"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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Good Words

I struggle with expectations and desires. My expectations are either too high and I'm disappointed or I try to squelch them and I'm bitter. Definitely not a place I want to live as a child of God! It mostly rears its head on birthdays, Mother's Day, vacations or other special occasions. I've been mulling this around for a while. How do you get to the place of relying fully on God to fill you up rather then seeking out affirmation from others?

Reading these good words on the Practical Theology for Women blog today really encouraged me. Here are some of my favorite parts cut and pasted below.

I've thought lately how my husband's love is like a fine glass of wine. It's an enjoyable blessing when I am fully sated after a meal of steak. But if I'm starving, wine can't provide the sustenance I need. Mother's Day this year didn't meet my deepest need for affirmation, but I was able to receive from my family what they imperfectly gave me. That is a sweet gift of God's grace. He supernaturally meets me in my deepest longings, and then, and only then, can I fully enjoy the secondary blessings from my family.
That's the essence right there - to be able to receive from our family and friends what they imperfectly give us knowing it won't meet our deepest needs for affirmation, but we know the One who will.   

Psalm 73
1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,  my steps had nearly slipped. 
... 21 When my soul was embittered,  when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;     you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel,  and afterward you will receive me to glory. 
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26  My flesh and my heart may fail,  but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ... 
28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I have some pretty cool dudes over here with their shades. 

Of course if you wear shades, you need a case to hold them. :)
So I whipped up some drawstring pouches that I lined in flannel. 
I used the tutorial I had printed out four years ago and it's no longer 
out there on the web. THIS is something pretty similar to what I used. 
 One for each of the boys and a couple extra for their cousins who'll be with us on our beach trip. 


Now let's see how long it takes to lose or break the glasses or drawstring bag. Just keeping it real. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012


A little improvising to make a basketball lover happy. Thanks for your creativity Grammy!
Don't you love the socks? :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jump for Joy!

We did it! On Wednesday, we successfully completed our school year. Hooray!

 These are some excited boys! I'm so proud of them for all their hard work. 
We completed our required testing and passed with flying colors. 

 Yes! We're ready for summer!
 My rising 3rd grader

 rising 1st grader
and jolly preschooler!

We'll take a week off and then begin our shortened summer schedule. (more on that later) 
Gotta keep those skills sharp and have a little structure to our day. 

The Lord has been so good to provide encouragement and reminders of why this time is precious with these sweet boys. He continues to lead towards homeschooling again in the fall so I'm getting pumped for the Homeschool Convention in June. Fasten your seatbelts... our homeschool adventure continues!

Why I love this time of year...

We have had a lovely spring! Which means bike rides, park visits, picnics, 
lots of outside time and boys who rest well at night. 
Who knew feeding goats could be so much fun?

 When you have 6 boys playing together, climbing on rocks is irresistible...
 and it is SO hard to stay on the trail!
Super times with friends enjoying God's creation!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Co-op Party!!

Last week we attended our last homeschool co-op and had a party! 
The kids enjoyed some group games. 
Luke sporting his new 8 shirt! Thank you Becker's. :)

They had to run the length of the gym elbow to elbow and keep the ring between them. 

There goes Ethan... elbow to elbow!
Head to head
Not a huge surprise that Ethan chose to sit out of the game after one round. 
He's not a huge fan of organized games. He prefers risks involving climbing of some sort. :) 
I didn't catch a picture of him climbing up a tall basketball hoop, swinging his leg over and hanging from the rim. This kid is definitely fearless! Oh my!

Glad these two enjoyed each other and made up their own game with their own rules. 

The boys certainly looked forward to art class at their homeschool co-op each week 
and spending time with new and old friends. A fun way to end the co-op year!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How can I forget?

Do you ever forget how God has been faithful to you in the past? I'm not sure why or how I can forget this, but I do.

The summer after my freshmen year of college I worked as a camp counselor at Camp Willow Run. It was an amazing experience! While there, I had a bad fall water skiing. Turns out I cracked three vertebrae in my lower back (L1, L2 and L3) After various x-rays and orthopedic surgeon visits, I was told that it was likely there was weakness already there and the water skiing fall caused the cracks. I was bedridden for several weeks and in excruciating pain. When I returned to Virginia Tech for my sophomore year, I scheduled less classes so I could keep up with all the physical therapy I would need to do to strengthen my back. It was a trying time. I was cautioned not to exercise because of the potential risks of damaging my back further. Aside from walking to classes, I was pretty sedentary. I gained weight and was not happy about that at all. Occasionally I swam laps (which was considered safe), but was pretty insecure about being in a swim suit.

But GOD WAS FAITHFUL and HE is still faithful today. He brought me through that time and as far as I know, my back is fine. I can't even remember all the details, but I think after not being in pain for a several years I chose to be more active again. I started biking my senior year and then eventually running. I haven't had any other back issues. Praise be to God!

I can't imagine how different life would be if I couldn't be active with my three VERY active boys. Today while running as fast as I could to keep up with three biking boys, I was struck by how much I love this part of boys. What a gift that I am able to run and bike and keep up with my busy guys. My heart was full of joy as we laughed and dripped with sweat together. Praise the Lord for these moments. How can I doubt His faithfulness and provision?

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:24

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more then all we ask or imagine, according to his power that at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Taking time to "Smell the Roses"

In the past month as I've struggled as a homeschool mom and as a parent, the Lord has been gently reminding me to slow down and enjoy the now; to enjoy the precious moments He has given me! Whether it's been a blog post, daily devotional, scripture or a passing comment from a friend, it has been a recurring theme that has been nagging at me. I've been challenged greatly to LOOK for the delightful moments (in the midst of the bumpy times), to lessen the distractions, and to find ways to joyfully engage with my children.

Some "roses" I'm smelling today...
1) I delighted in a bike ride through the neighborhood with the boys. I especially enjoyed Aaron pedaling so fast on his bike with his mouth open and tongue curled in delight. He kept saying, "Awesome!"

2) Digging up earthworms and watching them wriggle in little hands.

3) Eating lunch together on the deck with a cool breeze and bright sunshine.

4) Eating spinach from our garden in my salad for lunch. yummy!

5) Pulling weeds in the yard while the boys pretended to be a lawn care crew. They used plant stakes to pretend to trim and weedwack the yard. All three were kept busy with this for 30+ minutes complete with "buzzing" noises and pretty realistic sound effects. Almost put me to sleep... almost. :)

6) Painting with the boys -- I don't usually enjoy this because of the clean up and the short attention span, but ever since art class they are inspired! I have delighted in their creativity today.

It's time to pull out our thankful journal and pick up where we left off. It's such a good thing for my heart to practice looking for these blessings from God!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Good Morning!

I listened to this song three times this morning on my run. It has pumped me up and  I'm ready 
to start today and the last 7 days of school. Praise the Lord His mercies are new in the morning. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012


On Wednesday, Luke was counting down the hours until he would turn EIGHT. 
All day he celebrated his last day as a seven year old. 

We had a great start to our Thursday with Luke sleeping in until 7am! Shocking for my early riser... he must be maturing. :) I've tried to convince him all 8 year olds sleep in until at least 7am. 
Then some school, homemade waffles, and gifts -- in that order (his idea). 
He was so excited to receive special birthday phone calls from family. 

Luke requested a small and simple party with good friends at a mini-golf park. 
The invites

The cake - The 8th hole!

 The guests (I love that Luke wanted to wear party hats!)
The very happy birthday boy with his cake, ice cream and strawberries!

We enjoyed a wonderful game of mini-golf on a beautiful day! 
Five kids and four adults... we had the course to ourselves. 

The 5 kids played together and did a great job negotiating turns. 

Darin won the adult game and even scored a free game! Wohoo!
Luke asked him to wear the party hat and he was humble enough to wear it the entire game. 

Dear friends for almost 8 years!

Then dinner out at Plaza Azteca with Grammy & Poppy. 
What a joyful day! I love him so much. 
How is it possible he's eight?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I knew this day would come, but I wasn't expecting it so soon. I remember my older brother taking apart anything electronic he could find. I've heard stories about my husband taking apart the oven as a kid. That's why I wasn't entirely surprised to find the boys taking apart Aaron's bike. There were tools, washers, and bolts scattered on the garage floor. The only difference is that Luke and Ethan couldn't figure out how to put it back together. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Art Show

Luke and Ethan have participated in a home school art class this year. Today was our final class and a celebration of the hard work of all the students. Their teacher, Mrs. Prior, put together a fabulous presentation ceremony.
Mrs. Prior set up a gallery of each students best work in the classroom. 

During the awards presentation, she called up each student individually and presented them with a trophy for an individual strength throughout the year in art class. I was really impressed with Mrs. Prior's passion, awareness and understanding of each student.  
Listening and watching Ethan receive his award was more then my little tear ducts could bear! 
Oh my!
(He was also proudly wearing the ribbon he earned at CBS for reciting his Bible verses. 
He's worn it just about every day since receiving it last Wednesday.) 

Mrs. Prior gave Luke a chance to explain the art work he received an award for. I was so surprised by his public speaking! What a wonderful opportunity for him and for me. This was pretty shocking for my shy guy. Again, I had to bite my lip to keep myself from blubbering. 

As a homeschooling mom, I don't have many opportunities to hear positive feedback on the boys strengths. I'm usually their only evaluator. To sit and listen to this feedback was truly a gift from God. What a wonderful experience! I'm thankful for Mrs. Prior and so proud of ALL the students. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sowing Seeds

In April, we planted a garden. I shared with you how we prepared the soil and carefully planted our seeds. The next step was to water the seeds and let the soil soak up the sunlight, all while we waited and waited to see sprouts. Every day the boys and I ran outside to check on our seeds, hoping to get a glimpse of some green poking through the earth. Hopeful that today was the day we'd get a glimpse. It was hard to be patient and we were curious what was happening beneath the soil.

Within a couple weeks, many of the seedlings had sprouted. Oh boy, were we excited! Each day we continued to take care of them, checking for weeds and adequate water. It was a slow process watching our little bright green sprouts. Now we wait for them to mature and produce a harvest. More waiting!

I was blessed on Saturday to attend our church's women's retreat at a local botanical garden. The theme was "Sowing Seeds" and it was so timely for me to learn about how the kingdom of God is like a seed. Just like the seeds we planted in the ground, the kingdom of God is mysterious and living, planted within us and produces abundantly by dying.

Here are some thoughts shared that encouraged me.

  • "A seed takes time to grow. Much of the growth is unseen for a long time, yet there is still something happening below the surface." In our lives, the Holy Spirit is planted in our hearts and there is growth taking place even though we may not see it. 
  • "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
  • "... humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:21 
  • As God is at work in us, it takes humility to wait for Him to do His work. We must repent as we try to control that growth and believe with hope that He is at work. 
  • "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24
  • "Our part is not to run away from the pains but to walk through the briars and thorns and let Christ teach us how to turn each scratch into positive learning about the depths of God's love." Jack Miller
  • "Dying opens our eyes to the newness of life."
  • We can see God at work as we die to our self. 
The analogy of a seed needing to die in order to produce many seeds really struck me. Recently, my mom received a vase of beautiful sunflowers. Inevitably, these sunflowers had to die since they had been cut from their roots and would only last a short time in water. She saved one of the sunflowers and dried it out. From that one dried out sunflower came many seeds to produce more beautiful sunflowers. In the same way, as we die to our self we can rejoice that He is doing a good work in us and producing abundantly!

One of the speakers shared that as believer in Jesus (and in particular as a mom), we experience dying in three different ways. We need to die to our self due to increased time demands. We need to die to our expectations (as we experience broken dreams and broken relationships - either in our kids or in ourselves). Lastly, we need to die to our self as we wait for change (either in ourselves or in others). The result to all the dying is new life!!! "Just like Jesus' hour of dying is the hour of glory, His death brings US new life!"

As I muddle through the end of our school year, struggling with my reactions to unmet expectations I can be confident of this...it is GOD who makes all things new. He is at work, growing me and my children. He is changing me, even though I'm impatient and often can't see evidence of His work. The roots are below the surface, but they are there. I need to repent and believe. "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15

"Jesus is a lover of our souls and He doesn't stop pursuing us!" Amen!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


It's that time of year to scramble and come up with end of year gifts for teachers. No... not teacher gifts for me :) but we have seven Community Bible Study teachers to thank and celebrate. They have loved on the boys all year long and I'm thankful for the encouragement they have provided. I'm so sad that it is over for the year!

I happen to have many creative friends and found this awesome idea HERE. (Thanks Ali!) I changed it a bit to suit our budget, but the idea is certainly not mine. We chose basil and a basil recipe on the back. I used a glue gun to attach the ribbon and silk flower on the clay pot.  The boys were SO pleased to hand deliver their pots to their teachers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another Road Trip

We hit the road early Saturday morning for our last trip to my childhood home in New Jersey. Luke and Ethan came with me and Aaron stayed behind with Darin for a little divide and conquer. 
 I had some happy passengers. Luke followed our route 
most of the way with our car atlas. This was a pleasant surprise. 
This cute boy was SO excited and chattered non-stop for the first hour or more. 
He was left behind the last time and was so glad to be along for the ride. 

My parents have officially moved to Virginia, but negotiations are still in the works on their New Jersey home. It's been a blessing to have this extra time to gather their belongings of 40+ years. 
My mom found a box full of old trophies that belonged to my brothers and the boys were delighted. 

They spent a lot of time in their "fort" in the forsythia bush with the trophies. 

On Monday morning, I scurried through the house taking photos and saying goodbye to the home 
I lived in from birth until college. It was built in 1820 and has lots of character. 
My parents have done a LOT to update it over the years. 
Had to get a photo of my childhood bedroom, although it used to be pepto bismol pink when I was a kid! (Maybe that's why I don't like pink?) It didn't have the closet or built in bookcases when I was growing up. My parents added that within the last couple years. 

While the bedrooms are pretty small, the downstairs has some really cool 
features that I was able to really appreciate with the rooms empty. 
 The dining room.  I love that floor! There is actually a fireplace not shown in this picture. 
 living room - My parents added this room and the basement below it in the 80's. 
The family room. (My grandpa built the bookcases, right Jeffrey?)

It was a crazy busy weekend of packing and cleaning, but I'm glad I got to visit one last time! 
(And boy was I glad to sleep in my bed Monday night after sleeping on an 
air mattress on the floor for two nights!)