Monday, February 29, 2016

February Blessings

Even in the short month of February God has blessed our family so much! It's such a joy to be a part of God's family and to see how He is working. God is so gracious and takes care of His people. Here's a look at some of our blessings for the month.

  1. Gabriel saying "I love you!"
  2. Feeling good most of the day
  3. Amy and Emma coming to visit
  4. Getting good school work done
  5. No TV or Computer all day!
  6. God's amazing grace
  7. Gabriel taking initiative in school work
  8. Talking with, encouraging and praying for Becca
  9. Productive day
  10. Being sobered
  11. Talking about justice
  12. Encouraging email from Sara
  13. Co-op!
  14. Connecting with people
  15. Cheap gas
  16. Crashing
  17. Lasagna
  18. Another Sister expecting a baby
  19. God's mercy
  20. Showers
  21. God's love
  22. Sam giving Lillian kisses
  23. Being reminded I have nothing to prove
  24. Productive rest time
  25. Catching up in 4 journals
  26. Arranging to get a pregnancy pillow for $10!
  27. Being able to make dinner
  28. Sleeping
  29. Lillian getting her work done
  30. Jim doing school
  31. Jim working on his school work
  32. Reuben and Gabriel doing well with their book work
  33. Date night
  34. Free movie
  35. Getting the pregnancy pillow
  36. Jim taking Reuben out by himself
  37. Gabriel taking initiative to do work
  38. Leftovers
  39. Sam praying at dinner
  40. Learning about friendship
  41. Dealing with hurt with Jim
  42. Taking a nap
  43. Jim having extended quiet time
  44. Boys napping almost 5 hours
  45. Sudoku
  46. Getting most of 2 days done
  47. Showers
  48. Connecting more with Jim
  49. Smoothies
  50. God working
  51. No TV
  52. Jim getting school work done
  53. Having a good school morning
  54. Good discussion on friendship
  55. Challenging each other
  56. Thinking through friendship
  57. God working in many ways
  58. Sara coming for dinner
  59. Time to write
  60. Surviving!
  61. Getting ahead on school work
  62. Jim calling to talk to Jamey
  63. Little Women
  64. Time to relax
  65. Snuggling with Jim
  66. Neo crawling
  67. Space heaters
  68. Shannon and Gage and Courtney and Asher coming over
  69. Encouragement from friends
  70. Learning to build friendships
  71. Sending emails
  72. Restful afternoon
  73. Feeling good most of the day
  74. Kids eating well
  75. Jim being home
  76. Finishing school work
  77. Planning
  78. Dinner at Ruby Tuesday's
  79. Talking through family things
  80. Redeem Marriage
  81. Meeting Pastor Jamaal and Amber
  82. Seeing friends
  83. Growing in Oneness
  84. Sleeping in
  85. Brunch at Dairy Queen
  86. Seeing Ryan's house
  87. Restful afternoon
  88. Pizza
  89. Yummy dinner
  90. "The Hobbit"!
  91. New Journal
  92. Ice cream cake
  93. Good birthday
  94. Sam singing happy birthday
  95. Starting Colossians
  96. Jesus is King over all!
  97. Reception for Kara
  98. Meeting/Catching up with people
  99. Logic problems
  100. Hanging out as a family
  101. New baking show
  102. Time with Lillian
  103. Good day at home
  104. Seeking God together on dealing with issues
  105. Sam singing "Jesus Loves Me"
  106. Book club
  107. Helping Becca
  108. Reading
  109. People stepping up to help us prep for yard work
  110. Learning to do hall monitor
  111. Cookies, card and chocolate
  112. Free Chick-fil-A
  113. Nap
  114. Early bed time
  115. Lillian and Reuben acting out all of "Inside Out"
  116. Catching up on journals
  117. Kids eating chili
  118. Salad
  119. Getting back yard ready for work
  120. Seeing Jessica and getting stuff from her
  121. Blog posts
  122. Making it through a Saturday without Jim
  123. Beautiful weather
  124. Spending time with Charlene
  125. Kids playing with the neighbors
  126. Enjoying being outside
  127. Great sermon on Jesus as King
  128. Time to pray and think through the week
  129. Jamey is 7!
  130. IHOP
  131. Homemade Cake and Icing
  132. "Monsters University"
  133. Sweet Potato latkes
  134. Hearing the baby's heartbeat
  135. Standing up for beliefs
  136. Good conversation at CG
  137. Getting help
  138. Free Panera bread
  139. New pizza place
  140. Finishing Light in August
  141. Starting next classic
  142. Feeling more awake and refreshed
  143. Stomach feeling better
  144. Starting "Large Family Logistics"
  145. Becca being home for the evening
  146. Good conversation with Margaret
  147. Writing
  148. Getting Kitchen and Lillian's room cleaned
  149. Organizing table
  150. Getting ahead in schedules
  151. Evaluating how I'm letting Jesus be King in my life
  152. Getting car cleaned
  153. Feeling a little bit of movement
  154. Nehemiah wanting to explore
  155. Being God's child

February Evaluation

  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- I've been able to do this most days, growing in more directed prayer
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- Been able to do this most days, lost a few with illness
  • Memorize verses with the kids - working on this during school time
  • Have extended prayer times 4 times during the year- Jim had his first this month, I have my first planned for March
  • Read Christian books (Jim- 1 (not school related), Emmie- 3)- Have not started any yet
  • Pray together daily- YES! This is huge!
  • Go out for a date once a week- Yes
  • Go on a night away once this year- Need to plan this
  • Read 3 books together this year (read one day a week)- This did not happen
  • Discuss plan weekly on Saturday afternoon- Done well with this
  • Spend 15 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- I need a good way to gauge this. I think as a whole we did this, but I am really not sure
  • Special Outing Alone twice during the year with each child- Took Reuben out for his first outing this year
  • Family fun activity once a month- This was included in birthday celebrations this month
  • Write in individual journals at least 3 times this year- Got caught up! On schedule for the year
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- No work was done on this
  • Keep up with cleaning schedule- NO!
  • Keep up with my calendar- Sort of
  • Being fully present when with my family- Struggled to do this this month, but some improvement
  • Try 12 new recipes this year- We did 4! (well Jim did) Sweet Potato soup, Sweet Potato latkes, strawberry cake from scratch, and blueberry icing from scratch
  • No TV 2 days a week (watching)- At least 1 day a week this happened, getting better at leaving it off as the weather improves
  • Begin gardening in the spring
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes
  • Read a book a month for myself- Finished "Light in August" this month, continued on 1 classic, started another and began a non-fiction book 
  • Jim read one fiction book- not yet, this month has all been school
  • Journal 5 days a week- Yes! God is gracious
  • Jim Journal 3 days a week- Did for 2 weeks, not as much the last 2
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing- No work on this
  • Book Club once a month- Yes! Love these Sisters
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- Yes! Love these Sisters too
  • Blog 1-2 days a week- Yes! God has been gracious in this
  • Mild Exercise twice a week- No!
  • Maintain weight until birth- Have maintained well this month
  • Lose weight after giving birth- 
Oh February! It's such a short month, even with an extra day. By God's grace we still did accomplish a lot, but it's been a busy month. Mostly keeping up with school and starting our homeschool co-op has kept us busy as well as celebrating birthdays. We have a couple more crazy weeks ahead, but we will make it. We have also been working to figure out live as we have things that need to change as we prepare to grow again. Such a blessed but busy time. God continues to sustain us and I am so thankful to be His!

How was February for you?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Light in August

I finished my first classic for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge, for the category of re-reading a classic you read in school.

I was a bit surprised by this one. I found that I really enjoyed Faulkner's writing style in this book. It took me awhile to read because I really enjoyed the way he phrased things and used imagery that was clear but not unnecessary for getting his point across. At times I did find Faulkner difficult to understand, but I still enjoyed it.

The story was an interesting look at a few people who lived in the deep south in the late 1800s/early 1900s and how their lives intertwined. I can't say it was the best story I've ever read, but it was unique and interestingly written.

Some of the down sides are the normal things in dealing with that time period, how they viewed and talked about black people, poor religiosity, and ignorance. In the writing some of the chapters were REALLY LONG, while others were short. Some of the material made you wonder why he was going into this much detail on particular things. The end was full circle, but still uneventful and left you wondering what was really going on. With so much thought involved in the book, I wish he would have included Lena's thoughts.

One personally challenging thing for me in reading it was thinking how nice it might be to live a solitary life. I know this is a lie, but when you're reading about characters that were primarily solitary and seemed stuck in that state, it can seem blissful when you're life is chaotic. It caused dreaming of getting out in nature and just being alone, which is not bad, but must be held in perspective.

I would give this book 3.5 stars.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

That Day When Nothing Goes to Plan

Am I the only one who gets tired of planning and then nothing happens the way it’s supposed to? This has been a struggle of mine for quite some time. I hear all the time how important it is to plan and I fully believe that it is. But when it feels like you plan every day, at least generally speaking, and then nothing goes the way you plan for it to.

I feel like this is the story of my motherhood life. Is anyone else there too?

Recently I realized that somewhere along the line I stopped really bringing my daily plans before the Lord. General plans, long term plans, big goals, No problem praying over them. I feel like that’s a must. But daily plans, it’s so easy to forget and feel unnecessary at times. Or the day starts off in a rush and I forget to ask for daily bread. Or I’m focusing on the big problems in my life, my family, my friends or the world and forget to ask God what He wants me to do that day, that moment.

I forget that all plans are subject to God’s plans.

“I know that You can do all things, and Your purpose cannot be thwarted.” Job 42:2

I’m trying to be God. I’m trying to control everything in my world. But that’s not my job, and I need to remember that. I’m not God. I’m not in control.

Should we plan? Yes. Should we plan daily? Yes. But ultimately all of these plans are subject to God’s governing authority and we need to pray about all of our plans. But if God says no to our plans, then we should seek what it is He has for us in those changes and teach our kids about God’s authority in our lives.

So the next time your day is anything but what you planned, ask God what it is He is wanting to teach you in the plans He is ordaining that are different than yours. Remember God is on your side. He is for you and will do what is best for you. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Jamey: Our 7 Year Old

Seven years ago our family and lives were forever changed by our first born, Jamey. How much he has grown in such a short amount of time. You blink and they go from baby to a boy, a young man.

Jamey is so full of life. He has such a goofy personality. He has energy coming from everywhere. Really he just loves life. When you ask him what his favorite part of the day is, his reply is, "Everything but the bad stuff." I love his enthusiasm for life, and pray for God to give me a smidgen of it when it's been a long day and I'm just tired.

Jamey loves to learn. School is often his favorite part of the day. Currently his favorite subjects are math and science, though many days he says all of them. It is sometimes hard to challenge him enough because he is so quick to pick up on things. He is very good at learning on his own, which is great when you have so many kids! He also enjoys teaching his siblings. Jamey also loves to be schooled at home because he loves to be with his family. This melts my heart!

In his free time, Jamey loves to color, cut, draw, paint, really anything visually artistic. He is growing in learning to like to play outside. He also enjoys watching movies and TV. He loves all the colors because they are all good! (Love that personality.)

Jamey is so friendly and dynamic. He can be a little overwhelming at times because of his friendliness, but it's so fun to watch Jamey be Jamey. He enjoys meeting new people and will talk to anyone, especially when we go to the playground.

Jamey is growing so much in his love of learning the Bible. He reads most mornings all on his own and can tell you what he read. Memorizing verses is not his favorite, but he is growing in doing it. He really wants to know God and know more about Him and what it means to be a Christian. It is amazing and such a blessing to see God's grace at work in his life already. He is growing in prayer as well, which is such a blessing. God is so good.

Thankfully, Jamey has become a great eater and will eat just about anything. His current favorite is latkes. In fact for his birthday dinner he asked for sweet potato latkes! He also loves eggplant. What kid loves eggplant? This kid!

He is always surprising us. Jamey is so good with the baby and loves to wrestle with his brothers. He is so excited about having another sibling. He has been asking for another sister for years and we pray God will give him his hearts desire this time. It's exciting to see God's grace working in Jamey as he grows into his role as the oldest and the responsibility that it entails. We have great conversations with him about all these things. It's amazing what he understands.

We pray God continues to shower His grace and Jamey and that He will use Jamey's life in amazing ways. It's so wonderful to see what God has already done and we know His work is not yet finished in Jamey. As great as Jamey is, he is still 7 and he is still a sinner, just like the rest of us.

Father, thank You for Jamey and 7 years with him. Please continue to pour out Your grace that He might know You, love You and serve You with all that he is.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Last Battle

Our family finally finished The Chronicles of Narnia, with The Last Battle. This book was in the middle for me, not terrible but not great. A lot of the imagery Lewis describes is beautiful and the adventure is certainly there. I got frustrated with some of it, but I do believe it's because you are supposed to. Lewis does a great job of showing in allegorical form the battle for truth that is always present as people seek to make God who they want, so I appreciated that (though where some of the frustration came in).

Like most of the books in this series I felt the ending was odd and kind of a let down. I don't want to give anything away as I know people who are still reading these books, but it was seriously like, "That's what happened?"

Along with this, one of the chapters had horrible theology in it, that I cannot even accept in allegorical form. I had been warned about this from others who have read it and still hearing it was beyond my comprehension.

I'm not sure how I would rate this. Maybe 3.5 stars or 4. Probably closer to 3.5.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jesus Had Nothing to Prove, and Neither Do You

Recently I have been reading about Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion. It is always challenging and interesting reading about this time as I reflect on what Jesus went through for me. But this time, the Holy Spirit whispered a new revelation to my heart about this passage.

Jesus had nothing to prove, and neither do you!

How it hit my heart like a knife. How often do I try to justify my parenting, my homemaking, my homeschooling, my life to others? I must do everything right so that people think I’m doing the right thing. But this is just not true! We are called to follow Jesus in whatever we do. So much of life is grey and we need to walk in that grey with bold confidence that we’re following what God has for us to do in the way we parent, keep our homes and teach our children. When we clearly sin, we repent and start over again. But we have nothing to prove to anyone. Not even God.

As we watch Jesus in the garden, before pilot, on the cross and as He died, it is clear that He knew He had nothing to prove. He was silent while they hurled insults. Jesus says Himself that God would give Him twelve legions of angels if He just asked for it. But He went willingly to the slaughter because He knew who God says He is, He knew His mission. As they hurled insults, taunting Him to come down, He listened and asked God to forgive their ignorance and stayed to take our sin. He knew they thought He was a liar, a lunatic, but He died anyway. Jesus had nothing to prove.

What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to impress?

Stop and just be who God created you to be and live the life He has given you to live.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

32 Years On Earth

God has allowed me to walk this earth for 32 years. How much I have learned during that time. This past year God has grown me a lot in learning more about who He is and who I am as well as accepting who God has made me to be and grow in that.

So who is God? God is perfect, holy, mighty. God is Creator of the entire universe and He alone holds it together. God is just. God is love. God is God, the great I Am.

Who am I? I'm a sinner. I'm an idolater who takes the name of my God in vain. I'm a Sabbath breaker. I dishonor my parents. I'm a murderer, an adulterer, a thief, a liar, and a coveter. I'm selfish, greedy, unkind, unloving.

But so much more than this, I am Saved. I am Redeemed. I am Chosen. I am Loved by the King of the universe. God calls me daughter and friend. I am a new Creation because of Jesus's death on the cross for all of my sins. I am alive because Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death for me. I am free to live the life that God has called me to and to live it to the best of my ability because He gives me all of His strength through the Holy Spirit living in me. Yes, the God of the universe lives in me and I can be who He has made me without fear, without shame. When I fail, He does not push me away, but I can repent and He still loves me, picks me up and continues to show me His path for me.

So who has God made me? I'm constantly figuring this out. Aren't we all? Here is what I've gotten thus far:

I'm a daughter of God and follower of Jesus
I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter/daughter-in-law, sister/sister-in-law, aunt, granddaughter-in-law
I'm a homeschool teacher, a nurse and educator
I'm a friend, church member, and part of the Body of Christ
I'm a writer, a reader, a movie/TV watcher
I'm a singer and enjoy many types of music
I'm a deep thinker and hate surface level conversations
I like logic problems and trying to figure things out
I love studying the Bible and praying so I can learn more about my Savior
I don't like technology (I know I have 2 blogs but it's true) but learn how to use the basics
I don't like being pregnant, but I do love giving birth and teaching others about birth
I love having a big family and how much God is teaching me through it
I love encouraging women to be who God created them to be and teaching them to read the Word, pray and know God
I love missions and telling others about it
I love learning other languages and learning about other cultures
I like traveling and would love to live in another culture
I'm opinionated and passionate
I'm weak and in desperate need of a Savior to help me through every moment
I love being around people and I love being alone
I like order but I have learned to live with clutter
I'm a perfectionist and God is always working on this

This is not exhaustive as I'm always learning more about who God has made me and who I am as God redeems me and makes me who He wants me to be in the image of His Son.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Good Enough for Who?

I failed again. I turned on the TV. I picked up fast food instead of making dinner. I didn’t get any laundry done today. My house looks like a tornado went through it. It’s been a month since I cleaned the bathroom and I didn’t do that today either.

Do thoughts like this zoom through your head too? I often feel like I’m not enough, like I will never measure up. Are you with me?

The question in the title is from “Mom’s Night Out” (which if you haven’t seen, you should) and is asked at the turning point for the main character in the movie. She is asked this question and since seeing this movie, I ask myself that question too when I feel like I’m failing at being a wife, a mom, a homemaker or anything else yet again.

In Christ we succeed. Does that mean we do everything perfectly? NO! How I wish it did. But it does mean that we are free to live and turn on the TV if it gets a little crazy or pick up fast food because unexpected things happened.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

As wives, mothers, homemakers, daughters, church members, contributing members of society we labor and this culture has given us a heavy load to bear. Let it go and give it to Jesus who takes all of our burden on Him. It doesn’t mean everything will be easy, but it does mean we can be who God created us to be and be the best at it.

Because of Jesus we are already seen as good enough and we have nothing left to prove. So go be who God made you to be and stop listening to everything else. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If all you do is teach them about Jesus, it’s a good day

I sat surrounded by lesson plans, looking at all that needed to be done for our school year. We were adding curriculum and I thought for a moment, maybe I had made a mistake. I felt beyond overwhelmed, thinking to myself, “I only have so many hours in the day. How will we ever get through all this material?”

That’s when I heard His still small voice. “As long as you teach them about Me, it has been a good day.”

I stopped and asked myself, “Why am I homeschooling?” There were so many reasons, but the primary reason is so that I can teach my children about Jesus in everything I do. As long as I teach my kids something about Jesus every day, then it is a good day.

Do you find yourself in that boat? Do you think, “We didn’t even get to school today. We are completely off schedule. I have way too much housework to do. I can’t do it all!” Then remind yourself of what Jesus says, You cannot do it all, but I have done everything.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

This is our charge. Whether you get through every subject in your day or none at all. If we have taught them the ways of the Lord and the salvation He gives through His Son, Jesus Christ, it is a good day.