Marveling today upon my family's dynamics: Took my 14 year old and my 4 year old for check-ups at the doctor today (shout-out to the BEST pediatrician ever!); yep a teen and a tot, 10 years between them, born the same month, 9 calendar days apart. Meanwhile, 4 of my other kids were invited to sit in an empty patient room nearby, where they watched a movie while they waited. . . because we can't all fit in one room as a family anymore. (Baby was with me, in case you're doing the math!)
This after we parked our 15-passenger sized van in a spot that would make it easy for me to back out without being blocked in (may or may not have happened before--lol!), and easy for us to open our doors if someone parked next to us. . . which means I pass rows and rows of empty spaces in the parking garage, because our van won't fit in those tiny, skinny spaces.
Sixteen years ago, as I was putting the final touches on my wedding planning and dreaming of the life I would have with my sweet Husband, I never thought this would be my narrative. Never knew the label "Mom of Many" or "Large Family" even existed.
Never thought we would be blessed so greatly. . .the ebb, the flow, the responsibility, the hard work, the training, the exhaustion, the love, the stages, the hilarious moments, the tears, the patience, the teaching, the sweetness, the tenderness, the lessons, the sanctification, the understanding, the depth of togetherness--of family, of oneness in marriage. . . so grateful to God for it all.
Love. Marriage. Family. Gift from on High.

Marveling (A Random Thought)

by on Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Marveling today upon my family's dynamics: Took my 14 year old and my 4 year old for check-ups at the doctor today (shout-out to th...


I had just come away from using public school for our daughters when we began our journey as homeschoolers. School was from 9 am to 3:30 pm, and then there was another hour or two of homework that had to be done--even in kindergarten. So when I heard all the talk about being finished with all homeschooling instruction by noon, that sounded great! It seemed so logical since clearly I didn't have a class full of 25-30 kids.

However, another homeschooling mom and friend told me to forget it! That getting everything in by noon may happen some days, but on the whole, that probably wasn't realistic. Well, instead of listening to that nugget of wisdom, I tried to fit everything in by noon. . .not accounting for many things that would make this a nearly impossible feat. For starters, it was my first year and I was six months pregnant with my fourth child when school began. That alone should have been a clue to me that noon may have been a high hurdle to clear.

Eventually I had to ask myself what I was trying to prove (and to whom) by trying to squish everything in by noon. Why? To say, "See! I did it! I beat the public schoolers and their schedule. So, look at us; we're already finished!" Really? Are we in a competition? Honestly, public schooling doesn't even compare to the love and attention that is weaved into every line of instruction in the home, so why bother? In the bigger scope of things, what does it matter if you are finished by noon or not?

As time went on, the Lord continued blessing our family by adding more children. I quickly realized that many things won't be completed before noon. I am now a mom to 7, with a wide variety of ages and stages. To try to squish all of our learning into the morning hours would be setting up unrealistic time constraints, which would ultimately stifle my children's growth and learning. By no means am I suggesting dragging things out, nor am I suggesting not to have a routine to set the rhythm of your day. However, I am suggesting giving your children adequate time to complete assignments so that you can accomplish your goals.

The point is that sticking your homeschool in a we-must-be-done-by-noon box is actually an attack on your flexibility--the homeschooler's beloved gift. I have found that some things are more efficiently learned in the afternoon, especially when my little ones are napping. Occasionally, we may complete a project in the evening or even do math on the weekends when my Husband is home. The time is yours to spend in the ways that fit your family.

Remember, doing what is best for your homeschool is what is best for your homeschool.


School​'s Out By Noon?

by on Thursday, April 20, 2017
I had just come away from using public school for our daughters when we began our journey as homeschoolers. School was from 9 am to 3:3...


I had been making stir-fry as one of the meals​ for the coming week. I sat my baby down nearby on the floor so she could play. She had been sick and I knew I was in a crunch for time between me putting her on the floor and when she would begin to cry. I quickly grabbed a few toys: a dog on wheels, some nesting bowls, and a play pepper shaker. I just needed a few moments so I could get the food in proper storage containers and I was hoping that would hold her. For added insurance, I called my oldest daughter in to help me put things away so I could get to the baby sooner. As we worked together, the baby began to fret a little. I quickly glanced over to be sure she was safe and once I okayed that, the first thing I thought was: Go, go, go! Work faster! Your time just got really short!

After a few more seconds, my daughter glanced over and noticed the baby’s little toy dog was just out of her reach. She stopped scooping up rice, knelt down and strung out a few sweet, sisterly words and pushed the toy to the baby. Baby smiled and all was right in the world--well, at least in our kitchen.

It was such a sweet reminder to me to never be too busy serving my family, that I’m too busy for my family.

Running a household is a full-time labor of love that never, ever ends. Someone will always need help, food will always need preparation, something will always require more cleaning... and so it goes. While this precious task requires time, attention to detail, and daily diligence, may we not forget what's most important: the people.

Time is tricky. We often think we have lots of it. We feel it's sprawling out before us and that we can get to this or that later. Truth is, time won't stop, and the little people in your home change and become big people. Time won't stop, but we can. We can stop today, in the moment, in the middle of all our busyness, to really see the people in our homes.

Take time to push the toy.



Push the Toy

by on Tuesday, April 04, 2017
I had been making stir-fry as one of the meals​ for the coming week. I sat my baby down nearby on the floor so she could play. She had...

He has made His wonderful works to be remembered;
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. -Psalm 111:4


Recently, my family and I encountered a mountain that was terribly hard to climb in our own strength. We needed God to carry us through. And, He did just that, He carried us in a number of ways. Some ways were precious miracles directly from His own hands. Other ways were by using people; people who were willing to put aside whatever they may have had going on to extend to us the love of God: meals, baby-sitting, prayers, snacks, waiting, flying in to help, adjusting schedules, texting Scriptures, wiping tears, more prayer. Honestly, the list goes on and on, and those are the things I know about. I imagine there were many other God-orchestrated events where He used people to show our family His love.


Humbling. Overwhelming. Grateful. Compassion.


We were blessed through this trial to experience the gift of compassion over and over again. Compassion moves you to act, it drives you to do something to lessen the burden of another, to help ease their pain. Compassion causes you to flood the throne of Grace in fervent prayer, it challenges you to be the hands and feet of Jesus right here on Earth, doing and going in order to meet the need of another.


Part of what I’m learning from this trial is that people may be hurting and if we aren’t mindful and intentional about caring for others, it can be easy to miss. You never can tell from the outside what battles may be raging on the inside. Keeping this in mind, my family has been challenged by the love we’ve received to be more diligent in extending that same love to others.


How can we be compassionate followers of Christ, compassionate families for Christ? We don’t have to go very far; there are people everywhere that are hurting, that are lonely or need a helping hand. Whether God has given your family a large platform to display His love or a small-scaled assignment, whether it is someone you know or a flat-out stranger, do it. Be obedient to the call, for in this way, lives are changed. It is the love of God.


And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude;
and He was moved with compassion for them,
and healed their sick.
-Matthew 14:14


What does compassion look like in your life? How has God met your needs through another person? What ideas do you have to practice compassion as a family? To display the love of God to another?

Also posted at Our Homeschool Forum.

So blessed by God, my Creator, to be a woman, completely and thoroughly. I am thankful for Biblical womanhood and godly femininity. I am happy to clearly present this blessing of womanhood to the world: Daughter of God, wife to one man, mother of 8--7 to raise, 1 with God, and homemaker. This is the work God has given my hands to do. As a woman of God, my Lord, my home, and those within are the priority. No time to call off to prove my worth. God has given me that already.
As the late, great Elisabeth Elliot once said, "This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
My husband had a business trip this week and we all tagged along. Normally, we don't because we would just be sitting in the hotel room. But sitting in a hotel room a few hours from home was exactly what our family needed.

I am thankful we went. We have struggled the last 2 weeks to return to our normal routine, which is hard to do when parts of life have been forever changed. 


Rocking my sweet baby in the window seat

We didn't do anything special at all. No sight-seeing, no souvenirs, no family or friends to visit. Unless...you count these things as being special: having fun exploring our hotel, eating THE BEST carrot cake I've ever had, taking a nap EVERY DAY with the little kids, and being mistaken for a church group when we went out for dinner. Actually, those things were kind of special, too.


We found an enclosed terrace and courtyard
that we used as a classroom, playground, and park each day.

When Husband brings you carrot cake after work.... 

you keep eating and eating and eating...


Co-sleeping with these two is an adventure! 

Still keeping an eye on my little guy since his surgery.

Those days in the hospital with him were baby girl's first days without me. 

She's been keeping her eye on me ever since.


Honestly, I am grateful for the small getaway to reset, to hear the quiet, to breathe. I only had two rooms to tidy and no meals to cook, just for a few days. To not worry about doctor appointments to keep or phone calls to make or traffic to fight or squeezing our smallest "large family" vehicle into a downtown parking garage, just for a few days...


We kept up with a bit of school work, so we didn't completely fall behind. Love that about homeschooling because we can learn anywhere we go. We got up early, ate the free waffle/sausage/fruit/cereal/yogurt breakfast. (It was nice eating breakfast as a family before my husband went to work each day.) Then, we did a little school work, and after that, we played and played the rest of the day.


Homeschool books have their own suitcase.


Pattern blocks = preschool






Gazebo in the courtyard:
Perfect place for our read aloud.


Getting up early each day (about an hour or so earlier than usual) has been surprisingly refreshing. I'm not necessarily a morning person, but I can see it has benefited the family, so I'm hoping to keep it going.


I'm grateful for the time, the memories, the rest.




Took a little family trip this week. We found a small, yummy diner and stopped for a bite. The nine of us walked in and a gentleman asked, "Are y'all a church group, or are all of them your kids?!" A church group was a first! Lol!!! Endearing and funny at the same time, because we kinda are a church group, too.

#noidlebread










Quick Family Trip

by on Saturday, February 25, 2017
My husband had a business trip this week and we all tagged along. Normally, we don't because we would just be sitting in the hotel room....
In middle of this trial my family is in, it has been difficult to separate fear from reality, night from day, joy from pain, and even one day from another. Everything just runs together. We've had so many doctor appointments and phone calls and reports and instructions to keep straight.... just jumpy at the sound of the telephone ringing. We've had weapons form and attacks hurled our way. But, we have also had an outpouring of love, compassion, and the covering of prayer, some by people we don't even know.

God is still so gracious.

For months my son (5 yrs) has been asking about the things of God and his understanding amazes me at times. A few weeks ago, he told his daddy that he was ready to pray the "special prayer" to ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of his life. I watched as they prayed together on my bedroom floor and I love that I was able to witness such a sweet moment. And, after making a public confession of faith at church, my little boy was baptized and my heart overflowed at the goodness of God. He said to me, "Mommy, I am a brother of the Lord!!" And today, he enjoyed partaking in the Lord's supper for the first time. Sweet communion.


I have been pondering these blessings (among many others) in my heart, and thought I should share to encourage you, too. God can bring joy in sorrow.
Friends, God Himself is Joy in sorrow, and I am extremely grateful.


But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God 
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
-Isaiah 43:1-3a


Joy in Sorrow

by on Sunday, January 29, 2017
In middle of this trial my family is in , it has been difficult to separate fear from reality, night from day, joy from pain, and even one d...
Many of us officially begin the start of the new homeschooling year sometime in the late summer/early fall. That means now is about the time that you'll reach 100 days of schooling for the year. That means it's time to celebrate!

Why?
Because you and the kids have clocked in good, hard, and steady work...
Because it's the middle of winter and lots of snow, freezing temps, and dreary days can have us in a rut...
Because kids always love a reason to celebrate...
Because we homeschool and we get to choose what we do...

banner the kids made


Even if you haven't been officially counting each day, estimate and pick a day to celebrate. The theme of the festivities is of course the number 100. Here are some of the ways we've had fun on our 100th day:

  • Design a "100 Days Smarter" bannet for the school room
  • Decorate t-shirts with 100 items (stickers. beads safety-pins, dots of paint, etc.).
  • Count to 100 by singles, twos, fives, and tens
  • Make a "trail mix" by selecting 10 types of bite-sized snacks (raisins, chocolate chips, marshmallows, etc.) and have the children sort 10 of each treat. Place in a baggy for a 100-count trail mix.
  • Impromptu discussion/writing: What will the world be like in 100 years; Name 100 things you could carry or eat at once
  • Get moving: dance, hop, or run in place for 100 seconds


Blow up a few balloons and make a batch of brownies or cookies for fun and you're good to go! 

Do you celebrate the 100th day of school? I'd love to hear hear what yo do to celebrate!





Celebrating 100 Days

by on Thursday, January 26, 2017
Many of us officially begin the start of the new homeschooling year sometime in the late summer/early fall. That means now is about the time...

Ladies, this past week has felt like months. I've lost track of time over and over.

This week, we received some difficult news, some very tough realities for our family. I am being vague intentionally, not because I'm seeking further inquiries about what's happening, but because it is a delicate matter involving one of my children. I am also writing this because I need the prayers of other believers to be offered before the Father.

Sometimes it's hard to breathe, hard to sleep, sometimes it's hard to stop the tears... struggling.
So here I am, writing, getting thoughts out, sharing with you, because maybe you're in a tough situation, too. My husband says that often, satan uses our trials to isolate us, to keep us from drawing on each other for strength. You aren't alone. I will pray for you, too. And prayerfully, very soon we can celebrate victory together.

a sign I saw in a waiting room
 In the midst of the rain, I am thankful for the blessed work of my home life to keep me busy. . . clothes I finally folded after not tending to them for a full week; little pigtails to twist; clothes to iron for church tomorrow; math grades to enter, granny squares to crochet...

my little girls'clothes

crocheted granny squares


And I've been reflecting, wanting to see God's hand in it all.... and of course, He is there... I mean way down in the details He's there. From people and places, timing and events, He's there. He knew we would have this moment in time to face, and He has taken the time to see about my family. And we are grateful.

So, as folks keep telling us, it is one day at a time around here. I'm counting my blessings each day, willing myself to put one foot in front of the other, while looking to the hills. . .


I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121: 1-2







Hard to Breathe

by on Saturday, January 21, 2017
Ladies, this past week has felt like months. I've lost track of time over and over. This week, we received some difficult news, som...

Little babies are so sweet and cute. To bring one into your family life is a game-changer for sure. Even so, it seems as though the camera lens is often aimed in their direction, as it should be, capturing smiles and funny faces, little fingers and tufts of hair. As Charles Dickens once said, "I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." It is simply amazing.

As they grow into toddlers, we tell and retell all the funny things they say and do, all the faces they make and we double over in laughter. And, we should, because these years are lively and full and bring youth to a mama's achy bones, because there is never a dull moment.

And so it should continue as our children grow up and enter the next phases: tweens, teens, and young adults. So often I hear people saying awful things about their teenagers or telling me that I won't be so happy when I get to that stage. I see people almost giving way to the world regarding their behavior: You know how teens can be.

There's nothing in God's Word that instructs us to abandon the godly rearing and training of our children just because they are a little older. And if we continue to faithfully bring them up reverencing the things of God, they will be a great blessing not only to us a parents, but to the Kingdom of God.

And as we go with God, He shows us what a joy and treasure our older children are. With my own group of "big kids" there is so much to love and marvel at as their understanding of life continues to unfold. I've watched them learn sacrifice. I've seen them give of themselves. I've been there when they had to grapple with the Truth and rejoiced when they submitted to it. We have been through tough lessons that stretched them, that they can see the value in having learned, and are grateful for. Great, great blessings there.

Then there are the day-to-day gifts--helping siblings, academic achievements, sweeping a crumb-laden floor, taking out trash, folding laundry, soooo many hugs, whispered prayers, new skills, hilarious jokes. . .a sweet friendship that deepens as parenting older kids continues.

And of course, there's still all of the mushy stuff, like I still think their smiles and faces are as cute as ever, I still take tons of pictures of them, still enjoy the sound of their laughter, and I absolutely love that my big kids still call me "Mommy".

I know I'm just at the start of this teenage journey; my oldest is a few months shy of 14. I have a long way to go. But rather than look ahead to these older years with discouragement, regret or indifference, I will look ahead with joyful expectation.


Also posted at Our Homeschool Forum.

Cherishing Your Older Children

by on Thursday, January 12, 2017
Little babies are so sweet and cute. To bring one into your family life is a game-changer for sure. Even so, it seems as though the camer...
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