Friday, February 14, 2014

What I am used to...

Inevitably, when I take out all six of our children in public mid-day, someone comes up to me and has a question or comment about our flock. Usually it's something like "are they all yours?!?!?" The pretty normal response when I claim them all as mine is some where between "oh my!" and "bless your heart!" Occasionally there is the person who mutters as they walk away, probably commenting on their imagined view of my mental status. Thankfully, that is more rare, and I generally enjoy interacting with strangers about my children. 

Today the kids and I went to lunch with my mom. Our favorite new place is a gourmet burger joint called "Order Up!" near the Quarry Market in the Lincoln Heights shopping center. We don't go often, it's a huge treat as they are super GF friendly, all the way to the end of the meal with fresh baked GF Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

As I was refilling our Prickly Pear Pink Lemonade, a woman approached me and said, "They aren't all related are they?" No one has ever asked it like that before, but I assured her they were all siblings. Her response made me blush, "I told my friends that there was no way they were all from the same family, they get along too nicely!" It was a sweet moment, and super encouraging. I hope and pray that friendship and kindness characterizes our children more and more as they continue to grow in Christlikeness. 

*Not to spoil the mood of this cheerful post, the children were fighting about 6 1/2 minutes later when it was time to take a seat in the car to leave. I just laughed to myself. They are definitely related. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014


This last year has found me itching to get rid of all the excess in our lives. What is entangling us and keeping our family from having more time together, having more of an impact on our neighbors, friends?

I saw something at the end of January that I have been mulling over in my mind ever since... I think it will be my mental banner as spring arrives and I take a few days to clean up and clean out some long neglected corners of our home.

"What if all you woke up with tomorrow were the things you thanked God for today?"

Would that change what you kept around?
Would you find yourself in prayer more?
Do you think you would see the riches in having less?
What would you change about what you kept? What you bring in?

I am seeing how much of my "keeping" has been out of guilt and embarrassment over my poor stewardship in the past. And I am thankful that God does not dangle shame over my head, but extends me unmerited grace and mercy, and that gives me the courage to make changes that will free me up to be available for the good works He has prepared for me.

As the weather warms up, I see a school holiday being called - Decluttering Day! And for anything we keep, I pray our hearts will be bursting with thanksgiving for the abundance of blessings He has given us.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Heaven is for Real - Movie Review

One of the perks of being a media volunteer at church is being invited to advance screenings of Christian or "religious" movies.  It's also a great excuse for us to hire a baby sitter and go on a date!  So, last night we were invited to a screening of the movie Heaven is for Real which is based on a true story.  There is already a book that was written and this movie is taken from that book.  The pastor and family are real and in fact still preach at the church mentioned in the movie.  I didn't do any research on the movie other than watch the preview.  It seemed like it might be a good film.  It comes out right around Easter and I couldn't advise you strong enough to NOT go see it.  Do not support this movie.  If you want a great movie to see during this time, go see the God's Not Dead movie!

So, why was this Heaven is for Real so bad?  There was not a single scripture reference or presentation of the Gospel.  When people would ask the child if their son or spouse was in heaven, the pastor would respond did you love them enough to go to heaven?  To go to heaven, we must know Christ which means knowing and following His Word.  Someone doesn't go to heaven because we love them.  Jesus Christ is a loving God and because He loves us, He commands us to repent of our sin and follow Him.  This means we are to die to our own selfish desires, humble ourselves and follow Him.  We must read His Word daily so that we can be discerning and make disciples.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth".  2 Timothy 3:13 also tells us that "evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived".  Don't be deceived by thinking this is a Christian movie.  It is a feel good movie, without any foul language or violence but certainly not an outreach or evangelism movie.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A change of schedule...

After years of me not wanting to have the kids involved in team sports, for a myriad of reasons, the time came for us to tip-toe into the world of athletics. We began in the fall with allowing the children to take one recreational class a week. Four of the six children chose gymnastics, two decided on martial arts. I found one gym in a neighboring town that held both sports at the same time. Score for me! Yay for scheduling simplicity!

A few months into our new endeavors, three of the children were invited to try out for different levels of team gymnastics. A little voice inside my head was screaming "NO WAY! Our family time will be torn apart!" But then, I looked at the schedule. While, the team practices would lengthen the amount of time we spent at the gym, the team practices fell on days we were already there. We did add a Saturday morning practice for two of the children, but besides a birding commitment from time to time, our Saturday mornings have generally always been pretty clear.

Elliott and I prayed. We crunched the numbers to make sure we could afford it. I figured out a plan to minimize gym waiting time for the kids who weren't on team. When we told the children that we were going to give it a shot, they were giddy. We have survived the first month of our new schedule. It has actually been quite fun to spend 1-on-2 and 1-on-3 time with kids, when we are so used to 1-on-6 for every endeavor. The kids are taking their commitments very seriously, it is neat to see them take ownership of staying fit and growing in their skills.

This week, though, we needed to make a new adjustment to our daily school schedule. The twins' coach sent home a conditioning sheet with a workout for them to do at home every day between their Monday practice and Saturday practice. I have been wanting to work out, but not been able to motivate myself to squeeze it in. For the last two days, we have broken up school with the following workout:

Chicken Walks (15) - This is where you do a handstand with your feet against the wall and you lift one hand at a time off the floor. You have completed one of these after you pick up each hand once. I tried one. I have decided to only supervise this exercise in the best interest of protecting myself from a massive head injury.
Regular Push Ups (10) - These are a childhood favorite of mine. I don't remember them being so difficult, but considering the last time I regularly did push-ups I weighted about 25% less than I do now, I am trying to give myself some grace. I do have a good push-up posture thanks to the 1000's of push-ups I did as a child. My children, however, obviously need to do more push-ups as their form is a work in progress.
Push Up Hold (15 seconds) - Here you go down like you are going to do a push-up but you don't come up for 15 seconds. 15 seconds doesn't sound very long. And it isn't in the grand scheme of things, but when you are holding your push-up, you never think the 15 seconds will end. I do think I probably started counting faster near the end, tomorrow I will need to employ the stopwatch for all fairness. 
Diamond Push Ups (10) - These we do on the wall, with our hands in front of our chest and with our index fingers and thumbs in a diamond shape. They are surprisingly effective at making my arms ache.
Dips (15) - I am thankful for our dining room table benches, as two of us can do these at the same time on each bench. You place your hands with fingers facing your bottom and you dip yourself down until you form a right angle with your elbow and then you push yourself back up. Besides my arms feeling numb at this point, this exercise also starts to send a burning sensation across the top of my thigh. I am reminded of my age and out-of-shapeness by the near constant popping noise coming from my right knee. It is ridiculously humbling and I stay strangely quite as the children ask one another, "do you hear a strange cracking noise?"
Crunches (20) - Laying flat with toes pointed, and looking straight up at the ceiling, slowly crunch up until all abdominal muscles are engaged and then go back down. These seem easy until about number 13, then I think I might die or start cheating and count by 2's, but the kids are watching. Today, Micah began commenting on how red my face was at this point, he said it was scaring him.
Ab Rollers (20) - Laying down, keeping legs perfectly straight and toes pointed, you pull your legs up from the floor to a pike position, rolling up into a crunch to as if you plan to meet your nose to your knees while your feet point to the ceiling. Then, you let your legs down as you release from your crunch, but you do not allow your feet to touch the ground. I love how many different core muscles are engaged during this one exercise. Somewhere around the 10th one I thought I was going to throw up and I transitioned into a supervisory role and critiqued and corrected the children's form. Thankfully the muscle spasm that had taken hold of my abdomen lessened so I could be ready for the next exercise.
Sit Ups (10) - Here we pair off to sit on each others feet so that a full sit-up can be accomplished with no "cheating" of lifting of feet from the ground. Sit-ups were another childhood favorite (yes, I had an unusual childhood), and my doctors are all surprised that after nine major abdominal surgeries that I can still do a sit-up. Tonight I cheerfully, albeit slowly, did all 10. I was eternally grateful there was no need for an 11th.
Plank (2 x 30 seconds) - Thanks to the stop watch on my phone, no one has to count aloud during this exercise where you get in your best push-up form and hold it through all the quaking and shaking of your biceps, back and abdominal muscles that begins around 19 seconds. I have begun wondering if I will be able to lift the covers to go to sleep tonight.
Over Splits (2 minutes) - The twins make doing the splits look as easy as putting on Toms. I have chosen, mostly due to the full body ache and need to be able to walk and care for my family after the work out is complete, to simply time the children as they do their splits. Besides, none of the children are currently strong enough to lift me up and off the ground if something were to go wrong during my doing a split, so for their safety, I just cheer them on.
If I work out with the kids the rest of this week, I think I will have done more exercises this week than in most single months in the last 10 years. Following the inaugural workout yesterday, I was surprised with a few aches but happily was not hindered from being able to do my normal daily activities today.

The Lord has humbled me numerous times as we have traveled down this new road, the simplicity of fitting the commitment into our lives, the daily work outs I have avoided for so long, as well as answering prayers long forgotten. So many times I have lamented that I don't have a lot of contacts from outside my church or homeschool mom friends. Now I do. I am forming relationships with the moms of other kids, even a few grandmothers. God is so good. He gives us so many gifts, even ones we didn't know we needed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And a month is gone...

How is it February already?!?!?! Is anyone else shaking their head at how the first month of 2014 is already gone?

As soon as January rolled around, school started back up, Elliott got the flu and was crazy sick for two weekends (he felt better the week in between), and then Noah broke both wrists in a swing set incident never to be forgotten (and I hope not repeated!). We have a new schedule thanks to the kids being in various activities, we are the busiest we have ever been with outside activities, but the Lord has been gracious to allow the days and times line up neatly into two evenings and one Saturday morning each week.

I have found myself wondering how moms of big broods of kids have time to blog, much less monetize their blogs. Most days I can't figure out what to make for lunch, much less figure out something witty or encouraging to publish on the blog.

And yet, as I sit down, preparing to go to bed (way too late... sigh), I have a glimpse of what God is doing in my life right now. I have been setting aside the computer lately, pulling off-line during nearly all waking hours so that my time is spent making face-to-face, real, connections with my children, my husband, my neighbors. It has been harder than I thought, days go by without my even cracking open the laptop. Emails pile up, I fight the anxious feelings of being "behind" and try to delete anything I can from my phone during short trips to the restroom.

God is teaching me about His priorities. I am studying and learning how to better love my husband, how to teach and love my children, how to reach out and share His love with my neighbors and friends. Very Titus 2 and Great Commission-y,  you might be thinking, and you would be right, for God is igniting my heart to grow in His Word and seek after His purposes. Email, Instagram and Pinterest are being relegated to quick glances during obscure moments scattered sparingly throughout the day.

So, a whole month is gone, and while I hope to capture the memories of it more regularly on here, if I disappear from the blogosphere for too long, just stop by and I will make you a coffee (or a tea) and we can catch up, for real and in person. :)