Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wondorous Things

Blogging for me generally only happens when my heart feels a little on fire and of course the children are sleeping.

The psalmist declares in Psalm 119:

"Blessed are you, O LORD;
        teach me your statutes!
    With my lips I declare
        all the rules of your mouth.
    In the way of your testimonies I delight
        as much as in all riches.
    I will meditate on your precepts
        and fix my eyes on your ways.
    I will delight in your statutes;
        I will not forget your word.
    Deal bountifully with your servant,
        that I may live and keep your word.
    Open my eyes, that I may behold
        wondrous things out of your law."
(Psalm 119:12-18 ESV)

I am not so much like the psalmist as I'd like to be in this passage, but friends, there really are WONDROUS things in His Word that delight.  I have been listening to the Bible and having it taught to me since infancy and I have been reading it on my own since childhood (not as much or as often or as consistently as I would like to my shame and my own hindrance I'm sure) and still the Lord is so kind to show me marvel after marvel about Himself and His ways (Ephesians 1:18).   Surely He has dealt bountifully. 

The girls and I are reading through The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski in the mornings and the things the Lord has revealed to MY heart have been so satisfying and joy filling.  No doubt sometimes hard (like God's response to the complainers of Israel), but beautiful and true and freeing. 

Amazingly (because we are still in the Old Testament, or in the earlier books that are in the Bible), I will read something to them, and then in my own personal study read something from the New Testament that directly correlates and it is unreal. 

Recently I read to the kids about the Tabernacle (also interesting is that they were talking about this same story in Anna's Sunday morning class at Church - love you Crossroads!).  The story told how God told Moses to build a tent for Him to live in among His people.  The tent and everything inside was designed to be a foreshadowing of all Jesus (Immanuel, which means God with us), would be.  One of the pieces in the tent was the "ark of the covenant", sort of a chest or box, that would house God's presence.  Moses was to have it made with two golden angels facing eachother with wings spread out over the "mercy seat". 

That may be old news for seasoned Church attenders, but would you believe that later that afternoon as I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study called Jesus, the One and Only she pointed out that when Mary took some of the followers of Jesus back to the tomb Jesus had been buried in because Jesus' body was no longer there, "[Mary] saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet."  (John 20:12).

Beautiful.  Not only is Jesus our mercy seat, but God's design of the ark of the covenant even included the angels guarding over Jesus probably just bursting to tell the world He wasn't dead anymore?!  I love it.  Beautiful story writing God.  Masterfully, lovely, intricate...I love that after 30 years of being in Your Word there are things You show me that make me cry, laugh, repent, be amazed, be silent, etc.  It was so fun to share this with the girlies.  So much praying they will see the beauty of the Lord. 

There have been so many other cool things (to me), but I'm sure you're all already glazed over, so I'll conclude.  Friends, let's read this book more.  So good.  And if you're not convinced, here's 5 reasons you should....

5 Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And so this is Christmas...

The beginnings of the Christmas season fall upon us bright and beautiful, slowly at first and then bursting forth all around - similar to the snow that so often accompanies the season here in West Virginia.   Twinkling lights, frosty landscapes, houses full of light, laughter and love, hustle and bustle, ribbons and bows, peppermint and cocoa, snowmen and stockings...Christmas time is hope.  It is beauty.  It is peace.  It is joy.  It is merry.

But it is also grief.  It is angst.  It is labor.  It is exhaustion.  It is cold.  It is dark.  It is lonely.  It is war.  It is long.  

We each know of the widowed, left waking on Christmas morning in a silent house finding it hard to even breathe with their best friend gone.  We know of parents who pull themselves out of bed and force a smile that hardly reaches their eyes to protect a house of other little ones all so desperately missing their sibling that sits around the table no longer.  We know of the one who might not even make it out of bed they are so bone weary from the pain in the world.  

There is grief here.  Too heavy to bear.  Suffocating.  


Daryl and I have not so far faced such loss on a personal level.  But we know and we ache for those that have and something about Christmas makes me think of them maybe even more.  

This year just before Christmas when I was "supposed" to be hosting a holiday party, I instead was kneeling shivering on cold, hard tile with my arms draped over our toilet seat keenly aware that this too was Christmas.  That very moment retching violently into a toilet was a bold faced reminder to me of the unimaginable - that God came here.  And He more than came; He came as human and He came to take on all of my wretchedness as He hung on a bloody cross. 

God made man.  God with us. 

"Why would you come?!" I whispered into the bowl.  Why leave Your throne and settle in a womb full of messiness and be born in a stable covered in dirt and dung?  Why would the King of all Kings, ruler of all, come to wash dirty feet, touch gaping, leprous wounds?  Why would the all wise come to be mocked and ridiculed and unappreciated?  Why would the perfect one come and take on not only our humanity, but our filth, our sin and our death? 
"For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost"  (Luke 19:10).

"...the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

"This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15).

"I come that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). 
"...The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).
Christmas now still reeks of death and dark and despair.  It has since the very first one.  Have we pondered Mary's trip on a donkey of all things all that way to Bethlehem belly full of the Son of God?  Have we pondered weary Joseph who as a man must have so much wanted to protect and provide for his dear wife and this God child but could only come up with a stable?  How many traveled for the census ordained so Jesus could be born where prophecy foretold?  What was it like for them?  I'm sure they were much more tired than I was from planning and baking and cleaning and wrapping.  

Have we pondered Christmas's since like when the wise men may have been traveling to find precious Jesus?  What must their trip that took years been like?  What was Christmas like the year that Herod sent soldiers to kill all the baby boys that might have been Jesus in a jealous rage?  I hadn't even though about it until I watched this.  And how did Mary feel after the crucifixion each year when Jesus' birthday rolled around?  

Have we pondered that Christmas, God become man, was purposed because God willed that Christ would die?

But thankfully not just so that He would die, but that He would rise, our king forever, offer life and light and liberty to all who believe.  This is why the merry!  This is why the angels proclaimed peace and joy to the shepherds that night. 

There is a kingdom and it is coming.  There is a day when all will be made right.  What Jesus life has accomplished is why we have hope, beauty, peace, joy and merry at Christmas.  It is not just because of what we have here this Christmas that we rejoice, but because of all that was promised on that day so long ago when Jesus cries first sounded in Mary's ears.  And because like the long labor pains that pushed Jesus into the world, we to are being pushed more and more into His likeness - and that is joyful.  


In Luke 10:20 the disciples are told to rejoice not that spirits are subject to them, but that there names are written in heaven.  So let everyone who would believe that Jesus is Lord rejoice!  Not that our "Christmas" is sparkly and cozy and clean and bright, but that God is with us, and He will be forever.  


"For all the promises of God find their Yes in [Jesus].  That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory 
(2 Corinthians 1:20).  

  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A few of our favorite things...

We have just had our best Thanksgiving season yet.  I'm thankful for that :)  I know we parents sometimes can make it seem like things get harder with kids, but let me let you in on a secret - harder often has great pay offs and holidays get more and more fun.  So if you don't have kids, get you some  ;)

For the record, only 3 of those are mine.  The other two are some of our adorable nieces and nephews!

So now we are moving on to Christmas...  Truly my favorite season ever.  I just got done ordering some things for our Christmas season so I have to share our Christmas "book list". 

2 of my favorite books for planning family Christmas fun:

Treasuring God in Our Traditions

The ADVENTure of Christmas

And I am SUPER stoked that Ann Voskamp decided to make a family devotional and Jesse Tree ornaments printable for FREE here.   My Christmas planning just got oh so much easier.  If I ever see Ann I will give her a huge squeeze.

My dear, wise, and beautiful friend also has some great ideas on her blog.  She has kids a touch older than mine, and two boys and a girl :)  Opposite mix.

And for my own soul I have loved reading this (most) every night:  Come Thou Long Expected Jesus the past few Christmas seasons.  I love that even the cover looks artsy and full of Christmas class.  :)   I know that covers don't matter much, but a pretty cover really does provide incentive in actually picking the book up for me.  (Shallow)

That said, this year, John Piper put out an advent devo (basically short bits about Christmas for you to read daily up until Christmas) also FREE.  Lot's of people in the Christmas spirit :)  You can download Good News of Great Joy here.  Who doesn't want some great joy?

In case you didn't know, we kinda love John Piper around here.  I'm assuming that's fairly obvious considering my daughters assume that if we ever have another boy he will be named John Piper.  In fairness, we had planned to name Aaron John up until his delivery and so I guess they just think Piper would be the natural addition.  Sadly that's a little much for me. 

I ordered The Wonder of Christmas for a general storytime book.  I am hopeful it won't disappoint as I've loved a lot of her other children's books (especially her Easterville one).  We haven't come across tons of good Christmas storybooks so if you have some ideas pass them along, please! 


Lastly, we always get the kids one good book for Christmas and here are this years picks... EEEP, can't wait to open these babies up....





oops, busted.  mighta ordered this one for me :)

For those of you who may be thinking how cozy, let me tell you that we will sometimes miss our daily/nightly readings and that most readings or activities will involve teachable moments, corrections, encouragements, warnings, and even discipline, and sometimes for the kids :)  It's true.  We live in a house full of sinners so even our best moments need redeemed.  Another reason we love that Jesus came and that we get to celebrate the God come man this season.

What about you all?  What's Christmas like for you?  Any good book or activity recommendations?  We are always looking for a few good books and loads of fun around here. 

Merry Christmasing!

***UPDATE:  Our family will be doing the Truth in Tinsel Advent Ornaments (got from Lorrie's blog) this year and Ann Voskamp's as the kids get older.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homeschool!

Twas the night before homeschool and all through the house...


 ...We were so excited we could hardly stand it!  

Came down dressed and ready to go (minus a little hairbrushing!)
 Today was our first "official" day of homeschool!  I am so, so, so, so, so excited about this new season of our life.  I know there will be days when the kids will be terrible, days when I'll be terrible, and days when we'll all be terrible together, but we'll be together!  I love it!

Typical first day pic - I don't know why we did it outside since we weren't going anywhere! Oh well!


For those of you who aren't homeschooling, please don't read this as a post on how I think you should be homeschooling, too.  Please also try to be generous if you think we are out of our minds.  It's very well possible :) 

The decision making process wasn't a tough one for Daryl and I.  Thankfully, as have been most all of the large decisions in our home, the Lord has been kind enough to bring us to the same beliefs even though typically through different means and in different amounts of time! 

I was raised riding in our car listening to Focus on the Family (thanks, Mom) and hearing tales of homeschooling - the good and the bad.  It's always been an option to me since then - and one I think I secretly always wanted to pursue - even though I attended and most of the time really enjoyed public schools and my own husband and mother are great public educators! 
  

Our school room
Daryl wasn't as exposed to homeschooling and I
remember when the subject first came up during our engagement he said something like, "I'd be concerned my kids would be socially awkward."  I challenged him to come to Dv8 with me that week (the middle school youth ministry I worked with at the time) and pick out the 5 or so kids that were currently homeschooled.  Couldn't do it.  There maybe was a homeschool kid or two that was more quiet or strange than your average middle school student, but there were quite a few quiet and strange ones from public and private schools, too ;)  ;)  Most of the kids we know who have been homeschooled are absolutely delightful to be around.

Our kids may or may not turn out socially awkward, but we don't believe that to be the result of homeschooling as much of the result of their training, personality and/or sin (let's face it, most shyness is being more concerned about ourselves than others or disbelieving God's care and creation of us).  Let us know if you think we are lagging behind somewhere in getting them around others!


We also know that homeschooling our children doesn't guarantee they will love Jesus more or be smarter or be better people.  Regardless of the outcome, Daryl and I feel like for now, this is what is best for our family.  For a slew of reasons.  Here's the main sum of our prayer in homeschooling during their younger years: to seize every opportunity God has provided with our children to foster delight in Jesus Christ and provide the tools needed to most enjoy Him and spread a passion for His glory with excellence (whether that be through homemaking, engineering, or anything else).  It's our prayer that we will be faithful to train them and educate them well and our confidence that God will be faithful even when we are not and that His plans will come to fruition.   

The girl school supply cubby :)

The one reason we are homeschooling that has surprisingly caused joy to explode in my heart this past month is that I actually get to BE WITH my kids.  I was worried that as many of my friends were dropping off their sweet kids at various pre-schools or whatnot I might envy the few hours of quiet they might have (or at least I pretend they have!), or the one on one time they might get with another child, or even really doubt what we are doing because my kids or I might miss out on something.  I know I will probably have those moments but for now, God has amazed me with delight in having them here, knowing they could be somewhere else.  I have such a short, short, little time with these absolutely wonderful creatures.  I am so humbled and thankful for the joy He has given me and for this season of getting to know and enjoy them.

Nadia Hope
Anna Grace
 I'm going to want days off.  I know it.  So will they.  But I am beyond thankful to the Lord that He is graciously working in me to fulfill His commands to enjoy my family and to be busy at home in such a simple way right now.  I can't wait for what we will all learn! 

Pray for us!  We'll need it! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mom

***Due to recent events in our lives, the publishing of this Mother's Day post is belated.  My apologies.***



There are some that dislike Mother's Day and holidays like these because they say it's all about commercialism.  Hogwash.  I love Mother's Day (and celebrations in general).  There's a lot in life to celebrate and of those things is certainly our moms (I can say that with much more certainty now that I am a mom ;)).

 "Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."  Proverbs 31:31

When I think of my mom I am often taken back and forth between childhood memories (toting my friends and I to the pool and getting us frozen treats during adult swim, leading games for my friends and I at my birthday parties, fixing Jarod and I yogurt and oranges for after school snacks, volunteering at school events, reminding me to cross my legs at band concerts, taking Jarod & I to Chuck E Cheese after report cards, buying me awesome presents, etc, etc), and her service to me at current (listening to my day as I scrub dishes and babysitting my kids - a lot, etc, etc). 

My Mom is one of the most faithful women I know.  At 19 she married my Dad and has loved, served and helped him til this day.  I have complete confidence she will continue to.  *After this weekend, we are all even more grateful to be experiencing this and that I can leave that line in this post.  Not too many years later she had my brother, and then me (the fact that they stopped having kids after that means I was either really awesome or really not so awesome.  I'm going with really awesome). 


She has always been there, ready to nurture, protect, and help us as best she could since she knew we were in her womb - avoiding things like diet coke and all other loves that might have poorly impacted our growth, development, and souls. 

She chose to pursue a career that would serve her husband and family and once she had one, she put her career on hold to give us the best childhood and prepare us for the best adulthood she could.  I can't say that I know how difficult this was because I'm pretty sure being a stay at home mom in this day in age doesn't carry quite the same stigma that it did then, when feminism seemingly included asserting yourself in the workforce.

I don't remember a day not knowing the love of God and I'm pretty sure that's because of my Mom and Dad's love for Him and the way their faith was a reality.  I'm also fairly certain that my life has been so blessed (and not primarily in a physical sense as much as a deep down joy sense) because of my Mom's many, many, many, many, many, many, MANY prayers for me and my friends (and her intuition!).  I'm pretty thankful, too, that she and my Dad even prayed for my husband on her wedding day because I think he's pretty awesome :)

My Mom wasn't always a mom.  Once she was able to pursue her days the way she wanted, but thankfully one of the things she wanted to pursue was a family.  More thankfully, because of God's great love for us all, she didn't pursue just any type of family, she pursued Him and let Him define how our family would look.  We don't have a perfect family, but it's perfect in the sense that God created it and is holding it together and I can say without reservation it is awesome and there couldn't be a better one for me! 

So, Mom...

I am so thankful God gave me you!  You are amazing.  Faithful. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving and trusting Jesus and revealing His preciousness to me.  Thank you for finding your treasure in Him so that you could lay down the lesser treasures of this world to serve Dad, raise Jarod and I, to bless us, and to bless our friends.  Thank you for resting in His time and spending so much of it with us, reading to us, planning fun for us, praying for us, teaching us, driving us, cheering for us, waiting for us, serving us, and most of all, hanging out with us.  Thank you for learning from the Word and for teaching me from it.  Thank you for marrying Dad!!!  Thank you for being passionate about serving our family and for providing me a vision and tools for loving and serving my own.   Thank you for expressing that same love and service to my kids.  My world, the world, is truly a better place because of you.

I love you, Mom!

Oh, and your an unbelievable grandma!  But I think the kids have already broadcasted that :)  




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Something Like That

I remember before giving birth to Anna sitting in her perfectly coordinated and clean room envisioning life with our baby as one of calm and peace. I knew there would be difficulties but I assumed my Babywise approach to parenting would mean she would be sleeping without issues by 7-9 weeks and wake up a perfectly happy, peaceful child from then on.  I would have a clean, sunny home with music in the background and everyone would want to know how I did it  :)

I remember before having toddlers thinking that meltdowns, bad attitudes and lack of first time obedience could *typically* be avoided by proactive parenting - clear boundaries, consistent discipline and encouragement, proper sleeping and eating habits and lots and lots of love between and from mom and dad.

The fact that these things are not necessarily true can drive me BONKERS. 

To make matters worse, I can't seem to keep my house how I want it anymore (meaning orderly most all of the time).  With two kids, even if I could not control them, I could at least control the status of my home.  If you saw my kitchen right now (there you go, view left) you would most likely be tempted to think of me as a slob who needs to get my rear in gear. 

But hopefully most of you moms can feel me when I say sometimes it's all I can do to get through the day getting basic needs met.  By the time we are all dressed and fed there is another round of diapers.  When I'm done changing diapers and we get on to our next task there is an attitude that needs addressed.  Aaron has now crawled across the room and is eating paper.  I save Aaron and get him set up in a more safe environment for play.  I call the girls back to whatever important or non-important task and they don't want to come.  Discipline.  And the day continues in crazy moments like these. 

Multiple times this month I have asked Daryl if he thinks I'm doing something really wrong because it seems I've been dealing with so many heart issues (even if that means my own) I sometimes can barely get dinner on the table let alone all the laundry done.  He's been so kind to remind me that I just have to keep doing the right thing.  I can't control our kids or regenerate their hearts, but I can continue to obey God, love them, discipline and encourage them, and do it again, and again, and again.

I can do the right  thing even if I can't SEE the fruit of it.  I can trust God that even though I'm not doing this mom-hood thing perfectly and I am so afraid I will screw my kids up forever and they will write nasty stuff about me on the internet as adults, that HE is the author of their lives and days and His work isn't lost on my mistakes.  I can hope and have joy in Jesus and His promises because He does live in me and has provided faith and hope.  

I really believe our sweet third child who has added to our chaos has served to continue to break me of my trying to feel good about myself based on something I can DO rather than based on who Jesus IS.  I wish I could say I have arrived at just living to please the Lord and not get side tracked by what other people think of me or my kids or having a clean house or worldly pursuits or whatnot, but I am still struggling here.  Like my eye will probably be twitching by the end of the night if my kitchen still looks the way that it does but I should be okay with this as long as I have loved God and loved others, right?


So here I am.  A beautiful mess :)  So thankful for my awesome husband, my parents and good, Biblical community and most of all for God as they continue to remind me and push me towards what is true, over and over again and as they LOVE me.  Thank you for loving me, when I'm helpful, when I'm cranky, when I'm encouraging, when I'm over-dramatic; all the time.  And I'm thankful for motherhood - for making me desperate and dependent on the grace of the Lord, which is where we are all, I just sometimes didn't feel it.  And I'm of course thankful for my sweet children - may the Lord continue to break me so you see the beauty of Himself, even in me.  xoxo



Friday, March 9, 2012

Moving On


We have been sick for a solid three weeks.  Nothing terrible, but all night coughing, all day runny noses (which is really gross when you have a house full of little ones), body aches, etc. 

I can't remember exactly the last time I left the house with all of our children for fun.  I know for certain we have missed church and story time for two consecutive weeks and we lived off my last weekly grocery run for 11 days.  While our delinquency in book returning is sure to annoy the librarians, I like to look at it like "it's people like me who keep the libraries in business."  :)  Don't burst my bubble on that one.

That said, I am still sane, and oddly enough, I've actually enjoyed (for the most part) a life without activity and my kids seem to as well.  Maybe the simple life is the way to go ;)  

Here are some things that have happened along the way:
  • We went through an entire stock pile of tissues we bought at Sam's and are now halfway through the second load.
  • Daryl has changed the kids humidifiers more times than I can count and our trash pile always seems exponentially larger than our neighbors.   I'm glad these are his jobs :) 
  • I am pretty sure the 80% of the days we've been home I really haven't showered until around 2pm.  For anyone who remembers the guy who worked in the same office building as me who told me (AFTER I announced that I was quitting to be a SAHM) that he was so glad his wife didn't do that, because SAHMs only ever wore sweatsuits and hardly put on makeup, I proved his point these past two weeks.  That said, I did at least shower every day.
  • When the mail man delivers something to the house he looks in the windows either side of the door and waves enthusiastically if he sees us.  Because I believe this has to be against USPS etiquette I would like to state that if he sees me in my underwear because someone just peed on me or running around holding a nursing baby because I'm trying to stop an impending disaster with one of the other children it's his own fault.  
  • Aaron has started sitting up AND his first tooth has broken through!  Way to go, buddy!
  • The other day Anna Grace came sleepily out of her room after nap time and saw me carrying Aaron and Nadia.  With her best pouty face she whined, "Mom, I want you to carry meeee."  I gave her my best "that's insane look" and laughed, to which she laughed and said, "Mom, I wish you were an octopus.  Then you could have an arm for Nadia, Aaron, and me.  And you'd have one for Daddy because you love us all."  :)  I told her that I'd have to live under water to which she replied, "You could be a dry octopus, mom."  
  • I really love our neighborhood and am thankful for the women I've met here. 
  • I just got interrupted writing this blog by Nadia who I heard singing from her bed.  When I asked her what she was doing she said, "I'm jus singing that I love you."  Well, sing on child.  **This is the same child that lately when I remind her in the course of discipline that I love her wails, "but I don't love you!"  Sadly though, I think the drama was inherited.  Oh, for the grace of God.
  • My husband is awesome.  He always has been, but there are some specific areas of growth that have happened since we've been married that show up a lot in times like these - noticing more things that need done/picking up where I'm slacking/caring for me very practically (like getting up with kids, etc.  Thanks, honey!  
  • I always write too much for one post, so I'll stop now.  Well, after saying, I love them so much!

Grace and peace!