Friday, February 28, 2014

A little Sugar

We got a puppy!!!

We are CRAZY!!  If you don't believe we're crazy, trust me, we are...and most people would agree.  Just ask how many people have lived with us in the past year.  Or why we love living without the constraints of 9-5 jobs even when financially challenging.  Or why we're willing to move into 550 square feet.  

Back to our most recent crazy move...Everybody should get a puppy days from having a newborn and a couple months from moving into 550 square feet with 6 people and, now, 2 dogs.

You see, my very manly hubby was working at a friend's house.  Friend had puppies.  Hubby CANNOT resist puppies, especially cute, little golden ones.   After some discussion on how crazy it would be to bring the puppy home, I left it up to my man (he says I told him to bring the puppy home...I recall being on the fence...half excited about a puppy and half stressed about timing of said puppy).

He showed up with the puppy!

He made the right decision!  He usually does.

I have wanted a puppy for a looooong time.  Our most fabulous dog, Butch, is almost 12 and I wanted to have another dog established in our family before the absolutely unthinkable event of losing the best. dog. ever!  That's enough of that before I cry like a baby or a completely exhausted pregnant lady ready to give birth any day now.

Now, what to name the puppy...

Goldie was suggested
Buttercup was suggested and quickly vetoed by my husband who, being a manly man that loves puppies, could not fathom himself hollering out the name "Buttercup" across the farm.  :)
Sugar was suggested by yours truly (and yours truly gets a little more influence than others)

Once Madelynn heard the name Sugar, it stuck and she wouldn't let us call the puppy anything else.

Sugar it is!  She is a yellow lab mix.  I love mutts!  They are the best!

Sugar is sentimental for me and I'm excited about that being her name.  

We're having fun with her.  Yes, she's a puppy.  Yes, there's A LOT of training going on.  Yes, it can be overwhelming but, overall, she's fitting in to our crazy family quite nicely.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Could you move out of your house in 2 hours?

Today, after schoolwork and regular Thursday cleaning (which my sweet husband helped with!), my hubby knew, in my current nesting-state, I was itching to do some packing.   We'll be moving in the next few months and making a MAJOR downsize as we move into 550 sq ft of living space.   Our laundry and some storage space will be in the barn which is about 15-20 feet from our cozy cabin.   Anyway, he found me some boxes and we went through some things and found 5 boxes worth of some "non-essentials" that we could pack away and probably not see for 2 years or so.   Part of me is wondering if I can live without using something for 2 years, why do I have it to begin with but, pondering over that will have to be another post...

We've recently had some bad weather, especially for the south.  While the ice storm didn't adversely affect us, it has adversely affected many others and I'm reminded of another ice storm...a big one...exactly 11 years ago.

11 years ago, only 2 weeks into our marriage, there was an ice storm in Kentucky that rocked my world.   

Ahhhh, newlyweds traveling home to KY from a wonderful wedding shower given us in AL...Valentines weekend...almost sounds romantic.  We came home to nothing but ice.  Everywhere!  Covering all trees, power lines, and roads.  It was bad!   The power was out at our home and at my in-law's home.  The power was also out at my Aunt and Uncle's home and they didn't have enough firewood.  I will never forget traveling on icy roads with my husband to take them firewood in the middle of the night!

We went to our house with no power and only a kerosene heater (after all, we were newlyweds and just wanted to be in our home).   With little sleep, we were awakened by a sheriff department employee announcing to people on our street that the river that was literally across the street from us would be flooding soon because of a dam up-river that needed to be opened.

Huh??  What?!!??

My husband said that we should probably pack a few things in case we needed to move out.

Huh??  What?!!?   What in the world does that mean??  Pack what??  Go where??  Huh?!?

After seeing the level of the river before the dam was opened, we decided that we should get everything out of the house that could be ruined by water.   Oh, did I mention that we only had a couple of hours before the dam was opened?

We called Bruce's parents who were at home due to the storm and a couple of friends to help.  We frantically packed and moved out of our house and into my in-law's home a few miles up the road.  And, somehow, we did it all in 2 hours!!!    

I didn't know where anything was!!   When I realized that I had left my purse at our house, my father-in-law was going to drive me down there to get it (all in icy conditions) and we came upon my husband riding the 4-wheeler we had and there...there on the front of the 4-wheeler, was my purse.  One of those images etched into my mind. 

What an adventure.  Newlyweds.  Ice storm.  Flooding.  Moving in 2 hours.  Moving in with in-laws.

I don't think I could even come close to moving out of a house in 2 hours at this point in our lives...while we do have more people now but, I wonder if we have too much stuff.    While my first ice storm adventure sure makes for a good story and memory now, I don't think I'd want to attempt that again!

We spent the next week without electricity.  But thanks to a generator, a coleman stove, a wood stove, and some handy men, we survived just fine.   That week after the ice storm was a whirlwind and my new husband spent most of it working.  Being an electrician meant there were many, many people to help and I'm thankful he was helping.  I, on the other hand, felt pretty useless since I couldn't drive on the roads or get to work but, hey, I did perfect my coleman stove cooking skills!

 Good grief, I love the adventurous, crazy, heart-breaking, and heart-warming stories that I have with my hubby and our children...and I look forward to many more to come!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Preparation to live in 550 sq ft cabin continues!

My family of 6 people and 1 dog will soon be moving to our homestead location and while we wait for our current house to sell and then work on building a new one, we'll be living in a 550 sq ft "cabin", also known as a tractor-trailer-turned-apartment.   You can catch up on the beginning of this story here.

Things are coming together and I am super excited about this adventure for our family.  (even though I'm sure there will be some challenges to living in such a space and I'll most likely have some opportunities to lose my mind)

Check out the video update!  Ch, ch, changes!!  :)

Here's pictures!

Entrance to living room

Standing in kitchen area looking into living room

Standing in living room looking into kitchen (the stove is not in place)

Standing in hallway looking through kitchen and into living room

kitchen and living room

I'll have to do some before/after pictures soon because that's when I'm really wowed!   I love to see the progress.  And I LOVE the man making it happen!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Preparing for life in a 550 square foot "cabin"

My family has had many, many adventures in the last 15 months.  Some crazy, some delightful, some scary, some stressful, some exciting and some sadBut this new one we're embarking might just take the cake and be all of those minus the sad, I hope.

About 2 1/2 years ago, my husband's dream of starting his own electrical contracting business came to fruition.  We are very thankful for the Lord's hand and provision as we started a new business while being the new kids in town!!

Beyond that dream, my husband has wanted to work the land and live off the land.  Now, this doesn't mean that I'm never going to the grocery store again...I'm not that crazy!   But, we want to have a wonderful, fruitful garden, some animals (we're already chicken owners!), berries, fruit & nut trees, a place to hunt turkey in our own back yard...stuff like that.   My husband, being the handy man that he is, is working hard to bring this dream to the forefront and see it come to fruition.

The land part is covered.  Our chickens are ready for more room and we're ready for more chickens.  The house part is almost covered.  There is much preparation and patience-building in our future. 

We desire to build a house and to do so with little or no debt.  We are definitely not at the point of doing that so we need a temporary place to make our home.  We were willing to buy a camper and live in it but the land we're moving to had something better...if you have vision and a handy husband!  :)

There is a tractor trailer on the land that had been turned into an apartment.  A 12x14ish addition was added to one end.  This place needs some work but we (and by "we", I mean my husband is doing all the work) are excited about making this 550 square foot "cabin" work for us.

Yep.  550 square feet.

Yep.  6 people and a dog (thankfully, the chickens live outside!)

Now, to be honest, the 550 sq ft doesn't include where our laundry room will be because the laundry room will be in the barn.

Yep.  The barn!

The 550 sq ft also doesn't include where 3 of the 6 of us will be sleeping...a camper will sit outside the cabin for extra bedding.  But, most of our indoor living will be done in the 550 sq ft, including homeschooling and cooking! 

Check out the progress (including a virtual tour) of our adventure!!

The side of the can see the addition sticking out at the end

Insulation and siding going on the outside of the addition because it had none!

Where the addition connects to the trailer

The addition and opposite side of the cabin, also the entrance


Entrance (yes, we know there's no railing right now...)

Standing in the living area viewing the kitchen and hallway

Bedroom at end of cabin

Standing in kitchen looking towards living area (the addition)

Standing in kitchen looking at living area (the entrance is to the right)

Just some outside fun in the field!! 
 Now, if you're horrible at envisioning things like I am, feel free to take the virtual tour below!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blessed be the name of the Lord

One year ago today, I fell in love.  

I fell in love with the life within my womb. 

The life God planned for me to carry for only a short time.

Excitement grew within our grateful and glad hearts.

The Lord gives.  The Lord takes away. 

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.  For it is His name that kept me breathing when my heart hurt too much.  It was His name that comforted me when the pain would not leave me. 

It is His name that will ignite praise from my lips. 

It is His name that will never leave me nor forsake me.

It is His name that I bear as a spotless bride before my God eternally.

Jesus.  Sweetest name I know.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Waiting to hold my Babies

The past year or so has stretched me beyond anything I could have imagined.  Sometimes, I just want to be done with the stretching, pruning, refining and rest.  Being a full-time caregiver to my grandparents while trying to care for my own family has been challenging.  Continuing that care beyond our household has been different but not without its own challenges.  Watching Grandma's husband be diagnosed with lung cancer and telling him that his body was failing was quite difficult.  One day shy of 2 months.  That's how long Chuck was with us after his diagnosis.  It felt much, much longer.  In and out of the hospital and then at a Hospice House for 5 weeks and finally under Hospice care at the Nursing Home for 1 week.  Watching him go up and down for weeks...   Watching him breathe...  Watching for signs that he was ready to seek God's salvation...  Hearing of Chuck's thumbs-up, praying to ask Jesus into his heart...  Watching my Grandma begin to grieve, still wanting no talk of her own need for a Savior...  Being there when Chuck took his last breath...with my children...pondering God's perfect timing...  Rejoicing that Chuck's body is healed and his suffering has truly ended instead of just beginning...

Wondering what it's really like in Heaven.  This is not something I fret over but I do occasionally wonder.  I trust that God has it all under control.

Chuck's death was on the anniversary of Grandma falling and breaking her arm at our house.  Grandma fell on 12-12-12 and Chuck passed away on 12-12-13...  had me thinking about 12's.

In this twelfth month of 2013, I once thought I would be caring for and loving on a 12 week old.  Instead, I am planning to care for and love another in the next 12 weeks.   Again, I am pondering God's perfect timing.  My heart aches to know that God's handi-work on the life in my womb began after His knitting together of another life stopped.  He is Sovereign.  He is trustworthy.  Even if there's no "baby's first Christmas" this year.  Even if I hurt.  Even if I question.  Even as I wait to hold my 2 babies.

Yet, as I wait I rejoice.  I rejoice that He does have everything under control.  I rejoice that His timing is perfect.  I rejoice that He has allowed me the privilege of carrying life.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Double Minded

"I've been thinking"...  In my family, when that is said, it usually means the one listening should run away.  ;-)  In this case, feel free to run or maybe do some of your own thinking after reading!

I struggle with many things wanting so many answers to be black and white.  And, yet, so often the answers are far from black or white.  Whether black, white, or gray, I pray I am careful not to bring judgement on myself while holding a judgmental measuring stick up to other people.  Many believe the Bible tells Christians not to judge one another at all, citing Matthew 7:2-4ish.  The problem with that thinking is that if you continue reading in verses 4 and 5 and throughout the New Testament, you will see that there is a time to hold a fellow Christian accountable.  The instruction in verse 5 continues with "...first, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."  There is a place for the removing of specks as long as you're in line with the Holy Spirit to do so.  Our own sin in a certain area must be removed (often painfully) in order to help someone else in that same area.  Galatians 6:1 says, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."   In the Bible we are told, as Christians, to be discerning, to look out for bad fruit, to look out for sheep in wolf's clothing and also to be humble, allowing love to cover a multitude of sins. 

Somewhere between running around thumping our Bibles over the heads of fellow Christians and ignoring or even being influenced by the complacency of sinfulness within our hearts is where we're supposed to live...

All of that is to preface the examples of worldly influence I want to share.  Please know this is not me holding anyone personally's more like pondering over sad mentality that has invaded our Christian homes and churches...

Let me add that I am a sinful mess and I need to be covered in God's grace daily.  Not because I have some "freedom in Christ" that lets me sin because I know I'll be forgiven but because I am humbled by a HOLY God who is willing to look on me with love and bring me back into fellowship with Him when I first confess my sin and allow Him to work within the depths of my evil heart.  I have freedom in Christ because I am set free from the bondage of sin which only happens when sin is acknowledged and repented of.  Complacency about sin and ignoring sin are definitely not living the abundant life of freedom from sin Christ intends for us to live.  Recently I have witnessed a breaking down of values and morals. 

I see the hearts, sins and struggles of children being ignored.  It. takes. time. to invest in and tend to the heart of a child.  It takes time to encourage them to wrestle out and take a hold of their own faith.  It is a caring parent that addresses sin rather than ignoring it. It takes tears, patience and lots of time.  This is an area in particular that I am weak in...  I have "lots of time" with my kiddos but it takes a concerted, focused effort to shepherd the heart of a child. 

I see people at church dressed like they are heading to a night club for lunch...  I do expect this at Walmart or in public in general but since many that attend church claim to be Christians, that is the environment where it bothers me the most.  I mean, really, leggins are NOT pants!  Tight, short, skimpy, low-cut...all in the name of fashion...  while I am not one to care about what particular colors or patterns are in for a season I do know that you can look cute, nice and modest all at the same time!

I see the evidence of families so focused on good money, good grades, good jobs, good appearances, etc. that the American dream and the comforts we've learned to expect have turned into entitlement and there seems to be an understanding that Christian families should fit right in.  I mean, what's wrong with good money, good grades, good jobs, etc...?   Well, nothing individually.  But as an something chased and pursued not for the sake of the Kingdom but because that's what we "should" do as there's where we can run into trouble...

I see affairs flaunted.

I see families so busy.  Not good busy.  The I-feel-complete-when-my-plate-is-too-full busy.

Here's the soap box that might get me into trouble...I see Christian families encouraging their children to believe in something or someone that is not real.  Santa is not coming to town.  He's not making a list.  And he doesn't know anything about our children's good or bad deeds because...wait for it...he's not real!  Believe me when I tell you that I love and encourage imagination.  We read and enjoy fiction books.  We play "pretend" all the time.  But...that is where the pretend stays...  Most people wouldn't let their children believe that Narnia really exists any more than they would let them believe that ponies can fly or flowers can sing.  Why, then, is it okay to tell children that Santa (or tooth fairy or easter bunny) is real?  For fun?  Really?  There is only One who is omnipotent.  Only One who is omniscient.  Only One who is omnipresent.  There is no one other than the One True God that can know everything about anyone.  And I, for one, am thankful that God doesn't keep a naughty and nice list and treat me accordingly.    Do I believe that most Christian parents are intending on putting Santa up on the level of God?  No, of course not.  That's not how the deceptiveness of worldly inflence isn't obvious.  Sin can always appear as fun, cute, innocent or pleasurable...that's how the father of lies masquerades.   The other day we enjoyed being at Grandma's assisted living home when a group of students visited to carol for the residents.  It was fun and most of the students enjoyed being there.  The leader of the carolers mentioned his church and his faith which I thought was wonderful.  He also mentioned the privilege of passing down an interest in music to our children which I also thought was wonderful.   What saddened me was that every single song with the exception of "We wish you a Merry Christmas" sung by the children was about this season and its trappings.  We, as Christians, claim that this time of year is really about Jesus...doesn't seem that way in our churches, in our checkbooks or credit card statements, or in our running around. And it certainly doesn't seem that way while having faith in a red suit and reindeer to make all our children's dreams come true.  Blessings and gifts should foster gratefulness...I believe the source of that gratefulness should pass through the givers and on up to the Ultimate Giver.  Glory is not given to God otherwise.

I did the Santa thing growing up.  I do not believe that my parents were sinning against me.  And, no Mom, I'm not scarred for life for thinking there was a Santa for a few years.  I know that my parents were enjoying themselves and that Christmas was about family and fun at our house.  It is, in fact, my parents that encouraged my independence, leading me to think about and question everything.  I have family and dear friends that do Santa.  I'm not about picketing lines for pictures with Santa...I have no problem with the legend or the stories or the songs.  But they are just that.  Stories and songs.

My words are not to personally call anyone out as doing something wrong...they are to inspire thinking.  Do you know why you do the things you do?  Do you know why you have the traditions you have?  Are you blindly following the culture or do you truly believe in the way you think and act?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17      (definitely something I need to work on myself!!!)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

All alone's Thanksgiving and I'm all alone and loving it!  Alone for a few hours at least.

This is the first Thanksgiving in about 14 years that I'm not hundreds of miles from home.  While I'm thankful for the travel and the reasons for it, I'm relieved to be home.  My home sure has seen a lot in the last year.  I'm sure it will see a lot more.  Anyway, my husband and two oldest are at our future homestead and my parents are eating lunch with my Grandmother and they took my 2 year old with them.  I have orders to "sit" while everyone is gone because I've been having some majorly painful back problems this week.  I'm 90% better but I'm still being ordered to "sit" so here I am....pondering away...

Pondering over 

enjoying a meal with both my parents and Bruce's parents tonight for their first Thanksgiving dinner all together. 

Turkey Days of old...words cannot express how much I miss my Pop and Granny.  Grateful for my Aunt Vivian sending me a beautiful gift just because she loves me "a bushel and a peck".

how absolutely crazy our lives have been recently...not because I choose to be too busy but because this season just requires A LOT from us

living in a tractor trailer turned apartment for a year or two while we build a house (hopefully with little or no loan!!!)

how little time I seem to have had for my precious friends lately...I've barely said hello to my family in the last 6 weeks and I'm a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mama!

how little time I have spent at my Savior's feet during this season of seems as though my heart has only cried out to Him in small I long to even have an uninterrupted hour for prayer...

what in the world is going to take place over the next few months for my Grandma and her husband Chuck, currently at the Hospice House

the absurdity that is consumerism, especially this time of year, and the massive amounts of debt that people are choosing to be in...for stuff...

truly giving thanks in all things and being content in all situations and understanding that if God is not calming this long-lasting storm, then He really does have a purpose for it...oh, may I not miss it and may I be thankful for the growth that can come...especially as I look back over what He has done in my heart in the last year.

the is absolutely heart-wrenching to watch the lost suffer, and worse, see that everything without Christ is in is all for nothing...

the beauty that God brings out of His children's suffering

this precious baby boy growing in my womb, kicking me...I.  love.  it. 

how pretty the lights are on my Christmas tree even though I'm still struggling with what pleasing the Lord during this time of year looks like...

how amazed I am at how different homeschooling looks while my family has been full-time caregivers to my grandparents involving oxygen, medicine, broken windows, dentures, doctor appointments, paperwork, bills, lawyers, more paperwork, sacrifices all around, more appointments, so much time, more paperwork, heartache, prayers for salvation finally come to fruition for Grandma's husband but still continuing for Grandma.

homeschooling revolving around our lives, not the other way around...I'm not into this so that my children can pass a bunch of standardized tests (after all, I'm sure scores matter in eternity somehow).  My kids are getting some serious life experience and rising to the occasion of serving and sacrificing...they are learning how to deal with deep questions wrestling out their own faith.   They are watching me wrestle out my faith...hey, I'm real with my kids.  I don't know why God does or doesn't do certain things. 

taking cookies and cards to Hospice recently leaving the workers with the encouragement to not grow weary in doing good...wondering how in the world I can tell someone else not to grow weary in doing good when I feel weary and heavy laden myself. 

how much my Jesus loves me and this world and the people He created...that the reason He tarries in coming for us and ending all of this pain, death and suffering is because He is patient, not wanting any to, that is worth pondering...I think it's time to refresh myself in His Living Word while I still have a little time all alone with orders to "sit"...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Drum roll please...

Is the next Hewett Baby a boy or a girl???

Drum roll...

That's right.  The cake is blue!! 
We're having a BOY!!

Marcus Harrison Hewett is due to be born on March 10th!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Year-End Review

I know, I know.  It's not actually the end of the calendar year but I've been thinking over all that has taken place in the last year for our family.  It has been a significant year to say the least.  The last few months my blog has been rather silent.  I've been doing life and not writing about it.  Such are seasons.  The season that this blog began (about a year ago) was a time when God knew I would need an outlet.  An outlet in my home because I would be there A LOT! 

A year ago my family was discussing what it would mean to bring my grandmother and her husband into our home and be their full time care-givers.  We did.  I'm glad we did.  It was one of the most difficult seasons of our lives as a family.  It was also a time to serve, grow and learn.  It was a time to rely on God.  There were moments filled with dentures, broken windows, oxygen, broken arms, ambulances and let's not forget Grandma's poodle named Buffy.  During this time I saw my children grow.  I saw them serve without being asked.  I saw them have patience and strength when mine was gone.  I saw my husband reflect the light of Christ in our home.

In the last year:

I have seen my children begin to wrestle out their own faith in the Lord.  This is both painful and beautiful for me to watch.

My world was rocked when my Daddy had a mini-stroke (which he's fully recovered from now!!).

We have seen plenty and we have seen little.  We have always seen the Lord!

I have come unglued and undone.  I have been tested and refined.  I just hope I look a little more like Him because of it.

We have gutted our moldy bathroom and now have a real shower for the first time!!  And when I say, "we", I mean my husband did all the work and I just picked out colors!

We have lost 2 family members and traveled to Ohio twice to be with family. 

I have watched my children desire for their friends and family to know the Lord and heard them share their love of Jesus with family.  I have watched their broken hearts, in confusion, walk away not understanding rejecting such a wonderful gift we have in Jesus.

We have celebrated my nephew, Kasen's, 1st year of life!!  :)

I have been helped and comforted by friends and families. 

I have prayed more with friends and am excited about the power and intimacy that brings.

We celebrated my Mom's 60th birthday!  She has been a great ear and help in times of need!

We have celebrated life in the womb only to mourn the loss of the that life.  I cannot begin to describe the pain and heartbreak.  And while I do not understand,  I can tell you that I felt the presence of Jesus, His Spirit, the Spirit of the Living God with me...keeping me breathing...keeping me going...

Bruce and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary!!!  And although our anniversary was during the miscarriage, we were able to spend time away, just the 2 of us, a few weeks later thanks to my parents and some dear friends with a house on the lake.

I have gained around 10 pounds and then lost 38.  I really wasn't "trying" to lose weight.  I just cut out junk...doesn't mean I'm not willing to have a cookie or a sausage ball every now and then, though.  It just means I'm aware of what I'm putting into my body and try to keep my food as closest to the way God made it as I can or want to.

We got chickens!!!!  We have enjoyed learning.  And we have enjoyed watching the chickens.  They are definitely entertaining.   And we sure do enjoy the eggs!

We have, of course, homeschooled and somehow managed to get our lessons done in the midst of the school of life.

We have had our house to just the 5 of us for a little bit and have now welcomed 2 family members into our home during their transition of moving from one place and searching for their next.

We're back to a household of 7 with 2 dogs but this time is much easier!!  

Through the waxing and waning of friendships I have been comforted and felt lonely.  The lonely times are when God reminds me that He is all I need.  I am truly blessed with some awesome and godly friends!   Our family is blessed to have some of those friends visiting now.  (So, technically, we're a household of 12 people, 3 dogs, and 21 chickens this week!  But I love it.)

I have had heartache and disappointment.   I have grown.  I have changed.  I have had joy!  I have rejoiced through good times and I have rejoiced through suffering

We are currently celebrating the life growing within my womb!  I am almost half way through this pregnancy and have had many, many mixed emotions throughout but I've always been thankful for the blessing of carrying life.  What an awesome opportunity.  I'm thankful to be a part of God bringing someone I love into this world.  We plan to welcome this little one in March!  (We're actually finding out tomorrow during my ultrasound whether we're having a boy or a girl!!).

I have learned to appreciate so many of the little things...after getting Grandma and her husband safely moved out, especially.   We could once again run through the house playing hide & seek.  I could dance to music.  We could eat lunch at a friend's house!!  and not have to be at home all the time afraid of broken windows and arms.  I would never have appreciated such things had I not spent a season without them!

What a year!  I wonder what's next!  :)  But I'm gonna just enjoy today.  Tomorrow has enough worries of its own...

Happy New Year!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The 2 year old takes the stage!

Check out Madelynn's announcement, Take 1 and Take 5!  I'll spare you the outtakes but know they were quite humorous!

Madelynn throws in a little VBS singin' just for fun!

It's true!  March 10th!  The whole family is super excited!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fending Spreeze

Our family is on a fending spreeze.  Now before you go thinking I need a spelling tutor, let me explain.  My dad, who is quite funny (don't worry, I'm not gossiping; he, himself, will tell you he's funny) often mixes up words and phrases when he's frustrated or a little too quick-tongued.  We enjoy repeating his mix-ups to remind him of his funniness.   Last year when my husband needed emergency surgery we were on a spending freeze until we knew the outcome of many bills.  My dad, lending his humor, coined it the "fending spreeze".

We have reentered the fending spreeze zone.  And I'm rejoicing.  I do often occasionally ask God what's up or why, but He always brings me back to His perfect peace.  He is my provider and there is much rejoicing when I focus on the One who has provided me my very salvation and so much more.  With our family's variable income, we keep a close eye on the budget.  Exact budgeting is simply not possible for us and we're okay with that.  There are those that would say that my husband should get a 9-5.  There are those that think because our income doesn't always allow for x, y, & z that it's not enough.  How could we be happy without x, y, & z??  While there may be some fun to be had in the x, y, & z, if it's not what we can do (without debt), I can be content without it.  Let me say that I have no problems with steady jobs or paychecks or the enjoyment or purpose in having such.  But something about predictable money takes the reliance on God out of the equation for me.  I cherish what the unpredictability of our income does to our stewardship and purposeful spending/saving.  I cherish how God has moved mountains and hearts to blow our minds with His provision.

I wonder, in this nation, if incomes, job statuses, and the "security" they bring has become an idol.  Security certainly has the potential to be idolized.  During my husband's emergency surgery and recovery I realized that I idolized security in the form of my husband.  See, he's my rock.  He's my man.  He works hard!  He fixes all things.  He builds.  He gardens.  He cherishes me.  And he loves his girls.  I was not prepared to lose my security, my Bruce.  I'm still not!!!  But God clearly showed me that what I need is Him and that He will be my all, my rock and my strength no matter who is or isn't in my life. 

God gave my sweet husband skillful hands and an amazing ingenuity and understanding for fixing and building.  Bruce has a drive to be outdoors, to solve problems (logical ones, not womanly ones!), to fix and to build.  That talent has given him the platform to help many in need and even keep my Dad's halogen lamp working or build my Mom's raised gardening tubs.  Bruce will gladly share what he knows and he will joyfully teach you and will willingly use his hands to bless others.  Naturally, his "job" should involve his skillful hands.  It does.  How awesome is that?  My husband gets to do what he loves, what he was made to do every day.  Even if he never leaves our house to "work", he's at home working.  Do we want more business?  Sure!   Do we pray for more business?  Definitely!  Do I frequently ask God to affirm and lead our choices?  Yes!  Are we supposed to be obsessively coming up with ways to make more money?  No!  God is our provider!  Money just pays the bills.  I wouldn't trade our occasional fending spreezes for all the 9-5's and x, y, z's in the world!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Strawberries & Chickens

You know those days that just go smoothly and you feel productive and satisfied??  One day this week, I had the pleasure of a productive day.  And it was great!

Breakfast was a yummy, healthy smoothie.

We met friends at a pick-your-own farm and picked strawberries!  Fun!  We brought home 16 pounds.

Madelynn enjoyed eating the strawberries rather than putting them in the basket!!

I actually got all 16 pounds cleaned, cut and put up to freeze!

We love kids!  And we love helping friends!  So we enjoyed having 5 extra kiddos for the afternoon!  Everybody got fed lunch!  Attitudes were good and cooperative.  Madelynn and Ethan took fabulous naps! Everybody played well together.  

Isabelle loves helping and loves feeding Ethan!

Then...wait for might want to sit down for this...

We began our chicken raising adventure.  Yes, chickens.  23 of them.  Yes, we live in town.  And, no, it's not illegal.  We checked.  Back to the chickens...

Bruce picked them up at their previous owners' home and brought them to ours in his make-shift "chicken truck". 

Bruce had our mobile coop all ready to go and the chickens seemed excited.

Charlotte was definitely in heaven...

Isabelle loves anything fun!
We were able to feed the chickens some of the tops of the strawberries.  I really like finding a good use for something we would normally have to throw away.

Madelynn began her chicken jumping training session.


Then...  Just before bedtime, our first egg!!!  Side note:  chickens can take weeks to lay after a move or anything traumatic so that fact that we've had 6 eggs already is exciting!

After we checked on the chickens an absurd amount of times, we finally settled into our own roost (our couch) and I felt totally satisfied.   It's not unusual for us to accomplish a lot in one day but most days have snags, interruptions, attitude issues or other complications but...

I love smooth and productive days! 

I may learn a lot during crazy, difficult, or painful days.  And I know I need the refining and growth they bring but I sure am glad when a smooth and productive day comes my way!

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I'm feeling particularly selfish and whiny...

This is our first full weekend at home, just the 5 of us, in about 7 months!!!! 

It's not going according to my plan. 

I don't want to be interrupted.  I don't want to break up our family of 5 to serve (unexpectedly).  Planning to serve is much different.  Service that fits into my plans doesn't cost me too much.  What about when serving doesn't fit into my plans?  What about when I feel like I've put in enough serving lately and I'm ready for a break?

Now, this...  This is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where the ugliness in my heart overflows.  God needs me to see it so we can deal with it.

If I do not allow God to shine light in the deep, dark places of my heart any reflection of Him I can give will be dim at best.

My flesh would prefer to pout.  This is not, however, glorifying to the King that died for me.  He served.  He served for real.  He is still serving.  And I am supposed to be His hand and feet, when it's in my plans and when it's not.  I cannot be His hands and feet if mine are folded inward and pouting!

Oh, God, don't leave me as I am!!   And thank you for my husband...bless his willingness to serve.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

lost for words

In my head I've written tons of posts in the last month.  It seems there is so much to write about but I can't bring a particular blog to fruition right now.  Only this hodge-podge of thoughts, joys and struggles.  God is helping me weed through so much...

There is so much swirling around in my heart and soul right now. 

My Gma and her husband, Chuck no longer live in our home.  They are safely moved into their assisted living facility.  My family is slowly claiming our house back. We've even chased each other through the house and played hide-n-seek because there are no elderly to bump or oxygen tubing to trip over or broken windows to fix or dentures to retrieve!  :)  There is dancing and laughter in my home and I love that! 

I've been able to leave my house during meal times and visit with friends and family which I had not done in 6 months.   I love my friend Mandy who was always willing to bring herself and 5 boys over to our house because they wanted to visit with us and she knew I couldn't leave.  We couldn't have made it without our Lambs!

Budgeting has been weird for the last 6 months with extra people here and I'm trying to figure out what is reasonable for us to spend on groceries as I'm buying more whole foods and crazy things like organic brown jasmine rice in a 25 lb bag (purchased online).  I have to figure out how long bulk items will last and how many organic fruit & spinach smoothies we can afford (my kids devour them) each week.

My maternity clothes are in the attic because I don't need them...Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Life can be hard.  In fact, Jesus told us to expect trials and difficulties.  So I know there are seasons of life where simply putting one foot in front of the other is only from God's strength.  Being in survival mode keeps you going but there's not much "be still and know" time.  With recent changes, I feel like a fog has been lifted from my life and I'm learning what I have to process and even how to process these things. 

I pray God will quiet my restless heart.  I pray He will heal my broken heart.  I pray He will guide my foolish heart.   He can provide the direction and discernment I need and, oh, so much more. 
 I am thankful for the joy in my heart, for the song of praise on my lips.  My life is truly abundant!  Oh, how I love Jesus because He first loved me.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

There's just something about that name

I got to sing my favorite song today!  And I know I can do that anytime on my own and I often do but I do love to hear the sound of others singing along with me.  I serve a risen Savior.  His name is Jesus.  And there's just something about that name!  Gives me chills!

I also sang Because He Lives today.  Naturally fitting for an Easter service but dear to me...When it was time for the lyrics, "How sweet to hold a newborn baby..." I was reminded that Jesus holds all my children in His hands and has the privilege of holding one that I have yet to hold.

And one day, on that Glorious day, when my faith shall be my sight I will know as I have been known.  Myself and all those who have called on Jesus as their Savior will stand before a Holy God and be seen as a spotless bride.  The Bride of Christ. 

Only He can make it so.

Casting Crowns says it beautifully in their song, Wedding Day!


[VERSE 1:]
There's a stirring in the throne room
And all creation holds it's breath
Waiting now to see the bride groom
Wondering how the bride will dress
And she wears white
And she knows that she's undeserving
She bears the shame of history
With this worn and weary maiden
Is not the bride that he sees
And she wears white, head to toe
But only he could make it so


When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don't know you are
And all you've longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day

[VERSE 2:]
She has danced in golden castles
And she has crawled through beggar's dust
But today she stands before him
And she wears his righteousness
And she will be who he adores
And this is what he made her for

When the hand that bears the only scars
And heaven touch her face
And the last tears she'll ever cry
Are finally wiped away
And the clouds roll back as he takes her hand
And walks her through the gates
Forever we will reign
On that wedding day

Monday, March 18, 2013


Word for the day:  oxymoron

Examples:  jumbo shrimp
                 fairly obvious
                 typical homeschool

Wide range of homeschooling curriculum and methods aside, we don't even have one homeschooling day that is typical!  The only thing I would dare say is typical in a homeschool day for us is that we all eat something, we all wear something, we all sin, we love each other, we all do chores, and we all take care of my grandma and her husband.  Hopefully, we all learn something but I'm okay if it's not always our multiplication tables...

Here's today so far:



Bible & Prayer

Today's "school" started late for us because there was a heart issue, a character flaw to be dealt with.  Not ignored.  Not swept under the rug.  Not rushed because teaching my children to compose a grammatically correct sentence takes precedence over my calling as a Christian mother.

Piano for one while others' hearts are corrected, mended and connected


Writing  (during which I was constantly trying to distract my toddler who seems to want to stand on Isabelle's school desk)
Break from "work" because my 7yr old asked if she could comfort my cranky 19 month old, suffering from the 4 painfully stubborn molars she's cutting.  Charlotte gathered blankets, baby dolls and her baby sister up into the chair and rocked and sang.  I didn't think of getting the camera out until Madelynn was doing much better and Charlotte had a sense of satisfaction that she had cheered Madelynn up.

Nothing better than sisters snuggling and comforting one another!!


Deciding what book to read is a challenge for my Isabelle!
Yes, she's wearing completely different striped pants & is not part of our daily curriculum!

Lunch for the 6 of us here (I managed to eat today with minimal interruption which is anything but typical!)

Art and creative play in the clubhouse

Ahhh, imagination and the great outdoors (a.k.a. Narnia around here)

Hopefully, Madelynn's nap time is next and I'll read some history as well as a biography to the big girls!

I don't know what the rest of this day holds, much less tomorrow.  Lord willing, we'll start tomorrow I'm learning that words like typical don't apply to us.  You know what?  That's okay!  I'm not a homeschooling mama to make sure that my children can pass tests and recite facts (although there is a place for such).  I'm at home trying to train my children up in the love and admonition of the Lord and spur them on towards the individual bent God has given them.  If they happen to learn what the quadratic formula is or how to do a proper scientific experiment along the way, great!

Friday, March 15, 2013


Today is March 15th.  Do you have one of those dates that always sticks in your mind as significant?  15th's seem to big for some reason.  My husband had emergency surgery on the 15th of a month.  My Gma and her husband moved into our house on a 15th.  But March 15th, in particular, is quite significant! 

8 yrs ago my phone rang and I had one of those gut-feelings that something was wrong.  See, my Pop had passed away.  I was 8 months pregnant with Charlotte.  I could tell you exactly what I was wearing and where I was and how I reacted.  It's been 8 years but it feels like yesterday.  Pop was, well, a rock for me.  He would get on the floor with his grandchildren.  He would swing them in his arms.  He loved my Granny fiercely.  He loved his family fiercely.  He was kind.  He was gentle.  And I know he prayed for me when I was wandering from God's best for me.  He would light up when family was around.  He would always give a proper send-off when family departed.  He always walked outside to wave goodbye when anyone was leaving.  He would stand in the driveway and wave until we were gone.  It was his thing.  I. miss. it. like. crazy.  So on March 15th, 2005 I "waved" goodbye to Pop as he departed this world and entered eternity with Jesus.  Grief and joy at the same time.

2 years ago I had the opportunity to stand in my driveway and wave goodbye to some dear friends in Pop-like fashion as they ended their journey in Georgia to start a new one in Panama City, Panama.  Tony, Lisa and the Amstutz C crew have a very significant place in my heart.  We were enriched by their presence and blessed by their brotherly love.  Grief and joy at the same time.

I rejoice that Pop is with his Savior.  I rejoice that my friends are where God would have them be, growing together in the Lord.

I also waved my sister out of my driveway today while pondering all of these things.  And any day I see my sister is significant.  ;-)

My Pop

I hope you will praise the Lord for His significant involvement in your life.  Whether you're in a time of grief or joy or even both at the same time, God is worthy of all our praise!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

More Please!

My husband started a game of hangman with our almost 8 yr old, Charlotte.  He used a Bible verse from Mark.  After filling in all the blanks and revealing Dad's verse, it was Charlotte's turn.  She carefully drew her blank lines and let her Daddy know it was time for him to start guessing letters.  Since this game of hangman was going to last on into the church service I wanted to stop it...I'm glad I didn't (think of me what you will).  I, myself, like to doodle and draw while listening.  It occupies my brain so that I can listen.  Anyway, I don't ever know what will come out of my sweet Charlotte's heart and I do know that a game like hangman might be her outlet to share something...

"I want more relationship with God."  "Please!"

Precious.  Honest.  Charlotte is hungry.  She recognizes that she needs more.  

Oh, what the Lord has reveled to me through these cherished children I have. Parenting brings me to my knees for many reasons.  Both my husband's and my Charlotte's knees shared a space together at the altar today as the fragrance of their plea filled the Throne room.  

All I want for my children is that they love the Lord with all they are.  The rest will fall into place.

God, please draw near to Charlotte and show her more of You.  Keep us all desperate for more.  Please! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Crazy budgeting

Several months ago I took over handling affairs for my grandmother and her husband.  This meant I got to make a budget complete with color-coded spreadsheet!!  Fun!  No, really.  Fun!  Making their budget seemed like a breeze because they have a fixed income.  They receive the same amount every month.  Now, this may be the norm for a lot of people but not for my family.  Owning our own business means a variable income (which I'm not complaining about, it just has its challenges).  By variable for us I don't mean a base amount with occasional lows and highs.  I mean that during any given week there could be barely enough income to fill up a gas tank or enough to pay our mortgage+.  We have experienced feast or famine many times (again, not complaining, just sharing some history).  Now, let me explain famine in the sense that we haven't always been sure everything could get paid or that we could buy food but we have never gone hungry or without most of what we want for that matter.

Before you go thinking that I'm longing for the "greener pastures" of a steady paycheck I will tell you that I have seen my God move mountains to give us our daily bread.   There is a pure beauty in being brought humbly to your knees before God Almighty because you recognize your need for Him and that you can do nothing without Him.  Knowing things are out of your control is very different from saying they are but yet acting as though they aren't.   I'm a bit of a control freak so I need God to remind me that I need Him.

Anyway, our budget is not what I would consider a typical budget.  I don't know what's coming in.  I know what is going out and that means we need our "coming in" to be equal to or greater than our "going out".  We keep our bills to a minimum (this means we don't have texting as part of our cell phone plan, much to my sister's dismay!) And we avoid debt like the plague, having no current debt except our mortgage.  In the last 7 years or so all our bills have been paid and we've had food to eat and vehicles to drive (which is totally a God-thing itself) but no regular means of savings.  I know, I know, savings is important.  And I know that we could eat rice and beans every night and live in the dark and sweat to death in the summer and never eat at Chick-fil-A but doing all of that just to save $1000 a year wouldn't be worth it to me.  There has to be a balance between raemen noodles and providing fresh, healthy food for my family and also between sweating to save on the utility bill and keeping the air conditioner set on 65 (which is what I would love to do!).  Some nights are grilled cheese and raemen noodles and our summer thermostat is set on 75 during the day.   Balance and sanity are important!

We have 4 set bills and a utility bill that fluctuates.  Everything else including groceries, gas, fun, books, etc gets squeezed out of what is left.  As I'm typing this, I'm just smiling, thinking of how faithful and wonderful God has always been to me!!  It makes me want to be obedient to Him.  I want to please Him in my family's financial stewardship.  He has blown my mind with His provision for us!  He likes to surprise me!  :)  And never ceases to amaze me!

Recently, we payed our 4 set bills and our utility bill and groceries, etc but something rare happened.  There was still money in the checkbook after I payed the mortgage.  This must be a math error, I thought.  Nope.  This is weird!  It got me to our feast or famine income, I tend to want to hang on to anything left for the next famine.  This phenomenon may never occur again but I felt like it was time to have a money discussion with my husband.  We had the perfect time to do such on a weekend away.  "What if this happens month after month?", I asked Bruce.  "We have to come up with a plan!"  (see the control freak, planner in me coming out?)   We have often discussed the sadness of simply making more just to spend more.  But it's an easy place to end up.  I don't want to spend it just cause we're making it.  We want to have purpose in what we're spending on or saving for.  We are on the same page with what that looks like.  We have a plan!!  God may change it according to His plan but that's okay.  His plans are always better!    If the Lord needs to change our plans to get me closer to Him, I don't care what our income is.  I'm actually scared that too much income would cause me to forget who actually provides our daily bread.  It's not us.  We don't deserve it.  I don't care how many hours, classes, licenses, hard work or the like are to our names.   It's all by His hand, not ours.  We are to be good stewards of our time, talents, skills, time and money. We are here to bring Him glory and make His name known. 

Purpose in what is spent.  Purpose in what is saved.  My heart's desire is to please my Lord in both!

P.S. - and sometimes God provides ahead of time for broken washing machines, new car batteries, and gas to drive 1600 miles.  No coincidence that my Bible study this week is on Jehovah Jireh!!  I love my Provider!