Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: July 30, 2016

It's Saturday.  I've missed our weekends together.  This weekend finds me organizing and getting ready for my Tennessee vacation beginning Thursday!!  My brother, mom, my oldest son and I will be traveling to the south to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of some very dear friends of ours. I am very much looking forward to spending some time with the dear family members I am traveling with along with these friends who stuck close to us when I was a kid during our darkest times.
But, before I get all nostalgic....

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Isaiah 6:3

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10



Time with God: The Time-Warp Wife
My quiet time is one of my favorite times of day.  In the summer, I have more time to just read, study, pray and commune with my God.  Most mornings, I meet with God at our picnic table with a cup of coffee.  Some mornings, I am up in my bedroom or at my desk - still with a cup of coffee.  I have always gleaned so much more from my daily Bible reading if I write, so I have several notebooks full of verses and treasures God has shown me through the years.  
At the beginning of this summer, however, I discovered the Time-Warp Wife and her Bible-Study Journal and Prayer Journal, both which will last 6 months.  Inside the Prayer Journal there is a spot to write out your prayer for the day, a spot where you ask God to teach you something specific that day, and an area to write your requests.  The Bible study journal has daily pages in which to note what you have read that day, list attributes of God, three things for which you are thankful, and a large section to write what you learned that day.  This has been a different way for me to do my quiet time, but I am loving it!
Beginning a few years ago, I enjoy taking the extra time I have in summer to really delve into a Bible study.  Enter, again, the Time-Warp Wife.  I had just finished reading Ecclesiastes when I came across her 6-week study of the same book.  I am learning much about how to live a life for God that counts for eternity.
If you want to add depth and renew your quiet times with God, I highly suggest these resources.  As I bought all three books from Amazon, I just perused her website for the first time as I wrote this post.  I am bookmarking and will be a frequent visitor!!

I am not one to toot my own horn, but if you haven't had a chance to read my list of ideas to make fun memories with your children this summer, I suggest you go there now.  After all, this is my day to list suggestions and I listed several earlier this week! After reading, choose one thing and do it today or this week.  Then, come back and tell me what you did!

Actually, I am recommending the whole series.  Well, at least the first three books as that's all I have read.  But, I am assuming the last two books in this series are just as good and thought-provoking.  This fictional tale is about a man who has lost everything and wants to get away from all he knew.  So, he begins to walk - from Washington State to Key West, Florida.  These books are his journals recounting the people he meets, his thoughts, his struggles, his coming to terms with what God and life have handed him.
While I have not literally walked in this character's shoes, somehow, I have found myself often walking right alongside of him.  I think you may find yourself walking with us, as well.
Note: the two sayings above come from the third book in the series, The Road to Grace.

I don't believe I have ever recommended a sermon nor have I posted a video of one before.  However, today I make an exception as this is an exceptional message.  If you struggle with addiction, depression, fear, or besetting sin (isn't that all of us?), this sermon will literally change your mindset as to how you can achieve victory.  
This is a livestream event from our church, so the entire service is recorded.  If you want to hear some great singing by the preacher's family, begin around the 21-minute mark.  To go directly to the sermon, fast forward to the 37-minute mark.  Watch the entire sermon.  May you be blessed, your mind renewed, and may you win the victory!

That's it for this weekend.  I'm off to shop for our daughter's birthday tomorrow, get my house ready for a birthday dinner, organize, plan, know, all that "keeper at home" stuff!  Praying you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Foodie Friday - Oat Indulgence

So...I started Foodie Friday back in April.  April 29, to be exact.  So, today marks three months since I have begun this series.  Let me count how many posts this will be.


Yes, three months and this is only the second time I have been able to post on a Friday.  Either time, brain power, or energy has not allowed it.

But, maybe today's food is the cause for my brain power and energy on this day.  This morning, for the first time ever, I indulged in Overnight Oats.

Can indulge and oats appear in the same sentence?  Apparently so, though I never would have expected it.  You see, for most of my life I have hated oatmeal with a passion.  Thin oatmeal looks soupy.  Thick oatmeal looks gloppy (just saying that word makes me lose my appetite!).  It's either clumpy, bland, too sweet or just plain gross.  However, in the last couple of years, I have tasted one kind of oatmeal that I actually can say I enjoy.  That would be my husband's stovetop apple-cinnamon-brown sugar oatmeal.  Maybe it's the fruit.  Maybe it's the spices.  Maybe it's the love with which he makes it.  Whatever it's what I believe oatmeal was meant to be.

Because of my positive experience with my husband's delectable oatmeal, I have been cautiously optimistic.  I have viewed and pinned overnight oat recipes for a while, but today, I took the plunge.  And, I have decided I will be jumping in again soon!

Strawberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats

Strawberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats
 recipe adapted from Happy Healthy Motivated
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
  • 1 tablespoon neufchâtel 
  • 1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4cup skim (or almond) milk - I used almond
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional - I opted out
  • 5-8 large strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
  1. Place all the ingredients - except for the chopped strawberries - into a medium bowl and stir until everything is totally combined.
  2. Layer the overnight oat mixture into the jar with the strawberries. You can do as many layers as you like.
  3. Place in the fridge and leave for at least 4 hours to chill before eating.

I mixed this up last night after dinner.  It took me about 8 minutes to get my ingredients, mix them, layer them in this cute jar and get into the fridge.   While the oatmeal mixture was a bit bland, it wasn't gross.  I also discovered that most of my neufchâtel was at the bottom layer.  Next time, I will mix it in better.  However, the combination with the oats and strawberries was divine!  I ate this two hours ago and I am still not hungry - which is a bit of a miracle for me!  

Try it and let me know what you think.  Have you had overnight oats?  What recipe would you recommend?  Would love to hear so I can add it to my breakfast menu!

Now that I have two posts, I guess I can officially call this a series.  Look for the third installment next week...or in three months from now. ;) 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summertime Fun (links included for ideas)

Ah!  Summertime!  As a homeschool mom, this is the time of year when I can "just" be a mom...and not the mean teacher.  Instead of cramming my kids' days with schoolwork, I can fill my kids' weeks with fun things to do.  Oh, we still have chores to get done, projects to complete around the house, and I have schooling  to plan for next year.  But, among my top priorities is spending these months having fun with my children.

This year, my three oldest are usually absent during our daytime excursions as they are working.  This fact, along with the fact that the two oldest have now graduated and my third child will begin the dual-enrollment program at the local college this year causes me to face the reality that these years are passing quickly.  I could fill my summers with gardening, housework, household projects, canning, etc., or I can fill my summers making good memories with my children before my nest is empty.

Today, I am giving you some ideas to make the most of these days.  It doesn't have to cost you a fortune to make memories...just some time, gas, planning, and a whole of of smiles.

First, plan in advance, especially if your activity will take you away from home for much of the day.  After being out in the sun and/or playing all day long, the last thing you want to do is come home to spend another hour or two fixing dinner.  Plan an easy meal such as wraps, subs, a quick pasta dish for that evening.  Don't forget that CrockPots are great for summertime meals as well.   I also make sure our home is tidied before we go anywhere.  Often, being gone for a few hours makes every one just a tad cranky; walking into a messy house that needs to be cleaned or having unfinished chores that need completing will make for a potentially miserable home-coming.  Let the kids know the night before what your plans are, what time you intend to leave, and that their chores are expected to be finished by that time.  My kids are all old enough to help pack lunches, if need be, and get whatever items together that we need for the day.

BEACH DAY:  Try a beach you have never been to before.  Pack a large blanket, a beach bag with towels, sunscreen, and a book for yourself, a picnic basket with snacks and sandwiches, and a cooler full of ice and cold drinks.  Get to the beach as close to the time it opens as possible, grab a good spot, lay out your blanket, slather the kids and yourself with sunscreen and watch them play in the water.  Around here, the legal swimming areas are roped off with lifeguards closely watching.  This allows me to lay in the sun and read a good book or even get some school planning done.  Plan on spending 5-6 hours if the day is hot!

Local friends: Hamlin Beach is large and each family has quite a bit of space to spread out.  However, this year we have taken the drive and have had a new adventure at Kershaw Park in Canandaigua.  There is more grass area than beach to spread out your blanket and your neighbors are a bit closer, but the water is extremely clear, warmer than Lake Ontario and the boats and hills around you make for a fantastic view all day long.

BOWLING:  This is the first year we have participated in the Kids Bowl Free summertime offer. Follow the link, find a participating bowling center in your area and sign up your children - at no cost!  Each week, you will receive your coupons with which to redeem your free games.  At my local bowling alley (I go to Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion, NY), my kids can bowl two free games three times a week, if we wanted!  For a one-time fee, I also can enjoy discounted bowling.  All we need to pay for is shoe rental which is only $2.00/pair.  So, something that would normally cost me $40-plus, only costs me $10.  Not a bad deal and a great thing to do on those hot or rainy days.  If you get other friends involved, you can all go together.  I have one friend whom I cannot wait to bowl against!

NATURE TRAILS AND PARKS:  This year, I am trying to find new parks for us to explore.  Most of my children are growing out of the playground stage, so I need to be a bit more creative.
Somehow, I have lived in this area my whole life, yet I have just heard of two parks just this year.  One we have already gone to and loved and the other is on our summer bucket list!

Local Parks:
Last week, the kids and I went for the first time to a place called Corbetts Glen.  This is a short nature trail with a stream winding alongside and small waterfalls.  As the water is not deep nor the current fast, the kids are allowed to wade and splash a bit.  What a hidden treasure we found this place to be. We will surely be returning with a picnic lunch before the summer ends.

My husband and I enjoyed a beautiful day in Watkins Glen State Park last fall for our anniversary.  While it is a couple of hours away, it is my hope to spend a day there with my children this summer, or even a Saturday this Fall while Daddy is spending long hours harvesting.  It would be great to take the kids to the Glen Curtiss Museum on our way, as well.

Chimney Bluffs State Park is a very cool place that I also just learned about this year.  This, too,  will be an all-day trip as it is almost 90-minutes from my house, but I know the kids will love this geological wonder.

Pineway Ponds Park: While most of my kids are "too old" for spray parks, my three youngest still enjoy going to the one nearby on hot days when we just don't have the time for a full beach day.

Wherever you live, talk to friends, run a Google search to find some new place to explore  in your area that you have never heard of before.

LIBRARY DAY:  Most libraries in our area have summer reading contests.  I have a love-hate relationship with these things.  It is difficult to keep track of how long each of my children reads and some of them would read inside all day long, if I let them.  We don't get a lot of warm sunny days up here in the North, so I often have to kick some of my kids outdoors.  However, when we have a quiet day at home, if it is raining or extremely hot, or when it is time to wind down, having a good book to read from the library is essential.
Most weeks, we get to the library one day for a couple of hours.  The kids turn in their hours/book titles from the last week and pick up a new contest form for the coming week.  They select new books, read, and get some computer time.  (Yes, I am one of those bad moms who allows their children to play games on the computer at the library.  Due to the lovely weather of the season, this computer time is usually all they get as they are expected to be playing outdoors at home.)
We tend to go to three different libraries regularly so we don't get bored with the same one time after time.

COUNTY FAIR: Nothing screams "Americana" like the good old county fair.  We have several in our area each summer, but we usually are able to make it to just one.  The one we choose, the Orleans County Fair, just happens to be this week.  We will probably head over there sometime this week, pay the $5.00 for the carload and walk around to see the farm animals (because, apparently, we don't do that enough at home!), eat some junk food, and drive home. If we decide to go Friday evening, we'll watch the fireworks and the greased pole competition.  You laugh, but it's intense and a whole lot of fun!  In years past, we have paid for them to have all-day passes for rides, but I think we'll skip that this year in exchange for a day at the.....

AMUSEMENT PARK:  I know I will probably get my citizenship and my mother card revoked after admitting this, but, we have never taken our children to an amusement park.  *GASP*  I know they are facing years of therapy because of this, but it's true.
Frankly, amusement parks cost way too much money for a family our size.  Not to mention, spending the day in a crowded place, trying to keep track of all of the little ones, spending more money to feed them, and possibly cleaning up vomit after a ride just hasn't appealed to me.  Until this year.  No, I still don't want to clean up vomit, etc., but I do not think we are in danger of that any more.
After looking at the prices of all day admission to the closest (and most affordable) amusement park (Seabreeze), I found that it is only $7.00 more than the passes at the fair.  Hence the reason we will not ride the 5 rides at the fair this year.  To make it affordable for myself, my plan is to take my youngest three to the amusement park the one week in August when the three oldest girls are at camp and their older brother is sleeping during the day.  I know I will get flack for this from my older children, but I will just remind them of the many things they have been able to do while the younger ones missed out.  Because, you know, that's what moms do...make annoying points like that.
So, again, I am not a huge proponent of amusement parks for so many reasons, but it is a new adventure that is on this year's list.

ICE CREAM FOR SUPPER:  I remember when I first did this.  I believe I only had two children at the time and only my oldest was old enough to even eat ice cream.  I can't remember if my good and godly friend and mentor, Dawn, gave me the idea or if, after feeling guilty and I admitted I had done it, she admitted she had done it several times!  Either way, whenever I do this, I console myself and ease my guilt by reminding myself that Dawn has done it, too!
Anyway, giving my kids ice cream for dinner is truly a rare occurance and one that only happens if we have been gone all day and are on our way home from a fun activity.  Whether they eat if for supper or not, ice cream is a great ending to a fun adventure.  No, it is not economical or practical to do it every time; but once in a while, look for a fun ice cream place close to where your adventure for the day is and plan on taking the kids there.  A place that is unique to the area and makes homemade ice cream is always a fantastic option.

A few of our favorites for our local friends:
Abbotts - Spencerport or the original in Charlotte
Cafe Mac - Spencerport (Hershey's ice cream. Huge sizes)
Pittsford Farms Dairy - walk on the canal, see the Sam Patch, feed the ducks
Cheshire Farms Dairy - Canandaigua (we just discovered this place last week - OH MY!)
Lugia's - (Perry's ice Cream) only because it's a Rochester tradition.  We rarely go as the lines are so long
Esther's Old Thyme Market - Brockport (Turkey Hill ice cream)

While I have tried to keep this post filled with cost-efficient ideas, don't forget to set some money aside for an occasional visit to zoos, museums and mini-golf places.  Annual passes are great for large families and a great thing to tell others when they are looking for Christmas gift ideas for you.  

How are you spending your summer?  I would love to know! And, please, give us some of your ideas for fun things to do with your children.

 Right now, we're off to the bowling alley!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Early to Bed, Early to Rise....

The above picture showed up on my daughter's Instagram account the other night.  It was Saturday night and we had just finished watching Risen - a movie I highly recommend.  (Note: Our children 12 years and up watched it.  Our two youngest, ages 9 & 10, we had watching a children's movie in another room.)

Anyway, back to the picture above.

After the movie, my husband popped some popcorn and all of us hung around for a while snacking before heading to bed.  The caption on this picture was as follows:

Yes, it is after ten on a Saturday night.  Yes the whole family is still up. Yes, this is a first.  #saturdaynightparty #watamovieandeatpopcorn #donthavetogetupearlyforchurch #firstforeverything #thishappenswhenchickenpoxvisits

So much is told about our family in this caption and in the hashtags (which, by the way, are sending my spell-check into a tizzy).  We have chicken pox in the house.  In order to not expose our church family, we are staying home until everyone has them or are safe from getting them.  Therefore, we actually stayed up late on a Saturday night.  And there is the thing that makes us a bit odd in our culture...

For us, having our kids stay up until 10:00 on a Saturday night is late.  

When I was a kid, my mom had set bedtimes for us all the way through high school.  There were some rare occasions when I had a tough homework assignment due the very next day that I actually stayed up until 10:00 pm.  Weekend nights, even in college, I had an 11:00 curfew.  

While my kids aren't expected to go to bed as early as I was, they still have regular bedtimes at reasonable hours.  The younger kids go to bed earlier than the older ones.  They don't think it's fair, but that is life.  If our teenagers consistently have trouble getting up in the morning, we expect them to go to bed earlier.  

During the school year, our kids are to get up by 7:00 am.  During the summer, most of them are up by 8/8:30.  I have one who will sleep all day if I let her.  I rarely let her sleep past 9:00 am.  

I am amazed at the amount of families - homeschool families - that I know whose children are up until midnight or later on a regular basis, including the school year.  Because they are up so late, they get up late.  A lot of these kids think that getting up at 8:00 am is early, they drag themselves around until noon, and they're addicted to coffee by the time they are 16 years old.

My kids sometimes feel like they are the odd-balls going to bed so "early."  During the summer, my teens are in their bedrooms by 10/10:30 and lights out within an hour of that.  Their curfew's are 11:00, at the latest, on a school night if they are at a special church service and midnight, if absolutely necessary, on Friday nights.  While our oldest son has some leniency in this, he still texts me if he won't be home by midnight on the weekend.  

While my kids feel odd, they don't complain.  They realize that we care about their health...and their reputations.  Let's face it, not much good happens after 11/12:00 at night - whatever your age is.  Plus, they have all learned that there is so much to do and experience during the day - especially in the summer.  

My response to my daughter's post was, "This says a lot about how early we go to bed around here!  That's only because we have to get up EARLY to have fun all day long!!"

This summer, we have explored parks, taken advantage of free bowling, gone to friend's houses, enjoyed beach days, etc.  In order to do these things yet still get chores done and get home to have supper together as a family, we need to get up early.  We play hard during the day...we are ready for bed at night and usually sleep well.   

In order to get to church looking alive and ready to worship on Sunday morning, we need to get to bed early on Saturday night.  In order for us to get up and read our Bibles and seek the Lord in true quiet time, we need to go to bed at a reasonable time and get up before the craziness of the day.  Is it possible, that some of the weaknesses we see coming into the church stems from lack of routine, sleep, and time with God due to exhaustion?  Maybe sleep affects spiritual growth.  I have no science to prove it, but it is a thought.

Our three oldest kids have jobs.  The two girls have to be at work, usually, by 8:00 many mornings.  Because they are used to regular bedtimes, this hasn't been a hard adjustment for them.   Our son works the c-shift (11pm-7am).  He has to sleep during the day.  He adjusted to this schedule fairly well and is able to enjoy his weekends...however, the sleep pattern has taken its toll on him in various ways.  It's unnatural.  The best thing for him would be regular day hours so he could sleep regular night hours.  However, because he always had routine growing up, he's made a new routine for himself, which allows him enjoy his weekends and not just catch up on sleep or walk around half-dead.

I believe I am, by nature, a night owl.  Even as a young girl, I had trouble falling to sleep.  When I was in college and as a young married woman, I began to stay up later.  Up until a few years ago, I would regularly stay up until 1:00 am and drag myself out of bed around 7:00 or 8:00 am.  About a year or two ago, I began to force myself to go to bed earlier.  Most nights, I head to bed around 9:30/10:00.  I read for a bit and my head usually hits the pillow no later than 11:00.  Some nights, like tonight, it's later; but, as a habit, I have become a person to goes to bed early and rises early.  I know that if I am to exercise and spend time with God in the mornings, I need to be in bed early at night.  I am up by 6:00 most mornings now and I find I get so much more accomplished, I am healthier, happier, and rested physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So, yes...we go to bed early around here.  I think Ben Franklin was on to something when he said, 

Early to bed, 
early to rise, 
makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. 

In my humble opinion, I believe that is what the Lord intended.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

And They Lived Happily Ever After...


Summertime is traditionally wedding season here in Upstate New York.  Our church has two weddings in just over a month this year.  Planning, dresses, shoes, toile, bows, tuxedos, vests, candles, cake, punch, flowers, etc., etc.

In the course of a wedding, one will inevitably read or hear the popular fairy-tale phrase,
"And they lived happily ever after."  
While that phrase is quoted at the end of the story or the end of the day when the bride and groom drive away, it is a misplaced ending...for the wedding is just the beginning of the story.

How did Cinderella and Prince Charming live after their royal wedding?  How did Beauty and the Beast find happiness in the rest of their days?  What does happily ever after look like?

After almost 22 years of marriage, here's what ours looks like:

-moving hundreds of miles away from all our family and friends to a place where we know no one and we work together to make friends.

-arguing, but always making up

-moving to 4 different states in 3 years and going on weekend adventures discovering hidden places and making the most of the short time we will live in each area.

-going through labor with our first child together - me in tremendous pain and him rubbing my back, looking in my eyes, cheering me on.  Me having to trust him while he agrees, in trepidation, with the doctor that we need a c-section.  

-watching him change our son's first diapers and seeing him fast asleep on our couch with our 10b son sleeping on his chest so I can sleep our first night home.

-finding out our son has a chromosomal disorder, not knowing what the future will bring and praying together, handing our son over to God

-making a career move which brings us back home to family

-long harvests where we are separated for days and weeks

-going through more labors and deliveries, each one bringing us closer together

-praying over our 5th child, born blue, not breathing and rejoicing when he takes his first breath when he is one-minute old. (longest minute of our lives)

-having a 7-week premature baby girl.  Him driving me to the hospital every morning and picking me up every night for 2 weeks.  Going out for ice cream or dinner almost every night.  Crying, praying, holding hands, holding our wee baby, talking to our children on the phone every night.

-crying with one another over the diagnosis of our son's severe scoliosis

-waiting together for 14 hours while our son was operated on.  Long nights in the hospital.  Hearing his voice over the phone encourage me when I didn't think I could take any more.

-Countless decisions regarding our children's health and being together for hours and days in emergency rooms, hospital rooms, and operating facilities.  

-vacations with our children

-Cleaning up throw-up together in the middle of the night...many nights.

-mid-day talks in the barn....some with laughter, some with tears.

-homeschooling our children together - me teaching, him encouraging.  Me choosing curriculum, him supporting and willing to pay whatever it takes to make sure our children are well-educated.  

-meeting betrayal with forgiveness and grace

-praying over land, crops, equipment, relationships....all things farm

-walks down our lane

-weeping over and praying for our children's spirituality and futures

-sneaking out for ice cream or coffee, just the two of us

We have not lived happily ever after.  We are living happily ever after.

It's not all sunshine, white horses, castles, magic pumpkins and glass slippers.  The real happiness comes from holding each other through the sorrow and the pain.  True love isn't dancing on the ballroom floor - true love is holding the hand of your husband in the emergency room after a farm accident and praying he comes home with you.

So this is love.  This is happily ever after.  This is the fairy tale come true.

What is your happily ever after?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Sober Thoughts (originally posted October 8, 2010)

"Zane.  Zane.  Time to get up."

My three year old, who already had his eyes opened, turned over on his back and looked up at me from his bed.

"O-tay," he said.

"You're going with Mommy & Daddy today.  The doctor is going to fix your eyes."


Telling a three year old in advance about any upcoming surgery is usually pointless.  At least, this three year old.  How does one prepare a 30 pound, 2 1/2 foot child about going to sleep and waking up in pain...but that it's all for the best?

Crossed eyes is hereditary in my family.  My aunt was born with it and began wearing glasses at 18 months of age.  Each of my nephews has it and Zane was diagnosed a few months ago.  In our son's case, the doctor does not believe he was born with it, but it developed over time.  Zane wore glasses throughout the summer, but his eye appointment at the end of August proved the glasses to be ineffectual.  Surgery would be needed.

"No big deal," I thought.  At least we wouldn't have to deal with the patching all of my nephews, my brother, and so many of our friends' children have had to deal with.  Anesthesia?  That's old hat in this family as our oldest son has "gone under" twice.  Sure, Zane was younger and a different temperment, so I knew that a lot of crying (and possible screaming) would be involved when he awoke, but, again, no big deal.  The chances of someone dying under anesthesia are far smaller than the chances of getting in an automobile accident.  I AM NOT a paranoid mother.  The surgery itself was not a concern.  In and out.  Michael had a life-threatening 10 hour surgery with a stay in the PICU and hospital for almost a week.  Seriously, this was looking like a picnic in the park.

Until now.  Zane's smile, his toddling steps down the stairs, and his innocence all began to tug at my heart on this morning of surgery.  As I put on Zane's shirt I prayed, "Lord, please don't let this be the last time I get Zane up and ready in the morning."  On the outside I was smiling and acting like we were just going to have a fun outing.  On the inside, I was consciously jotting down every moment in case something happened and Zane did not come home with us.  Morbid, I know.  Just the kind of foolishness I usually laugh at.  But, I guess a mother is a mother - no matter how many times she has been through various situations and how "logical" she has become.

Zane got to pick out a toy when we got to the surgical center.  He enjoyed playing with his new truck while the doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists spoke with us.  With my cell phone, I took a picture of his wide, toothless, cheesy grin.  My cross-eyed baby.  Then, the anesthesiologist picked him up and walked away with him.

"Mommy?"  Zane says looking over the doctor's shoulder with his arm outstretched.

I sat there trying to hold back my tears.  Zane didn't cry - he was a trooper.  I wouldn't look at Eric as I felt like an idiot for crying.  Seriously, this was minor surgery.  Zane's doctor does dozens of these every week.  No big deal.  So, why did it feel like I was laying Zane upon the same altar I had lain Michael on two years ago?

Because it was the same altar.

Subconsciously, we moms know that our children may not be here until our old age.  But, we don't let that fear rule our life or theirs.  If we did, they would never leave the house and we would be miserable failures as parents.  But, some days, the realization that we are not promised tomorrow with our little ones stares us right in the face.  It is on those occassions, that I give them over to my Lord once again.  I trust that His will is perfect - whether I hear that precious "o-tay" again or not.

Less than half an hour later, I was holding and rocking my crying Zane-man.  I sang to him through my tears.  I had had nothing to worry about; not because the success ratio was so high - but because my God was in control all along.

Though it is the rare case that children do not survive these minor procedures, there are cases where parents go home with an empty car-seats and hearts broken beyond belief.  There are mothers that I know personally and that I have prayed for but never met, that have lost their children unexpectedly. It is only by the grace of God that they take each breath.  They laid their children on the altar as I have.  Whereas my children were allowed down off the altar (so far), their children were accepted into the arms of Christ.  It is with that realization that my tears flowed when Zane was in surgery.  I know in my heart that God's grace would be given, but oh how it must ache.

To the mother who has lost a little one:  I am no one. But, I pray for you and many like you.  You are a hero to me for going on with life each day.  Thank you for your example and proving to moms like me that, if we ever have to take the same path you are following, God will pick us up and carry us down it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Dry Soul

Sometimes, the drought doesn't just affect the land.  Sometimes, a drought affects your soul.

Dry weather does not immediately destroy the crops.  The plants continue to grow and remain green for quite sometime.  However, after a while, the leaves begin to turn in to conserve moisture and then they begin to wilt and brown.  If rain does not come, they will die.

When a shot of rain comes, even if it's just a little, those leaves spread out and soak in as much as they can.  The plants will become even greener, a little growth occurs, and there is hope.  Hope for more rain.  Hope for more growth.  Those plants appear to be stretching up just hoping for another heavenly drink.

So it was with me.  At the same time our corn was beginning to shrivel, my soul was, as well.  The corn thirsted and so did I.  We both did fine for a while without a good long drink, but the dryness was beginning to take it's toll.

Life has been so very busy.  Graduation, parties, birthdays, commitments, driving kids to work, etc....I wasn't taking time to drink from the Word.  How often I go along and think I am doing fine with just a glance at the Bible, a quick prayer to God.  How often I forget past droughts and how my soul has suffered.  My soul got to the point where it was suffering and I knew I needed water desperately.

Early last week, I got a shot of rain.  Just a little bit of Water washed over me and it was refreshing.  I felt renewed and I stretched my hands for more.  I knew that one brief rain wasn't enough.  I needed more in order to go deeper and reach the roots.  My soul was empty and I am in the process of allowing God to fill it by drinking deeply of that eternal Water.

Just as my husband was looking up in the rain with joy and feeling it pour over him, my soul is doing the same.  God is pouring His Words, His love, His blessings out on me and I am soaking it in.  I feel I am growing and not wilting.  I have hope that I will bear more fruit for His glory.

Will there be another dry spell?  Probably.  Our lives truly have seasons.  Whether I willingly ignore time with the Lord or life just gets so busy that I can only get spritzes here and there, there are droughts.  Yet, those periods of dryness make the rainy seasons more wonderful.

O God, thou art my God; early will I see thee: my soul thirtsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory...Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.  Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. -Psalm 63:1-4

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground..And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  -Isaiah 44:3-4

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


It was bound to come.  A tough year.  When a farmer gets several good years in a row, there's a nagging thought in the back of his mind that there's a tough year coming up.  That tough year just may be this year.

It's been dry this year in Upstate New York.  We had very little snow during the winter - a fact that made many residents happy, but we knew it would potentially wreak havoc on this year's crops.  After a winter of little snow, we have had a spring and summer with even less rain.  While our lima beans were floating away last year, this year's peas were drying up a week before scheduled harvest.

My husband is usually pretty happy and cheerful.  He rarely worries.  Last week, he worried.  He asked our pastors if they knew of any work available because if it didn't rain soon, he'd have to get another job.  This remark resulted in a church-wide e-mail from our caring pastors requesting people pray for rain.

At the opening of our Wednesday evening church service, our pastor, knowing the power of the faith of a child, asked if a young one would volunteer to pray, specifically for rain for Mr. McC's farm.  In the center section towards the back, a hand went up - so small  that a man sitting nearby had to call the Pastor's attention to it.  Pastor called the little boy up to the platform and asked the child if he knew who Mr. McC was.  He did.  He knew he was a farmer.  He knew he needed rain.  Would he pray?  He would.  Pastor and little boy both kneeled down and we all heard the voice filled with innocence and faith pray for rain.

(Incidentally, this little boy's grandfather, a man he never met due to his grandfather's early death, was a good friend of my husband's.  Any time this man needed prayer for something, he would ask our children to pray.  Oh, Eric and I could pray if we wanted, he said, but he wanted the powerful prayers of the faith-filled hearts of children.  Last Wednesday night, his grandson was the one praying for us.)

Fast-forward to Friday evening around 6:00 pm.  The skies had been darkening for some time.
Then, the rain began to pour down.  I saw my husband and daughter standing in the barn just looking out at the torrential downpour.  After a couple of minutes, they began to walk to the house.  Eric detoured to check the rain gauge and then continued walking toward the rest of us who were standing on the porch.

He didn't run to get out of the rain.  He walked in it.  He was smiling.  He was feeling showers of blessings pour down from heaven.  Then he looked up.  He didn't move his mouth other than to smile, but I know this man.  I've known him for 26 years.   He was thanking the Creator...the Rainmaker...the One who blesses...the One who cares, listens, and answers prayers.

On Sunday, my farmer-husband bent his 6'3" frame down to speak to the little prayer warrior who knelt on the stage Wednesday night to simply ask God for rain.  Eric showed him the two pictures you see above.

"When you get older and begin to doubt God, you remember these pictures."  

May that little boy always remember the words of the farmer - the farmer for which he prayed.  The farmer who later told me, "God wasn't thinking about the dumb farmer.  He was interested in proving Himself to a little boy."

It hasn't rained since and our corn is beginning to shrivel again.  Yet, we do not despair.  The peas that were so dry, the ones that were harvested before the rains came, yielded just as good as they have in years past.  In fact, our peas - the ones that were prayed for - yielded better than the farmers' peas crops surrounding us.  So, God can work miracles on our corn, too.

But, if He chooses not to, we saw Him work, and a little boy saw Him answer his prayer.  That is the miracle most precious.  No matter what, He is good....all the time.