Monday, December 22, 2008

25 Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. I hate feeling like I have to tag 25 people just because the computer told me to. I'm a rebel at heart and won't be tagging anyone.

2. I stay up way too late at night just to be able to relax without interruption.

3. I had my first crush when I was in pre-school. Don't remember his name - he had big brown eyes. After that, I had crushes all the way through school - long term. Some lasted 3-4 years.

4. I fell in love with my husband when I was 16. My longest running crush to date.

5. Eric and I first kissed the day after my Senior banquet - June 1, 1991. He was my first kiss. I've never kissed anyone else.

6. Eric and I dated for 4 years, 1 month, and one week before we got married. We broke up twice in that time.

7. Eric and I moved to MD the day after we married and moved and moved 7 more times in the next 6 years of our marriage - including the states of VT, VA, and ME.

8. Eric is my favorite topic of conversation. Can't you tell?

9. My first baby was born via c-section. All the rest were natural. No drugs, though I asked for them in 2 deliveries but the babies came too quickly. Fun times.

10. I am the middle child of 3 and the only girl.

11. I went to college for 3 years to become an English teacher. Never graduated. Got a better proposal.

12. I took piano lessons for 8 years before I was introduced to my first chord. That was after I changed teachers. But, by that time, it was hopeless.

13. I went to Cedarville College (now University) for one year. Loved it. Went to the local state college for 2 years. Hated it.

14. I spent much of my high school life with a perm.

15. I'm still afraid of the dark.

16. I've never gotten a speeding ticket.

17. My first car was a 1979 Silver Buick Park Avenue. Parts fell off on a regular basis (fenders, hood ornament, etc). My trunk was full of parts. A police officer once pulled me over because he couldn't believe my car had passed inspection. I ran it out of oil TWICE and it still ran! The stories I could tell about that car!

18. Eric's first car was the same make - only a year older and in burgundy.

19. I never feel like I have it together.

20. Getting up in front of people was my biggest fear in elementary school through my Jr. year of high school. I began to love it when I realized I could make people laugh and cry while encouraging them in the Lord.

21. I yell at my kids. I hate it. God is helping me and by His grace I'm much better. My children still love me. How's that for brutally honest?

22. I've lived in NY most of my life. I'm still not used to the cold.

23. I'd much rather listen to secular rock music that Christian rock. Does that make sense? Can't stand the mixing the clean with the unclean. Hot or cold, not lukewarm. Not that I listen to a bunch of secular music - prefer classical, quite honestly. Do like some Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, etc., mainly because of some sentimental value - but can't stand a lot of these Christian artists trying to be like the world to win them. Give them something DIFFERENT.

24. I always thought I'd have 3 or 4 kids. Eric always wanted 6. God gave us 7.

25. I've always felt insecure around popular young people - back in high school and even today. Give me a room full of adults or little kids - popular teenagers scare me to death.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sugar & Hugs

So, last night our church had its annual Christmas concert. It was a night full of beautiful instrumental music, singing, and a powerful message of the gift of God's love. To top it off, there were millions of cookies and gallons of punch offered after the service. A highlight of the year to be certain.

It was a late night, but a joyful one. As my boys were preparing to go upstairs to bed, their sister ran and said, "WAIT!" She then proceeded to hug them both and say "good-night" with a big smile on her face. My five year old son is much like her so just hugged back and returned the good wish. My 11 year old son, on the other hand gave her an amused look and only had one thing to say:

"You had too much sugar."

Boys.

My daughter's reply? "I only had seven cookies!" SEVEN!

Oh, the merriness of the season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beautiful Moms - We Must Have Done Something Right!



It's been two weeks since I posted anything and I'm getting this in just under the wire. Does that tell you how busy we've been around here during the "most wonderful time of the year?"

Even now, I have little time to leave any profound thought. I'll try to say much with few words - for that's all the time I have tonight.

I don't know about you, but I come down pretty hard on myself as a mom. I see my children's messy rooms and I know I've come short in the training department. I hear my children argue with one another and I realize that they're taking after my control nature. I cringe at my children's lack of manners and know that I should have taken more time in teaching them. The list goes on.

However, in the past few days, the Lord has shown me that my husband and I, by His grace alone, must be doing something right. At bedtime, my oldest son is picking out Bible stories and reading them directly from the good old KJV to his younger brother. AND, his younger brother looks forward to it!!! Following his example, our oldest daughter has begun reading Bible stories (from a book) to her youngest sister at bedtime as well!

In the valley of parenthood there IS a glimmer of hope!!

(Sorry, "valley" is the only word that came to mind tonight!)

Your assignment for this week, Beautiful Mom: Look for and see something your children are doing RIGHT as a direct result of the training YOU and your husband have given them. Call for a time-out on your self-inflicted beating and praise God for His grace and mercy!!

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." III John 4

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Beautiful Moms - Enjoy Them Now


I was cleaning the attic the other day - a miracle indeed - when I came across a box of pictures. As I opened the box, I came across pictures of my oldest son as a baby. In the age of digital cameras, pictures of my last 3 children still in the midst of babyhood often flash across my computer screen keeping their baby faces fresh in my mind. But, my poor Michael's pictures are stashed away in the attic, only to shock me into the realization that it was just YESTERDAY that he wore the same clothes his 16 month old brother is wearing today.

As I rifled through these pictures, I remembered how impatient I was with his toddler-like ways. Why did he ask so many questions? Why did he whine almost constantly? I was reminded that I am still impatient with his child-like ways. After all, he's 11. Shouldn't he be more MATURE?!

What a sad realization it is when you see yourself making the same mistakes even after a decade.

As a mom of a young child, I would often think, "He'll forget this. He won't remember how badly I've just messed up." Now, as I make the same mistakes (bluntly - sin the same sins), I cannot console myself with that thought. He WILL remember the unkind words I say to him. He WILL remember my impatience.

If he preaches behind a pulpit, will he talk about the mother who taught him Scripture and helped him become a man of God? Or, will he praise God for allowing him to do His will IN SPITE of the mother he had?

I have to wonder.

When my older three were little, older moms would often tell me, "Enjoy them now. It's hard with all the diaper changes and their helplessness, but enjoy them. The time goes too quickly. Before you know it, they'll be grown." I tried to see it. But, I know I didn't understand.

My son is eleven. I found his baby pictures Saturday. His first birthday party was yesterday. Today I understand.

I am blessed to still have babies and toddlers. I'm trying to enjoy them today. For tomorow I'll be looking up at my baby. I'll be wishing I could remember what it felt like to hold him. I'll be trying to remember the last time I was able to pick him up.

Like I am trying to remember now.

I'm not going to say a Beautiful Mom enjoys the time today. Unfortunately, we don't seem to understand until it's a bit too late. Instead, just try to be a Beautiful Mom who ends up with few regrets.

Enjoy them now. It's hard with all the diaper changes and their helplessness, but enjoy them. The time goes too quickly. Before you know it, they'll be grown.

Monday, November 24, 2008

URGENT PRAYER NEEDED!!

Please visit the website for the Reclamation Ranch (homes for troubled boys & girls) and read what happened this past weekend. Please be in fervent prayer for the staff, kids, and families involved - that charges will be dropped and the boys will be able to get out of foster care and back into the care of the Ranch or with their own families.

"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Birthday Party

We had Seth's 5 year old birthday party here on Friday night. How is it that I can vividly remember his birth - the pain, the room, the walking around the halls, the rush to the bed for the quick delivery, his little blue face as the midwife tried to get him to breathe for the first minute of his life - and, yet, the birthday still sneaks up on me?

I love birthdays. I love celebrating each of my children's births. But, we only give them a big birthday party (friends included) at ages 1, 5, 10, (someday) 13, and 16. This is because we are lacking in rich relatives with more time on their hands than they know what to do with. We love our family and would like for them not to have to mortgage their homes in order to attend birthday parties for all 7 of our children plus their 6 cousins every year. Even with this schedule, we average at least one birthday party annually.

Oh, why are we stopping at 16? Because after that, they have to throw their own party!

Michael's 5th birthday party was planned for 4 years. As soon as his first party was over the wheels began to turn. It was in the farm's pumpkin patch area, with wagon rides, hot dogs, hamburgs, the works.

Seth is child number 5. I thought about his for about...2 weeks. I bought the stuff the day before. I ordered pizza when the guests arrived.

Low maintenance. Huge fun. Really. The boys had a blast playing in the snow and just hanging out. With each of my girls, I planned party games, etc. Boys are not into that. Let them make their own fun. This was the first birthday party we didn't have a wagon ride or a horseback ride. It was just too cold. You know what? They lived. They still had fun!

I love birthday parties. I love birthday parties that don't stress me out. However, I won't say that Friday was a completely stress-free night. But, I didn't feel the stress until all the boys went home.

What caused the stress? The realization about an hour later that in two years, we have a child turning 5, one turning 13, and one turning 10 - in three months time!

Party on!

The birthday table

Seth's favorite train created by Grandma!

Seth's 9 year old sister made the place cards:)

Seth & his best friend Joey

Opening presents

The guys!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why I Haven't Blogged in Quite Some Time

My husband is a farmer who spent 5 weeks harvesting corn. This entails him working all day and then being up every two hours each night in order to dry the corn and empty the trucks needed for the next day.

I have had and continue to have several birthday parties, bridal showers, and overall fun activities jammed on my calendar.

I was sick for a week.

I keep thinking about the pies I need to make for Thanksgiving and the presents I need to buy for Christmas.

In short, I'm a mother.

I will blog again - soon, I hope.

Right now, I have to feed my kids dinner, brush hair, go to church, pack lunches for tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two Years Ago...

His last visit here.


Together with family at my father's favorite place...Daytona Beach.
(You can click on each of the above photos to enlarge)

He is Gone
by David Harkins

You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived,
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
Or you can be full of the love that you shared,
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember him and only that he is gone,
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind, be empty, and turn your back,
Or you can do what he would want: smile open your eyes,
LOVE AND GO ON.
I love you, Dad!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beautiful Moms - Prepare for Winter



My mind is full of something the Lord laid on my heart this morning concerning thankfulness and offering the sacrifice of praise - however, I am not quite able to tie it in with my Beautiful Moms theme. So, be sure to check back tomorrow for "We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise."

In looking through Proverbs 31 for an appropriate topic for today, the Lord smote me with verse twenty-one: "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all the household are clothed in scarlet."

I live in upstate New York. In case you haven't heard, we get feet upon feet of snow almost every year. Worse than that - it gets COLD here. For those of you who live in Texas, Florida, etc., COLD does not mean 45 degrees. Come up for a visit mid-January, and good ole New York will introduce you to numbers you never knew existed - such as the BELOW ZERO range.

This means heavy coats, boots, mittens, and hats for each family member. Let's see - there are nine of us. That's 9 coats, 18 boots, 18 mittens, 9 hats, 9 scarves, 7 snowsuits (for the kids), and, often, 7 more coats just for church, etc. That's a lot of paraphenelia.

Oh, the joys of stepping over wet boots in the mud room. More joyous still are the sounds of "That's MY hat!!!" lilting through the house as 7 little people get ready to play outside. How my heart soars when one comes to me and tearfully says they cannot find one of their mittens (which one? Oh, they are kind enough to take their turns).

For all of the above reasons, I have put off the winter clothes shopping this year. I'm almost positive that gloves will be lost before the first real snow fall if I get them while the leaves are still on the trees. Kind of like my daughters winter boots were worn out after being worn all summer.

Don't ask.

However, it is now November. I've lived in NY all of my life and I don't know if there has been a year when it didn't get REALLY cold in November. We've voted in the snow a few times. We've driven to Thanksgiving dinners in snowstorms. Time is running out. I HAVE to get my family prepared.

Not only have I waited so long that my children may not enjoy the first real snow for lack of things to keep them warm, but I'm going to have to pay full price for most of the necessities. This is a year when 6 of my children need new boots. The hand-me-d0wns have been worn beyond recognition and each child seems to have that pesky problem of growing feet. A wise woman would have looked for sales last year (though, in my defense, it is very hard to gage the rate of growth for young children) or set aside some cash for these purchases throughout the summer months instead of breaking the bank all at once!

This verse slapped me across the face. Waiting to the last minute is NOT what a wise woman will do. I go to church with a woman who is constantly on the look-out for clothes to use throughout the year. All of her children are grown and now she blesses our family with her great finds. However, I don't believe she ever feared the snow while her children were home, because she was prepared. This is a wise woman and she truly is a Beautiful Mom. I could glean so much from her example.

Lord, forgive me for being so foolish; for being more like the sluggard than a virtuous woman who honors you by taking care of her family. Help me to learn from this experience - this fall -and be more prepared for the next cold spell.

How about you? A mom's mirror is often her family. Are they ready for winter or are they shivering? If they're getting frostbite on their fingers, like mine are, we moms still have more grooming to do. If your children are ready for winter and have the uniforms to prove it - congratulations on being a Beautiful Mom!!!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

No, we don't celebrate this holiday. In fact, my children often say, "It's the devil's holiday!" I don't remember ever saying those words. I do remember teaching them years ago about the history of Halloween. I read to them from secular books which gave the many traditions of the beginning of this day. It was the children who realized whose "Holy Day" it really is.

Anyway, we had a very happy day today. It began by having the children's pictures taken. First time in years that we've done a group shot. The best part about it is, the photographer is designing the annual Christmas card with the photo I choose. That's it. No tears, no stress, nothing. You can read about what usually occurs during these lovely Christmas photo shoots here. But, not this year. It's done - hallelujah!

The best part of today began on Sunday. Our oldest son, Michael, mentioned that he wanted to go into town and pass out tracts on Halloween. From there, the idea developed and we began packing candy into ziplock bags along with one Chic Tract (Li'l Suzy) and a "God Loves You" tract from Fellowship Tract League, and hand written cards with "A treat for YOU" written on them. This afternoon found 7 eager children and their mom walking along the Main Street giving bags of candy to whoever was outside. As we still had some left, I had a great time pulling into the driveways of several of our neighbors and watching my children (we sent groups of 3 at a time) run up to knock on the door and give a treat to the people at home. Whenever they were offered candy, they said "no thank you" with the biggest smiles on their faces!

Working together, having fun, and getting the gospel out. All coming from the idea of my 11 year old. Can anyone say they had a happier Halloween?

Halloween - in our house, the day belonged to God!:)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Women's Suffrage Part 2

Please visit Sarah's blog especially if you think that women who vote according to their husbands are just not using the brains God gave us. Even if you agree with my last post, Sarah's thoughts are written very clearly and are quite and encouragement (or admonishment).

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Women's Suffrage

I hesitated writing about this subject as I know it may ruffle some feathers. However, I read my "cousin's" blog last night and about fell off my chair realizing that she holds the same beliefs I do in this area. I thought I was the ONLY one. So, her writing gave me encouragement to let you all know how I feel about women voting.

I think we should vote...according to how our husbands (or fathers, for single women) vote. The reason women fought for their right to vote was mainly because they lost confidence in their husbands and fathers. Women didn't trust the votes of the men. So, they took matters into their own hands - usurping authority over a man. They no longer reverenced their husbands (or fathers) by allowing him to lead his home in the voting decision.

Many Christians women who are against feminism will support it as they vote for whomever THEY want at the polls - with no consideration of how their husbands are going to vote.

We women have the right to vote, therefore, I believe it is our responsibility to vote and allow our voice to be heard - as long as our voice is ringing in unison with our husband's.

We have the right to vote. We have the responsibility to vote. We are commanded by God to reverence, obey, and honor our husbands. Is it honoring him when you say, "Well, I don't think your choice is a good one, so I will make my own decision in this election"?

"Would you vote for Obama, if your husband did? How could you, as a Christian, live with that?" you may ask. For the record, my husband isn't voting for Obama - I don't even know if he's voting for McCain. He may choose a 3rd party - a throw away vote. I will vote the same. Why? Because I don't have to answer for whom I vote for. I have to answer to God for how I have reverenced my husband and how I've lived my life as a Christian woman.

Get out there and vote...all the while honoring your husband.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beautiful Moms - No "Just" About It



Due to shortage of time, I give you one short thought this week.

There's nothing "just" about being a stay-at-home mom and/or housewife.

In God's eyes, it's far above running for Vice President of the United States.

It's far above being CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.

It's far above being the Most Beautiful Woman of 2008.

"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."

"...To be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

When the Lord looks at you and you tell Him, "I was just a mom" He will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Is there any higher praise? Is there any higher calling? You're not just another Vice Presidential candidate. You're not just another actress. YOU are a Beautiful Mom.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Newly-Wed Tale


As I have friends who are soon to be married and others who are still considered newly weds, I often take time to look back on my newly-wed years. Most of my memories are sweet and happy, while some I'd rather forget. Mainly, because of my immaturity at 21 years of age. Fortunately, some of those rather-I'd-forget moments have at least become memories at which I can laugh - and so can my husband.

Such as the night I locked myself out of our apartment.

We were married only a few months. All during my growing up years I heard how a good and loving husband showed his love - remained faithful, brought home a paycheck, and, most importantly, showered his bride with love notes and flowers. Any man who did not do those things was taking his wife completely for granted.

I must say, I'm not sure if there really was a class on all of this, but the ideas were formed over many years of listening to various marriage seminars, reading "Christian romance" novels, and, of course, from the opinion of a bunch of fairy-tale minded teenagers.

Anyway, the fact that Eric only bought me flowers once or twice during the 4 years we dated never seemed to bother me. However, when we were married for a few months and nary a blossom appeared, I just knew he didn't love me!

So, one night, I was going to let him know just how hurt I was. This, of course, would make him realize how he was taking me for granted and he would run to the closest flower shop and bring home a dozen of the prettiest roses ever grown.

Unfortunately, I never had the knack for bringing up these discussions at just the right time. See, he always was so kind to me that I never had the nerve to tell him where he was completely taking me for granted. So, I'd keep my mouth shut until we went to bed. Then, I couldn't sleep as I just had to let him know how I felt. Don't let the sun go down upon your wrath, right?

So, this particular night, we went to bed and I began my routine.

*Sigh*

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," I'd say a bit pitifully.

Silence.

*Sigh*

"Something's wrong. What is it?" asks the exhausted man.

"Nothing, really."

Now is where I would make my ingenious move. He was bound to ask me one more time what was wrong and then I'd tell him.

*Sigh*

Silence.

*Sigh*

More silence. This wasn't going according to plan.

So, I wait. I begin to toss and turn. Then, I lay still waiting for some sort of response.

Soft snoring.

Great. More tossing and turning along with strategically placed sighs.

Eventually, this does rouse him. Just enough for him to leave to go lay down on the couch.

"WHAT?!!! There. That proves it. He just doesn't care about me. Not only does he neglect to spend $80 a week on flowers that will die, he doesn't care that I can't sleep because he's breaking my heart!"

Mature, I know. The things they don't cover in pre-marital counselling.

So, after some louder tossing and turning to see if he'll crawl back to me (which - surprise - he didn't ), I go out to the living room.

Sound asleep and snoring. Mr. Romantic.

Then, a brilliant plan began to form in my vengeful brain. I would leave the apartment. He was bound to hear the door close and come running after me to see where he had so carelessly let me down. Brilliant! (Please, does anyone else have a story remotely like this?)

So, I get dressed and open the door. I shut it behind me - I didn't slam it, but I wasn't extremely quiet about it, either.

As soon as I heard the click of the latch I realized my terrible mistake. Our door was one of those where you could turn the knob even when it was locked (on the inside). I had forgotten to unlock the door.

As I said, brilliant.

So, now I'm outside without any keys. Not to panic - he's awake waiting to see if I'll come back in. When I don't, he'll come find me.

So, I sit outside of our door on the only place possible - the ground. Did I mention that our door was directly at the top of the stairs? Yeah, the couple who walked up the stairs a half hour later are probably still talking about the crazy lady sitting on the ground near their apartment.

It soon became obvious that my sleeping husband never heard the door close. But, that's ok. He was bound to wake up and return to our bed only to find me missing and he'd immediately come looking for me to make sure I was safe and ok.

Did I ever tell you that my husband is one of the soundest sleepers ever to live?

After a while, the hard ground got a bit uncomfortable. As it was past mid-night, going for a walk didn't seem like the safest idea. Notice, none of my plans thus far turned out well. With the way things were going, I'd end up dead and no one would ever find my body.

Of course, then my husband would feel bad. But, I wasn't willing to make that kind of sacrifice for a little pity.

So, I'm tired and the evening is getting cooler (good thing it was already springtime in the South). So, my last resort is our 1976 Oldsmobile Delta '88. Roomy is an understatement - the car is monstrous. More importantly, it's unlocked.

So, I climb into the back seat. No blanket. No key to listen to the radio. Just me - awake, locked out of my house, and feeling really stupid.

For hours.

At last, my husband came bounding down the stairs with a look of panic, found me and apologized all over the place for his indescribable inconsideration.

Wait. No. I'm mistaking. That wasn't quite the way it happened.

A little while after the sun rose - I think it was around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., my husband came outside with a bit of a puzzled look on his face. He opened the car door and asks, "Have you been out here all night?"

"Um, yeah."

"Why?"

"Didn't you hear me leave?"

"No. I slept really well. I just woke up."

Again - brilliant.

Shamefully, I finally explained how I had been feeling and, as the words were spoken aloud, I realized how idiotic my self-pity really was. He was very kind, but not in the least apologetic. I didn't marry a wimpy guy. I married a compassionate man who stands by me as I learn my lessons. We took a walk and I walked back into our home with much more humility than when I left.

It took me a while to realize that my husband isn't the kind to buy me roses or write me love notes. He's the kind that will wash the dishes after supper so that I can take care of other things. He's the kind that will find a wildflower in the woods and bring it back to me because he knows I'll like it. He's the kind that will bring home a "Dove" chocolate bar after picking up some things I need from the store. He's the kind that will go out into the freezing snowstorm and bring in a stack of wood so our family can be warm and comfortable. He's the kind that will sit with our children in the E.R. for hours on end without complaint. He's the kind that showers me with gifts from his heart - not from a box the rest of the world wants to put him in.

He's also the kind of husband who doesn't tell the embarrassing tales of the immature young bride he married and I love him for it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Look and a New Blog

Ok - I guess I don't need to announce I've changed the look of Love & Rewards yet again. Hope you like it. Or get used to it!:)

I also am announcing a new blog. I realize that there may be some readers that may not be all that interested in my home-school ventures, so I have begun the Teaching Mommy blog for those who may be interested in what is going on in our school day. I will continue to focus on the fun and lessons in marriage and raising children here at Love & Rewards.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beautiful Moms - Beauty Rest



It is late. I'm afraid my Beautiful Moms post will not be very profound this week, but I thought I should post rather than miss two weeks in a row.

Based on my sleepiness, this is my thought: A Beautiful Mom gets sleep - and plenty of it. I realize that Proverbs 31 says, "She riseth also while it is yet night..." and "...her candle goeth not out by night."

I believe for sure that we are to rise early in the morning - yes, before the sun is up. Do I follow through with this everyday? Unfortunately, no. I am amazed at how much I am able to accomplish when I get up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. The true miracle is that I'm more awake and full of energy on the days I rise early. Yes, I'm tired by the time 9 or 10:00 p.m. rolls around, but this is my point -

Go to bed early enough to be able to rise up early.

"But, what about my candle no going out by night?" you ask. I don't know if this means to burn the midnight oil EVERY night. I think there are times when we must stay up late to get some work done. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I stayed up all night to can peaches. Why? Because I was able to do it without interruption. If you've ever canned, you know that there are several times during the process that things have to be done quickly and in order. Try doing that with 7 children roaming the house and pulling at your skirt. So, that night, my lights did not go out until 5:00 a.m. No kidding. I left a note for the children near their cereal bowls letting them know why I would not be up for breakfast, but letting them know that I'd be up by 9:00 - when I would get the baby out of bed. I left them instructions and they followed them beautifully.

But, do I make a habit of this? No way. Why? I'd be miserable with only 4 hours of sleep every night. Oh, I love to stay up late. I'm a night-owl by nature. I have to force myself to get to bed at a decent hour (notice the time of this post - I'm hurrying to finish it up!). But, I have noticed that when I get 7 hours sleep at night and still am able to rise up early, those days go so much more smoothly than the days when I'm struggling to get out of bed at the same time as my children after staying up late the night before.

"It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late...for so he giveth his beloved sleep." We like to focus on the "vain to rise up early" part. However, this verse is telling us how useless it is to get up early enough to worship the Lord after staying up until the late hours of the night.

It's tempting to enjoy and relish in the quiet night-time hours. But, it's not worth it when mommy wakes up grumpy and red-eyed in the morning. Beautiful Moms get sleep at night.

That said, I'm going to try to get my beauty sleep.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Counting my Blessings

It's been a long time since I've counted them on this blog, but it's about time to give thanks to the Lord and tell what He has done.

1. I spent 9 hours alone with my oldest son today. Appointments, errands, and a classical concert. We talked. We enjoyed being together. We didn't argue. I saw a glimpse of the man he's becoming.

2. I hugged my husband for a long time today. In this day and age, I feel a peace and security in his arms. I am thankful I have a husband to hug.

3. I stopped in the middle of cleaning up the house to play Sesame Street dominoes with my 4 and 6 year olds. It was fun.

4. I got to talk about my college days with a young girl from church. A girl who comes once a week to do ALL of our ironing. Can we say "BLESSED"?!

5. Even after being gone most of the day and playing that rousing game of dominoes, my house is neat and orderly. And, so is my mind.

6. What time I am afraid, I can trust in God. He gives me the peace that passeth all understanding.

7. Major Dave is coming up next week and I get to see him and his fiancee together again.

8. I talked with my mom on the phone. I have a mom to talk on the phone with - on an almost daily basis.

9. I saw my older brother and his family today. I have a brother whom I love and can look up to. I have a sister-in-law who is so loving and giving - I could never repay her for all she has done for us and the love she's shared. Their children are probably my children's best friends.

10. I have a younger brother. I'm thankful that he hasn't dis-owned me for my lack of phone calls. I love him to pieces. His wife? Truly an example to me of a mom who truly loves spending time with her children.

11. I am loved and I love. Too often, I take this for granted. Tonight, I am grateful.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - Snacks

Homeschool Memoirs!

I've skipped the last couple of assignments as they either didn't pertain to my life very much or I just didn't have a whole lot of time. This week, I'm supposed to write about snacks my kids like to, well, snack on.

At first I wondered what was so interesting about the snacks homeschool children consume. But, as I thought about it, I realize that healthy snacks or home-made treats from mom are a novelty in this age of after-school programs and day care. I have the precious blessing to make lasting memories with providing a simple thing such as an afternoon snack for my children.

We don't have snacks every day and when we do, it's often "on the go" - i.e. take an apple and go on outside. My kids would snack all day if I let them. You would think I never fed them with all the begging for food they do. When I do give in to their pleas for nourishment, they are often happy to fill up on apples, bananas, carrots, or some crackers. If I get a chance to make cookies, they love getting a chance to test one as soon as it cools down enough.

We are beginning the best season for snacking. During the late fall and throughout the winter,
I use the fresh cow's milk from a farmer friend of ours and we make the best home-made hot chocolate in the world. Munching on some home-made cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip, pumpkin chocolate chip, or just your basic chocolate chip), apples, or our favorite popcorn along with the warm beverage is a loved tradition at our house on cold winter afternoons.

Snacks. A simple thing. Something we see as ordinary. But, it's one of those little things that bring a sparkle to our children's eyes and I'm grateful to be home to see those sparkles!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Taking the Plunge

I think I might be re-vamping my entire school curriculum. We are going to give a unit study a trial run this week.

We've been homeschooling for several years and I've always thought unit studies would be a great and fun way to learn, but many of them involve so many projects that we would never accomplish - such as building a mote complete with drawbridge around your house.

Many unit study curricula are so freedom-loving that they bombard you with a ton of ideas but no clear-cut plan. I don't do well with the "do-as-you-please" idea. When I was in school, I froze when the teacher would say, "Write a five page paper on any subject you'd like." Now, if they'd give me a subject or idea (i.e. "Why Commoners Never Built Motes Around Their Cottages") I would be on my way to a paper worth placing in the National Archives.

However, I have recently come across a couple of unit studies that actually seem interesting, have many REALISTIC hands-on projects, and are laid out with a day-to-day plan.

Why change to a unit study and why now when the school year is only a few weeks old?

1. I am now at a point where my youngest is 1 year old and the rest are ready and willing to learn. No babies to be nursed and I'm not exhausted with a pregnancy.

2. We will all be learning together - each of the children will be doing the same activities geared for their age and ability. They can encourage one another and I can be involved in their education as I was at the very beginning of this journey.

3. As most of the children will be doing the same thing at the same time, I won't be pulled in 4 or 5 different directions at once.

4. This type of learning appeals to all learning styles. I have readers, talkers, and doers and there's something for everyone.

5. Why now? Why wait another whole year when I could spend time with my children as they have fun learning TODAY? Also, as we are trying to decide what is best for our oldest child, this may be a great way for him to get excited about learning again and be able to stay at home instead of sending him to Christian School.

6. This, hopefully, will provide us with more time for the things Christians ought to be busy doing - writing letters, making cookies for neighbors, visiting, etc. As it is, some of my children are in the other room working in their textbooks until 4 or 5:00 every day. Where does that leave time to think of others?

I realize that this may seem idealistic. This is why we are giving this unit study a trial run. The BJU books aren't up on eBay, yet!:) If you think to pray for us this week, I would appreciate it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beautiful Moms - Kind Words



"She openeth her mouth with wisdom: and in her tongue is the law of kindness."
Proverbs 31:26

"Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile." Psalm 34:13

Have you ever seen a mom who looked so very pretty and sweet - until she opened her mouth and yelled at her children? Instantly, the beauty fades away and reveals the angry monster within.

My angry monster came out yesterday. Only my children saw it, though. Thankfully no one of importance witnessed this flaw in my character. How embarassing and tragic that would have been!

Wait a minute...whose opinion of us matters more than our children's? We are shaping their lives to either live for Christ or live for themselves. When they see the angry monster come from their Christian mother's mouth, it is enough to scare them away from the path of Christ. Why is it that we - I'm sorry - I attempt to be sweet and loving and kind to complete strangers while I justify harsh words towards my young children?

I could "justify" why I became angry and yelled at my trembling children. I could give "reasons" why they drove me to behave badly. None of those reasons hold water, though. The only reason I snapped was because I wasn't in God's Word. I was not walking with Him - the One who loves and protects children. I was acting in my vile flesh and only considering my rights and feelings.

"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6

Usually, we conservative Christians like to aim that verse at the abortion activists or the child molesters. However, moms are slowly breaking their children's hearts and destroying their spiritual lives each time they "fly off the handle." Have you seen the look in a child's eyes who is being yelled at? It is fear or it is anger. It is not a look of repentance and learning.

Yelling (I could say "speaking harshly", but let's not try to make flowery what it truly is) at our children does not edify them or train them in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord." Not once do I see Christ yelling at His people. Oh, He judges them severely at times, but do we ever get the impression that He is yelling? I read the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Revelation and "hear" His voice speaking firmly but not a maniacal God screaming at the world.

How dare I yell at my children?! Each of them loves God and truly wants to do what is right, but they need some leading. If they argue with each other or disobey me, it is not for me to get angry because they've not done what I want them to do. It is up to me to guide them back to the right path and show them the ways of God. Do I do this with a lilt in my voice? Most likely not. But, I can do it firmly with kindness. They may not enjoy being rebuked, but the look in their eyes is no longer fear and anger. There is a glimmer of repentance and they know I love them.

A Beautiful Mom speaks with love and kindness at all times. How is this possible while living in this fleshly body?

"...For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

Let us get in the Word and on our knees before God. Let us be thankful to Him for this gift of motherhood. Let us pray for the souls of our children and for their future to be filled with service towards Him. These lovely and pure things in our hearts will go far in helping us become women of virtue speaking kindness. In this way, you and I can become truly Beautiful Moms.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We Interupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog...

...for some blog maintenance.

First, I would love for you all to stop by Lunchtime Thoughts where there is an excellent discussion taking place concerning homosexuality and what the Bible says pertaining that subject. Join in...the writer accepts anonymous commentators.

Second, please remember to e-mail me (victoriamcc@frontiernet.net) with a tribute for a Beautiful Mom that you know and admire. I would love to publish them on our weekly Tuesday posts.

Third, I encourage ALL of my readers (yes, all 7 of you) to participate in the polls that I place on the sidebar every week. As I no longer have the stats counter, this enables me to get an idea of the amount of people who visit Love & Rewards. According to my poll this week, I have only 4 readers. I know that's not true. Obviously, 3 of you have not voted! Seriously, even if it involves a situation you are not currently in (i.e. this week's parenthood-type question)feel free to vote according to how you would respond. Pretend you have children (or, some weeks, a spouse) and vote! And, just so you know, I don't have some secret way of finding out who you are. All votes are anonymous.

Well, that's the story I'm sticking with, anyway.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Next week, back to our regularly scheduled blogging.