Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bunny ears

She's just...cute, isn't she?

Ice Storm

LOOK at those windows!  Yes, we had a humdinger of an ice storm early Friday morning, but then the temperatures rose quickly and it all melted by noon.

Sarah Gets (a Little) Calmer

Little lady is on my lap right now, clinging hard to one hand so I am typing left handed.  I guess she wants the love and comfort of a mama's hand but typing one handed is a drag.  Ah, she has released the other hand!

I know, blurry picture.

So this is a drawing board that Miriam got for her birthday and to my surprise, Sarah loves it.  She will sit for...more than a minute...and draw on it. This is a girl who is in almost constant motion (when she is awake) so I'm excited that she has found a quiet, calm, non messy way to entertain herself.

She will also sit on my lap for a few minutes and listen to me read "Old Hat, New Hat".  My baby is growing up!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Daniel's Headwear


Hat #2

And that blue thing, dear friends, is a pair of (clean) underwear which Daniel snatched from the laundry pile and successfuly yanked over his head.  Isaac and I were laughing so hard we almost rolled on the floor. But not quite since I needed to take a picture!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Powerful Verse

Isaiah 55:8

New International Version (NIV)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
How often do we have an agenda, and the Lord steps in and changes our plans through the circumstances of life?
I love to be in control. I love to know what will happen, when.  I love to plan ahead.
Planning is good.  But we need to hold our plans gently in our hands.  Because sometimes "life happens".
We have some uncertainty right now about Kevin's job.  He works for the government as a civilian, and his job may well be affected by the government's budget crisis.  He will not LOSE his job, praise God. He MAY experience furloughs, which would mean he would not work every Friday, or every other Friday, with the associated decrease in pay.
The thought of a 10% or 20% pay cut is not a cheery one.  We are planning ahead by saving as much as possible right now and decreasing expenses in several areas.
Can we benefit from this uncertainty?  I think with the right, godly attitude, yes.  There are no guarantees in life. We are called to be wise and to plan ahead, but we also can't cling to money as security. God is our security. 
I'm doing well with not worrying about the financial issues, which is a great thing.  We've always lived below our income and have savings for just such a time as this.  A furlough is not what WE want, but if the Lord allows it, we can and will thrive.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Update on a Sore Finger

Isaac is doing much better.  We're almost certain it isn't broken, and we're thankful!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

This Week in Pictures

Our little man is warm in this outfit but yes, it is pink and purple. I need more clothes for him!

And our little lady has some interesting footwear on...her daddy's shoes.

Exciting!  Someone is doing something mysterious with the telephone lines.  Or the electrical lines. Something.

For a few days, we had the ping pong table set up in the basement and Kevin and the older children enjoyed many rousing games of ping pong. 

Several of our girls played with Color Wonder paints in our sun room.  It was fun, and the toddler wasn't able to make much of a mess though she did dip her fingers in the paint. But the paint stays clear unless applied to Color Wonder paper.  She was therefore foiled in her unending quest to mark the walls. 

Poor Isaac slammed his fingers in the door and one hurts a lot. We splinted it, which decreased the pain significantly. We'll evaluate it today to try and determine whether it is broken or not. Poor kid.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

My father turned 70 years old this week.  I managed to get all the kids on a couch, looking at the camera, and mostly smiling, for a birthday picture for him.  Isaac is not smiling, he's grimacing, but ah well.  I never pretended to be a professional photographer and it shows!

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Night Away

Thursday, I told Kevin I was really struggling with anxiety and stress.  Kevin asked me if getting away for a night (away from home) would help. I said yes, thinking maybe we could manage it in a couple of weeks.

Bless his heart, he arranged it for Friday night!  Yes, on Friday  night I went away to a local hotel and spent the night alone.


I read a couple of fun books (well, I read one, skimmed the other), watched a fun movie, and stayed up late.

I ate dark chocolate.

But I also did some serious praying and journaling.  I thought about what is stressing me out.

Yes, it was a glorious night away.

I came back with some new ideas about life, and with renewed joy over my family. They are so precious!

So what are a couple of things that I realized?

1.  There are some trouble spots in the house that continually stress me out. The last couple of days, I have spent time moving things around to decrease clutter and improve organization.  It already helps.

2.  I don't need to worry about high school.  Yes, I've been stressing about high school. It does seem like a big job to teach my children through high school.  Since I've never done it before, it looms large as a mountain. 

Of course, when Naomi was 4 and I was thinking about teaching her to read, THAT task seemed very hard. I've taught 5 kids to read well now and #6 is starting to read, so I'm confident now.

I haven't organized a high school curriculum before but I can do it with God's help.  And Naomi is the perfect guinea pig.  She's a lot like me...visual learner, good at writing, good at math.  She will struggle with some things becuase everyone does, but I think it would  much harder to start with Isaac or Joseph, who have handwriting glitches.  Put it this way, Naomi will probably be relatively easy to teach high school, and once I have a basic template I can make adjustments for the other children.

So I am thankful for a night away.  I feel refreshed and renewed.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lessons from the Life of King David

I've read the Bible almost every day of my life since I was 11 years old.  I'm 43, so that's 32 years!

When I first started reading the Bible, I read a chapter a day. I just plowed through from the beginning of the Bible to the end. That IS one way to do it, but many people recommend starting with the gospels of Jesus.  Truthfully, some of the early books of the Old Testament are hard reading with their long descriptions of Jewish ceremonial law, and their lists of names.  Yes, they all have value, but they aren't easy reading.

Nowadays, I hop around the Bible. I read the Bible using the following website:

I've mentioned this website before.  It is the Word of God along with commentary exploring the social and political background of the text, plus commentary from various theologians. Do I trust the commentary 100% to be right?  No, of course not.  The commentators are people, not God. BUT I find learning about the historical background to be fascinating and the theological commentary is useful.  I've read the Bible many times, but there is always something new for me to learn.  And reading about what other people THINK about a passage is often instructive.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading through the life of King David, the most famous of the Kings of Israel.  I felt like God was showing me something new every day I read about his life, though of course I've read about David many times before.

I could say a lot about him, but I'm going to stick with this today. 

He was an unsuccessful father.  Bluntly, much of his family life was a mess!

Is that overstating things? I really don't think so.

Consider this...

He married a host of women and had MANY children.  This was common for the day, but it led to some grievous consequences.

For one thing, I think David got into the habit of looking around at random women as potential wives or concubines. 

So when he saw a particularly beautiful woman named Bathsheba bathing on the roof of a building next to his palace, he didn't turn away.  He sent for her.  When he found out she was already married, he committed adultery with her.

When Bathsheba conceived a child with David, David arranged to have her husband killed on the front lines of a war.  David MURDERED her husband.

Why is this relevant to parenting?  Well, first, David showed that he put his own lusts and desires over the well being of his family. Obviously, his sin made him a poor example to his children. 

Second, David experienced major consequences that affected his children.  The child conceived in adultery was stricken by the God, and died as a young infant. . Third,  God warned that because of David's sin, there would be turmoil in David's family.

God doesn't cause sin, so I believe that the powerful protective hand of God was removed from David's family, and Satan was able to get in and start messing things up in a big way.

The aftermath was horrifying.

Amnon fell in "love" (but it was really lust) with his HALF SISTER Tamar, and raped her.

David did nothing about it.  He was angry with Amnon, but took no steps to discipline his son.  A few years later another son, Absalom (full brother to Tamar), killed Amnon in retaliation. 

Absalom fled to a foreign country, but after a few years, David let him come back to Israel.The Word says that David accepted Absalom, but there is no indication that he dealt with his son's sin, anger, etc.  David apparently just ignored what had happened and decided it was "water under the bridge."  Absalom still had... a few issues.

Some time later, Absalom started a revolt to take over the kingdom. His clear desire was to kill his father and take the crown.  In order to make it clear that the breach between his father and Absalom was irrevocable, Absalom basically raped 10 of his father's concubines on the palace roof.

Ok, can we sing, "Messed up family, very very very messed up family!"?

I will confess that David's life story is alarming to me.  Because here was a guy who LOVED GOD.  LOVED HIM! 

The Lord said over and over again that David was a man after His own heart.

But David was also a sinner.  Aren't we all!

It alarms me that David's sins and example had such a horrifying effect on his children.

It makes me fall to my knees, if not actually, at least figuratively. And yes, sometimes I get down on my knees and pray for my children.

One other thing that comes to mind is that David fell into a cultural trap that resulted in a lot of grief...namely, the cultural expectation that a king would have many wives and concubines.  Lots of sons from different mothers, and David not able to parent any of the children enough -- not to mention make his wives happy.

  From the beginning, the Lord said that a man should cleave with his wife and the two should become one flesh.  Not ... the 5 or 10 or 1000 should become one flesh.

David was, outwardly speaking, a successful king. Inwardly, he loved the Lord. But I think his family was his blind spot.  He was not able to control his passions, and he wasn't willing to spend enough time with his kids. He especially wasn't willing to discipline them.

So...what do I learn from all this?

I need to pray the Lord grants Kevin and me wisdom to choose a different path from our culture when our cultural ways aren't healthy.

We need to discipline our children whether we feel like it or not.

We need to spend (lots of) time with our children.

We need to work on our marriage faithfully. That takes time, but it is so important that our children live in a home with 2 parents who are committed to each other.

How are we doing?  I think we're doing well. By God's grace, we'll raise children who love the Lord and love each other and love us.  That's my prayer. I will never be a queen of a country and I don't want to be, but if I (eventually) die with children who love each other and Jesus, I'll die joyful!


Is cute...

and strong!  Here he knocked Lydia right over!  (Not really :-).)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tired and Stressed...BUT...I love homeschooling

I'm not feeling well this morning. I don't know if it is just fatigue and stress, or whether I'm coming down with an illness.  I hope for the former!
I LOVE homeschooling. I am SO thankful for the privilege of being able to homeschool.  There are parents in Germany and Sweden whose children have been taken from them because the parents homeschool.  How thankful I am that we have the freedom to homeschool here in the US.
Having said that, it is hard work.  I have so many things going for me...a supportive husband, a decent income so we can buy supplies...wonderful, smart children.
But, the going gets tough sometimes.  Our 2 older boys have handwriting glitches.  Every child has areas of struggle.  That is normal. I was an academic powerhouse in my youth but I struggled with anything spatial.  My mechanical drawing class during my senior year of high school was really tough for me, and some less academically minded classmates blew me away. 
Having areas of difficulty really is a blessing because the ultimate "renaissance man" (or woman)
may be tempted to pride.  So, I am thankful Kevin and I didn't give birth  to geniuses.
It would be nice if all the kids learned the same way, with the same materials. But that isn't realistic either.  And of course, part of the reason I love homeschooling is I can tailor the children's education to each child's particular needs and gifts and areas of difficulty.
All this is to say that I need to give myself a pep talk and keep on trucking.  It IS hard to keep track of every child, to think and pray about each child, to trust that I WILL do a good job teaching our kids.  But I know I will, not because I'm so amazing but because we serve an amazing God!
My last thought is this.  A friend of mine is retired in Florida.  She and her husband have a motor home and have it parked in a park with many other retirees.  Just a few days ago, a motor home near them caught fire during the night. The couple escaped, with their dog, but all possessions except those in their car were destroyed in one short night.
I tell you, that really makes me realize how much I 'sweat the small stuff' in my life.  Our family is healthy.  We have food on the table. We have a roof over our heads.  We have lots of possessions. We have the LORD JESUS.  Forgive me, Lord, for stressing about the little stuff.  Helpe me to be thankful for what You have given me, and help me to trust YOU with all the unknowns of our future.
P.S.  I apologize for the weird formatting on the last few paragraphs.  I don't want to figure it out...too much trouble!

Kevin and Daniel

A little bonding time between Kevin and his littlest man.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Donating Clothes

I received a message from our local homeschool group, saying that the nearby crisis pregnancy center is in need of clothing, specifically sizes 3T, 4T, and 5T.

Our family makeup is interesting.  We had 2 girls, then 2 boys, then 3 girls, and finally a boy.  What is curious is that because of genetic makeup, the 2 older girls share clothes, the 2 older boys share clothes, and then the next 2 girls share clothes.  It is a LITTLE bit like having 3 sets of twins in terms of clothing size.

Angela, our 6th child, is 5 but tall for her age.  She's outgrown 5T almost completely and wears 6T or 7T clothes along with Miriam (who is 7 but short for her age.)

Sarah and Daniel will not share clothing, so there is no need for me to save a ton of 3T, 4T, and 5T clothing for them to grow into.

Yesterday my back was hurting (long story, more about that later) so I kept our older 3 kids busy  marching up and down the stairs with tubs. (We store our spare clothing in a basement room, but I didn't want to hang out on the cold concrete downstairs.) I went through 9 tubs, 3 for each size, and reduced each size by about 1/3rd.

The result? 

 This is Daniel's nighttime pack and play. I had the children throw the donated clothes into the pack and play just to get them out of the way. Later in the afternoon, the older 3 kids counted them all and put them in bags for donation.

The final tally was 190 garments.  Yes, 190!  I wasn't being particularly heroic.  I was just getting rid of clothing I knew we didn't need. And no, they weren't nasty or stained as I threw out those few items that were truly unpleasant.

  Obviously, we have too many clothes.  We have been blessed to have many people donate clothing to us, and I am very grateful. As I said, we needed enough for twins (essentially) so I needed a lot when the pairs reached a certain size.

  It feels good to get the extra clothing out of our basement as it makes it easier to store what we do need.  I am glad I made the time to sort those clothes yesterday.

  Last night, I packed the big boys into the car and we drove off towards the crisis pregnancy center to drop off thte items.  We made it about a mile.  As I reached the end of our road, I applied the brakes. Black ice!  I slid into the next road. By God's grace, no one else was driving around so I did NOT crash into anyone, and I stopped before I went into the ditch on the other side.  However, I could tell traveling conditions weren't safe, so I turned around and came back home.

 So, I hope to take the clothes on Monday.