Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Our Oldest is 8!


Today our oldest, James, turned 8 years old. Though he is the first I can tell we're already entering a new phase. James is such a fun and exciting boy, but he is now entering those preteen years where he is beginning to come into his own. He's wanting to be called James and is testing it out (much like one of his parents) and is seeking out what he can be independent in. He loves school and learning, except his math facts. He really enjoys reading, drawing and overall being creative. This past week for fun, James began reading The Hobbit and telling me all the ways it is different than the movie! I love his amazing mind. God has given him such an incredible brain and I'm excited to see what God does with it.

James really loves his baby brothers and taking care of them. He always asks to get them out of bed, he feeds them and has started changing diapers. He is really preparing to be a father. He very much desires to have a family, which is so fun to see. When you ask him how many children he wants, he answers, as many as God gives me! What amazing faith! I pray God will continue to move in his heart and teach James to follow Him where ever He leads with great faith and without fear.

The most amazing growth we have seen in James this year is spiritually. He has been reading the Bible on his own, memorizing Scripture like never before, asking questions about anything he can think of related to Bible and theology, and growing in prayer. It is such a blessing to see God's hand working in your child! He obviously has a long way to go and battles with other fears, but God uses those opportunities for us to teach James about God's character and our flesh and the battle that we face.

We have been so blessed with James the last 8 years and look forward to many more years with him!

Father, please continue to move and grow James for your glory and to bring your Kingdom here on Earth. Give him a deep faith and show him how much he needs you to live. Please, let him love You more than anyone or anything and seek you in everything! Thank you for such a precious boy. Please make him into a man after Your own heart! In Jesus's Name, Amen!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Year 33


Today I celebrated 33 years of life! It's really quite unbelievable to me, but there it is. What most struck me today is I'm the same age Jesus was when he was crucified. It definitely caused me to pause and reflect. Jesus fulfilled His purpose on earth in this year. He died for the sins of the world. He died for me. It's sobering isn't it?

And yet, more than ever, I want to celebrate and rejoice. Why? Because of Jesus's 33 years on Earth, I can have a full life in Him, with Him, not only now, but into eternity. I have eternal life because of what Jesus did for me! How awesome and amazing is that!?

Year 33 has been wonderful, hard, fast and full of growth. I know my Savior and my God more deeply than I have ever known Him. Jim and I are closer than we have ever been. EVER! I have 7 beautiful children. I've learned how to love deeper, forgive more, trust God even when it doesn't make sense, be open, be unafraid to just ask, and really see people as people. I still have a LONG way to go in many of these areas, but by God's grace I'm more like Jesus today than I was yesterday. I am blessed beyond measure!

Father, thank You for 33 years of life. Thank you for sobering me, humbling me and yet still giving me reason to rejoice. You are the giver of life and You have filled mine to the brim. I'm so thankful that I am Yours and You are mine. Thank You for teaching me, growing me and never, NEVER giving up on me. Please continue to teach me to do the same. Thank You for another year and may every year be more amazing and full, until You call me home.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Two More Reading Challenges

As if I don't have enough going on in my life, I have two more reading challenges that I also want to work through during the year. Yes, two more! No I'm not crazy, I just want this to be a year of reading over TV. I really do enjoy reading a LOT and I want us to chose reading over watching generally speaking. I'm not holding myself to strict guidelines or anything, but having other challenges helps me to think about other things I want and/or need to read.

Full disclosure: I will be using some books on multiple challenges because one is crazy with 104 books for the year! So I may not get all of those, but I'm going to try. :)

If you want to join me you can follow the links below:

The 2017 Christian Reading Challenge with Tim Challies

2017 Christian Reading Challenge for Christian Women on Young Wife's Guide
There is one for men linked on this site as well that Jim is planning to participate in!

Both of these sites have PDFs that you can print off and keep track of what you're reading! Perfect for this check list perfectionist. :)

I have seen another challenge on a different blog that I may check out at some point too! This is merely to stretch myself and challenge myself to read more. And I always do better when there is something to challenge me.

So what about you? What reading challenges are you doing this year?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Back to the Classics Challenge 2017

Time for getting Back to the Classics again! Thankful to Books and Chocolate for hosting this challenge. So now time to figure out what to read for each category. A few of my books will fit in more than one category, so choosing where to put them is tricky since I haven't chosen all of my books as of yet. Below are the categories for this year and underneath are some of the books I'm considering. If you have recommendations for a particular  category or suggestions on how to arrange them, please share! 

Categories

1.  A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.


3.  A classic by a woman author


4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).


5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category also. The Taming of the Shrew


6.  
An romance classic. I'm pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.


7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads. Frankenstein


8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two CitiesThree Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc.


9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc. 


10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.


12. A Russian Classic2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author. 


Books

Frankenstein- fits in 3 categories, but likely will be used for Gothic or horror classic
A Canticle for Leibowitz- Will likely be used for an award-winning classic
Out of the Silent Planet- Probably 20th century classic
Perelandra- no idea just have it and would like to read it
That Hideous Strength- again not a clue
Taming of the Shrew- Classic before 1800 OR
Pilgrim's Progress- Classic before 1800 
Sherlock Homes?
Treasure Island
Anna Karenina- Russian Classic

That's what I have so far! I may omit some this year and use them next year if I find others that will fit the categories better. In put welcomed!


So where are you in your classics? Will you join the challenge?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Blessings

January has been full, but full of good things as God shows us Himself and teaches us to trust Him in all things. He opens doors, gives grace, peace and love, and shows us how He is in control of all things even when it seems things make no sense at all. Here are a few ways God has blessed our family this month.

  1. Great Sunday Sermon on First Things First
  2. God stirring our hearts
  3. Being challenged to take advantage of our freedom
  4. New Year's Gifts
  5. Learning to dream together
  6. Fun family time
  7. Bible time with kids
  8. Reading
  9. Nehemiah praying
  10. Jamey working diligently
  11. Time with Lillian
  12. Becca coming over
  13. Seeing Mandy
  14. Sam's tooth still doing well
  15. Over half off Chick-fil-A
  16. Jim talking to his mom
  17. Aldi pizza
  18. Homemade blueberry scones
  19. Stretching CG time
  20. Day with the Vander Weert family
  21. Lillian playing well with Clarity
  22. Sharing hearts
  23. Encouragement
  24. Time to talk to Brit
  25. Working with Jamey
  26. Enjoying the snow fall
  27. Cleaning up the kitchen
  28. Talking with God
  29. Getting good news from Brit
  30. Being on the same page
  31. Time to talk with Sarah S
  32. Being encouraged and affirmed in what God is telling us
  33. Date night at Arby's
  34. Enjoying time with Jim
  35. Doing a lot of reading
  36. Sleep
  37. Jim growing in baking
  38. Kids playing well together
  39. No TV!
  40. Working our minds
  41. Starting new books
  42. Great sermon on One Master and purpose
  43. Clearing out email
  44. Starting School of Missions
  45. Meeting new people
  46. Kids excited about class
  47. Jim home early from class
  48. 6 kids at the table
  49. Sharing my heart at book club
  50. Laughing
  51. Nehemiah learning nose
  52. Tickles
  53. Time with my kids
  54. Good school day
  55. Time with Julianne and Joyanna
  56. God's movement
  57. Nehemiah holding hands to pray
  58. Time with the Gunns
  59. Home made tacos
  60. Class getting canceled
  61. Moving the shelf at the bottom of the stairs
  62. Good work time
  63. Going to bed at 9
  64. Going through the closet
  65. Meeting Nina
  66. Selling a book
  67. Finishing the week strong
  68. Talking to Bec
  69. Time with the Felix family
  70. Homemade mac and cheese
  71. Dippin' Dots!!!!!
  72. Jim meeting with James
  73. Dealing with emotions together
  74. Looking at reading lists
  75. Learning together as a family
  76. Finishing Frankenstein
  77. Ordering more books
  78. Relaxing afternoon with Jim
  79. Hearing what God is doing in Asia
  80. Sharing wedding pics with the kids
  81. Nehemiah singing "Be Thou My Vision"
  82. Talking to Mom
  83. Getting 6 chapters edited in my book
  84. Time with Reuben
  85. Going to the pool
  86. Boys doing well at the doctor
  87. God's protection in unusual ways
  88. $10 coupon from a stranger
  89. Gabriel sitting with Jim at CG
  90. New people
  91. Sharing the good
  92. 3.5 hours of overtime
  93. Being reminded of the joys of flexible schedules
  94. God's provision
  95. Spiritual conversations with Jamey and Lillian
  96. Productive day without Jim at home
  97. Experience Norwex meeting
  98. Winning 3 prizes!!!
  99. Seeing Jessica
  100. Meeting Katie- in business with her husband and has 6 kids
  101. God affirming more of our direction
  102. Fillings going smoothly
  103. Starbucks
  104. Rising without alarm clock
  105. Really yummy lunch
  106. Talking about Plexus with Becca
  107. Working through what God wants
  108. Excellent sermon on suffering
  109. Interesting connections with Lee
  110. Getting all 7 kids to and from church by myself
  111. Taco Bell
  112. Time to work on overdue things
  113. Dr. Gregg Allison at School of Missions
  114. Seeing Heather
  115. Dealing with heart issues
  116. God working in Jim's heart
  117. Cooking together
  118. Gabriel having time with Jim
  119. Planning for the next day
  120. The Spirit speaking to me
  121. Time to write out some thoughts on business
  122. Pumpkin muffins
  123. Working through business desires and ideas with Jim
  124. Ice cream cones
  125. Good paycheck
  126. Tara available to help with blog set up!
  127. Plexus Ambassador
  128. Great first day of co-op
  129. Friends
  130. Connecting
  131. Sharing
  132. Meeting new people
  133. Jim being tech support
  134. Winning Usborne money!!!
  135. Roger helping with the dishwasher
  136. Learning about more business opportunities
  137. God moving
  138. Great reminder of need for diversity
  139. Taking a nap
  140. People asking about business
  141. Praying with Jim
  142. Feeling more awake
  143. Learning to repent to my kids
  144. Learning to fight the flesh
  145. Fleshing out heart emotions

January Evaluation

Spiritual
  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- Yes! It's not always at one time, but I'm getting this in each day so far
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- Thank you, pumping! Yes this happened daily this month
  • Memorize verses with the kids - We have done 3 verses this year so far, I'm confident in 2 :)
  • Have extended prayer times 4 times during the year- Jim had his first of the year this weekend. Need to get the rest scheduled
  • Read Christian books (Jim- 13 (not school related), Emmie- 26)- We read "The Insanity of God" together for our first of the year, and Emmie read "Humble Roots" 
  • Teach Kids 12 Hymns this year- We have worked on "Be Thou My Vision" and have the majority memorized
Marriage
  • Pray together daily- Yes! Though we need to work on praying before we collapse in bed and more concentrated prayer times 
  • Go out for a date once a week- We did most weeks, though last week ended up off and had a date night in
  • Go on a night away once this year- Have a weekend away planned for March thanks to Emmie's parents! Ready for it to come. 
  • Read 2 books together this year (read one day a week)- We read "The Insanity of God" together for school of missions and have done some sort of reading together one day a week, except 2 weeks ago
  • Discuss plan weekly on Saturday afternoon- We're still not doing very well with this, and it shows. 
Kids
  • Spend 15 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- We are doing this sporadically. We're really wanting to work towards this apart from school time, but they are getting this with school lessons currently
  • Special Outing Alone once during the year with each child (hopefully during birthday month)- None this month, just routine outings
  • Family fun activity once a month- Family day at the pool and eating out, The parents were more excited than the kids, but 4 of the kids gave the big pool a go!
  • Write in individual journals at least 4 times this year- We're on track for this
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- There were grand plans to get this finished in the next 5 months, but sadly I think it will have to wait until the 2nd half of the year
Homemaking
  • Make a cleaning schedule that we can keep up with and do it!- We've been doing a lot of cleaning this month, but no schedule yet! Need to get this figured out
  • Look at calendar once a day- Um, no
  • Update Google Calendar twice a week- Nope
  • Being fully present when with my family- By God's grace I have been much better at this on the whole, but still struggle when I feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • Try 12 new recipes this year- We tried a broccoli and cheese soup recipe this month. It wasn't bad, but we're looking for another one
  • No TV 2 days a week (watching)- I actually think we did this! I know the last 2 weeks we have accomplished this, and sometimes there were 3 days! Loving having the TV off more
Ministry
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes! 
Personal
  • Read 2 book a month for myself- This month I read "Frankenstein" and "Humble Roots" as well as "The Insanity of God" with Jim (reviews to come on all of these). I also started 3 other books with good headway in them
  • Jim read one fiction book- 
  • Journal 5 days a week- I really struggled with this during January. We've been attempting to find a good rhythm, and towards the end of the month, this was getting back to normal
  • Jim Journal 3 days a week- Yes! Sometimes more
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing- Spend one evening editing this month! 
  • Book Club once a month- Yes! Really enjoyed a nice evening at Jo's house this month
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- With everything going on, I could not get it together, but looking forward to meeting this ladies next month
  • Blog 1-2 days a week- If you follow my blog, you know this did not happen this month, but we have spent a lot of time revamping Childbirth Conversations and once we get that blog up and going, this will become more of a reality
  • Spend one evening a week on business (added in Jan)- Yes we have done this and more! God has really opened up some opportunities for us to step into
Health
  • Mild Exercise twice a week- I've been doing a lot of work around the house, and one day at the pool, but that's about as far as exercise goes. This will change next month!
  • Lose weight- Down a couple pounds. Really wanting to press into a healthier lifestyle next month and making adjustments to do that
  • Making more from scratch food and balanced meals- Yes! We have done more from scratch meals and have done a better job balancing the types of foods as well as colors when we can! Still have room for improvement, but we're off to a good start
January has been quite a blur. We have spent this month getting our home in order, figuring out the best way to make necessary repairs, and figuring out what God wants for us in this next stage of life. We have done some major cleaning, organizing, purging, and seeking out aid for projects that are over our head. We're also looking at business that can help our family. We continue with Norwex and seek how God would use that as well as looking at the blogging world. There are a lot of opportunities and we have been looking at what God would want for us. We are wanting to really seek to be healthy in a Godly way and seeking things that would aid in that. Recently we decided to try Plexus with our holistic eating and adding more activity into our day. Clearly it's been busy! 

But God continues to draw us to Himself. He continues to open doors that we were not expecting. He continues to grow us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. He draws us to each other and grows us as a family and with our church family. God continues to be God. And even though it's been chaotic at times, we are still pressing forward in life as He guides our path and points us to His plans for us. Please pray for us! 

How can we pray for you? How was your first month of January?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Goals for 2017

It's 2017! Time to reevaluate our goals and think through what our family desires to be intentional about this year. Many will continue because they are what we know God has for us that does not change. But with Jim graduating this year, we are thinking through the whole year with the knowledge that things may change mid year.

Spiritual
  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- 
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- 
  • Memorize verses with the kids - 
  • Have extended prayer times 4 times during the year- 
  • Read Christian books (Jim- 13 (not school related), Emmie- 26)- 
  • Teach Kids 12 Hymns this year- 
Marriage
  • Pray together daily- 
  • Go out for a date once a week- 
  • Go on a night away once this year- 
  • Read 2 books together this year (read one day a week)- 
  • Discuss plan weekly on Saturday afternoon- 
Kids
  • Spend 15 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- 
  • Special Outing Alone once during the year with each child (hopefully during birthday month)- 
  • Family fun activity once a month- 
  • Write in individual journals at least 4 times this year- 
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- 
Homemaking
  • Make a cleaning schedule that we can keep up with and do it!- 
  • Look at calendar once a day-
  • Update Google Calendar twice a week 
  • Being fully present when with my family- 
  • Try 12 new recipes this year- 
  • No TV 2 days a week (watching)- 
Ministry
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- 
Personal
  • Read 2 book a month for myself- 
  • Jim read one fiction book- 
  • Journal 5 days a week- 
  • Jim Journal 3 days a week- 
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing- 
  • Book Club once a month- 
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- 
  • Blog 1-2 days a week- 
Health
  • Mild Exercise twice a week- 
  • Lose weight- 
  • Making more from scratch food and balanced meals-