Thursday, August 22, 2013

goodbye..for now

debating over this post is only slight the accurate description. what words are adequate to describe someone you love and have heard the last of on this earth? someone you spoke with often, and even now, think of calling..only to remember you cannot. trying to put into words the feeling of a deep-pitted gnawing in the center of my gut..  almost a feeling of hunger that cannot be satisfied. an empty spot that refuses to be filled.

i realized it first when we turned into my grandparent's driveway, and i knew that she would not be there to hug me hello. sure i knew that she was gone from this earth before that moment, but the weight of this truth hit me then. reaction refused anguish though..instead, simply accepting this deep-setting reality.
she grandma. i called her Gram.

Gram, all four and one-half-feet-or-so of her, spunky as all get out..a force to be reckoned with. she never drove a day in her life, but always seemed to get where she wanted to go. a true to television 1950's wife and mom, pictures show her in casual dresses and skirts, usually layered with an apron, and she always had a thing for pearls. memories of those years stir stories from her kids of lumpy oatmeal breakfasts, bologna sandwich lunches and hot dinners on the table..every night.

it isn't until the early 80's that my own memories begin taking shape...

with my childhood set in Maryland, and her living in Ohio throughout, our visits were but a few times a year. but the memories are sweet and vivid as though much closer than 30-some years ago.

there are specific times, especially Christmas mornings, that are firmly planted in my mind. but, i think it is the normal, mundane, no-special-occasion-visits that stand out special and hold my heart warm.

i can pull up in their narrow Ohio driveway, by-passing the front door for the back, always. jumping out from the car backseat, Ohio winter's air hits brisk. there was never a need to knock. so, door flung open, i entered. creeky, slightly uneven, wooden steps below..bounding up only a couple to the left finds me looking right, into their kitchen. and, there she is, standing at her stove or sink. the house smells a mix of wood stove burning, baked cookies and that morning's breakfast bacon. still in the hallway entry, turning to my left, i see my Grandad sitting in the family room. he smiles and says, "well, looky here!" Gram is quick to come wrap her arms around each of us, asking us how the trip was, and if she could get us anything. were we hungry, thirsty?

it isn't long before i would find myself at her special desk. she had certain drawers that we grand kids were always allowed into. they were full of construction papers, glue, special scissors and those markers that had you smelling their scent more than drawing with them. my favorite scent was the light green smelled like mint. and there was always glitter..lots of glitter. i sat there for hours, creating. she and i would later bake cookies. not because she did not have any.. she always did when we visited. but, simply because it was fun to make them together.

as i got older, she taught me how to create all things yarned.. from plastic canvas to knitting. she taught me with skillful hands, patience and kind words.

there were also warmer days of summer spent out at the camp-site. swimming in the lake, playing Chinese checkers or Simon on the bed inside the trailer, eating inside the netted, zippered canopy. walks to the playground and full-family wiffle ball games.

so many trips they made to my house as well..for my birthday, or for no real reason at all.. other than just to see us. we flew kites, made cakes, went for walks, created. they would watch as i showed off my latest accomplishment, from riding my bike to doing a cartwheel.

when childhood gave way to womanhood, she became a wonderful listener for me. ....that is what i miss the most.... often, i would find myself sharing something on my heart, and she would listen..really listen... she was a constant encouragement to me in my relationship with God, and my family.

the times i got to spend with my Gram in this lifetime..none of them were extravagant. none of them boast of massive money spent, nor great measures to entertain. but they all have one common thread..being together..and being truly interested in the person God made you.

i am so grateful to have had 36 wonderful years with my Gram. and, i am even more thrilled that i KNOW i will see her again, spending all eternity with her! because she knew Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior, accepting what He did on that wretched cross so long ago as payment in full for her sins, the moment she breathed her last breath, her faith was made sight. she is with Jesus. and, because i know Him, i will be there one day as well. i cannot help but be excited for her, even now.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


 earlier this week, i said goodbye to the three older men in my life. hubby left for a week of speaking at a camp, and two older boys were dropped off at church for a few days of local ministry opportunity. teenage sleepless nights and enough memories to clutter a journal and fill up hours of endless stories since their arrival home. i now anxiously await stories from my husband. the beginning of the week found me so off kilter, with all three of them away. their empty beds left an open pit feeling in my stomach and not kissing them goodnight did not sit well with me. my boys are now home and hubby is only one day away. i am thankful.

i have done quite a bit of reading this week, into thick night hours, eyelids heavy. i read mostly blogs, mostly by people who claim God as their strength and soul motivation. quite a few of them also full time missionaries. they tell stories of God's hand at work, deep struggles met with God-strength courage, moments when all seems loss and God shows Himself mighty, again. it all sounds amazing and thrilling. and if i am being honest, there is something awfully appealing to that kind of life. a life full of faith that says forsake all and give all and truly take up your cross daily.

but then i begin to wonder...what is it that is so appealing about their live out loud faith? what they are doing is wonderful, and absolutely worthy of respect. please do not for a second think that i find their calling ill-founded, on the contrary. but i have to wonder if sometimes we do not make it out to be somehow better, more important. we devalue our seemingly mundane daily tasks, just because they are not taking place in a foreign land?
 ...God's Word tells me that this world, the whole thing, is foreign to those that know Him...

honestly, being in a foreign country, i found it easier to love, because the people wanted to love me. i found it easier to share Jesus with them, because they hung on every word i said. i have experienced both, and sharing my faith is more difficult here. and a large part of me screams to go to where they want to listen.
you can show up without hesitation, without apology, and share Jesus.
they expect you to.. it is why you are there.

but He bids me to daily come to Him here. i am reminded that He said to love Him with all my heart and to love my neighbors as myself. and here i am thinking that going half way around the world sounds amazing, and i cannot seem to walk down the street to say hello. if i could believe God is big and able enough to use me elsewhere, i should certainly believe it for now, for here.

and this is my live out my faith in Jesus Christ so vividly right where God has me...
without apology, without hesitation.
 God expects me to.. it is why He has me here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

homeschooling. facts on where i'm at.

fact 1: i attended a home school convention this past weekend. not just any convention though, but a grand scale, humungo, come and be amazed confused by all the curriculum choices convention. after dragging my poor friend around to practically every booth (twice), i came to a decision on most every subject for next year. i am reasonably certain that i will not ruin my boy's academic quests.

 fact 2: my eldest boy steps into the throws of high school next year. *gasp*..inward head talking.."this is the real deal. credit hours, huge too-big text books, and algebra. lots of algebra. i can do this, right?"

fact 3: high school text books do not have pretty pictures in them, and that makes it look boring to me. i am wondering whether my boys will have the same reaction.

fact 4: in years prior, when new curriculum was brought into the house, it would quickly be scoured over. i would begin reading them, brainstorming, new lesson plans and ideas brimming forth. my notebook would be chock full of great supplemental ideas... ideas to engage my boys in the learning process. this year, i carried the books in, and they are exactly.where.i.put.them almost a week ago. i just keep looking at the pile of thick books, wondering if we'll really be able to get through all of them...(and some are still on order, arriving in the mail soon).

fact 5: looking at the pile of books, i realized that there is a nice layer of dust surrounding them. it is still that way.

fact 6: fact 5 made me realize just how quickly dust builds up in this very active home. i will rest easier knowing that it isn't entirely laziness and distraction that causes layers of dust to form. (who am i kidding? i rested just fine before..dust or no dust.)

fact 7: if it is not already obvious to you, homeschooling my boys through high school is a little intimidating to me. however, i am certain that we can, and will, conquer it. but only with God's help. this time, next year, i hope to look back at these feelings of trepidation and smile..if not full-out laugh. for we will have come out on the other side of freshman year, victorious.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

a rant on coldness.

today began frigid and frost covered. not at all what we expect from this time in May. the chilled air prompted such odd stirrings.. longings for pumpkin spiced breads, jewel toned trees, hot chocolate, blankets and cozy time by the fireplace. so peculiar to instead spend the evening at the baseball field.. in winter coats.  i found it interesting.. what a measured people we are. how surrounding circumstances can change our outlook and something as basic as the weather turns us upside down.

 maybe it is just me...

i talked with a dear friend this morning, who happens to live in a much warmer climate.. she was headed to the beach. grrrrr.... i have to admit.. while truly happy for her, a little large part of me felt a sting of envy. if immediate transport was available, i would have been there with her, in a heart beat. i cannot help but wonder if some day God would have me and my family live in a warm.. no, hot, climate.. i can dream..

please, all you locals reading this... don't go getting all weird on me. there are no plans in place to leave. and, i have no desire to leave you, specifically, our church. i simply enjoy warmth. perhaps i am old before my time, part of me longing to be a Florida snow bird. or maybe i will coin a new name.. something like Central American monarch...? ( i don't know.. just thinking of something beside a bird that migrates. ) my longing for heat is also not helped by the fact that my husband leaves for Nicaragua in less than a week. oh, continuous warmth, please visit us Marylanders!

wondering if the predicted weather for tomorrow will hold true.. a high of 84 sounds glorious, and just may keep me from booking the next plane ticket to anywhere south.

Monday, May 13, 2013

blissfully boring

this time of the year is upon me again... time that i spend fewer and fewer moments behind the computer. the beautiful outdoors calls and blog entries fall few and far between.

this corner, albeit neglected, is not forgotten. and there is certainly plenty to share. though mostly, it is just every day stuff. stories of playing catch up with school following weeks of illness, rushing outside to play in picture perfect spring weather..and, oh, baseball season is in full force. so, there are practices and games, and never a shortage of grass and dirt stains to rid out of pants, along with a never-ending laundry pile mountain.

all happenings are wonderful, and quite the welcome change from our winter full of sickness. sunshine, fresh spring breezes, crack of bat and ball, flowers and warmth... they all ushered in a season of health and reminded us tomorrow's hold new mercies.

along with gorgeous weather, the month of April brought birthdays upon us. all within eight days, myself and my two oldest all turn one year older.

these two boys of mine...suddenly young men before me. i check on them at night, shocked time and again that their feet reach the ends of their beds. standing, staring eye to eye with one and looking up at the other. they are miraculous. and the awestruck knowledge of blessing i had at their birth carries right through today. it is a privilege to be their Mom.

basically, that wraps up the lack-of-words month of April and start of May. sure, we have had smatterings of appointments and gatherings with friends. special one-on-one times with our boys and life lessons tugging our hearts. but all in all, it's just been a normal month. perhaps it has been boring to tell, or read for that matter. but i will take it, for it has been blissfully boring. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

not the normal warm and fuzzy

uncertain whether being sick has allotted my time unwisely, or perhaps i was supposed to get fired up about some things. but the past couple of days have held more quiet time than usual. time to read, time to pray, and more than my norm on the internet. it hasn't been all bad. some things i have wanted to search for a while, so, the down time was well spent, in that sense. but, my searches ran me across paths on subjects that i deal little with.. nor, take the time to discuss with many people. controversy gives me a headache, and mostly i steer clear. people who know me, know that i love Jesus, my family and others. i am happy to discuss any topic, but am assuredly convinced of the stand i take on God's Word. while i have had tough conversations with some...the kind that our human says to walk away from and forget..that it would be easier to not have the discussion at all... i have never made an issue of something controversial on this blog. this may be the first.

sex. it is everywhere we turn, and as a momma of 4 boys.. 2 now pubescent boys.. i am more aware of it than ever. it makes me physically ill to think about what my boys have to do to train their thoughts.. as we are shopping and walk by the ladies "clothing" section, pictures on magazines at checkout, book and magazine covers at the library and in the grocery store.. and don't even get me started on the mall. on the extremely rare occasion that we go there, we strategically head straight to the store we need and leave.. our reasoning for this is because we want to protect our boys from that infamous store known as VS, Victoria Secret.. in fact, if it's necessary to walk by the store, my boys know to walk on the opposite side of the mall..the oldest has even been known to discreetly shield his younger brother's view with his body. i will never forget when our third son noticed the pictures on that store's display for the first time.. how he immediately turned away..looking downward first, then asking me, "why do they have pictures of naked people?" i didn't have to tell him that it was wrong.. the Holy Spirit had already directed his reaction.

i hear your thoughts now.. "what's wrong with that store?"...and here comes the reasoning.."they make really comfortable bras and underwear".."i can't find anything that fits or supports me as well".. i have heard it all. and i think it's an excuse. it's another, and yet another, excuse to continue in an effort to try and fit into the world's view of sex. while having comfortable underwear and bras is important (we've all had our share of stabbing underwires and ride-up panties).., and there is absolutely nothing wrong with dressing nicely for your husband.. but can't you buy these things in many different stores? stores that don't leave you questioning right from wrong, or have your son asking about the naked people. let's face it, VS has branded a form of sexuality.

i have felt this way for a very long time... and those closest to me know it. so, what has my panties in a bunch now? (sorry..but i have to still maintain an ounce of humor)

 have you heard about their new line, targeted directly at middle school aged girls? no, i don't have girls... but it doesn't take any brilliance to realize that this will impact the girls who are around my boys... and eventually, those who will be my daughter-in-laws, and then granddaughters. 

 the new line is called "Bright Young Things", and has crept into an area of marketing that even The Today Show on NBC would not show pictures of. it is said that some of the panties have "feeling lucky?" and "call me" printed on them.. REALLY??? this is middle school we're talking about. i can only imagine the catalog. (and we wonder why pedophilia continues to be a problem on the rise)

we all remember that horribly awkward time in life. it's when most of us were figuring out what was going to define us. whether the world's view of us made us who we were, or God's view of us. and, you know what?? don't tell me that this major brand hasn't figured that out.. they have. and, while i hate that they're exploiting our young people to make the almighty dollar, i can't blame them. no, i don't blame them at all. they know that this age group is easily influenced. they see a huge money making market.. and, if they can hook them at this age, they'll have them for life. but, i don't blame them.

 i blame us..the parents of these young people.

we, as the adult women need to set the example for these young ladies, and for our young men.. that they would be able to recognize a lady when they see one.

effective parenting has never been able to say "do as i say, not as i do", and it's not going to work in this case either.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

i am

i just re-read my last post and have to chuckle a little. there i sat, so thankful for the time that i had to spend home. while not enjoying the fact that my boys were sick, i still had joy in the midst..choosing to see what was good in the circumstances.

well, apparently the tables have turned, and sickness finds me personally this time. i have had the oddest, and disturbing, list of symptoms throughout the past 2 weeks. after a gamut of tests, some still undergoing, there is no absolute diagnoses. strangely, i find this fact both unnerving and comforting. unnerving that after all of these tests, we still have no for sure answer. comforting, as it is a firm reminder that we are not in control, but thankfully, can know the One Who is.

i would be flat out lying if i were to tell you that the past weeks have been easy for me.i am exhausted, and discouragement looms. today, with a heart monitor on (further testing from last week's issues), coughing so hard, stabbing pain in my sides, head over toilet.. i sat in the bathroom, thinking "wow, i am frustrated..and tired..and angry..and sick of being sick..". that's when i began praying.."i am exhausted Lord, i am just desiring to feel good, i am..." and His still small voice spoke.. " remember I AM."

God does care that i have been sick, and never likes to see his children suffer, but He assures us that He is the Great I Am. knowing this truth is so comforting, and it is just like Him to profoundly remind me to rest in Him. He is great, and Worthy to be praised! 

may i never be so focused on the "i am's" that i miss what The I Am has for me.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

satisfied..and thankful

quiet games of tic-tac-toe, watching some silly shows and playing on the Ipad.. some apps even educational. that is what the past days have consisted. each morning, we check the sick boy's status. although, his the night's have predicted daybreak's outcome. then the gathering blanket and pillow, to once again, morph  living room into infirmary.

i admit these quiet days of cannot-go-anywhere have been somewhat soothing. much laundry is accomplished and grocery lists made. my full attention is on my boys, my husband, my home... full attention on the immediate gifts God has placed in my life. it's a breath deep, satisfying feeling. i am thankful.

besides a needed run to the doctor, the only time out-and-about was Monday, when necessary errands were run. my eldest, 13 going on 18, kept me company...and what wonderful company he is. i know i have mentioned before, but he is such a gentleman. runs to get my door, even beating me around the side of the car to open my driver side before i get my keys safely ticked inside my purse. our conversation is both light hearted and deep. watching him become a man is amazing, and i love spending time with him. God is doing wonderful things in his heart and life. it is a privilege to be his Mom.

we trekked off to the dreaded MVA, where, after only an hour, i left with a new license. one that has a less than ten years ago photo and updated, ahem, weight. the real heavy moment though was sitting there realizing that the next time i would be there was less than two years from now, again with my son...but not for myself, but instead for him. it will be here before i turn around. time has proven that much is true.

upon leaving, he asked if we could grab lunch..specifically, if we could go inside somewhere to sit and eat. what treasured times these are for me. i try to grab every one of these opportunities to spend time with each of my boys. i had a lot waiting for me to do at home, and we still had to grocery shop. but, it was much more important right then to hear my son's heart... really listen to him.

we had a wonderful lunch together and headed to the grocery store. apparently, everyone else had to shop on Monday as well.. it seemed half of our county population was there. at first, i couldn't figure out why the onslaught of shoppers. that's when my son reminded me that we were to get a decent helping of snow in the next days. ahhhh.. so, that's why the bread shelf was almost empty.. i will never understand why some act as if they'll never be able to get out of the house again when we're supposed to see some snow. we are a funny people.

so, now i sit here, awaiting the "big storm". word has it that we could see on the upwards of a foot. today was sunny and almost fifty degrees.. we shall see. besides the sunny day, it was also a great day for my little sick man. besides a sniffle, he seems fully recouped. now, my oldest is down. hoping it doesn't make it's way through the whole family. oh well.. at least if it snows, we'll be back to cannot-go-anywhere, and i will still be deeply satisfied.. and thankful.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

the groove-less edge

somewhere to begin. that is the great ponder of this night, this day, these weeks. and it seems that it is beginning over and over again that must be done. just when i think we have caught the groove, that we are on our way down the right track, that is the moment that we are derailed, set into a different gear.

it is in these derailed moments that i am shaken of control, loosened of my pulled-togetherness. and it is raw..and real. sometimes it is static hectic, sometimes it is husband out of town whilst the furnace and electric belly-up, and sometimes it is a boy come down sick, fever soaring high. all of these derail my plans, my groove. and i am forced to live on the edge.

i am not particularly fond of the edge. while not necessarily afraid of heights, i am not one to jump without calculating, weighing the risks. and while this all sounds responsible and possibly right, i wonder if it prevents some movement of the Spirit. would He have me jump, and soar with Him to something even better?

perhaps today's better was tending to a sick child, brothers even helping where they could. working together to help him feel better, playing quietly with him, allowing him to rest, bringing him a drink with a blue straw because blue is his favorite, just saying "i love you and i am praying you feel better". i got oodles of extra cuddles and spent more time still, talking to my Savior.

today's better was love, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and joy... not because i planned it. but because the Holy Spirit said soar..ride on my wings.

... appreciating the edge a little more each time i am knocked out of my groove...

Friday, February 15, 2013

mission, not impossible

it hit me while i was praying with my boys.

we were praying for Daddy, that his trip to Nicaragua would be "successful", that God would use him and the other men with him mightily, for God's Name's sake. we pray this knowing He can and will do it. we know there is nothing that is impossible for God, and we wait expectantly, of good reports from the trip.

 there is a certain allure to praying for those that are outside of this country.. we call it missions. and, while it is important to pray for them, and the work they are doing is good..

why don't we pray for the same things for those here...and for ourselves?

i find myself wondering.. what if each day found us praying that God would use us mightily
in our own homes?
in our work places?
in our neighborhoods?

what if we had the attitude of missionaries every single day?

please do not misunderstand me, i know firsthand that experiencing another culture and seeing what God is doing there is wonderful, even important. my world view and knowledge of Who God is forever changed. i even found myself a little envious of my husband this time around..him going, without me. i sincerely miss the people we know there.

but i desire the same unyielding love for my own neighbors.. the one who refuses to speak to us, the one who continually places beer bottles in our yard..
if i can attempt to communicate and exemplify Christ in a different language, why is it so difficult to confront a sister in Christ...sharing, in love, a concern weighing on my heart?
is it possible that when we visit another place, we lose some inhibition, relenting to the fact that we do not have control in the first place? and if that's true, perhaps the problem is that we've only fooled ourselves into thinking we're in control here, in our own comfortable surroundings..

so, while i continue to pray for my husband and the trip he is on,
i will now echo the same prayers for myself.

i desire to be used mightily..right here, right now.
today is the mission God has me on. and nothing is impossible for Him.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

celebrating life

without lying, honesty says these past days have been difficult. focus seems lacking and questions certainly loom. people close to us are hurting so. when tragedy hits so close to home, it effects everyone in some way. the important thing is to allow the effects to push you closer to Christ, drawing towards Him, not away. He is faithful. it also reminds you how important it is to love those around you.. with genuine love, celebrating life, laughing together as much as humanly possible.

a couple of weeks ago, we did just that..celebrate life, that is. and as promised, i am sharing. life is worth both celebrating and sharing!

a grand occasion it was, as three so special people to me celebrated their being born days. my two youngers, born two years and two days apart, all ten and eight years of them. in disbelief, i hugged and kissed them on their days.. wondering how my baby boys could possibly be these little men, so big in my arms. my Blue Eyes was sure to remind me that he'd found double digits, that he'd never be just one number old again. and why that mere fact sent me over the edge, i'm not certain. but my throat tightened quickly and tears pooled, threatening their overflow. ten whole years and the leap to double's all happened so fast.

and my Dimples, all eight years of him. forever my baby boy, he reminded me that "while he'll always be my baby, that he's going to be bigger than me". i suppose the watching of his oldest brother bypass both Daddy and Mommy has brought this assumption to his mind. but ever since, i can't help but think of his words when he sits on my lap. or on the occasions he still reaches his arms up to me and leaps. i find myself sitting a little longer, holding on a little tighter, dancing with him in my arms while i still can.

then there's that third oh-so-special birthday celebration.. my dear Mom.. who, if i may say, looks might good, having found sixty years. though she'll probably disagree, she's as much energy as she was when thirty-some, at least in my memory. my childhood memories don't seem so far off as they really are. laughing together, her fixing my hair, playing at the park, or times when child-me would yell for her at night, afraid to even get out of bed..and she'd come...without fail. i know now, being a mommy myself, that those were some long, tiring nights. but i don't recall ever a harsh word spoken. she just loved me, exactly as i was. now we share a friendship like no other, encouraging each other and helping the other along in our own journey towards Christ-likeness. she shines bright with the love of our Lord, and those around her cannot help but notice that she gives her all, loves fully, unconditionally, and sacrificially. she's a model of strength. Godly character and wisdom are her pillar. i rise up and call her blessed.

so a celebration of life it was. and i'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to celebrate each one. praying for many more years of celebrating together.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


it is not that i know what i must write, it is simply that i must....

so many thoughts and emotions swirling. it is difficult to make sense of any.
tragedy does this. creates this fog of confusion. and it seems only fitting that snow would flit in a flurry these past days. they picture these emotions and thoughts so well.

tip of nose to window, i watch them as they fall. some race their way to the ground, but others take a most interesting route. they do not drop. but instead, they dance. waltz-like, they flutter round-a-bout. i can't help but wonder if maybe those dancing snowflakes have the most interesting patterns, intricate zig-zags, causing them to catch the slightest change of wind.

does God chisel us like this.. through His word, experiences and life in general..? could i be formed so intricately that i would catch the slightest movement of His Spirit? and could i dance through the swirls of this life? He makes it possible, and reminds me that i can... but only with His strength.

"and I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow... and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, declare the Lord." Jeremiah 31:13b-14b

so, in the midst of this swirling, i will remember to dance. and i will softly land.. satisfied in God's goodness.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

holy sifter

i sat down with full intention of sharing sweet sentiments on the latest happenings in our home. after all, we have celebrated not one, or two, but three entire birthdays this past week. they were splendid occasions, and i promise i will share the splendor, but right now, there's something weighing on my heart.

HOLINESS.. to be set apart, righteous, worthy of honor, uncommon

 my husband preached on this Sunday. it's been weighing on me so heavily that it feels much longer ago.

"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior." 1 Peter 1:14-15

having grown up in church all my life, and raised in a wonderful Christian home, i have heard these verses many times. and, as my hubby pointed out yesterday, hearing and knowing things with such familiarity can cause me to ease into it like an old pair of shoes, rather than stand in awe of the true meaning of the words.

when i read these verses i was hit mostly with that highlighted portion.  my reaction went something like this...   repeating the words in my head.."in all your behavior".." like the Holy One".. but, Lord, we're not perfect..I'm not perfect.. how can this be possible? 
what He spoke to my heart was sure and swift.. My Spirit dwells in you. are you willing to send each part of your life through the Holy sifter? 
i kid you not. there have been many times when God has shown me His quiet love, His tender mercy, as well as His strong righteousness. there are also times that He makes it very clear to me that He is not only a loving Father, but also gently humorous. a Holy sifter?? i almost started laughing right there during service.

but i got it. 
His desire for me was to sift every part of my waking hours through the filter of holiness.

for me, this means my thoughts from the moment i wake up. i can begin each day yielding my own desires to His control. He wants to and will work in me and through me. i can be Holy as i talk with and teach my children, as i communicate with my husband, in friendships and other relationships...
 beyond relational, there is all behavior to be sifted... attitude to be checked...

as i have gone through this first day of using my "holy sifter", i have often asked the Lord, "am i handling this in a holy way?"

"am i allowing the Holy Spirit to live through me, behaving in a way that is uncommon to this world?"

on the chance of convincing you that i am completely odd...i share this...

 i found that actually shaking my head rapidly helped me to visualize the sifting.. (yes, like a wet dog)..placing the situation inside of the sifter, laying it before God, and asking what He would have with it. then i shake my head and "watch" the non-eternity-matter fall through. at that point, i can be still and see clearly what remains and what His answer is. 

i know this whole post is slightly odd.. and i'm okay with that. it's just on my heart.

signing off and sifting on,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

chore charts

hello! two posts in one week! it's sure to snow. although, with temperatures in the teens and wind chills below zero, a little snow would make the cold worthwhile.

you know i'm not one to usually share the insides of my closets or cabinets, nor the complete workings of my family. these past two posts have been a little odd for me. however, here is another thing that we've found works, and some have asked about it.

with a lively family of four boys, we find that sharing chore responsibilities not only proves the adage "many hands make light work", but also helps instill good work habits in the boys themselves. we have shared the chores for years now..within age appropriateness. the only problem, if you will, is that each time i handed out assignments, the boys would sometimes say things like, "i did that last time", or "i was hoping to do ___". it wasn't complaining per say. i just couldn't keep track of who had done what on a week to week basis.

enter a new system.

 (no, they do not really say "child's name". i took out my boy's names and just showed you where they go.)
after scouring the internet for some ideas on chore charts, i ended up marrying a few ideas, ending up with this simple system that has worked beautifully for 6 months now.

i first made a list of the chores that we have in our home.. vacuum, swiffer, dust, bathrooms (believe it or not, one of my boys would love to be assigned bathrooms every time), windows and laundry are the ones that are done most often. the "extras" are changing bed linen, cleaning off stairs (are we the only ones who end up collecting stuff there??), wiping down the kitchen... i also saw, and liked, the idea of showing a special act of love and writing thank you notes.. so those are included as well. there is a special one for our dog, Daisy, whom the boys take turns taking care of each day.  they move that magnet themselves each morning.

i then drew pictures for each chore, and had a little fun coloring and punching them out with a circle punch. the final step was modge podging the pictures behind a clear florist glass (they're marble-like, but flat on one side), and attaching a round magnet.

the charts have two sides for each boy.. a to-do side, and a done side. when it's time to clean up, i put the assigned tasks on their to-do sides, they check it and go to work. and they do move the magnet to the done side, with quite a level of satisfaction, when they complete a task. the recently assigned chores are all on the done side in the pictures, where they will stay until the next time i assign them. that tells me who did what the last time, allowing me to change it up.

 the metal surface itself is two dollar tree cookie sheets. you could cover them with decorative paper and fancy them up. or, you could be in a "get in done as fast as possible mode", like i was, and use a paint marker to write your children's names and draw imperfect lines. either way, find what works for your family and go for it! :)

i'm off to stoke the fire and drink some hot chocolate!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

organizing.. on the cheap

once upon a time i heard myself tell a friend that we had seemingly avoided the stomach bug that had found it's way into so many homes. then only two days later was greeted at 4 AM by a sweet, but oh-so-sick boy. he was followed by his older brother that very afternoon, and despite all of my hand washing and cleansing, it claimed me victim three. praying it leaves soon and skips right over the remaining three.

but being home, with little energy for much else, i have some time to share a bit with you.

i mentioned a while back that i had begun going through some closets.. purging and organizing. a couple of friends asked to see pictures. now before anyone gets their hopes dashed, i assure you.. this is nothing fancy. my goal in organizing is how to do it on-the-cheap. it's not that i don't like cutesy baskets and bins, it's that free boxes from Aldis are much more in our budget. i debated on covering them with decorative paper, but when it was all said and done, simple computer paper and tape won out. our closet is clean and functional.. that is what matters in the long run.

we have found that coats are more likely to be hung up when there is a simple hook available for each family member. our four boy's hooks are against the far wall, with mine and my hubby's on the right wall. they're screwed into a simple 2x4, which is secured into studs in the wall.

 each family member also has a row on the shoe rack, with a pair of play shoes, a nicer pair and sandals. there is a hanging rack with a standing rack beneath it. the basket above holds snow gloves.
the boxes on the top hold baseball caps and winter gear. before, the hats were all stacked on the shelf. they easily toppled over when someone insisted on wearing the one on the bottom. now, we just grab the box, choose a hat and slide the box back onto the shelf. no more leaning tower of hats.

while home, taking care of the sick ones, i took advantage of the time and dismantled a couple of my kitchen cabinets. (who says i can't multitask .. catching throw up one minute, cleaning out cabinets the next.) with the help of some little shelves and baskets from the Dollar Tree, they're now better laid out and function beautifully. again, nothing fancy.. just functional.
 a corner shelf makes it so that my tortilla holders do not fall on my head every time i open the cabinet door. i had gotten pretty good at catching the lids in mid air as they took aim at my face. now, i just find myself flinching for no reason.
this cabinet holds all of my baking gear and small appliances. the green baskets are a perfect solution for all of our sprinkles and food coloring. and the stack-able wire baskets on the left now hold our cheese grater, hand mixer, food chopper and sifter. i loved that these baskets stacked.
if you're in need of some cheap organizing tools, head to your local Dollar Tree..or grab a box or two next time you're at the grocery store :-).

i close with a thought...
i think that in this pinter*st world that we live in that it can be a little frustrating to try and organize your home. sure, there are some good ideas floating around out there, but all too often, i see perfection as the goal. what i try to remember is that what works for someone else might not work for me and my family. each one of us is different, in personality, gifts, talents, and the way we make our homes work for our families. do what works for you, and love the result.

Friday, January 4, 2013


i sit here typing with very little in mind.. not that you wanted to hear that. but now, realizing that you are hanging on with baited breath, i will go on to share of our recent happenings. just trusting that as i type, there will be something worth sharing.

i just read my last year's posts, and overall, i am pleased to say that it was a year of growth. i saw God move, expanding my knowledge and understanding of Who He is and how He works. there were times when my hands were left empty, human control not even a figment of reality, the need to press into the truth of His character and promise to never leave us, and there were times of great rejoicing, giving thanks for all He had done. the highs and lows were connected with every day, of course. mundane to some, but wonderful to me. ~~i am truly so grateful for the privilege of being home with our boys.

beyond reminiscing, i have hit 2013 with my running shoes on. not that you'll EVER find me breathless, stomping pavement..running has never been my thing. however, i have found that lacing them up first thing sets my feet a-moving and makes for a happy spine and legs come night. i have been a-moving throughout my house, purging every area i come across. i get this feeling about this time every year, but it's worse this time for some reason... an urgent alarm going off silently in my is so loud. the Christmas decorations even made an earlier than normal appearance back to the attic. considering some of them have lingered their visit 'til mid february in the past, i have no idea what has come over me.

the weather has played nicely with my plans as well, snow remaining on the ground long enough to melt a bit, only to stake it's frozen claim once again as the temperature dives again into the 20's. no, it hasn't been alluring to us to be out in it. so frigid. so, spruce it up has been my motto. i am anxious to get everything accomplished before the weather turns warm.

in other news.. i was asked today, by one of my piano students, whether i had made a new year's resolution. her question was sincere, and i loved that her goal was to have her own vegetable garden this year...seems worthy and doable, don't you think? but it got me thinking... every time i hear of a resolution, my ears go slightly mute. it's not that i don't care, or that there aren't good commitments to be made. i have just never made one..and i got to thinking about why this may be. my conclusion is this... if i did, it would most likely be the same every year. not that i wouldn't accomplish it, but growing closer to God is my on-going commitment. i trust Him to guide me in everything else. it is only in that, i am resolute. i see no reason to complicate it.

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