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 home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Most Special Thanksgiving Blessing!

Tantalizing aromas were in the air; the many dishes were on the card table, the kitchen counter, and even on the top of the computer cabinet! Drinks were poured, candles were lit, and all of us had gathered to sing a hymn and offer a prayer of Thanksgiving.

Then the phone rang.

Who could it be? On any other Thanksgiving afternoon, we would have had no idea. But this one was different. After all, we had been on
Baby Watch for quite a few days. I hoped that my guess was right this time, because every. single. time. the phone had rung for a month or more, I had thought, This could be the news.

I answered, pushed the "speaker phone" button, and—joy of joys!—heard my son's voice on the other end of the line, across the many miles. All the faces in the room lit up as he told us that Sarah had been admitted to the hospital and that this could be The Day!

After the call, we sang "For the Beauty of the Earth" and these words...

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

...held special meaning to me as we sang them.

We ate our wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, talked, cleaned up, talked, ate dessert, and talked some more...all the while, our far-away family was never far from our minds. But as the hours went on, there was no more news, and then a text from Ryan to Brian said that they would probably be going back home. Sigh.

Late on Thanksgiving night—actually it was after midnight, so technically it was Friday here—the phone rang again. I grabbed it and, again, it was Ryan's voice. Assuming they were back at home, we made small talk for a minute or two. I asked him what they were doing, and he said, "Just hanging out with our new son."

Peter Ryan had arrived on Thanksgiving Day after all! He was 9 pounds, 2 ounces (a big little boy!) and was 21 and ¾ inches long (will he be tall like his daddy?), and, most importantly, Mama and Baby are healthy and happy!

Ryan with his new son

Big sisters Eve and Nora in awe of their newborn brother

We have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which is our most special Thanksgiving blessing, Peter Ryan!

Indeed we sing, Lord of all, to Thee we raise,This our hymn of grateful praise!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting Ready For Uncle Tommy

My brother-in-law Tommy usually comes to my back door when my house is in total disarray. Now Tommy is an all-around great guy and we enjoy his company, so it's not that we don't want to see him or anything. But Tommy (who lives just a few houses away) drops by when I have decided on a whim to paint the medicine cabinet, and its contents and all of the little bottles of paints of possible medicine cabinet colors are spread all over the kitchen floor. Or when we're in the middle of a craft project. Or the ironing board is out along with several weeks (months?) of ironing piles.

Often, when we've finished a Ten Minute Tidy, Bekah will say, "Okay, Uncle Tommy can come now." (But he never comes after a Ten Minute Tidy.)

So, we're expecting Uncle Tommy today.

Yep, the conditions are just right.

This morning, as Ron was getting ready to return to work after four days off, he dropped a pill on the floor and bent to pick it up. Then he said to me, "Oh...I didn't think our floors ever looked like that." I think that was a compliment. I think. Well, I'm going to take it as such. (If it wasn't, he really should have been more careful, don't you think? He did not need to drop that pill or get eye-level with the debris on the floor or gasp at what he saw there. He didn't.)

What a wonderful four days it was! (The debris on the floor only proves that we were doing more fulfilling things than tidying and vacuuming.)
  • A bounteous Thanksgiving.
  • A lovely day of a little shopping, Thanksgiving leftovers, and watching A Christmas Carol.
  • An exciting day of getting down the Christmas decorations, of four little guests, of subs for supper, of unwrapping the new ornaments, of tree trimming and mad libs and games and Miss Mary Mack.
  • A day with our church family and more decorating and turkey pot pie and a little relaxing and a Hallmark movie.


Today ten minutes is not going to cut it. The agenda includes vacuuming (in case Ron drops his pill tomorrow morning), mailing a package, lots of tidying, and World War I. (The World War I part is for school. We're not at war here. Unless you count the war on dust bunnies and crumbs.)

And tomorrow I'll be back to tell you about our most special Thanksgiving blessing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Choosing Gratitude

This is a re-post from last November. I need to be reminded again and again...

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For years, I have kept this quoted passage tucked within the pages of my Bible. I can't even remember where I first found it. I only know that it pierced my heart so deeply that I wanted to keep it near, to be able to read it again and again and again. My human heart is so prone to complaining; yet I know that it should be filled only with gratitude. So when I find myself murmuring, I return to this place of eternal perspective and fall on His mercy. Lord, forgive me for forgetting your amazing grace.

Our culture is riddled with a poisonous spirit of entitlement. We always think we deserve more. We’re disappointed with our family, our neighbors, church, the waitress, the sales clerk, and the department of motor vehicles. Ultimately, we’re disappointed with God. He hasn’t given us everything we want.
What madness! If only we could see our situation clearly—even for a moment. We deserved expulsion; He gives us a diploma. We deserved the electric chair; He gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?

Christians in Sudan—who’ve suffered unspeakably for their faith—are deeply grateful for God’s daily blessings. But us? We whine and pout.
Thankfulness should draw a clear line between us and a Christless world. If the same spirit of entitlement and ingratitude that characterizes our culture characterizes us, what do we have to offer?
If I grasp that I deserve hell, I’ll be filled with gratitude not only for God’s huge blessings—including my redemption and home in heaven—but also for His smaller blessings: sun, rain, a beating heart, eyes that see, legs that walk, a mind that thinks...And because Christ allowed Himself to be crushed under the weight of my sin, I’ll enjoy forever a clear mind and a perfect body...Never believe anything about yourself or God that makes His grace to you seem anything less than astonishing. Because that’s exactly what it is.
~Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Multnomah Publishers 2003, pp. 33-35

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Gran(d) Weekend

Over the weekend, I reveled in being a Gran.

Her sweet little three-year-old voice sounding over the speaker phone, Eve chatted with us on Friday night. She told us about the snow at their house, and about the episode of "Pa" (aka "Little House on the Prairie") she had watched that day. And can anything be sweeter than hearing her recite her Bible verses? I doubt it.

Little Nora (21 months) is finding her voice too. What a delight to hear her say, "Hi, Papa" and "puppy" and "Vee" (Eve)!

If only those little girls could see our faces glowing, our ear-to-ear smiles, when they talk.

Then our house was full of joyful noise when Kristin and Brian and the close-to-home grandchildren came for their usual Sunday visit. Lots of happy chatter among the "big" kids as they ate and played games and pretended and ran outside. It was a good toddler day, too, as Benjamin smiled and sang his way through the afternoon.

After lunch, I asked to hold sleepy Alaine (11 weeks) who decided to indulge her Gran with a long snooze. So while the girls served coffee and apple pie and pumpkin cake, I snuggled with Alaine and sneaked countless baby kisses from the top of her sweet-smelling head.

We were hoping that a certain little boy was going to increase the "grand" population over the weekend, but we're still on Baby Wait.

If you get the opportunity to be a Gran, I can highly recommend it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Morns Are Meeker

The morns are meeker than they were—

The nuts are getting brown—

The berry's cheek is plumper—

The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf—

The field a scarlet gown—

Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

~ poem by Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

When I came to pick up Bekah after her piano lesson last week, there was the sweetest dog in the car next to us in the parking lot. Kati and I admired him as he wagged his tail and gave us doggie smiles.

I went inside to get Bekah, and as we walked out, one of the store employees walked out just ahead of us. He was walking toward the doggie's car...and he was looking and smiling.
Me (as one dog lover to another): Isn't it cute?
Music store guy: Yes, I had one like it when I was in high school.
Me: Awwww...
Music store guy: It was olive green.

Olive green?!!!

Turns out he was admiring the little sports car the dog was riding in!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Living Books for Thanksgiving

Our family loves to learn via living books, so I often gather books from our own personal library, supplemented by our public library findings, to go along with a holiday, a season, or a time period or topic that we're studying. Then I'll load the chosen books into a basket, or place them on a low shelf or some other conspicuous place for easy perusal.

Here are some favorites from our Thanksgiving stack...

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, by Louisa May Alcott, is the amusing story of a family's Thanksgiving celebration that gets a bit complicated when the parents must leave at the height of the preparations in order to attend a sick grandmother. Pure old-fashioned charm.

The Thanksgiving Story (Alice Dalgliesh), is the story of the first Thanksgiving as seen through the eyes of Giles, Constance, and Damaris Hopkins, children who came over on the Mayflower. This book is simply told, simply illustrated (by Helen Sewell), and is a perfect introduction to the history of Thanksgiving.

Three Young Pilgrims
, by Cheryl Harness, also tells the story of the Pilgrims from the perspective of a Pilgrim family, the Allertons. Typical of Harness's children's books, this one is colorfully illustrated and full of interesting maps, diagrams, timelines, sketches, and factual tidbits in addition to the main text.

In Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, Barbara Rainey narrates the history of Thanksgiving on two levels. If you're reading to younger children with limited attention spans, you can read only the passages in larger print; if your listeners are older, add the sections in smaller type. Either way, you will read the story from a distinctively Christian perspective. (As I shared with you last November, my own favorite part of this book is the accompanying CD of Thanksgiving hymns!)

Margaret Pumphrey's Pilgrim Stories, edited by Elvajean Hall, is my all-time favorite Thanksgiving book! Read through these seventeen easy chapters, and you will learn parts of the Pilgrims' story that you've never heard before! The inspiring narrative begins in 1606 in Scrooby, England at the home of Separatist elder William Brewster, and continues through the first year of the Plymouth colony. We have read Pilgrim Stories aloud many times, but I am always, always inspired by the difficult choices, the personal sacrifice these men and women made to be able to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving book?
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This post is linked to Children's Book Monday at A Path Made Straight which is a fabulous place to find delightful children's book recommendations. On more than one occasion, I have searched for one of Elise's featured books at my local library...only to find that it has already been checked out or put on hold! When that happens, it's usually because Kristin has beaten me to it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mother/Daughter Christmas Shopping Trip: 2010 Edition

The annual Mother/Daughter Christmas Shopping Trip was yesterday. While these events are typically marathon days (leave before dawn, home before midnight--lots of shopping and walking and coffee in between), this year we were all home safe and sound by 9 pm.

(You don't think it's because the mothers and daughters are getting older, do you? Naaaaa...)

Kati caught us drooling over Pottery Barn's window display.

This young thing joined us for the first time this year.

We love this tradition...and are grateful for another year to be together.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Autumn Nature Walk

Well, some of us walked...

...and some of us ran...

...but we all found some autumn treasures...

...and enjoyed the wonder of God's creation on a perfectly lovely day.

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After our walk/run,
we sketched in our nature journals...

...made sun catchers with our colorful leaves...

...and crafted these dear little yarn pumpkins to decorate our Thanksgiving tables.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

*** Instructions for these darling pumpkins can be found here.
At make and takes, they are apples; we simply changed the color of the yarn to make ours pumpkins.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

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