Friday, December 28, 2007

True gifts!


I don't do this often, but I want you to go over to my friend Kevin's blog. He has recently posted 3 videos. One, is of Victoria Falls - one of God's many gifts to us. The other two are perfect examples of the sweetest gifts we can give to the Lord - pure hearts expressing themselves in song. Remember - these Zambians are POOR in money, food, and possessions. All they have is Christ. Why do I feel envious of them?

Please, in remembering what Christmas is all about, watch these videos. While you're at it, pray for Kevin as he goes back to Zambia in just a few days.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome to...My Life!

To all my vegetarian, animal-rights friends, you may want to skip this one.

We have chickens. Up until today around 8:30 a.m. we had about, oh, 28. At 8:31 a.m. we were down to 27.

Eric's been itching to get rid of a rooster (or 3) as they do nothing but make our hens nervous. (In order to keep this blog family-friendly, we'll leave it at that). Eric's itchiness tends to be contagious and Michael has been asking if he could do the job. Last night he asked if he could try killing one of our roosters with his bow and arrow (no, not the suction cup kind - he has a real one, just the arrow head isn't extremely sharp). With a resounding, "sure" from daddy, Michael went to bed dreaming of hunting the big bad rooster.

When I came down at 7:30 this morning (before you get any ideas of me sleeping the day away, I had been awake tending to the baby for an hour), Michael and his sister were outside trying to "off" Big R. When the arrow-thing didn't work, Mike caught it and tucked it under his arm. Seeing this, I told him to go out to the barn and ask daddy what to do next. Secretly, I was hoping Eric would discourage our hunter-son from making the kill.

A few minutes later, my daughter came in as she was cold. "Michael's going to kill the rooster with an ax!" she announced.

"Where?"

"In the barn."

"Is daddy out there with him?"

"Nope. No one is out there."

"Michael's alone in the barn and is going to kill the rooster with an ax?!"

"That's what he says."

Ten year old boy. Ax. Moving target.

I call Eric. I'm thinking he's not going to want the barn all messed up with blood. I thought wrong. He thought the whole thing was hysterically funny. "It's a good learning experience. Better than school."

Yeah, a trip to the ER is just the field trip I'm looking for!

I won't go into the grotesque details, but, a little while later, Mike brought up Big R - minus his head.

While all this was going on, I'm thinking, "So, once the thing is dead, what are we going to do with it? We didn't get anyone lined up to take care of it to make it edible. Too bad, what a waste of food."

I shouldn't have worried. Apparently, when a girl marries a farmer, the marriage license actually has a clause written in very fine print that she will boil, de-feather, and skin any fowl killed on their property. Unfortunately for me, I forgot the magnifying glass on my wedding day.

Knowing that you all would never believe it, here's the proof.







In the meantime, I get a call from a guy who asks if I have a minute. Hmm - 7 kids and a rooster waiting to be plucked. Sure, I got a minute.

I then hear the story of how this man shot a deer on our property last night, only to have some other guy who hunts there track him down, enter his garage, and, carrying a gun, threatens to call the DEC on the guy. Great. Dead roosters. Dead deer. Almost a dead guy. All in an hour and a half.

But, hey, it was "a great learning experience - better than school!"

Welcome to my life!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lost and Found!

It's been 4 hours and I'm still recovering from one of the biggest scares of my life. I woke up from a nap this afternoon and my four oldest kids were GONE!!

Before I laid down, I told Michael that I didn't want them going outside when I was sleeping - Eric was out chopping wood and then was on his way to look at a truck 45 minutes from home. So, of course, I didn't want the kids out in the snow with no one around to supervise.

When I got up, my two little ones had come downstairs from their naps and the four older ones were no where to be seen. "They must've gone outside." Figuring they were sledding, I began to feed the baby.

A few minutes later, I received a text from Eric regarding another matter. In my response, I casually asked if he had the kids. He wrote back "no." Hmm.

So, I went to the door - no kids. That's not unusual as they sled a little beyond my line of vision, anyway. So, I opened the door. "Michael!" No answer. "MICHAEL!" Silence. "MICHAEL! CASSIA!" Nothing.

Today was one of those still and quiet winter days. No wind at the time. So, the air was silent. Eerily so, as no child voices were heard.

My heart begins to pound. I tell my little ones to stay as I put on my boots to go find the children. No coat. No gloves. Just panic.

As a mom, you think the worst, though you try to remain calm and logical. Four kids. No one would try to take all four. They're old enough to know to stay away from the pond, so that didn't worry me. But, they older they are, the more imaginative they are and the bigger the trouble they can get into. The bigger the trouble, the bigger the injuries.

We've all heard the stories of kids digging caves in the snow only for the cave to collapse and the children suffocate inside. Eric plowed a hill this morning. There were footprints near it. And...a shovel.

There I am, no coat, no gloves, shoveling away at the extremely heavy snow yelling my "babies'" names. I'm terrified I'm going to find them. Amazing how our mother-minds can run away with fear!

My hands were hurting and I was getting nowhere. I knew that I would not be able to do much without getting a coat. Something inside me also told me that it was illogical for the kids to even be in that mound - not big enough, not enough time for them to have dug so much.

I called Eric. Again, he's 45 minutes away. I'm hyperventilating. "I can't find the kids!" He tries to calm me down. I would calm only to begin panicking again. "I need to find my kids! Where are they?! Where are you?!"

My husband is absolutely amazing. He never panics! He probably would've slapped me if he had been here. He just kept telling me to calm down. They were ok. He told me to just wait - they would come back.

But, it was going to be dark soon. Where could they be? I got a coat and went back out.

"Michael! Cassia! Anna! Katrina!" The silence was almost more than I could bear.

"Lord, I need to find my kids! Help me! You know where they are. Bring them back. Be with them." I prayed this over and over.

I texted our friend who is living back in our woods if he had the kids. Maybe he took them sledding. No response.

I followed footprints. They went all over the place - as children do while they're running in the snow. "I need to find my babies!" I walked to the lane. The footprints seemed to end.

I'm trying to stay calm. Who do I call to come help? What do I do about the children inside?

Just then, the farm jeep comes around the corner of the barn. It's our friend...with the kids!!!!

My kids had walked the half - one whole mile back to the woods in the snow to see his place! His phone wasn't working, so he hadn't got my message. Once the kids told him that I had been napping when they left, he knew I was probably beside myself. He felt terrible. So did the kids.

I was so relieved that I didn't even punish them. Trust me, I talked to them and they realized why I was afraid for them. I told them the dangers of going away when no one knew where you were. I told them that I was reminded how much I love them.

Then, I said, "Remembering what I've just told you, I'm impressed that you guys walked all the way back there in this snow! What a walk!"

I learned a couple of things today:

1. No matter what my brain says, my heart will continue to panic whenever I don't know where my kids are.

2. It took the possibility of losing my children forever to make me realize how much I love them.

3. My kids can accomplish quite a lot when they put their minds to it!

I am grateful that the Lord heard my panicked cries and delivered my children to me safely. I hugged my children tighter tonight. I suggest you do the same.

By the way, don't tell my mother!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rekindling the Spark!

Eric and I had our annual Christmas date on Saturday night. Obviously, we go out several times a year, but we've always made a point to go out during the Christmas season.

We had a MARVELOUS time! If you remember a previous "date post" where everything went wrong - this was pretty much the complete opposite!

First, we went to our favorite Prime Rib place. The food is wonderful and the atmosphere makes for a wonderful romantic dinner.

After dinner, we took a drive to pick up my father-in-law's Christmas present. That done, Eric had the brilliant idea to take me to pick out my own Christmas gift as he never seems to know what to get for me. This way, I'd get what I wanted and he can just wrap it and I'll act surprised Christmas morning! Hey, beats an empty stocking.

So, for the first time ever, Eric followed me into the Bath and Body Works. My husband does not go into these types of stores, but this night, he joined the ranks of husbands being led into a place saturated with the scents of florals and fruits.

For a guy, this makes no sense. Just get a bar of soap and you're set. But, not for a woman. It has to be just the right scent. And, it can't be solid. It has to come from a bottle. Also, soap isn't enough - you have to follow up with either lotion or spray.

It takes me quite some time to find "my" scent. I found a great one last spring - Wild Cherry Blossom. Mmmmm! But - surprise, surprise - there was no Wild Cherry Blossom to be found on Saturday evening. So, the hunt was on. My husband saw first-hand the intricacies of the scent-search. Careful scanning of the shelves, opening bottles to smell, then spraying or testing the lotion. On to the next group of items. Back here, over there, return to the front of the store - about 3 times.

FINALLY, I found a scent I liked - Warm Vanilla Sugar. Not cherries, but it will suffice. It's more winter-like, anyway. All through this girlie-ritual, Eric was great - just happily following me around. It helped that I could joke about this whole process with him. However, when I asked the associate which she recommended "the body butter or the body cream," that was the last straw. Eric stated, "That's it, I'm leaving!" Too much information than he wanted. Once I decided on the cream (I know all you girls would want to know), I found him entering a sporting store (sweat smells and testosterone) and he happily (I think) came back to pay for my Christmas present. It was a memorable and fun experience. I wish I had a camera!

Next stop - Panera Bread for coffee. I love this place. Eric has yet to have a good experience. The first time we went, all he wanted was a chocolate chip cookies. I've seen these American favorites every time I've been there. Except for that time. Strike one. The next time he took me there was the time our car broke down - right in their parking lot. Strike two. Saturday night, we made it in, Eric didn't want a cookie (though, of course, they had them), but got a delicious cup of coffee. So far, so good. Too good.

I must insert here that my husband is one of the most easy-going people I know. Very little bothers or un-nerves him. The one thing in this world that he hates more than anything, is a running vacuum cleaner.

So, guess what starts up while we're waiting for our coffee? Strike three. Hey, no date is perfect.

We topped the night off by going to visit a friend of ours who is camping out on our property. He's got quite the cozy set-up and we enjoyed just hanging out for a while. Hanging out - something the parents of 7 children rarely do. But, it was fun.

Spending time, special time, with my man. There is nothing I would rather do and I'm grateful that he feels the same. Have you had a date with the love of your life, lately? It would be easy for me to get on my soap-box and "preach" the importance of couples going out, but I'll remain planted on the ground. I'll just say this: plan a time, get a sitter (if needed), and GO! Hold hands, talk, and laugh. Rekindle that spark. Remember who you married.

I remember - and I'm still crazy in love!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Emotional Overload!

What a weekend!!!! So many joys and some sorrow, too.

Thursday, I found out that a wonderful couple in our church who've been desiring a baby for a year and a half are finally expecting. They officially announced it today. Right after their announcement, another couple we've been praying for for almost 5 years announced they're expecting, also!!! "Rejoice with them that do rejoice!"

The Home School Fair on Saturday was tremendous!!! My kids didn't win anything, but they did their best and had a blast! After the first competition, someone asked my daughter, "how'd you do?" and she, with a smile, replied, "I did my best!" I wish I could express how thrilled I am with my children. I honestly can say that I couldn't have been happier if they had one first place! The experience they gained in learning, competing, getting up in front of people, taking "defeat" with a smile, etc. are prizes in themselves. All the kids did amazingly well. So many encouraged one another and were truly happy when their peers won. It was a blessed day - one that our family will remember. However, we'll have to remember it solely in our minds as I forgot my camera at home. No prizes for me!

This morning, our little Zane was dedicated to the Lord along with 3 other babies recently born in our church. Actually, he (and the others, I am sure) was dedicated long before this, but today was a public testimony of our desire to raise our seventh child in the ways of our Lord. It is a humbling thought that God has entrusted these precious little ones to our care for this sole (soul) purpose. What a blessing it is to have two of the best pastors on earth who have committed themselves to encourage us in this process!

"Weep with them that weep." Our dear friend, Dave Hance, is in ICU as of this morning. Please continue to pray for him and his family. For the sake of privacy, I won't go into details. However, I spoke with his wife this evening and this is a difficult situation. As you go about your work week and Christmas preparations, remember to pray for those around you who are hurting - including the Hance family.

Joyful tears. Tears of sorrow. Many of both kinds have been shed this weekend. The Lord is good through it all!

Blessed be the name of the LORD!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Criticizer or Encourager?

Tomorrow is the big First Annual Home School Fair at our church. We've been looking forward to this for the past couple of months. Of course, my kids are just like me - huge procrastinators. So, all the final projects are getting done today.

I'm a control freak. Have I mentioned that before? Well, when I signed my kids up for the various categories, I had to tell myself and them that all that mattered was they do their best. I knew I'd have to give them the freedom to do their projects the way they wanted to. The whole idea is that the students show their skill - not the parents.

Truth be told, my kids most likely will not win any awards in most of the competitions. However, they have impressed me with their effort. All I've asked is that they do their best and they have.

I've also been pretty happy with my own effort to keep my "suggestions" (aka - criticisms) to myself. If they brought me something that I knew wasn't their best, I told them that and made them re-do it. But, otherwise, I've kept my mouth shut.

Tomorrow, three of them are in the spelling, Bible, and geography quizzes. I'll be rooting for them. Now, don't tell anyone as I know it's unChristian of me, but I honestly do hope they will win something - especially in Bible and geography as they've been working hard and they have a chance. However, I am really rooting for them to do their best.

I'm rooting for me to be an encourager and not a criticizer.

I really think that if my kids were in sports, I'd be more like that stereotypical pushy father than the quiet encouraging mother.` I often worry that my criticisms will discourage my kids and they'll look back on their growing-up years thinking they were never able to please me. This thought keeps me in check.

Praise the Lord, the older I get and the older my kids get, I think a little bit more before I speak. My kids need to be encouraged to do their best, but I need to be careful in how I do that. Some things I try to think of (once in a while, when I'm in my right mind) before I criticize:

1 - are they capable of doing what I ask?

2 - do I demand the same perfection of myself?

3 - what is my tone of voice in my suggesting? Critical or encouraging?

4 - does it matter if it's not done the way I want it? Am I discerning enough to know when it does matter and when it doesn't?

5 - what is my motivation for them to do well - for their growth and maturity or for my own pride?

So, pray for my children tomorrow - that they'll do their best and that they're mother will be their biggest and most encouraging fan!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hello, Again!

I have set a record - the longest time between blog posts! I have a TON of excuses, but, alas, no one is too interested in hearing those! Trust me, as a mom, I understand!

Truthfully, I have toyed with the idea of quitting my blog all together. I'm of the opinion that if you're going to do something, you had better be faithful! But, I also realize I'm an extremist. All or nothing, that's my motto!

I enjoy blogging for several reasons, but two reason stand out. First, I love to write and this is a wonderful outlet for me to do so. Second, in some way I'm not sure I understand, this blog is a blessing to several people for various reasons. In my little world, it can be easy to lose opportunities to bless others. I enjoy being able to be used of God whether through His Word, humor, or encouragement.

However, I have a family who NEEDS me and they are my priority. We have FINALLY found a schedule that is helping Michael, but it requires me to sit with him during the afternoon. I usually found time to write posts in the afternoon or late at night. However, I have had a taste of a few decent nights' sleep as of late and, guess what! I LOVE HAVING A DECENT NIGHT'S SLEEP! I plan on making it a habit!

So, here's my conclusion. My family is my foremost ministry. However, reaching out to others in order to be a blessing is also a worthwhile ministry. Therefore, I don't think it's wise to quit blogging all together at this time.

From now on, at least during the school year, I'll be posting twice a week. I don't have set days, they'll have to be days when I can fit it in, but I will make a point to fit it in. Ministry isn't always "convenient" but it must not stand in the way of my family - my God-given ministry.

So, for all of you who like keeping up with the antics and odd thoughts of this writer, thank you. I am encouraged by many of you and pray that I will be able to continue to bless your day in some small way.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Annual Family Christmas Picture

OK, where's the camera? How do I get it to "sepia?"

Michael, stand here. Seth, here. Smile. No, Mike, stand straight. Great, I just turned off the camera and have to reset it to "sepia." Smile.

Hmm. Blurry. Try again. Good!

Stand there so I can take about 25 more shots. Um, why did you just roll your eyes?

OK, girls, your turn. By the way, thanks for standing patiently for the past hour while I curled your hair. GLORIA!!!! DON'T LAY DOWN! Well, ok, you're two - people will think you're adorable with your hair standing straight up like that.

Calm.

Girls, stand in front of the window. Oh brother. We get clouds 360 days a year and TODAY it decides to be sunny. Can't see a thing other than those blinding rays through the window!

Breakfast? Church? Don't you know we have pictures to take? Oh, that's right. It's Sunday. Time to worship the Lord in spirit...

Back home - let's try this again. Katrina, WHY are you crying? Just smile so I can take a picture of this oh-so-happy family! Gloria, stop making funny faces. Cassia and Anna, just STAND there and smile until Gloria cooperates. WILL EVERYONE PLEASE SMILE????!!!!!!

Anna, why are you crying? GET HAPPY!

I give up. We'll try individual shots tomorrow. Maybe. Better yet, we'll copy one of those lovely family pictures that come with the frames at Wal-Mart. No one will know, will they?

Can't you just feel the holiday spirit?

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Day in History

November 16, 2003 - Our 5th child, Seth, is born!

Our second boy!!! Michael finally has a brother after 6 years and 3 sisters! When we found out during our ultra-sound that we were having a boy, Michael said, "God gave me a brother!!!"

Seth is a bundle of energy - always has been. He smiles so much and is so loveable. He'll come up to me or call from the other room, "I love you, mommy!" He'll say the same to his brothers and sisters. Sometimes, he'll look at me and say, "Are you happy?" If I say that I am, he'll often say, "Then smile!" If I'm sad or frustrated and let him know I'm not happy, he'll give a sympathetic "Oh" and give me a hug or say "Look at my smile." When I see that grin, a smile involuntarily appears on my own face!

An attitude adjustment from my four year old!

I've been grateful for each child God has given to us, but I prayed for Seth. He and his sister before him are 20 months apart, which was a big age gap for us as the girls are 14 and 18 months apart. I was actually at the point of yearning for another baby. More than that, though, I yearned for another boy - a brother for Michael.

There are six years between Michael and Seth. Much more and there would be little relationship between the two. But, as it is, the two of them love each other and I see that brother-bond becoming stronger as time goes on. Just the other day, they were outside conquering the world together!

I not only prayed for Seth, but I literally prayed over him the moment he was born. Seth did not breathe for the first whole minute of his life. Let me tell you, when you're looking at your blue baby not breathing and with an oxygen mask over his face, you will pray like you never have before! God, again, answered my prayer.

God has a plan for Seth. Yes, he has a plan for every human, but I, like Hannah, gave Seth to the Lord for His service before I was even pregnant with him. What the plan is, I don't know. But, he is the Lord's. I pray that I am faithful to raise each of my sons to be worthy of serving the King of kings.

Seth is a joy to our hearts. His smile is endearing. His laughter is contagious. His love is freely given.

Happy birthday to a little boy from whom I can learn much!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Hero

I know Veterans Day was yesterday and I thought it was too late to write the post I've been thinking about. But, after reading Lunch-Time Thoughts today, I knew I had to write this.

In Andy's post, you will find out why the world sees Gary Beikirch as a hero. As one of just a handful of Medal of Honor recipients, he has earned the title. However, to me, he is a hero for another, seemingly less glorious, reason.

I remember the first time I saw Gary Beikirch. I was in the first grade and visiting the zoo with my family. While being entertained by the monkeys (who doesn't love the monkey exhibit?), I looked over and recognized one of my new classmates. She was enjoying the zoo with her parents that day. Average parents taking their kid to the zoo.

I remember being at their house for a sleep over. I'll never forgive Mrs. Beikirch for introducing me to the "midnight witching hour" concept. To this day, I get nervous at midnight! Mrs. Beikirch was fun and crazy. Mr. Beikirch was so calm and nice!

The Beikirch's were a nice family. A normal family. The fact that I was visiting the home of a hero recognized by the President himself was never mentioned. It was years before I knew what a great man my friend's father was.

By the time I found out that Gary Beikirch was a military hero, he was already a hero in my mind. Gary was there for me at a critical time in my life.

My parents separated when I was eleven years old and in the sixth grade. Back in the mid-80's in a Christian school, I didn't know a lot of people going through what our family was going through. I was ashamed, scared, and didn't quite know how to deal with it all.

Gary knew about our situation...and he cared. One day, when I just broke down into tears in class, Gary showed up "out of nowhere." He sat down and talked with me. I don't even remember what he said - I just remember the kindness and compassion in his eyes. When I was too afraid to tell my classmates my family was falling apart, Gary offered to do it for me. Gary prepared and paved the way for me to enter my new role as "kid from broken home" without teasing or questions from my peers.

And, for the next few years, he was there whenever I, my mom or my brothers needed to talk to someone who would listen. Someone who would care.

The interesting thing is, whenever I've heard Gary Beikirch's military story told, I've also heard many people speak up and say what he meant to them in their personal lives. How he cared for them. How he's listened. How he's helped.

Oh, yes, I'm thankful to Gary for his service to our country. He is a true hero.

But, he's my hero because...he cared.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Day in History

November 11, 2006 - My father passes away.

I contemplated waiting on this post until November 13th as that is the date that I found out about my father's death. But, this is the actual anniversary of the day my dad died.

My father was diagnosed in April of 2006 with cirrhosis of the liver. He was told he would have ten years if he gave up all alcohol. My dad was not about to do that and his health deteriorated quickly. My brothers and I encouraged him to move back from the south to live here, but, true to his nature, he wouldn't do it. He didn't want to be an inconvenience and he enjoyed where he was.

Dad lived alone. Therefore, no one knew just how sick he was. In the wee hours of the morning on the eleventh, my father called a friend and told her he was having difficulty breathing. This friend, who lived hundred of miles away, tried to convince him to take himself to the hospital. But my dad wasn't ever crazy about doctors, so he didn't go. She even called the paramedics in his hometown to go check on him, but he wouldn't let them come in the house.

Later on that day, my dad's friend called him. He was a little upset with her for calling the paramedics, but he forgave her. He told her he still wasn't feeling well and was real tired, so he'd call her back later.

He never called her back.

Finally, the next evening, my dad's friend started making phone calls which resulted in the police going to his home around 10:00 Sunday night. They arrived only to discover that my father had passed away around 11:00 Saturday night.

My father passed away on 11/11 at 11:00. Leave it to him.

Apparently, my cousin tried to get a hold of me late on Sunday night. But, as we did not have a telephone upstairs at the time, I never heard the phone ring. When I came down stairs on Monday morning, I saw the light on the phone blinking, indicating that someone had called. As soon as the caller i.d. showed my cousin's name and the time she called, I knew the news was not going to be good. She had left a message for me to call as soon as I got the message.

Sitting on the steps leading to our attic, I listened as she told me, "I'm sorry, but your daddy passed away."

Knowing that she was going to tell me this was one thing. Hearing her say the words, I honestly felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I asked her some details and we hung up.

In shock, at first, I didn't cry...until I had dialed Eric's cell phone and he answered. Then I lost it.

My dad was gone. He didn't even know about the new grandchild I was carrying. I hadn't spoken to him on the phone for a couple of months. He was supposed to visit later in the week.

Now, he was gone.

The worst part was knowing he died alone. A lot of decisions and situations led up to that being the case, but it was hard knowing that no one was there.

I wasn't there.

In April, my brothers and I, along with my two aunts and a couple of cousins all met in Daytona Beach, Florida to hold a time of memorial for my father and scatter his ashes. My dad spent quite a bit of time in Daytona Beach and always dreamed of moving there.

As I spent some time alone walking along the beach, seeing the hotel he spent his time at, looking at the water - I could see why he loved it so much. It was a fun place to be. My dad loved having fun.

It was also peaceful. My father loved peace, though I fear he enjoyed little of it at times in his life.

As I sat on the beach, I couldn't help but wonder what he thought about while he sat alone on that very beach. Did he wish things had been different? Was he happy? Was he lonely? Did he think of God?

The last day I was there with the family, I could almost feel my father's presence. I stood with the water coming in and covering my feet and could almost feel my dad come up and put his arm around me like he had so many times before. He would've said, "I'm so glad you're all here. I love you, my little girl!"

I love you, too, dad. I miss you!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Welcome to...My Life

This week, my almost four year old son discovered the pleasures of shooting rubber bands. In the house.

We have one rule: don't shoot at people.

Seth is now rarely seen without his trusty ole rubber bands. He has spent hours shooting them in the living room, kitchen...any room you can think of. Frequently, one will get lost and he will then have to replace it.

Shoot. Lose. Replace. Shoot. Lose. Replace.

A few of his siblings have observed the sheer joy this activity brings to their brother and have decided to follow the same path.

Shoot. Lose. Replace.

Late last night, while the little snipers were sound asleep, I needed a rubber band. I discovered the bag that once held 85 rubber bands...empty.

Shoot. Lose. Replace.

Eighty-five rubber bands.

Think about it.

Welcome to my life!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reasons Why My Kids Have the Best Daddy in the World!


*Note - it should be known that all of these things listed are done with a smile!

1. He has taken 4 trips to the hospital ER with two of our girls in the past 8 months.

2. Even as I write this, it is 10:00 and he's bringing home one of our daughters from the hospital, but taking her out for a hamburger first.

3. He allows the girls to brush what hair he has left and put hair-bows in it. He doesn't allow me to take a picture, though.

4. He takes the kids out in the spray truck once in a while to experience the bumpy fun ride in the fields.

5. He'll take 2 kids in diapers to the tractor store - just to give them some variety in life and mommy a break!

6. He has endless patience in helping the children with their schoolwork.

7. He'll come in the house during the day just to see how things are going.

8. He'll take the 3 year old boy, who woke up too early, out to the barn to hang out with daddy and grandpa and have cookies and milk for breakfast.

9. He demonstrates our Heavenly Father's love in such a tangible way.

10. He loves their mommy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Because I'M the Mom!

Remember when your mother said, "because I said so"? There's something to that.

For a long time, I've wanted to understand my children. I wanted them to like me.

That is not my responsibility as a mom. My responsibility is to train them up "in the way that they should go." Their responsibility is to obey.

Modern day thought has crept into the hearts of Christian parents everywhere. It crept into my heart. The Bible is pretty cut and dry on parenting. Parents love and discipline. Children obey. Yes, we are to win their hearts, but, trust my experience, that's not by giving in to their desires, trying to make everything fair, and trying to explain ourselves to someone just over 3 feet tall!

Why is it that we moms (dads don't seem to have this problem as much) think we're being unfair if we don't warn our children 3 times that they're "going to get in trouble if...?" Do my kids know they're not supposed to goof off during school? Absolutely. Then, why do I waste my breath warning - nagging - them all morning? The first time they're out of their seat doing anything other than school, they are disobeying.

Disobedience requires chastisement. Easy as that.

It's amazing how little nagging one has to do once you've used some discipline on that springy seat! It may not cure it all, but it reduces the breath wasted.

Why is it that we moms think our kids are smarter than we are? If I tell Jr. to get a coat on and he comes back with a weather update that make swimsuits sound more appropriate, I rethink my position and hand him the beach ball on his way out the door.

Would someone please slap me?

My three year old has a habit of coming to the table and stating that he doesn't like what is being served. I formed that habit. How? By sternly saying "It doesn't matter. You're eating it, anyway." This is followed by a loud, sad sigh which we ignore.

It sounds good enough. I don't give in and make him a separate meal of chips and ice cream. He eats what's put in front of him. Where I have failed is in the area of gratefulness and attitude training.

Last night, I think we handled it a bit more wisely. Seth came to the table and said "I don't like this." Mind you, he hadn't even sat down and it was a brand new recipe. So, he was taken to the toy room (NOT to play), then sent to bed - without dinner.

Do I hear the sounds of mothers everywhere gasping and tsking the fact that we allowed our son to starve? Well, let's just say that when he saw the crock-pots going today he said, "That's supper. I like that!"

Thank you very much!

I don't need to explain myself to my 10 year old. If I tell him to do something, it's to be "yes ma'am!" If he complains, I add more chores to the list. I don't have to explain why I'm asking him to do the job. And guess what! He doesn't want an explanation, either! How many times have we tried to defend ourselves (needlessly) to our kids only to see them tune us out! They give us bad attitudes to try to get away with something - not so they can hear mom explain the righteousness of it all!

I will miss those lovely times when I'd say, "So-and-so, pick up the toys" and so-and-so would come back with "I didn't get them out" and I'd actually go along and say, "oh, sorry, who did?" Oh yes, the good ole days.

Stop the music.

Now, it's "pick up the toys and I don't want a history on who did what!" Ok, well, not that bad. But, what they're saying when they tell me who really got out the toys is "I'm too good to pick up someone else's stuff!" Moms pick up stuff all the time that they "didn't get out!" What a shock that will be to my girls one day if they don't learn now to humble themselves and pitch in. What a way to teach my sons to love others when they pick up their sisters toys once in a while.

So, I've reclaimed my authority. In love, of course. And you know what? We're all a bit happier.

Why?

Because I said so, that's why!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

LOST!

Thirty-something mother of seven

Hair: Medium length, though losing much due to post-partum hair loss

Dress: Was last seen wearing some sort of dress smattered with baby spit-up and peanut butter

Eyes: first set, blue; second set, located in back of head, also blue

Last seen: About a week ago, going into the family laundry room. It is feared she drowned in the pile(s) of clothes which seems to be continuously rising at an alarming rate.

Hopes are low that she'll be found as that would require getting to the bottom of previously mentioned piles.

No picture posted as the most recent was taken before the baby was born and we don't have the technology needed to add the 20 lbs. missing person has gained since then.

If found, please take her to nearest tropical island and nourish with fun non-alcoholic drinks, chocolate, and quiet.


Monday, October 29, 2007

My Gift from God

Yesterday, I read about the "information chip" that's supposedly everywhere. This chip seems to be the type that will fulfill the prophecy of the mark found in Revelation.

This kind of thing excites my husband. It scares me. I know where I'm going, I know I'm saved. But, I'm fleshly enough to be afraid of what happens in the meantime. How much of the tribulation am I going to see? I know, I'm supposed to believe in pre-trib, but, who's to know how much junk we're going to see before Christ comes for His bride?

No, this isn't a doctrinal post. Nor is it intended to depress anyone. I just wanted to let you know where my mind was when God gave me a special gift.

A double rainbow. The second one in a week and a half. Right over our grain bins, as colorful and beautiful as you can imagine!

This rainbow reminded me of God's promise that He will never leave me or forsake me. He promised to return for His children and He will. He promised to hold me in His hand. The future may be uncertain, but God reminded me that He will be with me - no matter what.

In the midst of my silly fears, God sent a rainbow. I went back in the house with a light and joyful heart.


"And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud...And I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth." - Genesis 9:14 & 16

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Child's Sorrow is the Mother's Sorrow

This morning, I had to break the news to my sweet daughter that her pet goat died.

Yes, we had her for a total of 3 days and now she's gone. Apparently, what the previous owner described as being "normal" was not and my husband found her in her stall this morning - dead.

For all the grief she gave us in her stubbornness, she was a great pet.

The hardest thing in the world is having to look in your child's big eyes and tell them that something they love has died. I, like most mothers, want to shield my children from pain and sorrow. However, that is impossible.

Preventing and shielding is not my job. It's my job to love my children and cry with them when they are hurting. It's my job to point them to the Saviour and help them keep their eyes on Him and trust that His will is best.

It was a stupid goat. But, my daughter loved her. Therefore, I cried as my daughter cried. My heart hurt as her heart broke.

I also did the unthinkable and got on the phone and asked a friend of mine if she had any goats she wanted to get rid of. No one said a mother's love is rational.

We may or may not get a new goat. We hope to. In the meantime, my little girl is a little sad.

And so am I.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just Another Day on the Funny Farm

I got up at 6:33 a.m. Never mind the fact that I went shopping at 9:00 last night, got home at 10:00, went to bed at 11:00 and woke up at 2:12 a.m. with a baby boy who wanted to party. Seriously, this kid can sleep through the night - he just has decided he doesn't want to. So, at 3:30, I finally took him downstairs to sleep (or cry) in the playpen. Peace at last.

For three hours.

I quick got dressed and put in my contacts. Hair and make-up would have to wait. My daughter needed me to help her with her new chore - taking care of an 8-year old female goat.

We got her yesterday. It's like having a dog - with horns. Really, she's very sweet. Only thing is, she's...well...having her feminine time of the month.

Yeah, goats have that, too. Who knew? I didn't. Neither did my 8 year old daughter until 7:00 this morning. That was fun trying to explain.

Later on in the morning, I went back out to the stables to help coerce this new pet to come outside. If you were to have driven into the farm around 10:00 a.m., you would have seen me leading/dragging/bribing this goat with the help of a leash and a graham cracker. You do what you gotta do.

Mom stopped by around 11:30. She acted like she was happy about the goat, but, she can't fool me. However, we had a nice visit over some much needed caffeine-in-a-cup.

Once she left and the children had finished lunch, I went up to clean my son's room. This wasn't on the agenda for today, just as none of the aforementioned things were. This was a desperation-cleaning as my son's toys seem to have a habit of calling his name during school hours.

He has a habit of answering their call.

So, I had to do the "tough-love" thing and clear them out. Seriously. The kid now only has a bed, dresser, clothes rack, and a table in his room. No more distractions, right?

Around 4:00, his light switch "just falls off the wall." Has anyone else ever had that phenomenon occur in their home? He already had 2 out of 3 bulbs blown and then, I quote: "I was sitting doing my work and the light went out and the switch fell on the floor." If it was going to happen, it only made sense that it would happen today.

5:00 p.m. - I finally clean up the lunch dishes.

By this time, I've already decided that church just wasn't going to be a part of our evening. I hadn't had a chance to lay the younger kids down for their naps, the goat had to be found and put back in the stable, daddy still wasn't home, and the crock-pot dinner that's supposed to cook for 4 hours wasn't even started.

Eric came home. I fed the kids leftovers while he went out to buy light-bulbs and some stir-fry. He fixed the lights and switch when he came home and we ate a romantic candle-lit dinner at 8:00. Well, as romantic as you can get when your youngest is screaming his head off and your oldest is still hashing out his math problems - out loud.

I'm sure I wasn't the most lovely dinner guest - I never did get around to doing my hair and make-up.

Welcome to my life. Come by and visit sometime. We'll let you feed the goat a graham cracker and watch light switches fall off our walls.

Monday, October 22, 2007

If You're Looking for Something Profound...Move On

What's the deal with candle warmers? This has bugged me for a couple of weeks. OK, so I need a life and should find a better soap box, but, really - candle warmers?!

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, candle warmers are devices on which you can set your non-burning scented candle in order for it to warm up enough to allow the lovely scent in the air without having to actually light a match.

I don't get it.

Isn't one of the main purposes of candles the atmosphere it provides? A burning candle allows you to dim lights and bring romance or calm to your home - I think the term is ambiance.

Actually, I guess the main purpose of candles is to provide light which, again, makes the candle warmer a bit silly. "Can't see a thing, but smell the rich vanilla scent!"

I understand the need to protect us from ourselves. Avoid the whole "light a candle, torch the house" scenario.

I love candles. Burning ones. I love the fact that I can make my house look really nice with a few inexpensive candles. During the fall and winter, I often take advantage of the lack of daylight by lighting candles in the early morning hours and again around dinner time. Instead of reaching for the light switch, I reach for the matches. It helps create a sense of calm without using Ritalin. It makes the house smell wonderful, even if I haven't had a chance to bake in weeks. It hides a lot of dirt, too.

I'd like to see a candle warmer do all that.

Anyway, I don't mean to offend anyone who may have one of these must-have gadgets in your home. It's just not for me. Then again, there's something for everyone.

Like the candles I saw in the store the other day. Very clearly labeled "unscented." What's a candle-warmer supposed to do with that?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

This Day in History...part 2

As Harold and I were driving out of my driveway, a friend of the family came tearing in. This normally all-together guy looked absolutely pale and shaken. I was to later find out that he heard the call come over the radio. That call was not good.

Eric and his father had been harvesting corn that fall day. Only the two of them were working which meant a lot of back and forth from the fields to the barns for Eric. That afternoon, Eric drove the tractor trailer out to the field so his father could load the combined corn. In order to get back to the barns, Eric towed his one-ton pick-up behind the semi. In a hurry, which is when most farm accidents occur, Eric parked on a slight incline. When he unhitched his truck from the tractor trailer, the pick-up rolled forward pinning my husband between the two vehicles. The pick-up was pressing against his back, making it very difficult for him to breathe. Every time he would take a breath, the truck would squeeze him even more. Eric was suffocating.

My husband stays calm in every situation. He's very logical and very practical. He was no different in this situation. He knew that if he panicked, breathing would be impossible. He tried pushing himself away from the big truck, but there was no way he could do it. The last thing he remembered was seeing his dad drive the combine around the corner. He held out his hand in order to flag down his father. Then, everything went black.

Earlier that morning, a couple of neighbors went out into the woods to hunt. They planned on being there until late afternoon. However, one thing led to the next, and one of the neighbors had to walk back home. It was then that he found my husband unconscious between the two trucks. Eric's dad had never seen Eric's hand outstretched to get his attention. He had driven right by. The hunter flagged down my father-in-law. One of them jumped in the pick-up truck to back it up releasing my husband.

He was not breathing. My father-in-law immediately began doing mouth-to-mouth, all the while recalling the time he had done this to another son years ago. That son didn't make it. My father-in-law was desperate that this son would.

Eric says that as he began to come to, he knew absolutely nothing. He didn't know his name. He knew nothing about me, our children, or anything else. He did know one thing, however. He knew that he had a heavenly Father. That was his only thought, the only thing he was aware of. Eric truly experienced the promise "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

As I said earlier, our friend heard the call come over the emergency radio. He never told me exactly what he heard. I found out a few months later from another friend. The paramedics who arrived at the scene were sure Eric wasn't going to make it. They were doing everything but pronouncing him dead on the scene. That is why they never let me in the ambulance and shooed my father-in-law away from the back window.

When I arrived at the hospital, I went right to the desk to ask where my husband was. The first thing the lady told me was, "He's not in [the] trauma [unit]." I told her she was my new best friend! (Sorry, Heather)

When I went back to see my husband, the oxygen mask was off and he immediately apologized to me for the scare. He was doing fantastic! When his dad arrived, he held on to Eric's hand and never let go. Eric kept apologizing to him as well.

About five hours after the accident, Eric walked out of that hospital! He had a scar on his back for years, from the truck pushing into him, but that was it. No broken ribs, no broken bones. The paramedics had thought he had been crushed and would have, at least, a punctured lung.

I stated yesterday that one of the reasons I believed the Lord spared Eric was because I relinquished my hold on him. I also believe there are two other reasons, besides it just being God's will.

The first is all the prayers on behalf of my husband's life. As I waited in the truck at the field, someone lent me their phone to make a couple of calls. I could not reach anyone as we were out of range. When I got home, I was finally able to contact a couple of people and, within a short period of time, hundreds of people were praying for Eric. People we had never met and probably never will, prayed for my husband and our family. What a wondrous thing to belong to the family of God!

I think, also, Eric's faithfulness to the Lord and concern for souls spared him. As he was in the helicopter struggling to breathe in spite of the oxygen mask, he looked up at the female paramedic. As he looked at her he asked, "If you were to die today, do you know for sure if you'd go to heaven?" Can you imagine being that woman?! Here's a man who is, as far as anyone can tell, about to die and he asks her about her readiness for death!!! All she could say was, "I hope so." Eric wanted to say more but was physically unable to. Oh, I believe the Lord knew He was not finished with His faithful servant!!

Eric says he probably was never seriously injured. I believe that between the prayers and his faithful witness, the Lord healed him on that helicopter.

When we came home, Eric went upstairs and kissed each of our children good-night. They did not realize how close their daddy had come to dying that day. They were just so glad to have him back home. We all were.

I frequently look back to that day and am so grateful for the fact that I still have my husband and best friend to walk with me through this life. I am also grateful that walking with us is our precious and loving Saviour.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This Day in History...a day early

This is the first of 2 parts, therefore, I post a day early.

October 20, 2003 - My beloved husband almost dies.

This is a beautiful, though hectic, time of year on the farm. So much to do and constantly looking at the clouds for the next rain storm or the first snow. The soybean and corn harvest are in full swing. Such was the case four years ago.

It was a Tuesday. In the morning, I had taken our (then) four children across the street to the pumpkin patch for an educational demonstration. I was also expecting our fifth child in a matter of 5 weeks.

The outing was fun, but made us all ready for a nap. Other than Michael, the rest of us went upstairs for a rest. I remember being on my bed doing some reading before drifting off when I heard my name being called from downstairs. It was our book-keeper, Harold (who is also my father-in-law's cousin). Figuring he needed my signature for something or to see if all the farm bills had made it to the barn, I moseyed down the stairs.

Then, he said the words that no farm wife wants to hear - "There's been an accident and they've called the ambulance."

If you know anything about my husband and his family, they don't call ambulances. They'll drive themselves to a hospital if they have to. So, I immediately knew it was bad. Harold didn't know what it was - he just got the call to get me. I figured I'd see blood, I just "knew" Eric had lost an arm or leg. Why else would there be an ambulance?

Just a few months before, my cousin had suddenly lost her husband, also a farmer. I thought of her. I remember looking at the fall clouds in the otherwise blue sky. "So, this is the kind of day on which I lose my husband."

We got to the field. There were people, ambulances, and rescue equipment everywhere. I can't remember who all was there, at first, I just remember wondering what had happened and where my husband was.

Harold asked me if I wanted to go to Eric. I told him, "You go and come let me know." I just had to be somewhat prepared for what I was going to see. I also didn't want to find my husband dead.

Harold soon came back saying that Eric was asking for me. I quickly followed Harold and found my dear Eric on a stretcher with an oxygen mask. There was no blood. They were carrying him to the ambulance. He opened his eyes and tried to say something. They kept moving him. I do remember him raising his hand and telling them to wait. But, they didn't. All I could think was that this would be the last time I would be able to talk with Eric and they weren't letting me! They put him in the back of the ambulance and closed the door.

I remember Eric's dad looking in the back window of the ambulance and the police leading him away. The police officer came over to me saying that they would let me in when they stabilized him. Some one led me back to Harold's truck and sat me in the passenger seat. Eric's dad was crying and told me to pray. From time to time someone would come to see how I was - Eric's aunt, a friend...

Eventually, I was told we were waiting for Mercy Flight. They cleared the field across the street for the helicopter.

As I waited, I knew I could lose my husband, my best friend, my children's daddy. The little boy I was about to deliver in a month would never know this wonderful man. I prayed. I asked the Lord to spare the love of my life. I NEEDED him. Not only for his help and support - but I needed his love and his friendship. We'd been together for thirteen years. I barely knew life without Eric.

However, the Lord gave me the grace to say, "If you must take him, Lord, I know You will be with me and give me the grace to go on."

The helicopter landed. I remember seeing the paramedics laughing at something as they crossed the street. "How dare they laugh when my husband is most likely dying?"

We didn't wait for them to load Eric on the helicopter. Harold would drive me to the hospital, but, first, I had to make sure someone would be at the house for my children. I knew I had to pull myself together for Michael. He asked what happened to daddy. "Oh, he may have broken a rib. He's going to get to take a ride in a helicopter. Mommy's going to go to the hospital to be with him. You be a good boy, ok?" He was 6 years old.

I'll tell you exactly what had caused the accident and what resulted afterwards tomorrow. As you've guessed, the Lord spared my husband.

I must tell you that one of my biggest fears used to be losing my darling Eric. I would fret and beg God not to take him from me. Several months after Eric's accident, I recalled an incident that happened exactly a year before. I attended a funeral of a man who died too young. As I watched his wife with her four children, I had, what I thought was, a premonition. I, too, had four children at that time, though younger. I felt God was telling me that I would be walking in that woman's shoes one day. Instead of panicking and begging God for it not to be, I just said, "Ok, Lord. I know You'll give me the grace you've given to this dear woman. If you want Eric, so be it. He is Yours." That was October 22 or 23, 2002. I often wonder what would have happened if I had kicked against the Lord at that time. Would He have spared Eric? Or, did He give me back my husband because I had given my husband back to Him?

I don't know. But, I'm so grateful to the Lord for allowing me to have my best friend with me today.


*Read Part 2*

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Blessing of Family

Tonight, I watched my younger brother's two children. This is the second time in about a month that we've been able to do that. Life being what it is, we don't get to see too much of them, though they live only 10 minutes away. But, our kids and their's have such a great time when they're together. The same goes for my older brother's children. Their are 13 cousins in all and they all get along great and enjoy being together.

I missed that while I was growing up. My dad's family lived out of state and my mom's sister has 2 children quite a bit older than we were. So, there were no close cousin relationships. One set of grandparents lived out of state and my one surviving grandfather who lived nearby was not too sociable. I always felt a bit sad about the lack of extended family. Thanksgiving and Christmas, when many of my friends had large family gatherings, were very small and quiet in our home - just my parents and us kids. Don't get me wrong, we have some good memories, but I always felt something was missing.

Eric grew up with his grandparents living next door. His family gets together regularly - always have. He knows the relationships that I never knew.

When we found out we were expecting Michael, we lived in Maine. Eric worked for a construction company. This company seemed bent on breaking up families. One by one, the marriages of the employees were falling apart. We realized this was no place for us to be. We also wanted our children to know their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, as well as any cousins that might come along.

It's a long story of how we got home, but here we are. It was a good move, one I'm glad we made.

Our children are very close to both sets of grandparents. Even my dad, who lived in the South before he passed away, would make frequent trips up to see the children and they looked forward to those times. Their cousins are like siblings to them (like they need any more of those!). When I begin to feel weary of some of the large get-togethers, I remember what it was like not having that and rejoice that God has blessed my children in such a way.

I must note that I have recently gotten back in touch with a couple of my aunts and cousins and feel extremely blessed to live in an age where it is so much easier to stay connected! The Lord is good to bless us in His time!

So, the cousins were over today. We're getting together for dinner next Friday. We're making memories and the kids are nurturing relationships that will last, I hope, a lifetime!

Cherish the times spent with your extended family and make those times frequent. There are times when you cannot be together - take advantage of the technologies that we have today to keep in close contact. Family is so very important and wonderful!

Blessings upon you all and your precious families!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

HELP!

Ok, I need some feedback. I don't normally do this, but this may be a good avenue for me.

I need some advice on how to deal with a child with learning disabilities. We've never had Michael officially tested but, I don't think it takes a genius to figure out that a child has a consistently difficult time in school. Besides, the phrase in the paper work that said something like "If school district makes a recommendation for child's education and parent turns it down, school district may take parent to court" made us a bit nervous.

Anyway, let me give you an idea of what kind of things we're dealing with in Michael.

Our son seems to have a difficult time concentrating. We try to minimize the distractions, but he could honestly get sidetracked by a piece of lint on his shirt. (Hmm, maybe that's not so much a learning problem as it is genetics. I get distracted pretty easily, too. Did I ever tell you about the time...oh, sorry) We don't excuse his distractability. If he chooses to do his own thing, it just takes him that much longer to get his work done and he forfeits quite a bit of free time.

Understanding instruction is difficult for him. His short term memory is not good at all, though his long term memory is remarkable. We can explain something to him, he gets it, and a few minutes later he has no idea what to do.

Michael seems to skip words while he is reading and his comprehension during silent reading is something we're working on. I have definitely noticed that he does much better if he reads everything aloud, but is that practical for real life.

He also does not seem to test well. Many times, we know he's retaining the information - we can tell by his conversation - yet, his test scores don't show it.

There are definitely times when our son just slacks off. But, there are times when, even though he's working as diligently as possible, he struggles. I get frustrated, which doesn't help him at all.

One of the things I question is - am I pushing him too hard? If he is struggling with a couple of subjects, do I lighten his daily load? My thought is that when he hits the "real world" that won't be the case. He'll be expected to meet the standard to which everyone else is held. But, when the tears are coming and he's so frustrated with himself, I wonder if I'm too hard on him.

SO - those of you who have has a learning disability yourself or have taught children with learning challenges or have even KNOWN someone to go through this, PLEASE give me some ideas on how to help our son. Truth be told, we've thought of putting him in school, but then he'd just get lost in the shuffle. We honestly don't think that is the answer, but if you have insight saying otherwise, feel free.

If you don't want to publicly comment, use my e-mail (it's in the profile section).

If nothing else, please pray for us. We could use it. And, just so you know, we're praying for many of you homeschoolers, too. We all have our challenges.

Sorry for taking advantage of you all - we'll be back to more interesting posts tomorrow. I hope.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rocking my Baby

I feel the weight of his head in the crook of my arm. He looks at me and smiles. I rock in the rocker that was given to me at my bridal shower. His eyes close as I sing a hymn. They open every once in a while - seemingly to see if I'm still there. I am, and he smiles once again.

With my first baby, I was afraid I would spoil him if I held him too much, so I didn't allow myself that luxury too many times. With each child since, I've allowed myself more time with them, just holding them. Some haven't liked it, some have. Zane does and I'm glad, for who knows if I'll have another opportunity such as this?

Each time a baby grows into a child, I forget what it's like to feel that baby-closeness, smell that baby-smell, and bask in that baby-smile. I forget the joy that comes from rocking a baby. Then, the next one comes and I remember and treasure it all over again.

Some day, I'll forget and never be reminded again.

So, as this baby looks at me one last time before he goes to sleep, I smile. "Yes, I'm here. I always will be. I love you."

He smiles and closes his eyes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Broken Word

A week and a half ago, Eric told me we were getting a dog. Not just any dog, but the sister of a friend's dog who is absolutely what we've been looking for for several years. The owner was making a trip up from out of state and would be selling us this dog.

Eric and I were like kids waiting. We were so excited.

My husband and I have been parents for 10 years. We, like most parents, have found that when you mention an upcoming event to a child, that is all you hear about until the event comes to pass. With one child doing it, it's enough to make you want to scream. We have seven children. That would pretty much put us on the fast track to the R-wing. So, in order to spare ourselves that torture, we decided not to tell the children about our new pet, but just wait to surprise them when she came.

That turned out to be a wise decision. Because, at the last minute, the owner's girlfriend decided she couldn't part with the dog.

So, what our kids didn't know couldn't result in tears - from them, anyway. I shed tears and Eric looked like he wanted to. I've honestly not seen my husband look that sad in quite some time.

For those of you who don't know me, this kind of thing doesn't set well with me. I'm not the type to say "Oh, ok, whatever" and go happily on my way. I'm more the type to say:

"WHAT?! How could she do that? When did they plan on telling us this? For all they know, we've already told the kids and now their little hearts are broken! Let me tell you, if that were the case, I'd be taking our six crying children over to her so she could explain why they can't have their dog!!! That is RUDE. That is so NOT RIGHT!!!!"

Yep, that's more my style.

As a Christian almost constantly surrounded by other Christians trying to live according to God's ways, I rarely have to deal with people who do not keep their word. So, this is pretty much a first for me. As a woman who has a tendency to like being in control of things, this was a shock to my system, but a good reminder that not everything can go my way.

Here are some thoughts I had as a result of all this:

1. I will be honest and tell you that I did think being nice gets you no where. If I could just follow my (sinful) nature, I could put up a fight and we'd probably have a dog. The nice people get walked on. At least, that's what it feels like sometimes. But, then I realized, that's not true. In being nice, we keep a spotless and blameless reputation and allow God to shine. We may not get what we want all the time, but, we can have peace knowing that God is pleased in our dealings with others. What could I want more than to have the Lord be pleased with me?

2. I realized, again, how a woman can tear down a man's reputation. The owner of the dog is a guy who normally keeps his word. However, his girlfriend manipulated him with her feelings causing him to go back on a promise. (Never mind the fact that they still have three dogs back home.) His reputation has been damaged. He didn't want to break his promise to us, but, he was afraid to upset her. We, as wives, need to be careful not to manipulate our men. We may get what we want, but at what cost to his reputation or place of leadership as a man?

3. Woe to the man who marries such a woman.

4. I need to learn to deal with disappointment. I was sad and I don't think that's a sin. But, I was angry. I think I may be growing, though, as in the midst of it, I realized I could become bitter about this whole thing and I asked God to help me with that. I have to give Him control of my heart, thoughts, and emotions.

5. I am grateful for the Christian brethren who, though human, try their best to treat one another with kindness, respect, love, truth, and sincerity.

6. I am grateful for a husband who almost NEVER makes a promise. I can only remember one time when I heard the word "promise" come from his lips - other than our wedding. He realizes that, though he may do everything in his power to keep promise, God may have other plans. Therefore, he will say, "I'll try," "I intend," "We'll see," and the like. This character trait has earned him the reputation of a man who keeps his word and someone people can trust.

7. Most importantly, this situation made me think of how I keep my word as a mother. How often do I tell my children that we'll do something, only to make excuses for why we never got around to it? This brings sadness to my heart knowing that I am often the reason for my children's disappointment. We often say that life is full of disappointments and our children need to learn to deal with it. Yes, this is true. But, those disappointments ought to come from someplace other than their mother. I should just be the one who will help them through it. They should be able to trust mommy. I need to be careful about making promises or giving my children hopes only to dash them.

8. We know now, more than ever, that it's best never to tell our kids about something until it actually happens!!!!

Zechariah 8:16 - "These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour..."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Young Love Remaining

Do you know what I love about being around and observing young people? Their fresh and unhardened look at life - especially love. I love listening to someone speak of their boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/new spouse and see the stars in their eyes. I love to watch newly-weds gaze at each other, hold hands, and laugh. They help me remember what is was like for Eric and me.

Then, I look around at older people. Older = anyone married more than 5 years or any one who has children. So many have lost that fresh look at love and life. I can't even imagine what they were like when they were young and in love. In fact, I know they were young, but, were they ever in love? They help me to see that love can be a fragile thing and is not to be taken for granted. Nothing, including self and children, ought to take priority over the gift of love that God has given me in my husband.

Then, while I'm looking around, I spot them. The couple that's been married for 20 or 30 years. They've raised their children, they've come against hardships, and they've weathered the storms of life. And, they're gazing in each other's eyes with a new depth. They're holding hands with more feeling. And, they're still laughing. This is the couple that I want to be. They set the example for what I want our marriage to look like now and always.

When Eric and I were first married, I would hold his hand or put my head on his shoulder. Usually, someone would say "newlyweds." I would respond, "I hope to still be acting this way when we celebrate our 50th anniversary!"

By the grace of God, we're still holding hands, I still lay my head on Eric's shoulder, we're still laughing. We're on our way to accomplishing my goal - with the Lord's help.

So, here's a big thank you to all the young couples reminding us of how we once felt and to the happy older couples who remind us that we can still feel that way.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Counting My Blessings!

This past weekend was one of great fun and memories. Autumn is a very nostalgic season and it does seem to loan itself to the making of many memories. It is also a season in which we seem to reflect upon the things we are thankful for. So, on that note, it is time for another installment of "Counting My Blessings!"




1. I'm grateful for my daughter Anna. I'm thankful for all of my children, but Anna's birthday happened to be on Friday, so I'm mentioning her. I am grateful for the seven years we have had thus far with this quiet, nurturing, and mature little girl. Anna is 7 going on 37 - she seems so much older in her mannerisms. When she does act like a 7 year old, it's almost surprising. She is a blessing to us with her quiet and sweet ways.




2. I'm grateful for the fact that my children have many moments where they can actually get along and act like they love each other. Cassia and Anna are the best of friends. I'm grateful for the bond that God has given to sisters.



3. I'm grateful for the changing seasons, most of all, fall! I absolutely LOVE this time of year. It's so pretty, and the cooler temperatures renew a sense of motivation and energy. We seem to plan a lot more outdoor activities in the fall, taking advantage of the nice weather and beautiful scenery. I think that's why it's so easy to make so many wonderful memories this time of year.




4. I'm grateful for my friend Elianna. She's still a teenager, but I truly can call her my friend. She has become a part of our family, in many ways. She is always willing to come and help us out - whether to help me clean, babysit while I run errands, or accompany us out on an outing, making sure I return home with all 7 children! While she's here, she and I talk about so many things. Her young outlook on life helps me see things in a different perspective and her smile encourages me. In this day and age of teens who are more interested in themselves, it's wonderful to have one who's willing to sacrifice her time and who actually enjoys being around little children.



5. I'm grateful for farm-life. This type of life allows our children, and us, experience so many different things without even leaving home. Often, we pack up a snack and watch daddy and grandpa work in the fields. The other day, I took my two little ones to pick pumpkins and enjoy the pumpkin patch without the crowds. Our oldest has been able to sell some produce by the road for the first time this year. My children not only KNOW what their daddy does at work all day, but they SEE him doing it. Every day is "take your child to work day" around here!







Life is good.

The Giver of Life is good.

We are blessed. May you take some time to count your blessings this day!

Be Back Soon!

Just wanted to let you all know that I am still here! I've been EXTREMELY busy the past few days going here and there and everywhere! I will post something worthwhile later. I haven't forgotten.

In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful Tuesday!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Before and After


I was just thinking about life before children. Why? Because my 3 month old just spit up all over me and all over the floor. There IS a reason women should get married before having babies. Because, once they come it's all spit up and poop. Guys claim to be tough, but these two things send them running!

Anyway, life before children. It seems so long ago. Back in those days, there were so many things I could do...

-sleep in!

-shop for as long as I wanted - in peace. In the case of grocery shopping, I could do it as quickly as possible, even leaving in the middle of dinner prep to get a needed ingredient that I thought I already had.

-spend Saturdays just driving around finding interesting out-of-the-way places with my husband.

-sleep in!


-visit with friends in the middle of the day.

-read my Bible any time during the day, something I took too much for granted!

-make gourmet meals to serve my husband by candle-light


-oh, did I mention sleep in?!

Now that I have children, the things listed above are put on the back burner for, at least, another 20 years. Life with children now includes...

-when I want to sleep in, I end up rolling out of bed when the thumping begins to shake the entire house or when the screaming threatens to wake our neighbor a half mile down the road.

-perfume? Ever tried "Eau de Puke"?


-casseroles, pasta, hot-dogs, anything that takes 30 minutes or less to prepare!

-shopping? Grocery shopping only and at night - without kids.

-our family car is now a 12 passenger van.

-going for rides now include "Patch the Pirate" cds and children wondering where in the world we're going. They don't quite get the concept of enjoying the scenery.

So, why would anyone want kids? Sounds like they take all the fun out of everything! Not really. You would understand if...

- you ever had a 1 year old kiss you on the cheek or hug your neck.

- you ever heard a baby coo and watch him smile for the first time.

- you ever saw your 2 year old try to sing and follow along with her older siblings in "If You're Happy and You Know It..."

- you ever heard a child say to you, "You're my mommy!"

- you ever heard a child pray in a way that teaches you something about faith.

- you ever felt the closeness with your spouse that only teamwork in child-rearing can bring
.

- you ever saw your husband throwing your little boy in the air, pushing the little girls in the swing, or wrestling with 6 little ones on the floor.

Yes, there are times when I wish I could go back to having some more "freedom." Those were good times and there is a time in everyone's life when that is necessary.

But, then I realize, even if I could go back - I wouldn't. Not for days of sleeping in. I'd miss the laughter, the kisses, and the love that only children can give.

"...the fruit of the womb is His reward."