10 December 2013

Holy Day, not holiday

How many ways can I begin this post before deleting it all?  How do I nicely say what I want to say?  How do I make sure to convey to you my thoughts without appearing like I'm passing judgement?


I love Christmas.  I love the biblical truth of a Savior coming to rescue us from sin.  I don't like how Christmas is so consumer driven.  How selfish shopping sneaks into the day when we're supposed to be giving thanks.  I don't like stores being open on Thanksgiving but that's not my rant.  I'm not a scrooge or a grinch, but I'm not so wildly focused on the biggest and best gifts either.  I actually love the winter season, the decorated tree in the house, Christmas music, cider, caroling, baking, and all that fun stuff.  I also really enjoy giving gifts.  Combining those two things, it's fair to assume that Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Is it though???  

Enjoying Christmas has become increasingly frustrating for me.  I have two problems with what I see at Christmas time.  Again, this is my opinion and I'm writing it to vent and maybe to encourage you to think through it for yourselves, not to criticize you and tell you how to live your life.  The first problem is that the commercialism of Christmas overshadows the reason we celebrate Christmas anyway.  Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ.  In the form of a baby, God put his rescue plan into action.  That baby was born of a virgin - a perfect, sinless, obedient child who grew to a man and ultimately became the sacrifice for our sins.  No one else could foot the bill.  Humanity had already fallen short and couldn't earn our way to heaven.  This baby Jesus filled the gap.  Of course, it didn't end with a baby.  Like I said, he grew to a man before he died for our sins. But death couldn't conquer our King and He rose on the third day, defeating death and ascending to heaven.  With that in mind, how could we not celebrate Christmas as the baby born.  The second problem I have is the overwhelming expectations and realities that come with gifts.  Think about all that goes into gifts.  Stores being open on Thanksgiving, families going into huge debt, people being ungreatful for their gifts, and piles of stuff that we don't know what to do with because we already have too much stuff!  I'm not even going to take the time to look up the statistics because we can see it in our own homes.  We know how much we spend on gifts.  It's crazy.  It's outrageous.  What's even worse is that those of us who call ourselves Christians fall into this consumer-driven trap.  We even justify it by coming up with creative ways to "give" to others by offloading our old toys.  Really!?!?!?  I've done this exact thing.  Maybe you have too.  We think we have such giving hearts that we decide to have our kids give away one of their old toys for every new toy they get.  Why do we do that?  Is it really because we have such generous hearts and want to donate to the less fortunate?  Or is it because we're so overwhelmed with stuff that we have to get rid of a few things?  Or because we feel better about ourselves for doing it.  Guys, I've been right there with you.  Not that long ago, we did this exact thing.  Sure, our kids learned a lesson of giving to those who are less fortunate.  But there are many ways we can teach this lesson.  

This past November I tried to walk through each day with an attitude of thankfulness.  Having been in developing nations on numerous occasions, it's not hard to realize how blessed we are.  Moving from November into December, I wanted to continue my thankful attitude.  Conscious of the blessings we have an the needs of others, I've thought of creative ways to give gifts.  For example, last year we gave a little home-made hand scrub, or tea mixture, etc to the educators in our children's lives.  It was a fun way to show appreciation for them and to give them a little something.  But it's a huge struggle for me because I love to give gifts, but I'm also convinced that we over-do Christmas.  Why do we have to buy big extravagant gifts?  Why do families think that going into debt to buy such things is wise?  I buy gifts but they tend to be things my family needs -  like socks and underwear, books, and pencils, etc.  After all, when the shepherds brought gifts to Jesus, they were gold, incense, and myrrh - three things that were used in the daily lives of people back then.  Really, I would love to have a big gift giving period.  It would be a radical change, but what if we focused on the birth of Jesus at Christmas and use birthdays, or some random day in August for a big gift giving party?  I want to remember to view Christmas as a Holy Day, not a consumer-driven holiday.

Believe me, it's not easy for me to talk about because I too enjoy receiving gifts.  For some years, I've only wanted practical gifts.  Until last year.  Last year I didn't want things for the house, I wanted something for ME.  Not something practical like my typical request of wool socks.  I wanted to feel spoiled.  I have an awesome husband who ended up getting me something fun for just me, something expensive, and definitely something I wouldn't have purchased for myself.  While it was a very generous gift that came loaded with aps, songs, my email set up on it, etc, I wasn't near as excited as I should be.  Partly because I don't like opening gifts in front of others but mostly because I felt so selfish.  I would much rather have time with family and friends, wool socks, strings for my guitar, etc.

What about you?  Are you willing to share your Christmas thoughts?

06 September 2013

A New Name????

I think I should re-name my blog... something like "It's been a long time" because I feel like that's how I start every post lately.  Here's a random, quick update in pictures:
Our friend, Ignacio, let me tag along on a quick flight around the area.  It was really neat to see our home, our nearby town, and all the cropland in the area.  Thanks to my honey for giving up his chance to fly so that I could fly.

The youngest members of our family headed back to school.  We now have a third, first, and kindgergartner in our family.  They are enjoying school!

Speaking of family, we added a 4-legged friend.  We adopted this special needs beauty and Ryan quickly took care of her.  Two weeks later, she's cone free and cute as could be.

Sometimes our days revolve around animals.  Especially for the veterinarian in our home.  We chose a night to focus on Scott but Ryan got called out to deliver 11 bassett hound puppies.  Ryan called in reinforcement to help stimulate the pups and get them breathing while he continued delivering pups via c-section.  It was a lot of fun.

Some say we live in the Hawkeye State.  When heading out for supper recently, we wanted there to be no doubt in your mind that we're a Cyclone family (when we're not sporting bulldog tshirts).  

07 August 2013

Kids in Training

We headed to Grammy's for a visit today.  Sitting on the back porch, Grammy mentioned that she was going to make a dessert but didn't have cream cheese.  Dessert.  That word is enough to turn my kids' heads.  Bethany volunteered to get cream cheese from Grammy and Judah was slobbering along with her.  Like any good mom, I suggested they go get it.  In town, several blocks from the grocery store, I suggested my 5 and 6 year old walk to the grocery store to buy cream cheese for their Grammy.

Would they really try it?

These two are a little more adventurous than their brother.  The jumped at the chance as they hopped off the porch and headed towards town.  Great Gram was watching for the little to get out of her line of sight.  It didn't take long.  Glad my children were on this little adventure, I couldn't let them head downtown solo.  Remember, I live in a small rural town so it's easy to navigate.  Irregardless, they weren't going solo.  While I desire to train my kids to do things for themselves, to be adventurous, and to make decisions, I don't trust their decision making skill for crossing multiple busy roads.

When I rounded the corner to the main road, they were on the run - little miss leading her barefoot brother along.  Like any good stalker, I stayed a good distance back.  On the next block, they looked back and saw me.  Allowing them to continue, they rushed down the road.  I intervened once.  We cross the main road often and they tend to freeze if a care is 1/4 down the road.  I didn't want them to be scared.  They continued along crossing two more roads with momma close behind them encouraging them to make the decision to cross.

Oh Lord, may this be a good and valuable lesson to them.

Eventually they made it into the grocery store.  I peaked in and they'd gone straight to the dairy products and were looking at the butter.  While an employee was re-stocking yogurt, and offerred to help them, I peaked my head in and gave the cashier a heads up: my two kids are going to buy something.  They're young.  Back outside I watched as they made it to the front register.
Without all the confidence in the world, my sweet girl bought cream cheese and put it on my charge account.  Yes, we're still small town awesome that way.  I popped my head in long enough for a picture and grabbed this shot of her signing her charge receipt.

Proud of their journey to the store and their recent purchase, we chatted for a bit outside.  I was proud of them.  Scared that my daughter knew how to charge on my account, but proud of them.  I couldn't help but walk back in and buy my little runners a juice.  Back out the door, I encouraged them to finish their little journey and head back to Grammy's.  Bethany requested that I carry the cream cheese.  Nope.  You bought it.  You carry it.  We headed  back to Grammy's with the two littles on foot.

They asked for confirmation about when to cross the street.  A little less nervous this time, I encouraged them to continue to make wise and safe decisions and not to keep looking back for me.  They managed just fine.  In fact, when they got to Grammy's, they were quite proud of their accomplishments.  I was proud of them too.

When I mentioned to Bethany that they moved quickly down the side walk when they left, she shared that she was afraid I would change my mind and say no and come get her.  Smart girl.  We sat on the back porch for another hour while the cream cheese softened and my proud little girl anticipated making a dessert with Grammy.

Father, they grow so quickly.  I know that you've entrusted them to us to raise.  I feel like we have so many failures with attitudes, impatience, selfishness, and lying.  It's hard being a parent who desires to raise kids that will bring you glory.  But nights like tonight, I thank you Father for this small victory where team work occurred, kind words were spoken, and two little kids learned how to accomplish a task all on their own.

22 July 2013

My View

Sunsets are beautiful from our view:

With a storm on the horizon, and things blowing around like crazy, I grabbed the camera and headed out to snap a few pictures.  With the sun quickly disappearing on the horizon, flowers getting ready for bed, and lightning bugs in the foreground, this was my view:

16 July 2013

Simple Things

Taking a few minutes to be quiet before the Lord today with this beautiful view.

Asking the Lord to continue grow me, stretch me, and give me wisdom.  I'm far from perfect and God has plenty to reveal to me, so inviting that in is a little scary.  And necessary.

As is common with quiet times, I was easily distracted.  

I'll take that.  What mom wouldn't enjoy a few moments loving on her sweet girl.

and sharing a goofy smile

 Her time dancing with her Daddy was over and she'd come outside to find her momma.  This girl sweet talked me into kicking my boots off so we could jump on the trampoline together.

Those empty boots were too tempting for my country girl.  She pushed her bare feet into Momma's boots.
Oh Lord, would my heart and actions be worth mimicking...   

Trampoline fun is typically Daddy's thing.  But I couldn't resist.  We bounced and danced, swatted bugs, and watched the sunset together.

 We played outside for just a few minutes before we headed back into the house.  Walking hand-in-hand up the steps, we found this cutie snuggled into an empty clay pot. 

Simple things.  Priceless.

13 July 2013

Celebrating Scott

Our first born turns 8 tomorrow.  

With a few friends and family over, we had a bit of old fashioned fun celebrating.  We played baseball in the pasture, 

Had an impromptu seed spitting contest:

Opened gifts 

and ate a quick meal before we had cake and ice-cream:

Scott, earlier when Ryan dropped off Caleb and Michah, he said he could still remember the day you were born.  You know what buddy?  We remember too.  In fact, I remember when we found out we were pregnant with you.  We remember when you would go crazy moving around and kicking inside momma's belly if she at skittles.  We remember that from the start you loved your momma.  So much so, in fact, that you didn't want to come out of my belly!  Eight years later, we continue to be amazed at your God-given talents, your compassionate heart, your awesome ability to light up a room with a smile, and the love you extend to your family.  Scott, we continue to pray that you will use these God-given talents and any new ones to bring glory to the King who created you.  Happy birthday son.  We love you!

10 July 2013

Home is where the heart is

The last few months have been busy and overwhelming.  This post is going back a few months because I want to share this time of refreshment with you and put it in writing for years to come.

In April, one of my best child-hood friends' mom died.  I spent a lot of time with Becky's family.  Her mom was like another mom to me, as was the case of many of my close friend's moms.  While we may not talk on a regular basis, I have a deep love for my friend.  And her family.  I was heart broken for the sudden loss my friend was enduring.  I longed to be home holding my friend's hand, listening, and simply loving her in her hurt.  These are the moments when it SUCKS to live so far from the community I grew up in.  Later that month, my Grandma was wanting to come for a visit.  She's 90 and has never flown alone.  My mom wasn't able to fly out and get her.  It was an emotional tug on my heart and I told my mom I would go get her and bring her home (without consulting my leader husband).  I am a blessed with a husband who agreed to send me last minute after spending much of our vacation and expenses on a recent trip to Ethiopia.  Not just for one day to get my Grandma but for several days to hang out with my grieving friend.

In May, I just about ran onto the plane knowing this California girl was headed home to her roots.  I was on cloud nine - literally.  The airport near home is decorated to make you feel like you're in the Giant Sequoias. On cloud nine, in the giant sequoias, at home.  It was perfect.  And only the beginning.  Another dear friend (okay, everyone I saw is a dear friend) and forever amiga picked me up at the airport.  In my nasty-travel-stank, Nina and I headed straight downtown for the Art Hop.  It wasn't really the Artsy part of it that I was interested in, but another dear friend, Oscar was there pouring wine as part of it.  I'm so proud of Oscar's accomplishments, his sincere heart, his love for his children and it was great to see him.  Re-live the moment with me... Nina and I sit down at some fancy place, pretending like we give a rip about the menu items, but really are just there to surprise Oscar.  Oscar caught a glance of us out of the corner of his eye and gave us a half nod like he would any of his friends acknowledging their presence but in the middle of another conversation.  Imagine the look on Oscar's face when his brain caught up with his eyes and he realized that friend a few tables away is the one who lives a couple thousand miles away.  A quick hug and "hello" and Nina and I were back out the door.  This rural Iowa country girl had been transported into the downtown city life strolling down the street where one guy promised us the cheap knock-off ray bans were real and another businessman was selling what I believed were stolen watches.  To be honest, I was totally out of the comfort zone of this momma whose date nights are a weekly gathering with a group of friends studying the Bible.  Walking into the the fun coffee place that seems to frequent every corner and the big red bulls-eye store, I was back into familiar territory.  Oh Jesus, it's so good to be home. Thank you for giving me a heart that calls 3 places home and a friend that puts her to-do list aside to hang out with me.  Following a long day, it was now late at night driving through streets I wasn't familiar with... that is until in the middle of city street lights we got into an area where became pitch dark.  While I've been away for 11 years, I absolutely knew exactly where we were, passing the Fresno State Farm.  A place I called home for four years.  On that school farm, things grew and so did I.  We continued down the road to Nina's home.  My earlier frappuccino would typically be a recipe for a sleepless night.  But not this night, I was exhausted and I crashed shortly after.

The next morning, a few of my girlfriends were able to meet up for breakfast.  You can't imagine how much I enjoyed those few hours with a hand full of ladies I don't get to see near enough.  What a treasure.  It was so good to just be there with Becky.  To hear her pain, to reminisce about her momma.  Believe me, it wasn't all sad moments.  It's amazing how a bond can stand the test of time and distance and that they allow me to walk back into their lives for a few moments.  Later that day I joined Becky's family up for a trial run with the boat up to Pine Flat Lake.  Back in the day, I learned to water ski on the river but those days are long gone and these days I don't spend much time in the water.  That didn't matter to me.  With a bit of apprehension of making a fool out of myself or of getting hurt, I tried wake-boarding.  And for a newbie, I rocked it!!! Of course I can say that, this is my blog!  Really though, I must share that I got up out of the water the first try and managed to single hand it.  I might not have had the look of an experienced wake-boarder, I was having fun.

Usually when I go home, I spend a lot of time with my sweet and amazing friend, Kristine.  After the lake, I finally met up with Kristine. We weren't too concerned that the restaurant was closing, us girls grabbed a table and ordered a meal.  Eventually I ended up at my friend Mary's.  One thing I love about my friends is that some of them have kids my age.  These women invested in my life as a teen and loved me where I was at in life and I love these women!  With an empty nest, except when the grandgirls are there, Mary welcomed me in for a few days:

Saturday was my maternal Grandmother's family reunion.  My Aunt Anna is such a trooper taking care of all the details.  Being home for a short period never allows for enough time to see everyone.  Visiting with groups of people is so much easier.  Being at the family reunion was perfect.  I got to see cousins, meet their spouses and kids, and loved every moment of it.  This is my Nanny and her baby brother:

My own siblings were there too.  But I longed to spend time with just them.  Before heading over to my brother's, I made a quick detour to Oscar's winery.  Friends, I don't drink, but it was such a warm and inviting place.  A beautiful deck is the perfect place to hang out during wine events.  Jeremy, along with his bride, are classmates that are also friends of Oscar's.  Newly married himself, Jeremy plays a fatherly-figure role in his nephew's life.  I so admire that.  Speaking of outstanding men who I admire, I left the winery to pick up my Dad and head to my brother's.  My family is wonderful about opening their homes and providing a gathering place.  Being this far away, I really don't have any interaction with my nieces and nephews.  At my brother and sister-in-laws, we played Marco-Polo in the pool, and enjoyed hanging out together.  Because I don't dare share a picture of me in a swimming attire, I'll share this one:

My sister-in-law has a sweet new camaro.  A ride with the top down was absolutely necessary.  Don't let me fool you.  My brother drove the car.  I was happy to be sitting with my dad and brother in a car!  I took a picture while sitting in the driveway so I could send it to Ryan with the subject line of "topless".

One of my favorite things of being home is worshiping in the church I was raised to faith in.  I don't know all of the people there anymore, but I know the Truth is spoken and I'm became a changed person because of it.  This Sunday though, instead of worship at the church, I listened to it on the radio as I drove to another familiar town that holds lots of life memories for me.  In a small cafe in downtown Hanford, I met my step-brother's family and my step-sisters family.
These are my niece and nephews from that family.  It makes me feel a bit old that my niece is taller than I am! As with every other gathering, there wasn't enough time.  I love my friends and miss them, but it's the nieces and nephews that I long to watch grow up.  I would love to see Julie on point during the Nutcracker, or watch Jason draw pictures and play ball.  I'd love to push Hunter on a swing.  The same goes for my other nieces and nephews.   But, with this short visit home, I'm just thankful that busy schedules worked and we could gather together.

For a while on Sunday, I headed over to Paul's where Nina hosted a birthday party for Paul's granddaughter.  Another home away from home.  My freshman year I spent a lot of Friday night's with Paul's daughter and other classmates hanging out.  As years passed, Paul became a close friend.  A man that was like another father to me (I'm a lucky lady to have a father along with other men in my life that loved me).  A man that could speak into my life and hold me accountable and pray for me EVERY.SINGLE.DAY for an entire year.  It was a smashing party for a 6 year old.  I loved seeing all the adults that love that child.  Some of those folks were old friends who I've lost touch with.  Did I already mention that I love my friend's parents?  Nikki's parents were there.  What a sweet treat.  Joe gifted me a bottle of wine that we had given to our wedding party ten years ago.  Again, the time was too short but it was so good to see all those friends.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon with Becky and family.   I am blessed once again to be a part of their every day lives for a short while.  Oh Lord, you are Truth and Love.  Because of you, Lord, Becky and I can stand face to face after life and distance had separated us for a hand full of years.  Becky married a man that loves her.  He even put up with me for a few days and that's saying something!  Thanks to Becky and Greg, we ventured out on a dune-buggy [sorry Becky, I know that's not the right term] to ride around the country side.  I felt a little bit like an exchange student who's trying to experience all the fun things in a new community.  At the same time I felt right at home as we roamed through empty irrigation ditches, and down the paths of newly planted orchards.  Later, Becky's daughter snuggled with me on the couch while her son and I threw a football together and even played chess.

*****[as I sit here and type this two months after my trip, I'm grinning from ear to ear about the time I spent back in California.  In perfect God timing, I just received this message from Nina via facebook:
Hey friend!! So I had this idea...but all the un-creative ways I came up with for sharing it haven't worked:( so I'm keeping it simple! Your friends have a message for you and starting tomorrow via FB you will get pieces of the message each day until its finished! :) You are loved!
Indeed, I am loved.]*****

Monday rolled around rather quickly.  Granted, sleeping in each morning might do that.  Thank you Ryan for keeping the kids solo.  Thank you Mary and Scott for letting me take up residence at your place.  By this point I was missing home but still hadn't seen near enough people.  Thanks to face time, I was able to visit with my kids and send my hubby some fun pictures to share the trip with him.  On Monday, I finally found my place on Kristine's couch.  It was long overdue.  In the midst of moving, she made time to hang out with me.  Such a cherished friend.

 Like many other friends, a few children are now part of our hang out time.  I love those cuties.  When Seth offerred me a strawberry out of his garden, I had to snap a photo of it.
The time with these guys went too fast but trying to connect with lots of people doesn't allow for much time.  In an earlier phone call I connected with my Grandma so I headed right over to see her.  She is a woman of few words.  She is a picture of strength.  Unsure of how to serve her, we passed the time by sitting beside her and holding her hand.  Again face-time came in really handy and she was able to see my wild children and hear their voices - her first time meeting Judah.

That evening, I headed back to the city.  I met Dina while in high school.  She was my senior civics teacher.  While a good student, I was ready to be done with high school and didn't have much time for many of my teachers.  But Dina was real and I liked her.  So much so that every-time I go home, I stop and visit Dina's classroom. Nina and Dina and I met up for the evening.  We headed to this cool joint in downtown Clovis.  More memories of time downtown at a sandwich shop and at the farmer's markets.  As we walked in, I remembered the place I'd been before but had long forgotten about.  I had my usual, even it had been 13ish years since I'd been there.  While the food was good, the best part was catching up with Dina and Nina as we sat on her back patio after supper.  With at least one more stop to make that night, I finally hit the road, pulling off the highway at another comfort place - my Daddy's house.  We chatted a bit before it was officially TOO LATE and he and I both had an early morning ahead of us.  Of course, I didn't go right to bed when I got to Mary's.  She and I really hadn't had a chance to catch up yet.  Mary wouldn't want me to brag, but again, this is my blog... Mary shared an amazing story of how she and her husband are investing in another couple.  Loving like Jesus called us to love.  Pretty soon, the clock was ticking 2:00am.

Lord, I am a blessed woman.  You knew me before time.  You know the number of hairs on my head.  You bless me with my parents and siblings, those I consider family, those whose family I married into, and those you've entrusted us to raise.  In addition to that Lord, you give me abundant joy.  Not without struggles, but certainly worth bragging about.  Thank you Lord for those friends at home who are the Hands and Feet of you Jesus.  God I thank you for the opportunity to be in their lives for a few days and for the generosity of a husband who holds down the fort while I do so.  My family and friends are a treasure.  Thank you Lord.  It's not always easy living so far away, Lord.  You know that my heart's prayer many years ago is that I would follow where you lead me and that you would give me opportunity to make Your name great whether that be in the comforts of my childhood home town, my home here, or my home away from home in Ethiopia.

Three hours later, I was up and in the shower and ready to go.  My time here was over and I was soon leaving the Swedish Village in the dark as I sped down the freeway to pick up my Nanny.  Oh that sweet lady.  She was so excited, or nervous, about travelling that she didn't get much sleep either.  My cousins who've so graciously cared for her, carried her bags to the truck, and hugged and kissed her goodbye.  It was so sweet to watch these grown men love on her, and maybe even shed a tear.  And so began the long trip home.

Flying with an independent woman who doesn't admit her need for help was a fun challenge.  I told her over and over again that I hadn't got to hold her hand for many years and just enjoyed being able to do that and other little things for her.  Take note my children, you'll likely have to deal with this stubborn momma that way someday.
This is my Grandma.  She's a simple lady.  Likes fried potatoes, pinto beans, catfish, and strong black coffee.  She's not afraid to give you her opinion (yes, this might be where I got it from).  While frail, she's an amazing woman of strength.  At 90 years old, having lived a bit of a hard life, she is a beautiful creation.  As we arrived back in Iowa, I treated her to the popular drive-thru coffee place that you can find on every corner and grabbed myself one too to keep me awake.  The two hour drive home was filled with question after question about where we were going and telling me of her need to go home.  Jehovah Jirah, you are faithful to provide.  This woman sitting beside me has left her home and the majority of her family.  This place is unfamiliar to her and she seems so confused.  Would you give her peace while she's here with us in Iowa.  Fifteen hours later after very little sleep, having made a surprise visit at my mom's work with my Grandma and then helped to get her settled in at mom's house, I was headed home.

Home is indeed where the heart is.  God has blessed me with a heart for more than one home.  My hometown of Kingsburg, the home I've grown to love here in Iowa, and the home I will gladly go to someday in Heaven.

16 April 2013

Living Life

Such emotions lately.  Naughty kids are rough to parent.  Yes, I may be dealing with kid issues, but there have been those moments that are fresh in my mind a week later.  I am so thankful to be living in the moment.  Some moments are sweet victories simply because I have felt like I'm failing as a parent.  We try to teach our kids hard work, selfless-ness, and some of those things.  Even so, our kids seem greedy, all about "things", self-centered, and think they deserve EVERYTHING.  I'm not trying to have a pity party about my parenting.  I'm also well aware that we're not perfect examples.  But 11 days in a poor country kind of changes your perspective.  Even if it's your 4th trip there.  Ethiopia reminded me of that perspective many times.

We all know how those issues reveal themselves in kids' attitudes and our responses so there's no need for detail here.  What I really wanted to share are the small victories that occurred today.

If you know us, you probably don't see the attachment struggles between Judah and me.  If you know us real well, you've heard about or seen them.  This past week has been good.  And fun.  And I get smiles from Judah on a regular basis, not just blank stares.  Tonight he came around the corner and when we made eye contact, he smiled and my heart warmed.  I'll take that again son!

This morning Scott was discontent about something.  About everything actually.  My reaction was frustration.    When I left in a hurry this morning, he ran to me and hugged me tight.  As we started our seperate ways, he stepped back, looked at me, and hugged me again.  My sweet boy.  He is so considerate of others but tires of being the oldest child who the others follow around.

This afternoon, Bethany asked me more than once if I would just sit with her.  We did that multiple times.  I snuggled her close, she giggled and we both breathed in the moments.  She may have not been feeling good but even so, it was a moment to remember.  She won't always ask me to hug and hold her.

While I love these moments and think they're healthy and necessary, I'm not naive enough to think it will be the fix to the heart issues that have been revealing themselves in the kids and myself.  This week our small group families will be starting to go through the book, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Paul David Tripp.  I'm eagerly awaiting this study and think that deep down my kids are too!

09 April 2013

Catching Up

I keep thinking that I really need to write a blog post.  As you can see, that never happens and then I get so behind that I don't know where to begin.  For some odd reason, I think I have to be up to date which is so not true.  After all, when have I ever been up to date??? This can be evidenced by my wardrobe, hair color, etc.  But this isn't confessions of a mom who needs a make-over.

Moving on.

We are were enjoying spring.  The weekend weather was beautiful.  We spent a fair amount of time outside on Sunday.  We followed lunch at mom & papa's by working on our soccer skills.  I am coaching one of the U-8 boys teams and my U-8 boy has some serious room for improvement.  It is clear that he did not get any of his momma's athletic ability. 

My kids have been horribly behaved lately.  I think it's a mix of spring fever, us parents being away for two weeks, and regular 'ol disobedience.  Monday when we got home for the day, I thought it would be beneficial to spend some quality time with them.  Supper would have to wait.  My icky stomach would have to be ignored.  These three little ones needed momma time and boy did we have fun:

Trampoline fun usually involves their Daddy.  But this time, I jumped in on the fun.  They have this little game they play and the kids love it.  Oddly enough, the game is the kids getting pushed over or tripped by Daddy. Pinch hitting in this wonderful little game, I had to attract the kids to the edge of the trampoline so I could push them over and trip them up.  I pulled a creative pinterest idea from the recesses of my brain to add to the fun.  With chalk, I drew a square at the edge of the trampoline and wrote "mom's square" in it and "STAY OFF" around it.  Those two little phrases had magnetic action to my babes.  I put my rockstar drawing abilities to work and continued to decorate the trampoline with chalk.  We had a blast... except for the part where they had to sit still so I could draw a straight line.  

Did you catch that last sentence?  Normally the kids have fun and I assist.  But this time, I had fun too.  Because I was pulling out all the tricks during this quality time, I even did some head stands for the kids:

The last few days were cool but beautiful.  Spring arrived but winter must have been jealous.  They were apparently having a little battle today because we enjoyed a lightning/thunder/rain storm this morning.  The remainder of the week will be cold with chances of snow in the forcast... oh dear!

18 February 2013


There's not much snow hanging around us to play in, but we've been quite busy anyway.  These three hulligans keep us hopping.  Keeping up with school papers, snack calendars, AWANA studies, and the general up-bringing of three kids wears this momma out some days.  The photo below was one of those moments where they were so precious but wouldn't calm down and stand still long enough for a picture.
Showing off their new Latham beanies from Nick.

If you know me in real life, you know that this fun little time we call the Sweetheart Supper, is to celebrate some of the ladies in my community keeps me busy for about a month straight.  Our local paper published an article on the event this year which brought more interest to the event:

Lovin' on the Ladies is quite fun though it does take a lot of work to organize.  Yesterday I did a quick count of volunteers who help with the meticulous details.  I counted 22 people who helped make this event a success.  The end result on Valentine's Night is always worth every minute of prep time:

Bethany serves Ms. Wenger.

After a week of Sweetheart Supper details, I was thankful to eat out on Friday night.  Thanks to our local fire department for not only providing emergency services but also for frying up some great fish at the start of the Lenten season.  A worthy cause to be donating too.

This week, the stone gathers no moss at our house.  I wasn't home most of the week nights.  You can imagine how my house looked.  Sure, my husband is helpful and does, but he leaves the fine-tuned details to me.  After a morning of cleaning, we spent the evening celebrating the culture of a Pakistani exchange student from our nearby college.  Saista loved every minute of being in the kitchen again after two months on a college campus.  She was also very patient with her kitchen helpers.  We shared a traditional Pakistani meal, learned about Saista's family, and had a great time getting to know this sweet girl.

Saista and Bethany making the dough for the garmen.

Tuesday through Thursday Sweetheart Supper + Friday night fish fry + Saturday Pakistani night = I was tired.

Sunday would have been a great napping day.  Except that it was almost two weeks after a certain little boy's birthday and we had yet to celebrate with our family.  So Sunday afternoon we were joined by two of Judah's friends, two sets of grandparents, and some good friends who love our children and we had a birthday party.  Complete with cake (for the 3rd time), pizza, soda, and lots of noise.  Happy birthday Judah!

After all the celebrating this past week, I'm thankful for a day off for Presidents Day.  I slept in a bit, lounged around the house, and am now heading out to buy some more beading materials with a girl friend!

06 February 2013

farm girl

A note to a friend last week:

I thought of you this morning as I was making my way to work.  There's no way a few sentences can do justice to my farm girl experience this morning but I'll give it a quick shot.  Overnight we had sleet followed by up to 6" of snow and then lots of wind this morning.  I didn't even want to crawl out of bed but I also don't want to waste my vacation time being a sissy about the driveway.  We live in the rolling hills coming in our driveway, one goes down a hill, around a curve where the pone sits on one side and a deep drop off on the other.  Leaving the driveway in winter weather then, one has to go slow around the corner to be able to stay on the driveway, but yet get enough speed to make it up the hill to the highway.  Ryan headed out right away to check the status of the driveway (it's ¼ mile out to the highway).  It's like his 4WD weighted down vet truck floats on the snow.  Not true for our van.  He came in the house this morning and let me know the driveway would be fine.  The van probably wouldn't make it out so he had the old ford running.


The "old ford" as we call it is an old farm truck.  1987.  All manual stuff inside – still has the "brights" button on the floor below the clutch.  Our van has nothing fancy but this old ford is even less so.  The rearview mirror came off a few years ago and we've tried to get it back where it goes, but it has found a permanent place behind the seat.  No button selection for 4WD, and I think the hubs are permanently locked in so at least I don't have to mess with that.  A guy side-swiped Ryan a few years ago so the box is dented to high heaven on one side. Can you picture it?  Inside the cab, there is no cup holder for my coffee but I manage to find that it fits tightly in the back of the seat where the arm rest would fold up into.  Please don't spill coffee; that would just ruin my jeans and tshirt and attitude for the day.  Ryan's country-living-guy pals love this truck.  It's old but it has a "newer" Cummins diesel engine in it and the noise it makes would make any guy proud.  Let's not forget that my co-pilot is Ryan's huge chain saw, 2-cycle oil, helmet and face shield and who knows what else.  Since we only live on an acreage, this old farm truck has become a wood cutting truck.  The goose neck is well oiled and well used for a wood hauling trailer.  Can you picture it?


Then imagine that I'm headed down our snow covered driveway with old wipers that aren't working the best and I'm driving half way blind at first.  I had mentioned to Ryan that if we'd had a normal winter so far, we wouldn't think much of this storm.  I got out on the highway and didn't meet a single car, followed the plow that last mile into town and saw few people out.  Then I realized my breakfast burrito was still in the microwave… Still following the plow, I pulled into Hardees and wasn't sure if I was in the driveway or on the grass.  Waiting for my healthy breakfast, the snow started falling heavier.  Heading South out of town there was no evidence of the plow, apparently the North/South roads are drifting bad.  Imagine me trying to juggle the stick shift, wipers, and watching the road.  It wasn't a nerve-wracking drive.  It was a tad bit empowering… I'm not scared of some winter storm!  Into the office, our side of the building was dark.  No one in the office… may I should have been a little more cautious about that winter storm...

29 January 2013


Nothing super exciting going on here.  Living life, which keeps us busy enough.  Here's some random things you might see/hear if you were a fly on our wall:

  • Bethany is my mini me.  Her hair was mostly straight this morning... until she got outside where it was foggy.  
  • I canned 50-something quarts of tomatoes this summer.  I'm slowly starting to use them up.  Last night I made spanish rice using  and not-so-fresh salsa using some garden things I'd frozen: cilantro, lemon juice (not garden, but hand squeezed and frozen), and green onions.  Tonight I made meatloaf. Pretty much anything that calls for some sort of tomato gets adjusted to use the jars of tomato in my pantry.
  • Scott has a bit of a gap in his front teeth currently.  He whistles through his teeth ALL the time.  It drives me crazy.  I feel bad asking him to stop but the constant noise drives me bonkers.  He loves to whistle.  It's a hard balance.  But, we have constant noise all the time so balance is tough.
  • I used to feel like the "crazy cat lady".  We had seven cats.  Around Christmas, I hit and killed our beloved Rum.  The cats love the garage door and apparently think it's fun to run in and out each time the door is opened or closed.  It's annoying.  My kids are constantly begging me to not hit the cats as they're running in while I try to drive in.  I might have been the mom who, in frustration, made some comment about running over a cat two seconds before actually doing so.  I am no longer feeling like the crazy cat lady.  Now I feel like cat killer.  While I don't think that being married to a vet gives me permission to hit my cats, I sure am thankful that it lessens my veterinary expenses.  P.S., cat #2, aka Tank, survived the run over for now.  He only uses 3 legs, much like his momma, Pepsi.
  • Sometimes my kids play so nicely together, for about 5 minutes at a time.  They are good guys and bad guys and utilizing super hero capes, buzz light year gear, and a captain America shield.  Scott is currently in his boxer briefs playing "captain underpants" and I had to stop typing to talk to Bethany about keeping her shirt on since she's a girl.  Alas, I'll share the picture where they're all fully clothed.

  • I've been trying to eat healthy.  Some days I could care less.  And some days I'm very serious about it.  Eating smaller portions has been a good habit to get into.  Especially as I prepare for Ethiopian food which I now appreciate but isn't something I would over-eat on like fajitas.  I've also let myself have a snack sized candy each day.  Because I'm about keeping it real, some days that becomes 6 different snacks in an hour.  
  • There are lots of mommas pregnant in my church.  We've had several baby booms in our church where 8 women at a time are pregnant.  I have not been in either baby boom.  Which is okay.  I'm excited for my friends who are expecting.  Now if I could only keep straight who is pregnant and who isn't...
  • In less than 7 weeks we'll be in Ethiopia.  We are excited.  Still fundraising.  Still working on a few details (like who will keep our kids for 2 weeks) but EXCITED.  
  • Sweetheart Supper plans are happening.  The invitations should get mailed out tomorrow, and should have been printed Sunday.  Since Sunday was 1/4" of ice, there was no going anywhere, no invites printed and none ready to send out tomorrow.  I'm telling myself to not get anxioius.  Hosting that many ladies is a lot of work but worth every bit of it!
  • This morning when I checked the weather it was 46 here (way warmer than normal), 34 in the town I was raised (way colder than normal) and 75 in Ethiopia.  Yay Ethiopia!!!
  • My kids learn several verses a week.  As Bethany is quoting "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right", she is outright disobeying and climbing on the counter I told her to stay off of.  Clearly we need to work more on the application than the memory part.  Scott speeds through verses and they're way easy for him.  Judah is a champ and has to try.  Way to go boys.  Now, let's work on the personal application of it.
  • I sometimes get an email from a specific airline at my work email.  It is annoying.  Today, I actually saw what it said and it was tempting to want to see if a few friends wanted to join me for a cheap weekend away...
Kids are arguing.  They've had a time out, some time alone and at least 3 chats from momma... do you think they would volunteer to go to bed????

constant noise. I don't know what I'd do without it.  So thankful to be a mom.