Saturday, January 28, 2012


No working computer in the house...
My relatively new laptop self destructed a few weeks ago...
Dying a slow and miserable death...
Its hard drive was replaced today...
Elliott is doing the work of restoring all my files to it...
But I still don't have it...
My "old" laptop would have been a fine replacement...
But my mother took it with her on a business trip to Kansas for two weeks...
And this is being composed on E's iPad...
Which keeps thinking I want to type a "b" every time I hit the spacebar...
I have been thankful for my iPhone to keep me up on emails...
But I was never adventurous enough to try blogging on it...
And after trying to do it on this iPad, I don't think I ever will...
Looking forward to normalcy returning...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January in Texas...

... means I will hear myself talk as if in a tunnel for about three weeks and at some point will likely lose my voice (the kids always enjoy this). The Mountain Cedar has bloomed and my sinuses have taken a great offense to it, hence the strange-sounding, muffled and nearly absent voice.

I am striving to not complain, so I am making a list of things I can be thankful for during the cedar allergy season.
1. That there is no choir this month since it would be embarrassing to have to sing with the basses.
2. For my extra cuddle time with the kids as I put on a movie in the mid-afternoon to rest.
3. Benedryl, as that is my only defense to this onslaught of pollen.
4. Hot tea, so very soothing to my scratchy, post-nasal drip throat.
5. Loosing my voice which always reminds me to be more sweet and gentle when I talk to my children.
6. Kleenex, the softer the better.
7. Chapstick and Burt's Bees lip balm for my poor chapped lips.
8. That God designed man to not only breath through his nose but also his mouth, otherwise I would be dead.
9. That February, and hopefully the end of cedar blooming season, is only a couple of weeks away.
10. That God has shown me what I can be thankful for even as I gasp for air and try not to succumb to the throbbing in my face and head.

There you go... happens every year... maybe I will mark this post and re-use it the same time next year. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A short update...

James is off the breathing machine, doing well and asking for his recliner. He is weak, but we were told to expect that. We don't know when he will make it home, but I know the kids are looking forward to seeing him again, we all are.

There is no telling what the next few weeks or months will look like. Elliott and his mom have discussed starting to consider the plans for the funeral so James can have input into songs or other parts of the worship. James told Joyce last week how he wanted no bagpipes but did want 50's music played, likely during the reception. I am praying for a bold presentation of the Gospel, I would love to see James' testimony shared declaring the power of the Lord to save!

We don't know, but it is possible we will have more rushed trips to be at his side, and to support Joyce. We will still have planned visits to pray and laugh together, share meals and make memories. I am sure I will be called upon to give hair cuts and trim his beard (my job ever since before his first surgery).

I can't thank you enough for your prayers and offers for help. We appreciate and need both! Situations like this are a blessing, it is amazing to watch the Body of Christ serving and loving one another.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Death, dying, and finishing well...

Some of you know the situation with my father-in-law, James, E's dad. He has an aggressive brain cancer. He has had multiple surgeries and endured chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He got "cleared" by MD Anderson yesterday, the MRI showing no active tumor growth. There was much rejoicing and thanksgiving! "Praise God" was repeated over phone calls, through emails and text messages.

This morning, before we even had a chance to get things going around here, Elliott called with some different news. His mom had called and said his dad was seizing and they couldn't get it stop. They were going via EMS to the hospital and Elliott was going to meet them. Within a few calls and texts, I was on my way as well. This was an all too familiar scene, so similar to how everything began. If you don't know that story, you can read here.

The team of doctors at the hospital could not get the seizures to stop, so they had to put him into a medically induced type of coma. He was intubated. And still is. Tests were run, and then, the bottom line was drawn for us. He is dying. And likely, soon (a month or two, maybe less). Yesterday we had good news, today was so different. I can't say we weren't expecting it, I am a realist and I had known that for a long time, but I didn't expect it to sink in so deeply today.

As we sat in the waiting room, still sifting through the unknowns of the morning and feeling the pull of despair, I was thankful to be reminded to praise God, just like I had the day before. I was reminded of Job 2:10:
"Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"
How could I have praised God yesterday and not done the same today? Did God cease being good? No, indeed He is showing His lovingkindnesses to us throughout this trial. God has used this time in our family to grow us into His likeness, drawing us nearer to Him, teaching us how to love more, serve more, sacrifice more, to His glory. God's goodness has been poured out so generously upon us, how could I not praise Him?

My mother-in-law is an amazing woman, a precious believer. Her first husband died in a terrible car accident when their children were 4yo and 2yo. The children miraculously survived and my father-in-law has loved them as his very own for over 40 years. During one of the times I walked with Joyce during a long hospitalization at MD Anderson we talked about how God does use everything for our good, shaping and molding us to be like Christ (Romans 8:28-29). Knowing this was for our good, we could reflect on the blessings of this trial through cancer. James was saved. There was time to say things that needed to be said, cancer gives the gift of time. There was no sudden, unexpected death to be shocked and stupefied by. We have had time to talk with James about God's goodness, His Sovereignty, His perfect will and plan. We have time to say "I love you" a thousand different times. Time for tight embraces and tears from recounting years of life lived, and moments shared. The blessings keep rising as we count them.

And now, we look to the future, to finishing well. God's plan for the coming weeks has not been revealed, so we will have to wait. But now we wait with a new perspective, the finish line is in sight for James. When I shared with the children tonight about what was going on all I could say was that PawPaw was really sick but we could be happy for him knowing that he was going to meet Jesus soon. I am hoping that we have more time, a part of me wants to give my last hug and not let go so quickly. Sometimes I am guilty of letting the finish line drop out of view, I get overwhelmed by the busy mundaneness of life and forget the goal.

It is hard to finish this post as it feels like the story is not over. I feel pulled to not borrow trouble from tomorrow, for God has still not yet revealed the day He will call James home, but my heart rejoices knowing where James is headed. Maybe the most appropriate way to end this post is to ask, do you know where you will go when you die? Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? If He is not, can we chat? I'll make the coffee.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Little people and flexibility...

Some of you may know that I used to work in Corporate America before I "retired" to be a full-time stay-at-home Mommy and homeschooler. I was climbing the corporate ladder, loving the work I was doing. I would go into work each morning, I had my little routine, things got done and no one messed with me. I got a lunch break where I could either relax and enjoy the company of adults or I could hit the gym and work out all the frustrations of the day. I remember, vaguely, thinking that it would be super easy to be at home. I wondered what I would do with all my "free" time.

When I came home from work Hannah was 17 months old and Noah would arrive nearly 7 months later. 22 months after that, the twins arrived. 26 months after that, Caleb. 20 months after that, Micah. In the blur of it all, Hannah and Noah grew old enough for formal schooling, and we chose to homeschool them. We fumbled through the early "official" years, and we are thankful for their love of learning and energy.

Now that our youngest is two and I am coming out of "the baby fog", I am seeing patterns which developed when I was totally sleep deprived and clueless. This year is a big year for us, we are working on getting down a good schedule, no more bumbling through (well, at least not as a rule). We are trying to break bad habits and form new good ones. Part of that comes from being on a schedule, a daily routine more than a task master. There is only one problem. Micah.

Don't take that wrong, Micah is not the problem. But, then again, Micah is the problem. Here is what I mean: Micah, the child, is delightful and quite entertaining; but Micah, the age, is treacherous and requires near constant supervision. He was newly two years old when we began this year of homeschooling. He did not talk very much. He still loved being held and carried. He was compliant and relatively quiet. Now he is two and a half. He talks non-stop, has very definite opinions (and is nearly always STARVING), and prefers to run fast and jump off the couch to being snuggled by Mommy. We are spending a lot of time working on what it means to "obey" and when things get quiet, we all get scared.

Scheduling in my former life used to mean make a plan and execute it. After you get used to the schedule, streamline it and make yourself more productive. No so with little people around. Instead it means learning to be flexible. My schedule has times along the side of it only so I can make sure I am not over-filling it. We use it to give our day some "bones", even though most days we jump around and try not to skip too much. Elliott laughs at me, but I usually have to "tweak" our schedule every two or three months. It is not that there is anything inherently wrong with the schedule, more over, it is the little people have changed and grown and what used to have a good flow has been interrupted by a later nap, a shorter nap, a needed snack time, no nap, more outside time because the weather is lovely, and the list goes on.

That is where we are right now. The schedule that worked, even the week before Christmas, is in need of some revisions. The last two days have found us back into the bumbling mode instead of into the productive and streamlined mode. Some of that is part of getting back onto our schedule following a lovely Christmas break. Part of it has shown me some planning gaps which need to be amended. All of it reminds me that I need to take time each day, praying and seeking God's will for our day, asking Him to help us redeem the time and resting in Him for my strength. I remember that the goal in Romans 8:28-29 is my being conformed into Christ's image. Jesus was much better at "rolling with the punches" than I am, so He sent me six little blessings, stretching me and shaping me more into His image. It is good.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pondering slowing down...

Full speed ahead. That is how we have been running our homeschool... finish "XYZ" boxes each day... check, check, check... shuffle kids in and out for age appropriate lessons... check, check, check...

We have some schedule changes to adjust to. We had a helper for the littles in the fall and this spring are trying things back to just us. The olders need to self motivate more, the youngers need to destroy less, and the middles need to help in learning to entertain the littles for short bursts of time.

I am wondering if we should slow down and dive deeper?
I am pondering combining lessons for all, beefing up for olders?
I am just thinking a lot... call it mid-year evaluations following a complete flop of a homeschooling day.

Some things I know... I love learning with my children. I love seeing their skills develop and their love of learning grow. I love that they miss school when we take breaks. I don't love constantly being on them to get back on task. I could do without the self-imposed guilt of "are we doing enough?!?!?!" I would like to see us move to finishing school before Elliott comes home, and for us to find daily time for handicrafts. (By the way, if you know of any profitable boy handicrafts, let me know... Noah is asking to learn knitting or crocheting but if there is a more masculine alternative I am happy to add that instead.)

Just thinking... and being thankful that tomorrow is a new day, full of new mercy, grace and opportunities to grow in the likeness of Christ, my Savior!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New things for a New Year...

Some things I am pondering... and while I realize that the year has already started, I figure now is better than never...

Drink 3 water bottles a day, one before my first cup of coffee. (Adding an extra water bottle if I double up on coffee...)
Wake up at 5:30am to visit with my hubby, read my Bible, journal, work out and shower before the littles wake up.
Make menus and then follow them.
Have family, friends and neighbors over more often.
Read aloud more books with my children.
Play on the floor more with my littles.
Try to start up our little handicraft circle again... would anyone come?
Be more consistent with family worship.
Keep on track with school.
Make a greater effort to keep the clutter monster from taking over.
Do art once a week.
Make regular efforts to reach out to neighbors... dinner, coffee, playdates.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What Legos sound like...

We have a room in our home dedicated to the use and storage of these plastic little bricks. They make a distinct tinkling sound as children dig through the boxes to find that perfect piece. Last week a friend and I spent four hours sorting our entire Lego collection by color. Since then there has been a new creative boost to the Lego building efforts around here, resulting in many new forts, towers, boats, etc.

More entertaining than the creations themselves are the conversations between the children as they build with them. This evening after dinner I was sitting in the living room listening to their banter back and forth. There was the occasional battle over a special or coveted piece and I restrained myself from jumping in and was surprised at how quickly resolution was reached. There was a discussion about what a certain creation was meant to be, and some children spent much time figuring out what to name their creations. There were talks of non-Lego things, like how long into the New Year is it acceptable to keep singing Christmas songs or what the plot of the pirate play planned for tomorrow afternoon should be. Amazingly, it was a rather peaceful time and fun was had by all.

The sounds from the "Lego Room" were sweet and encouraging. A while ago I posted 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 on our wall in the kitchen so we can see it from the table during meals. I did this because we were struggling to be loving or kind to each other. We worked on memorizing it and quite often we would discuss what love looked like or what love would do in a certain situation. We talk about the "golden" rule, how Jesus encourages us to "do unto others what you would want them to do unto you". We would talk about building one another up to love and good deeds. How it is a blessing to do good and share. Sometimes I felt like my face might turn blue, and I would have to refrain from ending my comments with "blah, blah, blah" because we had gone over it so many times. And we continue to.

This evening was a gift to me. It was a glimpse at progress. That being said, there is a chance that tomorrow I may blog that today must have been entirely imagined because not a happy sound was made all day. I hope not. But I can't exactly rule it out. :P

What does happy play sound like at your house?

Monday, January 2, 2012

To finish...

We are kicking off 2012 around here by finishing things...
Cleaning out my office/craft room.
Putting the final touches on the guest room.
Hanging frames for children's art.
Squeezing in a few play dates before we buckle back down into school.
Updating/creating a realistic chore chart.
Paying children their allowance.
Making a list of meals which don't take all day to make, then creating a menu that fits our life.
Doing that Christmas art project we talked about two weeks ago and never did.
Putting away Christmas.

There will also be some new beginnings...
Staying on track with my new systematic Bible reading schedule.
Getting up to work out and be ready for the day before the littles are up.
Being more consistent with family worship and prayer times.
Staying off my phone and computer until the kids are asleep.

2012... what will I have to show for these 366 days (love Leap years!)? My purpose this year is to run the race well. I hope that I can be faithful in what has been entrusted to me, doing all things as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, giving all the glory to God.