Saturday, September 29, 2007

This Old House


I don't know about you, but we've lived in our house for seven years and it's still unfinished!

Our house was built back in 1832, was bought by Eric's uncle in the 1960's and, when we moved in, the decor was circa 1970's. I'm serious, the carpet and wallpaper were probably older than I am! Pea green, avocado green, "flower power" wall paper. Very retro, very old!

Needless to say, A LOT of work had to be done before we moved in. In the process, wallpaper had to be scraped, flooring had to be ripped up, new carpets had to be laid, molding had to be taken down, changes had to be made in some of the electrical outlets, and the bathroom was completely gutted. When we moved in, the house looked 95% better. The only thing that needed to be done was hang the molding back up and put the light switch covers back.

It took, at least, 3 years for us to get around to putting the switch covers on and there are outlets that I still have no clue what they're for! The molding in the living room and our bedroom? Let's just say we'll one day have a grandson who will want to come over and do something for us. Grandpa will find the long lost molding for him and I'll bake him cookies.

I got thinking about these things this morning when my daughter noticed the "outlet without a purpose". What a blessing that I was able to share with my daughter how different heaven will be. Christ has gone to prepare a place for us. No detail will be left unfinished. And, best of all, it will never need to be re-done!!

Though we do our best to make our home clean and welcoming, I do realize some things look a bit unfinished, a bit worn, a bit old. (A house sometimes resembles it's owners!) But, it's a reminder to me that this world is not my home and there is a place waiting for me that is far better than anything I can imagine.

When you live in a house that's over 170 years old with things that, I'm sure, are still unfinished from the original plans, it helps you to keep things in perspective and look for that city whose builder and maker is God!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Phone Call & a Hero


Last night, around 5:30, I saw that I had a voicemail. So, I pick up the phone to listen.

"Hi, Vicki. It's Kelly. I wanted to talk to you in person, but I guess I'll leave a message."

(I think - oh she wants to order more corn stalks to decorate with)

"David's cancer is back."

(my heart sinks)

"He's in the hospital for the next 3 or 4 days going through his first round of chemo. He'll have his second round in 3 or 4 weeks. We're looking at doing the bone marrow transplant, too. Just pray - they say he'll be more tired this time around. I didn't want you to find out about this in church. Thanks. Bye."

A phone call I wasn't expecting, not really. A phone call I wish I had taken in person. A phone call to remind me of the frailty of life.

Dave is one of Eric's dearest friends. When the two of them get to talking - there's no stopping them. Dave is one of Eric's heroes.

Dave Hance is an incredible witness for Christ. Few of us know what he really does to make money. But, most people who know him know that he is out on the street any chance he gets to proclaim the love and salvation of Christ. He truly loves souls. He truly loves the brethren.

The hero is sick. The hero is weak. But, the hero continues to press on for Christ. He's in a hospital bed, but every doctor, nurse, and visitor that he comes into contact with hears about the love of Christ. In his testimony, the hero stands strong.

What is God's plan? We cannot know. We need to pray and cling to the truth that God is faithful and "that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

To quote my pastor:

"The bad news is...the cancer's back. The good news is...God knows all about it!"

Please pray for this faithful man and his family. Pray like he was a member of your family, for in fact, he is. He is your brother in Christ, just as he is mine. Lift him up. Pray for his healing. For God's grace. For God's comfort.

But, most of all, I know Dave would ask that you pray for the salvation of souls through this.

Because that's the kind of guy he is. Concerned more about others.

A hero.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Discipline IS Love


Have you heard it before? "I love my child too much to discipline them." Or, "I love them, but there are times when I have to discipline them."

For the record, discipline IS love! There is no separation between the two. As long as you do it right.

We love our children, therefore, we teach and train them not to do wrong. For their own safety. For their happiness. For the salvation of their souls.

Proverbs 23:14 - "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."

People who differ the two (love and discipline) will often withhold affection from their children while they are being disciplined. No hugs for the bad child. Once all is straightened out and forgiven, then we'll be all smoochy again.

Is this a good idea?

Today, Gloria got into some trouble. I know, hard for you to believe; but, it happens. Anyway, she had to be taught not to get into things that don't belong to her. Oh the tears! She looked soo pathetic. She was not having a fit, just crying from the "training." As I was having her sit down (something she doesn't care to do) for a few minutes, she reached out her arms to me for a hug.

What to do? Do I make her sit for the allotted time and not speak to her until she has served her time? Or, do I hug her?

I hugged her, of course. She continued to wimper, but I talked softly to her and told her I loved her. Then, she sat for the allotted time. When she got up before I told her she could, we went through it all over again. And, again, she got a hug.

She didn't get her way. She still paid the consequences. But, as they say, "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!" How much easier for a child to face the consequences than to know that mommy still loves her? What better way to teach a child that discipline is love?

"I spank you because I love you." Is that clear to the child who is being pushed away until the parent forgives? The child is saying, "I still love you even though you're upset with me." Yes, it can be used to manipulate - IF you are pushed over and don't follow through with the consequences. Consequences are to be paid - i.e. sitting in the chair. But, hugs and kisses and kind words can be given at the same time.

Often, if we push our children away, the seed of bitterness is sown in that little heart. The longer the child is left to himself, the more that seed gets watered. Then, once mommy has decided that little Suzy has suffered long enough and it's now ok to give her some affection, she can't understand why the little princess has turned sour. How much more work does that mother have to do to root out that plant that she has allowed to grow?

Christ does not turn His back on His children. He walks with us and holds our hand through the chastisement. He doesn't leave us alone. "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." He chastises us in love and with love. His arms are open to us when we look to Him in humility and wonder if and how He can still accept and love us after our sin. Then, though we have to pay the consequences, we are comforted in knowing that our Father continues to love us.

Hebrews 12:6,11 - "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."

As parents, we paint a picture of Christ to our children through our actions and responses to them. What kind of picture am I painting for my children?

Today, by God's grace, I think it was one worth hanging in Gloria's memory.

By the way, this is how she looked when it was all over with.

"My mommy loves me!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Tabernacle


Last night, I read in Exodus about the creating of the tabernacle and the amazing craftmanship that went into it. A few things struck me, as usually happens when I read this passage.

1. The care that went into the building and decorating of the tabernacle. There were no machines - everything was hand-sewn and hand-carved. The time that it took must have been incredible. But all was done according to the plans of God.

2. What were the thoughts of the workers? This was the house of GOD! GOD drew up the plans. I would assume that much of the work was done reverently and with grateful hearts. They truly did their jobs "as unto the Lord." The Lord lives in my heart and my home. Should I not have the same attitude?

3. Ok, a bit silly, but it WAS mentioned. Did you know there was a mirror in the entranceway for the women?! This was God's will. It's a natural thing for women to want to make sure they look nice when they go out. It's NOT a sin - it's how God created us! Even the Israelite women had to check for dust on their veils and faces after the walk from the tent to the tabernacle.

4. There were details added to the tabernacle just for the sake of beauty. It wasn't just functional. It took time to add these details, but it pleased God. God has given women a natural desire to make their homes pretty. Yes, it can get out of control, but I believe God is pleased when a woman takes the time to create beautiful surroundings for her family. This is something I need to work harder at.

5. All was done according to God's plan. Do I build my home according to the ways of God? Are my thoughts on Him as I work? Is my home a place where He can live and be worshipped?

Oh, that I would follow God's blueprint for my home!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Grow Up!


The other night, Zane was sitting on our table. Yes, on. In his Bumbo seat. I know - it goes against everything the American Academy of Pediatrics says and violates all OSHA standards. But, there he was.

Then, I got to thinking - and chuckling (do women chuckle? "Giggling" sounds too 13-ish). It's cute and adorable to see a 12 week old on the table, but what if that were my 37 year old husband?! That would be hysterical (and ridiculous).

For some reason, I have a vivid imagination. Seeing Eric, in my mind's eye, sitting in a Bumbo on top of the table struck me as pretty amusing. (And I wonder where my children get their strange ideas!)

A similar thought struck me a few weeks ago. I noticed my 2 year old daughter running through the living room one Wednesday night just before church and she tripped over her feet, sending her sprawling to the floor. Just like all 2 year olds, she just got up and kept going like nothing ever happened. Can you imagine if we never outgrew falling down at any given moment?

There we would be walking over to our friend in church and, oops, down we go. Can you see a bunch of 5'3'' - 6'4'' adults falling down all over church just like the toddlers?

What about during the service? You've seen the brother's 3 year old bend over to pick up the hymnal off the floor and, next thing you know, he's off the chair and on the ground. What if that were the adult in front of you? Oh my! How disruptive that would be!

I can't help but think of these kinds of things. Maybe it's because I spend my entire day with people under 5-foot tall.

Then I think of my spiritual growth. That's when the humor fades and I get a bit more sober. I'm 18 years old, spiritually speaking. A teenager, sure, which brings up a whole other set of problems. But, am I still acting like a 3 or 4 year old toddling around and falling over the littlest thing? Am I getting distracted off the path by some colorful "toy"? I must look pretty ridiculous, at times, to my Heavenly Father as I stumble around as if I'm still a babe in Christ.

Frequent stumbles and lack of wisdom is understandable in the young Christian. It is an embarrassment to the older Christian - at least, it ought to be.

When a child falls, it's easy for him to get back up and go on. When an adult falls, it's much more difficult and the wounds are more serious. I must stand firm.

Children have a difficult time remaining still for long. As a mature Christian, I must be able to sit quietly and listen to the still small voice of God.

I also realize that as my children become adults, they will still be my children. I'll still want to protect them. I'll still be here for them. So it is even more with my heavenly Father. He never wants me to outgrow my need for Him.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man , I put away childish things."
- I Corinthians 13:11

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Woodpecker-kind of Day


Remember that note I got yesterday? God must have known I need it for it was all down hill from there. That note was sometimes the only thing that kept me going.

No, nothing horrible, which I thank the Lord for. It was just one of those days: late start, children going sooo slow with school, a house that's been in a state of disaster for several days, shopping, and on top of all that - total exhaustion.

It all came to a head around 5:30 last night - the tears, the feeling of being overwhelmed. Praise the Lord for a compassionate husband. He kindly walked me outside and gave me the 4-wheeler and told me to go for a ride, relax, and take my time. He would feed the kids, etc. He did this in a loving way - not with the attitude of throwing me out of the house. He just said that mom's need a break, too.

Have I ever mentioned that I adore my husband?

So, off I went. I drove to a far back corner of one of the fields, shut off the ATV, and just talked to God and enjoyed the peace. I then had a good time driving around the fields like I did when I was a teenager - let's not even mention how long ago that was!

At one point, I was enjoying some more peace by the pond. I love the pond because it attracts so many birds which are so amazing to watch. Already feeling better, I was also feeling contemplative. I figured there must be some sort of analogy in these peaceful birds. You know, fluttering around in their world, chirping happily, etc.

Sometimes the Lord lightens things up. He gave me my analogy - in a woodpecker. This beautiful red-headed woodpecker flew to a nearby tree and began to peck at it for a fine meal of insects. Some days, that's my life. I smash my face against a tree hoping to get something worthwhile out of it!

Yesterday was a woodpecker-kind of day. But, the God of the woodpecker always gives him something for his efforts. I got some time away. Some time to reflect. A better appreciation for my children.

And, I got a good laugh!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Undeserving!


I found a note on my kitchen table this morning. This is what it said:

Dear Mommy,
I don't know what to do without you. You are so wonderful.
God bless.
Love,
Michael

My day has been made!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Neuro-fibro-matosis


This is what our oldest son, Michael, has.

A few weeks after birth, he had developed some spots (known as cafe-au-lait marks referring to their coffee-like color) since birth and I thought they were late-arrival birthmarks, which I thought was strange. I pointed this out to his pediatrician at his 2 month appointment. The doctor diagnosed Michael with NF1 (there are 2 types). At that time, the pediatrician we had scared us with scenarios of seizures, brain tumors, and a host of other complications. A visit to a specialist a few weeks later helped to paint a picture that wasn't quite so bleak!

We have found that most pediatricians don't know much about this disorder, making it important that we keep ourselves informed through reading and talking with others. Complications include learning disabilities, tumors behind the eyes, scoliosis (curvature of the spine), bone problems, high blood pressure, and non-malignant tumors visible on the surface of the skin (though it's rare, these tumors can become malignant). NF is hereditary or it can be a result of a chromosome mutation. Michael is fondly referred to as our mutant! His children, however, each will have a 50% chance of having the disorder and his severity does not determine their severity (ie - he may have a mild case but his child could have a severe case).

For several years, we didn't think too much of Michael's NF. Other than his "special spots," there were no other symptoms. We began taking him for annual eye check-ups when he was one year old because of the chance of tumors. But, life went along pretty normally.

Then, January 13, 2006, I took Michael to the pediatrician as he had been complaining of back pain and his back felt as though it had some tight muscles. When the doctor asked him to bend over for a back check, I almost threw up. The hump in his back was unbelievable. The x-rays confirmed a moderate to severe case of scoliosis - something he was checked for and didn't have 3 months earlier. The condition worsened at an alarming pace for the first few months, tapering off when his growth spurt ended (he grew almost 2 inches in a few months time).

Michael now wears a brace to try to stop the curving of his spine. This is not something that normally works with NF patients for a variety of reasons, but we are trying. On October 3, we go back to the orthopedic surgeon to find out if the brace has been able to halt the growth. If not, we discuss surgery - rods put in our son's back. I'll probably discuss this more at a later date, but, for now, suffice it to say this is a MAJOR LIFE-CHANGING surgery!! Michael has the best OP around, but I still hate these appointments as one of these days, it will be the appointment where we schedule this operation. Already, my stomach is in knots over this upcoming appointment and it's 14 days away!

NF is a scary disorder for us now. Sometimes, like last night, I worry and become afraid for what my son will have to go through. Right now, he does have evidence of learning disabilities and possible high blood pressure. My biggest concern, though, is the scoliosis and the threat of tumors in the next few years.

These things can make a mom crazy with worry. BUT, I am so glad to be a child of the GREAT PHYSICIAN. I don't expect Him to heal Michael. I trust, though, that He will give Michael, my husband, and I the grace we need to go through whatever trials may come our way as a result of this, so far, fairly unknown disorder.

Just in time for my panic attack, a sister-in-Christ reminded me of one of my favorite Scripture verses yesterday. I Peter 5:7 "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you." God cares for this scared mom. God cares for my son. He knows all of our trials past, present, and future. He holds us in His hand and walks with us in our trials. I am so thankful that I can rest in this thought! God's grace is sufficient!

Pray for Michael.

Pray for us.

We are grateful!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Counting My Blessings!


In these busy days of school, housework, ministering to others, etc., it is so good to open my eyes and see how the Lord has blessed me.

My husband is one of the biggest blessings the Lord has ever given to me. Can I just say that he is THE most wonderful husband on the planet?

"Why" you ask? Ok, well, maybe you're not asking "why" and you don't really care, but I'm going to tell you anyway!

1. My husband HONESTLY doesn't care when our house is in complete disarray! I get stressed about it and he says "Relax, it's not that bad." He would rather me sit down with him and the children instead of me straightening up everything!

2. If his sock and underwear drawers are empty, he doesn't complain. He just BUYS more socks and underwear! This way, he has what he needs and he knows it makes me feel really bad so I get on the ball without him having to say a word! A few years ago, he bought so many socks, I didn't have a place for them when I got them washed. Praise the Lord, he hasn't had to buy clean socks in a long time!

3. Eric is always up for trying a new recipe. There are a few things he doesn't care for, but he's always grateful for our meals and eats everything. I don't have to cater to a picky eater. He honestly thinks I'm one of the best cooks around. Then again, he may be afraid I'll poison his dinner if he says otherwise!

4. In all honesty, in the past, Eric rarely would change a diaper, give children baths, or put them to bed. He's always been more willing to clean up the kitchen after dinner. However, now he does it all! I'm not kidding. He'll pitch right in with the kitchen clean-up and often, he'll have little ones changed and in bed before I know it! He's amazing! And, he does it all with a smile - most of the time! Now, if I could only get him to potty-train...

5. When I cry, complain, or fret, instead of reacting as I would (with impatience and frustration and a "get on with it" approach), Eric just listens, gives a hug, and encourages me. I often say that if I married someone like me, I probably would have left a long time ago. But, Eric treats me with love and kindness, knowing that those things will melt me and change my attitude much better than any lecture.

My husband is one of the most special gifts I've ever been given. Does he have any faults? A few, but no one needs to know. Plus, they say "love is blind" and I try to remain visually impaired!

When counting my blessings, Eric is always at the top of the list!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wishing...


Today, I wish I could call my dad.

On my way to a funeral down in Wellsville, I had to pass through the tiny town of Belmont. This is the town where my father spent many of his growing-up years.

Belmont isn't very exciting. In fact, I doubt it's changed much in the past 40 years. But, somewhere in its streets, it holds the footprints of my father.

Until today, I have never been to this small, inconspicuous town. I have no idea what house my dad lived in or which church his father pastored. However, it held a sense of nostalgia for me. I felt that I must have memories of this place. I could almost see my father as a young man walking to school or laughing with friends.

I was in Belmont today. I wanted to call my dad and tell him that I finally saw the place where he grew up. That I can finally picture a bit of his past.

But, I can't call him. Dad's at his new Home. One day I'll join him, though, and I'll tell him then.

And we'll laugh and talk about how much better the beautiful city of Heaven is than the small town of Belmont!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Of Chocolate & Patience


So, today, Cassia, Anna, and I went to pick up Anna's new glasses. Afterward, we stopped at the store to pick up a couple of things and Cassia bought herself a Dove chocolate bar (YUM!).

Being the kind sister she is, Cassia shared a piece with her sister. Anna told her that if she were to suck on it, it would last longer. Well, Cassia tried. But, she said she couldn't wait that long - she had to chew it.

Anna said "You need to be patient."

Cassia's reply? "Yes, but it's taking too long!"

Hmm. I have no idea where she learns these things.

Did I mention I went through a (just barely) red light shortly thereafter?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The TRUTH on Susanna Wesley


How often have we mothers heard it? "Susanna Wesley had nineteen children and spent one hour a week with each one!" Hence, another ideal and lofty goal is set for the Christian mother.

Let me set the record straight. Susanna was, truly, a strong woman. She was married to a... well...jerk - who kept the family in debt for their entire married life. She struggled on to make a home for their children. She mourned the death of 9 youngsters and carried on after, at least, two major fires. She is, indeed, an example of strength.

However, if you do the math, Susanna Wesley did, in fact, bear 19 children, but only 10 of them lived much beyond toddler-hood. By the time she instituted the "one hour a week discipleship program," only 8 were still at home (Samuel and John were already off at school). As she combined the younger 2 children into the same time slot, this turned out to be one hour per day spent with a child. Far less time than the almost 3 hours/day we're usually led to believe.

Susanna Wesley set a great example for us mothers in spending time with our children teaching them the things of God. However, let us keep it in perspective. Don't be overwhelmed in the exaggeration, be encouraged in the truth.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Child's Play


For some reason, my children seem to have some interesting ideas of what it takes to "get married." Often, if they see Eric and I hugging, kissing, or just cuddling, they'll say "mommy and daddy are getting married again!" This from at least 3 children who have been in weddings. Anyway, these days, getting married also entails dancing a waltz. Somehow, this was picked up from "Little House on the Prairie" in which ma and pa do quite a bit of waltzing.

Today, Katrina decided she and Seth should play "getting married." I found it an amusing parallel to reality.

Katrina: I'm talking to someone and you have to say "we need to get married." (begins to talk with imaginary friend)

Enter Seth: (saying with some impatience) "We need to get married."

The waltzing begins with the couple humming the music.

Katrina: No, not that song.

Seth continues humming.

Katrina: No, I don't like that song! Do this one.

Seth complies.

Katrina: You have to smile when you're married.

Seth smiles.

The dance continues until Seth walks away.


Sometimes, we women wait and wait for a proposal from our beloved. He better do it just the way we want it. Then, we cunningly dictate how the wedding, and life following, is to be run.

Then, we have to tell our husbands to smile and hope he doesn't walk away!

Here's hoping that we all are graciously dancing with smiling partners!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

This Day in History


September 9, 1994 - The day I marry the man of my dreams!

The wedding is to be at 6:00 p.m. this beautiful Friday evening. In a room a short distance from the sanctuary where many of our family and friends have gathered, I wear my mother's wedding dress. My five bridesmaids are with me. My father is here, also. We are talking. We are waiting.

There is a knock on the door and now, the walk before THE walk. The walk to the outside of the sanctuary. It seems we are moving so slowly. We come to the closed doors of the sanctuary and we wait again. Once we hear the music, the girls will begin their walk down the aisle.


The music starts. A friend sings "How Beautiful" and the first girl makes her way down the aisle. I watch as each girl disappears through the door. Even now, I can feel the butterflies in my stomach - not signifying anxiety, but excitement - as I wait for my turn.


A lull in the music. I am standing alone with my father in the lobby of the church I grew up in. The church where my relationship with Eric blossomed in. The church where I would now be married in.

The organ begins to play "Here Comes the Bride." I take my dad's arm and we begin to walk down the aisle. I make an effort to remember every moment. I see my "aunt" Marcia and friends Ned & Cindy smile at me as I walk by. I look for my beloved and I finally see him - smiling at me. Welcoming me. Loving me.


My father hands me to the man of my dreams. I have a cold; therefore, I sniffle through much of the service. However, I listen as the pastor we both grew up with preaches a wonderful message tying in the wedding ceremony with salvation and the Christian's relationship with Christ.

When the message is done, we walk up the steps and then say, from memory, our marriage vows to one another. My best friend sings "Cherish the Treasure" at one point and at another point someone else sings "I Will be Here." As we light the unity candle and then give roses to our mothers and hug our fathers, my best friend sings "Lord, Bless our Home."

Then, it is time for the kiss. Eric lingers over that moment. So much so that chuckles are heard. We kiss again. It is wonderful. We turn and face our friends and family. The ceremony has ended and we walk down the aisle, side by side, to begin our life together.

September 9, 1994 - my dreams come true!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Happy Birthday, Michael!


Our oldest child is 10 years old today. TEN!! For some reason, the birthdays of our firstborn child seem to make me more sentimental than the rest. Perhaps it's because it marks the birth of motherhood for me.

Michael was a huge baby weighing 10 lbs. 3 oz. Yes, that's TEN pounds! Because of his size and position, he ended up being taken by c-section after several hours of labor. He was born blue and all banged up, but he was the most beautiful baby I had ever laid eyes on. He was MINE!!

I'm such a sentimental sap that I have the video of Michael's first week ready to be popped into the VCR. I'll probably watch all 2 hours of it and cry through most of it. When did he grow up to be almost as tall as I am? When did he develop his sense of independence? When did he stop needing me to tuck him into bed at night? (BTW, I'm re-instating that tradition. Bedtime was such a good time for heart to heart talks - I think we need more of those at this age, not less!)

As parents, we seem to make all our mistakes on our oldest child. We expect more. We didn't appreciate his baby-hood as we should have. We couldn't wait for him to roll, crawl, walk, talk, etc. After rushing through those things with him, we've realized how fast the time goes by and now we appreciate the infancy of our younger children. I savor each time I get to hold and cuddle my baby today - for tomorrow he'll be 10 and Michael will be 20!

When Michael turned 1, it was a party with a lot of adult friends and relatives and Winnie the Pooh. At 5, it was difficult figuring out what kids to invite as he hadn't made too many friends, yet. Today, he had quite a few friends over for a cowboy & indian party in the pumpkin patch. Through the years, his friends and interests have changed to a large degree. In the years to come, things will continue to change. Sometimes, I am excited about these changes; other times, a bit anxious and worried. What physical challenges will come his way? What trials will he face? Will he choose the right path?

But, I then realize I need to take one day at a time.

Because, the years will fly by quickly and I need to savor and appreciate today with my firstborn, while he's still a boy.

Happy Birthday, Michael! I love you with all my heart!

As we seemed to have an Old West theme going, we made up WANTED posters of each of the boys. Michael was the "Birthday Bandit" wanted for raiding birthday parties, popping balloons, stealing presents, and demolishing birthday cakes! Each of the boys got to take home their posters.

Daddy brought over his uncle's gentle horse, Joy, for each cowboy to have a ride. Daddy's like this are a rare find!
OUTLAWS!!!

Michael's sisters made this birthday sign for the front of the party barn.

The unconventional way of lighting birthday candles - with a BLOW TORCH!

All in all, a great day!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Overwhelmed!!


No, not like yesterday. Today - I am overwhelmed by the blessing of friendship! It is true that when one member of the body of Christ is hurting, the other members rise up to comfort it! The comments, e-mails, e-card, phone calls - what a huge encouragement to me. Maybe God laid it on my heart to post my feelings just to show me how we are loved by so many.

Romans 12:15 - Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. So many have mentioned going through exactly the doubts that I am having. That was one of the reasons I posted what I did yesterday - so I might find out if I was alone and to let someone else know they are not alone.

Romans 12:10 - Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love... - The kind words and the outpouring of love are appreciated far more than words can say!

I Corinthians 8:1 - ...charity edifieth - I know, I just took this verse out of context, but I believe these two words remain the same no matter what the context. The love so many of you showed me through your communications have lifted me up and made my heart lighter. I am still at a cross-roads, but it doesn't seem so dark. You all shone some light into my life with your words and with the words of Christ.

Philippians 1:3 - I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, - Thank you, all, so VERY much for your love and encouragement. It means the world to me and, most of all, has boosted my faith.

Today, it is GOOD to be overwhelmed!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

7 kids + 2 parents = DOUBT


Please don't say "I told you so." This is difficult and humbling enough.

Seven kids is A LOT of kids. It's overwhelming. It's busy. It's tough.

Don't get me wrong, we do have a lot of fun. But, often, it's just plain difficult!

We gave the womb to God back when we were expecting our second child. Up until that point, most people I knew had a baby about every other year. Which means that our seventh child "should" have been born when our oldest was 14. But, our seventh was born when our oldest wasn't quite ten. That's a lot of kids in a short period of time.

We love each one of our children. We wouldn't send any of them back (well, depending on the day - we may send them on vacation). But, having so many so close together makes it very difficult to train them properly. One of the reasons we home-school is because "foolishness is bound in the heart of a child" and we know that putting 20 five year olds in the same room will just breed more foolishness. However, we have seven children living together 24 hours a day. I have a bunch of court jesters!

Our hearts were right. We weren't out to set a record in how many children we had. We just wanted to please God. However, we feel we're losing control. That is probably a sin on our part. We should be able to live peaceably with 20 kids. But, we're struggling and, dare I say, failing. Oh, we haven't drowned, but should we just be keeping our heads above water?

Maybe I'm a control freak. But, I like to know what my children are doing and where they are. I like to have them looking neat and presentable. I like to know how they are doing with their school. I like to feed them healthy meals. The more little ones pulling me in different directions, the more difficult it is to fulfill all these obligations. Somedays, it's almost impossible.
I believe the Bible tells me to keep my home, to raise godly and sober children. I am to provide for them (read Proverbs 31). I am to love, honor, and reverence my husband. If I have so many children that I can't keep up with the house, don't have the strength to train my children in obedience (which is a command that I am responsible in helping them keep), and am to exhausted to show "due benevolence" to the one I married, am I really following God properly?

I do believe GOD gave us these children in the time He wanted us to have them. I struggle with these doubts that I now have. Am I trusting God less? At the same time, is it really a command to have a lot of children? Am I in danger of judgment if we prevent another baby? Do I serve a God such as this? Am I pleasing Him while I have more children yet have less time to spend with each one to make sure they're trained in His ways or am so tired that my patience with them is limited?

These are just thoughts my beloved and I are having. We're questioning and don't have the answer. Maybe we're just tired. Maybe our faith is weak. Maybe we'll be stronger tomorrow. Maybe God is trying to tell us something in His love and mercy.

Maybe someone else just needs to know we're struggling.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Not OURS, but GOD'S


"Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine." - Exodus 13:2

I read this verse yesterday and it reminded me of when Eric and I gave our firstborn to the Lord. We knew Michael was a boy before he was born and decided to raise him with the attributes of a preacher, knowing that if he has these character qualities (found in I Timothy 3), he will be a strong, godly man, whether or not he is a preacher.

I re-read I Timothy 3 yesterday after reading in Exodus. I realized how much more difficult it seems to be NOW to actually try to instill these character qualities into our son than it was when we gave him to God before he was born. Qualities such as soberness, vigilant, not covetous, etc. I struggle with these qualities myself - good thing women can't be preachers! It is one thing to say we are going to sanctify our firstborn for the Lord - another to do it!

Ever since Michael was born, the Lord has reminded us of whose child he really is. Michael is named for Eric's brother who died at 5 years old - reminding us that his life is but a vapor. Our son has a disorder that can result in a number of physical disabilities - another reminder that he is in God's hand.

This is not to say that God is an over-bearing God, constantly pounding us over the head to remind us that He is in control. It is to say that we, as parents, never know how long we have our children or what will happen to them throughout the course of their life. For Michael, there is physical suffering. That is not something we would choose, but knowing that this is part of God's plan and remembering that we've set him aside for God's purpose makes it easier to go through.

Ever since Michael was little, his daddy has told him that he is not our Michael but GOD'S Michael. Though we are still working on strong character qualities, this has taken root. Now that he has his challenges, he is willing to accept it as God's will for his life. He also sees the blessings God gives him as gifts.

"Sanctify unto me...the firstborn." With God's grace, we will continue to do this with our son. It is our responsibility to raise him and train him in God's word. It is for God to use him as He sees fit.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Proud to Call Them "Friend"


Normally, I will not spend a whole lot of time promoting other blogs. However, I feel I should promote two particular blogs as the testimonies and spiritual growth of the authors are an incredible blessing to me.

I am proud to say I knew Dave and Kevin "back when..." Actually, I am prouder of them NOW than I was "back when..."

Dave and I are one day apart in age. We went to the same school together from Kindergarten through 12th grade, our parents were best friends, our families celebrated holidays together, etc. I knew his house as well as my own. Dave didn't stand out much in school - wasn't interested in being popular, wasn't a terrific student - but I just knew he'd make something of himself one day.

Today, David is a MAJOR in the Air Force. Pretty impressive, eh? Not as impressive as his spiritual growth. Several years after graduating from the Christian school we attended, Dave got saved. Now, he's not only successful in the eyes of this world, but in the eyes of Christ. Where once he barely mentioned God, his conversation is now heavily sprinkled with words of sound wisdom and gratitude towards our Father. He gives God the glory for everything he is when it could be so easy for him to take credit himself. He has been given many opportunities to see this world - Germany, Cuba, Iraq, etc. He is grateful to the Lord for these opportunities and readily shares how God blessed and used him in each place. He has come so far in his life - and all the glory goes to God. Find out more about my friend at "the world according to dave."

Kevin and I became friends later on in our high school years. His parents were great friends of my mom's. I have great memories of several picnics at his parent's house and playing volleyball. Stopping over and having a chance to talk and laugh with Kevin was always fun. He has always been easy to like - which is obvious by the number of friends he has.

Kevin is now a missionary to Zambia, Africa. Fifteen years ago, I never would have believed we'd see him sharing the gospel to this dark nation. But, his love for God runs deep. He could be extremely successful in the world, but he's given it all to follow the path that God has shown him. I know few people who have sacrificed like Kevin in order to win souls. I can't even comprehend the treasures he has already laid up in heaven. I find myself honored to have had a place in the life of someone who compares to the missionaries of old. Please stop by Kevin's blog, "destination Zambia" to see his heartbeat for the Zambian people.

Back in the day, I was glad to be friends with these guys; yet, they didn't seem to be too concerned with the things of God. Such is the condition of a lot of young people. While so many of us will give up on these young ones, God does not! What a blessing! Life goes on, lessons are learned, hearts are changed.

Both of these men have hearts for God. Both of these men need our prayers. Satan would love to knock these guys out of the race. It's not everyday that a Major in the Air Force is saved and living for the Lord. It's not everyday that a young man will give it all up to live in Africa in order to show a forgotten people the love of Christ. It's not everyday we meet men of this caliber. Today, you've met two.

Thank you for your friendship, Dave and Kevin. I'm praying for you both!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Counting My Blessings!

Nothing really miraculous happened this week, but I think it's counting yourself blessed with the little things that makes life wonderful. So, I'm "declaring His goodness" today as I list just 5 of the "little" blessings He gave us this past week.

1. We made it through our first week of school and survived! Granted, one day we barely made it, but God was gracious!

2. On Wednesday, a package came in the mail from my friend, Stephanie in Tennessee. I didn't open it right away, but I would have had I known what was in it. She sent us the BIGGEST chocolate chip cookies ever!! They were DELICIOUS! Why did she send them? Just because she thought we'd like some! That's a FRIEND. That's a BLESSING!!! Want to bless me? Send me chocolate!

3. Eric provided the next door B&B with sweet corn last Saturday and, in return, brought home these beautiful flowers. Ok, so I'm no photographer, but it's not everyday my husband brings home flowers. You get the idea and I got blessed!








4. Our girls decided we are all royalty and made crowns for the entire family earlier this week. They dressed up and we set the table for a ROYAL dinner. As we ate, we each wore our "lovely" crowns. We frequently do "special" dinners and they're always so much fun as we get a blessing from blessing daddy - the king of our home! (By the way, the double blessing is that no one got a picture of me with my crown on!)


5. My best friend gave Zane a Bumbo seat! This seat is wonderful as it allows an 8-12 week old baby (and older) to sit up! More position options for Baby Zane! What a blessing!


"This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes."

"Count your many blessings, see what God hath done!"