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- 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Blessings

As we close out 2016 I am reminded that I have so many things for which to be grateful. God has blessed us far more than He should and I'm so thankful. This month is no exception. Here is a small glimpse of the amazing blessings God has bestowed upon our family this month. I can't wait to see how God will bless 2017!


  1. Taking a day off to rest and heal
  2. Really awesome Norwex deals
  3. More sales
  4. Working on calendars
  5. Snuggling with my babies
  6. Eating left overs
  7. Time with the Felix family
  8. Kids excited to hang out with friends
  9. Pizza
  10. Encouragement
  11. Wisdom
  12. Kindred Spirit
  13. Women's gift exchange
  14. Lillian participating in the gift exchange
  15. Catching up with people
  16. Jamey cleaning the kitchen
  17. Organizing the pantry
  18. Great sermon on our need for God and how Christmas should disturb us
  19. Talking with kids over lunch
  20. nap
  21. Talking
  22. Nice family time
  23. Feeling more rested
  24. God's great grace
  25. Working with Jamey
  26. Productivity
  27. New Norwex
  28. Having Jim home
  29. Working on our room
  30. Jamey getting caught up
  31. Teaching kids to clean and organize
  32. Getting everything set up for surgery
  33. Getting budget in order
  34. Ordering pictures
  35. Jim getting the day off
  36. Victor hanging out with the kids
  37. Surgery going as planned
  38. Jim keeping the kids off so I could sleep
  39. Jim waking up to get my meds for me in the middle of the night
  40. Jim working with the kids
  41. Getting caught up with school work
  42. Kids doing well with me unavailable
  43. Jim taking care of everything
  44. Being able to go to church
  45. Seeing Tara
  46. Restful afternoon
  47. Time to talk with Jim
  48. Surgery site healing well
  49. Getting laundry done
  50. Getting Monday work done
  51. Time to work with the middle boys
  52. Book club!
  53. Ashley being available to pick me up 
  54. Brienne coming to book club
  55. Jim being off another day and taking care of me
  56. Working on emails
  57. Christmas party at CG
  58. Fun Time
  59. Fruit basket
  60. Time to read
  61. Working upstairs
  62. Feeling more normal
  63. Costco
  64. Going to bed at a decent hour
  65. Working through feelings
  66. Good day without Jim at home post surgery
  67. Being with the kids
  68. Time to write
  69. Movie
  70. Working on normality
  71. Handkerchiefs
  72. Blogging community
  73. Finishing the week strong
  74. Middle boys drawing
  75. Kids helping around the house
  76. Growing together
  77. Praying all night
  78. God sustaining me through the day
  79. Time to journal at Panera
  80. God working on my heart
  81. Finishing upstairs
  82. Doing haircuts
  83. Washing hair
  84. Good sermon on humility
  85. God growing my heart in humility
  86. Talking through sermon as a family
  87. Painting nativity together
  88. Hanging stockings
  89. Waking at 7
  90. God's mercy
  91. Jim getting replacement phone for FREE!
  92. Good milk production
  93. Getting addresses and envelopes addressed
  94. Running errands as a family
  95. Cheap Chick-fil-A
  96. Cleaning kitchen together
  97. Aldi pizza
  98. Learning not to let time dictate and teaching kids this
  99. Reading together
  100. Free ice cream
  101. Jim having his phone at work
  102. Christmas cards
  103. Neo using words clearly
  104. Snuggling with Malachi
  105. Growing in wanting to work hard and desiring orderliness
  106. Nehemiah kisses
  107. Malachi turning 4  months
  108. Parents getting here safely
  109. American Baking Show
  110. Family time
  111. Starting a new book
  112. No alarm
  113. Planning day
  114. Sharing dreams and ideas
  115. Panera
  116. Free Refills
  117. Encouraging others
  118. Fun family day
  119. Cookies and cocoa
  120. Latkes and Donuts
  121. Christmas Eve Service
  122. Presents
  123. Duck dinner
  124. Cake 
  125. 1st night of Hanukkah
  126. Time and a half
  127. Boys getting to go to a movie with grandparents
  128. Baking with Lillian
  129. Remembering the incarnate God!
  130. Low key day
  131. Finishing Don Quixote!!!!!
  132. Girl's day out
  133. Yummy brunch
  134. Seeing Moanna
  135. God growing my heart
  136. Shopping
  137. God's provision
  138. Seeing Rogue One with Jim
  139. Date night
  140. No TV!!!!!
  141. Nehemiah turning 18 months!
  142. Hard work
  143. Lessons from Hanukkah
  144. Growing in knowledge of God
  145. Writing in journals
  146. Learning to repent to my kids
  147. Nehemiah praying
  148. Kids doing puzzles together
  149. Psalm 90
  150. God challenging my heart
  151. God's peace
    Malachi's First Christmas and Hanukkah
  152. Teaching my kids
  153. Prayer
  154. Getting work completed
  155. Finishing Chronicle of a Death Foretold
  156. Reading 11 classics
  157. Lunch with Sara
  158. Christian Studies
  159. Talking to Noemi
  160. Prepping for 2017
  161. Meeting Donna
  162. Getting a few things sold
  163. God's provision

December Evaluation and Year End Reflection

Spiritual
  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- Thanks to morning pumping this is happening most days!
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- Again pumping has really helped with this
  • Memorize verses with the kids - working on this during school time
  • Have extended prayer times 4 times during the year- Jim has had 3 and I have had 3 The end of the year got to us and lack of planning kept us from completing this goal
  • Read Christian books (Jim- 1 (not school related), Emmie- 3)- I only did 1. Again planning kept this from being as successful in this
Marriage
  • Pray together daily- YES! Growing in more directed prayer times together as well
  • Go out for a date once a week- This happened and my parents gave us a planning day as well! December was a blessing
  • Go on a night away once this yearYes! We were able to get away for 2 whole days for our Anniversary! Big thanks to Becca, Shannon, Julianne, Victor and Ariana who made this possible for us! It was wonderful
  • Read 3 books together this year (read one day a week)Crossing this off because it's not going to happen. Maybe next year when we're forced to for School of Missions
  • Discuss plan weekly on Saturday afternoon- Did not happen 
Kids
  • Spend 15 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- Did a little better with this this month and still growing in scheduling our days and weeks to be intentional with each child
  • Special Outing Alone twice during the year with each child- No outings again this month. It's been a struggle to plan extra outside activities with getting organized
  • Family fun activity once a month- Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah! Lots of yummy food and playing dreidle 
  • Write in individual journals at least 3 times this yearYes! I got this done! Such a blessing to be completely caught up!!!!!
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- Once we get organized there will be dedicated time for this. Too lofty a goal for this year.
Homemaking
  • Keep up with cleaning scheduleWe are finishing the year with massive cleaning and organizing so hopefully we will get this made for next year
  • Keep up with my calendar- Been prepping it for next year, so been looking at it more
  • Being fully present when with my family- This is back and forth depending on how overwhelmed I'm feeling, but still growing in this
  • Try 12 new recipes this year(12) Jim made chocolate cake and blueberry cream cheese icing for Gabriel's birthday and it was DELICIOUS! So we have also met this goal!
  • No TV 2 days a week (watching)- Doing much better but still too much TV
  • Begin gardening in the springAnother that just did not happen and isn't going to, but that's OK!
Ministry
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes
Personal
  • Read a book a month for myself- Finished "Don Quixote" and "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" 11 of 12 classics read this year. Not too bad since I thought I'd only get through half
  • Jim read one fiction book- Yes! He finished "Eragon", Eldest", and "Brisingr"
  • Journal 5 days a week- This month was a struggle with this, new year will return patterns I hope
  • Jim Journal 3 days a week- Yes
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing- No work on this
  • Book Club once a month- Yes! Such a fun gathering! Love these Sisters!
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- Again, Scheduled it, but ended up with a meeting with God, which was just as useful
  • Blog 1-2 days a week- Think I got 5 posts in this month only because of the classics challenge
Health
  • Mild Exercise twice a week- Nope, really need to work on schedule/routine/rhythms
  • Maintain weight until birthThis did not happen, so I have extra work to do now
  • Lose weight after giving birth- I'm basically stagnant at the moment. Hoping to get cracking on this soon. I need it and I need the energy!
As we come to the close of December we also close 2016! What a year. It's been hard. It has stretched Jim, me, our family. We have grown and learned more about God. We are growing in being more like Jesus and still daily reminded how far we have to go. December ended up off with me needing to have a tooth removed putting me out longer than expected. And with holidays we had extra family time, which is always special and a different productive than what western culture says is productive, but so important, took from some goals but helped with others.

We've strived this month to find order for our home and are continuing to work towards order in the physical home as well as in our time and in our hearts. As we order our home we find God ordering our hearts. It's difficult, but very much needed. It has been good and for the first time I feel really ready to begin a new year, not because I have everything figured out, but because God has given me so much grace to trust Him more than I ever have before. He is Sovereign and my life is following His plan for me even when it's hard and not what I want. I know it's His best for me.

We have plans and goals for 2017 that I will share at a later date, but ultimately we will accomplish what He wants us to accomplish and more importantly what He wants to accomplish in us. I'm so grateful for 2016, which, even with the challenges, I think has been the best year of my life. And now I look forward to 2017 and what it holds for our family, the easy and the hard, because God is my God and He holds my life in His hands!

How was your December?  What did you learn in 2016?  What are you hopeful for in 2017?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Classics Challenge Wrap-Up

Twelve month and eleven classics later, I've expanded my reading repertoire and I'm thankful I did. On the whole I enjoyed the classics that I chose, but there were a couple that were not my favorite. I think in general the ones I didn't like as much were ones that were not what I was expecting. I am thankful that I stretched myself, pushing through books I was not really enjoying, to grow in my knowledge of classics. The more I read them the more I appreciate stories of the past and the lives of people in other cultures and times. I very much look forward to reading more classics next year!

If you're interested you can see all of this year's book reviews linked below.

A 19th Century Classic: The Purloined Letter
A 20th Century Classic: The Old Man and the Sea
A Classic by a Woman Author: A Murder is Announced
A Classic in Translation: Don Quixote
A Classic by a Non-White Author: Chronicle of a Death Foretold
An Adventure Classic: Treasure Island
A Fantasy, Science Fiction or Dystopian Classic: Dracula
A Classic Detective Novel: Murder on the Orient Express
A Classic Which Includes the Name of a Place in the Title: The Merchant of Venice
A Classic Which Has Been Banned or Censored: Les Liasons Dangereuses
Re-read a Classic You Read In School: Light in August
A Volume of Classic Short Stories:  A Good Man is Hard to Find and other stories

With 11 classics I have 2 entries for this year's drawing!

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

I finished my 11th classic in the Back to the Classics Challenge for 2016. This book was for the category, Classic by a non-white author.

I think I have read this before, but glad I read it again. This story is very well told and, through written in a different style than usually written, it is easy to follow even though a scattered account. I really like that it is told in first person, but has third person account as well, showing that what the storyteller knows comes from not only his knowledge but the knowledge of others as well. I really liked this as it is clearly a community story. The language is a bit harsh, but the cursing was limited to appropriate for the telling of the story. It wasn't cussing for the sake of cussing. Overall I really liked the style of the book.

The story line was also very intriguing. From the beginning you know the end, and yet you still want to keep reading. I liked the interweaving of story lines to make one completely story line. There were a lot of characters so here and there it did get a bit cumbersome with all of the names, but because of the way the story is told it works well. I also appreciate the mystery that is left in the story as well. We never really know why this man was chosen to die. There is the spoken reason, but it is evident there is more to the story that we don't know and we never will. Usually this would drive me insane, but it worked for this story and I'm only slightly frustrated by it. I also appreciate the side story that led to Santiago Nasar's death that is concluded in an unexpected way.

This book also gives you a lot to think about when dealing with other people, helping and loving others. It makes you think, too, about what you would do when you hear something bad may be happening. I like that it shares what the majority of the people involved were thinking during the event, everyone except Santiago Nasar. It's a great look into humanity and even how we know and understand people, including ourselves. It's also a great reminder that we never really know what people will do.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. 4.5 stars for this different style classic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Don Quixote

After twelve months I'm FINALLY finished with Don Quixote, my 10th book in this year's Back to the Classics Challenge!!!!! This was my book for the category "Classic in Translation".

I don't know what to think about this novel. I've always wanted to read it after seeing it on an episode of "Wishbone" back in the day, because it looked really funny. As I read this I realized it is humorous, but more than that it's ludicrous! The story line reminded me of a bad soap opera where no one knows what end is up and everyone is falling in love and/or has a tragedy.

On the whole I did not like the book. I would really like to know the back ground of the book because it is written like it's a biography of Don Quixote, but then other things make it seem like a work of fiction. I might like it better knowing the story behind the story. What's sad is how crazy yet wise Don Quixote is and that knowing that he is mad, Sancho Panza abandons his family and chooses to follow him anyway. I do appreciate how Don Quixote's family and friends seek to care for him, even if done in a strange and misguided way. The adventures they have are interesting, but really cause you to wonder at the sanity of people. It is a reminder that we can convince ourselves of anything if we tell ourselves it's true long enough. The adventures reminded me that we must watch ourselves in saying what is true.

For me the spiritual implications of this book kept me reading and made it more interesting. Watching Don Quixote follow something so wholeheartedly was inspirational, even if it was mad. To see Sancho Panza follow this, though, was the epitome of folly, but reminds us how often humans blindly follow another, though it is evident it is going down a road of insanity. They are also very devout to the Catholic Church and it is an interesting study in religion of that time.

As a Christian I could see how important it is to really follow God and not our own misguided understandings. If God is not the one determining our reality, we will quickly be led astray into things that are completely foolish.

My favorite part of the book was the novel in the novel that shows the danger of tempting others. I greatly appreciated this story and felt it to the core.

The second half made me very sad and a bit annoyed at how easily people will accept what they want, even though they are clearly being mocked at and made to look a fool. It also made me angry at the audacity of people to take advantage of the madness and desires of people for their own sport. Through out the book I felt sorry for both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, but a large portion of this section made me want to yell at them, "Are you really that stupid and naive?" as well as yell at their hosts, "What is your problem?"

I can't say that I recommend this book, nor can I say that I do not recommend it. It was not an enjoyable book, except for the part mentioned above. But there are many profound observations and statements that as well as their actions that cause one to think. If you're looking for a thinking book, I would say it is good for that.

I'm going to say 3 stars for this unusual classic.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

November Blessings

How busy November was for our family! We have been cleaning, organizing and purging as we seek to bring order to our home, family and lives. In the midst God has been gracious, cleaning and ordering our hearts before him. Here is a glimpse of His blessing toward us.


  1. Jim working 8 extra hours overtime
  2. Provision
  3. New Month
  4. Sharing struggles at CG
  5. Hearing others' struggles
  6. God moving
  7. Productive school
  8. Time with Jamey 
  9. Time with the little boys
  10. Working potential new rhythm
  11. BJ's Cherry soda
  12. Flip flops for $1
  13. Good rest time
  14. Making plans
  15. Writing blog posts
  16. Boxed mashed potatoes
  17. Working on a project with Lillian
  18. Getting to co-op before 9 am
  19. Encouragement from Tara
  20. God speaking through friends
  21. Free food
  22. Enjoying my last day of co-op
  23. Organizing all homeschool material
  24. Going through all kids books
  25. Working together as a family
  26. Time with Jessica
  27. Extra hour of sleep
  28. Pastor James preaching
  29. Great sermon on embracing multiculturalism
  30. Learning to care for each other
  31. Time to read
  32. Family time
  33. Working on the office with the kids
  34. God's Grace
  35. Terminix working on our attic
  36. Jim only working 4 hours
  37. Waking before my alarm
  38. Jamey helping with cleaning
  39. Getting main part of upstairs cleared out
  40. Parent's getting here safely
  41. Medical Missions Conference
  42. Hearing why our view on sexuality matters
  43. Being affirmed in some I want to write
  44. Encouraging and informative breakout sessions
  45. God confirming next immediate steps
  46. Praying together
  47. Meeting more people with similar backgrounds
  48. Free Yummy Food!
  49. Great close to conference
  50. Time to think, talk and pray
  51. Dinner and display
  52. Kids doing well with presentations
  53. Good close to the weekend
  54. Stepping forward in faith
  55. Great sermon on God's Kingdom
  56. Talking about grieving together
  57. Jim finishing class work for the semester
  58. Ryan and Becca hanging out for a bit
  59. Grocery store by myself with 7 kids!
  60. Meeting a mom of 7, grandmother of 24 and great-grandmother of 21! and getting encouragement from her
  61. Seeing Rachel Davila
  62. Talking to Rachy
  63. Costco as a family
  64. Talking with Jim 
  65. NO TV!
  66. Working well with all the kids
  67. Music
  68. Time to work on business with Jim
  69. Beginning to work with Canva
  70. Catching up with Kate
  71. Organizing and purging
  72. J, L, and R helping with clothes and cleaning
  73. Date Night
  74. Talking to Ryan and Becca
  75. Classical music
  76. Catching up on journals
  77. J helping cut up veggies and taking care of M
  78. Watching my kids grow
  79. Having my kids home with me
  80. Being creative with J
  81. J and L being really helpful
  82. Finding new Bible reading rhythm
  83. Quiet evening at home
  84. No computer
  85. Jim meeting with James
  86. Time to really pray at Panera
  87. Pizza
  88. Hearing God's voice clearly
  89. "Sky High" on Netflix
  90. Great sermon on Consecration and confrontation
  91. Great Sunday class
  92. Lots of time to talk through things with Jim
  93. Praying together
  94. Cleaning out L's closet
  95. Finding remote
  96. Sam growing in prayer
  97. Gift card for McDonald's
  98. Special lunch
  99. Lots of milk
  100. Time to wash hair
  101. Jamey organizing closet
  102. Seeing light in organizing tunnel
  103. Jim getting called off work
  104. Malachi 3 months!
  105. Nehemiah progressing well
  106. Yummy food and fellowship at CG
  107. Lots of progress in L's room
  108. Running errands with Lillian
  109. Baking
  110. Sam's tooth still doing well
  111. Chick-fil-A breakfast
  112. Getting heat fixed
  113. Teaching kids organizing and kitchen skills
  114. Pancakes and Eggs for breakfast
  115. Thanking God for blessings
  116. Cupcakes
  117. Day with Ryan and Becca
  118. Time with the McMillin family
  119. Jim talking to Max
  120. Lunch with Jim at work
  121. Jim getting meds to help him heal
  122. Getting Black Friday deals set up
  123. Snuggling with my babies
  124. Jamey working hard
  125. Being able to work with J
  126. Getting pictures uploaded
  127. Great Advent Sermon on suffering and believing God
  128. Nice afternoon talking with Ryan and Becca
  129. Left over curry
  130. Sojourn providing Advent Jesse Tree resource
  131. Making ornaments
  132. Gabriel turning 4!
  133. Homemade Chocolate Cake and Blueberry Cream Cheese Icing
  134. Closing out party and getting what we need
  135. Gifts for Exchange
  136. Good deals at grocery
  137. Jim cleaning fridge
  138. Haircut
  139. Great deal on World Market Coffee!
  140. Nice Date Night at Arby's