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, June 30, 2010

Good Company

When you succumb to a yucky summer cold


and Mom says you can watch a movie


in the middle of the day


it's nice if you have some furry company.





Monday, June 28, 2010

Quiet

The house is eerily quiet today.

The only sounds have been Chopin and the occasional tinkling of Pinky's collar as she changes nap positions. I don't know if I have heard this much quiet in thirty years.

Ron is at work. Kati will be away for (too) many more weeks. And Bekah spent the night with her niece and nephews last night. She was so excited. Every Sunday as Kristin and her family leave our house for home, the children all beg to have a sleepover. And every Sunday we remind them that they have school the next day and they do not have clothes or toothbrushes and that summer is coming. (The next part of this scenario is that they all act keenly disappointed, as if they thought that we would really say yes this time.) So at the beginning of summer, Kristin and I coordinated our calendars and scheduled in a few sleepovers. And last night was Bekah's night.

Here she is leaving the house yesterday afternoon, appearing to be leaving for an extended vacation. I suppose most girls have trouble packing light; there are just so many essentials.


It was a big day for Bekah, because it was also the day of her summer piano recital!


Here is Bekah surrounded by her supportive family who came out in the blazing heat to hear her play.

Photo by Ron (l to r): Gammy, Maddie, Bekah, Ben, Kristin, Owen, Brian, Gavin, me


Bekah left the recital with her big sister's family, after a quick smile and a wave (not even a hug, as she was already in the back seat of the van!)...and Ron and I left alone. Alone.

Well, we had a lovely evening—a quick errand, a relaxed dinner out, and then home to a movie and tiny Edy's ice creams for dessert.

But now it is today. And quiet. And I am getting a little taste of the empty nest which will probably be in my future. I have to say that I am not looking forward to it. I don't like change. I love being a mom. I love the company of my children and the camaraderie that homeschooling affords us. But, as I (slowly) adjusted to my two oldest children leaving the nest, I will make that adjustment again when the time is right. For now, I will continue to revel in the day-to-day with my girls. I will be grateful that I have this time with them.

In this quiet afternoon, I have had time to be quiet. I have thought about the concept of quiet.

One of my favorite devotional books is Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. In the opening devotional, Elisabeth talks about keeping our hearts quiet, even when life is not. She says, "A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. All is grace."

I want my heart to remain quiet, even after my little chatterbox returns from her overnight adventure bubbling over with stories. I want my heart to remain quiet, even as my emotions are fragile with missing the company of my dear Kati. I want my heart to remain quiet, even when life brings sorrow or sickness or parting or confusion or disappointment or tragedy. I have shared this poem by Amy Carmichael before. But it is also in Keep a Quiet Heart and I was reminded of it again today.

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee!
Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?

Father, keep my heart quiet.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Followup: I just realized how well these thoughts go along with what Kristin posted recently. Take a moment and visit her here.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Gift Box

My daughter Kristin has begun a new feature on her blog. It is Thrifty Thursday and it will run throughout the summer.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not the thriftiest member of my family, but I have learned a few things over the years of living with a thrifty man. Here is my contribution for the week: Keep a gift box.

I keep a box in my bedroom in which I gather gift possibilities. (Actually, it used to be a box, but it is now a large shopping bag that I semi-hide behind the chair in my bedroom—but you get the idea.)

Sometimes it’ll be a book or toy that I think one of my grandchildren will like. Or it may be that Pier I has candles on sale and I pick up a couple of extras. Or I find a cute box of stationery in Tuesday Morning, or a sweet-smelling hand soap at Marshalls. Then if I need a hostess gift, or a birthday add-on, or a prize for a party game, or something to send home with a grandchild on his or her Special Day, I can save myself some time and money and just nose around in the gift box for a special something.


If you want to read some thrifty tips (or add one of your own!), head on over to Kristin's Thrifty Thursday!

***
Pssst...My favorite stores for these little gifts are Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, Home Goods, and Target (check out the dollar section at the front of the store, and always the clearance items on the endcaps). Come to think of it, these are some of my favorite stores for many things!

What are your bargain stores?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eavesdropping

Overheard last week while my grandchildren were playing...

GAVIN: Ben’s a dumpling.

Pause.

GAVIN: Even better—Ben’s an apple pie.

OWEN: Ben’s a cherry pie.

GAVIN: No, because I don’t like cherry pie.


So sweet! (Pun intended.)



The brothers (L to R): Ben, Owen, Gavin


Wonders


"The wonder that Almighty God can endure so far to leave the very making of an immortal being in the hands of human parents is only matched by the wonder that human parents can accept this divine trust with hardly a thought of its significance!"


~ Charlotte Mason

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Daddy Is...

Hard-working


Honest


Steady


Handy


Dependable


and...







Loved by me!

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Father's Lesson

Today, I'd like to share an article that Ron wrote for our local homeschool newsletter a few years ago...


A Moment of Epiphany

Long ago, I learned an important lesson in setting priorities.

It was over twenty years ago. I was a very busy young father who was trying to make ends meet in every way that I could. I would often do side jobs to supplement our income, and spent most Saturdays away from home after working a full time job Monday through Friday. Therefore, it was my wife who got to spend all of the quality time with the children on Saturday activities.

One Saturday morning, my wife was on her way out the door to take my son, Ryan, who was about six-years-old, to a Royal Rangers scouting event...when I had that moment of epiphany. That little boy was following his mother out the door, when I realized that it should have been me that he was following. The moment is frozen in my memory. I can still see that little blond boy, dressed in his Royal Ranger uniform, with a comb sticking out of his back pocket.

Because of prior obligations, I could not go after him that day. But I promised myself that from then on, it would be me that he would be following, and it would be me who would be taking him to the events that would shape his life.

I kept that promise, and have always made it a priority to do the important things with my children. As fathers, we feel the pressure to provide financially for our families, but the moments that we spend with our children are far more important than that extra dollar we make.

Yes, that was over twenty years ago. I am now the father of two adult children and two still at home. I have realized how short the time is that we have with our children. Fathers, my advice to you is to do everything that you can with your children while they are with you. Don’t wait until it is too late to have your own moment of epiphany!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ron is the patriarch of our growing family. This photo was taken in March 2009--the last time we were all under one roof! There were 14 of us then...and still are, although that is due to change this autumn.



Enjoying last Father's Day with his children and grandchildren


Because Ron is their father,
these four are blessed!

Bekah, Kati, Ryan, Kristin

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Let's Count Again!

Did I say seven? I should have said eight!

That's right...come autumn, Ron and I will be Papa and Gran to EIGHT precious grandchildren! Kristin and Brian are expecting their fifth blessing in September, and Ryan and Sarah are expecting their third in November. We could not be more pleased!

When Kristin announced their happy news on her blog a few months ago, a sweet commenter posted her response: "Such a privilege to be chosen again."

I was so moved by Angela's beautiful words. So often folks act as if it is our choice when a new family member is coming. But I agree with Angela that the parents have been chosen to do this work, to receive this blessing. If He does not give life, there is no life.

We are thanking the Lord for these new little ones who will bless our lives!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


"Here is a little mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, to her most tender cares, to her life-long prayers! Oh how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!"
~ Elizabeth Prentiss’ Stepping Heavenward

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm Game


It was a game-ish sort of weekend!

On Friday night, a sweet friend hosted a delightful game party...lots of yummies, new friends and old, and laughing until our faces hurt.

Sunday afternoons always find us playing a game or two (or three). This Sunday, we played Dutch Blitz...to brush up on our blitzing skills while Kati is away. Kati, who is normally so reserved and quiet and sweet, becomes an elbow-poking, scratching, blitz-or-die bundle of competitiveness when playing this game!

But sandwiched in between these two days was Owen's Special Day.

When Gavin and Maddie have their special days, there is a variety of activities. Sometimes it's eating corn-on-the-cob; sometimes it's going birding; sometimes it's visiting the zoo.

But our little Owen takes comfort in sameness. He likes his routine. He likes predictability. So when it's time for Owen's Special Day, we know what we're going to do. We will play games, we will eat at the "Deery Queen", and we will rejoin his Mama and Daddy at Barnes and Noble. (That last part happened by accident. On one of his Special Days, we needed to pick up something at Barnes and Noble, so Owen's family met us there to retrieve him...so now Mr. Sameness thinks that that is also part of Special Day activities. Which is fine with us, but just too funny!)

On Saturday afternoon, Owen arrived at Papa and Gran's house oh-so-ready to play games. Check out his bag! It is bulging with games he has brought to play!



We played:
  • Guess Who
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos
  • Cars Memory
  • A Pooh matching game
  • Five Little Monkeys
  • I Spy card game
  • Maisy Game
  • Berenstain Bears card game
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Game
  • Old Maid

Yes. And some of them twice. Or three times.




And a good time was had by all.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Adventure Begins

Farewells and have-a-good-summers had been said.

Kate, Kati, and Britni

Bon voyage celebrations had been enjoyed...an ice cream party with Ron's side of the family, a farewell dinner with my parents, and Kristin, Brian, and family.


Gammy, Kati, and Gampy

Kati, Kristin, and Brian (back)
Gavin, Ben, Maddie, and Owen (front)


So Traveling Day arrived, and we rose with the sun. Actually, a little before the sun.




Final preparations were made,





we drove to the airport,


and my baby girl walked away, by herself.




By the time the sun set that night, she had reached her destination.


The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Psalm 121:8


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Edited: The previously dark photo of Kati and her friends was lightened by my dear friend Frances who has amazing photo editing skills. If you don't believe me, check out her photography blog The Little Birds Are Urging Me! (Thank you, Frances!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adorable!



photo by Bekah

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fledging

Words directed at Kati over the past few months:
  • Who is going to bake the summer birthday cakes?
  • Who will be my wardrobe consultant?
  • Who is going to turn over the calendar in your room?
  • But you won’t be able to eat your favorite summer meal.
  • But you will miss the family reunion.
  • Who is going to help me clean and organize?
  • You won't get any more homemade ice cream.
  • What if you get homesick?
  • What if I get homesick for you?
And the list goes on.

You see, when Ryan and Sarah invited Kati to spend the summer with them, it was January. It seemed like such a grand opportunity for her...to visit with her family, to spend time with the nieces she hardly knows, to see another part of the country, to be included in their summer travels to more new places. They wanted her to come; she wanted to go.

Now it is June, and my mother's heart is saying, Oh, wait! It is so far. You are so young. You will have to board an airplane alone. You have never been away from home before...you have never been away from me before.
But she is fledging...she is growing...she is going...she is spreading her wings. He (her Heavenly Father) will be with her. And she will return at summer's end, with stories to tell, new experiences to share, deeper love for her far-away family...and another step closer to leaving the nest. (Maybe that is why my mother's heart is wanting to cling.)

To Kati...
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Numbers 6:24-26


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Gran Bird?

On our recent zoo outing, I heard laughing from Bekah and Gavin who had moved ahead to the next caged exhibit. Kati walked back to me and said that the little ones had discovered what they had named the Gran Bird. "You're not going to be flattered," she warned me.

So I wandered over to the giggling children to see this creature:


"It looks just like you!" says Gavin. "It has your hair and your lipstick!"

Oh my.

(And just in case you're wondering, Gavin and I are still friends.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

And Summer Begins


Summer is here!

How do I know? There are a couple of clues. One, we have completed our (formal) schooling for the year. Two, it is hot. In a perfect world, the temperature would never rise above 72° and there would be no humidity. But, as a wise little girl once said when a guest disappointed her by arriving at her tea party wearing pants, "I can't have everything I want." (And that little girl was not Bekah!)

We heralded the arrival of summer this weekend with several firsts.
  • First corn-on-the-cob of the year. This was requested by Kati whose teeth, after two long years, have been freed from their metal encumbrances. Yep, no more braces. She quite enjoyed chomping down on that corn. ~smile~
  • First homemade ice cream of the season. Chocolate. Yes, there are definitely good things about summer, even if you don't like the heat.
  • First opportunity to use the new cotton tablecloth I snagged at Marshalls last fall for an amazing $3.oo. It was calling to me from the clearance rack, and it was saying "picnic table".

And so we move into the next season of life, anticipating new adventures, planning projects, enjoying the gifts that God sends into our lives, whatever those gifts may be.

Here are some snapshots from our weekend...

"Corn-on-the-cob, I have missed you!"


Brian and Ron churning the ice cream
Creamy chocolate goodness

A trampoline is the perfect place to eat ice cream!
Ron's mom and dad

I was all smiles when Benjamin decided to
climb up on the bench beside his Gran.

A joy ride on a golf cart is the best way to end an ice cream party.

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