Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Let's call them "beckonings"

This morning I started my exercise video at 9:30. I either spend 30 minutes with Julian or Leslie, depending on my mood. Chores were done. Breakfast was eaten. Morning school work was explained. Preschooler was entertained. It was time for my date with Leslie.An hour and a half later I finished exercising. I counted 14 "beckonings" during my 30 minute video. Some about school work, understandably. A phone call or two. A need or desire for me to watch or listen from Lydie. A switch from laundry to dryer, plus a moment to balance the laundry so the machine wouldn't bounce all around. Fourteen beckonings.

It made me question my methods. I have determined to sleep later and exercise more for my own health. I am pretty much over trying to impress others with my appearance. I am currently wearing a size 12 (or a snug 10), the largest size ever and one I've been hanging around in for a while. It seems that I have no trouble making friends or captivating my husband. No more or less than when I have been a size 4, 6, or 8. And I am certainly over trying to catch the eye of men. Although I did receive a funny pick up line in the elevator of the hospital last weekend that gave me a really good laugh and made me wish men said things like that more often because it was just SO funny.

I have been talking with God a lot lately about my commitment to "size down". I have chosen mainly two reasons. The first is to be a good steward of this great gift of good health. And, I also want to do my best to gift my children with a healthy parent in the years to come when they need me (or to prolong the years when they will not need to take care of me). Those are two reasons that will enable me to walk away from dessert, drink the 8 glasses of water, and continue through the exercise video no matter how many times I have to press the pause button. After all that thinking, I decided that Yes, I think my methods are okay, after all.
And I was so very glad to read these words yesterday by Ann Voskamp about parenting generations:
"Every day every parent parents thousands. When I raise my voice, frustrated with a child, I speak to generations of children. When I wipe away a tear, comfort, listen, I honor centuries of children. Seeds in the earth, stars in the sky."
Her words actually flowed through my mind each and every time I stopped to help the kids. They allowed me to see the dozen or so needs as beckonings and not interruptions. They lead me along to obedience. I am so thankful.

Now, off to make snacks, correct morning school work, encourage her in her art work, and take a shower. It's going to be a good day filled with many choices. Praying for the discernment to make good ones.
"...present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship."
~Romans 12:1b
Pictured above is us right now:
Toot playing Lydie's game
Lydie playing toss the beanbags
J working on a book report
Me making snacks, sweaty, no make-up

Monday, April 26, 2010

No place like it

It is SO MUCH EASIER to deal with difficult things from the comfort of your own home. I am much more affected by aesthetics than the average person, I am sure. But there is something so calming about being surrounded by your own stuff. When I am sad I love candles, soft music, fresh flowers, and color. Just walking into my kitchen on Sunday evening, turning on a soft lamp, and looking out the back windows at our flowers and woods was medicine for my soul. Having my four loves all to myself for our bedtime routine was glorious. Even the most welcoming of homes, just can't replace Home. I am looking forward to being able to deal with future family crises without having to travel. When someone is in the hospital or needs our help, we will only be an hour away when we move to the farm. No more packing bags or sleep overs during these times. We can go and serve and then come back, all in a "quick" drive. We will not have to ask so much of others. That will be so nice.

Even though we are busy as bees with school, activities, and the usual, this week I am focusing on rest-if nothing else, for my weary soul. This morning in the shower, I found myself singing the hymn below. I haven't heard it in years. It was like a gift I enjoyed over and over again throughout the day. Our home is cozy and reflects my tastes and comforts from top to bottom. It's a haven and I truly love being here. But its only a touch of the warmth, assurance, and belonging I feel as a believer in Jesus Christ with the promise of an eternal home. One day, no more sorrow or pain. What a comfort!

Jesus, I am resting, resting.

In the JOY of what Thou art.

I am finding out the GREATNESS

of Thy loving heart.

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee.

And Thy BEAUTY fills my soul.

For by Thy TRANSFORMING greatness

Thou hast made me whole.

Deliberate love

We have been traveling this past week to be with a sick family member. At some point over the weekend, I was consumed with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. Do you ever hear the phrase "these are just the cards we've been dealt"? Well, I hate that phrase. It angers me.

This past week I was strongly tempted to feel sorry for myself, get angry, and also to run from the situations surrounding me. I was not just tempted, but I actually tried all three at some point-temporarily. There are many things in my extended family that are not as I dreamed or desired them to be, some things due to poor choices (those are the most painful). I never imagined I would be faced with these things at this early stage in my life. And with so many places I want to be helping and no one available or able to help me with my children, I felt/feel very overwhelmed and somewhat alone (until my wonderful husband got in town). So "the cards I have been dealt" are not good ones right now.

But my life circumstances are not "cards". If I believed that was true then I would have been completely hopeless in the midst of this mess. Each trial and struggle has been providentially allowed for me by a loving Heavenly Father. These ugly, painful, "so-not-the-way-God-intended" things that my extended family has struggled with (none of which we have been sick with, but each one affecting us and our children so deeply)- alcoholism, sickness, a brain tumor- they are all given to me as a means of grace. They are ways of getting us to the end of our rope, to the end of what our stubborn, independent minds feel like we can handle just fine-to a place where only Christ alone can rescue us. These circumstances force me to beg for mercy and experience the fellowship of my Savior. It's all grace, really. To need Him, to know Him, to feel richly blessed just because of His work in my life. And I walk away feeling loved, redeemed, renewed. This process of sanctification is extremely painful, but gloriously beautiful in the end.

This life is certainly no card game. There is no random event. It's a story of redemption, love, and healing if we know Christ. Even the bleakest of circumstances are under girded with grace, hope, and untimately with joy.

Jude 1:24
"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy..."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Girls only

What are two girls to do when the boys head off for a boyfest weekend at the farm?

Favorite Lydie quotes:

::"Mommy, this is so cute I feel like I'm gonna cry!"

::"You drop the whole cube in the tea?"

::"Oooo, it's pink!!"

::"You're my bestest friend."

::"Let's find some chocolate."

::"It's so fun to look at pretty things!"

::"It's magic!"

::"This is the best day ever."

Salon hair cut- Home manicures- Antique Market- the Tea Room- Strawberry Shortcake movie

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Happy birthday to my parents

My parents do not have a computer, so I know they will not read my blog. But I still want to acknowledge their birthday. They have sacrificed so much for me over the years and are always so steadfast in their love for me and my family! I am thankful for their generosity, their commitment to their marriage, and their adoration for my children. My personality is not very similar to either my Mom or my Dad, but I have always admired my Mom's kindness and patience and my Dad's humor and endless generosity, among other things. I hope to make more and more memories with them when we move back to our home state!
Love you, Nana and Poppy!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I love color

Lime green


Splashes of red

And of course, blue skies and green leaves for a back drop!

The top 5 pictures contain our new splashes of color for the deck. I am enjoying it so much! We decorated it by taking advantage of the great bargains at thrift stores and Old Time Pottery. I am so thankful for the bright furniture and cheerful flowers after what seemed like an endless winter. Red, green, turquoise, favorites! It beckons me outside.

"Earth laughs in flowers."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Road Map

I have been STRUGGLING to stay on task and finish our school year well. Since we returned from our cruise I have been in a different frame of mind. I seem to be ahead of the ball with organization and housework, but sluggish with home schooling the boys (and Lydie). Here's where my mind wanders...(Can't we just eat, sleep, and play a little longer??) So yesterday I sat down and made a plan for exactly what it will take to finish up each subject.

We have 31 school days before May 28th. We leave that weekend for 7 days at the beach with Andy's family. I SO wanted to be done by then. And we will be done with mostly everything. But we will need three extra days to wrap up math and history. So, our last day of school will officially be on June 9th (if we stay on track!). Overall, that's not bad considering that we took extracurricular classes one day a week the first half of the school year, only leaving 4 days a week for "academics".

I feel better with an end date in mind. I hardly go anywhere, physically or mentally, without a road map. Now we have something to work towards(with God's grace). JUNE 9th! The kids' spring fever doesn't even compare to mine this year! I am looking forward to putting away the goals and textbooks and just reading ,making, learning, and doing whatever strikes our fancy. Ahhhh...

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us"

Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Celebrating with friends

Our home school group hosted a baby shower for my beautiful friend, Lisa. She has four darling girls and is expecting in one week! (She is the smallest pregnant lady I have ever seen.) She did not find out the gender of the baby, and we are all on pins and needles. It's so exciting!

The shower was a surprise (disguised as our regular monthly meeting at my house). She seemed thrilled. We had to choose a theme that would work for either gender, so we went with a bird/nest theme. That worked out beautifully for me because I was able to use things around the house for decor, as well as flowers from the yard (dogwood blooms, cherry blossoms, and greenery).
One thing I did buy were the paper lanterns. I have been wanting these for Lydie's room any way, and this morning I already moved them to the perfect spot above her rocking chair. I found them sold together in a packet of three at Party City for $8.99 in the wedding section. My friend Alicia, the queen of paper crafts, made the pretty little bird party favors. She is so talented. I LOVE hosting celebrations for friends. What an encouragement!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mantel party

I was just looking at my mantel getting bored of it this morning. (It's been the same for all of two weeks. :) ) It is a major focal point, and nearly 6 feet wide, so I am constantly changing it around. When I saw that The Nester was hosting a mantel party I decided to join.

I am really loving the plain whites and creams lately. Nothing fancy, just simple and peaceful. Those small urns in the middle of the mantel will be sprouting grass soon. I cut the dogwood branches for heighth and I think I will love having them indoors.

Happy spring!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

March Highlights from school

March was a good month for us. It was a bit slow due to our trip on the cruise. But overall, I think we accomplished a good amount and had fun together! Our walk through the gospels using the Resurrection eggs was definitely the best. Here are some other fun projects we enjoyed:

J and I began reading the Harry Potter series in January. Just last week we finished the last book. We REALLY enjoyed the symbolism, excitement, and remarkable writing in the books. This reading was a very big undertaking, but also a very rewarding time academically for us!

The boys focused on castles in drawing. This one turned out nicely, I think.

We dyed Easter eggs together for the first time. Brought back memories!

The weather allowed us to go on our first picnics of the year.

We made our first salt dough model. We are studying astronomy and created crater-filled Mercury with marbles, pebbles, and pencils.

We made these beautiful cross mosaics from painted egg shells. The result is my favorite art project ever with the kids!

We made St. Patrick's day pipe cleaner shamrocks. Got the idea from here.

We read Viking stories...

and made masks .

Our artist study this month was of Picasso. (This is my 7 year old's self portrait, cut up and reconfigured to look like a Picasso. I love it! His drawing skills have progressed so much this school year.) We got the idea from this book.

I am so excited to be past winter and into spring! Before we know it another school year will be over!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Monday, April 05, 2010

Holy Week

This week was a deeply meaningful week for our family. We really enjoyed our Resurrection Egg devotions again this year. It was special this year to see Josh flip right to the passages in the Bible and read them with ease. The boys seemed to grasp and delight in the true Joy of Easter this year in a much deeper way. On Easter morning the boys woke up at Mimi and Papa's and exclaimed, "He is risen!" Their prayers this week were so encouraging and beautiful.

Regarding prayer, Lydie cracked us all up on Easter morning. After the boys spoke words of thanks and praise, her prayer was, "Thank you Jesus that my new shoes will look beautiful." So typically of her right now! We really enjoyed our time with family this weekend. We can not get enough time with grandparents these days (or aunts, uncles, and cousins!). As the children get older, these relationships are just more precious. Is there anything better than relationships on this earth (first with Jesus and then trickling down to others)?