Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Most days, I hit the ground running (literally), just hurtling through our day and trying to juggle the demands of our home, marriage, children, ministry. I don't have time to stop and think about what I'm doing or what it looks like or whether it's perfect or not. I just move from one thing or person or need or cry or spill or boo-boo to the next.

But, now and then, I catch my breath and it hits me:

I have four children. One, two, three, four.

Four little bodies piled in my lap for story time.
Eights hands and eight feet to wash each night.
Four bellies to fill several times a day.
Four extra beds to make.
At least 24 pairs of shoes to keep track of.
Four loads of laundry most day.
Four bedtime kisses to give and receive.
Four little wonders to place at the feet of Jesus each morning and ask for His protection and wisdom as we journey homeward.

Four children.

It takes my breath away...and sometimes my sleep. And usually all of my energy.

But, it's four more than I ever dreamed possible a decade ago. And, I'd take four more if it meant even an ounce more love would flow through this happy heart of mine.

Thank You, God, for these four. And for so much more...Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 1/26/09

I've been making a menu plan for almost a year now, but this is a good place for me to keep track of what we're eating for future planning:)

Monday (1/26)
B--Cereal, Milk, Fruit
L--Grilled Cheese, baby carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, cherries, milk
D--Girls out to eat with Dad!

Tuesday (1/27)
B--Oatmeal, Fruit, Milk
L--Chicken Noodle Soup, Veggies, Fruit, Cottage Cheese
D--Fish, Mac N Cheese, Peas and Carrots, Melon

Wednesday (1/28)
B--Cereal, Fruit, Milk
L--Out to eat after piano lessons:)
D--Chicken Noodle Casserole, Salad, Fruit

Thursday (1/29)
B--Oatmeal, Fruit, Milk
L--PBJ, Veggies, Fruit, milk
D--Ravioli, Salad, Bread, Fruit

Friday (1/30)
B--Eggs, Toast, fruit, milk

Saturday (1/31)
B--Cereal, Doughnuts (a weekly ritual!)
Leave for Grandma's House!

25 Things About Me

1. I love Jesus…Who He is, what He’s done for me, for you, for us all.
2. I love to cook. I love tackling really complicated recipes-- homemade, from scratch recipes. And then sharing the results with my family and friends! And to think, when I first got married all I could make was cereal!!!
3. I have a port-wine stain birthmark. Different, unusual, conversation-starter and ender but something I really, truly wouldn’t trade if I could. I know who my friends are and I know who loves me. I also know God thinks ALL He has made is gorgeous.
4. I love my husband…he is the perfect complement to me and vice versa. I love his enthusiasm for the Lord as well as his faithful service to me and our kids.
5. I had 4 babies in 6 years…I’m tired!
6. I think my kids are amazing people. I have loved each and every stage they have gone through—even the rough ones!—and I can’t wait to see what kind of people they are going to be!
7. I home school all four of our kids.
8. My parents divorced when I was 8.
9. I never really got to know my real dad very well and sometimes I wonder if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Really, I wish I could have had the opportunity to choose.
10. Pizza is my favorite food. Of all time. Ever.
11. I hate mushrooms.
12. I want to run in a marathon before I turn 40.
13. I want to learn to sew better.
14. I love snail mail. I still get excited before I open the mailbox each day.
15. My feelings get hurt easily, but I’m good at hiding it from others.
16. I have a tendency to sulk when I’m tired.
17. I like to dance and do so when I think no one else is looking…especially to Latin music
18. My favorite household chore: vacuuming.
19. Least favorite: dusting.
20. I’ve had the same best friend for 16 years and we talk on the phone for an hour every week, even though we live 2000 miles apart.
21. I love civics...not the car, the subject.
22. A couple of my spiritual gifts: hospitality, intercessory prayer, helps, administration.
23. I know how to knit and sing.
24. I really love the Bible study I’ve been in for the last 3 years.
25. I don’t think I know 25 people well enough to ask them to respond to this!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some things that are going well...

I have a tendency to mentally dwell on those things that aren't going well in my life. I guess you'd call it a penchant for the negative. It's something that I want God to work on in my life and I'm praying about it in this season of motherhood and home school. Homeschooling has been a HUGE area of challenge for me. My thought life has centered on what I can't seem to do and what doesn't happen, rather than the things that are going well or things that I can do. So, in the spirit of trying to correct this deep-seeded fault I have, I'm going to list here in black and white some things that are going well with our home school right now:

First, we are "doing school" every day. Believe me, that has not always been the case! Just doing school each day--in some way, shape or form--has helped lift the conviction I was under!

I'm getting more organized with our school supplies and curriculum. This weekend, Charlie and I cleaned out the closet in our family room and I now have this beautifully organized and spacious closet filled with puzzles, books, papers, and school supplies right at my finger tips. It makes our school time much smoother when I don't have to spend as much time searching for items we need to get started on a project or lesson.

The Folders. Each of the girls now has a color coded, three ring folder that holds their school work for the week. On Sunday afternoon/evening, I spend time preparing for the entire week. I copy anything that needs copying, print off extra math drills from the Internet etc. I also type out a list of lessons that must be completed by Friday afternoon for each girl and put it into the folder. If they finish the work early, they are done with school early in the week--great incentive for them and me! At the end of the week, I empty the folder, filing away anything that should be saved and recycling the rest.

The Great Toy Round-Up 2009! One of my biggest competitors for my girls' attention was their TOYS! How can you make phonics games and math flash cards seem more fun than Polly Pockets or My Little Pony?!?! Hubs and I rounded up all the competing toys, sorted them into color-coded bins and put them away. All we left out were stuffed animals, mega blocks and their play kitchen dishes. These were toys we felt would not compete with school. The girls now know that they other toys can come out Friday night after Daddy gets home from work, but have to be packed away before bed Sunday evening. Happily, there have been no protests or complaints! PTL!!!

We're eating better. Instead of just trying to get food on the table, I've tried to be MUCH more conscientious about providing healthy, hearty meals. Whole grain cereals, oatmeal, fruit for breakfast. Lots of fresh veggies and fruits at lunch time. Dinners that are about more than just eating, but also about sharing what God did in our day. This has really helped keep my kids more even keeled all day. They aren't as crabby and cranky because of hunger:)

A regularly scheduled rest time each week. Sometime mid-week, I schedule a rest time for everyone. Me included. Surprisingly, this has become a household favorite. Everyone (even my three year old) loves to take a giant stack of books to bed with them and curl up for a good hour or so.

Capturing time...this is a biggie. I've really been asking the Lord to help me capture every moment that could be used for learning purposes. Setting the table--my oldest can work on division and fractions; my middle one works on adding and subtracting; my next youngest works on counting and matching. The two oldest help each other with reading and spelling as the younger one spells words aloud and the older one listens and tells her what the words are. Both of the older girls read books to Olivia and she is loving that time with her big sisters. Even when we're at the grocery store or the bank, there are opportunities to connect them to the world around them and learn.

So, these are things that are going well. It's tempting for me to write another post about things that aren't going well, but I'm learning (slowly) that dwelling on the negative won't glorify God. He is so gentle and patient and will lead me through any changes and corrections necessary.

Thanks, Lord, for showing me what You are doing in my life and that is good because You are doing it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today is one of those days I'm so glad we're homeschooling. We watched the inauguration at lunch time today and I was able to point out various monuments and leaders as they paraded in front of the screen. We've done a few precursory lessons on civics, especially during the weeks leading up to the election, but this was a chance for the girls to see civics in action. But, the best part for me was the opportunity to filter what they were seeing. We talked about the prayer that was offered up and how great it was that the pastor prayed in Jesus' name. We talked about leaders and rulers and how God wants us to respect them and honor the position they hold. We talked about how blessed we are to live in a country where we are able to freely choose our leaders. We talked about the number of people at the mall in D.C. and how that was a great way to picture how many Israelites were wandering in the desert. We talked about whether Barack Obama believes in Jesus and how important it is to pray for our leaders--whether we agree with them or not...whether they believe in Jesus or not.

We talked about a lot of things.

And then we prayed together. And, when someone asks my daughters where they were when the first African-American president was sworn into office, they might remember sitting in our living room, eating grilled cheese sandwiches, talking with their mom about it all. And praying. They might remember that we prayed. And that's why I love homeschooling today...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays--Myths about Homeschooling/Stay-at-Home Moms

10. Homeschool families have strident religious rules that keep them from enrolling their kids in public school.
9. Stay-at-home moms stay at home because they aren't qualified to do any other sort of paying work.
8. Homeschooled children are missing out on socializing and extracurricular activities.
7. Stay-at-home moms always have perfectly kept homes, homemade cookies and neatly folded laundry. (Come over today and that myth will quickly be dispelled!)
6. Homeschool moms are naturally gifted teachers, filled with creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity.
5. Stay-at-home moms are "out of the loop" concerning the rest of the world. (True, I may not be cutting edge, but I can read a newspaper and Google news as well as the next person:))
4. Homeschool moms are experts in all things education related.
3. Stay-at-home moms LOVE to babysit other children.
2. Homeschool children are always well behaved, prayerful, honest, respectful children who model good Christian morals 100% of the time. (Again, just come over for a reality check!)
1. Homeschooling/Stay-at-home moms have lots of free time since they are home all day!

Thanks to Ann for hosting Top Ten Tuesdays!

Monday, January 12, 2009

8 Cents and a Hijacked Day

This weekend was supposed to be about simplifying. FINALLY, after almost a decade of marriage, my husband and I are on the same page concerning our house. We've both had the bug in years past to de-clutter and simplify our home, life, finances, etc. But the other spouse wasn't in the same place at the same time. So, we've done a fair amount of sorting and cleaning and re-organizing, but nothing like a whole-house overhaul. This year it's a different story. In trying to streamline our homeschool and life, we both came to the same conclusion: God is a God of order, not disorder. People are more important than things unless those things are getting in the way of people.

Saturday, we explained to the kids that we were planning a huge yard sale for the Spring and the money we earn will be used towards our vacation this summer. After shouts of joy and great celebration, we started working through our kitchen cabinets. When it was all said and done we had three completely empty cabinets, an empty drawer and six boxes of yard sale items. Amazing how much junk we were holding on to all these years...

Anyway, we were on a roll and in my mind, I was geared up for a marathon cleaning/organizing session that would last well into Sunday afternoon. Then the kids started dropping like flies, disappearing into other regions of the house where they mostly caused mayhem and confusion. Then it was time to make lunch. Then it was time to visit with friends...nurse the baby...go to the dinner...nurse the baby...give the kids a bath...nurse the baby... I felt like my day and my plans had been hijacked in a variety of ways. Plus, I was also questioning the wisdom of telling the kids about vacation plans that are six full months away. I mean, a lot can happen between now and then. Not to mention the fact that we are still paying for Samuel's surgery and hospital stay etc. etc. etc.

Then Emma comes downstairs out of breath and excited. "Mommy! Look what I found--money!" Eight cents. Eight whole cents to a seven year old is a lot like a hundred dollars to an adult. She has no concept of what vacations or cars or houses or even groceries cost. but she had found eight cents and she was ready to share it with the rest of the family. We found a mason jar and made it into our vacation jar and she made her deposit. So pleased with herself and sure that the Lord was going to follow through with not only the money, but also our plans to get away as a family this summer.

I stared at those eight cents through bleary, puffy eyes this morning, slowly sipping my hot tea. I smiled as I remembered the satisfied look on her face as she dropped those coins into the jar, trusting that the other coins would follow. I could feel the Holy Spirit reminding me that I should have the same faith. And, that I should let Him hijack my days more often. That I should look for they ways He is trying to truly simplify me...and my relationship with Him. It isn't complicated. He loves me. He's forgiven me. He wants me to live for Him. Simple. Beautiful.

Thanks, Lord, for Your gentle reminders to trust in You. Hijack my days and my life in anyway You see fit. I Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I can see now this could be a problem. My friend from college who lives in Texas convinced me to join Facebook. Suddenly, I'm chatting and looking at photos of my friends from 15 years ago...and it's waaaaay too fun!!! Plus, it connected me to folks who live around here and that's fun, too. But really, it's hilarious to reconnect with blasts from the past and be reminded of then-infamous incidents from my early twenties. Like a certain someone who only slightly desecrated the Lincoln Memorial one Spring's good to catch up with you girls!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Good Friend

A good friend....

sets her watch alarm to ring every afternoon when she knows that you are at your most frazzled and stops to pray for you.

finds winter boots for your daughter. In her size. In her favorite color. Out of state. And calls to tell you about it.

comes over to take your kids to her house when you've discovered they've "decorated" the upstairs bathroom with soft scrub and permanent markers.

stops when she sees you weeding the flower bed, seven months pregnant, and insists that you sit down and let her finish the job for you.

dog sits for you ad nauseum!

flies across the country when you bring your baby home and takes a week off work without pay, just to help you keep from losing your mind.

shows up in the middle of the night to watch the house and kids while you take your husband to the ER to get stitches.

brings you homemade soup and bread when you have the flu and no one else knows you are sick.

drops off a caffeine free diet coke on your doorstep just because she was thinking of you and knew you wouldn't dream of taking four kids under the age of seven to the store for such a small thing.

remembers your birthday, even when everyone else forgets because you just had a baby and all they can think about is how cute that baby is.

listens to you without judging or pointing out your faults. And then she prays. For you. For the situation. For everything.

encourages you at all times and always has something godly to say to you.

remembers that every baby should be celebrated, even if you've had twenty babies before this one.

sends a thank-you card to your daughter just for being such a great daughter to you.

sends you "fun money" so you can treat yourself to that new haircut or pair of shoes you couldn't justify putting in the family budget this month.

eats ice cream with you without making comments like, "Oh, we really shouldn't" but instead says, "Let's celebrate being able to hang out together!"

loves you for who you were, who you are and who God wants you to be.

Thanks, God, for so many, many good friends. Thank You for using them to teach me what it means to be a friend and how to recognize Your friendship. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Crying It Out

After our visit with the pediatrician yesterday, I came home to have the "crying it out" discussion with hubby. We've had this discussion thrice before (ooh, I love being able to use the word 'thrice') and each time, I've had to get over the heartbreaking idea of letting my babies cry themselves to sleep. Our babies love to beheld. I mean they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. With Emma, we didn't make her cry it out until she was eight months old. I didn't have anyone else to take care of, so I didn't mind. My husband, on the other hand, felt I was letting her manipulate me. So, after three tortuous nights, she started falling asleep in her own bed, on her own. Ruthie was about 5 months old. Olivia--somewhere between 4-5 months.

But, Samuel is a different story for me. He spent so much of those first weeks of his life crying and I couldn't touch him or hold him or comfort him in any tangible way. When he cries, my instinct is to scoop him up and snuggle away whatever is bothering him. My husband bought him a shirt yesterday that says "Mama's Boy." Yep, that's him in a nutshell. Charlie has been wanting me to let him cry it out for a few weeks now and I kept insisting that he was too young. But, the pediatrician sided with hubby and informed me that he is at the perfect age to begin letting him comfort himself.

Sigh. It's the beginning of letting go. The beginning of teaching him to be independent of me, reliant on the Lord. And it aches. Oh, how it aches. I think because he is our last. Because I don't want to hurry any of these ages and stages along. I want to treasure even the middle of the night feedings, because when they are gone, they're gone for good. I can see now why the baby in every family is usually "babied." Everyone wants to hold on just a bit longer.

And so, I sit here typing this post while my son cries it out in the other room. My heart aches and I know in some ways, God is letting me cry it out, too. He's letting me learn to let go and let Him take control of these children. In His wisdom, He is showing me in so many ways that He is still here, but it's time to mature and move on. It's time to trust.

Thank You, Lord, for being here with me now. Please give comfort to Samuel and allow Him to rest. Help me to trust You with him and our girls. Thank You for wanting more for me, even when I really don't. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Nutrition Guidelines for Preschoolers and School Age Children

In case you were curious ( I was!), here are the nutritional guidelines for preschool age and school age children (ages 4-10). You can also look at the FDA's new food pyramid for further information. The amounts listed below are minumum recommended daily allowances. Seeing some of those amounts convicted me to never buy another fruit snack or "quick" snack again!

Milk (1% or skim):
ages (4-6) 2-2.5 cups/day
ages (7-10) 3 cups/day

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Cheese, Eggs, Cheese:
ages (4-6) 2-3 oz/day
ages (7-10) 4 oz/day

ages (4-6) 2-3 servings (1/3 C or 1/2 small fruit)
ages (7-10) 2-4 servings (1/2 C or 1 small fruit)

ages (4-6) 2-3 servings (1/3 C)
ages (7-10) 3-5 servings (1/2 C)

Breads and Cereals (whole grain only):
ages (4-6) 4-9 servings
ages (7-10) 6-11 servings

Just your ordinary, average kids

Two of the four of our kids had check-ups today. Both received clean bills of health, though Samuel needed five vaccinations (ouch!), so if he could express his feelings in words, I'm sure there would have been quite the objection. He settled for about 30 seconds of screaming, followed by vigorous nursing and is now sleeping off the whole ordeal. He's so easy to please.
Our pediatrician's words as we left went something like, "You should be thankful to have four ordinary, average, well-adjusted kids. I rarely see that in a family any more."
So, in this crazy world where we fall into believing the lie that our kids are somehow competing against our neighbor's kids in every department from athleticism to musical talent to reading ability to physical stature, I'm thankful to have average children. Not that I think they are average. Don't get me wrong. I think each of them are unique, special creations, hand crafted by God for His yet-unrevealed-purposes. But, none of them have learning disabilities that we are aware of. None of them have tragic childhood illnesses. They haven't been abused or ravaged by war. We aren't destitute. Most importantly, all of our children know they are us and by the Lord.
So, I'll take average and ordinary. Because average and ordinary today is really exceptional and extraordinary in this crazy world we live in.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder today that we don't have to compare ourselves or our children to any standard or measure except that of Jesus Christ. And, that You make up the huge difference we lack in Your atoning grace and mercy. Thank You for each one of my extraordinary children...and for the extraordinary Love You show us all. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Don't Make Any New Year's Resolutions...

until you are sure your heart is right with God! Mrs. U posted this list and it was so good, I had to post it myself. It's a long list, but I hope you take the time to read it, even print it out and really contemplate on those items the Holy Spirit draws to your attention. Now is not the time to be working in your flesh. Now is the time for your spirit to be renewed rightly.

Happy New Year!

40 Evidences That You May Have Left Your First Love
1. You can go hours or days without having more than a passing thought of Him.
2. You don’t have a strong desire to spend time with Him.
3. You don’t have a strong hunger for the Word; Bible reading is a “chore” – something to mark off your “to do” list.
4. Spending time in prayer is a burden/duty rather than a delight.
5. Your worship is formal, dry, lifeless, merely going through the motions.
6. Private prayer and worship are almost non-existent . . . cold and dry.
7. You are more concerned about physical health, well-being, and comfort than about the wellbeing and condition of your soul.
8. You crave physical food, while having little appetite for spiritual food.
9. You crave human companionship more than a relationship with Christ.
10. You spend more time and effort on your physical appearance than on cultivating inner spiritual beauty to please Christ.
11. Your heart toward Christ is cold and indifferent; not tender as it once was, not easily moved by the Word, talk of spiritual things, etc.
12. Christianity is more of a checklist than a relationship with Christ.
13. You measure spirituality (yours/others’) by performance rather than the condition of the heart.
14. Christianity is defined more what by what you “do” than who you “are” (“doing” vs. “being”).
15. Your obedience and service are motivated and fueled by expectations of others or a desire to impress others, more than by passion for Christ.
16. You are more concerned about what others think and pleasing them, than about what God knows and pleasing Christ.
17. Your service for Christ and others is motivated by a sense of duty or obligation.
18. You find yourself becoming resentful over the hardships and demands of serving Christ and others.
19. You can talk with others about kids, marriage, weather, and the news, but struggle to talk about the Lord and spiritual matters.
20. You have a hard time coming up with something fresh to share in a testimony service at church or when someone asks, “What’s God been doing in your life?”
21. You are formal, rigid, and up-tight about spiritual things, rather than joyful and winsome.
22. You are critical or harsh toward those who are doctrinally off-base or living in sin.
23. You enjoy secular songs, movies, and books more than songs or reading material that point you to Christ.
24. You prefer the company of people who don’t love Christ, to the company and fellowship of those who do.
25. You are more interested in recreation, entertainment, and having “fun” than in cultivating intimacy with Christ through worship, prayer, the Word, and Christian fellowship.
26. You display attitudes or are involved in activities that you know are contrary to Scripture, but you continue in them anyway.
27. You justify “small” areas of disobedience or compromise.
28. You have been drawn back into sin habits that you put off when you were a young believer.
29. “Little” things that used to disturb your conscience, no longer do.
30. You are slow to respond to conviction over sin – or you ignore it altogether.
31. You enjoy certain sins and want to hang onto them. You are unwilling to give them up for Christ.
32. You are not grieved by sin – it’s no big deal to you.
33. You are consistently allured by certain sins.
34. You are self-righteous--more concerned about sin in others’ lives than in your own.
35. You are more concerned about having the right position than the right disposition.
36. You tend to hold tightly to money and things, rather than being quick to give to meet the needs of others.
37. You rarely give sacrificially to the Lord’s work.
38. You rarely have a desire or burden to give, when you hear of legitimate financial needs within the Body, your church, or a ministry.
39. Accumulating and maintaining material “things” consumes more time and effort on your part than seeking after and cultivating spiritual riches.
40. You have broken relationships with other believers that you are unwilling or have not attempted to reconcile.

This list is from "Revive Our Hearts."