An Autumn Celebration!

Strewn toys, sweet drawings on my refrigerator, empty treat trays, decorations (that aren’t placed just so anymore), and frosting bowls with finger trails in them. Signs of a day well spent.

DSC_0052

 

DSC_0051

 

DSC_0056

 

DSC_0053

 

DSC_0058

 

DSC_0059

 

Micaiah wanted to celebrate this beautiful harvest season. “A fall party!!” he kept saying.

He planned games, made decorations and wrote his own invitations complete with a handprint turkey.

He was kind enough to let Adriel choose and make treat recipes (with help from Grandma of course).

We practiced welcoming guests, taking coats and offering beverages.

I am one proud mama. I set out one decoration and helped a few mothers understand what the mysterious turkey card meant that their child brought home. Grandmas helped with the cookies. Other than that, this was a kid-thrown fling. How cool is that?!

It was a time of enjoying friends and showing love.

Blessed, I feel. (How Yoda was that? Sorry)

The Why: Time Edition

The it the second post since in which I’ve started writing out why we do things the way we do. People who know us are probably thinking, “You mean, the hard way?” …maaaaybeee…

Anyways, I’m mostly recording this for my own sake. It helps me to remember why Nic and I have structured our lives the way we have, and you dear friends (I accidentally originally typed fiends, which made me giggle) just happen to subscribe to the journal of alphabet soup that explodes out of my brain now and then.

Corn Sprout 1

So first I talked about food, which was super easy. Even if people have an opinion, I think it would be difficult to find a good reason for expecting me to do something differently. It was low risk. I likey.

Buuuut, now on how we use our time. A wee bit more touchy when you live sub-level to a multi-lense cellular magnification device.

What does our life even look like? First the how:

Daily, our life looks a wee bit different from many families. First, Nic works when and where it suits him. This means, while he has a lot of work to do, he gets to remain involved in a lot of our daily lives. Most days he and I are up earlier than the kids (more on that later) so we can spend time with Jesus, spend time with each other and then discuss our day.

Sometime Nic eats breakfast with us (yay for us!). Either way, we usually get some things done around here and then he gets to “work”. He heads to the church office, the “office” (aka his standing desk in the garage) or sometimes a coffee shop depending on what needs done.

DSC_0594

While he works for a few hours, the kids and I get our day started. This usually looks like breakfast, clothes and the like, and then slave labor chores. While I finish  absolutely necessary household duties (such as the rolling hills of dirty dishes or the vast mountain of laundry) the kids are supposed to be playing.

Our kids don’t usually get out of bed until 8 or 9 or maybe later for Micaiah. So between the aforementioned tasks and whatever life throws at us, that usually brings us to much time.

The afternoon brings naps (praise Jesus) and “structured” (kind of, I mean structured for me) school with Micaiah. This usually looks like some reading and discussion before I get him started on whatever activities he might be doing on his own.

We eat dinner early, around 5.

Then, we get ready for our evening which may involve guests for dinner, Bible study or outreach night with some teenagers or other miscellaneous activities. Our “free” evenings are few and far-between.

In the late evening we do more chores, a little cleaning up, get ready for bed and the next day. Besides normal bedtime stuff (like teeth brushing) we read a Bible story and pray with our children. Lately Nic has been doing this with the older kids while I finish straightening some things and then put Eloise to bed.

My day goes much better Everyone’s day goes better if I can just wake up to a cleanish floor and orderly throw pillows and blankets on the couch. A clean counter is nice, but I mostly just do it to keep the pests away. I can get from my room to my spot on the couch without seeing the kitchen, so if it weren’t for the gross factor of having a dirty kitchen I wouldn’t worry about until breakfast time. Weird? Maybe. But orderly pillows make for a sane mother in this house.

Mop, girl, mop!

Mop, girl, mop!

Also, if there is more “stuff” on the floor then I feel like I can pick up before Eloise needs to be in bed, I sweep it into a pile and pretend I don’t see it in the morning. Then, I assign that chore ASAP to one of my beautiful children. I don’t even know how the stuff gets there, it’s insane what accumulates in one day. Someday I’ll take a picture for you, then you’ll know were really friends.

Now to the why:

Much of the way we disciple others happens in the evenings: Bible studies, meals, sports etc. So we’ve always put our kids to bed later than the average family. The result has been kind of cool. Our children all get the amount of sleep they need. They just start and end later than many other families. The flexibility of homeschooling means that we can continue this as long as it works for us, not worrying about kids who need to be up to catch a bus or drive to school.

I love that the Hebrew day traditionally began in the evening. The way I spend the end of my day, drastically effects the next one. So I to do my best to prepare for a good day.

I didn't even know a "felfie" was a thing. But here we are taking a farm animal selfie.

Because we like to “do things the hard way”. We do a lot of working at home. I prefer things handmade, done ourselves and of course, beautiful. I’ve encountered some questioning on this one. When we moved here, I explained to the nice people on the board and search committee and then the congregation that we want people in our home. We do ministry at home. This was different from both our communities tendencies and the previous youth pastor & family. (Please read as different, not better. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s…ok I’ve digressed :) So, I think they didn’t believe me.

Three years later, (yes three, gotta love slow moving change where the roads are dirt) it’s finally actually working like that. For a while, even I was wondering why I didn’t go to this or that. But remaining homeward oriented has paid off. Young mothers, unbelieving neighbors, employees from the business across the street, people who know people on the aforementioned list, and completely random people who know this is a parsonage are all among the many visitors we get in any given week.

A walk.

A talk.

A cup of coffee or tea.

It starts differently, but inevitably some need whether emotional, physical or spiritual, mine or theirs is always met.

It’s beautiful.

And it’s just one of the many dreams that have come true for me lately. See, fairy tales do happen: in the way of good and perfect gifts from God.

Again, working at home allows us to be available to people and gives us a unique opportunity to show people we care by setting our work down or involving them in it.

As a socially awkward (awkward is such a fittingly awkward looking word!) introvert, it would be a bad idea for me to be leading on up front situations. And as a creative person it doesn’t work out well if I take on administrative roles. By that I mean that I’m fine through the whole process and everyone else is panicking.

DSC_0419

We’re all gifted differently. Women are different from men and different from each other. We continue to try to evaluate things (read: I occasionally overanalyze things) to ensure that we’re honoring the Lord, our brothers and sisters in Christ and our community with our time. It’s a lot to balance.

Let’s just say I’m super-dee-duper thankful for grace.

Counting My Frustrations

When times are difficult you’re supposed to count your blessing right? Well, I’ve been doing that for a while and it finally dawned on me: I need to count my frustrations! Stick with me…it turns out ok.

photo 4

It all started when I was thinking… i mean talking my baby…okay I was talking to myself. It happens, ok?

Anyways, I was having a wonderful little chat with myself when I realized how ridiculous it all sounded. And not because I was talking to myself either, just because of what I was muttering on about. So here goes. In the last few weeks these are the things that have made me whine, stomp, growl at the world and call my mommy:

  • I think it started when rodents (otherwise known as adorable little bunnies…die, bunnies, die!) ate the entirety of my spinach and lettuce crop. Fantastic.
  • Rodents invaded my house. Mouse infestation, which only says one thing to me: gross. I armed myself with a boatload of traps and two (maybe three? eh details, details) kinds of poison.
  • The poison worked (happy dance) at which point the aforementioned mice went off and died in some corner of my attic where apparently, flies and maggots did their thing. (I certainly didn’t go check.) Fly infestation. I woke up to a stupid (yes stupid, it’s a fantastic adjective, I know) number of flies in my house. Great! (Make a whiny phone call to my mama.)
  • The bees came back. You see, I live across from commercial beekeepers. When the bees come back they immediately start foraging. It’s like a carpet of bees in my yard. Usually that means no playing in the yard for like week. Oh yah! I forgot to mention that I’m afraid of bees. Don’t judge me, I know they just want their pollen. So I work alongside them, just as long as I’m clothed from my neck to my toes. So our “week” turned into like 6. Apparently they’re scaling up business over there and they keep bringing
  • more bees to their little home base across the street. But I like honey, so I work around the bees’ schedule: early mornings, late evenings and let people think I’m avoiding the heat of the day.
  • We got busy. (This the point where you start to say, “really? everyone is busy.”) But yes, we got so busy that I basically did chores at home and nothing else. Did I say chores? I mean I washed a few clothes because we we’re completely out of clean laundry and tried to keep dishes out of the sink. At the risk of sounding like a crazy yogi, my whole rhythm got thrown off and I called my mama again. “Nothing feels right. Everything is off, we’re so busy!”
  • Mold. Yes, mold. In the house that I live in and breathe air in. Not only did I have a rainbow of mold in the wall right behind my couch, everyone thought I was crazy for being disgusted by it. “Mold spores are everywhere,” they say. Yes, but mold colonies are not supposed to be behind my couch! On top of that we had to uninstall the newly installed air conditioning unit that caused the mold which would have it’s own bullet on this list except that it got freezing cold out side (I mean like 50-60° but it’s August people).
  • I moved out. In our hurry to just get it out, we removed the mold all wrong. You know, according to the experts over at google. So I decided to give our friendly neighborhood spores a few days of quality time with a box fan. Of course I then procrastinated moving back. It was a little difficult keeping both houses clean and my new dairy cow spoiled and my garden going, so after a week…
  • During my little mini-vaca, I came home to get some clean clothes and food only to find, oh just another mouse in one of our “just in case” traps. I also found it somewhere particularly yucky to me, but whatever.

Chlo-chlo

  • Also while we were living in two houses at once, I found my bred cow (how shall we say this) spotting. (Sorry non-animal people, I guess this is farm life!) Why is my pregnant cow bleeding from her lady parts? Well, because most likely she’s not pregnant anymore. Maybe just maybe my praying for a bovine miracle will land us milking Chloe right on time this January, but most likely it was wither signs of a spontaneous abortion or a heat cycle. Thankfully, I’m working with some cool ladies who appear to love Jesus and have good integrity. If she is open (farm/ranch people language for no meat and no milk up in that heifa!) we won’t be out our lots of dollars.
  • Some other stuff that involve other people so I can’t write them on the internet, but believe me: very, very frustrating. 

Okay, you say.

You’ve heard enough.

So as I whined out loud (to myself and also my very wonderful, patient parents & husband) I sounded ridiculous. A little bit of wildlife? Some completely normal farm problems? What am I whining about?! I felt the same way and just kept asking myself, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just get over my sinful heart and be happy, let it all roll off?”

Thank Jesus for good “older women” in my life! “Maybe God’s not trying to teach you a lesson,” they say. “What if you’re just supposed to keep on, keepin’ on? Just wait on God’s perfect timing.” Apparently I can even be narcissistic in my problem-solving. It must be me and my sin problem. Never mind Satan out there trying to steal, kill and destroy!

Okay, I’m better. I got myself some therapy (aka rearranged my living room, I’ll take some pictures for you…you’re welcome).

So I’ll just enjoy the birds and the bees (wait what?), the “wildlife” and all of the wonderful people that stop by “the parsonage” while I wait on God’s perfect timing for the perfect chunk of dirt to grow my green beans and keep my milk cow.

And that’s the rest of the story.

Some Moments

I’m a dreamer. I’ve made so many plans in my life! From music to medicine and far away places, I can romanticize anything. But in reality, my heart swells when I look around at the way I get use the gifts God has given me (and some things that I’m just plain terrible at) to serve my family and my community.

I find so much more joy in brewing a mean cup of coffee or a pot of tea for a neighbor than if I were working as a barista in the best coffee house in town.
…singing praises as my children all asleep…on any stage big or small.
…teaching my children all day every day…paid to teach other groups with vague hope that God’s Word would penetrate their hearts.
…making handmade things for my family and home…making an income with my craftiness.
…raising plants and animals to feed my family fresh ingredients…farming for an income.
…making fun fresh meals that my kids actually enjoy…on the Food Network ;)
…creating a peaceful environment by keeping an organized home…designing the best scandinavian cabins in the world.
IMG_1082

No matter what I could be doing with my time and energy, the opportunity to serve husband and children seems like the most beautiful thing in the world.

There is nothing else I would rather do.

To be honest, sometimes I forget. When a handful of people are all asking for something or there’s a whole roll of toilet paper in the toilet (again!) I forget how truly blessed I am. It’s so easy to forget about the vast realities of God’s faithfulness. Maybe telling all of you will be a good reminder for next time I have to break out the plunger.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.
Proverbs 14:1

 

Our American Idols: 3 Ways You Can Do Your Children A Favor

What is most important to you?

I’m finding more and more that people say, “family.” If it wouldn’t hurt feelings, I would tell you specifically how I’ve seen the effects of this is the lives of people around me. My husband and I are passionate about pouring into the lives of young people in order to see them grow into Godly adults. As I look around at the twenties, teenagers and younger, I see devastating results of their parents lives revolving around them.

Sadly, parents are often unaware of how God designed their unique children because they have an ideal in their mind and they treat their young ones as if their children should be exactly what their parents imagine them to be. I struggle with this myself and battle daily to figure out what makes my children tick and encourage them in those directions. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I fail.

I’ve been pregnant four times in the last 6 years. I have the privilege of raising three of those children and hopefully some more. Each one of them is so unique and by God’s grace they can do beautiful things to further His Kingdom. But that may not happen if I make them the center of my world. We do our children no favors when we live like this. Here are some things I’ve seen and steps I’d love for you to join me in taking to love our children better and to the glory of God.

When people make their children their number one priority, they often fail to discipline properly. I frequently see either a fear of making their children dislike them or a tendency to micromanage their children’s behavior for fear that they might appear to be bad children. Both of these model how to fear man, not God. I tend to struggle with the second, but I’m constantly reminded in my Bible reading that it is vital to help my children understand God as their authority, sin as their illness and grace as their cure. This is the goal of discipline. I must try my best to 1. Discipline consistently according to God’s standard of right and wrong (no more, no less) and do it in grace.

When a child is the most important thing in the world to you, they’ll copy you in one distinct way. If your Creator is not your number one priority, it won’t be theirs either. At least not at first. Your idols can easily become their idols. God is great and gracious. Many in my generation are slowly figuring out how to reprioritize now that we look back and see how things didn’t work out for our parents. I’m sure we’ll look back and see how we could have done better, but I pray regularly for God’s grace to get me through this adventure with children who serve him! Sports, friends, looking just right, family, work…the list of firsts goes on. But one thing I can tell you is that very few of the young people that we spend time with have any sort of understanding of a Christ-centered life. Reading, praying and serving are often simple inconveniences in their “Christian” life. I desire to 2. Model for my children what it looks like to live for Christ.

Finally, when we treat our kids like they’re the center of the universe, they grow up acting like they are. It sounds a little simple and a little crazy at the same time. I’m sure there aren’t many people who consciously think this, but a great many act like it. When parents do everything they can for their children out of “love” they rob their children of experience, work ethic and humility. Have you noticed it too? Every teacher, coach, boss, parent (everyone) should work to make their life “better.” I so badly want to 3. Help my children develop a Biblical, eternal worldview.

As someone who hears what tweens, teenagers and young adults are saying when you, their parents, are not around, please (I’m begging you and joining you) teach your child:

What God’s grace is all about,

God’s Word and

How to serve others.

 

 

Chores/Responsibility Chart Download

Happy chicken eggs

I looked high and low for a chores type chart for my son. He is 3 and totally capable of doing many things by himself, but he and I both need a reminder and incentive to keep us on track. … Continue reading

On strong-willed children and the like

Today I was writing in a journal, a luxury I rarely get. Here are some thoughts I thought I’d share concerning the temperaments of my children. People have been classifying them as of late. You know: good, bad, wild, calm, smart, trouble…those kinds of things. Needless to say, I’m not a fan.

The truth is: yes my children are different. But they were both formed by the same loving Creator with unique personalities.

They are both corrupted by the same sin-nature and they are both in need of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.

What saddens me: Because my son demanded less of me, he received less of me. less nursing, less cuddling, less holding – he was easy. But is that really the way babies should be cared for? Just because he played so well by himself, how wish I would have just held him more.

Maybe God made him to be a more introverted soul in order to appreciate deep, meaningful relationships with others. Maybe he will be exceptional at taking the hand of those in need of fellowship or discipleship . Maybe as he grows in wisdom, what little he’ll say will lead many along on the narrow road.

Yes, my daughter pushes the boundaries. She tests the limits and explores every nook and cranny. What if one day she instead pushes the church around her to test what is truly Biblical? What if she tests the limits of what culture says she can do with the Word for instruction and faith, grace and love as her tools? What if she explores every avenue to seek out lost souls to be taken into he heart and home and thereby into His fold.

I feel that her outgoing nature is no more of a weakness than his introverted nature. She may struggle with obvious sings, while he struggles with secret sins…Of course I would hope none of this for my children and this is why I pray for God to grant me the grace to see how to disciple my children.

In a world where raising young ones is about managing behavior (appearances really), I desire that God would use me to cultivate the inward person of the heart to be something beautiful. That all of my children would walk with Him and glorify him with their lives…no matter the cost.

I have an odd sense of peace about all of this…The thought of my children suffering for Jesus’ sake raises a pain I my chest, but also a peace and joy that the Father would be their first love…

Can any of you relate? Do you understand? I want my children’s personalities to be seen as a gift from God that they can offer back to him, not a stumbling block. They will have enough of those in this life.

Happy New Year!

I don’t make resolutions. Even as a child, I thought they were pretty silly. ‘Why now?’ I used to think. If you’re doing something you shouldn’t, quit as soon as you realize it. If you get lazy and give up, start again! If you think you should be doing something, chances are Jan 1st isn’t the first time you thought of it.

Well, I was a different kid. An old soul they used to call me. It’s ironic considering how much of my life revolves around the very young: children of my own, teaching within the church, oh and that youth pastor I’m married to keeps my house perfectly populated with young people.

Here are some things I’ll be working on this year, but for the record most of them have been in the works for several months:

  • My husband and I have been trying writing in cursive. PenMANship he calls it. Pending him making the first move, I think we’re going to write letters to each other, thereby improving our penmanship AND our relationship!
  • I’ve trying to be diligent about making my own bread, yogurt and kimchi regularly. Maybe the “resolution” spirit running around will even inspire me to add meats and cheeses to the mix. We’ll see :)
  • A thought occurred to me today that it might be helpful for me to record each day. This way, I can remain accountable to myself for what I accomplished each day, keeping me from idleness or simply doing things that are not worth my time. I doubt I could keep up with food to, but maybe recording what I ate would help prevent the accidental gluten exposure that keeps ruining several days at a time.

So there you have it, resolutions from someone who hates resolutions.

What bandwagon(s) are you jumping on? Anti-resolution? I want to hear about that too!

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you had a wonderful day with friends and family, in blood or even better, in Spirit.

20131129-160440.jpgv

My husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for some of our dear ones. With our children we discussed the Puritan pilgrims and their quest to live a Biblical lifestyle in all things. As they gave thanks for God’s provision, so we discussed what we are grateful for. It turns out my son is mostly just thankful that God made animals.

20131129-160602.jpg

Feel free to post links to your table setting pictures or other thanksgiving inspirations , I’d live to hear about your holiday!