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, August 25, 2010

An Army Man By Any Other Name...

Kati recently went with Ryan and family on a camping adventure. She has told us many details of the amazing scenery, the beauty that they saw on the drive, and the hikes that they took, as well as some smaller details like what they ate and things they did at the campsite.

But last night when we were chatting with Kati on the phone, she revealed a detail that we hadn't heard before...but we're glad it didn't get lost in her memory before she shared it!

Three-year-old Eve found a little plastic army man near their campsite, the kind her daddy used to play with. She picked it up and made it hers and, in Eve fashion, decided to name him.

"Try to guess what she named him," said Kati.

After a few attempts at guessing a good army man name, Kati said, "Well you're not going to guess."

Can you guess?




Eve's little plastic army man was named:

Salvation Army!


Don't you think that's the perfect name? :-D

Monday, August 23, 2010

The "Zero" Party


Although a couple of birthdays remain, the summer birthday parties are over!

Yesterday we had a lovely party to celebrate Kristin's 30th and my 50th (yikes!) birthday...lots of food...lots of laughs...lots of stories...lots of family fun...lots of presents. Several years ago, we swiped an idea from my friend Jill, and began celebrating the "zero" birthdays with a corresponding number of presents. So, as Kristin and I both had "zero" birthdays this year—well, you do the math—that adds up to a LOT of presents!


(l to r): Kristin, Mom (whose birthday falls between ours and who, thankfully, did not have a "zero" birthday this year), and me


Kristin, having replaced Kati as the official Birthday Cake Baker this year, outdid herself with a positively delicious triple-layer-chocolate-and-vanilla-with-raspberry-frosting-grand-finale of a birthday cake!

Now life can return to school planning and house organizing and getting ready for my very favorite season. (I will try to refrain from putting out the autumn wreaths and gourds and pumpkin candles...for a few more days anyway.)

___

For Kristin's perspective on all the parties, click here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ten Years Later

This morning I am quiet, sober, reflective...and my heart is full of praise.

Ten years ago today
, I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance after suffering a grand mal seizure, following several weeks of mysterious neurological symptoms.

Most of the time, I don't even like to think about those weeks, as they were so troubling. It was like my brain was short-circuited. I'd try to say something, and before I could finish my sentence, I would not know how to complete the thought. I couldn't remember words. I couldn't look up my friend's phone number because I couldn't find the H's. My daughter had taken me to the ER during this time, and I couldn't even answer the simple admittance questions, like my birth date or my home address. My right hand had a tremor.

Then I had the seizure, and woke up two days later in ICU, not knowing where I was and how I had come there.

I don't intend to tell the whole story, as it is also painful to remember. It is enough to say that the ensuing days were filled with tortured thoughts and hallucinations, mostly brought on by the medication with which I was being treated.

But the end of the story is cause for rejoicing. Lots of good came out of that painful time.
  • I eventually returned to normal health. Before I regained consciousness, my family had been told that there was a possibility of permanent neurological damage, but I experienced literally no long term effects. In many of the dark moments during my hospital stay, I asked the Lord to restore me to health so that I could raise my young daughter. My illness was never definitively diagnosed, but as I was weaned from my medications over a period of about a year, the symptoms did not return...and ten years later, I remain symptom free.

  • I was bathed in the love of my family. From the night that Ron rose from sleep to come to the hospital and calm me...to the nights that my mom slept in a hospital chair to offer a calming presence...to the countless things that my daughter did to make her little sister's life as undisturbed as possible.

  • I experienced the love and care of friends in amazing ways. "Acquaintances" would not have done for me and my family what my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ did...prayers, meals, words of encouragement, babysitting for my six-year-old, yard care, generous financial gifts, chauffeuring services during those many months when I was not able to drive.

  • Shortly after my illness, I became pregnant with our youngest child. We named her Rebekah Hope, for I felt that she was a symbol of the hope that was given back to me.

As I reflect today, I am grateful for His mercy.

This life is a vapor. It is tenuous. There are no promises of tomorrow.

But I am thankful for His plan, for His mercy, for His grace.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139: 1, 14-16)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aspirations

When I grow up, I want to be more like my daughter!

Thirty years ago, I became a mother. (Thirty years ago, I became a mother?!!)

Yes, my firstborn is thirty years old this week...Kristin, the dear little red-haired girl who came to grace the world and our lives with her beauty.





Today, Kristin is a loving wife to Brian and mother to four delightful children with another due to arrive in a few weeks. And I do want to be more like her!


Kristin is patient.
She is patient with her children, so sensitive to their needs and different personalities. This amazes me. Learning patience was a process in my own years of mothering, but Kristin seems to have had this gift from the start.

Kristin is decisive.
She and I co-edited our local homeschool newsletter for years. While I tended to hem-and-haw over so many little things (what style font, what size font, where to put this, on and on), she was able to look at the situation and make a quick decision. And this trait carries over to all the areas of her life.

Kristin is organized.
Maybe you have to be organized to run a household of young children, but Kristin had that tendency as a child. Once morning, I saw a book lying in the middle of her bedroom floor. When I asked her why it was there, she explained that she had thrown it there as a visual reminder of something she had thought of after she had gone to bed for the night!
If you nose around her blog, you'll see lots of proof of her organizational gifts. Click here for starters. ("Work a half a day ahead" she says? Huh? Are we even related?! ~wink~)

Kristin is thrifty.
She blesses her family with her ability to live frugally "without feeling deprived." (Her dad is impressed with this.) Check out her summer Thrifty Thursday blog series for some of her tips.

Kristin is giving.
As a little girl, she sprang into action whenever anyone was sick, waiting on them hand and foot. As a teenager, she doted on baby sister Kati. She was a lifesaver to me when I had a serious illness, followed by a difficult pregnancy. She continues to give of herself when others are in need, because she has a giving heart.


I am so grateful that Kristin is who she is, despite her all-too-human mother who was learning on the job.


I look at her...and I see His grace.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Happy Birthday, Kristin!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Anticipation

If I'm getting excited about this...

...I know she is!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The One and Only Owen

In the midst of the August birthdays, our sweet grandson Owen turns four.


Owen...a mystery, an enigma.

Have you ever known a child who was afraid of flamingos...or sunscreen? He doesn't like crowds, even large family parties. He is loathe to eat anything that has color. (White foods are just fine, thank you. And brown—if it's chocolate!) He is sensitive to noise and to smells. Owen and his Aunt Bekah (who probably understands him better than anyone else does) can even identify different pieces of silverware by their smell!

Owen likes consistency and predictability. He craves order in his life. He needs to know what is next. If he is going to Sonic on Friday night, he can tell you on the previous Sunday afternoon exactly what he is going to order.

Although Owen is quiet (we accuse him of trying to conserve words), he loves words and can already read and spell a bit.

His favorite activities are watching movies (he recently told his mama that he thought the movie theater would make a nice place to live) and playing games. Owen played games at a younger age than any child I've ever known. Before his second birthday, he mastered Storefront Bingo that we had bought for Maddie's fourth birthday—learned the names of all the items in all six shops, from the c-clamps in the hardware store to the fez in the hat shop, and insisted on being the caller.

And that smile...


That's our Owen...a delightful, unique blend of talents and quirks and total loveableness!

In the movie version of Anne of Green Gables, Matthew and Marilla are at the train station watching Anne depart for school at Queens Academy. They are reminiscing about the events that brought Anne to them.
Marilla: I'm afraid for her, Matthew. She'll be gone so long. She'll get terrible lonesome.
Matthew: You mean, we'll get terrible lonesome.Marilla: I can't help wishing that she'd stayed a little girl.
Matthew: Mrs. Spencer made a lucky mistake, I guess.Marilla: It wasn't luck; it was Providence. He knew we needed her.
Matthew: Even with her queer little ways.Marilla: I loved her for them.

And we love Owen for who he is...and we thank the Lord for blessing our family with him!
Happy Birthday, sweet Owen!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who is Teaching?

In between birthday musings, birthday reflections, and birthday preparations, I am also thinking about our upcoming school year.

Kristin's family has already begun their homeschool year. She shared their plans last week on her blog, and invited others to share their ideas. I am not quite ready to share as I am still putting the finishing touches on our plans.

In the meantime, however, I came across this poem in Mountain Breezes that renews my perspective.


TEACH THE CHILDREN
Amy Carmichael

The children, Lord, the children—
Our thronging prayers find word
In one deep heart petition:
Do Thou for them, O Lord;
Do Thou for them and teach them
To use their Shield and Sword;
They gallant lovers, make them,
Do Thou for them, O Lord,

That disciplined and fearless,
They fight the fight and win,
Do Thou for them, we pray Thee,
O Spirit of Discipline.
With heavenly power endue them;
With heavenly love fulfill.
Perform in them Thy pleasure;
Teach them to do Thy will.

I passionately believe that I am responsible for teaching my children. I believe that the Bible instructs us to do so. Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 says "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Psalm 145:4 declares, "One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts." And the proverbs are full of instructions to parents to impart wisdom to our children.

But if I teach my children everything I know and lead them to learn all the things I don't know, if they succeed academically, if they memorize Scripture and know all the "right things"...but have not been taught by the Lord Himself, then the knowledge that they have acquired is not enough. To be taught of the Lord is to be moved, to be changed, in the deepest place in the heart. It is an eternal difference...and the only one that counts.

So as I prepare to teach another homeschool year, I pray the words of this poem, "Prepare in them [and in me] Thy pleasure; teach them [and me] to do Thy will."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD;
and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Isaiah 54:13

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Grow Old Along With Me

Growing older? Yes.

Quite a few years have passed since a young mother took her baby to have his photo made.


And since this boy wore the Roy Rogers sweater he loved and grinned for his school picture.


It's been a while since the boy proudly clipped his rabbit's foot to his belt loop and posed.


It's been a number of years since this young man looked ahead at his future and wondered what God's plans for him would be.


Quite a few years have passed since the young man found his soulmate took her as his bride.


Yes, we're growing older together. But as you mark the passage of another year, I say to you:


Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!''

(Robert Browning)



Happy Birthday
to my one and only!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Celebrating Ryan

We will not be with Ryan on his birthday. I cannot bake him a cake (although he certainly does not care about that, as he usually declines birthday cake!), and we can't sing "Happy Birthday" to him as he blows out his candles, or give him a hug.

But celebrate we will, because it was a joyful day when our only son came into the world!

Yes, Ryan brought joy into our world.

Shortly after we found out that we were expecting Ryan, Ron was laid off from his job. For over five months, we prayed, and Ron explored every avenue to find work. Our insurance ran out, and I had to receive prenatal care through the public health department. We were so discouraged. And then the hospital called to say that they expected payment for the delivery and hospital stay, before I was admitted! (Can anyone say "blood from a turnip"?)

Then word came that some of the employees were going to be called back to work. Ron asked the manager when insurance benefits would be reinstated. "The minute you begin working again," was the reply. Ryan was due to be born at any time, so we began to play the waiting game as we waited to see whether the baby or the job would come first! And Ryan was born eleven days after my due date (that was probably the last time he has been late!), Ron was back at work, and full insurance benefits were reinstated. The Lord had faithfully met our needs, in His own way, in His own time. (And as a result of this time of unemployment, Ron was eventually hired by the company that he works for today.)


Ryan brought joy as a rather quiet baby with a ready smile and lots of blonde curls. He brought joy as a little boy who loved teddy bears and was enamored with fire fighting. He brought joy as an inquisitive boy who played Army, and hid his broccoli, and dug up a large portion of the backyard looking for the bones of a dead raccoon. He brought joy as he read lots of books, and played the guitar, and loved his dog Buster, and loved God's creation. And he brought joy as he began to love the truth and love the Lord.




Now Ryan is a man who loves the Lord, who is a devoted husband and father, who is a responsible employee. We miss him every single day, but we know he is where he is supposed to be, and we rejoice in the man he has become. He still brings joy to our world!



Happy Birthday, Ryan!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."
Proverbs 10:1

Monday, August 2, 2010

Let's Prioritize

Official Birthday Season has begun. July has its share of family birthdays...but August is simply overrun with them! Throw in a few close friends' birthdays, add three wedding anniversaries for good measure, and you have a perfect picture of celebratory craziness!

So someone tell me why I am reading, not one, not two, but three books right now! I pulled Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin from Kati's bookshelf and began to read it. Then an Amazon order arrived with Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families by Sarah Clarkson, and The Reluctant Entertainer: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality by Sandy Coughlin. And I need to read them all. Now.



I suppose I can fit in a few pages between birthday shopping. Surely Ron and Bekah won't expect dinner every night. The birthday party-ers won't notice a bit of dust, will they? And Kristin is making the birthday cakes this year. Hmmmm...

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