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.


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


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snow Stories


It has been a long time since all four of us spent an entire weekend here at home...no one working, no one shopping or running errands, no one socializing, no one even going to church. Winter storm Jonas offered us two and a half days to slow down. We did a little housework, drank a lot of coffee, ate too much, kept up with the laundry in case we lost power (we didn't), watched videos, cleaned out a couple of closets...and told snow stories.



On Sunday afternoon, I asked everyone to share a snow memory. 

I went first. Of course, I had to tell two because who can decide? And why tell one story when you can tell two? 

I preface mine with the fact that my parents were very protective and if they had had a clue of what we were doing, they'd have both had coronaries. They thought that the church youth were going "sledding" because that's what it was called. But the "sleds" were car hoods that were roped onto the backs of pick-up trucks! Five or six kids would pile on the upside down car hood, and then the driver would drive down a dark, winding country road while we slid around and hung on and had the time of our lives! I didn't know enough to be afraid, and my parents didn't know that the "sleds" were car hoods, and what in the world were the adults in charge thinking? As an adult, I cringe. But oh, did we ever have some fun that night!

My other memory was of a similar incident, only this time Ron and I were married, and we were on the family farm, and the car hood was tied to the back of a tractor driven by Ron's brother. And I was very newly pregnant with my firstborn. (Yikes!) There were young adult brothers and sisters and in-laws and nieces and nephews, and again, we had such fun! 

After I finished, Kati said, "Both of your stories are adventurous, Mom!" Which strikes us all as being ironic as I am truly the least adventurous person that I know. (Who was that crazy person?) 




Kati reminisced about childhood snow days when Ryan still lived at home. His good friend Josh would drive over to our house, and Ryan, Kati, and Josh...and Ryan's black Lab, Buster, who loved snow...would walk back to the woods and shake snow from tree limbs on each other's heads and throw snowballs and make snow angels while Buster tried to lick their faces. They would build a snowman if the snow was right. 

Bekah remembered a time that Sarah (who was not yet Ryan's wife) came over and she built a row of tiny snowmen on the picnic table. Sarah was also snowed in with us one time, and the power went out and we played charades by candlelight. 





Ron's snow story was the most dramatic! He told of a Christmas Eve that his family was returning home from a family Christmas party. It had begun to snow while they were at the party and several inches of fresh snow had already fallen. His father was driving slowly down the highway, when he said, "That looked like a man!" He turned the car around and went back and, sure enough, there was a man lying in the median of the highway! Dad got out of the car, telling Ron's oldest brother to come with him. Ron joined them (he was a preteen at the time) and the three of them approached the man. He was alive and so grateful that they had stopped. He had been walking to the motel across the road where he worked as a night auditor and had fallen in the snow. Being a very large man, he was unable to get up. They helped him to his feet, made sure that he was okay, and on he went to work.



What are your snow memories (dramatic or otherwise)?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wintering



With the harshness of winter settling in this week {snow, bitter temps, a cold virus}, I can only be grateful that it is now rather than...

...when the new baby arrived and we were traveling back and forth with the children between our home and their home and the hospital

...during moving weekend when our family was traveling busy roads in separate vehicles and all of their worldly goods were being hauled into the new house

...when Ron was ill and in the hospital, or even when he was home but using a walker or a cane, and when I was doing the driving. 

Yes, now I have the luxury of staying home and feeding the woodstove and hunkering down. 

Now, we are wintering.
  • Simplifying decor. 
  • Enjoying cozy candlelight.
  • Making soup. Last night it was Baked Potato Soup. Comfort food. 
  • Watching Downton Abbey. Relishing this last season and wondering what winter Sunday evenings will be like without it! 
  • Drinking hot coffee. Drinking hot tea. (Key word: hot.)
  • Getting our school work done...even if it means reading in our pj's while nursing a cold. 
  • Looking at the snowy scenes that are outside our windows.
  • Keeping a few snippings of rosemary on my kitchen window sill.
  • Tackling miniprojects. A miniproject is a little extra task (not one in the normal round of chores) that can be accomplished in 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Crafting. I finally gathered all my supplies for a penny runner. I plan to begin it this week.
  • Planning. Always planning.













And even though this has nothing at all to do with wintering (although she is a winter baby ~smile~), I must show you a picture (or two) (or even three) of Macie. 




Edited to add: 
So far the cold virus has only struck Bekah at our house. But my parents have both been sick and our son's family have all had it.

Are you wintering? What sorts of things are you doing?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Coming Home


It's been a thrilling week for our family, with a couple of significant homecomings! 

First, Macie Violet came home to a houseful of adoring siblings, all eagerly waiting their turn to hold her. 











A few days later, our faraway family moved "home" to Maryland and are no longer far away!


Bekah and I were excited to be able to have the children over while the moving truck was being unloaded. The older children stayed longer, but Baby Paul decided that he'd rather go back to the new house to take his afternoon nap. :)








But even as I ponder how wonderful "home" can be, I acknowledge that even the most loving and comfortable home is the palest shadow of what is to come. As believers, we wander here as sojourners, on the way to our Heavenly home.




"For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come."
Hebrews 13:14


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Weekend Snapshots: A L-o-n-g Weekend with a Beautiful Ending!


On Saturday afternoon, Ron answered a phone call from our daughter Kristin. Of course, we have been on Baby Watch, and so my ears perked up! Her water had broken, but they had company (what?!) and they were going to eat (what?!) and she would call back when she was ready for me to come to stay with the children. (How about now?!)

How do you proceed with your day when you're waiting for such a thing? 

After sitting by the phone for a while, we decided that we'd go to Chick-fil-A and have an early dinner. We ate and lingered and were regaled by stories from the dining room host. Still no call. (What?! Don't you remember that you have an hour's drive to the hospital?!) We called "to let them know where we were" (but really to find out what was happening there) and arranged that Bekah and I would arrive around 7:30. 

We arrived...to an excited household and a calm and happy mommy-to-be. (Whew!) All of the pre-labor jitters were ours, not theirs. 



All was well as they showed me the girls' freshly painted bedroom, gave the children good-bye hugs, and headed off to the hospital, via a stop for gas. 



Brian called later to let us know that Kristin had been admitted, but that it looked like it would be a long night. (So there really was no rush to get to the hospital. We grandparents get a little more uptight than the parents, I suppose.) We all went to bed, hoping that there would be a baby by morning. 

No baby by morning. 

After breakfast and chores, I brought the children to our house. We went to church, ate spaghetti and meatballs, played games...and waited...and waited. Every time the phone would ring or a text would come, our faces lit up, only to have our shoulders sag when we realized it was someone else who wanted news. 

Finally, the news we were waiting for! She had arrived at 4:14 pm! 

Within an hour, we were all headed to the hospital to meet our new sister/niece/granddaughter. 


Macie Violet,
our newest little blessing


I don't have pictures of the children with their new baby sister, because all of us were not allowed in the room at the same time, and we let the five of them go first. I do have sibling photos of Macie's first moments at home which I will share another day.




Yesterday, Macie and her parents came home to begin life as a family of eight.

And now we await the arrival of our son and his family this weekend!

It is not an uneventful, tea-sipping, movie-watching, clean-out-the-closet kind of January here! The new year is off with a bang!


Thursday, January 7, 2016

At Any Cost, Dear Lord, By Any Road


During a difficult time on our journey of medical upheaval, my precious daughter-in-law Sarah shared a hymn with me. She had come across this line in a biography of Amy Carmichael: At any cost, dear Lord, by any road. Those words became a frequent prayer for Sarah, and she later discovered that they were a part of a longer poem.



At the beginning of this new year, I want this to be the prayer of my heart.


MY GOAL IS GOD HIMSELF
by Frances Brook

My goal is God, Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself my God,
'Tis His to lead me there not mine, but His
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.

So faith bounds forward to its goal in God.
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there;
Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard
Till God hath full fulfilled my deepest prayer.

No matter if the way be sometimes dark.
No matter though the cost be oft-times great,
He knoweth how I best shall reach the mark.
The way that leads to Him must needs be straight.

One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay;
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord;
My God my glory here, from day to day,
And in the glory there my great Reward.





Monday, January 4, 2016

New Beginnings


At our house, the new year is off to a slow start. 

We hosted a Christmas gathering for a few friends on New Year's Day, and we lingered in the season a bit longer over the weekend. Eating an assortment of Christmas desserts on Sunday afternoon. (It looked rather like a chocolate buffet. Is that a bad thing?) Untrimming this and that. Burning evergreen candles so we don't have to store them for the next eleven months. Enjoying the last few days before Ron's extended "vacation" is over.



Tomorrow, our unofficial New Year begins. We are looking ahead to new beginnings!

Yes, tomorrow Ron is back to work for the first time since mid-October. He had a follow-up with the surgeon today and all is well. Praise the Lord! It is time for a new beginning at the office.

Tomorrow, Bekah and I are back to homeschool. January is always a time for renewed enthusiasm about our studies, but after a particularly challenging autumn, we are especially ready for a new beginning this year. Music is a special area of new beginnings. Bekah's piano lessons will resume after a two-month break. The new choir will begin practicing music for a spring recital. And Bekah will begin accompanying the younger chorus on a different day. Her eyes are shining!

Our family is on Baby Watch as our oldest daughter awaits the arrival of her new baby girl, our tenth grandchild. Is a new baby ever "old hat"? Never! We can't wait to meet her!


(If you look behind Ben and Alaine, you can get a peek at the growing Baby Girl!)


There are more new beginnings for our son's family! Ryan is currently on a "Journey Through Israel" tour with Michael Card. As soon as he returns, the movers will come and our formerly "Faraway Family" will come to Maryland and will live even closer than our "Nearby Family"! 

New beginnings galore!

Also new? His compassions. Indeed, His Word tells us that they are new every morning!

Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22, 23

What a tremendous comfort these words are. Although I have failed, His compassions have not failed. He extends new grace to me...every morning. Amazing!

So I won't be making any New Year's resolutions. I have found that I can't change myself by simply trying to improve. But I will step into a new year striving to walk more closely to my Master, falling on His grace, and resting in His mercy. 




Is there anything new in your world?

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