Category Archives: Family

Summer’s Last Hurrah

I can’t believe summer is nearly over!  Where did it go??

Oh, yeah…we had a baby.  That’s where our summer went:)

Over labor Day, we made our first trip to the in laws since Selah’s birth.  It was so nice to get away.  They spoil us rotten with good food, sleeping in, free babysitting, and family adventures.

We made sure to pack appropriately…I won’t embarass myself by admitting just how many peanut m&m’s I consumed…vacation calories don’t count, right?  Right?

We hit the trail to test out g’ma’s new motorized scooter. Emma and Ruthie kept pace with some old two-wheel scooters, Selah and Sammy rode comfortably in the stroller, and the rest of us jogged to keep up!  Hubs had to “test drive” his old scooter, just to make sure it worked okay:)

Selah was doted on all weekend…getting lots of QT with g’ma and g’pa…

On the way home, we made our annual pilgrimmage to The Big Peach, where we bought Amish popcorn and a fresh-from-the-oven (yum!!) blackberry pie.

We got home just in time to unpack and get Sammy ready for his first day of preschool…he’s getting so, so BIG!

 

Summer’s last hurrah!


{this blessed life}

{this blessed life}

sun dawning, mama yawning;
joints aching, day breaking

mercy new, {always true}

shower steaming, dishes gleaming;
children raising, husband dazing

laundry piling, me smiling;
break the fast, hope is cast

lessons taught, Truth is sought;
laughing, learning; praying, yearning

{this blessed life}

washer whirring, hearts stirring;
busy hands, making plans

soup bubbling, children tumbling;
in one accord, we afford

{peace}

we break bread, grace is said;
all sojourners, Love yearners

questions posing, night closing;
voices raise, in joyful praise

{for the Author of this blessed life}


December Rose

She’s holding on fiercely through wind, rain, snow, ice.  Clinging to the vine that climbs wildly around the railing of our wrap-around porch.  She’s a beauty, though.  A spot of crimson against the dreary landscape.  A little bit of hope, a reminder of warmer, sunnier, brighter days.  December rose…

And then there’s this December Rose…

And she is so lovely.  Her bright eyes, warm smile.  Her tender heart, her generous spirit.  10 Decembers ago, I held her in my arms, wondering how I would mother such a wonder.  Would I teach her well?  Would I know how to help her grow into the woman God means for her to be?

And now I know…it is she who is teaching me well.  It is she who is showing me how to be the mother God means for me to be.  It is she (and her sisters and brother) who challenge what I know about love and grace and forgiveness and compassion.

Today, I held her in my arms (all nearly five feet of her!) and wondered still at the marvel of who she is.  Her beauty, her gifts, her spirit.  Beautiful.  I see now that the baby, toddler and little girl I have loved is just a preview of what is to become…who she is becoming.  It…she…takes my breath away.

December Rose…


My “Perfect” Kids

First, let me say that I love my kids.  They are each unique, wonderful individuals and I am so blessed to me their mama.  That God would choose me….well, I can’t begin to understand His goodness in that department.

Having said that, these wonderful, unique individuals are also…little sinners (just like me, just like you.)  One of the best pieces of parenting advice I received after our oldest was born was to always see her as a sinner.  A sinner worth loving, a sinner worth saving, a sinner with a God-designed plan for life.  But, a sinner, nonetheless.  I think adopting that viewpoint from the beginning has helped prevent me from worshipping my children or placing unusually high expectations on them.  It’s also helped me maintain a spiritual, eternal mindset as I mother them.

Anyway, twice in the last week I’ve been asked questions about parenting and both times, the other mothers mentioned something to the effect that my children are “perfect” or that I am mothering them “perfectly.”  I laughed both times and was quick to tell them that two of my daughters lied to me in one day and I was so tired one night that I let the kids eat Funyuns, Skittles, peaches, and gummy worms for dinner.  Really.  I did.

It’s so easy to look at another family and think, “Wow.  They really have it together.  Their kids are well-behaved, their marriage is so solid.”  And then we look at our own messy marriage or willful children and feel discouraged.  We can feel like failures or feel as if there is no hope for things to improve.  What we don’t see are the inward workings of others’ hearts.

But, God does.  And He sees your heart, too.  He knows your struggles, your mistakes, your challenges…and He sees the victory, the redemption, the peace on the other side.

No mother is perfect.  No child is perfect.  God gives us perfect gifts in one another and through one another.  We can choose to be a good and perfectly pleasing gift, but we ourselves are not perfect and neither are our children.

So, back to my own children…I love them.  Most days, I like them, too.  They are far from perfect, highly entertaining, eternally rewarding, messy, difficult, energetic.  And I am so blessed to know them!


177 Years

Combined, they’ve walked this earth 177 years.  Last month they celebrated 65 years of marriage…they’ve seen it all….the better, the worse, the richer, the poorer, sickness and health…and it will only be death that parts them.

He sat with me and talked of her.  There has always been a steadfastness about him…always.  Caring for her has revealed the depth of that rock-steadiness.  He told me about the nursing home and her care there, about her recent hearing and vision tests, about her physical health.  Then he looked wistfully out the picture window as he described her mental health…about how she has trouble remembering the aides’ names, about her confusion.  It bothers him…to see her this way…struggling.   There were long pauses in his description, as if he was searching for something to steady his mind on.  How must it feel to watch the other half of one”s self slowly, painfully slipping away? Wouldn’t I, too, grasp for something to hold on to, something to secure myself?

I took the two oldest girls to visit with her.  She was sleeping so peacefully when we arrived.  When she realized who we were, her eyes danced a bit…she hasn’t forgotten love.  We sat and talked with her…she was delighted to see the girls and kept locking eyes with them, as if she were memorizing their faces.  We fed her dinner and I felt emotional thinking of the thousands of meals she must have spoon fed her own babies and grandbabies and great-grand babies over the years.  It was a privilege to return the favor.  After dinner the girls leaned in close and recited their blue-ribbon speeches for her.  She smiled.  Then they sang Sunday School songs to her.  We could all tell this was ministering to her heart.

Three times she asked us to sing “Jesus Loves Me.”  The girls sang with gusto…one of the aides stopped in the doorway, smiling, listening.  On our last sing-through, she closed her eyes and tears rolled down her cheeks.  I wonder if she was taking the words to heart…”Jesus loves me, this I know…”

Before we left, we prayed with her, holding her hands, loving on her.  She was tired…but, she was peaceful.  The words hung in the air…‘Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me…”  Yes, MaMa, Jesus does love you…Yes, He loves us all.


Because Being a Mother is Being a Missionary…

Edited and re-posted for SheSpeaks…details at the bottom of this post. 

(Just especially for you, tired Mama, mother to one or mother to many…because you may not know or maybe  you do know and have just forgotten…the fields of your child’s soul are ripe for scattering seeds…)

They start arguing for the hundredth time in the last hour and I’m at the end of my wit…and patience and all things lovely.  I want to drown out the argument with a stamp of the foot, a raising of my voice–to speak with a tone and authority that expresses my displeasure, my exasperation.  As their voices rise and multiply and more children are drawn into the fray, I think I might drown if I don’t overwhelm them with words of my own.  And I must choose my reaction carefully…all morning I have repeated, “Choose love, choose love, choose love…because Love has chosen you.”  And with an impatient stamp or misspoken tone, I can change all that I have tried to teach.  They will learn…but not what I have been asked to impart.

“Choose love, choose love, choose love…” I say again and again.  And I think I’m saying it more to myself than to them this time because I desperately want to choose love. 

We go on with our day, working out the wrinkles of sin and selfishness.  We pray and seek The Way, the Right Road that always leads–no matter the twisting and turning–to the same worn spot at the foot of the Cross.  We have to, each one of us,, choose to leave self there and walk with Christ or linger in the flesh.  And it’s there, at the Cross, that I’m reminded that in dying to myself, I once again become a missionary to my children.

They are not born with knowledge of God…they must be taught.  And with every word and deed, I do teach them…right or wrong, love or hate, obedience or destruction.  They will learn.  If I believe that Jesus is my Savior, then I believe He is that to them as well and it is my calling to share the good news with them.

The sharing comes in many forms…and there are more opportunities to share with them than I will ever be aware.  From the morning hug, to the afternoon snack, to the bedtime prayers…I am on a mission to share the love of Christ with my children.  I may have to change and adapt to reach them–understanding their individual needs and personalities, learning how they learn, what they value–but the message doesn’t change:  choose love, choose love, choose….because Love has chosen you.

Father, help me.  Help me cling to You.  Help me to know that You have chosen me…to be Yours and to be their mother.  Thank You for the privilege.  Forgive me for taking it for granted.  Forgive me for not giving it the attention and focus You have asked of me.  Help me to start new.  Help me to choose love, choose love, choose love…Help me to be the missionary you want me to be in the hearts of my children.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

She Speaks is a conference helping women connect their hearts and words to the Heart and Word of God.  Read one of my favorite bloggers and about a wonderful scholarship opportunity here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/03/how-christians-create-art-she-speaks-scholarship/ and read more about SheSpeaks here: http://shespeaksconference.com/

 


Sufficiency

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:7-10

It’s been building for months–the perfect storm of inconveniences.  Our girls are all in school this year, I started teaching part-time, Hubs’ job has had ultra-stressful days and weeks, and our Boy is smack dab in the middle of the terrible two tantrums.  Our predictable family routine has changed…dramatically.  We’ve gone from homeschooling to out-of-home schooling.  We no longer have an adult at home all day to take care of the details of our life.  Togetherness isn’t something we can take for granted and we have to fight tooth and nail to maintain the values and belief system we feel called to.  It’s been…hard.

And I know that God has been building us, strengthening us, preparing us for this season.  All those sleepless nights with colicky babies, all the potty training, all the disciplining, all the juggling of temperaments and tempers…and we’re still learning.  We are not in this season completely unprepared.  We are stronger because of this decade of parenting.  I know that God is working in and through us and has so many more blessings for us as individuals and as a family.

But this season is still hard.

I cannot count the number of nights that I’ve begged God for help:  Help us, Lord.  Give us strength.  Give us Your peace.  Help us to love each other better.  Help me to understand…give me Wisdom.  Give me JESUS…  To be completely honest, I’ve also begged God to make things different:  Let me bring the girls back home.  Release me from my responsibilities at school.  Let me go back to focusing solely on my family.  Can I sleep in just one morning?! 

I feel so weak, so lacking, so impoverished in spirit.  I know how to mother as a stay-at-home, homeschooling, diapering, dish-washing, laundering, mopping mom.  I don’t know how to mother as a caravaning, hyper-scheduled, multi-tasking to the hilt mom.  This feels like a desert and sometimes I wonder if we would all be better off back in Egypt–though we certainly weren’t slaves:)

So back to the begging and pleading…  It’s probably come mostly in the form of a complaint.  Not a lot of gratitude, but a fair amount of attitude.  God is faithful to listen and remind me to be grateful for all that I do have.  He has also pressed this question into me:  Am I enough?

Is He?

Is He enough?  If I never really get comfortable with our new schedule and routine, can I be comfortable in Him?  If I never learn how to get the kids to school on time without losing my temper, can I continue to learn patience from the ultimate Long Sufferer?  If  my son throws five tantrums a day for the next year, can I use my lips (and this keyboard) to bless and praise the Lord?  Is He enough for me?

I love the verse above.  I love that God wanted us all to know that even amazing, teaching, preaching, missionary Paul struggled.  He felt weak.  He begged God to relieve him from a thorn in his side.  And what was God’s answer?  God is sufficient.

He is everything and anything I need or will ever need.  He. is. enough.

Paul came to praise God for His weaknesses because in the weakness of who he was, a failing human, God was made greater.  God’s strength becomes so obvious when our weaknesses are exposed.  Look at what Paul lists:  infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, distresses.  I can think of at least one thing for each of those categories in my own life!  Rather than complaining and dreading the “inconveniences” of my present circumstances, I should be rejoicing!  Why?  Because as Paul says, in my weaknesses, in my lacking, in my poverty of spirit–Christ is exalted.

So tomorrow will be another challenge.  I will most certainly fail in a variety of areas.  I won’t have enough energy, time, patience, talent,  or ability to get through the day.  But I know a wonderful Father-God who does.  I know He is enough.  For me, for my husband, for my children, for friends and family, for every situation I encounter. 

He is enough.


Louis Braille

Why am I so surprised that one of my children would enjoy writing as much as I do?  I do think she will probably eclipse me in talent, but I am wonderfully okay with that.  Her book report for English…she chose Louis Braille because she had read a story about him last year and wanted to know how a blind person could lead other blind people to read and learn.  Tonight she said that his blindness was a gift…”if he had been able to see, he wouldn’t really have been able to ‘see’ that blind people needed to be able to read.” 

(Have I mentioned already that my daughter amazes me?)

Louis Braille

Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809 in Coupvray, France. Louis was born very red and wrinkly. His brothers and sisters loved him very much. One day Louis was helping his father with a saddle. His father knew what he was thinking. “Louis,” his father said, “don’t even think about it!” “I won’t,” Louis said. “Then, promise,” said his father. “I promise,” Louis said. “Good,” his father said. Louis’ eyes were fixed on his father’s awl. He knew that he should not touch it, so he tried to help his mom, but he was sent away. He went back to the workshop and decided to use his father’s awl. It was fun until the awl slipped, sprang into the air and flew into Louis’ eye. “Ouch!” he screamed. Soon after, Louis became blind.

 Luckily, a preacher named Father Pauly came to Louis’ town. He offered to give Louis lessons in school. However, he had very little time to teach Louis. He decided to send Louis to a blind institute. The institute was very hard. It was difficult to get around. At first, Louis was very shy, but soon he got the hang of it. Louis graduated and was invited to be a teacher at the institute. He took the job and learned to teach geography, science, music, and spelling.

 As a teacher, Louis noticed that the reading books they had were very short and there weren’t very many of them. It was hard to put lots of words on each page because the words were made of stones in the shape of the alphabet. Louis met with other people who had thought of different ways to write the alphabet for the blind. One of them had the idea of putting sharp pins in the shapes of letters. Louis thought it was a good idea, but was concerned that it would hurt everybody. Next, someone else had an idea that certain raised dots on a page would stand for a sound. Louis thought that was also a good idea, but it would be hard to remember all the words made by dots. Finally, a third person had an idea of also putting raised dots on pages, but the dots were much bigger than the printed alphabet.

 Louis had his own idea! He would make his own alphabet. Every night, he punched out little tiny dots that were just the right size. Soon Louis had made his first book! It was quite a success. He taught others how to read the dots.

 One day, Louis felt terribly sick. The doctor said that there was no cure for the disease that Louis had. On January 6, 1852 Louis’ eyes closed for the last time. Louis Braille wasn’t a well-known person because his death wasn’t mentioned in the newspaper. What we can learn from him is that we should always try again and again. We should be careful what we do, and always obey our parents. The number of books that Louis Braille made in his life time was 100 books. One dot at a time, they all came together and that’s how the Braille system was created. It is still used today and is named in honor of all that Louis Braille did.

THE END


Today

She stands in the twilight of eight…about to enter her last single digit year…words flows from her heart to her her pen onto paper into my heart to treasure.  She laid this on my pillow for me to find this morning.  A kindred writing spirit.  I grudgingly share this beautiful girl with you, dear Reader.  How she delights…

Today

It could be just today.

It could be tomorrow.

It could last for one day.

It could last forever.

It could be

….for Jesus.


Pumpkin Patch (no edits)

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