Family Funny Friday


As we pulled out our Christmas decorations this week, we had a surprise! Our candles had apparently melted while in storage and then took on new shapes.

I decided that I would still put out the Dr. Seuss-ish candelabra. It'll just be a conversation piece now when we have holiday guests!

Homeschool Co-op Semester Ends


Our homeschool co-op has come to an end for this semester. Our semesters run for 12-13 weeks. We have a fall semester and then in early February we'll start the spring semester

Last week we wrapped up my US Geography class at co-op. Here was our class picture.

I took individual shots of the kids with the states they reported on during the semester, so here's my daughter with California.  

There is an end-of-the-semester program that family and friends are invited to attend. This is a chance for some of the classes - such as ballet or drama - to show off what they have learned. Other classes - like my Geography class - put up display tables to show some of the work we've done. In this picture, you can see almost all of the kids in our co-op on the church stage. As a big group, we memorized 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 and then recited it at the program. Not sure of the exact number of kids involved, but it's around 150 or so. 

One of the great benefits of our co-op is the field trips. We have a field trip coordinator who does a wonderful job organizing neat field trip opportunities. With over 100 kids involved, she often has to schedule 2 or 3 identical field trips so that everybody who wants to participate can do so. Recently, we enjoyed a trip to a local radio and TV station. How fun to see behind the scenes and even watch VERY QUIETLY as the 12:00 News aired live in the studio. 

I'm thankful for this co-op. We've met many wonderful people who have become quick friends. And all of us - myself included - have learned new things this semester. We've memorized a large portion of scripture. We've gotten over some stage fright / fear of public speaking / separation anxiety.

Just another reason I love homeschooling - the flexibility to add things to our schedule that benefit our family (like a co-op). It's up to us to decide what is best for our family at this stage of life. And for now, this co-op has been a wonderful blessing to all of us!  



Last week, my son was sick with an ear infection. This doesn't happen often - about once a year or so - but when it does, it is very painful. Usually he has cold symptoms during the day but one night will just be up crying, complaining that his ear hurts. 

Last year, we headed to the Urgent Care Clinic around 9 pm and waiting until after midnight before we were seen. This time around, he woke up in the night at 1 am and we headed to Urgent Care at 2 am and were seen by 3 am. We were back in bed at home, with medicine for the ear infection, by 5 am. 

The next day, my son was up and happy, acting like his normal self. He headed out with Dad for a while and returned with a bouquet of flowers for me - to say "Thank you for taking me to the doctor in the night time.

About 3 days into the antibiotics, my son developed hives, presumably as an allergic reaction to the medicine. His cheeks and ears turned red and itchy. A few hours later, his arms and feet were blotchy red and itchy. In this picture, he was giving the thumbs up though he was itching like crazy and looking much more rosy than normal!

After a crazy run-around to contact a doctor on Thanksgiving Day, we were able to get some new antiobiotics prescribed and so far, all is well. 

There's nothing like a bout of sickness to make one thankful for general good health, for living in an age where medicines are available, for healing

Miscarriage: Songs that Uplift


I've suffered three miscarriages. Each time is different. The emotions are similar, but never exactly the same. However, each time the Lord has given me a song that really spoke to me right where I was. I thought I'd share here a few of those songs, that might encourage others going through a season of loss or heartbreak. 

Held by Natalie Grant is "my song" this time around. It touches me. To me, this is my song related to losing Baby Isaac last month.

Blessings by Laura Story was "my song" last time around, when I lost Baby Hope in February. This song reminded me that God can use hard times to shape us, to make us better... even though we wish there was some other way

Lastly, Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman has been a favorite song for many years. It was "my song" when I became pregnant with my son in 2007 after years of infertility. I felt as though I'd gone through "that desert place" and was now in the "land where abundance flows." I was praising God. And this is the same song that became "my song" when I miscarried Baby Grant in June of 2011. Coming to the place of again praising the Lord "who gives and takes away" was my biggest struggle, but also my biggest breakthrough. This song still speaks to me whenever I hear it. 

There are certainly other songs that can uplift and encourage during difficult times. Now that I've shared mine, do you have favorites?  

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here again. Just a few more days until Thanksgiving and then the rest of the year just flies by!

Fridays on this blog mean that I post pictures from our week.

We had a family get-together at Grandma's house last Sunday. Niece Hannah grabbed these shots with her phone. Silly son of mine!

My daughter learned this wonderful skill this week. It brings back memories of my brothers doing this at our house way back when. I wasn't much of a climber and was a scaredy-cat so I would not have tried this. But my daughter is another story!

My kids were reading together a few times this week. It warms my heart to hear my daughter reading to my son, answering questions he has. I took this picture with the normal flash. 

Then I took this picture with no flash. They were reading in the early morning while it was still dark out, the only light from the nearby lamp. 

Happy Weekend to you! 
Make it meaningful!

Our Plan versus God's Plan


This week I've been coming to peace with God's plans. I'm not there yet, but I'm taking some baby steps in that direction. 

I had my plans. Get married in my 20s. Have a handful of children. Be a stay-at-home mom. Live a wonderful life with my family. Of course, all roses and happiness. 

Now I'm 35. Some of my plans worked out as planned. Others, not so much. 

What do I do with the dissonance? What do you do with it in your life? 

This week, I came across the story shared here.

I can relate in some ways to that author. We make plans. We have hopes and dreams. We can work towards them, but sometimes there are things totally out of our control. None of us plan for suffering, death, disease or stress. Yet these find their way into our reality.

As one who has struggled for nearly a decade now with infertility, I always chuckle inside when I hear the word "birth control." At some levels, people can "control" conception but in other ways, it is totally in God's hands. People who don't want to conceive sometimes do and people who do want to conceive don't always. How much are we really in control? Especially in areas of life and death, we have to admit that ultimately we don't have as much control as we think we do.

So, there is a disconnect between what we hope for, what we dream, what we plan for, and reality. It means that dreams sometimes die. It means that plans fall through. We need a Plan B and sometimes a Plan C. We somehow have to be ok with life not turning out as we'd like. 

I know God is working in my heart, to bring a super-natural peace. There's a small glimmer there and I thank God for it. I can trust Him even when I don't understand, even when I don't really like His plan as much as I would've liked my own plans. I can trust that some day I may understand His ways and see good come out from the twists and turns of His plans for my life. For now, I'm just working on acceptance and peace. 

Your prayers are still very much appreciated, friends! 

Book Review: 7 by Jen Hatmaker


Recently I heard about this book and was intrigued. The book is called 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess written by Jen Hatmaker. The book is Jen's personal story of fighting back against our culture's love of money, greed, materialism and excess in almost every part of life! 

She set aside 7 months. She located 7 areas of excess and focused on each one for one intense month. Her 7 areas were: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste and stress. 

Here's a brief video that explains what the book and the experiment are all about.

Her approach was radical, for sure. However, I find myself drawn to the simplicity of what she was getting at. The focus was not on what she was giving up, it was on what she was gaining. What was the payoff? A more simple life, with actual TIME and SPACE for God to show up. Living a generous life and realizing it is a better way to live.

This book challenged my thinking. I know that my family is poor by some American standards and yet based on the rest of the world, my family is wealthy beyond measure. We own a vehicle, a home, and have never missed a meal. That alone puts us in a category of wealth. If you're reading this, you are rich too! 

Yet, we act selfishly, always seeking more for ourselves and acting without regard for those who truly have needs. We (I) so misunderstand "wants" and "needs." My kids think they need more toys. I think I need or deserve new clothes. We need camping items or vacation time. These are luxuries that most of the world can truly not afford because they are busy seeking basic needs - food, clothing, housing. We are looking for Christmas gifts while they are looking for their next meal. The author refers to this as "blessing the already blessed" and I have latched onto that. We give gifts and think we're helping each other out. But all we're doing is blessing the already blessed. We're giving more stuff to people who already have more than enough stuff. While others who have NOTHING continue on without hope. How did our world get so mixed up?!

So I am challenging myself to live differently in the ways that I can. We're purging, giving away more things. Clothes are going to our church clothing pantry, offered for free to anyone who needs them. My Christmas list is getting pared down. What I really want this Christmas - is for family members to donate money to a charity of their choice and then tell me about it. Why did they pick that one? Tell me about the great work the charity is doing and I will rejoice! The needs of the world far outweigh my wants. 

The other area in which 7 challenged me was prayer and stress. Author Jen Hatmaker spent 1 month focusing on this issue. She paused to pray 7 times each day. She outlined a different focus for each of those 7 prayer times. She gave Bible passages that relate to the focus. For example, first thing in the morning is the Waking Hour, when we focus on a clean slate, new chances, fresh mercy for this new day, resurrection, praise and celebration. Psalm 19, Psalm 95 and Psalm 147 relate to these areas. I have found this approach to be challenging (and hard to do all 7) but also rewarding. I don't get down on myself for missing one of the times, but whenever I realize what time it is (as I sit to eat lunch, lay down at night, whatever), I think of the focus for that period of time. I pray. I hand my burdens over to the Lord. I take the focus off myself and pray for others. It's simple. It doesn't have to last hours or even 15 minutes. But it's communion with the Lord, it's turning my heart once again to Truth and Peace. 

So,I recommend this book, but more than the book I recommend self-reflection. I recommend prayer. I recommend stepping back to look at the excess in your life and simply asking God what he thinks about it. Ask Him to give you eyes to see how you and what you have could be a blessing to the world. How could you do with less but live more abundantly?

Family Photo Friday


It's Friday once again. 
Here are a few photos from our week.

This is our bird. Weezy has enjoyed more freedom this year than ever before, flying around the house and becoming quite familiar with the layout of our rooms. One morning this week she sat on my husband's coffee mug and dunked her head in for a big sip! The next day I found her on top of our hutch, sitting on this John Deere mug, looking inside it. I like to think she was looking for more coffee!

Here the kids were working on making cookies. My daughter was making her California cookie, but then had dough leftover. The kids made all kinds of small shapes and letters. Fun times for kids in the kitchen. 

My kids are already stir-crazy from being cooped up inside on cold days. One day they were giving each other piggy-back rides... sort of. My daughter can carry my son around. She's 9, he's 4. He *tries* to carry her around. She humors him, pretends, but still walks herself around. It's silly and they both end up laughing hysterically.  

This is my son and my niece Hannah (almost 17 years old). We attend the same church and Hannah often grabs shots of my boy. Here they were on Wednesday night, after helping serve a community meal. Big grins. 

Happy Friday to you! Smile and make your weekend shine!  

C is for Cookie... and California!


My daughter did a report this week for her US Geography class at homeschool co-op. She chose the state of California to study and then give an oral report on. Although she was nervous, she did great (if I may say so, as her parent and as her Geography teacher). She shared details about landmarks, population data, gave a brief history of the Gold Rush and showed a few pictures as well.

Instead of sharing a traditional paper map of California, she made a cookie map! I first saw this idea over a year ago at this blog and bookmarked it to use at a later date. In talking with my daughter, she agreed that this would be a fun way to show what California looks like. She made the cookie herself and decorated it herself. I helped write the names on the toothpick flags, marking the largest cities, but she placed them. She put blue frosting on to show the water of the Pacific Ocean and used green frosting to show mountains in the east (hard to see these in the picture). 

Great job, Bright Eyes! 

Book Review: I Will Carry You by Angie Smith


This book I Will Carry You by Angie Smith was one that a friend recommended to me after our most recent miscarriage. I couldn't find it at our local library. Then I received a care package from someone I'd never met and of all the books they could've included... they included this one.

I read the book in one sitting. I found the story intriguing. To let myself get sucked into another's story of loss, to cry with them over their heartbreak... somehow this helped me to better grieve my own. The author and her husband were expecting their 4th child. During the pregnancy, they learned that their child has some complications and wouldn't live long, if at all. Although they were advised to abort the baby, they chose to carry her to term. Audrey was alive when born and lived for just a few short hours. 

The author is very transparent with her grief and also her hope. She wrote the book not only to chronicle her own journey but to encourage others who are going through devastating loss. 

The book is subtitled "The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy." I have thought of that many times since first hearing it. I feel like my life is a dance between the two. I laugh at my 4-year-old's silly antics. I wipe tears from my eyes as he tells me he doesn't want to talk about babies any more (as much as I wish it weren't so, he's beginning to equate babies with death since that's been the majority of conversations about babies in our home in the last year or so). One moment I'm truly feeling gratitude for what I have, thanking God for this wonderful life. And then my mind can't help but wander to how different life would be if only my family weren't divided between earth and heaven. Nonetheless, I'm learning this dance, between grief and joy, smiles and tears.

In this book, the author shared numerous quotes about suffering, death, eternal life, etc. I liked these specific ones and wanted to share them too. 

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world"  - C.S. Lewis 

I've heard that one many times. Always loved it. And more and more with each child I've lost, I long for heaven. I realize just how strong is my desire to eternity, for something lasting, for something this world cannot afford me.

"Joy in affliction is rooted in the hope of resurrection, but our experience of suffering also deepens the root of that hope."  - John Piper  

It's true. As much as I wish there could be another way, the lower the valley, the more we appreciate the mountain top. The rain makes the rainbows sweeter. My own suffering has deepened the root of hope in the resurrection, for sure. 

Lastly, I found this word picture by Henry Scott Holland fascinating. 

"I am standing on the seashore. A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. I stand watching her until she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says, 'She is gone.' Gone where? The loss of sight is in me, not in her. Just at the moment when someone says, 'She is gone,' there are others who are watching her coming. Other voices take up the glad shout, 'Here she comes!' and that is dying."

Family Photo Friday


We had family pictures taken this week. 
I'm thankful for the family God has given me.

Enjoy the photos!