Saturday, January 1, 2011

Amazing Zakeaus

Cliche or no, these kids are growing up way too fast!

Happy 5th Birthday to Zakeaus!

Sweet and silent (like his daddy)

Budding engineer

Joyful servant

Such a boy

Awesome hugger, especially at "good morning"

Content couch potato

Secretive prank lover (like his daddy)

Adventurous and Bold
Smart little cookie

Rocking hair

Loving brother

Zakey, I love you so much. You make me proud. I'm overwhelmed with the blessing you are. May you continue to grow with confidence knowing who God created you to be, loving life and bringing joy to everyone you meet.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Day in the Life

"I don't know how you do it..."

I hear that a lot! And I realize that the comment has very little to do with me, and more to do with the person saying it... but when you hear something so often, it really can make you wonder if there is something to it. I "do it" one minute, one day, one week, one crisis, one blessing at a time - just like we all do.

I did think it might be fun, or insightful, to share with you one of my more .... let's say "exciting" days. (and this is just how I do it... don't judge, just observe)

It was Tuesday. I obeyed my alarm (after only one snooze) and was up by 6:30. I came downstairs, turn on the heat and the tea kettle. Let the dog out. Scoop ground coffee into my single serve french press, pour on the boiling water. Check FB on the iTouch for 3-4 minutes while the coffee steeps. Grab my mug and my 'Bible Study Bag' and head to the couch.

I spent some time in Ephesians and in Exodus. Exodus 4:11-12
"Who makes mouths?" the LORD asked him. "Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say."

God knew... I would need to trust him beyond my own strengths for this day. "Lord, it's yours, get me through it!"

Micah woke up, so I brought him downstairs and let him play while I continued to read and pray. Around 7, I heard someone coming down stairs, and a faint "mommmmie...." It was Zak, and he was throwing up, on the stairs. I hoped up to grab him some kind of bucket, having to jump over the baby gate to get it to him on the landing. As I came back down the stairs, I see that Micah has curiously picked up my coffee mug and slowly tipped it, watching the 1/2 cup worth of coffee pour out and on to the carpet changing the color. I can only imagine what his inquisitive mind was thinking as this transpired, but my thoughts were "Oh Jesus... get me through this!"

I grabbed Micah and ran up stairs to give him to Shane, who was about to get up, and was stopped by Noah who took him down stairs. I was then torn between cleaning up two separate messes, getting Shane his breakfast and lunch and out the door for his car pool, and getting some kind of breakfast ready for the kids! It is not my MO to stay cheerful or even calm in these kinds of situations, and yet, I did... just one minute at a time.

I was also faced with a carpet cleaner that was almost out of shampoo. But thanks to the world of FaceBook and a very sweet friend who lives near by, I was gifted a full bottle and a half a bottle, delivered to my door. Answer to prayer.

The carpets have been needing a good cleaning for a while now. Why not! So furniture was moved and I started. Just the dining room for now, that's the worst of it.

There wasn't much hope of getting through a normal day of homeschooling at this point, but my diligent 3rd grader honored me and did as much as he could independently and patiently waited for a break to get my attention for that which he needed my help.

The TV was on a good part of the day. Normally it wouldn't be, but when there is a sick kid on the couch, all bets are off. And apparently, that goes for diet too. Normally, with as many mouths of varying tastes and preferences as we have, I insist on dictating snacks and meals and we work with in a schedule. But not Tuesday. About 10:30, Zak had started to feel better and asked for a cup of cereal. And Maggy and Hannah wanted a cup too. And then they wanted another. And then they were serving themselves while I was busy cleaning the carpets. I'm not really all together sure how much they actually ate. When it came to "lunch time"... there wasn't much point. "You guys let me know if you are hungry, kay?"

The carpets were finally done around 2. Babies went down for a second nap, after being changed. They were a little wet from rolling around on wet carpets. Maggy and Zak got a story and went to bed. I sat in the living room and worked with Noah and Hannah on their school subjects that required my help.

4:30, I finally got to shower. But by this point, there didn't seem much reason to get dressed. So I got out of the shower and put on a fresh pair of pajamas. I made sure to point out to my husband that it was IN FACT a different pair than I was wearing that morning.

I whipped up a batch of baked mac n cheese with broccoli and bbq kilbasa on the side. It was really strange... it was ready to eat by 5:30. WE NEVER eat that early!

Shouldn't I be stressing out? Shouldn't I be falling apart?

I wasn't!

I knew... Jesus came through. The Holy Spirit gave me the strength and provided for me all I needed for this crazy day. Yeah!

I even got a good dose of joyful moments in my day that brought a good smile to my face... this was a couple of them.

Please don't take me too seriously. This was, in fact, a real day in the life. But it wasn't a normal one by any means. I hope you are laughing with me, or even at me....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Never stop being thankful

So... I'm a little bummed that I didn't quite make it all the way to the end of the the "day of thankfulness" on time and daily. But I'm also really glad that I did as many days as I did.

For the record:

Day 2 - I'm thankful for vegetables and Veggie Tales

(Maggy and the twins were SO cute and totally engrossed just in the intro to a Veggie Tale movie... if it makes them happy, I'm happy. And, I've been able to do more canning - this week I canned some tomato sauce. Re-purposed the seeds and skins into crackers with ground sunflowers. Veggie's make me happy - singing or crunching)

Day 1 - I'm thankful

I had something of a hard time finding something unique each day to be thankful for. This does not mean that I'm not thankful every day. But there are some things that I am thankful for every day... and I went through those things in my list first. And then there are some things that I'm thankful for that seem small and insignificant. Yet, I still like to say thank you God for blessing me with.... "Candy Cane Lane tea" or "Maggy's pretty hair" or "that funny laugh of my child" or "a pretty sky" or "a kind word from a stranger" or "call from a special friend"....

My Thankfulness top 10
  1. God's amazing grace in my life
  2. Jesus' loving act of salvation
  3. The Word of God, laid out to help me walk in faith and come more in line to His will for my life.
  4. My Family - my husband and children who bring me great joy
  5. Our life - being a stay at home mom, homeschooling, living where we are
  6. Our extended families - making us who we are, encouraging and supporting us in the day to day
  7. Friends around us
  8. Opportunities to learn, and to be learning along side of my children
  9. Beauty in nature
  10. Comforts and conveniences

A friend of mine set her FB status on Thanksgiving day to say "it's hard to be thankful and grumpy." So true. And so, gratitude is a decision. Would it really hurt anyone for all of us to be just a little more Pollyanna in every day in our life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 3: I'm thankful for the birds who visit my feeder each morning

The temp today didn't get above freezing. That's unusual for Oregon. It's something of spectacle the way everything shuts down for, virtually, no snow! One friend's husband said they were going out with the kids to make "snow insects", because that's what you build with almost no snow.

This has been the view out my kitchen window since May. Shane brought home the impatiens right around Mother's day. I put them in a hanging basket, and they have been ever so kind and gracious with my lack of gardening skills. But after today's freezing temperatures, I don't expect the impatiens to survive. I often see the humming birds visit for a snack. I haven't had a feeder out for them in a couple of years, so it's been a treat to see them enjoying the flowers.

I also have a SUPER cool bird house that Ken, my father in law, built. I didn't have the opportunity to snap a picture today. It is much like the feeder at their house, which, at this time of year can attract hundreds of birds in a day. They go through SO MUCH bird food, but it's a wonderful price to pay for the enjoyment received from the daily visitors.

I hope to have that kind of flock some day, but it's still quite fun. The Scrub Blue Jay always bullies his way in for a snack 2-3 times each morning. We will see sometime several dozen chickadees and finches all at once, vying for space on the suet hanger. And then there are other birds that just fascinate me, and I've yet to identify them. I THINK this might be a woodpecker...?

I haven't been able to pin down exactly what it is about seeing these bird each day that is so enjoyable. Maybe the answer lies in the scriptures....

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Matthew 6:25-27

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 4: I'm thankful for the Native American example of waste not - want not.

I want to be a good steward

Part of our motive in going to Lincoln City this last weekend was for the purpose of a field trip. In American History, we have been learning about the Native Americans - the original residents of our land. When we were discussing the Trail of Tears a few weeks back, I found it difficult to teach without getting choked up. I'm embarrassed to say that the reality of the injustice executed against the natives of our land hadn't ever really settle enough in my mind to make me uncomfortable. It's really just awful. Tribes were decimated or forcibly uprooted purely for financial reasons to benefit a bigger and more powerful white government.

November is Native American Heritage Month. A Google search for events in Oregon sent us to Lincoln City. There was a traveling "trunk" exhibit at several locations. (double click on the photos to see the bigger view, and more of the whole story) We stopped at the exhibit at the rec center first. One wall sized poster to read and 10 authentic hand-made traditional items in a case was all there was. Since it was our destination, we made the most of it and spent time with the kids reading everything. We even asked the Rec Center employees (who really knew NOTHING about the exhibit) if we could take a closer look at the printed descriptions for the items in the case, which revealed 1/2 the item descriptions were printed on the back. We eventually found another piece of the exhibit on display at the Public Library - just one wall.

I was disappointed in the presentation of the exhibit, and felt that it was simply a passivizing effort. By spreading the already small exhibit across 4 locations does not encourage participants. It's as if by having it done, no one could argue that something had been done, but really, it was only done in a way that wouldn't really interrupt anyone's normal way of life. Maybe this is why a 33 year old adult can just now come to the realization that we have not cared enough about the Native American people and heritage that has been all but destroyed at our hand. It isn't convenient for us to think about, let alone make a real effort to compensate.

In my opinion, if we are bigger and stronger, we should be looking for the interest of those who are not as big or as strong.

... but, as I said, we did take in what was provided and used it as a learning tool. In addition to being profoundly struck by the injustice, I was also moved by the example of conservationism, environmentalism and preservation that is fundamental to their culture. There was a beautiful pair of "braintanned moccasins". To make these slippers extra soft, in the process of stretching the hides and tanning them, they would coat the hide with boiled brains of the animal. I know that sounds gross, but it shows how they would/still won't let any part of the animal go to waste. In the different craft items we saw, most of which served utilitarian purposes, they used reeds, grasses, bones, sinews, skins, etc. All things provided to them were given reverence. There is much we can learn from them.

So, in following their example, we are trying to make full use of the resources provided to us. We make broth from our chicken dinner. We have been doing lots of canning this fall, and we are saving the skins from the fruit and pureeing them, spreading on cookie sheets and making "crackers". I am looking for ways to reuse or re-purpose clothing that is too warn to be passed on.

I am on the look out for other ways to be a good steward of our earth. Is there anything you are doing to make the most of what you are given? Do share!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 5: I'm thankful for so many wonderful Grandparents and "Grandparents" for my kids.

We can't ever have too many loving adults speaking into our children's lives.

When Shane and I took a weekend away last summer to attend Fish Fest, Shane's Dad and step-mom, Joyce, offered to take all 6 kids for the weekend. This is no small task, and she handled it so gracefully, and Grandpa Bill survived. I think bonds were tied during that time.

This weekend, we traveled to Lincoln City and were able to stay at the Beach House owned by Shane's Dad and Step Mom. It is a beautiful location. I love just sitting in the third floor living room, warm and cozy inside, watching the clouds rolling in and out, spying a seal or two playing in the surf, and every once in a while - a whale, and wave after wave after wave curling, rising and crashing - crawling into the sand.

When I woke this morning at 6:30, I expected to find a few minutes to myself. What I found instead was Noah, Hannah, Zak and Maggy with Grandma Joyce, watching Sesame Street.

Getting to see Joyce and Bill enjoying our kids this weekend at the beach was really cool.

And it makes me realize how fortunate we are to have so many people, family and friends, who have taken a vested interest in our children. Their joy in our children is a delight to me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 6 - I'm thankful for God's amazing Grace

The Lord has been using this week to really change my heart's perspective of things.

I wrote this in my time with the Lord today:

Its as it I have just graduated to the next level in my faith. But even after being a believer for almost 20 years and "walking" in faith for almost 12 years, I, in reality, have just gone from being an infant to a toddler.

I walk, clumsily, I fall easily, I bump into things, and sometimes need to hold on to the things around me, just to keep standing.

I haven't learned how to eat of the Lord's feast with a fork, but instead, use my fingers to bring tiny bits to my mouth, often getting it all over my face and spilling it on the floor.

I only speak a few words, and really, only my Father knows me well enough to understand what it is I'm trying to say.

Often times, I am going to stink. I can't change myself. I'll have to wait for my Father to change me.

But as a toddler, I still get to climb into his arms for reminders of his loving care for me ALL throughout my day.

I can fully expect that he will not let me go hungry, what I need is provided for me.

Since I tire easily, he will have to remove me, on a regular basis, to a quiet place, even though, I may want to stay and play. At this age, I need lots of rest.

I may not always play well with others. So my Father will intervene, correct me as necessary and lovingly show me the way to treat others with love.

If I am naughty, my Father, who loves me, will not forgo punishment, but shows me the difference between right and wrong. And I know I will leave only after my repentance, His forgiveness and embrace.

Despite my young age, I approach the world assuming I am bigger than I really am. Despite that, the Lord will corral me home, keeping me safe inside the walls of his kingdom.