Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking Back...

2010 was not a good year for me. Did we face some hard circumstances? Yes. But nothing out of the norm for life; nothing that God has not told us we could expect. But somehow all these circumstances combined with my response to them and general habits have me looking back and being not very happy with myself. If I can be a little "new-agey", I was out of balance. Probably slightly depressed. Did not take my circumstances and depression and bad responses to the Lord nearly enough, but instead I just got stuck.

The good thing is I feel myself coming out of the fog; God is gracious and patient and never-changing. He is FAITHFUL. So I have used this relatively-quiet December to rest in Him, and I remember now that hard years are not to be forgotten. I want to remember what I have learned this year. I will focus on coming plans, goals, ideas, months, soon; today I will write what I want to remember from 2010. Some are just memories, some are lessons, some light-hearted, some not, all random.

(Written to my future self)
1. Your husband was able to take care of himself in long-needed ways through 2 surgeries this year. He had employment and time to do this with peace.

2. All that back-of-the-mind worry about your neglect of Leah's one-on-one teaching time was for naught. She picked up her siblings basic chapter books sometime mid-summer and announced that she had read them. You didn't believe her until Eric asked her to read the Bible passage one night and she did it. You're pretty sure the homeschooling police cannot arrest you now because you have taught all of your children to read.

3. Your kids were (eventually) excited about moving to Missouri. They could envision themselves starting over and look at it as an adventure. Even though it didn't happen, they have the experience of preparing themselves to do something completely new.

4. Speaking of trying new things, Delaney sewed the skirt, did the judges interview, and walked up and down the stage at the fair without tears or hatred toward you. Between that and two piano concerts and soccer, her confidence has bloomed this year. Your pushing was not too much.

5. Seeing Levi enjoy and thrive in his advanced choir brought bursting joy to your heart. Don't be too hard on him; there's a lot ruminating inside. Just don't let him be a slacker.

6. The $$ setbacks were many and out-of-the-ordinary. Let it go. Focus.

7. The barn sale. The barn sale. The barn sale. Unrestrained joy. The body of Christ, working for His glory, in more ways than can be counted.

8. All of the phone calls, the endless computer hours, the meetings were worth it to build community through soccer (and football) and help with a smooth season. But especially worth it for the deepening of relationships and new friendships. Now find a way to do it with less computer time.

9. The complete overwhelming undeserved blessing of Eric having 3 job offers from which to choose. Having your husband/their daddy "back".

10. "Hold Us Together" (Matt Maher)
"You are Mine" (Enter the Worship Circle)

11. The terror and yet perfect fun of belting out "Come on Up to the House" with dear Pam at South Boston. The leaky, cobwebby cabin that had no water in the morning, but making the best of it all. A perfect, quiet afternoon at Elk Creek.

12. Sister=pregnant. JOY!

13. Kenneth, Irene, Carrie, Robert, Doris, Janet, Zoanne, Shirley and so many more at the nursing home. Jesse, saying every single week, "I can't wait until Friday."

Thank you Lord, for all things.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

(Thanks to grandpa and grandma, we are so festive-looking!)

In the first quiet moments of this new day my mind is drawn to Hebrews 2. Oh, how His voice speaks into my silence! The incarnation. Jesus becoming like us and sharing our human nature (Heb. 2:14). What a wonderful truth this is! Veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate Deity! God has lavished His love upon us, with all of our sin and rebellion and pride. That is how God acted toward us, and now we are called upon to demonstrate the fact that we are His children by having the same attitude toward others, including our enemies.

The identification of all of life with regard for the welfare of others -- this is the message of Christmas
." -- Dave Black, Dec. 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Kid in Town

D: I'm going to grow out my hair really long and then donate it for wigs.
Me: Great!


D: How long is it now? Is it long enough to cut the ponytail?
Me: Nope

More waiting...

Me: I think it's long enough now! Do you want to wait until soccer is done and then cut it?

D: Yep.

Waiting...waiting......WAITING...for the team to lose : )
Me: Hair appointment next week!
D: What?!? I don't know. Should I? Yes, I'm ready. No, wait, maybe I won't. I don't have to, right?
Me: Right - your decision.
D (this morning): I'm ready, let's go!
And she did it! Proud of her and her attitude about the whole thing. Interestingly, she knew exactly what kind of hairstyle she wanted and she was looks great on her.

Monday, November 29, 2010

For my mama*

It's a funny thing, the way God designed families. You're born, you grow up, you leave your mother and father and get married and start a new family. Generally, this means you also do not live with your siblings, because they have grown up and left and started families, too. And in effect, what this all actually means, is that no one who lives in your house when you are married and raising your own children knows that you have become your mother.

You sound exactly like her when you tell everyone that Cheerios are it and Do Not ask for anything else.

"Yes, you have to match up all the socks" rolls right off your tongue without a thought.

You find yourself tracing words over and over on scribbled lists and notes while on the phone.

You look at your hands...enough said.

However, your husband, your children -- they don't know that that's not really you. That's your mother. You know, the one you're so different from? She made stacks, you purged (but now you might need a stack or two from time to time...and don't touch it!). She forgot things, you remembered (except now, when you forget). She thought of her family first, you thought of yourself first (is that changing yet?!? Please change me Lord...).

Now though, to them, to your family, it is you. Because you are now The Mom. So thank the very good Lord that since we all become our mother sooner or later, I have a mother who gave me a full tank of love to pass on to my family and beyond each day. Because now, in many ways, I find myself becoming my mother:

I am so glad to see and be with my children and husband every day.

I laugh; at myself, at big things, but especially at the little things.

I am an optimist.

I do what needs to be done, even when I'm tired.

I am rejuvenated by and rely on music in so many ways. Passing that on to my children is so important to me.

I pat people.

I love Jesus Christ with all my heart. I will never give up on seeking Him.

I'm so thankful I'm becoming my mother. I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday.

*I never actually call her mama. It just sounded right for the title.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On getting older: them, that is

Another birthday week has arrived. It's impossible to forget their arrival around here since they are anticipated and counted down with publicity from the very minute the previous-birthday-person blows out their candles. Besides, being the completely seasonal person I am -- a fact I have come to see more clearly and embrace more fully -- this birthday has too many triggers to be forgotten. Big Ten football, end of harvest, my dad and husband's birthdays...the impending Thanksgiving. Eleven years ago I had the 22nd circled on the calendar for 9 months, the boy stayed in me to grow even bigger, we induced, and my first child was born on the day before Thanksgiving (falls on the same day this year!).

We watched Toy Story 3 last night. In the scene where the mom sees Andy's nearly empty room before he heads to college and starts crying, Levi looks at me and says, "You're going to be like that."

"Yep," I replied. And then the next 7 years of my life flashed before me in a blink, and I just about started crying right there. SEVEN years?! Impossible. There's too much to do, too much to teach him, too many memories to be made to stuff into that short of a time. I love an essay I just read reinforcing that the "teenage" years don't have to be what the popular culture dictates - our kids can learn and grow and pull away and become young adults without buying into the world's idea of adolescence. I especially appreciated Neufeld's words of guidance: "I would suggest three words to guide child raising and education: expectations, responsibility and risk."

I know we need to add more responsibility and risk into our children's lives, especially Levi's. I don't want to just create "situations", either. I think we need to improve at seeing those naturally-occurring opportunities for them to take more responsibility and fail or succeed. I'm praying that my eyes will be opened to those and for the patience to see them through. We're starting to move into the next phase; I want to enjoy it and them as much as I am this one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where's my heart?

Better late than never...getting down notes on idols from my "get-away" conference in Sept...convicting!

"We make something an idol when we inflate it and ask it to be God-like"


- If I can't have it, am I still content?
- What do you organize your life around?
- What do you want or crave or wish over?
- What are you willing to sacrifice a large amount of time or money to obtain?
- What do you fear losing?
- What do you rejoice over?
- What makes you angry or frustrated?
- How do you define sucess or failure?
- Where do you go for comfort or safety?

Then, identify, confess, and repent; you have to replace the idol with God.

Monday, November 1, 2010


BIG birthday.
soccersoccersoccer (<-----typo? please? no? )
KID birthday.
Thanksgiving. And I will.
Thanksgiving II.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All my favorite craft projects involve chocolate

Ok, anyone who knows me knows there are actually very FEW craft projects instigated by me around here. Usually, a craft getting done happens because Delaney got ahold of a teacher's manual or lesson book and saw accompanying *OPTIONAL* craft instructions. To me, that "optional" means, "your children will grow into fine citizens with decent jobs and families even if they don't do this craft".

However, when we are learning about birds, I gleefully do the obligatory shopping ahead of time for the 423 special ingredients/materials that are a mainstay of all craft projects. This is because when we learn about birds, we get to pretend we are birds and make Nests.

The "twigs" are chow mein noodles...

The "grass" is shredded wheat...

The "mud" is peanut butter and chocolate chips...

And our "eggs" are grapes! Yum!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I can share it here!!

GREAT news from my sister and brother-in-law!

They're expecting their first child!

Can you tell I'm excited?!?

My editing instructors would've failed me for using this many exclamation points!!!!!

Love 'ya, sis. Can't wait to be Aunt Heather all over again. : )

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This month, thankful for...

...time with my awesome, inspiring sister

...seeing my mother relaxed on the third week of August for the first time in many, many years

...choices and the freedom to make them who go with the flow but still talk about what they're feeling who ask to start schoolwork again after feeling a little rusty in their skills during a little knowledge competition with friends soccer and football friends, even during this, the craziest yet sports season

...a break in the humidity and heat

...14 years with E, music, music...I could go on and on

...the Spirit in me, prompting me to continue walking with Him.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Rocket Story

So, Levi was selected to go to the Ohio State Fair with his "Rockets Away!" 4-H project. We're excited for him to have the experience!
I am admitting that, given the amount of time dedicated to the "presentation" or "decoration" of the rocket, I was very skeptical about any kind of award beyond an "A" ribbon. Levi kept telling me, "It's fine, mom". Somehow, I just wasn't sure the judges would appreciate the aesthetic qualities of duct tape as much as he and his father.
Of course, as it usually is when it comes to all things engineering-related, I was proven wrong. It's not that the rocket was sharp-looking in any sense, but I think the fact that Levi knew what he was talking about, had built the rocket(s), had built a launcher with Eric, and understood the science behind it all counted for a lot. The clincher, though? I can't say for sure, but my guess it was the story and documentation of the final test launches (done 2 days before judging, resulting in the need to completely rebuild a new rocket -- see picture). In the book, the requirement was just to document the height and velocity from launches with different amount of water and/or pressure. Levi and Eric decided, after 8 adventurous launches in 90-degree heat and humidity that ended with Mom running to the store for more 2-liters, that the judges should see exactly what had happened. I'll let the spreadsheet "notes" section speak for itself!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Psalm 31...fresh bread

How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.

In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe
from accusing tongues.

Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed his wonderful love to me
when I was in a besieged city.

In my alarm I said,
"I am cut off from your sight!"
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.

Love the LORD, all his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful,
but the proud he pays back in full.

Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And there goes June...

New swimming suits to protect and play in the summer heat...

Fun with cousin...

40th birthday wish...instead of Nov. party, a June trip to the "homeland" with good friends...

including a peaceful afternoon at Elk Creek Lake...

and a fun night performing at the "oprey"!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Brain Dump

*It's barn sale week! For once, I am trying to remind myself to actually get pictures of this annual event that will live in our hearts and minds forever. I know why I never remember to take pictures -- a billion other details to remember -- but I'm trying to overcome that this year.

*The kids finished up their school work last week (minus a few math reviews that we don't mind at all stretching out). I would like to feel like we have this nice big summer stretching out before us (and really, we do), but the fact that all my soccer organization responsibilities are ramping up makes me feel like the start of our next school year (=soccer/football practice time) is basically a blink of an eye away. I think this is what "they" mean by the years going by quicker as you age.

*Delaney: "They dressed up and had to act like Pilgrims on Fetch, Mom." (a PBS show they watch)
Me: "Really? Do you think you would like to live as a Pilgrim?"
Delaney: "Yes, with just a little bit of electronics."

*Been thinking about this quote a lot this week, also amidst discussions in ladies Bible class about spiritual gifts and how they are used for the Body of Christ: "Brokenness: How on earth did we equate leadership with success?" We cannot continue to look to the world for a pattern on how to disciple and build up the Church. I am so encouraged by weak believers in whom the Lord is strong.

*My brother's strawberries are almost ready! I can taste them with the famous shortcake now.

Now on with the week!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Uncharted territory

One of my offspring is now 5 feet tall.

And weighs 100 pounds.

And wears a size 9 *MENS* shoe.

We announce these milestones around here like they are a normal part of life moving on. Which they are, of course, until I remember carrying said child in my body, giving birth, dressing him in cute baby clothes and the infamous swaddling blankets.

Then I hyperventilate a little.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Levi's latest LEGO creation, for Uncle Dave

The Star Wars LEGO speed skating competition.

Friday, April 2, 2010

They make our days

Leah, telling Eric about her attempts to ride the bike without training wheels...

L: ...And I kept trying to pedal like mommy said but I fell down.

E: So we need to practice and work on it together this weekend?

L: Yep (with a big smile)

E: OK. You remind me, and we'll do it Saturday.

L: (thinking) Well, sometimes I go to sleep and when I wake up I forget everything. Like, sometimes, I'll just be sleeping, and then I wake up. And then I remember, Oh! Yeah! I hate baked beans!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mice Tales, continued

A few of you may remember the story of a continuing thread of my marriage, the story of How Mice Are Taken Care Of. You may remember how very grateful I am that my husband is perfectly willing to very promptly remove any mice from our dwelling, usually at the expense of the mouse's life, but how I also wish he might use more conventional means, like, say, a mousetrap. Instead, Whatever Is Handy is grabbed when the mouse is cornered, and that then-bloody appliance/utensil/storage container gets thrown out because I can't stand the thought of using it again.

Well, he's acheived a personal best, and I don't even get a new appliance out of it. This week, work was finally set in motion on the November-kitchen-flood-fix, beginning with a section of new cabinet bases. When the installer pulled out my oven from the wall first thing in the morning, I quickly inspected to see how much of a cleaning disaster it was. I saw something on the wall and my morning-brain just couldn't quite process it. I called Levi over. "Levi," I said. "Is that a dead mouse flattened against the kitchen wall?"

"Whoa," Levi said. "It is."

A near-petrified, perfectly flat mouse, long tail and all, stuck to the wall behind my stove. And then I remembered, sometime last year (I think?) when Eric has chased a mouse around the kitchen and when it had run on the countertop and -- you guessed it -- behind the stove he -BAM- slammed my oven back against the wall.

Well, now we know, he got it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Well, I Had to Capture This

My baby's last day as a 5-year-old...

Friday, February 26, 2010


The kids spent a night with the grandparents this week. Four of them were enjoying filling me in on their adventures of helping grandpa feed the animals. Then Delaney decided to make a list...

Delaney: I think my order of favorite animals would have to be...cats, chickens, cows, dead cow.

Leah: Mine is...cats, chickens, cows, dead cow.

Jesse: My favorite is cows, then cats, then chickens, then dead cow.

Sara: Ummm....cows, cats.....dead cow, chickens.

(Now that's a girl after my own heart!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fun with Haiku

How could you not have fun with haiku? We're into Ancient Japan right now...the perfect time to experiment with the fun-for-all poetic verse.


White is everywhere
I want to play, play all day
It must be glowing



I saw a green tree
It did have four red cardinals
Sitting, pretty, there

Happy Anniversary, Eric!

Today, 15 years ago, was the first time I ever laid eyes on him. Even though I was 1 1/2 hours later to meet him, even though I was so nervous that I talked a mile a minute, even though we ate at RAX when he hated RAX, he stuck with me.

Love you dear!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stretching ourselves

So, here's a story. It's long, but I have to write it down because I don't want to forget it. Levi and Jesse have been pooling their money and trying to make enough/save enough to buy a certain Star Wars LEGO kit. They thought their pace was too slow and have been asking for bigger jobs that might pay big dividends (no $ for regular chores here, but instead of an allowance we pay for jobs that are extra-hard/time consuming). It doesn't take much looking around here right now to see a big job -- the snow. The one half of our driveway had not yet been touched -- not even stepped on since the first big snow. Walls of snow had been pushed up on either end; I figured we'd be driving out that side of the "U" sometime in April.

So the deal was offered: Levi would be the project manager. Snow had to be shoveled from the snow wall by the garage to a point 10 feet from the road (which Eric would shovel so the kids wouldn't be too near the road). If the job was done well enough that Eric could drive the van out that side without getting stuck, they got $30 (it started at $25, but I upped it because I couldn't imagine them doing it and if they actually did it would be WAY worth $30.). Levi could do all the work himself and get all the money, or he could "hire" workers and make deals with them for part of the earnings. However, if the van didn't make it, they got $0.

Levi and Jesse were excited about the money, but very unsure about their prospects. They decided to give it a try somewhere around 2 p.m. Sunday. We gave them some pointers on how not to waste time/energy, and they set at it. They were back in less than an hour, panting and almost completely defeated. "There's no way," Levi said. "My arms are killing me, and we barely got anything done."

We didn't say anything. After about an hour of playing inside they suited up again and said they were going to keep going. Levi said later that it was like he got 10 times as much done in that second effort than in the first, and he didn't know why (although when I asked how Jesse had done, he mentioned that Jesse just kept talking the whole time and it helped because it kept his mind off how hard the job was: ). When I looked out about an hour later and saw how much they had done, I bundled up and went out with some "energy snacks" (Valentines Day cookies the girls and I had made) and gave a lot of encouragement. They pepped up and kept digging. I called them in for supper about 1/2 hour later, and they came in and unsuited and warmed up. We didn't say anything about the job, and the light was starting to dim. Levi looked unsure about whether he wanted to go out again, and he knew that they had yet to tackle the hardest part -- the built-up wall of snow right by the garage that was blocking the way to the rest of the driveway that had not been shoveled.

He asked Jesse again and Jesse said OK, so once again they layered on snowsuits and gloves and boots and hats and coats and headed out. I cleaned up, I did a little laundry, Eric read with the girls, he did a little computer work, I did a little computer work...we completely lost track of time and the boys. I was sitting and talking with Eric and it was about 7:30 and it hit me: "Are the boys still outside?!"

Eric went out; they weren't done yet. It was totally dark and the temp was dropping fast. I had told him that Jesse definitely had to come in, but he told Levi also, that he should stop. Jesse was very glad to get his clothes off and warm pajamas on and get some hot chocolate. Eric came in with Levi, and Levi was so disappointed. "We were so close," he said. "Really?" I asked -- because although I knew they had been shoveling and really working on it, I just didn't think they could have gotten it to the point where it was truly passable. "I think I could," he said. Well, I just knew then that I couldn't make him stop. Eric had decided to go out and shovel the portion near the road, so at least it would be done before the next snow that was coming. I told Levi that I couldn't let Jesse go out again but that if he wanted to I would leave the decision up to him. He was already changed into his pajamas. The thought of a blanket and hot chocolate fought with the thought of getting it done for about 10 seconds in his eyes, then he ran upstairs and threw on those clothes again, suited up again, and headed outside.

I got everyone else ready for bed and settled into reading or some activity and then I couldn't help but bundle up myself and head outside. I fed and watered the cats first, and while I was in the chicken barn, Levi yelled, "Mom! We're going to try it! I'm riding with Dad! Watch us!"

So I stood on top of one of our snow mountains in the backyard and watched and prayed and grinned as they pulled the van out of the garage and drove it...right up the right side of the lane and onto US 40. Eric honked and beeped and they pulled it right back in the other side and back into the garage. You would've thought we all had medaled at the Olympics. Levi jumped from the van and hugged me and hugged Eric and said, "Thanks, Dad." Yes, I was near tears.

He ran inside yelling -- and this was part of what made me SO proud of him -- "We did it, Jess...we did it!" It was like he matured before our eyes and out came strength and perseverance and humility and thoughtfulness. I wanted to soak him in.

God teaches me way more through my children each day than I teach them. I'm convinced of it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So much going on, but it's all in my head

Will be thinking for some time on this passage and the discussion the kids and I had about it this morning...

From Luke 17:
"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' "

Monday, January 25, 2010

Troubles...what troubles?

"Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty." -- Socrates

"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife." -- Proverbs 17:1

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." -- I Titus 6:6-8

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Birthday Ritual

No, not the pick-your-menu thing! Although we still certainly do that. We like to spend some time sharing with the birthday person (or persons, in this case) what we enjoy about them...what we're thankful for in regards to them. Thought I would share some of the comments:

About Jesse:
"I love being his twin"
"He's nice"
"He puts others before himself"
"He taught me a lesson...I was being mean to him and he was nice right back at me"
"He's very brave"

About Sara:
"I'm glad she was there with me when I was born"
"She's my best sister and I love her"
"She gets us going in the morning and has a lot of 'pow!' energy"
"She's a very hard worker in her school work and house work"
"She's loving and really cares about other people"
"I love to play with her"

Happy 7th Birthday twins!!