Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heart Yearnings. . .

Have you ever wanted something really badly but felt that God was saying, "Not now," or, "Not yet," or maybe just simply saying, "I have another plan. Trust Me." But, your heart aches a little because you want it so badly.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I am a homeschool mom want-to-be. I remember the first time that I heard about homeschooling. I was in high school, and I remember wishing that my mom would drop her life and homeschool me! I loved the idea. My big sister homeschooled her older four children, and several of Erik and my very best friends have chosen to homeschool. And, their kids are awesome ~ confident, full of Godly character, well-mannered, and do awesome in social settings. These parents don't homeschool in order to shelter their kids. Their kids are involved in lots of activities and more importantly lots of ministries. The fact that their kids are not exposed to certain things until later is simply an added bonus, their main motivation for homeschooling is simply to be able to spend more time with their children ~ time they use to not only build an awesome relationship with their kids, but also they are using the extra time to focus on character issues and spiritual growth. The Daniel in Erik Daniel came from Erik's Godson who is one of these amazing kids. It has been such a joy for us to watch as God has used Daniel's parents to mold him into the awesome young man that he is today. And, he is just one of many. . . ahem. . . Tim Tebow. . . :-)

And, I'll be honest, it bothered me last year that Joshua's teacher got to spend more time with him during the day than I did. I missed his sweet face at lunchtime. I missed him when I walked Rain while the younger boys napped. I missed him off and on all day nearly everyday. I do think that kids need to spread their wings, to be out in the world, to be away from their parents, but to be gone so much when they are so very young is simply hard for me to swallow.

Thus, I felt the desire welling up in me to homeschool him at least for the early years. I love the idea of homeschool. I want the folders, the lesson plans, the choice of curriculum. I want to spend hours teaching them scripture ~ growing in them a love for God's precious Words. I want to have school outside on a blanket under the shade of one of our Oak trees. I want the boys to say the pledge to a flag hanging from my front porch. I want the high fives when they finally get something that we have been working hard on. I want the trips to the nursing home, local orphanage, and not to mention the fun field trips we could go on. I want the bonding of brothers through hours and hours of outside playtime. I want to do science lessons in the backyard ~ hands on, of course. But more than anything I want the time with my boys. Time is a slippery slope, and it is a rich commodity. Before I know it, Joshua will be out of elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Whew! But, I will say that mostly my desire to homeschool is selfish. I am happiest, most at peace (imagine that with four boys :-) when my children are all around me! I love them. I mean it. Like crazy. And, they say that in second and third grade the kids at our school have 2 to 4 hours of homework a night. So, between homework and extracurricular activities where is the time Erik and I desire to pour spiritually, emotionally, and playfully into our children? I must admit that I fear we will get caught up in the activity, lose sight of the goal, and be carried away with the tide and before we know it they will one by one be gone. Makes me want to get pregnant again! :-) (Just kidding!)

Little disclaimer: I am writing this so that when Joshua and his wife are grown, married, and have kids they will know that Erik and I sought God's face like crazy about the decisions that we made. I want Joshua to know, and I have shared all this with him, but he is only 6, so I feel compelled to journal it. Just for the record, I do not feel that it is God's will to pull all Christian kids out of the public school system. I simply do not. That would be too easy, and God is not about easy. He is about us seeking Him face down with all that we are and listening to his sweet whispering deep within our souls. On the flip side, I get frustrated with the stereotype that says homeschooling is sheltering, overprotecting, and holding a child back socially. When done well, homeschool is not like this. The important thing, I am learning, is that it is not about whether we homeschool or send Joshua to school, it is about our listening to our Creator and allowing Him to lead and guide all of our decisions ~ and modeling this for our children.

Okay back to the story. . . So, last year we prayed about homeschooling, and we felt we were to send Joshua, and God confirmed this to us in little ways and big ways but that is another story. Anyway, I have been praying fervently since the middle of the year last year that if God wanted us to pull Joshua out in first grade that He would make it clear. I prayed that He would reveal it to Erik without my saying anything to him. I waited. Nothing happened, but I really wanted to homeschool, and the summer was well underway. (And, by the way Joshua had a great kindergarten experience. This has nothing to do with his school only to do with my heart.) So, I broke down and told Erik what my heart was screaming. So, he began praying with me. We have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. I can honestly say that besides the health of his mother we have never unitedly cried out to God for anything with this much fervor. But, He wasn't really showing us anything either way. And, I wanted so badly for Him to let us know in undeniable ways that Joshua. should. stay. home., but He didn't. So, we have been uncertain for the last few weeks. Our uncertainty coming from an inner peace that we were both lacking about homeschool. And, I must admit as much as I have wanted it (still do) something just wouldn't settle. Something just didn't feel right. But, I had one last hope. . .

In the first grade their are 5 teachers. One has taught for years and is supposedly WONDERFUL (also known for being great with little boys - raised 3 of her own), then there are three that are good, and then there is one that several people warned us that we do not want Joshua to have. One mother, through tears, told me of her child's experience under this particular teacher. So, Erik made the decision that if Joshua got her the deal would be done -bring him home! I think that I was the only mother hoping that my child would get this teacher! Erik and I prayed so hard, and the night before orientation we were leaning heavily on the side of homeschooling. But, then I woke up at 1 a.m. to feed a sweet little fuzzy headed baby, and I couldn't go back to sleep. I stayed up until after 3 wrestling with God and with myself. I kept crying out to God, "Don't be silent. Speak Your Thoughts. We want what You want! Why can I not hear You, see You, feel Your heart on this! Don't you want me to do this? Don't You want me to homeschool?" So, when we got up the next morning I told Erik about my restless night, and we made the decision that I would go to orientation without Joshua. We needed confirmation. I felt so uncertain that I was supposed to bring him home ~ so uncertain that I needed to hear that he had been put in the class of the teacher who would close the deal for us.

It was a very rainy day. I prayed all the way to school. I prayed for clarity, for God to speak, for me to know as I walked those familiar halls. But, in my heart I just knew that he was going to get one of the "good" teachers which really wouldn't make a statement either way.

So, I walked in the school hardly making eye contact with anyone, dodging questions about where Joshua was, and shaking like a scared cat. I could hardly fill out my paperwork. My hands were shaking so badly! After I went through the process, I walked up to a good friend of ours whose job was to tell me what classroom to go to. . .

This was it. . .

My heart was literally in my throat. . .

She handed me a sheet of paper and said the name of his teacher with a knowingly sweet smile. . .

He got the AWESOME teacher. :-(

So, I smiled a somewhat fake half-smile back at her, told myself that this was not over, maybe I won't like her, maybe God will give me discernment in the classroom ~ discernment telling me that we should homeschool Joshua. . . Just because he got the wonderful one did not mean that this was right. I would have to feel within my spirit that this was right, and I was not there. . . yet, anyway.

I got to the classroom. She greeted me at the door, motherly, sweet, asking about Erik's parents right off the bat (never met her before). She told me to pick a seat for Joshua. Of course, I picked a place front and center. She sat in the seat next to mine and talked with me as I filled out more paperwork. Here are a few excerpts. . .

Me: I really have issues with being away from my child all day. It just seems to be such a long time. . .
Her: I agree. Know that you are welcome in my classroom anytime. I do things the same if you are here or if you are not, so you are more than welcome to come observe anytime you like. You can just sit back and watch, or if you would like to come and read to the class, I would love that!

Me: I really like to bake. I don't know how many fun things you do in first grade, but if you let me know, I'll bake something related to your theme. . .
Her: Oh, we do lots of fun things in first grade! And, I love to bake, too. We actually bake a lot in the classroom! We will make butter. We will make applesauce, biscuits and jelly. We will do lots of baking right here in the classroom. And, on the days we bake, I love to have an extra set of hands. I would love it if you would come and help on those days!

Me: Well, what about homework?
Her: Well, I have a different philosophy than some of the other teachers. Every night they will be sent home with a different reader which they will have to read. These readers will take only 2-3 minutes to read for most children. I give homework on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights only, and it will take no more than 30 minutes to do and that includes the time it takes to read the readers.

Me: Well, what about tests?
Her: They will be tested every Friday, but you will be well informed of what will be on the tests. There will be no surprises. In fact, the first test will be simply for practice. I'll be easy on them. I was a mother, too.

Good grief.

I was beginning to feel my control grip loosening, as God seemed to be whispering, "I have prepared the way for him. . ." I could literally feel the little pieces being put together before me. It wasn't just circumstantial. God was speaking peace to my soul.

A few minutes later a little boy that we know came in with his grandparents. The little boy and his family are patients of Erik's. The sweet teacher got down on his level and said, "S., I want you to sit by your friends. I know that when I go somewhere new I like to sit by my friends, so I want you to be able to pick who you sit beside. And, I don't mind if you talk sometimes. There will be times when it is fine for you to talk to those around you. But, when I stand up at the board and when I am talking, you have to be quiet and listen. As long as you can do that, I will be glad to let you sit by your friends." The little boy said he wanted to sit by Joshua.

As I walked around the room looking for a red flag from God, I noticed that the names of Joshua's classmates were laminated and placed in rows on a bulletin board. I began to read the names, and my jaw dropped. Out of 5 classrooms, Joshua's two very best friends were in his class. One of the boys he has played with since he was 2. The other he met in kindergarten ~ they were inseparable last year. Both a little on the timid side, they clung to each other like crazy last year. I never dreamed that God would put them in the same classroom again! The thought never even crossed my mind. Then, I saw the clincher, and I had to smile. Among the names of Joshua's classmates was. . .


Seriously, Jesus is in Joshua's class. My heart chuckled. God has a sense of humor that absolutely floors me at times. So, I glanced back at the teacher, smiled and said, "Well, I feel much better knowing that Jesus will be in Joshua's class." She smiled and said, "Me, too!!"

I can't wait to meet Jesus! As if no one has ever said it to him, I am going to say, "Jesus, I have always wanted to meet you face to face!!!!!!" :-)

Oh, I digress. So, I said goodbye, walked out into the hall, (somewhat in a state of shock) and if all this was not enough, I saw her. She is a pastor's wife and for months she has been on my heart to talk to about Moms in Touch. And, there she stood waiting in line with two of her children. I took a second to talk with her about my heart for praying for the our children, their teachers, the school, and the school board. She was very interested, and we made plans to talk further about it. I walked to my van in the rain half laughing at how clear it all seemed ~ Joshua to be in school and me to pick up where I left off with Moms in Touch. I called Erik and began the conversation saying, "You are never going to believe this. . ." I could hear him smiling as I told him of all the little things that for us added up to God saying, "Not this year. . ."

But, that is not to say that He will not say "Yes!" to me homeschooling next year! :-)

Year by year following His lead, it makes this journey an unpredictable adventure!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Favor

If my life were a story, she would be one of my favorite characters. For the last 8 years, I have seen her nearly once a week when I drop off my dry cleaning. She has a genuineness about her that draws me to her, and her soul is undeniably rich. She has lived what I can gather from the stories she tells me a difficult life - raising 8 children without much money. But, she persevered, and her children are grown and have done well for themselves. Although she sees me every week or so, it is not uncommon for her to follow me out to the car so she can gasp and squeal at how cute my little boys are, how much they look like my husband, and how much they have grown.

Every time I come in, our conversation consists of 3 elements. . .

1.) How I look like "one of those old college girls. . ."
2.) How she is going to leave this place and go live with one of her daughters in Little Rock. "She just keeps begging me to come, and I'm gonna do it. One of these days I'm gonna go. . ." So, every time I enter the store and see her sitting on her little stool, I say the same thing, "Well, I see you are still here with us!" She just throws her head back and laughs a hardy, full belly laugh and assures me that she is going. . . one of these days. . . she is going.
3.) How she loves. her. doctor. (my Erik).

But, yesterday our visit was different. It was deep and moving. She cried, and I choked back tears as she shared something special with me. Last night as Erik and I lay together in the dark I shared our conversation with him word for word as best I could remember it. And, I could tell, even though I could not see his face, that he was moved. He has no idea the impact God makes on other people through him.

Our conversation went something like this. . .

Me: Well, I see you are still here!

Ms. D: Yes, I'm still here (chuckle). . . You know, I want to tell you somethin'. I am so proud of my doctor. I love my doctor. He saved my life. I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for him. I believe that. You see, he's a good doctor cause he keeps lookin'. He just kept lookin' 'til he figured out what was wrong wit me. That's what makes him a good doctor. He worries 'bout his patients, thinks 'bout them, 'til he figures it out. I'm so proud of him. But, you know what it is? I tell you what it is that makes him a good doctor. He listens to God, the great physician. He told Dr. D. what was wrong wit me. That is how Dr. D. knew what was wrong wit' me. He asked God and God told him. And, that is why he's a good doctor. He listens to God. . . I love him. I tell you, I love him. He really cares, I tell you, he really cares. How are his parents?

Me: Well, his Dad is doing great, but it will be a long road for his mom. But, they are doing much better - bit by bit, day by day. . .

Ms. D.: Oh, good! I tell you I pray for them. Yes, I do. I pray all the time. I talk to God just like I'm talking to you. I just say what I'm thinkin' that is the kind of relationship we have. I just speak what's on my mind. I have prayed for his parents. . . even gone to the altar to pray for them. I had on high heels, but I didn't let that stop me. Even in my high heels, I got down on my knees at the altar and prayed for them. (At this point her deep voice began to crack.) I tell you what I said to God. I said, "Lord, please help these people. He is a good man. Dr. D. is a good man. Don't let him hurt. Please, Lord. (tears rolling down her weathered brown cheeks) Now, God, Dr. D. did a favor for me, and I am going to ask You to do a favor for him. Make his parents well. Dear Lord, make his parents well." And, you know what, Mrs. D., I believe. As I got up and walked away from the altar I just knowed. I just knowed in my heart. I believe He's going to do it. I can't explain it. I just know.
Me: (fighting tears) Wow. I appreciate that so much. I know Erik will, too. I'll tell him, but do me a favor and tell him that the next time you see him. It will encourage him so much. We love to hear that people are praying.
Mrs. D.: You take care of those boys now, you hear?
Me: Don't worry, I will! I love you.
Mrs. D.: Oh, baby, I love you, too.
It is amazing the power of words. I had chills all afternoon as I pondered the thought that this humble, sweet lady would ask God to do a favor for us.
Hidden behind baggy clothes and aging brown skin, is a soul with a beauty not of this world.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good vs Not so Good

For the last 6 months or so, I have made a habit of keeping this cake stand full at all times ~ or most times, anyway. The house just seems more homey with fresh baked goods smiling up at you when you come in the backdoor! Sometimes the baked goods are healthy and sometimes not, but today for the first time they are both. . .

So, would you rather be good and go with the banana bread muffins complete with milled flax seed and wheat germ (my boys love them) :-) or not so good and go with the chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies ( a.k.a. doo-doo cookies ~ but you'll never hear me call them that!!) ;-)!!! Ha! I'm going with the cookies everytime after 9:00 a.m.!!! And, my boys agree wholeheartedly!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Bat Assignments. . .

Lately, my thoughts have turned to getting Joshua ready to start 1st grade. We read a little each day, but I am starting to review things that he learned last year hoping that they will be familiar when he starts back to school in August. He hasn't been real keen on the idea of brushing up on a little schoolwork. So, I thought of a silly way to make it fun, and we have been doing it for several days now ~ and it works!

Joshua is bigtime into being a superhero and saving the world. So, I found an unused journal with a soft brown suede cover. I told him it was his "Batbook." I told him that from now on he would have bat assignments to do. One day he had to go outside and find 5 living things and 5 nonliving things. He had to make 2 separate lists and write down each thing he found. He was all about it! He dressed up in his Batman attire, and took off with Robin as his assistant. Together they found their living and nonliving items.

Yesterday, his assignment was to help the police solve a robbery.

First, he had to record the time of the robbery, and then on another page the time that the abandoned bag of money was found. . .

Then, he had to count the money in the bag and make sure it matched the amount of money that the bank reported missing. . .

Today, when I had him count the money the police found, it did not match the money stolen from the bank. It was one dollar short, so Batman had to search the downstairs in order to find the last of the missing money. We ended up playing hot and cold with it! He loved it! He said that he wants to do Bat assignments everyday for the rest of his life!!!

Flying Free

Yesterday morning was one of those calm, warm, and sunny beautiful summer mornings. As soon as I had taken my final sip of coffee and the boys had gotten themselves dressed, we headed outside to enjoy the slight breeze and the comfortably warm sunshine. I had decided the night before that it was time to release our beautiful butterflies. We watched them eat and fly around their little habitat inside our home for a few days, and I was beginning to feel sorry for them. I knew that they needed to spread their sweet wings and fly free...

So, we headed out to the backyard. Joshua did the honors while I sat back and took it all in from behind the lens of my camera. Slowly he unzipped the habitat, and one by one they exited...

Each time a butterfly flew out (there were 5 of them), I attempted to get a picture of it flying free with a backdrop of the big blue sky. But, each time I failed. They flew away so fast. I think they were quite happy with their new home!
After they were all gone, I walked around the backyard trying to find one of them on a flower or a leaf sipping from a drop of early morning dew, but it was to no avail. They were gone. They had spread their pretty little wings, and they were gone.

And, as the boys attention shifted to bikes, baseballs, and swings, I found myself unable to shake a little bit of melancholy that seemed to permeate my thoughts. I couldn't help thinking about turning my little butterflies loose one day. Silly me, I know. But, I love these little men with my whole heart, and the thought of setting them free one day makes my heart sad. Can't they stay here forever, stay little forever? The learning, the growing, the laughter, the playing, it is so much fun. Being their mom is such a joy ~ the greatest joy of my life. But, I realize that the setting free part is the whole reason God gave them to me, and so it is a good thing. And, in time I am certain that I will be ready. Neither of us is ready now. Thankfully.
Now, on to part two of "Flying Free"...

So, while I was straightening the kitchen, and the boys were finishing lunch, Joshua says to me, "Hey, Mom! There! is! a! bird! in! the! bird feeder!!!!" It was one of those comments that I heard but didn't actually process for a few minutes. And, when I did finally process it, I must admit that I didn't really believe him. I thought to myself something along the lines of, "Ahh. . . yes, and there is a bat in the batting cage. . ." (We don't really own a batting cage. It was just the first thing that came to my mind.) :-) I said something like, "Really? A bird got inside the bird feeder?" He insisted it was so, and by golly, he was right!
So, I did what any bird-loving mother of four boys would do ~
I put on a show!
Here was my audience. . .
Cute, huh?
Now, I didn't really think this bird would harm me on purpose, but I was afraid that in its fear and eagerness to fly free it might accidentally run its little beak into me. So, I was prepared. I wore my jean jacket, Erik's work gloves, Joshua's batman mask, and the boys' cowboy hat. This way, most of my skin was covered. Joshua took a picture. . .
Once I was dressed in my protective bird-freeing gear, I headed out the backdoor.
I took the bird feeder down, opened it up, and waited. . .
and waited. . . and waited. . .
I began to fear that maybe he had hurt one of his wings attempting to fly while inside the feeder. I envisioned myself taking the bird in bird feeder to the vet.
But, thankfully, it never came to that. Finally, after about 20 minutes the cute little bird flew free! I so wanted to take a picture of him flying free. But, once again I was not fast enough! That little guy flew quickly into a tree in the woods just behind our back porch. I just hope he isn't afraid to come back and dine with us again. Watching the birds at our bird feeder is one of my favorite things to do first thing in the morning while I sip my coffee. :-)
Enough flying free for this week.
I just hope when my little men do finally fly free they don't leave quite so quickly and without looking back.
Did you hear that, sweet boys?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ups and Downs. . .

This past weekend was an interesting one to say the least.
It was full of ups and downs ~ the makings of a wonderful roller coaster ride. And, we rode it well ~ for the most part. Even though the weekend was far from perfect, due mostly to the fact that we were still fighting a stubborn stomach bug, it was beautiful and wonderful in so many ways.
It is something that I never thought of when I signed up for a big family. . .
the fact that it takes a good long while for a virus to make its way through a family of 6.
Friday evening in the hopes that the virus had died a quick death after infecting only Joshua and me, we headed to Chickfila for dinner. The boys had heard the song from the post below so many times last week that they were biting at the bit for some nuggets and sweet tea. So, we walked our darling ones inside the "Chickfila house" (as Lij calls it). We got in line, and after a short wait in line, JCT began coughing. Erik and I made eye contact, a glance of mutual panic. He handed Erik Daniel to me, grabbed JCT, and ran for the nearest door. And, JCT christened the floor of the "Chickfila house" and fertilized their lawn.
God bless them.
And, I had a thought that surprised even me. If you know me, you know that I lament the day that my sons grow up. I want them to stay cute and little. Well, as soon as we got home, Elijah threw up, too, and in that moment with JCT hugging the toilet and Elijah depositing his stomach contents into the sink, I thought to myself, " I can not wait until my children are teenagers." Then, at the very least, they could give me a 45 second warning before they begin to, you know...
This is what my middle men felt like at 3:00 in the afternoon on Friday. . .
And, this is what they looked like at 6:00 in the evening. . .
Kids are amazingly resilient!

But, in other news our caterpillars "hatched" (as Joshua calls it) into beautiful butterflies! The boys and I were even able to watch one of the butterflies emerge. Very cool.
And, another little change happened. . .
My big boy asked his Daddy to teach him to ride without training wheels. . .
Success. . .
And, on Sunday I had the great of honor of standing beside my precious friend at her church where she was asked to speak about her walk through the deepest, darkest time in her life, her struggle with depression. And, before she spoke I stood beside her and worshipped, and we sang In Christ Alone. And, the words struck me as never before. A perfect prelude to her testimony. The words below touched my heart especially knowing her story. . .
"...And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Mighty have Fallen

Or, at least one of the mighty has fallen.


Up all night in the bathroom.

Need I say more?

I hate the stomach virus with a vengeance.

I love my husband, really I do, and he is an awesome husband. And, he looked very handsome to me last night even in my nauseated state.

I'm sure he meant it as encouragement. . .

But as I held onto the potty for dear life, he wiped my face and neck with a cool rag all the while saying these sorts of encouraging words over me. . . (I followed each comment with my own thoughts at the moment. . .)

"You don't really have to throw up."
Really, I don't? I'm not so sure. . .

"You've just talked yourself into it. You've been thinking about it since Joshua got sick. You just need to think about something else."
What else is there?

"Get up. Let's go for a walk. You wanna go outside and walk around a little bit?"
Ummmm. . . No.

"Come on, Erin, you're okay. Just think about something else. You don't really need to. . ."
Let me show you. . .

And, that was that.

Now, I do feel a bit better today, just achy and depleted of energy. The boys have been great. I even got to take an hour and a half long nap ~ not to mention the dozing that I did on the couch this morning while they played around in front of me. They've done really well ~ especially for boys who are used to getting to play outside most of the day.

The only thing that they are doing that is driving me CRAZY is that they want to watch this video over and over and over and over. . .

And, when you don't feel great, listening to a man sing about waffle fries and nuggets isn't a very good idea. But, I do love, love, love this video!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Day Outdoors. . .

This past weekend was a "sick weekend." If you are the mother of young children, then you can empathize. Joshua finished off July 4th with his very own fireworks ~ red from the kool-aid he had with dinner. Ughh. And, the temps weren't just high outside ~ Joshua and Elijah both had temps of their own over 102. It was one of those weekends. You know, where when anyone coughs or belches or makes a funny noise or gives a funny look or does anything out of the ordinary, you panic that stomach contents are on their way up! Yuck.

So, after staying inside all day Sunday and part of the day yesterday, I decided that it was time to get out in the fresh country air! And, when I felt the breeze and the mild temperatures, I was sold. I decided that we were going to stay outside all day! The only time we were inside was during nap/rest time. We had so much fun!

We ate lunch in "the clubhouse." I have been wanting to do this for a while, and we finally did it!

The boys had a sword fight with dead Lilly stalks or whatever the correct botanist term is for them. . .

We, also, had a little scavenger hunt which was great fun! It gave us an excuse to wander into parts of our yard where we rarely go, and the boys enjoyed that a lot!

Here are my sweet boys watching a cricket hop around. ( You can't beat country entertainment!!) :-)

Then, we ended the afternoon eating homemade Popsicles in the shade of an old crooked pine tree. . .

It was a good day. As I write this, my sweet boys have been bathed and fed, and they are sitting on the couch watching a taped episode of Reading Rainbow while waiting for their Daddy to come home. It feels good. A full day ~ full of sunshine, outdoors, laughter, love, and fun! These are good days, my friends. Enjoy! These long summer days won't last forever!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Me Instead. . .

At some point during each day we spend time swinging on our swing set. I push the boys, and as I push them we have little talks. I like to call them swing set conversations. Most of the time the talks revolve around dinosaurs and superheroes, but occasionally the conversations go a little bit below the surface. And, because I live below the surface, I love the days they dig deep and give me glimpses into their sweet little hearts.

One day last week I began pushing them and the conversation just happened to center around Grandma and Pop. JCT was talking about how Grandma can't walk right now. And, Joshua asked me if Pop was in any pain. I told him that, yes, even though Pop was so much better, he still had to fight through a great deal of pain in order to do the everyday normal things that we do. Joshua's swing came to a slow stop, and he looked thoughtfully at the ground.

After a few minutes, I asked "What are you thinking?"

He responded. . .

"I was just thinking that I wish I had been in the accident instead of Grandma and Pop."

Surprised by his answer, I asked, "Why would you say that, Joshua?"

"Because I don't want Grandma and Pop to be in any pain. I wish it could be me instead."

And, in that moment I caught a glimpse into my little Joshua's heart. And, I wasn't sure what to say or how to respond. So, I mumbled something about that being a Christ-like thought because Christ thought of us better than Himself, too. But, my response paled in comparison. . .

His sweet heart caught me a bit off guard.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

2009 Fourth of July Parade

It began with 7 kids and a few pots and pans, and now it lasts nearly an hour and consists of everything from firetrucks to horses! It is our community's fourth of July parade, and everyone is welcome to be in it! The parade takes place in the middle of the residential part of our town instead of downtown like all the other parades. I love this because it gives the parade more of a family-feel! Anyway, friends and families gather in lawns to watch and talk. The parade itself consists of both adults and kids on everything from tractors, trailers, and 4-wheelers to lawn mowers, bikes, and golf carts ~ all decorated in red, white, and blue, of course!

The boys' babysitter, Miss Megan, asked them to ride in a trailer behind her 4 wheeler, and they, of course, were thrilled!

Here they are with Miss Megan and Mr. Phillip. . .

Heading out of the driveway to go line up. . .

Sweet Afton waiting in the line-up. . .

Here we are waiting patiently for the parade to begin. . .

Okay, I am going to stop right here and say something completely unrelated to Independence Day. You know that verse in James that talks about taking care of the widows and the orphans? Well, I haven't really spent a ton of time meditating on it until lately. Erik has been gone a lot more than ever before in our marriage ~ to take care of his parents, and I love that he does this. I miss him, but it is a very good thing. But, in his absence I have learned the value of this verse. So many people have jumped in and volunteered to help while Erik is away ~ especially men, and it means so much to me. I have had men volunteer to do everything from cut our grass to take my trash out on trash day. I was reminded of this today when the parade was over. I stood up and turned to put something away in my diaper bag. I was talking to my mom, and before we blinked Megan's Daddy had taken our fold up chairs, collapsed them and swung them over his shoulder to carry for us. It is little things like this that serve to remind me that even when Erik is away, I am not alone. We have a sweet community, and I am so thankful.
And, speaking of taking care. . . Here is a picture of Megan's Mom taking care of Erik Daniel. I think she held him the entire morning!

And, here they come. . .
Now, Erik since you couldn't be here I thought I'd take pictures of a few of your friends. Hope this makes you smile. . . :-)
It is hard to see in the above picture, but their arms are full! Isn't that great!!!!!! :-)
This little girl and I have the same name and her Daddy is a football coach. . .
Now, I know this guy will make you smile. . .
Who is that cool cat. . .
After the parade we headed back to the neighborhood circle for cookies, lemonade. . .

the pledge, and the singing of the national anthem. . .

And, just as you requested I recorded the boys. . .

We love you! Happy Fourth!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Be Angry and Sin Not.

I don't get out much, but last night two very sweet husbands let their grateful wives have a night out ~ at least for an hour ~ which we managed to stretch to 2 hours ~ but that is another story. I just happen to be one of those two grateful wives. And, while we were at dinner, we talked a great deal about Erik's parents. We talked a lot about anger. Erik and his brother have both used the phrase "It is what it is," in their posts on their parents' caringbridge site when discussing their mother's condition. It is what it is, and nothing we can do can change it. No amount of doctoring. No amount of anger. No amount of hope. We can pray. We can believe. But, we within ourselves do not have the power to change it. It is what it is. My sweet friend kept saying, "But, they just don't seem angry. How are they not angry?" I assured her that the anger is there. And, as if he knew of our conversation and wanted to put his two cents in, my father-in-love wrote the post below on the caringbridge site yesterday.

I am posting his post for you to read and be encouraged by his words. But, more than that I am posting it so that I have it in a place that I can go to and read it whenever I need to. And, even more than that, I want my boys to have it. I want them to read it ~ to know the faith of their grandfather even amidst his life's greatest trial. Prov. 20:7

And, here it is. . .

Be Angry and Sin Not.

Jesus taught us a little about anger and how to deal with it. He seemed to say that anger can sometimes be a useful thing, but we are not to let Satan use it as a toehold to get us off on the wrong track.

I must confess that I have had to deal with anger relatively often in recent months. Fortunately, I have been able to get into my right mind and move on from it quickly. I realize that anger, even acted on, would not change our situation, but there is a strong temptation to try.

My pain, which on some days accumulates to such a degree that I think I cannot stand it, sometimes just makes me angry. However, when I am able to think through it, I realize that my pain does not even come close to measuring up to what Retia is going through. I confess that when I sit in the hospital room and watch her as she is right now in the struggles she is going through and compare that to what she was, my anger burns furiously.

Sometimes the anger is directed at the person who was driving and should not have been. Sometimes it is directed at the alleged law officer who failed so miserably in her duties. And yes, sometimes it is directed at God.

Now, I have been a follower of Christ since 1949. More than that, I have been associated with the church. and the teachings of Christ even longer, so I know that God does not deserve my anger. But do you know what I have learned (by experience)? That God is strong enough to tolerate my anger and still love me.

Like a loving human parent, I have learned that God is able to listen to the rantings of his children and the questions about things that happen and the intervention that does not always come, and yet he is able to continue to be God with all the love and mercy and grace that he has always revealed to us. He is not changed by our anger. He is still love.

I can almost hear him say audibly, "Hey, I understand your disappointment and hurt and anger. But I still love you." He also reminds me, as he did the psalmist, that in spite of my perceptions of the wrong choices of others whose consequences I suffer, my wrong choices, or even the perceived inaction from him, he will walk with me through the storm and will work good out of horrible circumstances.

So I must confess to him that he is not safe, but he is able to keep me secure. I must confess to him that what bothers me so much is that the love of my life is suffering way too much and I do not believe it is her fault. That makes me mad. The people whose fault it seems to be are going on as usual. Then he reminds me that however much I love her, he loves her even more. He made her and he can take care of her whatever the problem is. So, forgive me for the anger and help me to see through your eyes.

So now you know why I say to Jason don't try to make me feel better in my misery. Just let me stew for a while.

We had another meeting with the Drs, nurses, and therapists today. The prognosis is that the trends are good, but that does not mean everything will be OK. We just don't know that yet. We are still hoping and praying for that end, but in the light of what we have learned about God, we are growing into a position where we will see things as he sees them and love her as he loves her whatever the circumstances (even as he does for us all).

Pray for Retia as she struggles with therapy. Pray for the healing of this pernicious bedsore. Pray for her comfort as she struggles to deal with the everyday pain and suffering. Thanks for standing by us.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Treasure Hunting. . .

I had a really fun mom. I really, really did! And, one of my favorite things that she used to do for me was to prepare treasure hunts. An episode of WordWorld brought back some wonderful memories, and I decided to do a little treasure hunt for my boys!

Erik and I had already decided that we were going to take the big boys to a movie. I had a babysitter lined up for the little boys and everything was set and ready for us to go ~ except I had not told the boys. So, during nap time I took all of 20 minutes and made clues and hid them! This was so much fun because Joshua can read now, so he could read the clues!!! :-) I think there were 13 clues? or maybe it was 14? Anyway, it was so fun!!!! And, they couldn't wait to find out what the surprise at the end was going to be ~ especially since I told them it was not a toy, but that they would love it!

The clues were hidden inside and outside and then back inside and then in. . .

the garage and then back outside and then back inside. . .And, the final clue was hidden in the front seat of our van. . .

The boys absolutely loved it! So much so, that the next morning Joshua came up to me and whispered in my ear, "Can we do a treasure hunt for JCT?" I agreed as long as Joshua wrote out all the clues. So, while JCT played with Elijah Joshua made and hid the clues!

They were very simple and cute ideas for clues. . .

Most of them were easy enough for JCT to sound out with a little help. . .

And, at the end was a treasure created especially for JCT by his big brother. . .

Fun! Fun!
My photo
Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.


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