"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 1:7-8

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Road Trip

Last Thursday evening, Luke and I packed our bags and went on an adventure! It was hard to say goodbye to the other guys in our life (Ethan, Aaron and Darin), but after lots of hugs we were on our way. With my parents move coming soon, they needed some reinforcements to help in their packing. We made an overnight stop on Thursday in Maryland at my older brothers house and then arrived in New Jersey at lunchtime on Friday. My brother arrived Friday afternoon to help for the weekend too. 

We definitely accomplished our goal in getting a good chunk of the packing completed. My mom had already done a lot, but after living in a house for 40+ years it is inevitable that packing is going to be complicated and time consuming. I think/hope we provided good encouragement too! Luke was a great packing buddy, but he also managed to squeeze in some fun. Here he is trying out a BMX bike that is larger then his current bike. It was his first time using hand brakes and he loved it! We had flurries off and on all day Saturday which was super fun to ride in. 

Another part of our goal was to bring back a load of fragile/personal items that they didn't want the movers to handle. The van very quickly got filled and I'm especially enjoying sneaking a peak at all the childhood family photos we brought back!

only partially full... still lots more room
We had a great system with Luke. He probably moved between 30 and 40 boxes to the garage with a dolly. He loved doing this and organizing the boxes once he put them in the garage. 

And he still had time for more fun... he found this baby toy in the garage and kept himself busy!

Meanwhile on the home front, Darin had a great time playing with the other boys. The first night though, Ethan cried himself to sleep because he missed Mommy and Luke. He actually called me on my cell phone when he woke up Friday morning while Darin and Aaron were still sleeping. They soon got used to us not being there, but it was nice to know we were missed. Big thanks to Darin for manning the fort, stepping in as substitute teacher, and providing tons of exciting entertainment for the boys. 

On Sunday, my sister-in-law and nephews came back to pick up my brother. 
Here are my cute nephews that wanted to get packed!

On Sunday evening, my mom, dad and I took a break and went out for dinner in town. 
So proud of my sophisticated guy! 

After four nights away, it was time to get back home. As we approached our house, Luke said, "Do you think they'll remember what I look like?" :) He was so excited to see his brothers and they quickly came out to greet him before he even got out of his seat. They were jumping up and down and banging on the window anxious to hug Luke. This was definitely the longest they have been away from each other. A very special reunion. I got some of the best hugs ever!

We had a really good and productive trip. It was great for the boys to have time apart, but I missed being together as a family of five. Now on to the laundry, grocery shopping and school planning!! And don't forget blogging! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Search me, O God... gulp!

At our lenten service last night we were encouraged to start our day reading Psalm 139:23-24.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting."

Then it was suggested that we spend time reading scripture and listening to the Lord, praying that He would bring us to a place of repentance for our sin.  And of course, then an acceptance of the great forgiveness that is ours in Christ. A great exercise in turning from our sin and turning toward our Savior.

I was eager to get started this morning. (I like having a plan!) After reading and praying through Psalm 139, the boys and I had breakfast. We usually discuss and read the Bible component of Luke's home school curriculum during breakfast. We were directed to Ephesians 4:25-5:2. Gulp!!!

Here is what the Lord is convicting me of:
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 4:31-5:2

One thing I am learning about repentance this year is how much it is a revolving door. The Lord will lead me to repent from a particular sin and I will eagerly do so and then in 20 minutes, I may do the same thing again. ugh! This can usually make me feel really defeated. However, at this moment, it's helping me to realize the magnitude of God's love for me. He loves me even though He knows I will keep sinning. Hmmm... how much more should I offer forgiveness to those who sin against me instead of getting frustrated with them when they keep making the same mistake? "Be imitator's of God."

So thankful for these truths and the pressing of the Holy Spirit. Lord help me to turn from my sin and turn to You! Thank You that You forgive all the muck in my life and love me in spite of that! Hallelujah! What a Savior. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Toddler Ideas

Let's face it... having a toddler in the house while schooling older children is definitely a challenge. This year has definitely been the trickiest in that regard. However, the past month or so Aaron has really gotten into the groove. He clearly understands what is expected of him and keeps me on my toes changing out his workboxes. And praise be to God... he actually cooperates most days and does the activities I've prepared for him!! Amen!

With that in mind, here is a quick glimpse at what he's been up to. I've tried to include where I've gotten most of my ideas. I've said it before, but I love to borrow ideas I see out there on the web. Hope this is helpful for anyone else out there with a toddler in the house.

1) large clip art image of a horse found free online, printed on cardstock and laminated,
add hole punches around the perimeter and a shoe lace 
2) Tracing the letter Hh - found here, letter of the week curriculum

3) Letter Hh pin punch. Can't remember where I got this idea, but it's not my own. 
I just printed the letters and gave him a toothpick. He poked out all along the letter 
and we hung it in the window to see the light shine through the holes.
4) Using do-a-dot marker to dot the "h" on the hammer - taken from here, Tot School Printables.

5) matching the snowflakes - got these here
6) transferring glass beads (bought at dollar store) into ice cube tray with tongs
7) Crayola Dry Erase Activity Center - really cool because I can slip sheets 
into the slot and he can trace and erase!
8) foam shapes - I called out a shape and color and ask him to step on it.

9) I found this gem at a yard sale. It is a file folder that has been laminated with envelopes and cards. Aaron uses it for matching the pictures. There is also a second set of cards to be used for reading that does not have pictures. I bought 10 file folder sets for only $1 from a former teacher. 
10) Got this from here - letter of the week curriculum. It can be used with magnets on 
a cookie sheet, but Aaron was really enjoying the glass beads and they worked well. 
(Definitely a choking hazard so keep a watchful eye.)

11) eeBoo Preschool Lotto Game - intended to be used with others, 
but he enjoyed just matching the cards to the boards. 

*** Edited 2/23... I think it's pretty funny that the day after I posted this Aaron refused to work on his boxes and cooperate. A good dose of humility for me and the reality that Aaron is still a typical three year old. I'm not discouraged, but needed to share this to encourage other moms of toddlers that I think it's normal to have a bad day every now and then. Things are NOT picture perfect over here... as much as my pictures may fool you. :) ***

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It has been quite humbling over the past couple months to realize how often God directs me to scripture that is amazingly applicable to whatever situation I am facing. I don't think it is an accident or a coincidence. I firmly believe this is a gift from God. A reassurance that He cares for me and loves me. Almost like a hug sent down from heaven. Amazing that the God of the universe even cares for me!

Two and a half years ago, even though I believed in Jesus as my Savior, I was completely missing out on this gift because I wasn't in His word daily. I have to say that life is so much sweeter because of this communication. Not necessarily easier, but so much richer because He has given me ears to hear Him. He allowed circumstances that cracked my hardened heart and led me back to Him. Hard circumstances that made me remember how much I need Him.

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." (James 4:8) It's really true. As I draw near to Him, He is showing himself to me. I see it often in the many blessings He bestows on me. I'm quite certain that He was blessing me before, but now I have eyes to see the blessings and I know that it is Him who deserves the glory. Life is not easy, but it is easier because I know He wants to carry my burdens for me.

My favorite birthday gift this year from Darin is a devotional entitled "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. It's different from any devotion I have read before. I don't think I can describe it well... so take a peek. Today's devotion and accompanying scripture were once again just what I needed to hear. I am struggling to trust and I so much desire His peace. Oh how it blessed my heart!

     "Trust and thankfulness will get you safely through this day. Trust protects you from      worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining: those 'sister sins' that so easily entangle you. 
     Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily. The more you choose to trust Me, the easier it becomes. Thought patterns of trust become etched into your brain. Relegate troubles to the periphery of your mind, so that I can be central in your thoughts. Thus you focus on Me, entrusting your concerns into My care."

"So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7 

"But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord, in You I take refuge - 
do not give me over to death." Psalm 141:8

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snowy Day

We had a full day of school scheduled for today, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy our first real snow. So we squeezed in some school before 8am and after 12pm and spent the rest of our day enjoying the wet snow before it melted away.

 SO glad this guy loved sledding. Last year, he refused to get out of the car at the sledding hill.
 Going down the hill with your brother is even better when...
 ... you crash and flip out of the sled!
 Aaron couldn't survive a day outside without some basketball time. 
 Don't you love his snow gear coordination? His first set of pants were too wet from the morning.
Our construction snowman.
The slide is SUPER fast in wet snowpants!

Working SOO hard to move the huge snowballs for the snow fort. 
You can see how muddy things became by the afternoon melt.  
The beginnings of the snowfort.

Silly boys in the snow fort!

Friday, February 17, 2012


It's been in the works for a couple months to switch around the boys rooms. Luke and Ethan have shared a room for the past four years. Aaron has always had his own room and over the last year he has been sadly aware that he is the only one in our house who isn't sharing a room. It's not uncommon to wake in the night and find him squeezed in between Darin and me, or laying at the end of our bed or on our floor in his sleeping bag. A couple times, I found him on Luke and Ethan's floor in a sleeping bag. He just doesn't want to be alone. Sweet little guy!

We finally decided that after Christmas we'd paint/decorate the rooms and make the room changes. Ethan and Aaron would be roomed up together and Luke would have his own room. Although we've talked about getting started on our project, we haven't made any progress. The boys decided last Tuesday they were tired of waiting and anticipating and asked if Tuesday could be the day for the switcharoo. I was agreeable so we washed sheets and quilts and swapped the boys. 

Here is Aaron his first night on the bottom bunk with Ethan. 

Ethan was overly excited to be on the top bunk... as you can see by his excited expression!
The first night Luke has slept alone in a room since he was three! 

Finally on Thursday afternoon, we had time to tackle rearranging all the clothes, books and toys and in the process purge many of the baby items we still had around. It was a much huger job then I expected. Luke was an awesome helper working non-stop with me from 12:30pm until 5! phew! 
He is a kid who loves to organize. Hmmm... wonder who he gets that from?

Here is a before picture of what was Aaron's room. It was a mess. We had piles of clothes, books, toys that needed to be moved around and sorted. We needed to make this room look more like a 7.5 year old room without a glider. Luke helped me take everything out of the closets and reorganize. 
It was awesome having him help me!

Here is the after picture of Luke's closet. 
A few younger toys on the top shelf, but mostly cleaned out. 
Here is an after picture of Luke's room. We're going to keep the awesome mural that was here when we moved in. Hopefully soon, we're planning to repaint the green walls a similar shade to cover some holes from the previous owners.  I need to start thinking of some appropriate wall art. 
Luke was very quick to set up his legos and is loving having his own room!

I never snapped a before photo of this room, but I love it being organized. I know it's not going to stay so neat and tidy and I'm trying to prepare myself for that. We have great plans for the walls in here and the colors selected. I'm also pretty excited to play around with canvas and paint to make a few wall hangings. We've already had to remove the glider from the room since it was being used for some crazy stunts. And yes, that is a very large horse on the top bunk. That is one of Ethan's best friends... Blaze. :) 

Hopefully I'll be able to share some after photos once we Darin gets painting. My husband is the project man and he is VERY thorough and meticulous. He'll paint ceilings, trim, room door, closet doors, and walls. I've tried to help before, but he prefers to work alone with his iPod tunes. 
Can't wait for him to get started!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


“Foster care will break your heart.” Jim Carey, Department of Social Services.

On Wednesday evening, I joined the other folks in our Missional Community Group (MCG) to hear from Mr. Carey about foster care in our area. As I sat there listening to real stories, my heart felt broken. I had moments of sadness and joy.

To be honest, life is full. Most/all of my brain power goes to being a wife and mom. I struggle often and know that it is God who gives me strength and energy to make it through some crazy days with my three young boys.  Over the past couple years, I’ve been so thankful to renew a closer friendship with my Savior. I enjoy talking with Him, but the focus of my prayer life is often my family, my circumstances and praying for my friends. Did you hear all those “my’s”? yikes!

So what does this have to do with foster care? I have been so stretched to think outside of my personal zone this year as I participate in our MCG. It’s not all about me?!?! As I absorbed all the information on Wednesday night I had a variety of emotions. I felt so sad for all these children, who by no fault of their own, are forced to deal with terrible situations. TERRIBLE! It made me mad, angry, and confused. Then, I felt hope and joy as I heard success stories of children who flourished in the love and care from their foster families. 

I also heard loud and clear that fostering children is not an easy path. It sounds lame, but I don’t feel God has equipped us to be a foster family. But, how can one walk away from this information and awareness and slip back into regular life and ignore it? Ignore that there are children out there who are hurting? Ignore that there are children out there who are not even having basic needs met? How many times do we hear a great message and sit there nodding our heads, taking notes, agreeing excitedly and then walk away and resume life just like it used to be before?

For now, the only thing I know to do is to pray. To pray with a new understanding of the hurt and brokenness. To pray with a slightly deeper understanding of how privileged my own kids are to be fed, clothed, protected and loved.  To pray that I won’t forget and slip into my own self-centered world. Dear Jesus, give me eyes to see.

Will you join me in praying?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We studied penguins last week in Ethan's kindergarten curriculum and read MANY library books. Aaron seems to be absorbing everything, but getting a little mixed up.

While Luke and Ethan take a homeschool art class, Aaron attends a preschool class with me and one other preschool girl. He announced this yesterday:

" I'm an oval. I was born in an egg. And Daddy kept me warm on his feet until I was born. "

Hmmm.... looks like we need to do a little clarifying. Aaron is not an emperor penguin! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Our traditional end to a very low key valentine's day... homemade whole wheat heart shaped pizza!
"We love because He first loved us."  1 John 4:19

All Dressed Up

What a treat to have two date nights in one week! And we even had the opportunity to get dressed up... a rare occasion. I love my children, but it was SO good to have time with my husband without them. I'm very thankful for this handsome guy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thunder Snow

We've enjoyed a pretty mild winter this year. When we heard thunder on Saturday and looked out to see  heavy sleet which turned to snow, the boys were both surprised and thrilled!!! Within 10 minutes they had changed out of lazy Saturday jammies and were sporting their snow pants, boots, jackets, hats and gloves. They were excited!
Trying to make a snowman!

So glad he was happy to be outside in the snow. That's a first for him!

So desperate for snow he was scraping the deck to make snowballs. 

It only lasted for about 40 minutes and then quickly melted, but it was an absolute treat!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Day To Remember...

... or at least most of it! We had a great day celebrating my birthday yesterday that was full of many rich and wonderful blessings and lots of love. However, to give you a true glimpse I must add that before we had even eaten breakfast two of my sons were on the floor attempting to pummel each other. I can make excuses about them being excited (which they were!) ... but let's face it. They're kids. They're sinful and they are selfish. So even a great day seems to include many frustrating teachable moments. Just trying to paint an accurate picture. :)

On to the celebrating!!!

When I returned from my morning run I walked in to this in the kitchen. 
I never dreamed of having my "name" in lights. WOW!

 Beautiful flowers and a sweet stack of gifts/cards and homemade necklace. 

Darin was very busy and as you can see, very precise. He hand wrote all the letters in 
rainbow colors and then attached the lights. If you ever need a detail guy, 
he is your man. The boys were thrilled with the banner and flowers. 

The tradition is that Darin takes the boys out the weekend before my birthday and they have a planning session over lunch. Then they go to a card store and he allows them to select a card for me. Luke is old enough to look through the cards and find one that says what he wants. For the other boys, he usually gives them some to choose from. This is the card Luke independently selected for me. 

Talk about tear jerker!!! I will treasure this card and the 
other sweet cards the boys selected and handmade. 

After breakfast, we all got ready for Community Bible Study. Ethan decided that he wanted to dress "fancy" because it was my birthday, so he picked out a collared shirt and sweater vest. 
So sweet! I proudly wore the necklace Luke made for me all day. 

I'm so glad my birthday was on a Wednesday. Worship during the opening at CBS was awesome. 
After CBS we enjoyed lunch at home with Darin and then were super indulged with a 
special birthday dessert homemade by Darin! How could you go wrong with a 
frozen peanut butter pie? Peanut butter and chocolate! Yum!
 That afternoon, we went bowling.  We had a few issues... like I'm surprised they still have fingers after repeatedly putting their fingers in the ball return area, but you can see their joy in the photos.
 Cheering on one of Daddy's many strikes!!
This was a very interesting study in personality types. Without much effort, Ethan was a great bowler. Although, he didn't really care so much what his score was or even if someone else bowled his turn. Pretty indifferent and definitely non-competitive. 
More intrigued by looking for something/anything to climb. 

Aaron couldn't wait for his turn every time and was very excited and eager. He LOVES balls, so he spent a good bit of time rearranging the balls in the ball return area and smooshing his fingers. 

Luke was a joy to watch. Probably the least gifted bowler, but he tried so hard and really attacked it with great spirit. If he even knocked down one pin he cheered and ran to try again. Always checking the score and keeping tabs of who was winning or losing. I'm pretty sure he gets his competitiveness from me. I had to really keep myself in check and humble because I didn't bowl well and I found myself getting sour at moments. Watching Luke brought me lots of happiness. 

And, if you can believe it... the day was not over yet. A dear friend fed the boys supper and put them to bed so we could go out for supper alone. And on top of all that, these beautiful flowers showed up on our doorstep just before we were leaving. A surprise treat from a very special high school friend. 

So, aside from our many teachable moments throughout the day, I am thankful for the love I was showered with... phone calls from friends, special homemade and thoughtful gifts, facebook messages, and on and on. Definitely a day to remember!