Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fast forward four years

This boy loves to be cuddled.  He loves spending time reading on laps, playing guitar, making lego creations, eating cookies, playing with his brothers, dressing up, anything Toy Story.  He has a great smile, loves girls, loves the color pink accordingly, makes up praise songs to sing as he plays, likes to help cook.  Just looking at this picture of him, 2 days old, I can still feel that silky soft baby hair and those lusciously chubby cheeks.  Now I'm going to go peek at him sleeping in his big boy loft bed, as he's no doubt "watching a movie" as he sleeps about monkeys and tigers and Woody and Buzz.

 Noah's 2nd birthday

Noah on his 4th birthday!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A stiff upper lip - not so much lower.

 Down a big hill and four feet up in the air and back down does a number on the lip.
Wait.  Can I get a closer look at that?

Yeah, you might want to put some ice on that.

Just days shy of his fourth birthday, Noah accomplishes a wildly impressive sledding feat.  Down the hill for the first few times by himself on the saucer sled.  While the rest of the family looked on in open-mouthed astonishment from the top of the hill, Noah hit a jump, flew for a while, and made the landing with the finesse of a pro.  Sometimes you've gotta sacrifice the body.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmastime is here

Today we celebrate.  As followers of Jesus, we at least claim that we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  I think one of the reasons why this is so hard to follow through on in the playing out of the next 24 hours is that it's so impossible for me to comprehend, although I accept it by faith.  I just cannot grasp the Truth of God becoming a baby.  I mean, just dwell on that for a few seconds, and your head starts spinning.  Kind of like thinking about eternity (forever, and ever, and ever,.....).

God became a baby.  A human baby.

He did it because He loves us so much.  Which is also incomprehensible to me considering how we messed things up so badly.  But even before the banishment from the Garden of Eden, God had promised us a Redeemer, a Messiah that would crush the head of the serpent.

I am just so in awe of Mary.  Can you imagine holding the Son of God in your arms?

The love that was so compelling that God sent Jesus as a baby is the love we celebrate.  It's so much more than a birthday celebration, as some are so fond of telling their preschoolers.  I can understand the sentiment behind that, but it sure waters down the truth for the ones we're trying to teach to follow His ways.  More than a birthday.  Jesus has always been.  And always will be.  Alpha and Omega.  A celebration of a love so magnificent and mysterious that the love I have for my own children is pitifully small in comparison.

Glorify Him in all you do and say.  Always, but especially consciously in the next 24 hours.  Don't let Him get lost beneath the pile of wrapping paper, the pile of dishes, the food.  Invite and savor His presence in the joy and laughter, the fellowship between those we love, and the moments of quiet worship and reflection throughout the day.

And most of all, rejoice!

He gave Himself for you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas Play

 Noah was a cow "all white and red", from the poem "The Friendly Beasts"

 They looked more like devil's horns...
Noah was ready to take them off.

 Sam played the innkeeper.  Here he is being interviewed by the nightly news.

 Microphones are awesome!

 Caleb was one of the 3 wise men (well, 2 wise men and one wise woman)

 He talked about what they did when they researched the star.  The wise men were "cross-country runners".

The stars.

Christmas plays like this put the children in the special position of proclaiming the gospel through song and the retelling of the events of Christmas.  Sam and Caleb really enjoyed being a part of it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not just ornamental - visual

Caleb's ornament commemorating his 2nd year.  

More than ornamental

People use various ornaments for various reasons:

*Many ornaments hold sentimental value and remind the owner of the giver.  Sometimes, they reflect the shared love of a hobby or activity.  Allow the sparked memories to remind you to pray for this person as you hang their ornament.

*Some ornaments are family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, and they remind us of the ones we have loved who have gone on before us.  Allow these bittersweet memories to bring to mind the promise of eternal life.  With a shared love in Jesus, we only part for a little while.  Memories can also bring further emotional healing and peace.

*Ornaments on my tree are often the result of an artistic child, and they always bring a smile to my face as I hang them up.  Allow these ornaments to be a reminder of the swiftly passing years, and commit to living each day to the fullest, appreciating each hug given by chubby little arms.  As my children grow into adulthood, I can thank the Lord for the privilege that was placed before me to hold them and care for them for a time.  (My 3 oldest boys happen to be at Grandma's at the moment, and the quiet stillness of the house lends itself well to my imaginings of this time - Gulp, sob.)

*Ornaments can be purely ornamental, just chosen because of their beauty.  What a wonderfully creative God we worship!  He loves and appreciates the beauty of His creation and of His body of believers just as we enjoy the beauty of the glitter and sparkly reflections of light around our tree.

*Ornaments can be reminders of His works - a manger scene, a cross, animals, scenery, a biblical story of God's grace.  It is very, very hard to find ornaments of Bible events, but the boys have ones of Daniel and the Lions, Jonah and the Whale, and Noah's Ark.  This one is self-explanatory.  What a wonderful reminder to have something like that hanging on your tree!  Allow yourself time to reflect on the awesome nature of our Lord as your eyes come to rest on these ornaments.

*Ornaments can be a type of memorial for a special place visited on a vacation, such as the one we have from our honeymoon location.  I allow these ornaments to remind me of the covenant of marriage to which I've entered, the blessing of past years, and the commitment I have to future years, as well as the wonderful memories of that time.

*Ornaments can be frivolous, silly, whimsical characters.  Honestly, we try to stay away from these.  I'm not saying I think they're anti-God, they just don't hold a deeper spiritual meaning for me, and if I'm using the Christmas tree as a reminder of His important trees (see previous posts), I cannot justify using up space on the tree for these.  Let me know if you can think of a good reason for me to change my mind.

May the ornaments on your tree be each a reflection of the grace of God in a particular area of your life as you celebrate His love for you and His gift of Himself this Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree - visual

Oh Christmas Tree!

"And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."  Genesis 2:9

"...On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."  Revelation 22:2

"...a tree is recognized by its fruit."  Matthew 12:33

"The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree."  Acts 5:30


Trees are very important in the Bible!

Adam and Eve ate freely from the Tree of Life in the garden until they chose to disobey God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Life and death given from two different trees.

Life and death given on one tree later in history: as Jesus lay dying on the cross, He poured out His life for us.  He gave His life on a tree so that we might have life with Him and one day eat from the tree of life again.

We are even referred to as trees.  Trees producing fruit or not, depending on the indwelling of the Spirit.

The Christmas tree is a kind of memorial of these things that we place in our home during the Christmas season:  the celebration of God becoming human like us to show us His love and restore us to eternal life.

What great promises we can celebrate as we contemplate our tree.  It's okay to make it personal.  It was intended to be taken as such.

"Jesus said, `I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"  John 8:12
We string small, white lights on our tree.  As I reflect on their beauty, I am reminded of the beauty God sees in us when we reflect His light.

Choose to see Jesus this Christmas in everything you do!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Plucked chickens and a garbage disposal

Can you imagine what you're life would be like if you had to wash all your clothes and dishes by hand, make all your food from scratch (including butchering the chicken in the barnyard), and haul bucket after bucket from the stream to heat over a wood-burning stove so that you could bathe (with soap you made last week)?

I can't even begin to imagine.

My life is crazy now.


Machines do much of the household work for me, I frequently buy my ready-to-prepare meat from the store rather than killing the fatted calf, and I even use disposable diapers.

But my life is still crazy.

I am so blessed to live in modern-day America where all of these things are at my disposal (another convenience - the disposal!).  So many other countries do not have these conveniences.

So here we are in the most "churched" nation in the world, a nation "under God", a nation founded by many godly leaders.

Why are we here?  Why me?  Why do I get these blessings when so many others would be more "deserving"?

Maybe these modern conveniences are all a sign that the time is short.  The time is short for us to share Jesus with our neighbor (whether next-door or on the other side of the world), our boss, our co-worker.  The time is so short that God has provided us with a microwave to cook our lunch in 30 seconds, and even an instant way to communicate with someone, rather than waiting for mail delivery.

So, have you filled up all that extra time these machines provide with useless busy-ness or are you using the blessing to bless others with the message of the Savior?

The time is short!  Pop dinner in the oven and pray about how you can minister to another in Jesus' name.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tree climbing can be a real headache

There's no place like home

                                                                   Amidst piles of laundry....

                                                                 And unfurnished rooms....

                                                                We all agree that
                                                         There's no place like home!

Back after 10 weeks - exactly! - of being out of our house, we are finally now, after several weeks of intense organizing, cleaning, and some finishing up of projects like the siding, are feeling pretty well settled. It's unbelievably good to be back.

Now, on to our normal routine!

What was that again?....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


"It's been two weeks,"  you say.  "Is she still alive?"

Yes, we're still here.  Still struggling with schedule flaws.  Still dealing with the tornado after-math.  Still surviving.

The boys are enjoying school - at least that's what they tell their friends.  And yes, they do still have friends.  They have not yet reverted into that hermit-like state that I'm warned all homeschooling children turn to when faced with no peers, no physical activity, no bus, no interaction with other adults, and lets face it, just NO FUN!

For all of you who are beginning your own homeschooling journey or are considering it as a possible schooling option, I hope you know that was all tongue-in-cheek.  I also want you to know that I'm having so much fun with this.  That is, when I'm not trying to corral babies, clean up yet another pee accident from my preschooler (again?), or tell Sam that yes, he has earned 50 MORE jumping jacks because he got up out of his chair after I had told him to first finish task at hand.

Seriously.  It is better than the alternative.  And it is such a privilege to be bringing up my children in the way of the Lord.  I can still say that I believe I am following His will for me and our family.  If it was all teaching, or even MOSTLY teaching (all these caps come from the intense way I've been "speaking" lately) I would absolutely love it.  I'm growing into this here. Anything worth doing, especially as it goes contrary to what the enemy wants for my family, will be hard!

Speaking of the enemy...
today, we went on a field trip to the mall.  That's right, ladies.  Thank you very much.  Oh, that's not the enemy part.  Just wait.

So on the way back home, after realizing we should have been on the way back home about an hour previous to this, I heard the boys in the backseat playing "spiritual warfare".  There was a plastic dragon that was Satan.  And a small Bible that was "the sword of the Spirit", as Caleb proclaimed.  The battle was going well, and then Satan took out his sword: the Sword of Evolution!

Yikes.  Watch out for that one.  Sometimes when you're in the front lines and you're not fully equipped with your spiritual armor, it can cut you (or your children) up pretty badly.  A little cut here, a slice there.  It's a tricky sword.  Because, you know, it's invisible.  And the cuts are too.  So you don't even know you've been wounded until all of a sudden an entire limb falls off.

Monday, August 30, 2010

We've got class

Our official school name defines our purpose.

One of our first projects of the day, the weather journal. They write what the weather is for the day (Noah draws a picture), how they feel that day and why, and something they are thankful for.

They all wrote that they were happy because they got to start homeschool today!

It was a great start to one of the most difficult days I've ever had.

Kind of like trying to do a teacher workshop day while corralling students on the first day of a new routine. Or trying to break a trail through 12 feet of snow.

It's one thing to start a homeschooling journey, and another to start it with 3 kids to prepare for and 2 kids running around. It's so great how Isaac and Josiah have mastered the art of climbing up onto full-sized chairs because now they can reach the table and pull everything off.

In the midst of a tantrum on the part of my oldest, he yells out "A deer!!" and then continues to cry while the rest of us run to the window to see a buck not 5 feet away from the window in front of which we were doing our schoolwork. This was seriously a gift from God right then as I was just about to pull out my last hair.

At about 8:21 - we started school at 7:50 - when Caleb asked for the twelfth time, "Why can't we just....", I tried to explain to him that I like it when my patience gets doled out as a light cinnamon/sugar sprinkle upon the applesauce of life. It doesn't help things when he decides to bring in a shovel and heave it out, carelessly tossing it every which way.

Our state of the week is Minnesota. While doing some independent online research about the state capital, the state flag, the state flower, and so on, Sam asks me, "Mom, I just CAN'T find anything about the state seal! Can't I just put down that it lives in the Mississippi River?"

While sharing facts about our animal of the week, Caleb wondered, "Do porcupines EAT?"

"Can they swim?" asked Sam.

Noah worked on patterns today. He needed to figure out a given pattern on a card and then complete the last square with the appropriate answer. "Blue sheep, blue duck, yellow horse, yellow pig, green cow, ________ horse."

"Oh! It's white!"

Back to square one on patterns --- so to speak.

Judy, God bless her, and I seriously mean that, prepared lunch for the boys (she's our host at our current "home"). I was able to pull myself together enough to decide that my schedule needed to be re-worked to give us all some breathing room.

Successes of the day:

  • I gave Caleb a blank map of the USA and he was able to fill in 20 states without any help.
  • Sam completed a writing assignment. It was like pulling teeth, but he did it.
  • Noah remembers most of the letters of the alphabet even though it's been months since we've reviewed.
  • We are all still alive. And prepared for tomorrow.

I will leave you with a summary of the events of the first 12 chapters of Genesis, as dictated by Caleb to me this morning (headings are mine and were the only prompt he got):


First, there was nothing at all. Just darkness. And then God decided to make things. He made trees, plants, and the land. And then he made animals. And then he made a man and a woman named Adam and Eve. And God had given them one rule: Don't eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. `Cause there was fruit on the trees.


And then Satan crept into the garden and made them eat from the tree. And God was very angry, and he made Adam and Eve leave the garden. One day, Eve had 2 sons. Their names were Cain and Abel. And one day, God asked them for offerings. Cain gave God vegetables and Abel gave Him one of His lambs. God was not happy with what Cain had brought and He was happy with what Abel had brought. Cain did not like this, so he decided to kill Abel. He said, "Come to my field and we will talk about stuff." And when they got to the field, they talked. And Cain killed Abel. And God was not happy. Then the flood came.


A little boy named Noah was born. And he got married to a wife named uh....I don't know. God talked to him and said, "Build an ark. I'm sending a flood." And then the flood came.; And it washed over mountains and it killed all the people. Then the water was going down FINALLY! And then the ark landed on a mountain. And when Noah died, they all turned away from God.


Then they built the tower of Babel. They said, "Hey look up here! Look at us! We're greater than God!" And then God destroyed the tower. The people started speaking in different languages.


God spoke to him. He said, "Can you move? To a new land?" He said yes. When he got to the land, he was scared. And then one night God said, "Come out of your tent. Can you count the stars?" Abram said, "I can't, Lord." And then God said, "You will have as many children as the stars."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sam's Organ Donation

Sam contributed the following to our Saturday morning.

The house we're staying in while we're temporarily displaced has an old fashioned pump organ that Sam enjoys playing.  As you can tell from the video above, he has an amazing ear for creating his own songs.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow: A tornado story - part 3

What a privilege it is to share His name.  I don't deserve the honor.  Through this incident, I have had numerous opportunities to publicly glorify the name of Jesus.  What an honor He has given me in allowing me to experience His grace in this way.  As we live through the little inconveniences that He has allowed, I not only experience His grace as He works through me, but I also get to experience His grace as He shines through others.  In the amazing blessing of a provided home, in the gift of a delicious meal, complete with brownies, in the relationships I may not have had, each and every gift is an "I love you" twice over - from the ones I can hug to the One who holds me in His hands through every joy and trial.

Blessed be His name.

Whether storms or sunshine, it is all for Him.

May He become greater and I become less.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow: A tornado story - Part 2

First we looked at the outside of the house.  The gas line, of course, was ripped out, and there was a big mess out front where they had been digging it up.  The air conditioning unit was ripped out of the ground and lying on its side.  We lost a half-way mature tree in the front, as well as a brand-new apple tree we had planted in May.  There was damage to the siding on 3 sides of the house, and one of our pillars was now lying against the side of the garage, possibly taken out by our neighbor's garage door, which ended up in our yard.  We could see that the glass front door was shattered completely, and the welcome mat was wrapped around the bottom of it.  Many of the front-facing windows on the house were cracked.  The garage door was warped a bit, but as I said, it does still work.

The neighbors were actually warned by the neighbors from behind us that they had lost a bunch of shotgun shells and to be very careful when they mowed!

There was broken glass, broken beer bottles, child's toys, garbage from all the garbage cans that had gotten knocked over (and they were full as Friday is trash day in our neighborhood), patio chairs, tables, even gas cans, which had been lying right by our broken gas line - we found that out after the fact.

So around 8 or so, they finally got the gas shut off, the levels inside were tested, and we ventured inside.  The door leading from the garage to the house wouldn't latch when it was shut.  The entrance into the attic from the garage had the panel snapped in half.  We have numerous cracks in the walls, both in the living room and the garage entry/kitchen area.  As noted before, the living room windows were shattered or cracked, the floor was a mess of glass and leaves and other debris, and my shelf of Thoene novels was knocked to the floor.  All other books and photo albums were fine other than some light residue.  The studio in the front of the house  had water coming down and the ceiling bubbling up, as well as severely cracked windows and water dripping from the cracks down the wall.  The water leaked into the light fixture as well.
Yeah, as I said, we had no idea of the damage at first.  This is Brian's attempt at collecting water from the ceiling drips.  Like trying to put out a fire with a dixie cup.

Upstairs, I was shocked to see that the boys' ceiling had caved in.  Their part of the roof had been peeled back, so the pressure of all that water finally caused the ceiling to collapse.  There was insulation everywhere, but the plastic sheet liner from the insulation had come down and covered the boys' bunkbed, directing the water away.  I don't know what difference it will make though, because the whole carpet is pretty thoroughly soaked.  Books were ruined, stuffed animals soaked.

We're not sure what happened down in the basement, but there had been a bit of standing water on Friday evening, we're thinking most likely the cause of the sump pump not being able to run because of the lack of electricity.  So there is water damage in the basement as well.

All things considered, our house was officially labeled "uninhabitable", which meant that we could go in and grab things that we needed, but it was not advisable to sleep there.  Our neighbors were told the same thing, and were advised to rent a townhome, as it would take at least three months for them to be back in.  I'm really hoping ours moves more quickly than that!

Homeschooling is scheduled to begin August 31, and I'm actually less worried and stressed out about it now than I was before.  Things like this tend to put everything into perspective.  I'm looking forward to being able to hang out with the boys in the home that was so generously provided for us (we're staying in a finished and very comfortable lower level with a full kitchen and 3 bedrooms and LOTS of toys!!  What a blessing!

I know the hard road is still before us with all the logistics of who to hire, what to make them do, negotiations, timetables, new carpet choices (looks like we'll finally be able to get that new upstairs carpet that I've wanted to replace for so long!), windows, roofing, siding, etc. etc. etc.

 See our hibiscus plant in the big pot?  That was moved about 5 feet, but not tipped over!
And there's our missing pillar.  It gouged a hole in the side of our garage.

 The boys room

 Here you can see the neighbor's garage door

 The tree we lost

 My daisy garden.  To your right is where we lost the apple tree.

 The boys had already been asking when the apples were going to come.  It was a honeycrisp.

 Another shot of our hibiscus survivor.

 No more glass door.  Welcome mat wrapped up.

 The neighbors behind us, and the almost-collapsed garage next door.

 Next-door neighbors who won't be back for at least 3 months.  

 I found this hanging on our front door and found it amusing.

 They brought pizzas and water.

 Brian is working on relieving his disaster of hunger while talking on the phone to yet another potential contractor.

 Not impressed with them!!  Mainly because they didn't interview me...

 Across the street, they lost their garage door.

 Our boarded-up window in the living room, and the tarp we tried to use at first.

 You can see the outline of where the glass blew out.

 Wall crack

 Studio window

 More studio window

 Stupid tornado made our paint peel on our front door!  That insurance better buy us a new one!
See the yard plastered all over it?  Evidence of tornado rather than just straight-line winds as they were calling it at first.

 Come on in!  The door's open!

 Watch your head.

 There were actually holes on two sides of this fire pit.

 Another shot of the boys room.

Thank you all for your prayers.  We're just praising the Lord for keeping our family safe!  Truly a miracle.  This will be a time of blessing for us.