Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Family

This is my family.


That dashingly handsome man is my husband, my best friend, my lover, my hero and the best kisser in all the world. Those five little faces that I just want to grab and smooch are my babies, and I get to grab and smooch them   all   day   long. 

Sometimes I can hardly believe it myself and I just have to take a moment to say "THANK YOU LORD FOR YOUR INCREDIBLE PLANS!!!".

Enjoy today.  Take time to be thankful for how the Lord has worked in your life!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heart For Home Thursday~ Sunshine

 I am really a fall lover.  Hardly anything gets me more excited than the thought of fall.  But even I have to admit, there is something so refreshing and uplifting about the beautiful sunshine dumping down on us.  Nothing lifts the soul like waking up to the sun streaming in my window.  It's beautiful.  It's peaceful.  It's warming.  It's comforting yet inspiring at the same time.

I've been reading through a book my mom gave me when I got married, (one that she read before she was married!).  In the book it talks about being the "sunshine of your home".  That always stands out to me because most of the time I feel very different from sunshine.  I feel more like the rain cloud or the fog or the thunder shower.  But I want to be that woman!  I want to be the sunshine of my home!  So where do I start?

If you've been around me long you'll probably know what I'm going to say, because I find this to be the greatest "cure all" for my heart attitude.  Thankfulness. Oh what a transforming thing it is!  It literally annihilates the grumpies with a picture of how great and loving my God is, and how amazingly good He is to me.  Thankfulness changes my whole world, and with God's help I find myself glowing with love for those around me.  I'm thankful for the spilled rice crispies because of the busy little hands that made the mess , for the husband who will be late every night this week because he's working hard for me and comes home with a kiss, for the many pairs of shoes which are ALL too small because little feet are growing just like they should,  and for a hungry little babe who wakes me up in the night because how many woman would love to have a little babe who would wake them up in the night.

Our homes need sunshine.  They thrive on sunshine.  When we "shine" for our family then we are beautiful.  We are peaceful.  We are warming.  And we are comforting yet inspiring.  Let's be that for our families!  Let's not let life's little details rob us of the joy of shining brightly!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More on Love (Part 3)

There is a common weakness I've witnessed among families who strive for high standards (of which I hope I am one).  It glares out quite often and sometimes clouds out all the "good choices" with it putrid stench.  I've seen it in myself.  I've seen it in my children.  I've seen it in those around me.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  It's that ugly, ugly thing called PRIDE.

We somehow forget that every blessing we receive, including the ability to make wise choices, is ALL only Gods grace.  It amazes me how easy it is to feel "better" than someone else when I should be on my face in view of my unworthiness. 

 Pride is in direct opposition to love.  While pride is completely inward focused, love looks out to others and places their highest good above our own desires.  As I raise my girls, this is one of the most critical things I want them to grasp.  And while they will have to deal with their own prideful hearts before the Lord, I play a great part in how I teach them to think.

Every day we are presented with questions by our children.  "Mommy, why didn't he get a spanking?", "Mommy, why don't we go to school like our neighbor does?", Mommy, why do they believe in Santa Clause?", "Mommy, why does she have a baby if she's not married?".  And then we have the choice.  The choice to instill a spirit of love or a spirit of pride.

Make sure that these conversations are not led to push our own agendas.  Every one of these conversations provide a precious opportunity to teach some truth about God.  For example, pride says, " Well, Honey, public school is a bad place and we would never choose to send you there because we love you.  Some parents just don't care about their children.  Kids who go to public school act very badly and so we don't want you to be around them." (I've heard this conversation before.)  Love says, "As parents we want to make the best choice for you that we can.  God has given us the responsibility to be YOUR parents and we believe He wants us to be responsible for your training.  The public schools have rules that don't honor God so we need to be sure that we are very loving to our neighbor so that she can see Jesus in us."  This conversation is obviously miles longer, but the focus needs to be on God's heart, not our own righteousness.

As we train our young children to serve the Lord, one obvious thing we need to train them in is service. Beware, BEWARE, BEWARE of raising "spotlight servants".  Those who are eager and ravenous to serve when in return they will receive praise and admiration, but when the glory has disappeared, so have they. 

Cultivate love.  Cheesy as it may sound, love really is the answer!  It's what Jesus commanded us with utmost importance.  Love Him.  Love others.  The ugly head of pride is squashed when love takes over.  Be very vigilant, and pray for my vigilance as we seek to build a heart of love in our children. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More on Love (Part 2)

This is more of a "Let's Do It!" post!  As a mom, I know that I feel love for my children and I show them love everyday in all the time I spend cooking, cleaning up after them, wiping their noses etc..  I'm pretty good at saying "I love you" all the time.  Oh, and kissing.  My children are kissed.  Much. But other than that, it is easy to become very complacent in truly expressing love to my children in ways that convinces them beyond a shadow of a doubt that they truly are LOVED!!!

One great place for starting out is to try and pin point different areas that really communicate love to each of your children.  I'm sure most of you have heard of "The Five Love Languages" by now, but if not, check it out.  It was a really mind opening thing to me to see how differently we all feel loved.  Here is a handy little test you can try on your kids.

Here's an example~  I can hug and kiss Lydia all day long, but when I write her a note of encouragement, she comes ALIVE.  You just watch her face light up.  With Bethany, you can tell her how wonderful she is until you're blue in the face, but take the time to actually DO something with her and her whole world changes. 

Make sure you take the time to get to know your children and how they best receive love.  It's not always super straight forward, and sometimes it feels like it's changing daily.  But when you hit it on the head it feels so good that your love is being communicated effectively!

There are sooooo many ways to express love to our children!  A new thing in our home has come with Lydia and Bethany learning how to read.  They now have their own "mailboxes" (empty desk drawers)  where we can all leave notes of encouragement for them.  They LOVE this!  Find special ways to spend time with them.  Come up with little presents (which also provide great lessons in thankfulness).  Play the "Who loves _____?" where everyone claps wildly for the named person.  Make a point to express love daily, through simple or extravagant means.

This morning I tried a little experiment with my older girls just to get to know them better.  We all sat at the table with paper and I gave them different scenarios like, "My favorite part of the day is...",  "When Mommy is angry I...",  Mommy makes me feel loved when..." and things like that.  It was precious and sobering to see their answers. 

Our children are little people, on the road to being young adults.  We are the only mothers they have (That's thought that still makes me shiver!) and that is such a influential and irreplaceable role!  What a privilege.  So let's do it!  Let's take the time to show them our love. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

More on Love (Part 1)

So, after posting about love last Thursday, it has really, REALLY been on my heart.  As I've been digesting all these thoughts, I thought I would share here some of the different areas the Lord has been challenging me in loving my children.

I think our culture has such a skewed view of what it really means to love our children.  I was privy to a conversation not long ago that wasn't too different from this. 

Person #1, "I just can't figure out how to love my children and not go completely insane.  Sometimes I just have to shut them out to be able to do anything for myself!"  Person #2, " I know what you mean.  I can't read a book, be on the computer or even make a phone call without my child constantly needing me.  Bedtime is outrages!  She needs me to sing, dance, and practically stand on my head for her to lay still.  And then she needs water, the bathroom and another song and dance!".  " Yeah,  I want to love my kids, but then I end up going crazy!  I have no life any more.  Whenever I do what I want to do, I feel like such a monster mom."  "I feel so bad for saying 'I can't wait until she's grown' but I can't wait until she's grown!  I can't figure out how to love her and still love myself."

Sad. Sad. Sad. Sad.  Our erroneous view of what it means to love our children leads to such a messed up life!  I think the first thing we have to give incredibly careful thought to is what does it truly mean to love our children. 

My favorite definition of love is, unselfishly choosing for someone else's highest good.  Is it the highest good for my daughter to think that her selfish desires need to be met before anything else?  Is it for her highest good to teach her that her happiness is the most important thing?  Is it for her highest good to raise her in an atmosphere that totally ill-equips her for looking outside of herself and seeking what the Lord wants for her.  I whole-heartedly say no.

Now don't get me wrong.  It is also NOT loving to be a selfish parent, who puts our own desires and whims ahead all others.  It is so easy to slip into the mindset of pushing our children aside as we pursue our own interests and desires.  And I'm not talking about putting them in full time day care so I can become a ballerina,  I'm talking about snapping at them for interrupting me while exercising, or for ignoring their "exciting news" because I want to read my book. 

Be very careful of both extremes.  Children can't think that they are the center of the universe.  They also can't think that Mommy's book, bath, movie, phone call, ice cream, blogging time, dishes are more important than they are.  The answer?  They must be taught.

They must be taught that the things that other people do have importance. That at times they must exercise patience, or respond correctly to an answer they don't agree with.  That is rude to interrupt unnecessarily.  ( Come up with a polite way for them to get your attention discretely without causing a huge interruption).

They must also be taught that Mommy loves them unconditionally.  That she delights in their joys and mourns over their sorrows.  That they are precious to her, because she speaks to them and treats them in a way that shows that they are precious. 

Think very carefully about the "love" that you are showing to your children.  When true love that honors the Lord is prevalent in the home, it is a beautiful thing.  When our selfish love, or our children's selfishness becomes the driving spirit, we end up in disaster.  This is one of those areas that we need to carefully keep watch over, and pray for the Lord's wisdom and mercy!  Let's keep careful watch over our homes!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Heart For Home Thursday~ With Love

I probably should have started here last week. Because the more I live life I am more and more convinced that nothing, no NOTHING is of value without love.  I know this is not a suprise or anything new.  Remember 1 Corinthians 13?  It lays it all out pretty clearly and with much more authority than I have.  I still felt that I needed to cover this as I start out on this Heart For Home venture. 
Love has the ability to radically change my whole world.  When my own selfishness is controlling my thought life, everything from an ill-timed haircut,  a baby covered in lunch head to toe, or silly song being sung over and over and over is enough to drive me batty and to make me feel sooooo sorry for myself.  When my focus is on loving those around me though, everything is different.  Suddenly cutting my husband's hair is a priviledge, cleaning Spaghetti O's out of my child's hair is a fun bubble bath and the sweet singing voice is a delight, or at least entertaining! 

God's love for us is the most compelling and life-changing example that we have to follow.  He who gave everything, when we had absolutely nothing to give back.  And the wonderful thing about loving like that is that the rewards that follow are truly beautiful.  Life is abundant and rich.  Our homes are running over with joy.  But it is soooooo easy to loose focus!

I've been reading the Duggar's new book and in it was included this poem. No author was included so I'm not sure who wrote it, but a few chunks of it really grabbed my heart and made me realize how my priorities have been slipping.

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in it's place, but have not love- I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.
If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative acheivements, but have not love- my children learn of cleanliness, not godliness.
Love leaves the dust in search of a child's laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.
Love is present through trials.
Love reprinmands, reproves, and is responsive.
As a mother there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is... LOVE.

Somehow, it's the times when I am most focused on ordering my home, having meals well planned and promptly and simply keeping my home running smoothly and effectively that I forget my focus of love and slip into selfish, easily angered attitudes.  As we look into ways to turn our hearts to our homes, let's encourage each other to keep the heart of love in what ever we do!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fair Fun!!!

It has been a pretty crazy summer for the daddy around here, so it was a very special day when we all packed into our maxed out mini van and headed for the county fair this past weekend!  A whole day with Daddy is about the best thing any of us girls around here can imagine!

 One of the biggest treats of the day was getting to smooch on my absolutely, unbelievably A D O R A B L E nephew.  We all ADORE Caleb!

The fair is extra special when we get to share it with some of our favorite people!

 Havi petting the "calf" (otherwise known as a baby goat!).

 Nothing in the world is as good as hanging out with Daddy!

Although Boppa comes in pretty close!

And Grandma too!

Getting faces painted by Auntie Rachel

The tractors are always a huge hit!

Thank you Lord for such a wonderful day!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Heart For Home Thursday~ Something Cold!

(Whew!  I barely made this one!  Here I go and say "I will post every Thursday" and I almost miss the first one!  I really have an excuse this time though.  Yesterday, our computer took a shocking turn for the worse and has fallen into some sort of coma.  Praying that it is resolved soon and doesn't need to be replaced!  Thankfully, my parents live just down the road so I'm posting from there!)

Summer is finally here in Oregon (I think) and with summer comes the ever constant issue of wanting something cold to drink. 

David comes in from a long, hot day of work and I say, "Can I make you some iced tea?  It will be ready in four hours."  Somehow it's just not quite right.  So my goal this summer was to always have something cold and ready to offer my hard working man.  It also is so fun to have something ready to offer anyone who enters my home.

Here are a few of this summer's favorites!

Iced Coffee~  Got the idea from Pioneer Woman and simplified!  All I do is put one cup coffee grounds in a pitcher, fill with cold water and let sit for at least eight hours.  Then I strain it through my tea strainer (or you could use cheesecloth.  I don't own cheesecloth.  Please feel sorry for me.  Or just think I'm strange.), and keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  At least that's what Pioneer Woman said.  Ours has never lasted that long!  When we're ready for a drink I just pour it over ice, add a little (or a lot) creamer and we're ready to roll.  This is SUPER yummy!  Just as good as anything I've ever spent four dollars on at a coffee shop!

Raspberry Lemonade~  Put one cup sugar, one cup lemon juice (or maybe a little less) in a pitcher.  Blend 1/2 cup raspberries (or strawberries, but then you would have to change the title to Strawberry Lemonade) with enough water to cover them.  I use my Bullet Blender that my husband got me for Christmas (big smile!), but a blender would work just as good.  Add the raspberry puree to the pitcher, fill with water and stir.  This will make a pretty strong batch, but I like it that way!  If isn't strong enough, add more lemon juice.  If it's too strong, add more water!  (I love recipes like this!).

Iced Tea~  Very basic I know, but this hits the spot like nothing else on a hot day!  I know there are a million different ways to make iced tea, but this is how I like it.  Fill a heat safe pitcher with boiling water.  (What is a heat safe pitcher?  One that doesn't crack or melt when you pour in the boiling water.)  Add three tea bags, 2/3 cup sugar and just a tiny pinch of baking soda.  Let cool for about an hour, then cool completely in the refrigerator. Serve over ice.  This is pretty sweet, but guess what!  I like it that way!

I love trying out different kinds of iced tea.  Some of my new favorites are Mint Harmonies and Lavender Lemongrass from our gracenotes teas.  I even like these without sugar, if you can believe it!

Planning ahead and keeping something ready and cold in the refrigerator has made me feel so much more equipped to practice unexpected hospitality as well as prepared for any sweaty husband or rosy cheeked little munchkins.  We usually have two pitchers ready for different options because as Havilah says'  "Caffeine makes you WILD!".

Enjoy these last few summer days!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two Months!!!

My baby is two months old.  Two months is always a hard one for me because my theory is that our big shifts come in twos.  We count how old they are by days for awhile.  Three days old.  Eight days old.  Twelve days old.  Until we get to two weeks.  Then they are two weeks old.  Three and a half weeks old. Seven weeks old.  Until we get to two months.  Now she's two months.  Almost two and a half months.  And I'll count in months until two years.  When she sill no longer be twenty-three months old, but TWO YEARS old! 

It makes me a little sad to already be at the month stage, but every day with my darling is so delightful that I really can't be sad!
Esther is a doll.  We girls are unable to contain our squeals of pure joy every time we see her.  Daddy keeps his composure pretty well, but that sweet smile he gives her speaks volumes.  At 11 lb.  12 oz at two months she is our first baby to actually border on chubbiness.  I think it's delicious!

I already can not begin to imagine life without my sweet Esther.  Everyday I thank the Lord, sometimes in tears, for giving us "just another girl".  Esther is a treasure!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Savings!!!

Just a quick note to make sure you've heard about our summer sale going on at .  For the month of August, if you spend $10.00 you can get any item for 1/2 off.   And it doesn't have to be smaller than your original purchase.  Take advantage of this to try out one of our more expensive items.  (The only item not included in this sale is the diaper bags.)

Tea in the summer?  All of our teas make delicious Iced Tea!!!  Give it a try!
I love our flowers!  There are so many different styles and with their non-slip pads they actually stay in place!

Beautiful cards for $1 or less!

Jewelry is the easiest way to add change to your favorite wardrobe!

And don't forget our babynotes line!  With my own little one, I am literally using these products every single day.

Have fun shopping and saving!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Dear Grace,
       Remember when You put your ballet clothes away dreaming of someday when you might have a little girl who would dance and twirl? 

 "Someday" was today.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Heart For Home Thursdays!!!

I love Thursdays!  Three reasons immediately come to mind.
1.  It is no longer Wednesday (Wednesdays and me have a bad track record.).
2.  The garbage truck comes and we once again have an empty garbage can.
3.  There are two more days to refocus and gear up for a delightful weekend.

So in celebration of this wonderful day, I am starting "Heart For Home Thursdays"!

These posts may include anything from a recipe, a cleaning technique, a thought or attitude about the home or anything else I try to squash into the "home" catagory.  I'm excited about this for two reasons.  I love my home.  And I'm excited for anything that keeps me focused, challenged and inspired in this area.  I also love my blog and staying connected with all of you.  Hopefully this will keep me more consistent.

Now here's the real kicker!  At the end of each month I'm going to have a small giveaway for anyone who commented on any of the Heart For Home posts that month.  Emphasis on small here.  No Kitchen Aids or Nikon cameras headed your way.  Sorry.

Have a BEAUTIFUL day!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't Forget!!!

This is my reminder to me~  Don't forget to be thankful today.  Just don't.  Without thankfulness God's amazing gifts to us slip past unnoticed.  With thankfulness the world's worries and trials shrink and fade.  Here's a quick ten.

I'm thankful~

1.  That I live in Oregon, where everything outside my window is green and gorgeous.
2.  For a husband who listens, learns and loves unconditionally.
3.  For the blessing of free cherries.
4.  For babies who fall asleep in random places (like on the floor next to me!).
5.  For new sheets that feel super luxurious.
6.  For new windows that open.
7.  For silly songs little girls sing.
8.  For disposable wipes, which make the world (and our desk) a less sticky place.
9.  For a God who always forgives.  Completely.
10.  For new mornings with new mercies.

How about you?  What are you thankful for?