Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our 2011 Christmas Card & Letter



This Christmas Day, I will look around our front room at the eight other individuals sitting near the decorated tree.  They will each be seated in various places waiting for a package to be passed to them or excitedly asking that the gift they bought or made for so-and-so be quickly given.  As I look, I will be grateful, once again, for the precious people God has given me the miraculous opportunity to call “family.”
Michael will be seated and hoping for a variety of things from his wish-list.  He will most likely say a few words in German, as he has been teaching himself the language throughout this year.  He dreams of one day going to Germany and telling the people there of Christ’s love.  Throughout the day, Mike will undoubtedly mention something about his first bow hunting season this year or one of his  AirSoft games.  When he stands, he is taller than me. If there is snow, he may go out in the fresh air and use his cross-country skis or sled on a hill made by the snow his dad plowed.  Siblings may join him, but if not, he’s content to enjoy the outdoors alone.


Cassia will be making sure that the gifts she has made for her family members make it into the right hands.  Her smile will light up her face as she watches each person open her creations.  She will probably make a special trip out to the pasture to wish a Merry Christmas to our old horse, Joy, and to her three young goats.  Of course, this is after she has already bestowed at least one gift on her parakeet, Twitter - who, at 6 or 7 months old is beginning to gain a bit of a vocabulary.   Cassia will also check on the chicks she incubated, hatched, and cared for this past fall.  Truly our animal-lover.

Anna will be hoping for the latest Duggar DVD or a cover for her Kindle.  These two items accurately describe her love for children and passion for reading.  She will have already given gifts to the 3 children she has become close with hrough being their mother’s “helper” and she will probably have held at least one small baby in church Christmas morning...which will make her day complete.  While Anna may be content reading a new book for much of the day, the others may have a tough time keeping up with her energy if and when they all head outside to play.
Katrina will be quietly watching all of the activity and trying not to stress if something doesn’t go exactly as planned.  Though she may be thrilled with her gifts, only a smile will flash across her face along with a simple, “thank you.”  Her restrained joy comes from her daddy.  Anything that will keep her hands busy will make her very happy. She will look for opportunities to play games with family members or spend some time on the piano playing Christmas songs. 

Seth...he will be happy if I just go over and give him a hug!  One of our most contented children, he hasn’t asked for much this Christmas.  He will spend his day eating all the goodies, heading outside for some activity, and being content to spend the day with his family.  Whatever Seth does this day, he will throw himself completely into it with his whole being, just as he did when playing soccer this past summer & practicing with his bow and arrow this past fall.  He will have fun, and smile most of the time.




Gloria will smile and laugh all day long.  She will ooh and ahh over anything pretty.  She will beg for someone to read to her and probably show off her new-found reading skills, as well.  Gloria will probably look over everyone’s gifts while the sounds of “don’t touch!” will be echoed over and over!  At the end of the day, she will kiss her daddy and I, put her arms around our necks, smile, and say something like, “I love you.  Merry Christmas.  Thank you!”





Zane will be thrilled that the long-awaited favorite day of the year has finally arrived!  He will look around with wonder at the commotion.  He will talk excitedly and tear into any package that makes it into his hands.  Somewhere along the line, he will find mommy’s lap, sit in it, put his fingers in his mouth, and snuggle - his favorite past-time. He will stand up for himself, follow his older siblings, and eat as many sweets as he can until he’s banned from the table!  



Eric.  He’ll sit back and quietly watch as the mayhem unfolds.  He’ll take pictures and free treasures from stubborn tape and wires.  He’ll cut up vegetables, cheese, and pepperoni & make sure his faithful dog, Hunter, gets a few of those snacks.  He’ll make the punch and serve it.  He’ll get out the chess board for a game or two with the kids.  He may even break out the ATV and the wagon for a Christmas Day ride around the property.  In general, Eric will be the quiet motor that keeps our day humming without it breaking down in a heap.  
What will I do this Christmas Day?  I will enjoy my family.  The family that I so often forget to enjoy, but to whom I often dictate orders, clothe, feed, put to bed, school, etc., etc.  This day, I will watch for the gleam in their eyes.  I will laugh with them.  I will sit in amazement at how quickly time is passing and try to make it slow down...just for a few hours.  After the long day has ended, I will sit with my dear husband...the one with whom I walk through this life...and just enjoy the quiet and the simple beauty of the lights.  We will sigh and smile at the chaos of the day.  We will be a tad sad that another Christmas has passed.  We will be thankful to the Lord for our family.




In the midst of the church-going, the friends, the wrapping paper, the food, the loud voices we will remember the greatest gift....the gift of eternal life in heaven through the blood of Jesus Christ.  We pray that each of you will give thanks for that gift, if you have already accepted it from the hand of God.  If not, He’s holding it out to you...and we ask that you will take it, unwrap it, accept it into your hearts and rejoice.  This is the Good News of Christmas. This is the Peace on Earth that we often speak of - the love and forgiveness of God. This is the must-have gift of all time.  To you.  From God.


Merry Christmas, our dear friends & family.  We love you and pray for you God’s abundant love & blessings.
With love,
Eric, Vicki, Michael, Cassia, Anna, Katrina, Seth, Gloria, & Zane 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Pain

As I think of several of my family and friends, I am aware of how much hurt there is this Christmas season.  Is it because of the pain we experienced last Christmas that makes me more aware of the pain others are experiencing this year or is there really that much more hurt?

Hearts broken.  Families gathered around a loved one who is taking his last breaths.  Families gathering around a grave of one who has just passed.  Beloved foster children being torn away from those who have loved them for over a year.  Loved ones overseas who will miss yet another Christmas with their family.

And the list goes on and on.

We often say, "It isn't right.  This should be a happy time.  It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, yet so many are hurting."

But, I got to thinking back to that day when Christ was born - the day we celebrate at Christmas.  Oh, what a joyful time it is when a newborn babe enters the world.  How much more joyful it was when that babe was the promised Messiah.  Our world was given a wonderful gift...the One who would bring eternal life.  Angel sang.  Shepherds worshipped.  Wise men gave gifts.  But, was it all joy?  Mary had to lay her precious newborn in a feeding trough filled with scratchy, dusty hay.  Was there not a tinge of regret?  One of the Wise Men brought myrrh - a spice used to anoint the bodies of the deceased.  Was this not a sorrowful foreshadowing of what was to come?  God sent His Son to earth - good tidings of great joy!  He sent Him to die - what grief, what sorrow, what pain.

So, should Christmas always be nothing but joy & happiness?  While we grieve with our loved ones who grieve, maybe in some small way it IS right.  This pain surrounding an otherwise happy season allows us to sense a bit of the feeling of that night in the manger in Bethlehem where a baby lay...a baby who was born to die.

Friday, December 16, 2011

To Honor His Memory...His Legacy...His Family



I wanted to write something prolific, something memorable, something that would honor the memory of Kenneth Parfitt on this day.  The one year anniversary of his death.  I'm not certain I will succeed.

On December 14, 2010, Ken was on his way to work when he stopped to help another motorist who had run off the icy road.  When sure that the person was ok, Ken headed back to his car.  Just as he was getting ready to get in his vehicle and drive off to another day at the office, he was hit by another passing automobile.  Ken never again opened his eyes.  The last thing he did was something he did on a daily basis...he helped someone.  He cared for a stranger.  He was an example to his son who was with him that morning.

I have wracked my brain this week for just the right words for this anniversary.  Do we re-tell the story of that day?  For that, no one has put it into words more clearly, more tenderly than the man who stopped to help Ken that morning.  Do I list the various ways Ken and his family have been honored this past year?  That doesn't seem fitting.  Do I put into writing how I continue to grieve and pray for his family?  Impossible.

All I can think to do is ask a question.  While Ken has left a hole in his family that no one will ever be able to fill, should there still be a void in this world now that he has left it?  The tracts in Ken's pocket that morning fell on the muddy floor of the ambulance.  Have we picked them up and handed them out to the strangers we pass?  There were people who knew to call Ken when they needed help.  Do they now know that one of us is willing to help in their time of need?  A family is moving...are we willing to drop what we are doing to help them?  Ken is no longer able to do that.  A missionary has a project that is at a stand-still due to insufficient funds.  Are we writing the check Ken would have written?  A child of God has left the fold and is checking out the pleasures of this world.  Do we write their name daily in our prayer journal?  Do we have a prayer journal?  Ken did.  Who is praying for those people now?  The Bible studies that Ken led at Harris...do they still exist or are disciples struggling?

Ken is gone.  If we do not pick up where Ken left off, a missionary could be left discouraged and broken.  A single mom may get deeper in debt having to replace her old, broken-down dryer.  A wayward teenager may never know he is loved.  A soul may go to hell.

365 days ago, Ken Parfitt went to heaven.  His race on earth was done. We miss him...his smile, his sense of humor, his brilliance.  We grieve for his family.  But, have we picked up his baton or have we left it lying on the ground in our grief?  Have we filled in the gap that he left or have we left it wide open as we uselessly stand by and weep for what is lost?

Ken Parfitt made a difference in this world, but this world ought not be a different  place without him.     If we want to honor his memory, we must carry on and follow his example.  We must not allow the void to remain.

Miss Ken.  Grieve for his family...while you go and serve and give and love the stranger by the side of the road.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

We decorated our house this past Saturday.  It's not fancy.  Nothing that will win any awards.  In fact, our children did the majority of the decorating.  We are so traditional that they all know where everything goes...same place every year.  The only thing that changes is what color lights will go on the tree.

This year, our 14 year old tried his hand at putting up some lights around our living room windows and a couple of other places.  So far, we've not done outside lights - I'm sure one of the boys will one day have the desire to attempt those.  But, we like our lights inside where we can enjoy them!

Our decor will not be found in Better Homes & Gardens, Country Living, or any other home-decorating magazine.  Elegance is most definitely not our theme.  If I had to name it, it would be "Casually Live-able" or "Simply Sentimental"  No one will ooh & ahh over our decorations.  Many of them have special meaning to us, though - whether an ornament commemorating a special time in our lives or a decoration given to us by a dear friend.  These mean more to me than the most beautiful Martha Stewart arrangement.

I'm all for gorgeously decorated houses...if that's what makes a particular family happy.  My family seems to be happiest with the simple decorations.  It's enough for them to have a bit of twinkle and nostalgia.  It's enough for me to see their smiles.

No matter how each of us decorates our homes for Christmas, may all of our homes be filled with the shining smiles of our children and the sweet music of their laughter.




 The ornament that takes center stage each year.  If you look closely, you can see a very young couple celebrating their first Christmas 17 years ago.
 Baby's 1st Christmas - this ornament is 14 years old.  One of the first things the proud daddy bought his son!
 This angel has been hanging on all of the Christmas trees in my life. Once held in my little hands,  this year it was hung by one of my little one's hands.
 Each year, my children receive new ornaments from their "Aunt" Becky & each year they get better!
 This little bear came directly from Germany (another "Aunt" Becky special) about 10 years ago.  If you check the back of it's head, there's a big hole where then-1 yr old Anna took a bite thinking it was candy!
 While we have a chimney, it is stone and impossible to hang the stockings on it.  So, we hang them on our panelled walls with care!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hey, You!

Yeah, YOU!  The one with the husband.

What do you have to complain about?

There are women out there who wish they had a husband such as yours.  A man who loves them.  A man who will listen to them.  A man who works hard to provide.  A man who comes home every night.

Maybe instead of finding fault with your husband, you should find the many things to be thankful for.  There ARE good qualities in him.  There were when you dated him.  There had to be something for which it was worth saying, "I do!"

Maybe instead of throwing yourself a pity-party because he hasn't taken you out in a few weeks, you could pray for the woman who buried her husband.  Pray for the woman whose husband broke his vows and divorced her.  Pray for the  young lady whose heart has been broken by her betrothed and is wondering if she'll ever live happily ever after.

Maybe you need to stop finding fault with the man in the bed next to you and start pointing the finger at yourself.  What could HE be complaining about and isn't?  Show that kind of grace to him.  Improve yourself and he just may improve.

In this day and age, it seems to be acceptable for a wife to find fault with every little thing her husband does, but if he criticizes he is harsh and cruel.  Boo-hoo!

Listening to you complain about how immature, selfish, and/or ungodly your husband is, makes you sound even more so.  Sort of like nails on a chalkboard.  I'm not impressed and I'm not sure very many are.  If anything, your complaining makes people feel worse for your poor husband than they do for you.

Are there legitimate concerns wives have?  Absolutely.  Are there ways to express those concerns without the husband desiring to flee to the roof-top?  Yes.  But, before you open your mouth....open your heart.  Open you heart in prayer to the Lord.  Open your heart in love to your husband - through your actions.  Open your heart to self-examination and pull the mote out of your eye before you humbly approach your husband.

And, remember:  the more complaints you have, the less you will be heard.

You, with the husband.  You want to keep him?  Stop complaining.  Start giving thanks and start loving.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friendship

Looking back on the past 3 days, I see a prominent theme.  That theme is friendship.

On Friday afternoon, we had a surprise visit from very dear friends.  James worked for Eric for several years.  His wife, Emily, we got to know as James began to fall in love with her.  James was more than the hired help.  He was (& is) one of Eric's best friends.  They would laugh together often, yet have many serious discussions. James loved our children and they loved him.  Often, you would see James walking from one barn to another with 1-3 little ones trailing behind him.  As James and Emily's relationship blossomed, the children would run out to see her as she would pick him up from work.  We had many good times with them - playing, laughing, talking....celebrating their marriage.  When they left for James to go to dive school in Florida and take a job in Louisiana, we all shed tears.  It's been 2 1/2 years, and this place still isn't the same.  With James' unpredictable schedule, it has been 2 years since we've seen him and almost as long since we've seen Emily.  We found out last week, happily, that Emily was in town for Thanksgiving while James was on a job off the coast of Mexico.  We looked forward to our planned visit with her this past Friday.  She had texted me Friday morning wondering if it would be alright if she came by around 3:15.  About that time, I was working on some Black Friday shopping on my computer when my son called to me saying that she had arrived.  As I walked out of my front room toward my kitchen to greet our dear friend I was surprised by the added bonus of James standing in our kitchen, as well!!!!  He had finished the Mexico job and flew up to spend a couple of days with his wife and family.  Seeing the surprise on my husband's face a few minutes later as he saw his best friend was a moment I will not soon forget!  Even the dog remembered them!  We laughed and talked and discussed upcoming changes for their family.  It was good to have a piece of the "old-times" back again.  Being reunited with friends is a precious thing.

Saturday found me running errands for my dear friend, Lisa, who is recovering from surgery after falling from a horse.  It was a pretty full day of taking her daughter places and running to a couple of stores for her as she is laid up and totally dependent upon others.  At one point, I was near tears with how tired I was and how much I had on my plate.  But, I realized that I was in far better shape than Lisa and I could not give in to the temptation to quit.  We have been blessed many times by being on the receiving end of such help.  It can get tiring, but that is when true friendship kicks in.  Friendship keeps on giving even after we have nothing to give.  I don't say this to pat myself on the back.  I say it because I am learning just what others have given for me and I appreciate it even more now.

Today (Sunday), we said good-bye to two dear friends who are leaving first thing in the morning to move to Barrow, Alaska.  These friends are leaving to take a position as the administrator of the hospital located in that part of the Arctic Circle with the main purpose of helping missionaries faithfully serving the Lord in that cold waste-land.  Eric and I and our children have become close with Stephen and Erin through the past two years.  Like with James & Emily, we have talked about life & God, shared stories, and have laughed a whole lot!  They have come over after Wednesday night church to celebrate different birthdays and eat cake.  We closed up church on several occasions.  Our family has cone to love this couple.  Today, we hugged and said "good-bye."  I didn't cry this morning.  I bawled my eyes out tonight.  Erin gave me some necklaces of hers as she's been weeding out things for the move.  She knew I LOVED her jewelry and I'm blessed that she thought of me.  I hope she realizes I will pray for her every time I wear one of those necklaces (& seeing as she gave me 5, I will be praying for her very often!!!!).

Re-uniting.  Helping.  Saying good-bye.

Happiness.  Exhaustion.  Tears.

Love.

This is friendship.  This is life.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Thankful

Well, I had hoped to post every day about some things for which I am thankful.  However, as usual, this week ended up so busy with me being too tired at the end of each day to write down things that I am grateful for.  However, thankfulness has been a constant thought this week...

I am so very grateful for my darling husband.  He supports me, laughs with me, talks & listens to me, and loves me.  Truly, I am complete with him.

I am thankful for my children (though I sometimes forget that I am!).  They teach me so much about my own relationship with my heavenly Father.  They make me laugh and I love seeing them discover things about life.  They are 7 miraculous blessings that I am so blessed to have.

I am thankful for the family from which I came and the family into which I married.  I would not be who I am without the parents and brothers God gave to me and Eric would not be the incredible man he is were it not for the family God gave to him.  My mom and his parents couldn't be better grandparents to our children, either!

I am thankful for our church family.  I continually see the body pull together and help hurting members regularly. Our church has been through quite a bit this past year...and we are closer for the trials.  God is so good to bless us with the gift of friendship and love.

I am thankful for the abundance of food we have in this country.  Today I baked 5 pies and 2 loaves of pumpkin bread. My mother-in-law will bring over the 22-pound turkey and between she and I, along with another friend, our very long table will be heavily laden with a variety of delectable foods!  In all the world, are there people feasting such as we are?

I am thankful for my health and the abilities I have to walk, think, hear, talk, work, drive, etc.  I often take these things for granted...but today I am grateful for what God has allowed me to have.

I could go on about all the things for which I am thankful.  But, I must get some sleep.  I am thankful to each of you who stop by to read my ramblings now and then.

Let us all take some time to really focus on giving thanks today.  Look at the faces of those sitting around your table and think about what they have added to your life.  Look at the food that is on your plate and remember that not everyone is as blessed.  Stop to thank the God who provided all - including the most precious gift of all - eternal life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Week of Thanks

I know that we ought to give thanks every single day of our lives, especially if we are Christ-followers, but in light of Thanksgiving week, I plan on giving extra time to counting my blessings.

These last couple of weeks, I have seen friends physically hurting, emotionally hurting, going through stressful job changes, and stressful moves.  In seeing all of their trials, I have prayed for them. In praying for them, I have come to be thankful for the lot God has given me at this point in my life.  I am able to pray.  I am able to help where I can.  I am thankful for where I am right now.

Some blessings I have been made aware of this last week:
1.  My ear is  infected, but I am not laid up with a broken ankle.
2.  My house may not be a palace, but it is big enough for my family and it is ours.
3.  My husband may have to work a lot of hours, but he has a job that provides for our needs and our wants.
4.  My children may drive me crazy at times, but they go to sleep in the safety of our home every night and are healthy and love the Lord.

God has given me so very much.  It is my desire to list a few things for which I am grateful every day this week.  Whether you have a blog, a journal, or a post-it note, I encourage you to do the same.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This & That

Praise the Lord!  Our harvest was completed last Wednesday morning.  Now, the corn is being trucked to the local ethanol plant and now Eric is harvesting truck-loads of wood for the winter.  He's tired when he comes home, but he's home for dinner every night.

About 2 weeks ago, a friend of ours was thrown off her horse (with our Anna right behind her on another horse) and ended up with a severely broken ankle.  As she's a single mother, we've been pretty busy helping & organizing help for the family while she is laid up for a few months.

Last week, a few ladies and I were able to sit down at my kitchen table and plan our church's Homeschool Fair which will be held in May.  The Lord helped us get some great ideas going and we are well on our way to getting together the best Fair ever!  Though, my 6 year old was a bit disappointed to find out we wouldn't have a Ferris Wheel....

Three of our girls are preparing for their annual violin recital this Friday evening.  I'm pretty sure two of them will do fine.  The third one needs some practice...here's hoping!

We are celebrating Seth's birthday tomorrow.  Oops, just looked at the clock - make that TODAY!  Eight years ago today (in just about an hour and a half, to be exact), our high-energy, highly lovable son was born.  I was telling him just yesterday how we literally prayed over him as soon as he was born - as he didn't take a breath for the first minute of his life.  That was one of the longest 60 seconds I ever experienced.  I am so glad God blessed us with my little Eric-clone!! :)

Not much of a post, but I just wanted to check in and let everyone know that I'm still alive.  I have a few blog topics that I would love to get around to, but....we shall see.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Missing my husband...for a season

My husband is currently snoring lightly on our couch.  He's been pulling some late hours and comes home pretty exhausted.  Though I attempt not to become weary during the harvest seasons, I never seem to succeed.  I always end up at the point of tears and miss my husband so much.  However, I was recently reminded what a GIFT it is to actually miss my husband.  Some women, which I cannot comprehend, don't miss their husbands.  Some are glad when he's gone or it doesn't make much difference to them one way or the other.  God has blessed our relationship in a way that, after 17 years, we are still best friends and love to be together.  Oh, it's not all rosy and perfect all the time.  But, it IS pretty nice. :)

Yesterday, the adult members of our family got together at a nice restaurant to just enjoy some time together.  This dinner had been planned for a couple of months and included my mom, my brothers and their wives, my cousin, aunt and uncle - an all-around fun bunch.  Because the constant rain this fall has resulted in the harvest going later and because it was actually sunny & dry this weekend, I had to attend the dinner alone.  I'll be honest - I was pretty sad about it.  I had a bit of a pity party.  No, I wasn't mad at my husband.  I just missed him.  I missed not having this little date with him.  I was lonely as I drove our big van out to one of our favorite dining places without him.

Then I arrived at the restaurant and sat directly across from my cousin.

My cousin who became a widow 8 years ago when she was the age I am now.

My cousin whose husband was a farmer and died while doing a routine project on their land.

My cousin who has had to raise her 5 children alone.  At the time of the accident her children were 14, 12, 3, & twin boys who were 1 year old.

My cousin who drives to family get-togethers without her best friend all the time.  My cousin who can't just pick up the phone and ask her partner's opinion in matters regarding parenting or paying bills.  My cousin who goes to bed alone every night.  My cousin who misses her husband every day of her life. 

My cousin's husband died three & a half months before my husband had the accident that very nearly took him from me.  I was pregnant with our fifth child.  Her life is very much a reminder of what mine could have been like.

As I sat across from my cousin who was smiling and laughing, I realized that I am blessed to miss my husband.  For a season.  Not a lifetime.

He sleeps on my couch tonight.  He will work hard again tomorrow.  I will miss him.  I will be grateful, for I am abundantly blessed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

They Walk in the Footsteps of Jesus

Recently, I have been thinking about foster parents, adoptive parents, and the children who are loved by them.  No, we're not looking to adopt - we don't feel we have been called.

And, a calling it is.  Or, it should be.  Sadly, many foster parents are not called...as evidenced by their selfishness and lack of care for the young hearts that enter their homes.

However, there are many foster/adoptive parents who love each child who comes into their home with their whole hearts.  They love, teach, and care for the children as they were their own.  In some cases, those children will, indeed, be theirs one day.  In others, tears will be shed as they say "good-bye."  That is a grief I cannot even begin to imagine.

There are adoptive parents who fall in love with their child from miles away.  Parents travel halfway across the world to bring home a child who, in any other case, has no hope of love or home or family.

To adopt a child, a parent must often pay a lot of money.  They often have to have their home and family-life evaluated and "graded" by social services in order to be deemed "worthy" of the state.  Parents have to fill out mounds of paperwork before they may call these children their own.  Once a child comes into their home (if a foster child or the process of adoption has not yet been completed), that child must often leave for visits with their biological family members - often causing confusion & upheaval of schedules and emotions.  I know of one family whose daughter, even after being adopted, still has to have visitation with a biological parent!  Parents lose sleep over children who've been abused in ways they can't imagine and do all they can to protect them from any further harm or hurt.

I realize that foster and adoptive parents are not the same nor do they face exactly the same challenges.  I realize that each adoption story is as different as each birth story.  Some births are full of turmoil and distress while others are smooth and joyous. From what I understand, it is the same with each adoption.

I am in no way an expert in adoption or foster families.  I only observe, hear, and listen to the stories and challenges of friends who are walking down that road.  I can not empathize - I've not walked in their shoes.  I cannot fully comprehend the love, fear, sorrow, and joys these parents experience and the roller-coaster of emotions that they must feel - other than they are, in many ways, the same as all parents - biological or not.

I have come to learn that these parents don't want the fact that their foster children or adopted children to be labelled as such.  They are truly their children - not foster, not adopted.  No labels, just love.    Though the DNA will tell the world that these children and adults are not connected genetically, their hearts will tell the world that they are, indeed, family.  In my opinion, love trumps DNA.

There is no better example of how Christ loves us than that of adoption.  I was cast-off, unloved, and unable to care for myself (spiritually).  When no one else could save me from my hopelessness, then came Christ.  He saw my pitiful state and gave everything for me.  He reached down and offered me a place in His family.  Once I said "yes" He sealed the contract with His blood and I am now His child.  No one can change that.  I don't deserve to be in His family.  My sin made me unworthy.  But, He didn't see that.  He loved me and that's all that mattered.

To those who have chosen to bring in a child from the outside and love that precious gift, thank you for reminding me of the love my Saviour has shown me.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Soccer & Family Unity

Three of my children played on a 8-week Saturday soccer league this year.  While I love watching all my children play, I get the best action shots from Seth's group.  I just love the intense looks of their faces.

 Warming up.


 Just scored a goal!! Due to mother-failure, there is no photo of the scoring of the goal. :(





 Love the mouths!

 Keeping the goal (my favorite!)

Or, is this my favorite?  :)

Seth has a great time every year at soccer.  His first two years, he had great coaches.  While his coach this year was nice enough, his "coaching" seemed to be a bit lacking.  It seemed the team was made up of many individuals who thought they didn't need their team-mates.  The coach would put the team in their positions and cheer for them, but never give them direction in HOW to play and how to work together.  Though they're only 8 years old and it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, I was able to learn a lesson from them:

The team is only as good as their coach.  

This lesson was good for me as a mom.  If my family-team is not working together in unity, I am failing. If I am only putting them in their positions of responsibility, but not guiding them in how to work together pleasantly, our team will lose.  When the opposing team confronts one of our members, we must be able to pass our burden on to another member who is standing close by to help.  Unity is essential in success and success will only come from good leadership.  

I did notice one time when the assistant coach (whom you see in the background of the last photo) did, indeed, give instruction to one of the players.  However, the player flat out said, "No!  This is the way I do it!"  He proceeded to fail.  So, just as coaches aren't always at fault, neither are parents.  Sometimes, the guidance is given but not heeded.  Often, the parent can do nothing but stand on the sideline and watch as their child misses the goal.

Oh, that my family would work together as a unbeatable team.  That our determination to succeed would be as evident as the intense looks of determination on the face of an 8 year old soccer player.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let's Hear it FROM the Boys

All of my boys made me laugh (or roll my eyes - whatever the case may be) in the last week.

The 14 year old
Grandpa brought over a telescope he picked up at a neighbor's garage sale.  Bring out a telescope and kids come out of the woodwork!  Well, the telescope that's been in hiding in our basement made an appearance, as well, and daddy and the kids have been having an out-of-this-world time! One morning last week, my 14 year old comes into the house looking for his sisters.  When I told him they were upstairs and asked him what he needed he replied, "I wanted to warn them to never look at the sun through the telescope!"  This gem he had just learned through experience.
Let's just say that I have decided that any male who makes it to the age of 25 alive and not permanently maimed is a very real miracle!

The 7 year old
We were stopped at a red light before pulling into the parking lot of a local plaza.  My daughter says, "That looks like Mrs. S over there!"  She had seen a vehicle that resembled that of a friend's.  However, as we were pulling into the plaza, it was evident that the vehicle was NOT Mrs. S's and the driver was definitely NOT Mrs. S.  Instead of stating the obvious problem with my daughter's statement, my 7 year old says, "That's not Mrs. S.  Mrs. S. isn't that old a man!"



The 4 year old
The other night my little one was sitting in the front room with me as I did some computer work.  I looked over at him and said, "I'm pooped!"  He suddenly gets this look of concern on his face and said, "In your pants?"  Oh dear!!  I guess I should be careful in what figures of speech I choose to use!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

5 birthdays in review....

Six of our seven children celebrate their birthdays between June 30 & November 16.  It makes for a crazy time (especially as 3 of the birthdays are within a month of each other).  As summer was busy and now school is upon us, I haven't had much time to post pictures or details.  Tonight, I'm staying up late due to too much caffeine.  So, I've caught up on filing pictures, etc., and I will give you a quick review of birthdays.  Bare with me if I do not caption everything.  Also keep in mind that several of these photos are SOOC....just not enough time.  

Happy birthday to Zane (6/30/07), Cassia (7/14/99), Gloria (7/31/05), Michael (9/8/97), & Anna (10/5/00).



















While birthdays keep me hopping, I'm grateful for the time we have to focus on each special gift God has given to us!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time to Start a Fire

There are awkward moments in every annual event.  The Readying of the Wood Stove is no exception.