Monday, June 25, 2012

Thank You!!!

Thank you all for your prayers for me at the conference this weekend.  I felt totally covered in peace and the Lord really blessed that time.  I was so encouraged by the entire conference and am so excited to implement the things I was challenged in!

Welcome to those of you I met at the conference!  You were such a blessing to me and I can't wait to get to know you better!

It feels so glad to be back home with my girls, where I belong!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 9

There are a few more random ideas I'll be adding, but that is mostly what I'll be sharing.  Here's my brief sum up;  Remember~

  • Remember and believe that children are a blessing and a reward from the Lord.  Don't let any other way of thinking come into your mind!
  • That we are aiming our children towards a goal.  Our goal should be children who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and to love their neighbor as their self.
  • That nothing else should take higher priority over our ultimate goal.
  • The pre-school years are the foundation of your children's lives.
  • Train obedience as top priority
  • Build in them a heart of obedience as you draw their heart close to yours
  • Tie those heart string!  And beware of cutting them!
  • Love your children, and teach them what real love is.
  • Teach your children to learn.
  • Teach them the truth.  Make sure they know the truth about God.
  • Teach your children scripture.

Please be praying for me as I speak at the conference on Friday.  I really am not a speaker and am feeling dreadfully nervous.  For some reason my body thinks I should stop breathing while I speak and that never turns out very well.  All I want is for God to be glorified and for other moms to feel encouraged.  Please pray that the Lord can use me however He desires!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 8

Yesterday we talked about the importance of teaching your child to learn, how using the "whys" are a great opportunity and what not to teach your children.  Today we're going to talk about what things we should purpose to teach them!

The first thing that we purpose to teach our babies (yes, I said babies!) is that God made them.  And not only them but the world around them.  When our girls are very first learning to talk we ask them at every opportunity, "Who made you?". "Gaaaa!" they reply (meaning God!).  "Who made the stars?" while pointing at the stars. "Gaaaa!".  "Who made these flowers?".  "Gaaaa!".  "Who made your toes?".  "Gaaaa!". 

We want our children to see God's hand in everything around them.  Many children grow up feeling that God is separate from their own personal lives, then they have to work as they get older to believe that God truly cares about them and every detail that goes on in their lives.

 Children learn by repetition, so we must purpose to repeat over and over and over the things we want them to know without a doubt.  Tell them all the time how God loves them, how He made them with purpose, how He died for their sins.  Don't wait.  Teach them the truths about God before any other way of thinking settles in.

You would be surprised how early children are ready to start hiding scripture in their hearts.  In fact it is usually the littlest ones who pick up the new verses the quickest.  When we are consistently working on verses it is astounding to me how easily they can learn God's word.  Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to fill their little heads with scripture!  Nothing could be more valuable.  It is so helpful when it comes to training your children too.  "Why do we work diligently?  Remember how Colossians 3:23 says "Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord"?  This is a "whatever you do" so we need to work at it with all of our heart!". 

Faithfully learning and reviewing scripture is so valuable, not only for the kids but for Mom too!  Take advantage of this time!

There are many ideas or thoughts that we want to be "normal" for our girls that are not normal in the world around them.  We want our girls to enjoy each other and be best friends. So we talk all the time about how much we love our sisters, how blessed we are to have friends built into our family, how much we miss each other when we are apart.  If we teach them that their sisters are annoying, they will believe their sisters are annoying.  If we teach them their sisters are a blessing, they will believe their sisters are a blessing.

Be careful what you are teaching.  Regardless of what our words say, our attitudes and actions say much, much more.  I feel like I'm telling my girls constantly to talk nicely to each other.  Yet over and over I'm catching them talking bossy and impatiently and in a voice that sounds a little- wait! Like mine. 

No matter what I tell my children, what I live out will be what they really learn.

So to sum up, teach, teach, teach!  But make sure it is the same thing you are living!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 7

Because we love our children, one of the things we delight in is helping them learn

If you listen to the wisdom of home school moms who have gone before they will tell you, "Don't rush the academics!".  And that is really very good advice.  I'm just not a very good person to give it because I am always so impatient to start the academics. I probably start it way too soon! 

One thing I will say emphatically is, don't think of the academics as the only avenue of learning.  In fact, try and separate the two.  Academics are important.  Our children need sufficient academics to function easily in this world.  But learning transcends academics.  Academics will (and should!) be different for each child, but every child should learn to learn!

One of the first opportunities we have to help our children learn to learn is a phase almost every child goes through.  Ironically this phase is looked on with dread by most parents.  It is of course, the "Why? Phase".  Most of the time I see parents either giving in to the "whys" or working hard to shut them down as fast as possible.  I suggest neither indulging the "whys" not shutting them down.  I recommend harnessing them!

In our home we work at teaching our children to only ask good questions.  We also believe that the only "bad" question is one that you don't really want an answer to.  So as we go through the why phase we teach them that if they ask a question, they need to listen and learn from the answer.  If they are asking a question that they already know the answer to, we make them think about it and tell us the answer.  If they ask a question they just got an answer to, we address that they are just asking for the sake of asking and not to learn something.

When our girls ask good questions, it is our heart's desire to give them good answers.  My husband is amazing at this!  When I'm around him and the girls it reveals how lazy I get in taking the time to answer questions.  No question (or question asker!) is too small for him, and his explanations are easy to grasp and educational.  My girls learn so much by spending time with him.  I want to be the same way!

Now that our girls are getting a little older, the questions are getting harder and many times I find myself saying, "I have no idea!".  I usually try and add on there, "But we can find out!".  What I need to work on is taking the time to make sure we do find out about those hard questions!  If I can't tell her exactly why Pluto isn't a planet any more, then I might as well find out so she can learn!

Some questions take great wisdom in answering, even from the little ones.  Call me crazy but I still think honesty is the best policy though!  When I was pregnant and the girls asked me how the baby was going to come out, I purposed to give an honest, age appropriate, yet accurate explanation of what would happen.  I think sometimes we feel like we have to choose between lying to them or scarring them for life.  It's not that hard to speak the truth with discretion.

I am a BIG proponent of speaking the truth.  I used to baby sit a little girl who really thought she was a fairy that her daddy found under a flower petal.  She believed in Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and Jesus.  Someday she will be in for a rude awakening.  Will she "have faith" in Jesus when all the other things she "had faith" in were just pretend? 

Games are fun.  We love to pretend and play.  But it is very important to us that our girls know the difference always between what is real and what is pretend.  We see no place in our parenting to purposefully lie to our children.

So we've covered how to respond to their questions and what NOT to teach them.  Tomorrow we will talk about what to teach them!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 6

Since it is Sunday and no one has time to sit and read a LONG blog post, I thought I would keep this section short.  Since I wrote about this not long ago it shouldn't take too long!

When shaping our children's foundation it is very important that we understand what it means to truly love our children and to teach them in a way that is truly loving.

Real love is choosing unselfishly for the other person's highest good.  Many parents feel guilty for not doing every little thing their children desire.  It is not loving to teach your child that the entire universe revolves around them.  Real love shows them how amazing they are as a precious creation of God's and leads them to see those around them as equally amazing and important.  Real love doesn't cater to their every whim. It learns their dreams, desires and preferences and seeks to bring them joy.

Do not allow the world's way of thinking make you feel guilty.  Shower your children with real love and raise them to be people who are not so self focused that they are unable to look for ways to love those around them.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 5

If you haven't been following along, I've been briefly (or not so briefly!) covering what I'm going to be sharing at an upcoming conference.  You can catch up by scrolling down or clicking on these links~

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Yesterday I left off talking about how true obedience requires not only obedient actions but an obedient heart as well.  "How" to get the heart to be obedient is really a complicated question and I'm sure there are others who could give you a more complex answer.  For me, my advice would be, draw you child's heart as close to your own as you can.

Around here we talk about a concept called "heart strings".  I can't even remember where I first heard this word picture but I use this in my attitude toward all my girls and I try to help them understand this picture also.

Imagine between your heart and the heart of your child there are beautiful little strings tying them together.  The more strings there are, the stronger the bond is.  My desire is to maintain a close, loving and understanding relationship with all of my children through all of their years.  To some this feels like an impossible task.  I don't believe it is.  But I do know that it will take work.  I desire to tie more and more heart strings and to protect them with all of my might.

I tie heart strings by~

Listening eagerly to their stories and ideas
Celebrating their joys
Caring about their heart breaks (even the little ones)
Appreciating their best efforts
Encouraging when they feel sad
Surprising them with delights
Helping them see how amazing I think they are
Patiently teaching
Finding the time, no matter what

While it takes time and effort to tie as many heart strings as possible, I find it takes more effort to make sure that I am not cutting those heart strings.  The best relationships in the world can be quickly undone by unloving actions and behaviour.  As a mom with young children life can be hectic, and it is in daily life that our children are either drawn closer to us or driven away from us.

I cut through heart strings by~

Not listening to their ideas, their dreams, their aspirations
Being too busy
Talking at them instead of to them
Discouraging them when they are struggling
Being impatient

There is one thing that creeps into my life that I call the "chainsaw of heart strings".  It truly feels like I'm just slashing through those precious bonds.  That thing is, frustration.

I never imagined I would be a frustrated mom.  My own mom was one of the least angry mothers I've ever seen, so I never had that as an example.  When frustration sets in, its as if everything I know flies out the window.  The words I speak, my facial expression, my actions are consumed with anger and I find myself slashing through these precious heart strings and driving my darling girls farther and farther from myself. 

It is the easiest thing in the world to feel "out of control" during those times but let's face it, giving in to frustration and being out of control is about as contrary to the fruits of the Spirit as it comes.

Galatians 5:22-23~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

Every single one of those is a contradiction to feeling angry and frustrated. 

When I'm feeling frustrated, the only thing I can choose to do is to surrender myself, my words, my actions, my emotions to the Lord.  I can do nothing in my own strength.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. 

If you feel frustrated as a mother, please don't feel alone.  But please don't allow yourself to remain in a place that is dishonoring to the Lord.

As my children have grown older it has been wonderful to pass on the idea of heart strings to them.  Lydia has always been quite honest and forthright with me.  A few weeks back however, I caught her trying to deceive me about something.  Instead of only addressing the issue of dishonesty, I also reminded her that my desire is have our hearts be close, and that if I can't trust her, that chops away at our heart strings.  Because she has watched my desire to draw our hearts close, that greatly impacted her.  She did not want to do what is right only because "it was right" but because it impacted her relationship with me.

That is what we want our children to understand in their relationship with the Lord.  In fact that's what I want to understand in my relationship with the Lord!  We obey Him because we love Him.  I remember being impacted as a teen with the thought that God's laws reflect God's heart. So when we break His laws, we are breaking His heart.

If we want our children to have the heart for obedience, we must continue to draw their hearts towards us and towards the Lord!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 4

Yesterday I talked about the importance of starting your children out with a strong foundation.  The pre-school years are the foundation laying years.  Every day we are setting them out on the wrong path or the right path.  I talked about how we believe obedience to be the starting place for training up children who will love the Lord with all of their heart.

When talking about obedience though, it is absolutely crucial to look at the full picture.  Around here we have a saying.  It says, "Obedience has two parts; The action and the heart."

We must teach our children to obey.  When my brother-in-law was a little boy he was walking down a path when his father yelled "Benjamin STOP!".  He stopped dead in his tracks as a rattle snake slithered across the path in front of him.  Sometimes we see in obvious ways how obedience actually saves us from death.  Even Proverbs talks about that.

Proverbs 23:13 and 14~  Do not withhold discipline from a child;  if you punish him with a rod, he will not die.  Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Actual physical obedience not only protects our children but it makes life with your child so much more joyful.  Over and over I am astounded at the contrast.  I have a friend who thinks I hold very unfair standards for my children, but when I watch how dismayed she is chasing down her little ones and how little relationship she has with them, nothing would entice me to trade the peace and close bond I share with my girls.

But outward obedience is really only half of the coin.  Without the heart for obedience we are setting up for failure.

As a mom of little children I can speak from experience when I say, we get tired!  Our days are busy, there is always something that needs done and we long for there to be peace in the home.  So when we ask our children to do something and they storm off, stomping their feet but in action "obeying" it is all too tempting to just let in lie!  If they are doing what I said then why not just leave it alone? 

Because in reality, if I am teaching my children that it is "okay" to obey like that, I am actually teaching them that it is okay to not obey at all.  It's a lie to think that obedience with a rebellious heart is any sort of obedience.  The heart must be right for it to be real obedience.

So how do we engage the heart?  I'll get to that tomorrow!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 3

I hope it's not too confusing chopping it up like this!  If you need me to clarify something please speak up!

Yesterday I finished talking about the goal we are aiming towards.  To some this does not sound like a pre-school topic, so why am I worrying about all of this at this point in their lives?  Because the pre-school years are the foundation of your children's lives.

My husband builds houses, so if you doubt the importance of a good foundation, feel free to ask him about it.  Before you start building, you very VERY carefully build a solid foundation.  For your pre-schoolers, the foundation is being laid.  Right now.  Either a good one or a bad one. 

Many, many parents end up with a pile of regrets as their children get older and they realize the foundation they've laid is faulty.  Don't despair!  God is gracious to us all daily and there is always hope.  Instead of trying to continue to build on the shaky foundation, look at what the best way would be to tear it down and start again, no matter what age they are at.  It will be MUCH harder, but it can be done!

For those of you who still have young ones, take advantage of this opportunity to build a solid foundation for their young lives to build on.

If the end goal is to have children who love the Lord and love those around them with all they have, then what is the first step? 

We believe it is obedience.

Over and over in scripture it is commanded to children to obey their parents.  It's not a "good idea".  It is essential for raising children who will one day obey the Lord.

We all wonder when the "right time" to start training in obedience is.  We would say, as soon as possible.  Our mainstream experts say to wait until children are two years old and can understand what they are being taught.  My question is, do these experts have children?  Esther just turned one year old and it is abundantly clear that she has been able to understand many things for a long time!

If you wait until your child is two years old to start training in obedience, you have trained your child for two years that they do NOT have to obey!  You've already started an unstable foundation that has to be torn down and started again.

We start training our children in obedience around five or six months old.  Now I need to clarify for a moment what I mean by "train". 

When I was first parenting, to me training and disciplining meant the same thing. It didn't feel right to be disciplining my sweet little girl for naughty things she did when she didn't know any better. But at the same time I knew she needed to learn to do what was right. Learning the difference between training and disciplining changed everything.

I train my children to do or not do things that they do not know. I discipline my children when they do or do not do things that they do know.

Training for our girls almost always starts at the dinner table.  In our home Daddy holds the babies during meal time to give Mommy a break.  Around five or six (sometimes seven or eight) months old, Baby starts getting interested in the plate or bowl sitting right in front of them.  Now we have a choice.  Push the plate away, or start training.  We choose to start training.

 Instead of pushing the dinner plate away, we take the hand off of the plate and tell them "No.".  When they continue to grab at it we continue to tell them "No.", followed by a little flick to the hand.  It doesn't take long (if we are consistent!) before even a little baby understands that when Daddy and Mommy say no, they mean it.

In our house, crawling babies are not allowed in the kitchen.  It is dirty and dangerous.  When Esther first learned to crawl, we had to go through a training process for her to learn that she was not allowed in there.  Now she knows.  Now when she chooses to crawl in, she is disciplined.  There is not a shadow of a doubt that she understands what she is expected to do.  She has a very stubborn nature so of course she is going to test at any given moment.  I must respond correctly to these tests so that she continues to believe that obedience is not optional!

(I have to add,  all children are different.  Lydia and Bethany trained quite easily.  Havilah was the most stubborn and strong-willed little girl I have ever seen.  Some days I truly wanted throw in the towel and declare defeat.  But it worked. Slowly, slowly she learned to be obedient.  Today she is an absolute delight.  Ella had such an easy going personality that in some areas we were a little lax in her training.  Now we are playing catch up for not being as careful in her earlier years.  I call Esther "Havi 2" because she reminds us soooo much of Havilah!  We are bracing for a long ride, knowing that in the end it will bear much fruit!  Every child is different, but every child must learn to obey!)

I could go on and on and on about child training but for now I will simply say, be wise about who you listen to.  Seek advice!  Seek wisdom!  But choose it carefully.

When I was a young mom, one of the people who thought they had the best advice for me strongly disliked being a mom.  Her child was a terror.  Yet she thought she had all of the answers for me.  Be careful who you listen to, but always be ready to listen too.  As parents we always have areas we need to grow in and we must remain humble and ready to listen to advice.  But always, always take the given advice back to scripture and see if it lines up with God's heart.

I recommend Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  Also Large Family Logistics has some great portions on raising children.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Taking Advantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 2

I left off yesterday talking about "aiming".  If our children are like arrows as Psalm 127 refers to them, we have to ask ourselves, what are we aiming for? If we don't have a clear picture of what our "target" is, we have an almost impossible chance of hitting it.

When we first had Lydia (our first born), we were given a parenting seminar on cd by Pastor Dee Duke.  He used an analogy in those that stuck with me.  He compared parenting to raising dogs.

Imagine you have a mutt.

He's kind of cute.  A little smelly, but you like him.  Your goals for your mutt aren't too complex.  You don't wanting him jumping up on your company, he needs to go to the bathroom outside, NO biting and preferably no chewing on your shoes.  If he is a really smart dog you may even teach him to sit and roll over. 

If you accomplish these things you achieved your goal.  Your mutt is trained.

But imagine now that you have a seeing eye dog.

Every thing he is taught, he is taught for a purpose.  He must obey everything he is taught or a human's life is at risk.  His training is not for convenience or for "cuteness".  This dog has a noble goal.  And his training reflects it. 

We have to know what we are training our children for so that we can do it well.  As I talked about in my last post, my husband and I believe with our whole heart that the most important thing we raise our children to do is to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves.  Every other goal we strive for has to fall under that.

Whenever we take any different goal, however good it may seem, and place it above raising our children to love the Lord, it falls short of where we should be aiming as parents.  If I want my girls to be masterful musicians for the purpose of being masterful musicians, that is pride.  If I want them to develop skills that they can use to glorify the Lord and to be a blessing to those they are a round, that is working towards our goal.  If  I want my children to get along with each other so that life is more convenient for me and looks good to the people around me, that is pride.  If I want them to learn to get along with each other to build their relationships with each other and to point other people to a loving God, that is working towards our goal. 

It is extremely important to think carefully about the choices we make for our children and to hold to high standards.  But when we allow those high standards to become the end goal, we are wasting our efforts.  Be careful in how you raise your children, so that God gets the glory and not us.

So what does this have to do with pre-school?  I'll get to that next time!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Taking Avantage of the Pre-School Years~ Part 1

In a week and a half, I am going to be sharing at our state home school conference.  My session is called "Taking Advantage of the Pre-school Years".  A couple of you have asked what I'm sharing so I thought I would just do a "blog version" here to help me get my thoughts in order.  That way if you come to the conference you wont feel like you have to come listen to me just because you know me!

Some of this is repeat of things I've already shared here, but hopefully it wont be too repetitive for you!

I love being a mom.  And I mean L-O-V-E, love being a mom!  But as a mom of pre-schoolers I find that I am one of the most pitied people on the planet.  Everywhere I go I get sympathetic stares.  People try and assure me that someday I will return to "the land of the living".  One person once stated that raising children was like being pecked to death by a chicken.  And I am not just talking about the main stream public.  These attitudes are just as common among believers.

So I had to ask myself why.  Why is raising children looked on with dread and disdain to those around me when I find such joy and peace and fulfillment? 

When I'm talking to other moms who differ on their view of raising children, I find that we almost always think very differently on two important points.  The first one is how we view children.

Society puts children in a tidy little box.  They are a great accessories to our well planned lives.  You get married.  You finish school.  You get a good job.  You buy a house.  You spend your "time together".  And then finally, you are ready to have a baby.  You are responsible enough to "handle it".  But children never seem to glide into your "perfect life" like you expect.  They change your lifestyle, your sleeping habits, your social calender.  All of the sudden you are stuck at home, smelling like spit up, sleep deprived, lonely.  Then they start growing and the messes get bigger, the noises get louder and you can't really remember why you thought this was such a good idea.  But you really want your "perfect family" so you have a couple more, hoping that somehow you will survive this mayhem.  Then you hear from someone like me, who actually enjoys my life with five crazy babies and you're certain that I'm either certifiably crazy, perfect or I'm lying to you.

I'm not crazy.  I'm NOT ANYWHERE close to perfect.  And I am not lying to you.

I happen to believe a little secret hidden deep in God's word that not many people really believe.  And by not many people I truly mean, not many people. 

Psalm 127:3~  Behold, children are a GIFT from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a REWARD.
(emphasis added)

"But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!". I've heard that one lots.  When you think of a gift or a reward what is your first thought? "Oh, I better put a limit on that and make sure I don't end up with too much reward!".  Not me!  When I think of a gift or a reward I think, "I CAN'T WAIT!!!".

When we got married, my twenty year old husband had this crazy notion that we would be better off trusting that the Lord knew what was best for us better than we did and that He was able to provide for us better than we could for ourselves.  Don't worry.  We were told how crazy we were.  We know we look like fools.  We know we look irresponsible.  We also know peace.  The total and complete peace of resting in the Lord's hands rather than trying to hold everything together ourselves.  And we have not regretted it for an instant. 
However I've met many people who felt that they "should" have as many children as the Lord "allows" who have regretted it!  Whatever our beliefs on having children are, if we think of children as anything other than the most priceless treasures, treasures with eternal value, we will miss out.

If you are struggling as a parent, struggling to find joy or peace, I urge you to take a good hard look at how you really view children.  Do you really believe that they are a reward and a blessing from the Lord?  Or are you placing something else at higher value that your children are "inconveniencing"?

The second point I find often differing is the view on what goals we are aiming at for our children. 

In that same chapter of Psalms, the writer refers to children as arrows.  I like that word picture because arrows are made to go somewhere.  Where they go depends on where the archer sends them.

The truth is, we are all aiming our children towards some sort of target, whether we realize it or not.  The choices we are making now are laying the path for where our children will end up.  The most common goals parents have for their children is that they end up "happy" and "successful".  Why is it we can't look around us and see how the world's recipe for "success" does not end up with "happy" people?  And even should that goal be attainable, is that really the goal we should be aiming for?

In Mark, one of the teachers of the law asked Jesus what the most important of all the commandments was.  He wanted to know where to aim his life.  When seeking an answer as to where I should aim my children, I want to ask Jesus too.  So I go to Him and see what His answer was. 

Mark 12:29-31~ Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear O Israel!  The Lord our God is one Lord;  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'.  There is no commandment greater than these."

There is no commandment greater than these.  When we look at where we want to aim our children, that is it.

I'll pick up here tomorrow Lord willing!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Happy 1st and 90th Birthday!!!

Last Sunday was Esther's first birthday.  It was also my Grandma's nintieth brithday!  Esther is named after my grandma (Esther Marjorie) so they have always had a special bond.  Grandma says Esther is really her baby, but she graciously allows us to take care of her!

We are so blessed to live only a couple of blocks away from both my parents and my grandparents.  My girls adore their great-grandparents and it is a treasure that they are such a big part of their lives!

I have such a hard time believing that Esther is really a year old.  I keep pretending she is a baby, but with all these beautiful nieces and nephews being born, reality is slowly hitting me that my darling little girl is growing up. 

Esther is priceless to us.

She is not just "another" girl in our family.

Her temperment is not always the easiest to get along with.  She has an extremely strong will and likes to have thing go her way!

But she is also sweet as can be.  Her smiles make the world go round.

We love you our sweet, beautiful Esther.  We praise the Lord for giving you to us and we rejoice in every day we get to spend with you!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Love~ The Best Work In the World

Last Tuesday was our eighth wedding anniversary. 

It was perfect.

Nothing too exciting.....  Grandparents had the girls spend the night at their house.  We went to the movies (and they let us in for free!) then stopped by the grocery store and went home and made dinner together.  It couldn't have been any more wonderful.  I wouldn't have changed a thing.

I am truly married to my best friend. There is no one I would rather have by my side doing anything in the world than him. When I am lonely, he is the one I long to talk to. He makes me smile, he knows all of my quirks and inside jokes. We find joy in each other's interests and love to hear whatever the other one is thinking.  We bare our souls to each other.

(Our engagement photo ~ 17 and 20 years old!)

He is also my lover. He makes my heart skip a beat. In my eyes he really is the strongest, smartest, most handsome man alive. I wake up every morning madly in love with him. He gives me butterflies in my stomach.

(Our wedding day 6/5/04~ 18 and 20 years old)

Most importantly, he loves me sacrificially, and I strive to do the same.  He loves me through the bad times.  When there seems to be no end to the tears.  When I'm grumpy and sullen.  When I'm cold and uncaring.  When I act or speak foolishly.  When I'm sick and unable to serve him.  He faithfully loves me with real Christ-like love.

( 7 months pregnant~ 19 and 21 years old)

Sometimes I feel like I say over and over how much I love my husband.  But the truth is, I could never say it enough.  He is my hero, my lover, my protector, my playmate, my leader, my supporter, my confidant, my heart throb, my inspiration, my best friend. 

But this did not just happen.  I think many people in this world are just waiting for "real love" to strike them.  I cringe when I read people writing about what "love is" when by watching their lives it is obvious that they really have no idea what love is. 

Love is a choice.  Love is work.  But is the most beautiful, worthwhile, rewarding work in the world!  I so look forward to many years of learning to love each other better.

On our wedding day, a friend told me " May today be the day you love each other the least." I've thought of that so many times as I think "And I thought I loved him then!".  I hope with anticipation to look back to now and say the same thing. 

God's ways are good.  And in Him are abundant joys!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

This Must Be June!

The craziness has officially started!  June is incredibly packed for us this year. Adding to our usual anniversary, Father's Day, two birthdays, gardening (in the rain?) and other spring/summer goodness, this year we are adding a 90th birthday party, a baptism, a home school conference and it feels like the list never ends. 

I am determined to stay caught up here.  Here's a little secret~ If I see you here I am much more motivated to keep writing!!!

I'm off for now to prepare for dinner with our two brothers and their wife/fiance!  It's going to be a good day!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012


Charlene H. !!!!

You are the winner!!!  You have won $20 to spend at

Thank you all for participating and for your encouraging words.  I love you all!!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Help Me Celebrate!!!

Today is the four year anniversary of my blog!!!!    (If I could throw confetti at you, I would!)

When I started my blog on June 1, 2008 I really, really, really did not expect to still be blogging on June 1, 2012!  It was really more of an experiment.  It looked like fun.  I thought maybe my mom would read it, (Which she has!  Thanks for always being my best follower Mom!).  I never would have dreamed how many lives it would connect me to and what a blessing it would be to share just a bit of our lives with all of you.

If you get a chance, go back and look at my very first blog post, here .  Look at those little babies!!!  (The thing that jumps out at me more than anything is, we had no idea who Havilah would be!!!!  Oh, what a wild ride was ahead of us and we had NO idea!!!)  I can hardly remember those days before our vivacious Ella Joy and our darling Esther.  Life was wonderful then, but God has been abundantly gracious to me over these past four years.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who stop by and read!!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who leave comments, it makes me feel much less lonely around here!  Thank you, thank you, thank you for those of you who take the time to tell me you are reading and that I am appreciated.  Your words are what keep this blog going!

I thought to celebrate this anniversary, I wanted to celebrate you because I know for a fact I wouldn't be doing this any more if it wasn't for all of you!  We are adding some new products to (including some yummy all organic summer tea flavors!) so I'm going to giveaway $20 credit to one random participant.  All you have to do~  LEAVE A COMMENT

I'll draw a winner first thing Monday morning so keep watch!

Thanks for being such a blessing to me these past years!  I hope I can be a blessing to you too!