Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Little Conversations

Heidi has started to have animated conversations with us. It is quite entertaining. She got a little less animated when she saw me with the iPod, but she still had things to say. (watch her feet, too...she has done that when she's excited since she was tiny. I love it!)
video

Monday, October 24, 2011

A day on the farm

The clock reads 12:30a.m. A cellphone rings. But wait. It is not just a cellphone. It is an alarm. Set by the farmer. He crawls out of bed, pulls on the jeans and shirt he'd put in the kitchen before going to bed early. Dressing in the kitchen so as not to awaken his sleeping wife.
On the kitchen counter he finds a lunch box packed with goodies, an insulated mug of his favorite ice coffee, and a little scrap paper note that was scribbled by his wife after she prepared the foodstuffs and before she went to bed. Just something simple, reminding him she loves him.
Grabbing keys, and glasses, he heads to the field with the empty semi. Due to some prior planning, the pickup truck is there and waiting. He drives that to where the combine is parked and gets in the combine cab, heading back to the field where the semi is parked. And he begins to shell corn.

Another cellphone rings. It is a 6:30a.m. alarm. The farmer's wife rolls over and hits the snooze button. Four times. Finally she rouses from under the delightful warmth the electric blanket is providing. Stumbling to the shower, then to make coffee. Little boys with tousled hair patter into the kitchen. The baby calls from her bed. The day begins. Snuggles on the couch, a bottle of warm milk for baby. Little boys dressing and going about their chores while Momma dresses sister. Breakfast is cherry pie and peach crisp, left over from Sunday lunch.

The farmer comes in. It is raining. But that corn field is finished. The monitor in the combine telling of a good yield. Quietly the farmer's wife gives thanks. Now the combine is home and in the barn for a few morning maintenance things. After eating the final piece of cherry pie, the farmer picks up his Bible. Little boys snuggle around him on the couch. The farmer's wife picks up little sister and settles into the rocking chair. These moments she cherishes, watching little men learn from the man she admires and loves for so many reasons. From him they are learning to reverence the Scriptures, learning truths that will be added to and deepened as they grow. The short little prayer of a little boy overflowing with enthusiasm. Then the quiet, thoughtful prayer of her quieter, more deliberate little man who is growing up oh, so fast. Followed by the deep, steady voice of the farmer, giving thanks.

And then the morning moves on. Little ones find shoes and jackets. The farmer finds his pillow. The farmer's wife ushers everyone out the door to run errands so their hard working Daddy can sleep for an hour or two. Until the cellphone alarm will call again. Calling him to crawl back out of his bed to check the grain bin. The dry corn is dumping into the small bin, and it must not overflow.

Mamma and the children go north to the Ag lending office, and go south to the library and grocery store for a few items. All the while, singing Scripture songs, counting telephone poles, discussing important little boy things like the color of rain, and why winter is cold.

The rain ends. Home again for a late lunch all together. Then the farmer is off with a semi load of corn to the elevator. Children nap, the farmer's wife starts the washing machine and the dishwasher. Then sits down to read her own Bible. She naps, involuntarily. The telephone on the wall awakens her. No, the farmer isn't here. He's out being wonderful. Calling later will do no good. He'll still be out. She resumes her day, doing paperwork and housework.

Children are up, toys about. The play sounds an awful lot like what is taking place out in the barnyard and up the road in the field. Poking his head in the door, the farmer tells his family quick little snippets about his day. Little man laces up his boots to head back out with his Daddy for a second trip to the elevator. Baby girl squeals for Daddy hugs. Little man, still sleepy, curls up with his Mamma for a story and a snack before heading outside to his pedal tractor, tricycle, and wagon. Little sister is clingy, cutting teeth. Mamma snuggles her, looking at books. They fold clothes, sing songs, and talk.

A late supper of left overs is a standard meal for children and the farmer's wife during harvest time. The farmer pops in for a portable supper, and kisses all around. Supper is soon over, little boys help clear the table while little sister is readied for bed. Snuggles for sister, a song or two, and she goes nightie-night.
The farmer pokes his head back in to pray with his little men, a nightly routine that no one wants to miss. Then he heads back to the trucks. He is hauling corn away from the combine and grain cart and dumping it in the wet holding bin. And keeping watch over the grain dryer. The first season it is in use, and a few bugs have had to be worked out.

Little boys and the farmer's wife snuggle on the couch. A new story is begun. Four chapters later, they beg for more through their yawns, but Mamma knows best and herds them into the bathroom to brush teeth. Snuggles by the bed, more prayers and hugs, and then they are tucked in for the night.

The farmer's wife walks through the now quiet house. She eyes the full basket of clean laundry that needs to be folded, the kitchen counters that need washed, the kitchen floor littered with corn dust that needs vacuumed. She makes herself a cup of tea and ignores the never-ending duties while she checks her email. Scribbles a few revisions on the family schedule. Pulls out school papers and craft supplies for the next days' lessons. She turns on the yard light. Her silent "welcome home" for her man. And then she washes dishes, switches laundry loads, and writes a love note. Which she will put in the bathroom. On top of the clean pajamas she will lay out for her farmer Superman before she snuggles back down under that warm and wonderful electric blanket, thankful for her hardworking man.

As she finishes the last few chores before bed, the farmer pops in and urges her to come outside in his quiet, excited voice. He points to the northern sky. For the first time, they see a display of the northern lights. They stand hand in hand in the darkened back yard and gaze at the utterly clear sky streaked with reds and blues. It is amazing. A few minutes later they part ways - the farmer back to the field with an empty grain truck, the wife back to the house to warm up her nose and get ready for bed.

Tomorrow will begin soon enough, and she has to leave by 8:00a.m. to get parts for the grain truck that is broken down in the barn yard.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Every Day Love

Sometimes it's not flowers, fancy dinners, or sappy cards that say "I love you" the best. Sometimes "I love you" looks an awful lot like a pretty new pair of rain boots sitting in my back hallway. The ones my husband bought for me after I mentioned to him how much I dislike having to run errands in the rain while trying to juggle groceries, kids, purse and/or diaper bag, knowing my feet are going to get cold and wet, and most likely half my pants legs as well. My feet will now stay warm and dry, thanks to my man who loves me in simple, every day little ways.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Birthday Girl

Heidi turned one a couple weeks ago. I feel the need to post lots of pictures of my sweet, adorable, girlie. I can't believe it has been a year since she was this tiny.
I don't know if I have enjoyed her babyhood more than the boys' because she's a girl, or because I'm not quite so focused on just *surviving* like I was during the boys' baby year(s). Jonathan said it's probably a combination of both things...along with me just settling into the Mommy role.

There are days when I just sit on the couch and watch her play. And soon I'm right down there with her, helping her discover her world. Reading board books, playing with her wooden puzzle, snuggling her dolly...

We had her birthday party a few days before her birthday. Since we also hosted a group of 50 college students for overnight/breakfast several hours before the party, I didn't make a cake. Instead, my parents brought doughnuts from a wonderful bakery down by them. I got some cider from the local orchard, and it was a perfect fall dessert! We also took a hayride, since we had the hay wagons from the party the day before. I think it should become tradition. So fun, even if it WAS a little too windy!



On her actual birthday, we kept it low-key with just the 5 of us. I didn't want a whole cake sitting around tempting me for days, so I made a small amount of chocolate and tapioca puddings instead. It was simple and fun. :)
Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baking Day!

This weekend we are hosting the society at Cedarville University that is all MK's. This is the group we hosted last year. Tons of fun. All the guys sleep in the barn in the hay wagons, and the girls fill every corner of the house. Of course, feeding them good down-home cooking/baking is a ton of fun. I love to cook/bake big. I think I was meant to have a catering business or something. I just love cooking for masses of people.

And being the crazies that we are, we decided to just make a weekend of partying. And we're having Heidi's 1st Birthday party on Saturday afternoon. The college crew is usually gone by 10:30, so I gave myself 3 hours....and we're having a late lunch at 1:30. We invited several folks, but haven't heard back from them all yet.

At any rate, the plan today is to make Blueberry muffins, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins, Apple Pizza, a triple batch of chili, cupcakes, and maybe a couple pies. I also need to put together the 3 egg casseroles. One of them will go in the crockpot, though, since I have a very small oven and can't fit all 3 in. I might have to wait to toss it in the crockpot right before I go to bed on Friday night.

All this necessary baking has come on just the perfect day. It's coooool outside, and having the oven on feels good! As I am working, I'm sipping on hot caramel mochas that I've concocted. Super-duper YUM!

In other news - I got Heidi's birthday present on Tuesday. A pair of Robeez. FINALLY a pair of shoes she can't get off. And they're super cute. She's already wearing them, since it's too cold to go barefoot and she always kicks off shoes and pulls her socks off!

Happy Thursday, y'all!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Before the Throne

I have been singing this song practically non-stop since I learned it at camp over Labor Day weekend. I know it's not a new song, but I'd never heard it before. It's my new favorite. It makes me cry every time. Every line is just so rich!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Camp Barakel

Several weeks ago Jonathan and I got to talking about wanting to have a little get-away as a family. Wanting to have a profitable time as well as a fun time, we decided to check a couple Bible Camps for their family camp weeks. We decided on Camp Barakel. I called the camp registrar. There was only one opening left. So we wrote a deposit check, filled out the registration, and sent it off with a prayer, knowing if God wanted us there, our registration would beat out everyone else's last minute decision.

One day about a week later, Jonathan brought the mail in and opened a letter from Camp Barakel. We were registered for their Labor Day family camp!

It was the best money we've spent all year. There was plenty of time for just the 5 of us, the chapel messages were wonderful and convicting, the boys had fun in their very own chapel class, and Heidi learned to be ok without Mommy in their nursery. We hiked, took naps, sipped hot cocoa, talked, went for a hayride in Huron National Forest, got to visit with new people (Christians from Korea over here studying for a year, a couple with grown children who encouraged us to be faithful in training our children, a young mom and her son on the hayride), and Jonathan and I got to go on their 950ft. zipline. THAT was fun!

And now it's back to late summer in Ohio - freezing produce, mowing the grass, getting ready for fall harvest. But we are all refreshed, and the boys have had their scope of imagination greatly increased! Their tube slide on their playplace is now the "thunder express" slide from camp, the guy wires coming off the electric poles in the yard are the ziplines, and they "hike" everywhere they go. So funny to watch!

Our first glimpse of camp!
Loading up for the hayride!
our little family
Jonathan on the zipline
Me, loving the zipline!
Found this old International truck, and had to take some pics!
My four favorite people!

My little men
Could she get any cuter?!
Momma and the kiddies
Kenny was happy the top bunks had rails!
Sam's first time on a top bunk. Happy much?
Yes, we plan to return!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Visits

Jonathan's Great Aunt Leona came for a visit on Tuesday. She lives near Cleveland, and she wasn't sure about driving the distance alone, so Jonathan's Mom drove up on Monday and rode down with her on Tuesday morning. Aunt Leona drove the whole way, and I believe she drove back as well! It was fun to get to see her. And the children were more comfortable interacting with her since she came to *their* turf.

Here are a few photos I snapped during the afternoon.



On Thursday my sister-in-law, her mom, and my sweet little nieces dropped by. They'd taken a trip to the orchard near us and swung by on their way home. That was a fun little visit in an otherwise VERY blah day. My friend, Merideth stopped in later that evening, too. She helps me in the garden, and I happily give her produce in exchange for her help, and she came to get some green beans that are ready.

I am so thankful for family and friends. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's in the diaper bag...

The day dawned sunny and bright, promising to be a gorgeous, hot summer day. It was going to be a good day. I knew it. Just because of the simple fact that Jonathan had the day off. He did have to go 1.5 hours southwest to pick up his new air compressor, and then a couple hours back east to pick up the new header wagon for the new corn head which would soon be delivered. But that was ok. Because we were all going to pile in our extended cab pickup truck and take a family road trip. We were going to sing, and talk, and have a fun day. Together.

I packed a bag with our water bottles and the sack of dried fruit we like to snack on. I then packed the diaper bag. I remembered *everything* in it this time, and knew that we were adequately prepared for a long day out.
Jonathan loaded up booster seats, a car seat, and sunglasses for all. Little boys climbed on in with their favorite stuffed animals - Moose and George. How could we leave Moose or George behind on such a wonderful adventure!
Heidi was excited to be going, too! She loves riding in the truck (I'm teaching her well!) and was grinning from ear to ear, holding on to her blankie.

Forty minutes down the road we stopped to switch drivers. I really prefer to drive on road trips, and Jonathan would just as soon ride, so it works out well. Heidi started to get a little fussy, since it was her usual time for a nap. I said, "She'll probably go right to sleep if you give her the pacifier. It's in the diaper bag..."

The diaper bag. The diaper bag we had left on the kitchen counter. We'd grabbed EVERYTHING else off the counter. The water bottles, purse, phones, checkbook, I-pod, atlas, blankies, the box of tissues. But not the diaper bag.

That meant no pacifier. No diapers. No wipes. No baby food or spoons. No bibs or spit rags. No change of clothes for a little man who sometimes still needs them.

Another forty minutes later we stopped at a Target store that was along our route. We grabbed pacifiers, diapers, a small pack of wipes, and baby food. Usually I make baby food for Heidi, but I like to use Happy Baby or Plum Organics when we're on the go, because they are so easy. All I have to do is squeeze a bit onto a spoon. And I don't have to mess with jars that could break, etc.
We decided to get by with the one bib and spit rag Heidi started out with (mostly because there were no bibs that I actually thought were absorbent enough), and encouraged our little man that he could be a big man all day.

Back on the road I realized I had gotten the baby food, but no spoons. But Heidi was HUNGRY and letting us know it. Any of you that know Heidi, know she likes food. A lot. And when she wants to eat, you know so! So I opened the pouch and gave it to her, hoping her knowledge of how to use a straw would be useful. Sure enough, she downed it all, quick as a wink. And wanted more. I gave her a second one, and then gave her the milk I had remembered to bring in the insulated mug I had tossed in the sack of water bottles.

With a happy baby, we arrived at our first stop. I pulled Heidi out of her seat only to realize that I needed something else out of the diaper bag. I SHOULD have grabbed that outfit I saw on the clearance rack when we were at Target. Heidi NEVER leaks through her clothes. But the time I forget a change of clothes, of course she did! Her shirt was ok, so she wound up in just her little t-shirt and diaper for the duration of the trip. I always feel like a bad mother if my babies aren't all the way clothed when we're in public. But I swallowed my pride and carried her into the store.

Jonathan was finishing his transaction by this time. The lady gave us each a t-shirt with their company logo, and the boys each got a ball cap. After loading up the air compressor, it was on to Wendy's for a lunch off the dollar menu.

Back on the road. I was still driving so Jonathan could make some business calls. The boys were hushed so Heidi could go to sleep, and then we let them play with their farm toys they'd brought along. You can do a lot of work with a skid loader driving all over your lap hundreds of times! =P

Jonathan, Samuel, and Heidi snoozed half the way to Lancaster, so Kenneth and I chatted back and forth about the scenery. We had never been down that direction, so there were lots of things to observe.

While Jonathan was in the sales room getting all the paperwork squared away for the header cart, I cleaned up the truck. Sacked up the little bit of trash, changed Heidi's diaper, wished for a clean bib and spit rag - of which I'd packed plenty...in the diaper bag, gave the boys a snack of dried fruit, and looked at the map route to get home.

We remembered that we couldn't drive back north on route 33 since you can't take farm machinery on it, so we wound our way through Lancaster. It was a pretty town, and would have been fun to explore if we didn't have the big long cart behind us! Jonathan swung into a little gas station and amused the locals, since it was obviously NOT meant for vehicles with trailers. He managed quite well, and soon we were on our way home again.

The boys were asking for food again, and we were out of snacks. Because the second helping of snacks were....in the diaper bag. So we stopped at a Wendy's for a second time. And this time we ate 'fun' and got little Frosty's for their dessert. Jonathan and I got Frosty Floats. Super yum. Heidi got to drink the last of her milk, have a few nibbles of french fries, and down the last baby food pouch. While we sat there in the restaurant, an older gentleman kept looking over at our table. He came over to us as he was walking out and said, "You have such a beautiful family." I thanked him and told him God has sure given us some fun little blessings. He nodded, "He has at that."

And then, 8 hours after we left, we pulled back into our driveway. Heidi was very, very happy to see her bed, and the boys had no trouble sleeping that night. Jonathan and I did decide that an extended cab is just not enough room for that long of a trip. Maybe next year we can afford to buy a crew cab. And maybe on our next outing I'll actually remember to not only PACK the diaper bag, but TAKE it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grace

There are days when I wake up after not sleeping well to children who slept great. And I whisper a prayer for strength and grace. Little boys asking me to ride in their couch-turned-pickup-truck. And please hold their stuffed giraffe, who for this round of imaginary play is actually a kitten. And he's happy I'm "riding with him", even tho I did doze off on the pile of paraphernalia he has piled in his "truck".  A baby puking half of her just eaten meal down the front of my shirt. A little boy who forgot that yes, he really DOES need to go potty. In fact, he needed to go 5 minutes ago. Me trying hard to not be angry as I remind him that he needs to have a potty break more often. Forgetting that God's grace is sufficient for potty accidents on the couch. Finally remembering we all fail in our own ways. And that yes, God's grace IS sufficient. A not quite so little boy that asks over and over again about philosophical questions that my brain doesn't feel like it can muster up the power to think through. Saying the alphabet sounds and coming up with silly games. Losing my temper at peanut butter smeared in places it shouldn't be. Saying I'm sorry to little men. Asking for grace. Sinking into the couch once all the littles are down for naps. And realizing that BabyGirl just woke up. Being annoyed. Praying for forgiveness. Remembering at bedtime that there are no more PullUps. Which could prove disastrous to the night of sleep I was hoping to get. Pulling out of the driveway at the time I was HOPING to be in bed. Coming home to pass out said PullUps.
Pulling up covers, and then having little arms grab for my neck and say, "I love you Mommy. I'm glad you're my Mommy. And I like our glad home."

And then there are tears on cheeks. That my children always love me. At the grace of God ever present. All we have to do is accept it, and I pray I'll learn better during tomorrow's challenges. And then go to bed, thanking God that there will be a new supply of his mercies for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Samuel

I love this boy and his zest for life. He is never complacent about anything. He keeps us laughing and shaking our heads....and praying he doesn't break every bone in his body before he's 6. (Thanks to my brother Ben, for walking around with my camera one evening this week.)





Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Farming

When I was growing up, I used to drive by fields of growing crops waving calmly in the wind, or see the pastures with cows placidly chewing their cud and think, "Farming....My, what a calm and peaceful life."

Excuse me while I fall over laughing at my naivete.

Farming is anything but calm, peaceful and idyllic. 
It is working in the cold November air (sometimes in rain or snow!) power washing machinery so we can put it away clean, which we hope will keep the coons and mice from making messes, chewing wires, and being a nuisance. 

It is spending all winter taking classes, going to meetings, drawing up budgets, paying bills, attending workshops, making lists of needed repairs, and shopping for equipment. 

It is working in late winter and early spring in the cold barn and muddy barnyard replacing bearings, belts, changing oil filters, and all manner of other maintenance. 

It is suddenly realizing you forgot an important repair, and yet should be heading to the field in 2 days. 

It is spending the hours between sun up and sundown - and sometimes also the hours between sundown and sun up! - in the seat of a tractor doing tillage work, planting corn or soybeans, or moving from one field to another. Only stopping to fuel up or fill the seed boxes/bins.

It is sleeping for 2 hours and having to get back up to do it all over again. And sometimes that sleep happens in the cab of the pickup because you were too tired to drive the 5 miles home to bed.

It is standing at the window watching the wind blow and the rain pound, knowing the seed you planted earlier in the day is going to be washed away or packed in the ground so hard you will have to replant. 

It is watching the cloudless sky as you keep on planting, praying for a rain so the struggling seedlings will have moisture to grow. 

It is going crop scouting and discovering the cornfield that look fabulous a few days ago is ruined by a little thing called a cutworm that chewed off the plants right to the ground.

It is FINALLY finishing the tillage, planting, spraying, replanting, and fertilizing.....just in time to get the combine out and ready to harvest the wheat.

It is holding down an off-farm job while doing all of the above. And still trying to make time for family, to not neglect the study of God's Word, or the assembling of fellow believers. Trying to be sure the lines of communication stay open with spouse so you don't feel completely disconnected and just ships passing in the night.

Yes, it's not the calm, peaceful, easy life I envisioned as a young person passing fields and barnyards and pastures of farmers I didn't know. But it is an amazing life. One that pretty much requires a rather deep trust in the Lord. If you don't, you can have a life completely taken over by worry, regret, disappointments, and distrust.

It is amazing because I get to watch my husband grow as a man. A man who falls on his face before God. Who isn't afraid to admit his mistakes. Who can cry at the goodness of our Lord. Who can get down on his knees with his children and point them to their loving Heavenly Father. Who can come home covered in the day's grime and not mind his children clamoring joyously all over him as he stretches out on the floor to 'rest for a minute' - and promptly begins snoring. A man who never forgets to give a simple squeeze of his hand to say "I love you", even when his mouth is too tired to say it.
It is a good life because we get to teach our children about the power of prayer as we pray specific things. Like how much rain we need, and how we would like it to come. Or praying Daddy's utility trailer home from the field when the tire is obviously about to blow - and how we can thank the Lord Jesus because it was ok all the way to being parked in the barn before it gave out. Or thanking the Lord for his plan, even when we don't see it in the discovery of the cutworms and having to rip up the field and start over. Because God's ways are ALWAYS higher than our ways.

On a movie I used to watch growing up, one of the farmer's wives told a lady struggling to survive the harsh realities of farm life during the late 1800's: "you have to write your name on the land to live here." I think after the first few years of struggling to understand and really embrace and become one with the crazy ups and downs of this life, the dirt I just dumped out of my boots and brushed out of my hair bears witness that my name is finally firmly etched in this land. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, May 20, 2011

LOVE

Recently I have had a song stuck in my head from one of the CD's the kids like to listen to. Well, just a phrase of the song, actually.

"Love makes people do the things they know they ought to do..."

When the song first starts, it sounds like it is going to be some shallow, 'why don't we all just love each other and the world will be wonderful' kind of song. But it isn't. It is actually so simple that it is profound. Of course it is talking about God's love, and our love for Him. And love directed correctly DOES make us do the things we know we ought to do. That simple little song has led me to meditate on verses about love.

"We LOVE him because he first LOVED us..."
"They will know we are Christians by our LOVE..."
"For God so LOVED the world..."
"If you LOVE me, keep my commandments..."
"LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart..."
Etc, Etc...

I have been thinking about how really, everything we do is motivated by LOVE. Love of our Lord Jesus, or love of our sinful selves. How many, many times each day my sinful self-love takes over and my actions are motivated by the love I have for ME. And yet, when I carry out that self-love, I am not one bit more fulfilled. Some days it is a moment by moment, or seemingly second by second choice. But a peace always follows the choice to love the Lord/others over self.

Even when it is as simple as relinquishing claim to that last chocolate peanut butter rice krispie treat and giving it to my brother.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Let the sunshine in!

We can't really help it....since she lives here. :)

At any rate, since the sun HAS come out, we were able to be in the fields this week. Jonathan installed a GPS receiver on the tractor this year, so he has been able to plant corn hands-free. That technology is amazing to me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Forgiveness

Do you ever just know, right from the beginning of the day, that it's going to be a long day? That's how my Monday started out. Even before I got out of bed, I was desperately praying I would choose to accept the Lord's offer of grace I knew was sufficient for my feelings of inadequacy for the coming day.

Along about early afternoon, I rejected that grace a couple of times. I got upset with the boys for just "being boys". I was already pouting about not being able to fit a nap in for ME. And their boyishness just didn't fit in with my selfish need for peace and quietness.

Shortly thereafter, I knelt down in front of both boys and told them that Mommy was wrong, and I was sorry for having a bad attitude to them, and would they please forgive me. Kenny gave me a hug and said, "It's ok, Mommy. We weren't helping anything." Samuel reminded us all that no one had been doing a good job of obeying the verse we've been working on. Romans 12:10 - "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another."

I love that my little men are so ready and willing to forgive, even when I blow it.

After fellowship was restored, we piled in the van and went to the grocery store; and had the best time ever. I had Heidi on my back in the Ergo, and Sam was riding in the seat of the cart. Kenneth was standing on the front, "driving". We were a "semi truck" going through the store. Sam was making the engine noise (complete with the shifting of gears), and Kenneth operated the imaginary "air brakes". We had an all around jolly time being silly together. When we checked out, the cashier gave the boys a free balloon, so that was fun too!

It sure beat being grumpy, that's for sure!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Random Acts...

You know those Youtube videos that were circulating earlier this year, those "random acts of culture"? Like this. Pretty neat, right?

Well, on Friday, I got to be part of something so much more awesome. Jonathan had taken a sick day on Friday (he slept for FIFTEEN hours straight on Thursday night/Friday morning...I think the man was worn out!). When he and the children laid down for a nap mid afternoon, I left to run some errands. I took a meal to a couple in our church, decorated the fellowship hall at church for our Easter Breakfast, and made an exchange at Kohl's. My final stop was our local Meijer grocery store at about 8:00pm. I hurried in to grab the 3 things I needed, and on my way out I was softly (I thought) whistling "Blessed Assurance" to myself. I was just getting ready to start the chorus, when an older gentleman in the row over from me started SINGING the chorous. In a full, rich, baritone voice.  So I started singing as well. Halfway through a lady and her daughter joined us, and an older couple.
Now THAT is what I call awesome!! There in the Meijer parking lot, we had our own little worship service. When we'd finished the chorous, there was "God Bless You!" and "Happy Easter!" called across the parking lot, and we all went our ways. That worship of our Lord Jesus lasted just a minute, but all the way home I thanked God for His body, and how we can fellowship in the most unlikely places.

Monday, March 21, 2011

And so it begins...

...the ever present school work hung on the fridge to show Daddy when he gets home from work.

Today we practiced drawing A's. Samuel just traced the ones I'd drawn on his page, but Kenneth tried a whole row all by himself. I thought he did a very good job! After that, we drew 1's. By then two little boys were getting wiggly, so we took a break to go clean up their bedroom before walking around the house finding things that started with an "Aaaa" sound. We found apples, and afghans, and an atlas, among other things. We also thought about farm related words. The boys very quickly came up with Agco, and AgCredit, and Axle.

Our Bible class for the day comprised of practicing our "A" verse. We are going to work our way through the ABC Memory Book. This is our second week on the "A" verse, and both boys recited it word perfect. We are also learning the hymn "Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us", to go along with the verse. They are doing well, and almost have the first verse memorized.

Our field trip today will include a trip to the library. The boys want to find books about sheep. And their latest fascination - submarines. I have another list of books I want to look for to fill reading time this week.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thanks

Recently I read a book called, One Thousand Gifts. Rarely do I read Christian "self help" kind of books. Most of them seem too "if you do this system, God will bless you" kind of books. I decided to give this one a try, given the fact that I just felt the need for a little boost in my spiritual life. This was written by a farmer's wife. How could it be not good, right?
Never have a read a book that has convicted me so much. I cried while reading this book more than I have ever cried with a book in hand. Even the most emotional novel hasn't evoke this need for a tissue box handy! God used this little 227 page book to convict my heart. And slowly my stubborn, unthankful self is beginning to grow again. I am choosing to look for grace in the little moments. The times when it isn't quite so apparent. This little portion of the book, on page 59, has been on my mind since reading it. I even highlighted it:
When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let the joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks....Something always comes to fill the empty places. And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me. This, this, makes me full, and I "magnify him with thanksgiving" (Ps. 69:30), and God enters the world. What will a life magnify? The world's stress cracks, the grubbiness of the day, all that is wholly wrong and terribly busted? Or God? Never is God's omnipotence and omniscience diminutive. God is not in need of magnifying by us so small, but the reverse. It's our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated self, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right. I say thanks and I swell with Him, and I swell the world and He stirs me, joy all afoot.
 Last night I was reading Psalm 97. The last verse of the chapter says something about giving thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. The word "remembrance" means "a memorial". Our thanksgiving should be a memorial to our God.
I have known all this and been taught all this from the time I can remember. Lots of sermons on thanksgiving, "give thanks in all things", etc, etc. But somehow, God's using right now to let me really start understanding it.
It's made it possible for me to be quiet in the midst of little boys screaming at one another, finding the thing to be thankful for in that moment, and then address the boys with the right spirit. The times when I am tired and my nerves are unraveling, and supper is late, and Jonathan is grouchy, and the house is a mess - even in those moments, I can give thanks.
I still fail more often than not, but each time I open myself to grace, I am awed by the peace that comes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Little Moments...

...of my little people.

Heidi never cries. Well, practically never. When she actually does get upset, I can't help myself. I drop whatever I am doing to snuggle her, because she sounds so absolutely pathetic. Unless, of course, it's when she has to get out of the bathtub - then I usually laugh at her. She LOVES baths - and HATES to get out! Often she will get quite mad about the fact that I lifted her out of the water. This was one such occasion:
Of course, not long afterward, she was warm and dry, and looked like this:
A MUCH more normal mood for her! I'm grateful for my cheerful little gal!

Here is some cuteness named Samuel:
And finally, my Kenneth. My serious, focused little Kenneth. He wants to be a man so badly!