet I am much encouraged at the knowledge I possess, not perhaps newly learned, but sometimes, it's the old knowledge, so well hidden behind dusty cobwebs of stress, business, overwork, chaos and confusion that we must pull out, dust off and admire anew, as if just acquired for the first time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Writing on the Walls

Have you ever had a child who liked to graffiti? My fourth child was, by far, my worst about writing on the walls. And doors. And dry erase board with Sharpie. Oh, and did I mention the wall at church? The problem that this darling, then 2 year-old, child had was that she always wrote her name. Well, not actually her name, I mean she was only two, but the letter "R" which stood for her name. When she wrote her "R" on the wall at church, it was hard to deny who did it. There really weren't any other young children able to write whose names started with an "R".

I used to joke that if she was going to write a name on a wall, she should write someone else's name. It would be harder to trace to her if it said someone else's name. Of course I never told her this, I wanted to be able to trace the graffiti to it's author. Eventually this bright little girl learned to spell her whole name and to stop "tagging" the walls in our house. And doors. And dry erase boards, you get the picture.

It has been months since we have had an offence. Or should I say it HAD been months. Today, that precious, delightful, adorable, beautiful child (I am trying to remember as many good things as possible to protect her very life at this point. Don't laugh, if you have children you know what I am talking about!) once again decided to try her hand at graffiti. Today however, she decided not to write on the walls. Or doors. Or dry erase board. Not even the walls at church. On what did she decide to graffiti?

My truck. Yep, my truck. With what did she decide to write on my truck? A rock. Yep. She took a rock and etched a name in it. However, she must have finally learned that "tagging" with your own name was a bad idea. She wrote her brother's name. Unfortunately for her, she didn't realize that she shouldn't eagerly exclaim "I did!" when Daddy asked "Who did this?!"

Perhaps this will be her last attempt at graffiti!

The pictures you are seeing show my reflection and the reflection of my fence in my blue truck. If you look you will see "HOA", part of Noah. She couldn't scratch his name into the dirt, so she decided to scratch it into the truck.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Experiment, Day 1 - The End of Day 1

I know you have been waiting, anticipating the results of Day 1. If you have no idea about what I am babbling, read the post right under this one. You won't really know much more, but you will at least know a little more.

Okay, so after reminding my children of the prior hardships they have had to endure, and assuring the oldest that he did not actually die from the beans and rice, that he is still alive and kicking, I was able to make my point. I believe they saw both the rationality of trying the experiment and the futility of arguing with their crazy momma. All went quite well. Okay, you got me, most went quite well. I do have a four year-old in Kindergarten. She didn't actually do very well. She whined during math, whined during reading and even said "Why do you make us do boring stuff?" But then, she is actually only 4. I give her a little slack.

The three older children did quite well. I saw more diligence and patience at working than I have seen recently. Of course, the first day is usually the easiest. Tomorrow we try again (on a Saturday no less!)

Experiment

I am beginning a new homeschool experiment today. That sounds kind of bad, doesn't it? Oh well, it is what it is, as my dear friend says. Like most homeschool moms that I know, I feel like I am blowing it most days. I was intrigued by an website I read explaining one dad's homeschool theory. While I do not agree completely with him, I was very, shall we say - piqued. How could I use this thought with my kids? Hmmm...

Without trying to explain his lengthy argument or his theory, and without boring you with my plan, I want to document my children's attitude about school and academic progress during the next 29 days (the rest of April) while we experiment. I will try to update as often as I have something to report. If it is boring, well, sorry. You don't have to read it!

Day 1 -
My children are still sleeping unsuspectingly in their own beds. Picture sinister background music as the mad scientist a.k.a. Homeschool Momma begins pulling out the materials needed and planning the peptalk. Eerie laughter as Momma anticipates their surprise and lack of enthusiasm, Ha Ha Ha! (Okay, actually listening to a little praise music and somehow a little Beethoven who managed to sneek his way into my playlist.)

I have it all planned out. I will explain to the darlings how they have survived TV Free August, not once but twice, how they survived rice and beans as part of the crazy pastors fast in October, and most recently how they have survived 40 days (actually 47 counting Sundays) with no pop. With this reminder firmly in their minds, thinking of how it could be worse and how each of these things got easier as the time progressed, and reminding them that Momma and Daddy didn't change their minds so resitance is futile, I will encourage them to look at the next 29 days (minus Sundays so only 25 really) as a great opportunity for growth! Now there is a run-on sentence to be proud of!

First child just awoke. Tune in later to see how it went!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Did your mom really just say that?

I was chatting on the phone with my amazing husband today when I uttered words that made him break out into laughter. I found nothing strange nor very amusing in my statement. Had I been chatting with a mom friend, they would not have found it nearly so funny. They would have barely noticed the statement that I made to my child in the midst of my grown up phone conversation. All I said was "If someone did puke on that, it was long enough ago that it is clean now."

Yes, my husband seemed to find this verging on hysterical. My husband concluded that I was equating time with clean. Apparently in his mind I was saying that time alone would make the item in question clean. Ok, so I suppose that is funny.

What I really meant, and I am sure any mom could understand, was that since there was no visible puke on the toy in question and I could not actually recall any event of puking, it had obviously been cleaned since the alleged puking experience. Dads! They just can't read a mom's mind!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicken Slime

Last night my husband and I crockpotted a chicken. I say my husband and I because, although he did all the work, it was my idea thereby making it a joint effort! I awoke this morning, too stinking early I might add, to the yummy aroma of cooked chicken. I pulled it out of the crockpot to cool. After adequate cooling time I attempted to put it into a zippered bag to put in the fridge until it is needed later.

I say attempted for a reason. I managed to maneuver most of the chicken to the bag via large spoon. I don't really enjoy touching the food I am cooking, it's a thing I have. Finally, I had to use my hands to manage to get the large breast picked up and in the bag.

Everyone knows you have to save the broth as well, right? Next task, get all the broth into the bag. No problem. Should I use a ladle or pour? Knowing that I would eventually have to pour it anyway, I decided to go for it. Maybe I should preface the rest of this by mentioning that I am The World's Messiest Cook. I don't actually yet have a certificate proving this title yet, but I am certain one is in the mail headed my way.

I prop the gallon size zippered bag up and begin to pour. At this point I am feeling pretty proud of myself, the broth is going into the bag and not all over the counter. At about this exact moment, the bag tips and starts pouring chicken broth all over the counter, into the slightly ajar drawer of kids' cups and onto the floor.

I now am surrounded by The Great Sea of Chicken Slime me. All of my children are outside enjoying the fresh air, and I can't go anywhere for fear of spreading chicken slime all over the house.

Chicken broth is yummy to use in soups and dishes. It is a nightmare to remove from floors and counters.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The First and the Last

I sit here with an amazing life. I have five fabulous children. They are simply amazing. I wonder at God's reasoning for lending them to me and allowing me the honor of raising them. Why? I'm so totally unworthy. But I try. I try to do that which I feel is God's heart for my children. I pray for God to help me see them as He sees them. I watch them grow and my heart aches for their babyhood while rejoicing in their new adventures.

Recently, in a conversation with a sweet friend who is further along this parenting journey than I, I was reminded of a bitter-sweet moment. I remembered holding my youngest baby and nursing her for what I new would be the last time. I desperately wanted to hold on to that moment, yet knew that I couldn't. There always has to be a last, I was fortunate enough this time to know it. Often we don't.

This friend reminded me that we try so hard to remember the firsts in our child's life: Their first moments in this world, their first word, first step, first day of school, first dance, first date. It is rare that we are aware of their last anything. Do we remember the last time they said "get-for" instead of "forget" or the last time they drank out of sippy cup. Do we even remember the last jar of baby food? We get so busy looking ahead and focused on the next thing coming, that we sometimes forget to notice that the new ushers out the old.

I urge you parents, try to take time and slow down and cherish those little things, for you never know when it will the last time your baby says "I wub oo" instead of "I love you."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No Naps!

So, here we are. Tomorrow we finally go in and have tubes put in Rachel's ears. Before Thanksgiving we noticed this poor child just couldn't hear us. Took her in and discovered she had an ear infection. No surprise except that come early February, it was still there. Our wonderful
pediatrician agreed to refer to the ENT.

The initial ENT appointment was scheduled for March 4th. This poor child's ears had gotten bad enough to have blisters in them. The pediatrician said her eardrum could rupture any time. I was not thrilled with waiting 6 weeks to see the ENT. After the original referral, we were back in the ped's office with her ears hurting.

I am usually a go with the flow, that is the best they can do, follow the rules kind of girl. I decided to try harder. One call to the ENT's Physician's Assistant and I had an appointment for the next day! Needless to say, tubes are in order and a possible adenoidectomy. So tomorrow we go in.

I have been talking to her about it, telling her how great it will be when she can hear again and her ears don't bother her. All was well until last night. Last night big sis decided to pray about Rachel's surgery. Rachel started getting a little nervous. I sat her on my lap and told her the doctor would give her some medicine to help her take a nap and then she would stick a little tube in her ears and then she would wake up and feel so much better.

She burst into tears. Crying, she told me she didn't want to take a nap. She cried for several minutes and all she would tell me is that she didn't want to take a nap! Poor baby, she is so upset about this nap thing. I know the hard part tomorrow will be when they take her away from me. The hard part for both of us. No matter how many times you do it, and how simple the surgery, it's hard when they take your baby away from you!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Five Little Monkeys

God has blessed me with five amazing and adorable children. It is easy as a parent to get frustrated with our children and get focused on the negative. I want to take a moment and write the great and amazing things about my children.

My oldest boy, Zack, just turned 10. He is amazing. I know I keep using that word, but I just don't know a better one! He is Daddy's mini-me Zack is very bright and thinks non-stop. He is constantly planning and processing and trying to figure the neatest, coolest way to do something. He is a hard worker (when on a task he chooses!) and very thorough. He is a bit of a perfectionist. He marches to the beat of the drum in his head, and on the table, on the desk, on the computer, on his brother's head. His world if filled with sound and noise. He must be listening to or making sound and music at all times. He is already showing natural leadership tendencies. He will do great things for God!

Allison is 8 (and 1/2, don't forget). She is my mini-me. She thinks like I do, acts like I did. She is a constant reminder of my childhood. She is beautiful, sweet, and kind. She is compliant. She desires to please the adults in her world. She loves schoolwork and books. She is learning to sew and draw. She has a heart to serve. Despite her similarities to me, she is so much more than I ever dreamed I would be. God has a hold on her heart and fills her with his love. She will be a super mom and a great wife. She will start her married life in a place that took me years to find. She will be blessed by the Lord for her willingness to serve her family.

My Noah is almost 6! I always call him "my Noah". He is this great mixture of his parents. As much as his older brother is his dad's childhood carbon copy, Noah is his dad's adult carbon copy. He has his dad's "peculiarities". He is laid back and easy going, until he determines something is worth fighting for, then there is no moving him. He's compliant, until you hit his line in the sand. He knows right and wrong and is steadfast about it. He is fiercely devoted to protecting his younger sister. When Rachel is hurt or upset, Noah is there to help her and protect her. There is still something unique inside him that I haven't figured out yet, but I know God has a plan to use this boy for something amazing.

Rachel is recently 4. She is beautiful beyond belief, smart beyond all understanding. I knew my kids were all smart, (what parent doesn't, right) but Rachel has astounded my from the start. She has a deep beauty that shines through her eyes and a brain that excels her beauty. More importantly than either of those, however, she knows God in a way that astounds me daily, even hourly sometimes. She sees God in everything and talks of Him as she does her Daddy. She knows, somehow at this young age, that God is the best Daddy in the world. She loves and adores her earthly Daddy, but also really gets the love of her heavenly Daddy. I learn from her constantly. I can't even begin to guess what God is doing with her, but I know He is working out his plan even now.

Emily is my youngest at 2 and 1/2 going on 5. She is so young that it is hard to have a handle on her personality completely, but she definitely is her own person. She is very bright, repeats everything, and loves people. She is affectionate at her own desire, only gives hugs and kisses when she wants and cannot be coerced otherwise! She is independent and can do it herself. If the other kids can do it, so can she. She is thinker and a world watcher. You might think she's not really paying any attention, but don't bet on that! I am not sure where God is taking her, but I am sure she will be going for a great ride!

It sounds like I am trying to make my kids sound perfect. I know they aren't perfect. I spend way too much time dwelling on their weaknesses. I am learning, however, that strengths and weaknesses are two ends of the same line. That which is a weakness in our lives, is usually a strength in disguise. Our strengths can be our weaknesses. A strong willed child can be raised to be an independent adult who is a great leader. A tender hearted child can be easily manipulated by others. That which we view as strengths and that which we view as weaknesses are just unmanaged character traits. God gives us our character traits. It is our job as parents to raise our children so that their heart is willing to allow God to mold their character for His purposes!

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Sharing the Heart of God

In my previous post "Sharing the Heart of God," I discussed how we pay forward kindness without expecting any repayment, knowing that others are doing likewise. Last night I saw again how this plays out.

My husband went to help a friend with some computer issues. While there he got a call from another friend who needed help getting his stranded, broken down car home. My darling husband didn't bat an eye and offered to help get the car. After dropping this friend and his car off at home, he stopped and met a third friend to pick up our car that friend number three had taken and repaired.

Isn't it awesome what we can do for others and how God honors and blesses that by putting others in our lives to help us!

Share your stories of how God has used you to bless someone and in turn blessed you through a different person. I am convinced when we think less about ourselves and more about others, it will change the world, at least the small part we live in!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Writer's Heart

The written word. It is such an amazing thing. It has such power to convey thoughts, ideas and emotions. It can bring laughter and tears. It can give hope. It can allow people to travel to places and times they never dreamed possible. The written word offers to the reader a great range of experiences and emotions brought to them by the hand of another.

All writing is an interaction of two parties, the author and the audience. The author writes with hopes of conveying thoughts and feelings to the audience. He opens his soul a little, bares his own private thoughts, for better or worse, for the sake of the audience. The audience comes bringing their own set of expectations, bringing their own baggage, thoughts, and ideas as would any participant in any relationship.

When the connection is made, the author hopes he had done a good job of conveying that which he wants the audience to feel or understand. Yet, inevitably, there will be times that the audience, sometimes as a whole but usually as an individual, will come away from the connection with a different view or mood than the author was intending. This can be due to the authors' lack of success at conveying the desired mood or due to the audiences prior baggage. As with any relationship, there is usually more than one party that brings "fault" to the miscommunication. However, at the end of the night, the audience leaves the interaction with their ideas and thoughts on the authors work, and the author is left bare, alone and sometimes hurt by results of his efforts.

When one writes for another to see, he opens a part of himself to another that can never really be closed.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Have you ever heard your child say something so cute, so amazing, so downright funny you just had to call and tell someone? I have created a new column of things I have heard my children say and would like to invite you to add your children's comments. Leave a comment here and I will add them to the column! Thanks for your contribution!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sharing the Heart of God

I have been accused of a being great many things in my life. Many of them I would not choose to reprint here. I recently have found myself being accused of being, well, selfless. It seems so hard to understand to me. I know me and know just how selfish I can be (as an old country song plays in my head). Yet I have lately had statements similar to the following made to me:

"You are selfless beyond words."
"You are such a good friend."
"You are a so kind."
"You are a saint."
"You are amazing"

I am pretty sure "You are crazy" has been implied, along with some of these statements, but not actually uttered.

Now, I don't say these things to brag about me. I don't actually believe these statements to be completely true (some of them not even slightly true!), except maybe the one about being crazy. So why am I telling you this? Well, the truth is, I think we can all be those things, at times.

I have little to offer in way of helping people. I am a super busy homeschooling mom with 5 kids ages 10-2. I don't have much (if any) extra cash for giving to those in need. I don't have the ability to go to foreign countries and be a missionary and build houses and feed the hungry. I don't have the skill to do a great many things that people need done.

I do have one main skill, ability, resource to offer. I can offer my home and heart (such as it is) to care for the children of friends in need. I have been willing to babysit many friends kids and left them somehow amazed at my willingness. This puzzles me somewhat, and yet I am beginning to see that this is more than a nice thing to do.

A year or so ago, a friend of mine offered to teach my very musically talented child (with a nearly tone deaf mother) piano. I could not pay her normal rates, and yet she was will to just do it for the good of my child and for the kindness to a friend. I felt grateful, and yet unworthy. I wanted to do some great kindness to show her my appreciation. I brought her dinner as some small token of thanks. She simply said she believes in the power of "pay it forward". Wow!

I didn't realize until today, that is is basically what is motivating me to help my friends. I know they may not ever "repay" me with the same amount of childcare or whatever one would consider a "fair" trade, yet I know each of these people have the heart to help others. Each of them helps other people, expecting no return of favor.

Perhaps if we each help the next person when we can, that person can someday help another and so forth, and the world will be much more the place God intends it to be. So for now I will content myself to watch others go out and do glorious works for God, and I will plod along doing the few minor things I can to help out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we'll stay true to all that. But there's so much more. Let's get on with it!" Hebrews 6:1-3 from The Message Bible

Last night in my home a group of friends gathered to have a small bible study. We read this passage. We originally read it in the NIV. A friend suggested we read the interpretation from The Message. I found myself rather impacted by this statement. I wonder, how often do we, the body of Christ as a whole and Christians individually, waste time fingerpainting for Christ instead of using the gifts He has given us to create the grand masterpiece he is calling us to create? Do we content ourselves with fingerpainting, fooling ourselves into thinking it is the highest caliber of art we have to offer. Or are we contenting ourselves with having done some art, when we know others are doing none?

I find myself watching my children and seeing that while I am still fingerpainting, they, even the littlest of them, are busily creating masterpieces of God!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Things you thought you would never say

I would like your help. I would like comments here with things you found yourself saying as a parent that you thought you never would! I changed my settings so anyone should be able to post.

Comments left may be added to the side bar listing of "Things I never thought I would say!" Can't wait to hear them!

Holiday World 2011!

Holiday World 2011!

Baby # 6

Baby # 6
Welcome to the world and welcome to our crazy family!

Fort Benning

Fort Benning
We finally made it to Georgia!!!

Just a day at the park!

Just a day at the park!

My Hero!

My Hero!
I don't do dead things. Fortunately for me, God gave me boys!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!
Daddy and Grandma make Jammies every year for the kids, They love it!

Christmas in PJs

Christmas in PJs
Don't I just have the cutest kids?

2010 Jammies

2010 Jammies
Once again Daddy pulled it off. They look cute!

Round 2 birthday parties

Round 2 birthday parties
Cake number 1 of 3 done. I am so not an artist, but I think it came out pretty well!

My Girls

My Girls
Borrowed dance clothes, my girls sure look cute.

Couped up

Couped up
More images below showing the children feeling a bit "couped up" from the long winter!

Chickens: Take 2

Chickens: Take 2
Cute chicks!

The robot cake. I am glad my kids' standards aren't as high as mine!

Tree Climbers

Tree Climbers

Summer Fun!

Summer Fun!
Hi Daddy! Hope you are having fun at work!

This one is so bad, I had to label the cake so you would know it's not a cow!

Dressed for Church!

Dressed for Church!
Come as your favorite Bible character night!

Too cute for words!

If the boy wasn't so tall, I could get a picture of his face!

Establishing the pecking order!

Babies!