As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Pineapple House




When we began to consider moving, there was a small list of specifics that we were looking for in a new house...

  • All of the main living spaces to be on one level. (We would consider a two-story if the master bedroom and bathroom were on the ground floor, but we preferred one level.)
  • More than one bathroom.
  • One area large enough to gather with our extended family. This large area could be a living room or a great room or a large country kitchen like we had in The Farmhouse. We just knew we needed some kind of space for Sunday afternoons and holiday dinners and birthday celebrations. 
  • Small-ish yard.
  • A garage or shop or barn for Ron.
  • Charm!

Okay, so maybe charm was not a requirement, but after living in an older home with pretty moldings and quirky spaces and pine floors for thirty-five years, we were hoping to have a wee bit of charm in our new abode. 

I began to explore online real estate listings: Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia. One of the first houses I saw had this beautiful fireplace wall,


and I was drawn in!

The house actually met most of our criteria. It was all on one level. There were two full bathrooms and a half bathroom. There was a two-and-a-half car garage. It oozed charm! 

But...there were no pictures of the kitchen (did that mean that it was tiny, or in disrepair?) and no mention of a dining room. A space for a table was a must! Was there any large gathering place in this house? 

For weeks, we looked at house after house after house online. Every time we'd go out for appointments (which was often!), we'd drive by one or more of the houses that were for sale. None of them seemed just right. We drove by the one with the lovely fireplace wall and tried to figure out how in the world there could be a gathering space based on what we knew about the other rooms via the online photos. We finally decided that we'd never know whether it would meet our needs unless we simply went to see it for ourselves, so we called and made an appointment with the listed realtor.

On New Year's Eve, we went to see the house. We walked in the back door and there it was...the kitchen, which was not tiny and not in disrepair! And it had charm, including large casement windows that opened into the sun room!



Then we walked into the room we didn't know was there. Not only was there a dining room, but it was large and it opened into a large living room (the one with that wonderful fireplace wall)! There was our gathering space...more than adequate, and also beautiful, with hardwood floors and crown molding and lots of charm!




While Ron chatted with the realtor team about heating and nuts-and-bolts and everything else, we girls took a self-guided tour of the bedrooms, dreaming about which room could be whose.

Then we peeked into one of the bathrooms and my jaw dropped because there on the wall was a wooden pineapple that Ron had made when we were making folk art back in the '80's!

Ron's pineapple

A sign? Perhaps!

Although we did look at some other homes after this, our hearts were captured by this one, and it is the one that we now call home!

Not only does it has every single thing on our search list, it has so much more!

  • It is a very solid, well-built and well-loved home. (We have met the former owners and they have shared details of the thoughtful planning of their father when he remade the bungalow into a rancher to accommodate their growing family.)
  • It has that lovely fireplace that drew me in.
  • The house has lots of natural light, including sidelights (which I love) on either side of the front door. 
  • There is crown molding in every room.
  • I adore a multi-pane picture window...and there is a lovely one in the new living room! ~swoon~
  • Ron and I have a cozy little suite that is separate from the other bedroom area. 
  • There is fourth bedroom that we are going to use as a school room/office. 
  • There is a sun room.
  • There is a finished basement (which the grands are very excited about). 



Our first Sunday afternoon gathering in the new house...

I had to take two photos to get everyone in! (And I'm still not sure that I did...)

Looking through the picture window...the kids playing a game in the sun room.


When my friend Jill learned that we were leaving The Farmhouse, she told me that she was praying that we'd find a house that we would love as much, and that we would have peace about the transition. We think that those prayers were answered. 

We are so grateful for this gift that is beyond our dreams! We pray that the Lord's name might always be glorified here! 





Friday, April 22, 2016

A Spot of Beauty


We have learned that moving is not for the faint of heart. 

It is work. And thinking. And more work. And more thinking. And when you think you are nearing the end and you've packed up or given away or donated or tossed thirty-five years' worth of worldly goods, then you find another place that isn't packed or another paper you have to sign and it just seems to keep on going. Probably because we are novices at this, and probably because we have too much stuff. But the end is in sight...

I have also learned how important beauty and order are to me. Over the past seven weeks, my pretty things have disappeared one by one, replaced by cleaning products and piles of boxes and starkness and chaos. I confess to feeling discombobulated, longing to put things together rather than take things apart. 

When my daughter-in-law came one night this week, she handed me a cluster of azalea blooms. I scrambled for a vessel and filled it with water, and now the azalea graces my very messy table in my "warehouse" of a kitchen. It is a spot of beauty that makes me smile. 



What if I am that spot of beauty in a lost world? Not because I am beautiful or good or have anything of my own to offer, but because I am reflecting His beauty in the midst of a world of chaos and disorder. 




Monday, April 11, 2016

Gathering the Moments | March




March was crazy-busy and full of grace.

Many days I have wanted to pop in for a chat. I have written oodles of blog posts in my head! But there always seems to be something more urgent that takes my time. Living life in the midst of a move...











If ever there was a month of living the "in between," this was it!

We lived in the past as we cleaned out the attic and uncovered thirty-five years of memories. Baby shoes. Handmade cards from our children...and from our grandchildren. Childhood toys. Childhood books. (Lots of childhood books.) Wedding invitations. Wedding napkins. Graduation announcements. Hand-written notes and birthday cards from loved ones who are no longer with us. Outdated home decor. School papers. School notebooks. (Lots of school notebooks.) Dusty stuffed animals. Old dishes. Old furniture. Baby clothes. A set of books my dad bought for my oldest children, one book at a time until he had collected them all. Photographs. Party invitations. Old love letters. The Fisher Price cash register.

Memories, memories, memories. Some brought smiles. Some brought tears. All are a part of the fabric of life here at The Farmhouse.


We lived in the present as we continued to cook meals, educate, do laundry, and drive to extracurriculars. Kati sprained her hand at work, thus an ER visit, a couple of doctor appointments, and a splint for at least four weeks. Not able to work either of her jobs, she is helpful to me in the sorting-through-memories department.

Baby Macie suffered with some health issues during the month of March. A scary late night trip to the ER brought a diagnosis of RSV. (Praise the Lord, she has fully recovered from that.) She also struggled with silent reflux.

Bekah was long overdue for her eye appointment, so we squeezed it in. She is happy with her new contacts.

During the month of March, we continued to gather. We hosted our church fellowship one Sunday while our regular hosts were out of town the country. We girls hosted a ladies' game night because we wanted to have just one more here at The Farmhouse. We had our usual Sunday afternoon gatherings with our children and grandchildren. And we had our last holiday meal here on Resurrection Sunday.

We gathered at other places too. Kristin and Brian hosted a Sunday afternoon meal. The FLDC (Fashionably Late Dinner Club) met at our friends' and they insisted that we show up empty-handed this time. Joanne and I went for our monthly Mama Coffee. We had several coffee evenings at Ryan and Sarah's house.

Between it all, we sorted, organized, cleaned, tossed, gave to family and friends, and made oodles of trips to Goodwill and other thrift shops to donate.

Oh, there was a lot of living in the present here in March!


We also lived in the future as we packed and planned and pondered.

Friends and family helped us pack dishes (lots of them) and table linens (lots of them) and books (lots of them too). Friends and family helped us with Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the move to our new house. (The final and largest move will be at the end of April.)

We are thinking ahead to new spaces, new arrangements, new surroundings. Paint colors, furniture placement, driving routes. We are thinking ahead to two and a half bathrooms after 35 years of living with one! We are thinking about our new gathering place and all of the possibilities. Of course, we are planning projects. :)





For the month of March, we rejoice in His gifts and His faithfulness to us over these past thirty-five years, we praise Him for His grace in this present flurry of living, and we trust Him with the future.


 ♪ All the way my Savior leads me. What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy who through life has been my guide? 



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The BIG Project in the Works


Exactly one week ago, after thirty-five years in our much-loved home, we put it on the market.



(We can hardly believe it ourselves. It is a BIG deal for us!)

Back in the fall, during Ron's illness and extended recovery, we began to realize that this home that we love is more suited for the young and the healthy. We have only one bathroom, and it is downstairs. All three bedrooms are upstairs. When mobility is an issue...well, it's a problem. 

For months, we have talked about the pros and cons. Our property adjoins family property. But do we need to have this much property to take care of? We could add on a ground floor master suite. But would that cost more than a sale and a move? And do we want to do all that and still have too much property and the issues of an old house? Ron is healthy again, so is it really necessary? But don't we want to make these decisions when we have options and can take our time? Oh, but we've been here so long. Our blood (literally), sweat (absolutely), and tears (those too) are invested in this home. We have made it over, from top to bottom, inside and out. All of our family's memories are right here! We love our house!

In the end, we decided to sell. 

Photo by our dear friend Frances


After listing last Wednesday afternoon, we had eleven showings by Friday!

Seeing that there was significant interest (we had FOUR offers!), our realtor asked for "best and final" offers to be made by Saturday morning. Then we sat down together, chose one of the four (more than our listing price!), and signed the paperwork. It looks like we will be moving in April!

The best part is that we feel that the Lord is leading us. We have asked Him to close doors if this was not His plan for us, but He seems to be opening them wide!

Another photo by Frances


So now...

In the next seven weeks, we will be cleaning out and sorting and packing thirty-five years worth of stuff and earthly treasures. (Determining which things are "stuff" and which things are "treasures" is tough!) 

We'd love to hear your moving tips...we are novices! Please leave advice in the comments. 

Thinking About Home will continue to be quiet-ish, simply because we are so. very. busy. Much to do in a short time! I'll be popping in from time to time to give you peeks at the down and dirty. (Is anyone really interested in seeing the messy?) I'll also give you a few peeks at the new (to us) house! 

It is all exciting and scary and bitter and sweet! 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Homeschooling: Rediscovering the Joy




For twenty-five years I have found tremendous joy in the journey of homeschooling.

And then this year happened. A year of health crisis. A year of busyness. A year of change. A year of challenge. 

And, yes, Bekah's first year of high school.

For the first time ever, I found my joy waning. 

Oh, I was never tempted to stop homeschooling. I am dyed-in-the-wool! Ron and I are convinced that home education is the best thing for our family. But I was discouraged about our progress, about my well-laid plans that were going to pot. I was discouraged that I just couldn't keep up. I could not execute my plan. We were getting behind and there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it.

I even remarked that I had finally found a disadvantage to homeschooling: the fact that family life affects it directly. If my child is being educated away from home, school continues no matter what is going on in our lives.


But then the Lord used several things to refocus my thinking.


This comment: 

Karen Andreola left these kind and encouraging words when I wrote this post.
The cartoon may reflect how you feel but what the author of "Thinking About Home" says to me (between the lines) is that an impressionable ninth grader is benefiting from learning something valuable - outside of "hitting the books hard." She is Providentially learning what a loving and godly wife is.  
Those words were life-giving to a tired homeschool mama. They gave me perspective that I had lost, a right perspective!


This post

Staying on Track (via Living Books Library). The message was practical and affirming, including this thought...
All those "interferences" are part of my children's education, for the children studying at home are not removed from life in the artificial seclusion of a classroom, but are in the midst of its circumstances.
These distractions and diversions were actually a part of Bekah's education. Of course they were!


And this quote:

Found in one of my own blog posts, written five years ago.
Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life.—We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. ‘Thou hast set my feet in a large room,’ should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy.  

The question is not—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?
~ Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series, Volume 3

A full life and a large room. That is the measure of education.



It didn't happen instantly, but slowly I felt the joy return! 

Do I still have academic goals for my student? Is it important to me that a high school credit stand for something? Am I still seeking to equip her for the future? The answer to all of those questions: Absolutely! 

But the events that would take place in our lives during this current school year were not planned by me. Our lives are planned by God, the Master Designer and He is in control of all of the details. 

I believe that He planned this year, with all of its ups and downs, for Bekah's good. He knows what she needs to learn. His curriculum is the best. 

I have made peace with HIS plan. And joy is restored!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Waiting









It has been a full week. A bit of this and a bit of that. Some family time. Some school time. Some house-y projects.

And a big project in the works that is taking a great deal of time and attention. More to come...and yet we wait...


If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord's people have always been a waiting people.  ~ Charles Spurgeon


Saturday, February 13, 2016

{Weekend Reading} The Balance of Things



Things. 

All temporary. We can't take any thing with us. And yet, we do need a certain amount of stuff to accomplish our God-appointed tasks. 

That's where balance comes in. Managing, organizing, sorting our things. Treasuring things with meaning. But not allowing things to own us.

Balance is tricky, isn't it? 


Here's what I've been reading lately...

200 Things to Throw Away

Yes, 200!! That's a good start, wouldn't you say?

8 Rules for Ditching Sentimental Clutter

This is the hardest kind of clutter for me to eliminate, but this writer has some good tips.

Why do so many millennials prefer Ikea to family heirlooms?

This article caught my attention as I am the owner of many family treasures. Will these things be treasured by my children? Is it okay either way? 

This one is more on the topic of managing stuff. (It also goes along with my own rule of thumb: Hide Ugly Stuff.)




What do you think about the balance of things? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Homeschool and the Germaphobe



I am helping Bekah with her algebra lesson. We read aloud this problem:

The number of bacteria increased by 280 percent overnight. If there were 30,000 bacteria yesterday, how many bacteria were present this morning? 


Bekah wrinkles her nose. "Ewww."

And then, "Maybe they're making yogurt."




That's what they're doing. Of course, they're making yogurt.

And now we can move on and solve the (mathematical) problem.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Rigatoni with Sausage and Spinach


Everyone came home from church hungry (sound familiar?) and we had an appointment later in the afternoon so we were in a bit of a hurry. "How long before we eat?" was the question of the hour. 

Within half an hour, we were passing the Parm! 

If you're in need of a yummy meal in a hurry, this might be it. 


Ingredients:
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
large bag (10-oz) baby spinach
grated Parmesan


Directions:
Cook pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
Saute onion until just beginning to brown.
Add sausage and cook until browned, 4 or 5 minutes.*

Stir in chicken broth, stirring to loosen any brown bits from bottom of pan.
Stir in heavy cream and nutmeg.
Simmer 1 minute; remove from heat.

Place spinach in colander; drain pasta over the spinach.
Return pasta and spinach to pot; toss with sausage mixture.
Serve with grated Parmesan.


* If you like your sauce a little thicker, toss in a tablespoon or so of flour after the sausage is browned.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Gathering the Moments | January



A post Christmas gathering / Waiting for Baby

Peeks at the everyday moments

:: Macie Violet ::

:: Moving day ::

Celebrating Brian's birthday

Sweet mommy/daughter moments

Nora's 7th birthday...including the traditional Birthday Dance!

Meeting new niece/cousin

Around our table...

Continuing the celebration


January was a month of new beginnings.

 Ron returned to work after an extended time of medical leave. His health is restored. He feels great.
 Grand #10, our sweet little Macie Violet, joined the family.
 Ryan began a new position, and he and his precious family moved back "home."

We are embracing the changes! And we are praising the Lord for them!

As always, even in the grand and glorious changes, life is made up of moments. Time spent together. Glances exchanged. Baby snuggles. Shared meals. Hugs. Changing a tiny diaper. Coffee time. A long heart-to-heart sitting in the van in your own driveway. Playing "Apples to Apples" with a new reader. Eighteen for Sunday dinner. Watching the snow. A chat on the way to choir. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and hot chocolate mustaches. Joining the Birthday Dance for the first time. Grand giggles. Watching one grandson bounce as his Daddy sings in church. Watching the other grandson play "air guitar" while his Daddy sings in church. 

Moments to be gathered. Moments to be savored. Moments to be tucked away...into the heart. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Let's Chat! {The Winter Kitchen, A Red Timestick, Time and Focus, Weekend Plans}


In the winter kitchen...

During the snow storm, I decided to make these Magical Meyer Lemon Bars. I had been wanting to try them ever since I saw the recipe at Delightful Repast. I was intrigued that you use the entire lemon(s), peel included. These were a perfect snow day dessert: sweet and sunny and special.  



I cooked up this hearty bean soup using what remained of the Christmas ham. I suppose the Christmas season is officially over now. 



Some precious little ones gathered 'round my kitchen table. We had hot chocolate with special snowflake marshmallows (Thanks, Gammy!) and the sweetest conversation. 






Also in the kitchen...


I won this red TimeStick timer over at Delightful Repast in October (but you know how our October went). I am just now getting around to saying "thank you" for this handy gizmo! All kitchen times are not created equal, and TimeStick is certainly a cut above. It is sturdy. It counts up. It counts down. It sticks to most metal surfaces (I keep mine on the side of my microwave). But you can also put it in your pocket, or use the lanyard to hang it around your neck if you need to go upstairs to make your bed while your cake is in the oven and don't want to miss hearing the beep. :)

Thank you Jean for hosting the giveaway and for my new red (love red!) TimeStick. 





And speaking of time...

Time is something that has eluded me these past months. Focus has eluded me even more!

Oh certainly, life has settled down considerably. Ron is healthy and back to work, Baby Macie is here, and Ryan and family have moved. We are immeasurably grateful for all of these blessings!

But my schedule has not returned to normal. We are in a very busy season of homeschooling.

My mindset has not returned to normal. After all of the changes of the past months, I have not easily fallen back into my routines. Time management is a lifelong struggle for me...even when things are going smoothly.

We are also in a season of making decisions and that has taken quite a bit of my time and mental energy.

All that to say...

Please understand if this blog is a little quieter than it used to be. I have thoughts swirling around up there, but not always the time or the focus to gather them together and do something grand.

Please offer grace if my commenting on your blogs is hit-and-miss. It may be because I have been too busy to visit, or it may be because I am too tired or distracted to put words together cohesively.





This weekend. I have been looking forward to it all week! A little celebration for Nora's 7th birthday today. A big Sunday dinner together tomorrow. For the first time since Ryan has moved back and Macie has been born. For the first time since there have been eighteen of us. {{Joy!!} And Kati is having some friends from work over to play Scrabble tomorrow evening.

Yes, we're busy! But we're busy with good things...and that's the best kind of busy!




Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!
Psalm 68:19


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