Monday, May 30, 2011

Rain dance

This is what a crazy, dirty farmer and his children look like when they have been waiting weeks for rain and the first drop finally falls! (Pictures from last week.) I haven't laughed this hard in months.
I love this family.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last week of school fun

The lower grades had Olympic/Banana Splits Day. Joshua participated and had fun!
Their favorite breakfast was served on the last full day of school:

Sweet teachers and a sweet treat after we picked up our report cards and yearbooks and said our good-byes:

Joshua decided to kick off the summer with a new hair cut!
Baseball awards night at the park: We now have 5th and 3rd grade boys! Unbelievable!


The boys finished school today. I posted this on facebook, but I was so relieved with their report cards. They did very well both on their report cards and their standardized tests. My first reaction is just to be thankful that they have been listening and learning these last few years at home. It's such an enormous responsibility being Mom and teacher. And since there are no other students the same age for comparison, there's no way to really know how they are doing. But now I am beginning to see that they seem to have a giftedness for learning. I truly believe that any gift from God whether artistic, working with one's hands, relational, having a heart for a certain age group, leadership, etc. is of equal value to the Lord and to His people (and a broken world!). But for my boys, I think academics comes fairly easily. I am praying about how to be a good steward of their curiosity and book smarts. It's a big responsibility to nurture a child in such a way that they are encouraged to handle their God-given gifts with care and humility (cause we all tend towards laziness/pride). I am praying for wisdom and insight in this area now and for the future. And I am enjoying their hard work and success.

Speaking of stewardship, I have been trying to take care of the sunflowers that our friends planted on their spring break. My neighbor and I went to the garden to check them and I squealed with delight. She jumped because she thought I saw a snake. Instead, I was overjoyed to see our first blooms. There are many varieties of sunflowers, some short and some tall. I am amazed at how much a plant can change in just 8 short weeks. From a tiny seed in mid-March, to this size in mid-May:

Unbelievable display of God's beauty and power!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farmhouse renovations: exterior

I have been trying to do some "curb appeal" projects on the exterior of the home. The term "curb appeal" is pretty funny considering that we have no curbs (in fact our driveway is gravel) and you can barely see our house from the road. So exterior renovations would be a better term. Any way, I have used a maddix to chop out every plug of grass that had grown between the bushes and the house. I don't think I like grass any more. It has tough, deep roots which were a killer to remove. I guess that's why it's so hardy and popular. There were no "flower beds", just random bushes and grass. My entire body hurts AND I slept so hard last night that I got a crick in my neck. (Now I know how my husband feels at the end of EVERY day!)
I finally got rid of the grass, mulched, planted flowers, and rearranged some things yesterday. I hung flower boxes under the windows. I moved some of the patio chairs to the front "porch" (really walk way) and got a new door mat. Then I painted the rail on the porch black.



Next up:

~new black shutters

~new red door

Today is the last day of school for the boys! SUMMER BREAK STARTS TOMORROW!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Farmhouse renovations: Living room

The living room is in the front of the house and gets lots of sunshine. We use it a lot for playing games, watching shows, and lounging after dinner. Other than changing out a few pillows, I hope to keep this room just like this for a while! The color of the room is the perfect mix of grey and tan, I can't remember the color. It's a neutral room except for some surprising pops of yellow and red. Everything in here came from the old house except a few new pieces:

-the silver hammered lamps on the buffet (Home Goods for $34.99 each)

-the curtains, which I made a month or so ago (Fabric and Fringe Warehouse in Atlanta for $13/yd.)

-the tv console (IKEA for around $250, I think).

But even though this room is filled with basically the same things as our last living room, it looks completely different.

This is the side of the room that is opposite the front door.

The baker's rack serves as the kids' dumping station. Still dreaming of changing the carport into a sunroom/mudroom. Some day...

This bench and the coat closet are on the wall to the left of the front door. The hall way to the bedrooms are just to the right of the bench.

I wasn't sure about yellow curtains. But I decided to go for it any way.

Love the yellow on the pillows, but hate the fabric. Maybe I'll recover them this summer. Maybe not!

View from the hallway.

This room is one of my favorites in the house! I sit in the corner of the sectional when I have a quiet time, the perfect place for morning sun and coffee. And I snuggle there in the evenings after the kids are in bed for a whole 3 minutes with Andy before we are both sound asleep! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Disregard what I said yesterday

Decisions, decisions. I'm racked with them. Praying right now for the balance between wanting to serve within the context of a community of learners, and wanting to give my children what I consider an ideal education. Don't want to get carried away with either. (Can't I just have both, Lord?) I am going to look back at a view documents Andy and I wrote out together when we went on a date with the purpose of setting a vision for our family. Praying the Lord will illuminate the way.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Little by little

This weekend was so busy for our family. It was a good busy. The kind of busy where you can look back and see God at work. We had a lot of activities that made this area feel more and more like home. If you know me you know that I like to jump right in and have trouble with waiting. The Lord knows this too. And although I am asking Him to give me the grace to wait on Him in many areas, he is very kindly putting certain things in overdrive, like opportunities for fellowship with new friends. I am so thankful.

On Friday the children had Spanish day at school. Each grade had to bring in a different type of Spanish art project. Joshua won first place for the maraca section, which he was so excited about. There's something really fun about boys and blue ribbons. We had pizza for dinner and movie night with our sweet little neighbor who lives at our house these days. (I am pretty sure she was here until bed time every night this week. What a privilege for us.) Saturday I went on a women's conference with the ladies at church. We heard a powerful message and I enjoyed the time away with new friends. I think this was my first time to get away without the children since we moved here. Sunday we enjoyed a stimulating lesson on church history in Sunday school and a beautiful worship service. The sermon was very encouraging for me, what a gifted pastor we have! Then on Sunday afternoon Lydie and I went to a baby shower and Olympic/Banana Split night at church. The boys took the afternoon to go fishing on the lake. It was all good fun.

Something significant changed for me this weekend. My heart has just not been completely in this place. It has been hard for me to enjoy anything without missing something that we left behind. But by God's grace, I have been able to let go. I do not mean let go of friendships. I plan to take those to eternity. I just mean let go of what we had and truly embrace what is now. I looked at Andy on the way home from church and said, "Okay. I'm ALL in." He knew exactly what I meant. Not just with our church, but with everything. For the first time, I am going to let go of what could have been and allow myself to dream about what could be here in our new home and community (without feeling overwhelmed with heart ache). And maybe tomorrow I will be back to square one. Maybe letting go has to be done dozens of times. But I know God is at work in my heart and it's exciting.

Regarding being "all in", we have decided to take the same attitude with our school. We were on the fence as to whether or not to leave and homeschool or stay. While the school is wonderful in so many ways, it is different in so many ways from the education I had chosen when I homeschooled. But God has opened one exciting door for me to be involved (teaching art), along with several other significant possibilities. And I strongly feel like we need to be deeply entrenched in this community of people. So we are committing to another year. Lydie will be going to school next year, too. I can see where God might use me, and I pray for His grace to shine the light of Jesus to those around us and bring Him glory. My new friend Laura Beth had a huge impact on this decision. When I called her with concerns she invited the kids over for Popsicles and Wii and sat on her porch swing and patiently listened to me. What God used from our conversation was her observation that quite often with churches people don't like something and so they leave to form a new church. The common result in small towns like the one we live in is dozens of lukewarm churches instead of a handful of strong churches. And God used those words to convict me to stay and share my ideas, time, gifts, and see what God does.

This weekend has been a good one. Accepting God's will for me, even when it has been against what I desired, has been a huge challenge. I have felt a combination of anger, remorse, regret, sorrow, sadness, and defeat. As I am beginning to have a change of heart, I am feeling many new and amazing feelings. For example, the joy of blind obedience, the fulfillment of recognizing idols and casting them away, the deep longing that is fulfilled when I serve others and put their needs ahead of my own. And I need to remember that I can not choose Christ and love others for a single moment without taking refuge in Him alone. That's my prayer today for our family- that we will not just talk about our Savior, but that we would know Him more through His Word and prayer and that He would then use us as instruments of His grace. No matter what we desire, that He would use us for His good purposes!

What more beautiful place on earth is there to be than where He desires?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Playground trash

On Tuesday just as I was arriving at the school carpool line Joshua said, "Pray someone plays with me on the playground today." So I ask, "Are the boys not playing with you?" And he says, "Well, I told them not to." Hmmmm.... So I ask, "Why would you do that?" And he says, "Well, they were telling secrets. Then they asked me if I had a girlfriend. Then they asked me if I had a girlfriend so I could have s-e-x." Then a piece of my heart fell off and shattered. Then I told Jack who was yelling profusely, "That is crazy! They were talking about s-e-x? That's crazy! Dad is the only person you are allowed to talk to about s-e-x. You aren't even suppose to know about s-e-x until Dad tells you about it. Those boys are awful. Don't be friends with them!" And on and on. So Jack went to school mad, which made Josh mad, too. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to pick up the broken pieces of my heart. Lydie was playing with a Barbie, clueless. No harm done there! And Andy was 20 miles away on a tractor out of cell coverage.

So I said a quick prayer and dug in. This moment is what all those nights of prayer are for, after all, right? I looked at Josh and smile and touched his sweet little tense shoulders. "Well, Joshua. Here's what I think. You have no idea what s-e-x even is. But I will tell you it has nothing to do with girlfriends. It has to do with husbands and wives and something an 8 year old boy should have no conversations or concerns about. Are you okay with waiting a few years before I tell you more about sex?" He nods. "Okay, so here's the plan. Those three boys seem to get in trouble a lot. Maybe you should help them when you can, play chase with them, etc. The Bible says that we are all sinful. You and I have the same sinful heart that they do, we're all in need of a Savior. So to honor God and keep from sinning, just flee evil. When they talk or act in a way that is not pleasing to God, just get away from them and find another friend." He nods and hugs me and apologizes for "all the trouble" (cause he's a sweetheart). We pray and I watch him walk into school with a stomach ache. I sit there stunned. Sex...second grade...Christian school? But why I am I stunned, really?

I go inside and find the teacher and let her know what happened. She says she is heart-broken and apologizes profusely. She says, "I know you didn't bring these sweet boys here in order for them to hear stuff like this." I think she might cry. She agrees to pray and handle it. I trust her.

On the way home I decide maybe this was all good. It was good to see the boys' passion for doing the right thing. It is good to be reminded to pray for their protection, as well as the other children's. It is good to remember the depravity of the human heart and how utterly dependent we are on the love of Jesus to transform us. And it was good to be in a situation where the boys and I were on a team together, with a plan. I needed a wake-up call.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Live to the hilt

Meeting some moms and kids at the park today. Third day in a row to see my new, sweet friend- Laura Beth. God is slowing mending my bruised heart with this encouragement. Praying for Him to help me "Set my gaze directly forward". Asking for the grace today to not look to the left or right, or much worse...backward, and be ALL HERE in this new place. Trusting that He lead us here and will give us answers for where to be involved, new friends, and ministries in peoples' lives. Trusting, trusting.

"Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living."

-Jim Eliot

"Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." -Jim Eliot

Pictured above: Lydie girl saying, "Here Mommy! A gift for you!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's day

Thank you, sweet Andy for a beautiful day. I awoke to the annual tradition of french toast, fruit, and coffee in bed with fresh flowers. I look forward to it! Then... Lunch out. A day of rest and HGTV! A little time in the garden. A magazine read cover to cover. A nap. Precious cards. Thank you for the sweet words. And tomorrow a trip to Birmingham for camera lense or I-pad?? Enjoyed seeing my Mom on Saturday and exchanging gifts. She and my Dad gave me a lovely orchid and some money. She wants me to go to Anthropologie and buy "one of those artsy shirts". Sounds like fun! I hope she enjoyed her day today with my brother's family!! (Happy Mother's day, Aunt Kim and Aunt Chelle!) And I hope my mother-in-law feels better soon. I am sure it stinks to be sick on Mother's day!

We took NO pictures yesterday (broken camera lense). But I did take some time to really reflect on my mother relationship with each child, where we are and what I can see coming in the near future. I love having no toddlers/no teenagers right now. Those stages are wonderful, but this rare time is probably the most simple I will have until my children are all grown. The children still all play together, giggle, etc. And no one needs a nap or diaper change. So uncomplicated!

Having said that, these are the areas that challenge me and I have committed to prayer:

Bickering, especially in the car, help Lord!?

Our school: Are we in the right place?

Our church: The boys have no other boys any where remotely near their age. This is very bothersome.

Spiritual protection/heart for ministry for the children as we are venturing more into secular circles. (baseball, gymnastics, etc.)

Physical protection on the farm.

Good use of time this summer! (Fun trips, intentional training with chores/character, time with friends and family)

Relationships with extended family

Looking forward to another year of loving and serving this family! (And another year of being loved and served!)

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Our night at the Ball

The boys' school had an evening event tonight: "The Fairytale Ball". Each class was designated a theme for costume and activities. I was in charge of the fourth grade's "Candy Land" booth. My gut reaction was to be reluctant to volunteer because we are new and I have no idea of the expectations. But I am so glad that I did because I got to know some of the teachers and parents better. My one, simple goal was met. And that goal was for his teacher to be pleased and relieved. And there was a bonus, my children were delighted too!

Candy land booth:

Candy maker costume (Jack), Jester (Joshua), Princess (Lydie):

Other fun activities: Jack and several of the girls in his class Hansel and GretelThe Princess and the Pea bed Maypole danceKnights Princesses

**Josh accidentally dropped and broke my regular lense. This zoom lense requires me to stand 30 feet away to get a shot. Pretty funny. If my husband is reading this...guess what I would LOVE for Mother's day?? :)