Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Experience at Getting Passports

Our first attempt ever at getting passports was December 23. That's right, December 23- a Saturday - the Saturday before Christmas. We live in a small midwestern town where the post office was closing at 1 pm that day. I got out while hubby stayed in the car with the children. If we had to fill out applications, we certainly wanted to do that in the car while the children could be entertained with a dvd, rather than in the post office where they would amuse themselves with all sorts of getting into things they weren't supposed to, and bothering each other very loudly in sight of all the patrons.

So, yours truly ventured into the post office at around 11 am on said Saturday to get the information on passports. The line was rather short, which was a good thing since there were only 2 employees working behind the counter that day. I went to the passport line. I was greeeted by a kind man, even if he was a bit, shall we say, small town (read: redneck - hope that doesn't offend!). I asked the kind man about the passports and he gave me the forms to fill out. I then inquired about fees and such, implying that we would need the passports expedited.

To quote the man, "Oooooohhhh, that's gonna cost ya."

My reply, "Thank you, sir. We're aware that it will be costly, but we are needing them quickly."

Then, I made my most grievous mistake -- I implied to the man that we were intending on applying for the passports that very day and would need photos taken there, as the last place we went to get photos did not seem to have a camera that would properly fit children. After the kind gentleman recovered from his shock and disgust that we desired to get the passports right then, two hours from his Christmas vacation break, he then proceeded to give me all the explanations as to why we did NOT want to apply for the passports that day, saying things such as, "There are only two of us working today." "The line's gonna be all the way out the door." And other such things. It was quite an experience. I want to add that this experience wasn't rude, just comical. In no way am I trying to disrespect the postman.

I'm sure I'll miss these kinds of exchanges between myself and other midwestern kinds-of- folks (of which I'm one). My next bureaucratic exchanges will undoubtedly have a more high-brow, English, sort of tone. I'm sure this experience will continue be interesting.

Stay tuned for our other exciting adventures!

It's Official

Posted in our family life
Well, hubby accepted the temporary position in London, England. We'll be leaving mid-January. This has all happened very quickly. We're big home-bodies, so it will definitely stretch us. We are very excited about the opportunity for our family and for hubby, career-wise. Please pray for us as we plan, pack and leave in a very quick fashion. Please stop by for some short update posts as the days progress. I hope to be posting more regularly, but the posts will probably be shorter.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Big, Big Stuff

Please bear with me as my posts are few and far between. Not only is it the Christmas season and my daughter's fourth birthday, but our family is considering a temporary overseas assignment with his company. It would happen very quickly. We would sure appreciate your prayers! I will be planning to post details soon of our plans. Merry Christmas, everyone! Oh, and a new devotion of mine is up on our church website in case you're interested.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Busyness

I haven't been around much this week. Three things...I've been waiting for homeschoolblogger to get back up to speed since the upgrades; I've been sick with a sinus infection and bronchitis; and I've been working on finishing some Christmas projects, including some devotions (Here's one. I'll post the other one when it gets up on the site.) for our church website. I've also been doing what so many of you I'm sure have -- wrapping, buying, and baking. This is a busy time of the year! So, stick with me as my posts are slimmer. I'll soon be posting more regularly again. Sometime this weekend, I plan to post my favorite way that we're keeping Christ the central part of the season this year. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

December's DIVINE Lines

December's issue of DIVINE Lines, our church's women's newsletter is out. To view it, go here. My column is entitled His Name Famous and this month, I continue with my series on the paralytic from Luke 5. The focus of the article is trusting Jesus and believing Him, as the friends did in the story of the paralytic. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Response of Contentment

No matter how many times I read the story in Luke of Mary's visit from Gabriel, I never cease to be amazed by Mary's response. She's just been told that she's going to be giving birth to God's Son. She's not yet married. She's probably very young. Her response? "Be it unto my according to your word." She doesn't complain, question, or throw a fit. She simply says, "Let it be so."

I reread the story again yesterday and thought about my usual response to God, especially if He seems to be giving me a hard task, or something that doesn't make any earthly sense. I definitely don't react the way that Mary did. I more question Him, become angry or pouty with him, or just plain out disobey him. Again, I'll just say, in light of the way I usually respond, I am in awe of our Lord's mother.

I wonder what it would take for me to have a "Mary response"? When a difficult thing arises, when dying to myself is something that comes around again and again (I'm a mom, remember?), when I'm called to forigve a deep hurt, could I respond with such grace, such contentment as Mary? I'm trying to let these words sink deep into my heart and soul so that maybe, just maybe, one day, I can respond to whatever Jesus calls me to do, "Be it unto me according to your word."

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Starvin' in My Heart

One recent morning, DD3 told me she absolutely could wait no longer for me to get out of bed. She was as she put it, "starvin' in her mouth!" I thought it was cute at the time. But since I have been trying to listen to God throughout my day (not just in my morning quiet time), and especially through my children, I pondered it many times as I went about my day.

Finally, at about 3 that afternoon, I felt God speaking to me more about what she had said. I thought about my own starving. My starving heart. So many times, I try to fill my heart through my mouth, or through my accomplishments, or through other people's compliments to me, or through my stuff. But my starving heart can only be satisfied by my heart's Creator. He satisfies with "living water" (John 4:14) and He always "tastes good" (Ps 34:8)

Lord, please fill me. I'm starvin' in my heart.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Downpour Report

Well, the Downpour conference this past weekend was great, but not necessarily in the way that I expected. It certainly wasn't a feel-good Christian conference, with lots of things to make you laugh and pat yourself on the back for when you left. (Not exactly my own desire, but one I've certainly noticed at other conferences.) In fact, I left on Friday evening with a very somber feeling. The theme of the conference is personal revival. The theme verse of the weekend was Hosea 6:3:

"Let us know,

Let us press on to know the Lord.

His going forth is as certain as the dawn.

He will come to us like the rain,

Like the spring rains watering the earth."

The five key talks were

*God on the Throne - A Picture of Holiness (James MacDonald)

*Sin in the Mirror - A Picture of Brokeness (Beth Moore)

*Face in the Dirt - A Picture of Repentance (James MacDonald)

*Christ on the Cross - A Picture of Grace (Joe Stowell)

*Spirit in Control - A Picture of Power (Crawford Loritts).

Friday evening's theme was "God on the Throne" presented by James MacDonald. He started with the key verse for the weekend, Hosea 6:3. He reminded us that in our pressing on to know God, we must realize that He is holy. The worship focused on the holiness of God, with purposefully chosen songs on this theme, as well as excellent visual representations. Pastor McDonald's theme was simple: We have forgotten the holiness of God. I was hit squarely between the eyes.

He quoted from Isaiah 6. As he did, I pictured with Isaiah the LORD high and lifted up on his throne, with the train of His robe literally filling the temple. A pertinent illustration that Pastor MacDonald used to illustrate the train of His robe, was a description of a bride on her wedding day. Clearly a train is to call attention to the bride, that it's her day. He also described Queen Elizabeth's train at her coronation, telling us how the train of her robe was literally trailing out of the church it was so long. Only a queen would deserve such a lengthy train. Then, Pastor MacDonald asked each of us to picture a train that literally filled the entire temple, back and forth, back and forth, draping, flowing, piling up to the very top of the temple. What a picture of God's splendor!

He used other scriptures to highlight what God looks from those in scripture who saw Him, and recorded their visions, such as Ezekiel, Daniel, and John. From Ezekiel 1:26-28, we learned that holiness describes separation. The train of his robe is a symbol of this separation. From Revelation 20:11, we learned that holiness demands caution. We were reminded the the seraph who attend Him cover their eyes and their feet, not ever gazing upon Him directly. That rightly seen, holiness only makes one want to hide. From Revelation 4:11, we learned that holiness declares glory. The cries from those in God's presence were, "Holy, Holy, Holy" and scripture also declares that the whole earth is full of His glory. And from Daniel 7 and Revelation 10: 4-7, we learned that holiness determines mystery. The books described in these chapters will be opened one day to full revelation. Until then, God keeps them a mystery. We can never plumb the depths of His wisdom.

James MacDonald, who I frequently listen to on the Moody Broadcast Network, is an animated, humorous speaker normally. This night too, he was humorous. But not purposely so. When his natural inclination to be funny came out, MacDonald respectfully reminded the crowd of the weightiness of the topic. Indeed, the awesome holiness of God is no laughing matter.

One of my favorite of his points was that we like to think of God's foundational characteristic as love. He contended that it's holiness. Love came only after the demand for a price for our unrighteousness in contrast to His holiness.

So, Friday evening, I left with a sense, a weighty feeling of this holiness, this extreme otherness that is our God. And I was humbled, to say the least. God on the throne was forefront on my mind as I prepared to hear what Saturday would bring.

Tomorrow, I'll share more about the sessions entitled "Sin in the Mirror" and "Face in the Dirt".

Friday, April 28, 2006


Hubby and I are off this weekend to attend the Downpour revival, with James McDonald, Joe Stowell, Beth Moore and Crawford Lorritts. We're going with three other couples. We're really looking forward to it.

This will be the first time I've ever attended anything like this with my husband, I think. Usually, I go to see Beth Moore every summer with my friends. I love her teaching so much, and am always quoting her to hubby, so I thought this might be a "man-friendly" way for him to hear her. I'm really looking forward to hearing the others as well.

I'm praying for a personal revival in my own heart, a personal hunger and thirst for His Word and righteousness.

Maybe I'll post more next week about what happened.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Need for Understanding

Apr. 27, 2006
The Need for Understanding

I long for understanding. I want my husband to know exactly how it feels to listen to two preschoolers argue at decibel levels that would challenge a B-52 bomber, while at the same time making dinner as a screaming toddler clings to you as if you're the hook to her loop! I want my friends to understand my ridiculously crazy schedule and still be my friend even though I can't call or regularly attend girls nights out. I want my younger girlfriends who have a perfect family of four, with children spaced perfectly 3 years apart, to understand what my life is like with a 4,3, and 1 year old, with a mom who is 36 years old, and not the lovely and high-energy 29!

What I've learned in this journey of life, especially after becoming a mother is this: my exact life will never be fully understood by another human being. Never. I shared this with my friend Kelly once as she lamented the fact that her husband was in charge of their new baby all day, and had decided to do the "I'll take him to see grandma" thing that seems so popular with my husband and those of my friends as well. "I just want him to understand what I go through every day. What my life at home with a cranky and discontent baby is really like."

"Dream on, sister," I told her.

No really, I said, "Sweet girl, he'll never understand."

You know how I learned this? From experience. No matter how martyr-like my attitude, no matter how many anecdotes, complaints, or words I use to describe my day to him, my sweet husband who goes off to work everyday will never understand the life of a stay at home, homeschooling, ministry-leading mom. Nor will any of my friends, my children, my mentor, or my own mother for that matter.

I used to get angry about this. I would lament loudly to God in my prayers about this need I had for understanding. My journal during my first few years of motherhood reads like a veritable martyr-manual. "Woe is me. Will this baby ever stop crying. Does anyone, ahem, UNDERSTAND, how hard this is?"

One of my more thoughtful friends, Jen, pointed out to me one day in her very gentle way, that my need for understanding had the potential to be an idol. Potential schmotential, it clearly already was an idol, because an idol is just an exalted thought in your mind. Clearly for me the need for understanding had become more important in some ways than God and what He had to speak to me during these difficult times.

To summarize my learning to this point then, I had become aware that no human being could fully understand my exact life. I had become aware that my need for understanding had become so important in my mind that it had indeed eclipsed my relationship with God. Fast forward two years...

I mentioned in a previous post that I had been meditating on Mark 1 and had come to the point in verse 45 where it says they (the crowds) came at Jesus from every direction. Even in the deserted places. Boom. There it was. Understanding. Finally, someOne who who understood what it was to be pulled in every direction.

Once again, Jesus met me right at the point of my need. Came into my life personally as a God who understands. And knowing that has made me more passionate about Him than ever. He truly is a God who meets all my needs. He is a jealous God, a God who will only allow Himself to truly fill those empty places. In Him, I have all that I need, and indeed He understands.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Slow Rat

As my friend April says, I'm a slow rat. You know, the kind that keep hitting their head against the wall in the Skinner maze? That's me alright. The slow rat. It sometimes takes a while for me to catch on to what God is trying to say to me.

Right now I think it's listen, be aware, pay attention.

"There is ecstasy in paying attention." -Anne Lamott

As I look back over my blog entries, I see that so many of them are about this paying attention, this listening. I think about my last entry where I really watched and listened, really paid attention to my daughter. There was ecstasy in that. Seeing her joy in life, her unattempted relaxation, her freedom thrilled my soul and opened me up to a childlikeness in my own. Ecstasy indeed.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Wisdom of Childhood

"You'll teach me of hearts and dreams

And all the most important things

And all that I have lost along the way

And I can't wait."

These words from a Sara Groves song echo my very own feelings about all my children, but especially DD3. I am ever amazed at that child's wonder, her natural curiosity. I find myself wanting to study her, wanting to reach back to that time in my life and really remember when I was so innocent, so curious, so pure. I long to go back to a time when dandelions were beautiful flowers and worms seemed like scary snakes. When I noticed the beauty in a sunset and took the time to thank God for roses.

In these ways and so many more she does remind me of all that I have "lost along the way". I'm humbled by the wisdom of her childhood. The kind of wisdom that says slow down, notice, enjoy, dance, laugh, play, get dirty.

My eyes well up with tears as I think about her losing that innocence, that childhood wisdom. I pray that somehow, God always keeps a little piece of it deep down inside her soul. And inside mine.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Loud Birds

The bird was going crazy in a bush chirping away, over and over again, as I walked into my usual writing and getaway place. "That bird is loud," I thought to myself as I walked by. Then, I noticed another woman that was walking by the same bush, the same loud bird. She seemingly took no notice. What was she thinking about? How could she not hear that shrieking?

How many times am I like that I wonder? How often do I miss the still small voice, or even the loud chirping of one of God's creation trying to get my attention? I'm so often in my own little world of busyness, activity, getting to the next thing. How often do I go about my tasks, routines, and daily duties without even thinking about spiritual matters or God at all?

I read about Brother Lawrence glorifying God as he did the dishes, and I'm humbled. Usually, my most routine tasks bother me the most. The dishes, laundry, diapers. The tasks that are done, only to be needing to be done again. And again. And again.

God, wake me up to your presence in the mundane. Chirp loudly. My awareness is dim.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mark 1 and 2

In preparing for an upcoming Bible study, I have been spending time in Mark this afternoon. I was meditating on the first verse of Mark 2.

"And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house."

I pondered that verse for a while. Then, to gain contextual information, I went back to the previous two verses and read:

"and (Jesus)said to him (the cleansed leper), 'see that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.' However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could not longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction."

I reflected on the phrase "it was heard" from Mark 2:1. People were talking about Him, dying to get to Him, clamoring for Him to meet their very real needs. What was Jesus' reaction? I wondered how he felt having come back from the deserted places mentioned in chapter 1 v. 45. Was He like me after I've gotten back from a short respite? Longing to go back to where people don't clamor for me, no one needs their shoes tied, or their nose wiped? Was He longing to go back to the deserted places where the needs were not so great?

Then, I noticed it...the last part of the last verse in chapter 1..."and they came to Him from every direction." Even in the deserted places, people came to Jesus from every direction. I feel like that sometimes. People need me. My husband needs me, my children need me, my friends need me, and my ministry team needs me. Sometimes it feels like they come at me from every direction. The needs are endless.

But what I drew comfort from here is that even in the deserted places, Jesus was found. I am comforted by the fact that He knew that feeling of clamoring, even in the deserted places. I'm comforted to know that Jesus sees my longing to go with Him to the deserted places, yet sometimes my children, or others, won't cooperate. I love that He understands, that He knows how I feel.

It's hard to get away to the deserted places when you're a mom and a wife and a ministry leader. But that won't stop me from trying. Being in the deserted places with Jesus is worth it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


My sweet dd3 is doing reading by imitation, which I love. She loves to read "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" (My favorite line is " 'haps she'll die!) and just today read "Go, Dog, Go". Now I know Charlotte Mason would say both of those books were probably twaddle, but my children love their silliness, and because of that silliness they enjoy reading, so we'll keep using them, as well as the non-twaddly classics!

My son on the other hand is starting to recognize some words, and one-to-one corrsepondence as he reads, so he is really on the road to reading. He enjoys reading board books to his baby sister and usually tries really hard to match up his fingers to the words. He is also beginning to notice beginning sounds and letters, so sometimes corrects himself as he's reading if he notices that something wasn't quite right. I know from Reading Recovery training that I took as a public school teacher, that these are all good signs for beginning readers, so I am so excited for him.

My baby dd14 mo. loves Bingo. When asked to go choose a book for story time, she always toddles away to find Bingo. Today she did choose a Maisy story (Where Does Maisy Live?) as well. We love Maisy! This one is especially cute for toddlers because it has lots of flaps to open.

It seems to me that all this reading and a house littered up with books seems to be paying off! Whew!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday at Bible Study

We have a rather large Bible study at our church that meets on Friday mornings called Roof-Crashers (based on the story of the paralytic in Luke 5). The group is mostly made up of young moms, but all are welcome. Today being Good Friday, the worship team planned a very special and meaningful time together. We were greeted with rose petals under our feet as we entered the room and a violinist playing various hymns.

Once inside, a communion table was set up and above it my friend, Sandee, who is a quilt artist extrodinaire, had a quilt hanging entitled "Gethsemene". The quilt beautifully and symbolically represented Jesus' time in the garden. Beside the table was a large wooden cross, not standing, but laying on it's side, along with strips of linen cloth and a folded-up piece of linen as well.

All of us ladies were invited to partake of communion as we felt led, as the music continued to play and various scriptures were displayed on a screen above the quilt and communion table pertaining to the suffering of Christ, His atonement for our sin, and our new found freedom in His love. Many ladies knelt at the cross to partake of their communion, while others quietly went back to their seats to reflect and partake.

A traditional Jewish story was told about carpentry work and the handkerchief the carpenter would use, all day long wiping his brow as he worked. When the day was finished, the carpenter would fold up his handkerchief, and lay it atop his work to symbolize, "It is finished." The ladies were then reminded of the scripture from John 20:6-7 where Peter and John find the grave empty and the Jesus' head covering folded up seperate from his grave clothes. This would have symbolized a lot to the Jewish people. From the story above, they would have understood it to mean, of course, "It is finished".

We also sung, "The Wonderful Cross" with acoustic guitar accompaniment and an extraordinary video called, "Friday, but Sunday's a Comin'" was shown, which of course reminded us all that even though Good Friday was the darkest day in history, Sunday's coming!

All in all, we had such a meaningful time of reflection on this Good Friday. Thank you, Jesus, for taking my shame on the cross. I am forever your servant.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

To Tell the Truth

My son is quite the logical type and those who are not so much like him...well, downright confuse him! Like today when his sweet sister, who lives in her own happy little world sometimes, looked at him at 10:30 in the morning and said we had already taken a nap today. She said this knowing that our sitter, Wendy, was coming over after nap. Basically, she said this because she wanted it to be true. She wanted Wendy to come over now!

So my logical son looked at me with these wide eyes of surprise, wondering what my reaction would be to this obvious and untrue silliness. He grinned from ear to ear and then shook his head "no" at me, as if he needed me to confirm that indeed we hadn't already taken a nap.

Reminds me of something I heard recently at a satellite seminar sponsored by our church. The seminar was on spiritual seekers. The speaker, Mark Mittelberg, said this, "No matter whether you believe the truth or not, that doesn't make it any less true. Truth doesn't change because of what we think or feel." He encouraged us in our conversations with seekers to speak this truth to them, to encourage them to think hard on what truth really is, and whether it is relative at all.

I guess we're all wanting what we want to believe to be true, grown ups and children alike. We need to remember that in Jesus Christ we find complete and utter truth. It says in scripture that there was no guile in him (1 Peter 2:22). We can trust that His Word is truth.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Yep! Recently, due to my ridiculous inability to say "No", I have been completely overwhelmed by family responsibilities, homekeeping, homeschooling, and church responsibilities. Top that list with a pretty sick baby for three days and it appears that I've been in a constant state of "spiritual ADD", as my mentor calls it. My brain is on overload and my thoughts flit from one to another with no rhyme or reason.

So this morning, I tried something that I hadn't done for a while in my quiet time. I asked God what He'd have me to do today. Im pretty embarrassed that I have to admit not asking Him everyday, but that's the truth.

What always astounds me when I take the time to ask this question is this: His ideas for me are so much simpler than mine! His yoke is truly easy and light. Three things instantly came to mind as I thought about and asked the Lord about my day. Three things! My list has been at least a thousand things long lately, but this morning the three most important came to the top first.

The first thing was school. With a sick baby this week, anything school-related has been necessarily pushed to the back burner. Now keep in mind, I have preschoolers, so we are very laid back about our school time. But I really enjoyed getting to sit with them. We did Handwriting Without Tears. My DD1 worked on her name. DS1 worked on letters A through H. DD1 and I also worked on colors, while DS1 worked on math with the Learning Pallette I ordered from my friend, Cindy, who is an Usborne consultant. Both children also did Bible and journal time(see previous post) and various other crafty things.

The second thing on my to-do list for the day is a cheesecake that my husband has been asking for. It's his grandma's recipe and it's delicious. Surely, I can get this done for my wonderful man today. Here's the recipe in case you're interested:

Mamaw Noel's Fluffy Cheesecake

1 C hot water

1 small box lemon jello

3 ice cubes

2 C graham cracker crumbs

1 stick of butter

1 T powdered sugar

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 C sugar

2 t vanilla

1 can chilled milnot

Mix together hot water and lemon jellow. Add 3 ice cubes. Put it in the fridge and let it set until syrupy.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and powdered sugar. Press into 9x13 pan, saving a small amount for a sprinkled topping.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla well.

Cream milnot, like whipping cream, until peaks form. (You may need to chill your beaters first.)

Add jello mixture to creamed milnot and cream cheese mixture.

Pour over crust.

Top with remaining crumbs and refrigerate until cool.

Yummy! The reason my honey loves this recipe so much is that he used to request it from his grandma instead of birthday cake. In making this for him today, I hope to remind him of how important he is to me and how I thought of him throughout the busy day of school, housekeeping, etc. I want him to know is my top priority next to God. He is an "acts of service" guy, so hopefully, this will speak love to him.

The third thing I felt God asking me to spend some time on today was goal setting. I have set goals in January, but need to revisit them to see where I am. I am also interested in honing in on a few and adding a few more. I recently saw a post on Jennie von Eggers Creative Homeschooling blog at that I may try with my goals.

That said, I am going to try to go to God with that same question everyday. "Lord, what would You have me do today?" It's seeming to make all the difference.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Simple Way We

One day recently as he was looking for his Bible, my 4 year old son commented that he "hadn't spent any time with God yet today". I was moved, to say the least. In the day-to-day, I wonder if anything I say or do is getting through to my children. In fact, if you've read recent posts, you know I wonder if only the bad examples are what they pick up on. That's why I was so encouraged by his personal desire to spend time with God.

So this started a new thing with him and his sister. Everyday, of their own choosing, they each get their own Bibles. Then they go to a quiet spot to sit. They find a story that they want to read. They look at the story for a while.

Then, I come and read it to them. Then (also wanting to copy mommy, I guess), they asked for a journal as well. So after reading their stories, they draw about the story. It's interesting to see what they draw.

Lastly, I dictate their story into their journal. I know these will be priceless someday. Actually they already are. I wish I could believe as easily as them that Jesus loves me and is with me and protects me.

Here's DS's recent dictation of Psalm 23:

"David was a shepherd. There was sheep and grass and David. Jesus loves me. David wasn't scared because Jesus was with him. David protected the sheep."

You know what I love the most about this? It was all child-initiated. I look back on all of the times that I tried to plan the perfect Bible time, and I'm kind of astounded at the simplicity of this. There's no planning involved on my part. But also, I'm moved by their simple desire to spend time with the Lord, by how personally they are seeking Him. Not saying that I do not value planning or will not do it in the future, but for right now, this is what's working!

And they're teaching me. As usual, my children are teaching me.

Gotta Love The Baby

Apr. 11, 2006
Gotta Love the Baby

Posted in our family life

Me to the baby: "Say dada!"

Baby: "Mama!"

She gets a laughing reaction from me every time. I guess because my oldest two did just the opposite. So of course, I keep repeating, and she keeps answering, thinking she's so humorous.

That just brings joy to my day.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Finally -- Warm Weather and SUN!

Yesterday, we got to enjoy some time outside, as the weather is finally cooperating. While it wasn't so warm yesterday, the sun was out, so that made it possible to enjoy being outside.

I love getting my children outside. Since the play area has been destroyed by the storm, we weren't able to play out back much, although Dad did have the kids practice putting! But we were able to go up front and enjoy watching the children ride the Little Tykes car and tricycle. We also got in some much needed yard work. The hostas, lillies and geraniums are coming up! Since this is our first spring with trees, we were delighted to see them beginning to bud, and in some cases, flower.

I took the opportunity to show the kids our redbud, as it is just beginning to bud. I explained to them that in a few short weeks, it would have purple blooms. DD3, my nature lover and flower-crazed child, was ecstatic.

It's so cool to see your child's natural curiosity. I long to keep encouraging that. DD3 wonders at everything. I often hear from the back seat of the car, "MOMMY, I JUST SAW A BIRRRRDDDEEEE!" She's also the child that wanders downstairs sleepily in the morning, inquiring if I've noticed the beautiful sunrise this morning "that God made". And, often when she reacts this way to creation, the scripture comes to mind that says, "From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise" (Ps. 8:2).

Keep wondering my child, keep wondering.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Question -- What Do You Do About Tattletales

Yikes! It's tattletale city around here. Everytime hubby and I turn around, we're being told some new offense by the offended sibling. Well, not by the baby, she just grunts and waves "hi".

How do you teach kids not to tattle? We sure could use the advice of experienced preschool parents out there. Comments appreciated.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

A Favorite Quote

Here's a favorite quote by Jill Churchill:

"The most important thing she learned was that there is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one."

Soon after I became a first-time mother to a colicky baby, I realized that there are no perfect mothers. Of course I tried everything I knew, asked every mother I knew, and removed lactose, caffeine and refined sugars from my diet, to no avail. That baby would not stop crying!

I once talked to a friend whose child was grown who lamented over all of the hotdogs her son ate as a child. "Who knew," she worried, "that hot dogs could cause brain cancer!?" Why is it that we as mothers blame ourselves for every problem our children experience or shortcoming they exhibit? I'm certain, for example, that they learned that ugly character trait from me, that their shyness reminds me of myself as a young child, and that the older ladies at church must think we never use "please" or "thank you" at our house.

That's why I love this quote by Jill Churchill. I read it a year or so ago, while looking for a great quote for a lovely page in my scrapbook. I am learning to embrace it. In fact, I recently added it to my scrapbook, along with some journaling about all the fears that I have for my children about their not having the perfect mother.

Who is she anyway? I've realized that for myself, she's a composite of my own mother and grandmother, Betty Crocker, June Cleaver, and the Proverbs 31 woman all rolled into one unattainable ideal. What I know is that while I'm not perfect, God made my children for this mom, This broken, self-centered, imperfect, blessed-beyond-belief, mom. God blessed me with children to change me.

Sara Groves has a song I resonate with regarding these imperfections. It's on her CD Station Wagon. The lyrics read:

"Baby, I'm afraid you're a lot like me

You can't help feeling everything.

I can see you trying to hold it in

I see your eyes and your trembling chin.

And for you and myself I will pray

Let our weakness become our strength.

Baby there are some holes you just can't fill

You try and try but you never will

Baby I believe a God who can

He loves the boy and He'll love the man.

And for you and myself I will pray

That our weakness becomes our strength."

I love these lyrics because they are rest for my weary, perfectionistic, mother-soul. They provide a way out. A way to a life-changing Savior who turns our weakness into strengths. A way to pray for myself and for my children. A realization that I need not blame myself for every weakness they exhibit. A small feeling of community with another mother living with the same feelings of responsibility that I have.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Cleaning Day

Since we had no power, we changed "cleaning day" from Monday to Wednesday this week. But really, with three children, a husband, and my clutter-bug self, what day isn't cleaning day?!

Home management has to be the hardest part of my job. I'm just not a naturally organized person. I try to follow flylady's system, and it certainly helps. But I find myself thinking, even if I did only what flylady said to do everyday, I would still be working myself to death with cleaning! I can't even seem to do flylady. I always tell myself it's because she's not surrounded by little people all day that she gets all this "zone work" done!

Here's the routine at my soon as one pile is eliminated, another comes to take its place. What mom can't relate to that hilarious and oh-so-true Erma Bombeck quote: "Cleaning the house while your children are at home is like shoveling snow in a snowstorm." Preach it, sister!

The problem with cleaning day is that I turn into Grumpy Mom. I start ordering my children around, expecting them to be as quick as me, and then scolding them when they aren't. The get distracted from their job, as children will do, and I have to quit mopping to redirect them every five, make that two, minutes. They complain about ALL the work I'm making them do and then I launch into a commentary that goes something like this recent one with my son:

"Mom, I don't want to do all the work around here!"

"Don't worry, you never will. Do you wash the clothes?"


"Do you load and unload the dishwasher?"


"Do you clean the bathrooms?"


This list of mine went on and on. Each time my poor subject, er, son, answered no. Of course, the whole idea was lost on him. He didn't know nor care what my point was. I actually think he thought it was a fun game. We wrapped up the question and answer session like this:

"Well, then you don't do all the work around here, do you?!"

Score one for Mommy! What was I trying to prove here, anyway? That I know how to operate the major appliances, and can clean a toilet, that I know where all the dishes go, and how much soap to put in the dishwasher?!

I attribute this conversation to my mommy-martyrdom. You know, the poor-pitiful-me routine you start into as a mom, feeling sorry for yourself about all you do and what everyone else is the house doesn't do. The fact that you are seemingly the only one who knows how to clean a toilet, because you're the only one who ever does (hint to hubby).

I've recently read God is Closer Than You Think by John Ortberg and it has me wondering, is it possible to "practice His Presence" in the midst of cleaning day? I'll have to get back to you on that!

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

We Have Power!

Whew! Sunday night we got hit by the big storms that crossed the midwest. We've been without power for a day and a half. But last night, as hubby and I drove home from church, we were overjoyed to see lights! As we drove over the hill, and looked at each dwelling heading toward home, we checked each one. Yes, the school had lights, the next neighbor's house had lights, the church had lights. Indeed, even we had lights.

I never realized how totally dependent on "power" that I am. I was really freaked out about the "no power" thing. I felt completely isolated from the rest of the world and worried about the house being too cold for my children and me. I worried about what to do with the stuff in the fridge and who was going to come and tarp the roof, so it wouldn't leak.

My children, to my dismay, had cold pop tarts and water for breakfast yesterday. Talk about some mom-guilt kicking in! Yep! It's true. I always hearken back to my childhood when I correctly (or incorrectly) remember my own mommy handling every situation with ease and perfection. I'm quite SURE we would not have had cold pop-tarts and water for breakfast growing up, even if the power had been out for a week!

It wasn't until the next morning after the storm hit, that we could see the damage that the storm had done to our house. Roofing was off. Our children's big wooden playset had been thrown across the yard and stood in a tangled heap. Our window screens were severed. Our gutters and soffets were damaged. And our siding had big gashes, holes, and even some of the neighbor's shingles embedded into it. I saw all this and was so thankful that we had been protected inside our little under-the-stairs closet. That's right, 2 grown ups, 3 children and a wiener dog inside the little closet under the stairs. It's not too comfy! But seeing the destruction that I had, I said extra prayers of thanksgiving. God is always protecting us, even when we don't know we need protected.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

The God Who Sees

Apr. 1, 2006
The God Who Sees

For the past year and a half, I've been doing a study on the Hebrew names of God. I started the journey with a book by Ann Spangler that I highly recommend, entitled Praying the Names of God. This book started me on a remarkable adventure. As I studied each new name, I learned more about the character of my God. And, oh I love Him ever so much more with each new revelation!

One of my favorite names as the mother of young children is El Roi, the God Who Sees Me. It was the name revealed through Hagar, after God had rescued her and Ishmael from certain death in the desert. Hagar was comforted that God saw, cared, and rescued her and her precious son.

I love to think about God being the God who sees me...regular old me... Joni: homeschooling mom, wife, friend, daughter.

I need to know that He sees all the diapers I change.

I need to know that He sees when one of my children is hurt and I'm worried half to death.

I need to know that He sees when my children aren't with me and I can't protect them.

I need to know that He sees when I need His wisdom for a discipline situation.

I need to know that He sees when I am going crazy-out-of-my-mind because we all have the stomach flu and I'm just plain worn-out!

I also need to know that He sees when I get impatient with my children.

Or when I am wasting the time He's given me.

Or when I'm choosing other things over Him.

Or when I'm not the best wife, mom, or friend.

I need to know that because in that kind of seeing, that kind of knowing, I can rest.

How you may ask? Because I know that El Roi sees me as I really am, in all my impatience, all my idleness, all my idolatry and all my pride. He sees regular old Joni and He loves her anyway. Now I can rest in that!

Praise El Roi, the God Who Sees!

Friday, March 31, 2006

God Made So Many Colors

My son recently changed his favorite color from green to yellow. I was surprised, no shocked, at this new revelation. This is a little guy who tends to "hang onto things", shall we say. He has loved green since he was 2 and now he's all of 4 (and a 1/2!). Our family has often had to choose food, tennis shoes, and towel colors because of his green obsession. I simply had to know more. The conversation during a recent coloring session went something like this:

"Mom, could you hand me the yellow. It's my new favorite color."

"I thought green was your favorite color," I dutifully reminded him.

"Well, now it's yellow. God made so many colors, Mommy. It's hard to pick!"

He did it again. About once a day one of the little people at my house says something that speaks to me of the wonder of our creative God. That day it was Mr. Yellow. His implied answer to my dutiful reminder was, "Of course God made all they colors too, Mom. Doesn't it say in the Bible that He made EVERYTHING?" Ah, yes, even the colors and their unlimited variations. I love the gratitude summed up in that sentence. Childlike gratitude...I need more of that.

It also brought to mind something God's trying to teach me right now and that is this: I tend to be in a box with my expectation of God sometimes. I'm sure He longs for me to be open to His surprises, but my routinized life squelches that sometimes. I usually just assume He'll work in this or that way, based on how I've seen Him operate in the past.

My lipstick choices are a perfect illustration of this routinization. I always buy the same color. Yes, each time I get a new tube from Target, my Mary Kay-selling friend, or (gasp!) the Lancome counter, I think it is indeed a "new" color. I am so fired up to take it home and add it to my makeup repertoire. Then, just as I put it into the makeup bag, I realize that it's just like the other 25 tubes in there. Pink, pink, pink. ALL of them are some slight variation of pink!

Maybe I need to start thinking more like Mr. Yellow. I want to experience all of God's beautiful colors in my life. Maybe not on my lips, but definitely in my life. Open my eyes, God. Get me out of my box. Surprise me.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spilled Milk

Does anyone else go completely ballistic over spilled milk? With a toddler and two preschoolers, this happens a lot at my house. I rarely handle it well. I think the saying about "not crying over spilled milk" must have been coined about the children under this roof. I don't exactly know what happens inside me when the I hear the splatter of milk running off onto the floor. But my angry alter-ego almost always makes her appearance in some form. I used to come unglued! Now, I just grit my teeth and start barking directions like General Schwarzkopf. But deep inside, I'm like a volcano ready to explode. I want to keep this emotion in check so that I don't scar my children for life, but it's often very difficult for me!

Here's a verse that I memorized early into my mothering, not because it actually applied (yet), but because it was a part of the passage I was working on. "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1: 19-20) Now when I memorized that verse, I had 1 adorable little baby. How could I ever get angry with that perfect child? But just like it says in Isaiah, God's Word never returns void, but always accomplishes that for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) My Heavenly Father knew that I needed that verse very soon. I'm waiting for that "accomplishing" part to come to fruition in my life. And, I'm trusting in a perfect, merciful, loving Abba to see that it will.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Just Starting

Well, I've crossed the line. I've become a "blogger". Considering I had no idea what a blog was until the election of 2004 when I kept hearing about how bloggers influenced the outcome of the presidential election, I've come a long way, baby!

I'm a big journaler, and a wannabe author, so I figured, why not take the leap? I've been reading "If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat" by John Ortberg, so this is my official leap out of the proverbial (internet) boat! Join me. It'll be fun! (And if nothing else, I'll get a start on my goal of daily writing.)