Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

She always thought spending money on flowers was such a waste. "They're just going to die," she would say.  So, when Erik told me that he wanted to visit his mama's grave on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, I suggested he pick some of the flowers from our yard to take to her.

Grown by her son...

Picked by her grandsons...

And, placed with hearts full of love...

We love and miss you so much, Mom Dukes.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Slow Learner, I Am!

The homestead is unusually quiet.  There are no workers hammering, no children playing, only the click clack sound of Rain's nails tapping the concrete floors and the gentle roll of the coffee maker percolating.  Erik has the four older boys, and I am here keeping watch over my sweet babies ~ both of which are napping.  Thus, I am left with coffee, Christy Nockels (on nano), and my computer.  My heart is full.

So many people ask me how things are going with the addition of our sixth child .  It tickles me because some of them visibly cringe when they ask me ~ almost as if they are afraid of my answer.  Rest assured, all is well here.  Life is busy.  Life is full.  But, as always, life is good, really good.

As always, God is whispering, teaching me new little lessons.  Well, maybe.... they are old lessons that I need reminding of or that I need to continue to work on. :-)  I'm a slow learner.  I actually looked at my sweet Emery girl yesterday and wondered the thing that I wonder so often ~ what will she be like, this little girl of mine.  And, I thought, "Maybe she will be like me ~ except without fear."  Since fear and lack of trust have plagued me since birth.  And, then God gently reminded me that I could be "me ~ except without fear" if only I would let go and trust Him more. Ouch.  And, I think that slowly, gently, sweetly He is working this out in me in ways that only He can.

I love Him for so many reasons.  But, I think the most beautiful thing about Him is His tenderness toward me ~ His patience, His gentle prodding.  He knows what our society does not know, and that is that it is best not to rush things.  That some of the most beautiful things in creation ~ from gorgeous aged oak trees to the Grand Canyon are formed over years and years and not overnight or with the click of a button.  And, true beauty, as well, may just be a slow process ~ a slow process very much worth the wait.  And, so we carry on.  We walk on hopeful, prayerful, and thankful.

Through the busyness of meeting the needs of 6 children 9 and under, He has taught me to slow down and trust Him.  I make plans, but He directs my steps.  I make my plan each morning.  I always have a list.  I love a good list.  And, so I take my plans, and I offer them to Him.  And, I am learning to trust Him to choose how my day will be spent.  This was especially true a week or so ago when school was still in full swing.  My lesson plans were made... but He directed my steps.

After Emery was born, I really felt that He brought me to the end of myself.

Early in the school year one of the board members at Excelsior told me, "Erin, if you do 75% of the work assigned in each class, then you are doing well.  Don't try to do it all."  She went on to say, "There are two types of people who do not survive at Excelsior.  The ones who don't do any of the assignments.  They quit because why participate if you aren't going to participate.  And, the other are those who try to do everything that is assigned.  They burn out.  You have to decide what is best for your family in the various seasons of life."  But, I am type A, and I have good, strong German blood coursing through my veins. And, even though I was told this, up until Emery was born we were doing 100% of the assignments.

But, with the addition of Emery, I literally could not do it all.  It was impossible.  Each day I made a list of things to accomplish only to be frustrated because Jack and Emery alone kept me busy.  The laundry was piling up, the house falling apart, and I was literally teaching with one child in the baby carrier and one on my hip.  I drive hard.  I work hard.  I push hard.  Why, you ask? I don't know.  But, it all goes back to the fear that has plagued me my whole life ~ fear of the unknown. Like when I was a child I really thought the world might open up and swallow me whole if I got my name on the board or I made a B. So, being unable to keep my home running like a well oiled machine was KILLING me!!! Discouragement was beginning to settle in on me.  But, then sweetly, beautifully He whispered deep within my soul....

"Sweet girl, you try so hard.  You push and push, but you are simply beating your sweet little head against the wall.  Relax, and fall back on Me.  I promise that I will catch you.  Many are your plans, your lists, but, Love, I direct your day.  You want so much to do, and do, and do ~ to check every little box off on your list.  Could you trust Me?  Could you relax and simply take care of the precious gifts I have given you?  I will fill your gaps.  Will you trust Me?  Will you trust Me even if the boxes aren't all neatly checked?  Will you trust Me even if you fall into bed without every i dotted or every t crossed?  Will you trust even when it doesn't all work together the way you want it to?  Let's let a little more of your fears go. Will you rest and trust?"

And, so I took a deep breath.  At this point I think we had about 2 weeks left of school to finish up.  I began approaching each day in a new way, and it made all the difference.  I made my lessons plans, my lists, but I did not own them.  I gave them to my Maker.  And so, when I snuggled my little ones in for naps, only to sit down and begin diagramming sentences and hear a baby crying, refusing a nap, I reminded myself that He directs my steps, my day.  So, I would go get my little one and put off diagramming with Joshua until a more opportune time.  Somedays a more opportune time came, and somedays it did not. And, those days we went to bed without finishing grammar that day.  And, guess what!!!  The earth did not split up and swallow us whole!!  I, also, learned that I could, in fact, send the boys on Fridays without having them perfectly prepared.  And, they came home in one piece and even with a smile!!  So, slowly I am learning to not get frustrated when I can't do the things that I want to when I want to... because God has a plan!!!  His plan doesn't always look like mine, but I learned that I could trust His plan, trust Him!

Recently, I heard an interview with Christy Nockels where she talked about her new album ~ Into the Glorious.  She talked about how she asked a friend of hers who has 9 children how she does it all.  The friend said something like this, "Christy, I invite the Glorious into the mundane."  I loved that!  The Glorious treading my floors as I teach and train and hold and rock and do laundry and sweep.  The silly mundane chores are seen in a different light when we realize that the Glorious is there with us, guiding us, directing us, holding us, loving us.  May His sweet light and precious presence fill your home as you serve your family for His glory!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Two Months, Miss Emery Elaine!

Oh, sweetness!  Sweet gift I never dared ask God for, but in His sweetness He so generously chose to give.  Babydoll, with fair skin and hair the color of mine, I still have to pinch myself! Your long thin fingers and the way you point your little toes when you stretch, you are so different, so dainty, so fragile, so precious.  My heart overflows, sweet little love.

And, I try, really I do, I try to live in today and not let myself dream of tomorrow because tomorrow is not yet ours.  But, every so often I stumble upon something ~ a copy of Little Women or The Secret Garden, and I overflow with joy that one day I may sit next to you in your bed, the old antique brass bed that I slept in all my unmarried life, and I will read these favorites of mine to you.  And, as I bake I think of teaching you things of the home, these things I love, like how to break eggs and sift flour and bake cookies in such a way as to make them perfectly soft, not doughy but not yet completely firm either. I have to slow myself down, one day at a time, one day at a time, my sweet little friend!

Oh, how I love you!

But, I am not alone!  Your brothers adore you.  Sometimes I fear for your safety, they all maul you at once ~ covering your face and head with kisses and squeezing any part of you that they can reach.  I had a sweet moment with James Christofer the other day.  I was holding you, and he was sitting next to me staring at you and petting your sweet baby fine hair.  I looked at him and reminded him, "You know you always wanted a sister, and God gave you one!"  Never taking his eyes off you, he said, "Yes, I didn't really think He would give me one.  I love her sooo much!"  And, last night I sat gazing at you in wonder with Erik Daniel near me.  I was wondering what you will be like when you grow up.  So, I asked Eriky his opinion.  "Eriky, do you think Emery will play in the dirt with you boys?  Or,  do you think she will stay inside and play princess?"  Without delay he responded, "She will play princess!"

We will see. :-)

You are beautiful, and your sweet Daddy makes sure you know this.  He tells you at least 5 times a day!  One thing you can count on, sweet girl, is that in this home you are loved so much!!!  We look so forward to living life with you day after day watching you reveal to us exactly who God made you to be!

I love you to pieces, sweet one.

Happy 2 months!


Friday, May 18, 2012

What She Thinks....

I don't know why my Mommy doesn't hold me all the time???  I'm so cute, and it isn't like she has anything else to do!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Emery's Decication Day

Sweet one, you were dedicated on May 13, 2012, Mother's Day.  It was such a special day for our family.  All your brothers wore their pink oxfords in honor of you.  Your Pop, Erik's Dad, and your Nana, my mom, were able to come for your special day.  This is all of us in front of the church before the service.

Daddy carrying you down the aisle...

Standing before the congregation...


The church always gives us a gift on baby dedication day.  Our gift this time was Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson! :-)  In the hall after we left the service...

Daddy and Jack Jack...

Daddy loving on his little red headed angel...

Three generations...

You wore a very special dress.  It was made by my great-grandmother for her daughter, my Grandmother Barth.  So, Grandmother Barth wore it, then my Mom, your Nana, then me, and now you wore it.  The lace and detail on it are beautiful.

We love you sweet girl!  What a special Mother's Day this was!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Oh, my little cowboy!  Where has the time gone!  Five years old!  I always think five to be a turning point of sorts.  Baby doll, you are not a baby anymore!  You are bold and strong and confident and tender and altogether wonderful!  You are one of the middle men, and sometimes I worry that you, because you go with the flow, will get lost in the mix.  So, I make special effort to celebrate and draw attention to you, little man.  You are low maintenance, sweet one.  Just about anything will do for you.  You are funny and fun and easy to be around.  You are expressive and full of personality!!  I think it would be quite difficult for anyone to not adore you!  You. are. precious.

Love, Mommy

I love to make birthday cakes for my boys.  Yes, it adds to the stress.  Yes, it would be so much easier to buy one.  Yes, it takes time.  And, yes, the bakery cakes taste better.  And, yes, they look a lot better, too.  

But, my cakes have a special ingredient that no bakery on the planet has, and that is....

My cakes have Mommy's love baked right into the batter, and my boys know it! They like to hang out in the kitchen while I'm baking their cakes ~ monitoring my progress!!! They can't wait for their birthday cake to be done....

And, They love to lick the icing!

They may not have memories of having the fanciest, best looking, birthday cakes, but I hope they will remember that Mommy loved making cakes just for them!!!

Lije crashed  an hour or so before his party.  We had to wake him up when his guest arrived...

Jack playing with his little buddy from next door...

Happy fifth birthday, sweet boy!!

Blowing out candles...

Silly big brother...

Brother love for Jack...


 Happy day to you!

You are loved, little man!!!!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Elijah ~ Superstar!!

I always hate to miss a chance to see my boys sing with their choirs.  So, I was tickled that Erik videoed Elijah's choir performance last night!!  Lije is the 2nd child on the left ~ the one dancing with his hands in his pockets.  And, you will have no trouble picking out his voice!!  Ha!!  I love that kid!  He is comfortable in his skin, that Lije!!  They always tell them to sing out, and my little man sings from his toes every time!!!  I'm glad I finally have it on video!!!  :-)

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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