Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Flashback Foto (For a F-Abby-lous Friend)

2003: Ardyn carefully feeding Abby a bit of slushy at a PCBC softball game.

By Ardyn Grace:
Abby is a very good friend to me. I've been to every one of her birthday parties...every single one. I like her new room and her big bathroom. Her little sisters are very cute too.

We love to do arts together. One time we went to a tree and painted a stick, a pine cone, and a leaf. Then we found this old can and we painted it red, white, & blue to match the sticks. Then we came back in and had lunch together, but then she had to go home.

My favorite thing about Abby is her hair. It's short and pretty. We are good friends because we pretty much like all the same things.

Happy Birthday, Abby. See you tonight.
Love, Ardyn

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Full and Rich

Last night my parents-in-law came to spend the evening. Upon their arrival around suppertime, we seemed to have an immediate gift exchange. The kids wanted Papaw and Grandma to open their gifts "hurry, right now!" Next the kids opened their gifts. And just when I thought "Hurray! We get to eat!", Fred came around the room with another round of fun. He had a plastic coffee container filled with loose change. He allowed each child (and ultimately each parent - yipee) to dip their hand in, and grab as much money as they could.

He loves to tell the story of my niece, Mallory's first experience with the "money can". She reached her hand in, but once it was full of coins, she couldn't quite squeeze it back out. He advised, "Loosen your grip, a little." His young, but savvy granddaughter retorted, "No way, Papaw! Then I'll loose some of the money!" We giggled at Mallory's plight as we each strategized our own dive. In those brief moments of housewide grabbiness, I thought, "We are a greedy bunch, aren't we?"

Then I looked a little closer. Everyone was giggling and chanting...Freddie, by far, the most enthusiastic of the lot. "Git in there, kiddo! Gitya all you can!" he would cheer. He even let Ashlin's little hand go one more time. As capacitated fists emerged from the can, renegade coins escaped between fingers to go bouncing and spinning along the floor. In full participation, our cozy crowd applauded the spectacle. Each counted his bounty and finally washed up for dinner.

I am so thankful for the kind generosity of my father-in-law. He definitely passed it along to his son, and I reap the benefits and blessing almost daily.

I'm even more grateful that my Father in Heaven is the generous giver of Life! He sent along His Son to make all things possible. His kindness leads me to repentance.

This Christmas Season, my prayer is this: as the Father offers you a portion of His wealth, I pray we have the confidence to dive deep into His riches, hold tight to His precious promises, and be willing to share with others out of the overflow of His blessings. His desire is that you come away from time spent with him with boundless joy and peace...and an undeniable hunger for more!

"David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying.
'Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name."
"But who are we, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand....I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. O Lord, God of our fathers, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you." 1 Chronicles 29:10-18

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tis the Season

Mari strutted into the kitchen dragging her plush puppy by the leash. I sweetly asked, "Are you walking your dog?"

"Nah, I shot a deer."
"Mom, I need a shop knife to cut the guts out."

(I took her that instant to have a bubble bath and paint her nails. Poor thing is apparently suffering from an environmental testosterone overdose.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Monday, December 15, 2008...

Outside my window...muggy and warm. Where is my reason for a fire in the fireplace? Please, come back, dear brisk wind. ***update: After blogging in her well insulated home, she went outside...prayers have been answered. Apparently a cold front came through overnight while I slept without covers. (thanks for the weather update, C!)

I am thinking...that Christmas is VERY soon! I feel as though I've been celebrating for weeks. I love that about December.

I am thankful family of worshippers at IBC. Sunday's gathering to sing "Glory to God in the Highest" was wonderful. How encouraging to meet with friends who share a consuming love for the Creator!

From the learning rooms...This will be our last week for 2008. Ashlin is hoping to start her 1st grade curriculum after the new year. Ardyn and I have been working together to help her stay focused. She is making strides in the right direction. I asked the boys if they would consider going back to DVD's next year since I would be nursing a newborn. They moaned, "Oh, Mom, please teach us." That's great for my ego, not so much for next Fall's schedule. I'll see what I can do.

From the kitchen...except for the floor, all is tidy. I need to mop BADLY. Saturday night I made Ginger Citrus Talapia with Jasmine rice. Yum-double-my. And it will be "double me" if I don't steer clear of the jasmine rice. woo, hoo that stuff is good. Lukie put Taco Soup in the crock pot Saturday night so we were able to eat the moment we walked in from church Sunday. I was responsible for taking a bread to Sunday School. JW let me go see "Fireproof" with Philip and he made pumpkin bread for me to take. Does he rock or what?

I am valuer pants with black cami and purple long sleeve shirt. Red finger nails....special for the holidays. I painted them late Saturday night and after cleaning the kitchen, they're already needing attention. Back to a'la natural...

I am creating...not much. I think I'm created out. Sad.

I am be sweet to my kids this week. All my outside responsibilities have subsided. This week I can just concentrate on being kind and setting a gentle example. Lord, please help me.

I am reading..."Wolves of Willoughby Chase" to the kids in the afternoons. I've almost made it through my December magazines and catalogs. I look forward to the trip to Mom's so that I can start something new.

I am find the motivation to paint the hallway. It still sports a splotchy, primer finish. The trim is done. It wouldn't take long, I would just need everyone to stay in their room for a couple hours. Hey! I think I just found my motivation!

I am hearing...the hum of the computer tower and the wind chime on the patio.

Around the house...everyone is on task. A structured little home, we are! It shouldn't last long, so I'd better type quickly.

One of my favorite PBS. Last night there was a David Foster special. Josh Groban. Brian McNight singing "...after the love is gone...what used to be right is wrong..." from Earth, Wind & Fire. Andre Bocelli singing "The Prayer" with Catherine McPhee. They should have called it "A Little Program we put together just for our friend, Cari!"

A few plans for the rest of the week...Philip's parents are coming Tuesday for dinner. There is an Adult Choir party Wednesday...not sure if we'll make that. Last minute shopping Thursday or Friday. Hopefully a haircut and lots of packing. We're meeting Josh & Kathy at Mom's next week. Huge Yuletide Fun!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...With Christmas musicals on the brain, I found this photo this week. It is from a Christmas Program at MBBC in 1982. **that's my brother, Tim, two people diagnally to the left of me, in a gray, v-neck sweater. (I'm hoping this is not "Joy to the World" the frightened facial expressions, Mrs. Badry must be commanding the "Silent" part of the night.

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Field & Stream

The alarm's ring barged into my fragile sleep at 5am this morning. I lazed around until Philip was dressed and going to awaken Ashlin. I must admit I do enjoy the hair & make-up prep time involved in such an early excursion. One bobby pin, two pigtail holders - positioned low to accommodate the wool mask, and "nada" as far as cosmetication.

Ashlin had slept in most of her clothes, I think, so we were on our way in no time. The cold, dark drive to the deer lease was comfortably quiet. We parked inside the gate, mounted the four-wheeler, and rode to the far side of the lease. The rest of the trek was on foot. Over a hill, through a creek bottom, down a few paths and ultimately into a bit of clearing where the "King Delux" deer stand waits to comfortably accommodate multiple hunters of all ages, skill levels, and attention spans.

Two years ago, we built this stand on the base of a boat trailer. Philip laid a floor then welded four walls to it. It is insulated, carpeted, and has wrap-around window openings that drop down for optimal marksmanship. After a slanted tin roof was added, all we needed was my artfully applied faux finish. I actually had all my kids plus their neighborhood buddies out in the yard with paint. Newborn Mari oversaw the whole operation from her infant carrier. The genius of using a boat trailer for the platform came shining through as we merely hooked it up to the suburban, hauled it out to the perfect spot on the lease, and parked it there.

Appropriately furnished, the "king delux" has two padded, rolling, swivel office chairs available for panoramic scouting. Taking full advantage of the vast square footage of the family stand, this morning Ashlin spent the majority of her "hunt" snoring in a sleeping bag on the floor in the nose of the trailer. Hunting is tough business. At one point, I was able to turn my chair away from Philip and subtly prop my head back on the chair. With the mild mechanical pivot of my left foot, I tried to convince him I was "keeping a look out"; when in reality, I was thieving precious moments of secret dozing. I could tell he did not trust the diligence of my efforts as his own scans became full 360 degree revolutions. I was just not doing my part.

We stayed for a couple hours. We saw no deer. We saw the sunrise. We saw birds. We saw squirrels. We saw no deer. Ashli said she was ready to go. Philip told her to check with me. I winked at her through my mask and she assured her dad we were "all" ready to go.

As we tromped back through the woods, Ashli made sure that IHOP was next on the morning's agenda. One of the most challenging side effects presented during this pregnancy is an uncharacteristic lack of decisiveness. The anxiety of choosing one set of eggs and one version of breakfast carbs at IHOP and then having to commit to those choices was nearly overwhelming. I selfishly probed to see how firm Ash's decision was. When I explained to her that Golden Corral had fresh fruit [and many, many choices to which you must offer little long term commitment], she enthusiastically changed her request. She even asked that we find a table near the fruit.

What a fun breakfast! Just Dad, Mom, & Ash...and platefuls of fresh fruit. Except grapefruit. She said "Greatfruit is not great!" As we left the restaurant holding hands, she looked up at me and said that this had been the most special morning in the world.

Thank You, Lord, for today. You are the Creator and Sustainer of all things. We PRAISE You! Thank You for Ashlin and all that she means to us. Thank You for calling her to Yourself. Help us continue to be sensitive to Your Spirit's prompting on her life, so we can make the path straight for her. Thank You for a wonderful morning. Thank You for the quality time!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Thursday, December 11, 2008...

Outside my window...cold, peaceful night.

I am thinking...that I didn't intend to boycott Blogger, it just happened. I've had SO much on my mind, and yet very little freedom or opportunity to share.

I am thankful for...God's sheer Goodness. Sometimes life is hurried. Sometimes it's hilarious. Other times it is just plain hard. But God never changes. He's the same Love & Light & Life that He was in the beginning, and that He will continue to be forever!

From the learning rooms...We finished this week in four days despite Monday's post-musical cleaning blitz. Everyone agreed it would just be wrong to do school on Ashlin's birthday. So we doubled up and hurried through and we're done. Luke and I had a lengthy, impromptu discussion on economics today. He wondered why I wasn't going to order pizza for Ashli and her friends. I told him that I thought I could get the supplies to make personalized pizzas for less than the $30 I would pay the delivery guy. Ashlin and I went to WallyWorld this afternoon and I am happy to report that I purchased pizza ingredients, drinks, stuff to make & decorate cookies, goods for the goodie bags, and the junk for her cake. I spent $31. He was anxious to meet me in the driveway to see how I fared. He seemed pleasantly impressed.

From the kitchen...the lingering aroma of fresh baked sugar cookies and coconut cake. The fellas produced an emealz recipe for everyone before basketball practice. Ashlin and I ate 99 cent cheeseburgers "cause we were starvin'!" on our way home. The kitchen is more of a wreck than I usually allow the sun to set upon...but I'll be back in there first thing for now, I blog.

I am jeans, JW's navy & red thermal Henley, and I still have my tennis shoes on because it is cold! (O WOW, I didn't have to change a thing from 10 days ago. If it's any consolation, I haven't worn this outfit in the interim. NOPE, that was very little consolation.)

I am creating...a few gifts, a few lists, a few plans, but otherwise, I'm concentrating on creating a warm, nurturing environment. (Momentarily failed miserably when Luke yanked a grocery bag out of the car and shattered a glass jar of (necessary)Pasta sauce onto the frigid, dark driveway. I'm better now) Warm...nurturing...concentrate...create.

I am going...hunting Saturday morning. This is what my birthday girl wishes for. "I want to go hunting at the deer lease with Mom & Dad." I'm gonna find some warm socks and some ear plugs in case I need to bust me a monster buck. I literally had a nightmare that I shot a deer, but the blast left me temporarily deaf in my right ear - to the point that I botched my solo the following morning during the adult choir's musical. I'm a nerd. Ash has already announced that we shall be breaking fast at IHOP. NOW we're talkin'!

I am reading...I'm reading "Wolves of Willoughby Chase" to the kids in the afternoons. I use my best British accent when called for. The kids think it's wildly entertaining in a "Mom's such a nerd" kind of way.

I am hoping...Ashlin enjoys her special day tomorrow. Her brothers and sisters have some special activities planned for the morning. Her friends should arrive in the afternoon. Pizza & cookies by request for the evening. And Uncle JW is making her biggest wish come true (aside from the parental hunting excursion) by taking her ice skating tomorrow night. Who wants to go with me to video the 6'2'' twenty-one year old -who hasn't donned even roller blades since the early 90's- "teach" the six year old to ice skate...IN PUBLIC? UTube, here we come. Seriously, he is the greatest uncle on earth. Can I get a witness?

I am hearing...Philip is already asleep and breathing deeply. Also, PBS "AniMusic" broadcast from the corner of our room. It's my little way of masking the noise of my nails clicking along the keyboard. Everyone else is silently asleep.

Around the house...The fire that has warmed our house all day has sunk into a heap of hot, glowing coals. The house is dark except for my room where the flicker of the television, the blue hue of the computer monitor, and the crisply lit red digits of the alarm clock provide a balanced triangle of subtle light.

One of my favorite alone time with each of my kids. The Home Finance Lesson with Lukie was definitely a bonding session.

Today's errands with Ashlin... She asked me, "Have you ever seen JW cry?" I told her that when he was a little baby he cried. "What about when his dad died?" I told her that I didn't see him cry that day but later when he really started missing him, he cried. "Yeah, like how I miss Papa Hank? I want him to still be here so he can show me his card trick." Then we hypothesized several possibilities for leisure activities in heaven.

Then, tonight Mari helped me bake. She was helping put the Diet Dr. Peppers under the cabinet. She couldn't open the cardboard box. "Mom, I need a knife," my two-year-old said to me. "No, you cannot have a knife." "Ok, I need scissors." "No, you may not have scissors." "Momma gonna open this box???" Considering the recently offered options, I responded, "Sure." When she had emptied the box of all the canned beverages, she hopped up and began jumping on the box. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Gotta mashit down fo the trash!!" Made me laugh.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Party Central tomorrow, "Brrrr de lease" and a grand slam Saturday, Adult Choir Sunday, then it's T minus 5 days for the trip to Missouri. Yay!

Here is picture thought I am sharing... Since we're expecting, well...not to be crude... but there are mass quantities of "items" in my linen closet that I won't be needing for a while. I thought I'd recycle AND be creative...let me check my list to see if "holiday slippers" is written by your name...

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oblivious to the Tag

I've not been on the computer much in the last couple weeks. A friend in town referenced something that happened to my sister-in-law, and I just stared at her. She scolded, "Don't you read her blog?" Well... I do. In spurts.

This morning I was catching up on some of my favorite "reads" and discovered that over the holidays I had been tagged. Yikes. Hopefully, "Better late than never" can absolutely apply to this tardy situation!

1. Two Names You Go By: Momma and Babe -I've always hated hearing other people call their loved one "Babe", but somehow when Philip uses it to refer to me, it sounds quite nice.

2. Things You Are Wearing Right Now: fleece pants, fleece shirt (notice the trend?)

3. Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment: a tidy house and ready-made dinner

4. Two people who you look up to: Nan Myers and Pricilla Shirer.

5. Two things you did last night: watched a cooking show on PBS and went to bed early.

6. Two things you ate yesterday: oatmeal and quesadillas ...not in the same meal.

7. Two people you last talked to: Mari Alice & Ardyn

8. Two Things you're doing tomorrow: Choir rehearsal and set up stage for musical.

9. Two longest car rides: TX to Washington and Tx to Niagra Falls

10. Favorite Holidays : Thanksgiving and Christmas

11. Favorite Vacations : Hot Springs when the boys were little, Missouri the first year we were married

12. Last trip: Does Tyler Thursday count? Weatherford Labor Day

13. Two favorite beverages: Folger's Creme Brulee & Diet Dr Pepper

This is where I get to tag folks....hmmmm, let's see....
Kathy F

Ready, Set, Blog!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Monday, December 1, 2008...

Outside my window...the boys are raking pine needles to fuel our next mallow roast. The dark, billowing clouds conceal the sun's last rays of daylight.

I am thinking...that it was cold today. Just plain ol' cold! But that's a good thing. Snugglin' weather!

I am thankful for...Christmas decorations. They bring me vast amounts of joy. Since my basic color scheme in the living room is "pine" and "cranberry", I live year round with an underlying palette of cheer. The week of Thanksgiving I simply pull out the color-coordinated stops!

From the learning rooms...The boys and I are shifting focus from China and Japan to Russia. Ardyn is struggling to concentrate, but doing well in all her subjects. Ashlin is the poster child for "slow and steady gets the job done".

From the kitchen...quesadillas tonight. We've been living off leftovers for a couple days. I was so tired of venison, that I made some wonderful "Crispy Almond Chicken" on Saturday. The recipe calls for 2 Orange Marmalade, 1 T crushed read pepper, half'n'half, and toasted almonds. Yummy! Sunday, Landen was sharing my exhaustion with red meat. "I made chicken," I reminded him. "You mean that creamy crud?" he commented with great disappointment. Well then.

I am jeans, JW's navy & red thermal Henley, and I still have my tennis shoes on because it is cold!

I am Advent calendar to hand out at the Christmas musical Sunday night. Prophecies & Promises...Fulfilled & True!

I am TRY to sand/prime/paint the sad, pitiful, lone cabinet door that got lost in the shuffle last week. It hurts my brain to think about it.

I am reading...the Musical script over and over and over. I keep thinking, "I've missed will this work...does everyone know what they need to do?"

I am get several good nights of sleep this week. With the musical looming on the horizon, my mental wheels may put up a stiff fight when it comes to settling down each night. My pre-natal nausea is directly linked to fatigue, so if I can't get rest, it ain't gonna be purdy! Chamomile & lavender anyone? Nyquil might be more like it...kidding.

I am hearing...the girls scurry around to find socks so they can hurry outside to "help the boys". Nightfall will soon mercifully adjourn the "group project".

Around the house...Philip is at work. JW is ...working, playing racquetball, writing a pick; I can't remember. As of that last door slam, I'm the only one, Ardyn is still here finishing up her spelling list. She's humming her solo to the musical, and I assume alternating legs to kick out to the side while she twirls her paper around one rotation between each word. Bless her little unmedicated ADHD self!

One of my favorite my big electric griddle. I will be able to make 6 quesadillas at a time which will make up for the time spent blogging.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Adult Choir Wednesday, Kid's choir Thursday and Saturday, SS party Sat pm, Church on Sunday am, then "MYSTERY OF THE MANGER" 6pm Sunday. Come if you can!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...Christmas 2006

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Evening Post

We have had the best, big fat family day ever! It started when Philip took the girls to the "doe-nup shop" as Mari likes to chant. After a quaint breakfast, they stopped by the store for some onions because we had huge plans to cook another round of deer meat.

We cleaned off the patio. Philip laid the last three tiles last night, so the saw, the table, the mounds of JUNK could finally be removed. While the boys worked on the patio and garage, the girls and I cleaned the living room and rearranged the furniture to accommodate the Christmas tree.

Though the onions may have been purchased a bit prematurely, Philip was able to carve up some backstrap medallions. I inserted a jalapeno slice into each piece and wrapped them in bacon. We had those little "nibblers" with peas and linguine alfredo for lunch.

We hauled off the debris from the remodel, and brought the tree inside. The guys made a quick trip out to the lease, and we women "decked the halls". In all the fun, Mari completely skipped every opportunity for a nap. She's in the bath right now...I can see her from my desk. She loves baths - always has.

Sadly, she will not be able to participate in the piece de resistance: the back yard bonfire. JW's back from Missouri and we have coat hangers, mallows, chocolate and grahams.

As we hung the stockings, we realized that before next year's festivities, we'll need to purchase one more stocking for the tiniest Johnson due to be born in June. Cool, huh?

Thank You, God for all Your wonderful gifts!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Friday Flashback Foto

1994: Philip is laughing so hard he can't hear James asking, "Where is the little Nerf football that you got me for Christmas?" Poor little Matthew is innocently unaware of the warped sense of humor shared by his dad and "Uncle Phil-nop".

Attitude of Gratitude

Several years ago, I read that upon entering a crowded parking lot, the fastest course of action is to park in the first available spot, then walk to the storefront. I was skeptical for sure. But after years of informal field tests and several brisk walks to win the imaginary race between me and the woman who drove into the lot just before me, I began to confidently endorse this theory.

After having kids, I continued to practice my park ‘n’ walk routine…. but abandoned any notion that words like fastest, easiest, or quickest would ever again be used to describe my shopping trips. I remember one day in particular, I was headed to the store to get just one silly ingredient I had forgotten the day before…. It was raining…. I didn’t have much time…I had a growing baby girl who would need her carrier seat lugged in with her, and two attentive young boys who were enthusiastic, yet oblivious to the tension of the day…. did I mention it was raining?

I needed to catch a break. Not a big one. I just needed SOMETHING to go in my favor. Driving down the initial aisle of parking spaces, I wondered: how drenched is too drenched? Then, I saw them … through my windshield…. the blurred red and white taillights backing out of the parking space nearest the door! With overwhelming relief I shouted, "Thank You, God, for a great parking place!”

I don’t honestly remember how the rest of that trip went. I’m sure we found what we needed, and I’m sure we got a little wet. I had merely survived another morning of motherhood. But my children had been listening…

To this day, whenever, and wherever I park my car, the boys joyfully exclaim, “Thank You, God, for a GREAT parking place!” I often snicker that they express such exuberant gratefulness even when our car is half a mile from the entrance --wedged between a huge, muddy 4x4 truck and a collection of abandoned buggies! The Lord has used their absolute gratefulness to convict my heart of all the days I’m NOT thankful…as though the only time for praise and gratitude is when I’ve been spared some discomfort or granted extra blessings. That is not the attitude the Lord requires.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good….” Whether our day is sunny or soggy; rushed or relaxed; burdened or blessed; we should be grateful –not necessarily because of our circumstances, but because God is good and His loving-kindness is everlasting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Tuesday, November 25, 2008...

Outside my window...quiet darkness.

I am thinking...that dinner was sort of a let down. I'm usually a pretty good cook. BHG usually has pretty good recipes. My crock pot meatballs with a cranberry/chili sauce missed the mark. It was mostly a consistency issue. Folks seemed to choke it down alright, I was just mildly disappointed.

I am thankful choir. I went to rehearsal last night feeling weary and worn. After an hour of orchestrated, unified harmony, I left a refreshed woman.

From the learning rooms...This week is Thanksgiving break! Books stand silently at attention in the shelves, patiently awaiting next Monday. The kids roam noisily about, purposely in denial of next Monday.

From the kitchen...I did the dishes tonight. All the kids were outside admiring Landen's spike he harvested this evening. (I KNOW! More meat to process! How do you do that 'purposeful denial' bit??) I have a couple things to cook tomorrow for our trip to Tyler, but first Ardyn has requested waffles for breakfast. Her dear friend is in town and my daughter wishes for nothing less than the perceived wonderment of toasted, frozen waffles. Seriously. There are also about five bananas who have seen better days. Shocking.

I am jeans, Philip's polo sweatshirt and socks.

I am creating...a printed program for the Christmas musical. Eleven days, people!

I am visit with my friend, Jessica tomorrow as our kids play. Then it's off to Grandmother's house, we go.

I am reading..."The Shack" by William P. Young. I read it last year, but this time I'm using a highlighter. It is such a provocative read.

I am doesn't rain as predicted on Thursday. It's such a challenge to maintain an attitude of gratitude when the kids are either cooped up inside or they all have muddy shoes. Which is worse? OOh, what if they get cooped up inside AFTER all their shoes are muddy? Both/And!!! Bleck!

I am hearing...the "Hallelujah Chorus" being sung in my mental background while the thunderous rhythm of two simultaneous showers fill my physical space. After 8 people have rotated in and out of my bathroom over the past month -for various, repetitively relentless reasons- our having both bathrooms functional is a fabulous thing.

Around the house...Philip is outside finishing up the buck, JW is in B-town. Otherwise, it's movie night. In Cinema One, we're showing "Angels in the Outfield" and in Cinema Two, we're showing an encore presentation of "Kung Fu Panda" in honor of Abbarooni who has yet to experience it. "There is no charge for awesomeness...nor attractiveness!"

One of my favorite a clean & tidy room. The girls and I spent all day yesterday and the first part of this morning overHAULING their room. I black garbage bag to the trash, two tubs to storage, 16 Clorox wipes, and two loads of laundry happy, healthy, hopefully-gonna-stay-that-way-or-I'll-have-to-hurt-somebody pretty, pink room! Priceless.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Friends tomorrow, Family on Thursday, Christmas tree set-up on Friday, Cabinet doors hung by Saturday, Corporate Worship on Sunday. Nothin' but Fun!

Here is picture thought I am sharing..."As you deer panteth for the waters, so my family longs after you..."

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Over and Out

Friday I had a doctor's appointment all morning and then napped and then went to dinner with my woodsman husband who harvested a 6-point while I napped. Friends came over to visit and then Friday was over.

Saturday I worked on the bathroom all day, then Saturday was over.

Sunday we worshipped, ate pizza, napped, watched the Cowboys win, rehearsed with MP3, stopped by the store for "milk'n'bread", worked on the bathroom and then Sunday was over.

Monday I WORKED ON THE BATHROOM, showered, attended choir rehearsal, went to W*lM*rt for Thanksgiving stuff and came home just in time for "House of Payne". Then Monday was over.

Today we have had guests under 12 all day. I have spent tons of time with Mari, sanded cabinet doors (that's the only thing left:) and cooked a couple meals. Now I'm blogging for the first time in almost a week, and today will soon be over.

Thank You, Lord for a bountiful week. Thank You for my family and our home. Thank You for blessing our bathroom looks good, huh? Thank You so much for last Thursday with the kids. It was such a fun day. They are such great kids. I'm a rich woman. Actually, the riches are all Yours, and You are so good to share!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good Day, Good Night

"Today was MUCH better than yesterday!" Ashlin exclaimed as she rode along happily in the back seat. She confirmed popular opinion by asking for a show of hands. "Guys, raise your hand if you like today better than yesterday!"

Thursday began a little earlier than normal. My first conscious breath almost choked me. The unwelcome, yet lingering scent of meat and onions was more than I could lie there and injest. Despite the 40 degree morning, I scurried around the house opening windows and lighting creme brulee candles. I made sure that the sink and trash were clear of all remenants from the previous evenings' activities. As part of the housewide fragrance strategy - and to add to the general spunkiness of the home - I brewed an especially strong pot of creme brulee coffee.

Then I had time to make paninis for Philip and JW to take for lunch. I started some laundry and bid the menfolk farewell. It was almost 7. I used some leftover rice to make some cinnamon & craisin rice pudding. My aromatic assault must have been working because children began to emerge from their rooms. Groggy-eyed bedheads wondering about the "delicious smell".

While the kids ate breakfast, I called the retreat center where I left my pillow a couple weeks ago. I've tried to sleep without it and I can't. It's the perfect combination of thick and smushy. Not to mention the four year laundry process it has taken to achieve optimal pima cotton softness! The kind and understanding receptionist at the camp assured me that it was safe and sound and encouraged me to bring the kids and come get it. "Road Trip!"

After quickly finishing our lessons for the day, I told the kids to load up. Later as we arrived at a park, I was impressed that they had thought to bring baseball gloves, tennis balls, a bat, and plenty of bottles of water. We enjoyed a "Bueno" picnic lunch, but had to cut it short in order to dash across the highway to the T*rget to use their facilities...and buy dessert.

We drove a little farther to the encampment. I happily collected my pillow from the office and asked permission to hang out by the dock for a minute. We parked and walked around. We sat around an ashy campfire from the night before, gathered rocks and skipped them across the water, and walked out onto the pier to throw more rocks.

As I was sitting on a stump, enjoying the view, I saw Ashli running down the hill toward the lake. Her pockets bulged on either side of her thighs and eventually the weight of ammunition caused her wind pants to slowly slide down her slim hips as she ran. She never missed a step. She just laughed a big belly laugh, girded up her rock-pockets and made it down to the water's edge before her brother.

After a beautiful afternoon, we stopped at the bookstore where everyone was able to purchase a book of their choosing from the clearance table. I think we may have coached Mari a few too many times: once or twice she reminded an innocent shopper, "One book! No two, no free...One book!"

The ride back home was dome-lit and quiet as each child read his new book. We arrived home in time to get the kids a bath and run my pillow through the laundry. An hour and a half later, we were all snuggled in for a VERY good night's sleep.

And if I had to vote, I'd say "Tonight is MUCH better than last night!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nothing Better to Do... But Blog

Bathroom containers are old news.

This afternoon was THE day for venison processing. We were supposed to do it last evening, but Philip was called out to work. So today at 4:00, he began grinding. At 4:45 I started browning. It's 8:30 and the last two pots of ground venison are on the stove.

The first year we processed our own meat, we put it in cute little wrappers and froze it. It took forever and then I still had to defrost it and cook it each time I wanted to serve it for dinner. The next year we wised up. We ground it right into big cooking pots that already had chopped onions and peppers in it. After we had browned all the meat, and let it cool, we stored it in zip lock bags. All year long, I was 15 minutes out from spaghetti, taco salad, or whatever.

This year there were three deer to process! Philip froze lots of steaks, I cooked SEVERAL pots full and drained them, now I'm waiting for them to cool. I also made a HUGE batch of meatballs and a meatloaf. I baked them and they are ready to freeze as well.

I skipped choir for two main reasons: I needed to finish this butcher shop project sometime before midnight PLUS ALSO I smell like a large, gamey, sauteed onion.

I'm waiting to finish before I wash this stench right outa my hair. I can't wait to shower! For now, Mari is enjoying a solitary bubble bath. She has been singing, "Bes-sed be da name of da Load...He gives an takes away...Ma hot will choose to say...bes-sed be da glow-ree-us name!" When she heard Landen ask about the deer meat, she stopped her song immediately and exclaimed, "I LOVE meat!"

Thank You, God, for a good day. Thank You for providing for us in so many ways. Your Name IS Glorious and we bless You for who You are!

Habitat for Happiness

Ashlin and Mari Alice and I just returned from W*lM*rt. We are so excited!

Let me back up... a few weeks ago, JW was listening to the kids argue over toothpaste in all the bathroom hub-bub. He proclaimed, "If I ever have a bunch of kids, their bathroom is gonna have tons of drawers: one for everybody. Everyone will have his own toothpaste and deodorant and hair brush, etc."

We don't have a bunch of drawers, but we do have two doors concealing 4 shelves. Since Mari still needs adult supervision, we'll let her have one of the drawers.

Today we decided to purchase 4 plastic bins, and then five color-coded toothbrushes, toothpastes, scrubbies, deodorants, hairbrushes, and hand towels. Ashli sorted it all out in the back seat on the trip home. "Blue, blue, blue, blue; Green, green, green, green; Pink, pink, pink, pink; Purple, purple, purple, purple..." She was in organizational heaven!

Now, (meaning, when the cabinets are finished) the kids can go into the bathroom, get out their personalized bin, and take care of all their personalized business, and then slip their bin back under the cabinet. We'll add "tidy bathroom bins" to the weekly chore list, and the counter top will be free to remain tidy and uncluttered.

Sing it with me, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

My New Do

Jessica gave my blog a makeover! Isn't it cute? I just wanted to give credit where credit is due. And offer apologies to the other 3 dial up queens out there...I can't even load the welcome page to scrapblog in fewer than 7 minutes. It's discrimination, I believe. Anyhoo, Jess is high speed, highly talented, and highly interested in my overall cuteness. Great combo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mighty Fine Weekend

Friday after I painted the second coat of "Rain" paint on the bathroom walls, I showered and headed to L'view for some shopping. Confirming many truths of predestination in my heart, Kohl's began their 18 hour, half-off sale shortly after I entered the store. Nice.

I found THE perfect shower curtain, rugs, some hand towels and a message board. Very nice.

With both my desires and budget satisfied completely, and with a little boost from St*rb*cks, I traveled back to Marshall to meet some friends for dinner. We lingered late and spurred one another on toward good works. Very nice, indeed!

Saturday, I painted the cabinetry in the bathroom a deep shade of "tree bark", fed the transient deer hunters, and hung out with my giggly girls.

This morning MP3 sang in both AM services. They did such a great job. I love those kiddos! Philip treated us to an Italian buffet for lunch and then, while he hunted, I literally took a 3 hour nap today. UNBELIEVABLE! It was one of those good, drooly ones that doesn't end a moment too soon. I gathered my thoughts, patted down my hair, grabbed the kids and headed to the church house for MP3 rehearsal. Only three weeks until our Christmas musical!

While the kids tidied up their rooms, I baked some whole wheat biscuits in which to nestle the left over smoked venison sausage. Yummy. I made Philip's lunch for tomorrow, and he'll have a few biscuits to take for breakfast over the next couple days.

The tractor beam called "Cowboy Game" has held my family's attention for the last few hours, so there is freedom in Bloggerville!

My dear friend called me this week with this scripture. She encouraged me to stand firm and love my children in truth and discipline them in HOPE.

"Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death." Proverbs 19:18 The King James version says, "Chasten thy son while there is still hope. Let not thy soul spare to his destruction."

Last week at the Women of Gold meeting, I heard two things concerning marriage and family that caught my attention.

"Rules without relationship lead (not to respect, but) to rebellion."

Dr. Tony Evans: "If you women really knew what submission is, you'd be all about it! Submission is when you sweetly offer your opinion and then duck so God can take out the right person!"

Dear Father, thank You for this week. Thank you for this day. Open the eyes of my heart and my spiritual ears so that I may see and hear You. Give me vision and give me Your Word. Nothing has the power to save, but Your Name...oh, for grace to trust You more!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today's Great Idea

Someone emailed this idea to me. We have done it twice in the last 24 hours! It is so much fun. I've already decided it will be our new Christmas tradition...assemble and refrigerate on Christmas Eve and cook with sweet rolls Christmas mess!


(This works great !!! Good for when all your family is together. The best part is that no one has to wait for their special omelet !!!)

Have guests write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc. (I used frozen onions, peppers, hash browns, and mushrooms)

Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water.
Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.
Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and a great conversation piece.

Imagine having these ready the night before, and putting the bag in boiling water while you get ready. And in 13 minutes, you've got a nice omelet for a quick breakfast!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Flashback Foto

1999? This is Anna Rice, Landen & Luke "back in the day". I'm not really sure where the other cohort, Luke Rice, is... one can only imagine. I'm just tickled to see my Lukie taking his role of chaperon so seriously. Celina and I used to enjoy the uninterrupted chat time that institution-wide naps could afford. The back of the photo says "Our Dads are at the Ranger Game". Good times indeed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Mrs. Mullikin

Mrs. Mullikin went to be with Jesus a couple years ago. She is a precious saint of a woman...married at 15, raised several Godly kids, and knew how to grow a mean elephant ear plant and bake a mean Banana bread. Her last activity on earth was attending a prayer meeting.

I remember meeting her when I was a newlywed. She offered me the most challenging, sweet advice. She told me, "I always tried to make our home a little piece of heaven for my husband to come home to. I'd have it tidy and smelling nice when he came in from a long day in that dark, cruel world." I hope her bread recipe is merely a symbol of the wonderful wisdom she has passed along.

This is Mrs. Mullikin's famous "Hawaiian Banana Bread"
Beyond its fabulous taste and texture, you only need two measurements, so it's easy to remember and has fewer utensils to wash.

Dry Bowl:
3 c flour
2 c sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

(whisk and make a well in the middle)

Wet Bowl:
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
4-5 ripe bananas - peeled & mashed
1 cup chopped walnuts
(whisk and pour into middle of dry bowl)

Mix well & bake in 3 loaf pans for one hour on 350.

NOW: over the years I've changed a few things.
I only use one bowl - that whole aversion to massive clean-up
(it works fine)
I usually bake in one bunt pan and one little pyrex bowl (for taste-testing)
Muffins work also, and tiny loaf pans are the cutest for gifts.

When we're feeling healthful, I use a blend of whole wheat flour or spelt flour.
I have cut the sugar in half and used only Xylotol. I have used applesauce instead of the oil or at least cut back on the oil. (this changes the density, but it's still a nice treat) I've replaced the eggs/oil with flax, and now even if I follow the recipe, I always add milled flax seed.

I love to add shredded coconut to push the Hawaiian envelope. And when I don't have pineapple on hand, I've substituted 1 cup applesauce.

And in case you don't have time to bake at the exact moment the bananas are "turning the corner toward compost". You can peel, mash and freeze those jokers in a zipper bag. When you're ready to bake, thaw them and go.

Thank You, Lord, for Mrs. Mullikin and her unmistakable love for You. Thank You that we still have reminders of her wisdom and ways. Until we can all sit down for a nice cup of coffee...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Might Be Married to a Redneck...

If 5 out of 8 people (male and female) sitting around your dinner table are wearing camo...

If your two year old can distinguish her daddy's dual exhaust Chevy V-8 from the other ones on the block...

If ALL of the Creative Writing essays you grade begin with "Once upon a time, my daddy and I were deer hunting..."

If your husband owns a flashlight (as Lisa Smartt says, "the size of Colorado") and all the kids know where it is and how to charge it...

If your husband calls at 2:30 in the afternoon and asks which of the children deserve to go hunting today...

If when discussing the dissection of a frog with your sons, they assure you it won't be necessary because last night when Daddy gutted the deer, he showed us the liver, small intestine, ribs and "ever'thang"...

If 60% of your freezer space is occupied by stuff wrapped in white butcher paper with your husband's initials...

You might be married to a redneck.

AND...Last, but SO not least...
(I'm not making this it's still basically happening outside as I type)

If you hear your husband drive into the driveway, and then immediately hear a shotgun blast, and then one of your children races in the door to exclaim that daddy just shot a wild boar that was headed into our neighborhood...

You are MOST CERTAINLY, yet happily married to a redneck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Retreat Recap

The weather was gorgeous! Cool, crisp Autumn breezes and warm, bright sunshine.

I had my own room in the lodge, so I was able to sneak in and "get my wits about me" between sessions. It also made it easier to dispel the temptation to stay up late giggling with "the girls". Incidentally, I was able to frequent the potty in complete solitude without interruption for a full 24 hour time frame...not since 1996, I believe.

The theme for the weekend was "True Beauty". I led worship and shared messages for four sessions:
"Beauty Rest: Receiving the Gift of Sabbath"
"True Beauty: Nurturing a Gentle, Quiet Spirit"
"Radical Transformation: Body, Mind & Spirit"
"Beautiful Feet: Sharing the Good News"

I told the ladies Friday night, "If you dig me, you are gonna LOVE this weekend! However, If I'm not your cup o'tea, you're probably gonna leave here sick o'tea!"

I arrived early Friday afternoon to get the sound system checked. Everything was great. The Zune worked wonderfully...I felt like I was playin' keyboard with a praise band! Then I went to "freshen up" before supper. I was just going to go change clothes and put on make up...I thought. You see, God is funny, funny guy. Just to verify that I was practicing the "inner beauty" theme that I was fissin' to preach...He ordained that I leave my cute little clinique bag ON MY BED AT HOME. Funny guy.

I most certainly rely on my inner beauty to provide whatever security I might need in my appearance. HOWEVER, I felt my glossy, splotchy face with sunken eyes might indeed be a distraction to the worshippers. So I implemented a pre-supper "love offering". I went around to the rooms of folks I knew and asked for "Alm(ay) for the poor." Do you know how many blue eyed friends I have? Soft brown earth tones, people! That's all I'm askin' for. Sheesh.

We got a good laugh and a better dinner before we dove into our time together.

The Lord definitely met with us on the hilltop by the lake. He brought 6 months -of focused listening, careful note-taking, and just plain livin'- together to bless us. I feel sort of selfish because I may have received the biggest blessing. He's just SO good! I noticed lyrics in the songs and links in the passages that I had never noticed before. He's just SO good!

Preparing for this retreat and seeing it through was a almost exhausting. But after two good nights of sleep, I think I'm ready to do it again someday. One of the biggest blessings was having my mom, and all my pals lifting me WAY on up in prayer. I absolutely felt it. I was never nervous, not for one moment. There were no technical difficulties to speak of, and my health and spirit were strong. Plus on having friends who love Jesus!

oh- I failed to mention the MAIN reason it went well. "Every day with [Rebecca] is a holiday!" Rebecca and Amy were the only ones not from the host church, so I'm sure it was not huge fun for them at first. Celina came through with her divine hostessing/fun friendship skills and we were all hangin' out and gigglin' before a new day had dawned. Thanks to my [not-so-stinky] brother in WA who flew Beck down. I love that girl! Leaving her makes me cry. I'm crying right now just thinking about telling her good bye on Saturday. ok, dry it up.

Ladies Retreat = Huge blessing
To God be the Glory!

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, November 10, 2008

Outside My Window...rhythmic raindrops escort the cold gusts of wind into our yard. Under the boat shed rests the remains or our first harvested deer of this season. Ardyn and Philip brought her home Friday evening.

I am thinking...that it's good to be home with the kids and back on blogger!

I am thankful for...the kids in MP3. There were 33 of those little boogers in choir last night. We are just weeks away from our Christmas musical and they are doing a fabulous job.

From the kitchen... Landen and Ardyn are working together to do Luke's chore. He has a headache. He'll be able to cover for them after his healing. Meals will be scaled back today because I need to get the bathroom primed before Philip brings the counter top home today. But this paragraph is not about the's about the kitchen. Mac'n'cheese for lunch and chicken puffs for supper. And hopefully a replenished milk supply and a floor mopping by morning. JW is going to the store tonight. Who will mop the floor? One-two-three-NOT-IT! For now, we're rationing milk and ignoring the floor.

I am wearing...painting pants, painting shirt, and I'm seriously considering donning a painting doo-rag. Primer in the hair is no fun...though my graying strands give that impression most days.

I am creating...nothing really. Grunt work planned for most of the week. I do look forward to matting the sepia photos of the kids to hang in the freshly painted bathroom.

I am a women's ministry dinner tonight. The kids and I are having a Kit Kittredge get-together tomorrow with some friends. Wednesday is choir/AWANA. And Friday I've invited homeschool moms over for a fellowship.

I am reading...nothing - haven't opened a book in over 36 hours. I even looked over Philip's shoulder to read the scripture yesterday in church. I have enjoyed the rest, and now I get to start something new. I want to read "Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God" but Lifeway didn't have it Saturday (again!) I'm sort of in the mood to re-read "Redeeming Love". We'll see.

I am make each of my children feel special in some unique way this week. (Last week I failed to accomplish this to the extent I had hoped I might, so let's give'r another try)

I am hearing...the snagging rustle of Oscar's paws on the carpet as he rough-houses with the kids. The warm rhythm of the dryer. Rain playing arpeggios along the edge of the metal roof.

Around the house... Philip is gone. James is gone. Luke is down. Landen and the doo-wop girls have completed their chores and await my next instruction. Read: "Mom is blogging, so we should probably get a snack and watch some PBSkids."

One of my favorite painting. Not art on a canvas, but a new mood on the walls of a room. Three years ago, I painted every inch of this house. What a wonderfully fresh new start.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...Luke helping Philip a couple weeks ago in the beginning stages of the bathroom makeover. Are you nuts for the dimples?

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Philip and I have a tag-team timeline laid out for the bathroom's completion. The kids and I will dutifully and joyfully complete our 15th week of school. Other than that, we're playin' it by ear.

Want to participate? Enjoy other Daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, November 3, 2008

Outside My Window...crisp morning air breezing across a messy patio that speaks of all the effort offered toward a new bathroom.

I am thinking...that I am a rich and blessed woman. The Lord has been so good to me. He has basically given me exactly what I would have chosen. In so many ways He grants my preferrences. And in the ways He has not, I submit what I perceive as my preferrences to His perfect will.

I am thankful brother, James. He is such a blessing to have around. I absolutely enjoy his personality, wisdom, and wit. And he's just so darn cute.

From the kitchen... Leftovers for today. I'll cook for Rebecca & Amy tomorrow. I bought bananas this week and wouldn't you know it? These folks are gonna be the life o' me! Good news, Amy! Banana bread just officially made the menu.

I am wearing...jeans and a black tee ol' standby. No matter the time of year, you can totally get away with this ensemble. No ironing, no shoe anxiety, just get it and go!

I am creating...the final, polished notes for the retreat. (I promise after next week you won't have to listen to my mental consummation concerning this ladies' retreat.) I am SO excited, I can hardly wait.

I am take a break from blogger and facebook this week, so I'm sure to use every available moment to invest in what God wants to do through us this weekend. I'll be back next Monday. I'll still check email, if you miss me:)

I am reading...American Girl, Kit; ESV study Bible; the biography of Eric Liddell (chariots of fire dude), and Lisa Smartt's first book.

I am make each of my children feel special in some unique way this week.

I am hearing...a quarter slide round and round like an extreme skateboarder inside my dryer. I should go rescue it. Perhaps it's having fun. I'll wait.

Around the house... one handsome husband, five beautiful children, one awesome brother, one clean dog, and too many dirty clothes to discuss. (not one thing has changed since last week)

One of my favorite the entire first season of Little House on the Prarie that we own on DVD. It truly is "family" entertainment.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...This is the symbolic backdrop of my life. These are the two dominating stags that set the tone for our entire existence. Aren't they cute?

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...My AWESOME sister-in-law is coming for a visit on Tuesday, and choir is Wednesday. Other than that, my eyes are set toward Friday & Saturday. Focus, focus, focus!

Enjoy other Daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Resting in Peace

Update on my funk with Lukie: I went into his room late last night. It took a few rounds of "Lukie -- wake up," beckoning in my strongest whisper. He finally rolled over and squinted into the light. I said, "Luke, I'm sorry for this morning." He tried to roll back over as he mumbled, "It's ok.". I stopped him and shook his leg to make sure he was conscious.
"Luke. Listen to me. I'm sorry for this morning."
"It's ok, Momma."
"No it's not ok. I was wrong to lose my temper. I need you to forgive me."
"It's ok."
"I need you to forgive me."
He propped himself up on his sleepy elbow and smiled a squinty smile.
"I forgive you."
"Luke, I love you."
"I love you, Mom."
I rubbed his back a few strokes and he returned to rest.
I walked back to my room knowing that I would be able to rest as well.

Thank You, Lord, for mercy and forgiveness. Thank You for healing. Thank You for discipline and self-control. Thank You for patience.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Back and Forth

Today was such a bi-polar day with Luke. It began with the rolling of his eyes, the huffing of his words, and ultimately -after I totally lost my cool- his leaving. I've never had a child run away from home. He didn't run. He walked. After I cooled off, or found my cool...whichever the case may be, I looked around for him and couldn't find him. My wounded heart began to palpitate just a bit as I wondered how far he would go. Had I run him off? Why do we have to do this EVERY day? Why can't he just obey me cheerfully? Why does he hate living here? with me? Is he coming back? Is he angry with himself or still with me?

He came back. And like usual, with few words, he just began to obey me quietly and diligently. Then, as we began to accomplish some things together, we slowly began to talk and laugh and work in harmony. Each of us too prideful or too ashamed to talk through the previous events.

The afternoon progressed without incident, then I took him to his friend's house for the evening. When the whole family was back together tonight, he whispered to me on the couch, "Do you want me and Landen to go back to our room for a while to give the girls a chance to talk to Dad and love on him since they haven't seen him much?" How sweet? How thoughtful? We worked harmoniously in the kitchen on the crock pot meal I had planned for tomorrow's lunch. Then in an enormous display of affection, he offered to finish alone and follow the recipe. He came in to my room a while later to show me the bowl of sauce. He wanted my approval before he poured it over the chicken. He put it in the fridge, and cleaned up his mess.

At odds in the A.M., evened out by the P.M. Really strange.

I know Luke needs my attention. And he has proven over the last decade that he is willing to get it at any cost...and on some level, it doesn't really matter whether it's good attention or bad attention. It's been this way for years. Philip says we're too much alike, but on this point, we are opposites. I can't stand negative attention. It makes me physically ill. Maybe he shares this feeling, but needs attention so badly, that a little sickness is worth it in the long run. I DON'T KNOW!

I LOVE HIM! I told him that today in tears. He doesn't say those words to me. The other children say it constantly. I tell them each and all that I love them all the time. He doesn't hear me. I want to get through to him. I want him to love me, but I loved him first, and I'm not gonna stop loving him - no matter what.

Dear Father, thank You for Luke. That's all I can say with out bawling. You know my heart. Forgive my outburst of anger. I know I need to ask Luke to forgive me too. Maybe I'll go wake him up. Thank You for never sleeping and for loving us first. You're a great papa! Please bring healing to our home.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Flashback Fotos

With no digital camera, THIS year's festival costumes will be "flashback fotos"...I'm a nerd.

Last year's handmade wardrobe that squeezed within a $10 budget is still my favorite:

Landen and Luke: "Rake'n'Leaves"
Ardyn: "I'm a little teapot..."

Ashlin: "Just a teaspoonful of sugar..."

Mari Alice was hittin' the road as a tea bag!

Happy Birthday Tammi!

Philip's sister, my good friend, Tammi, is celebrating her birthday today. Tammi is known for her pure heart, strong hands, and free spirit. This photo was taken 10 years ago at Tammi's wedding. The Lord has brought us even closer over the years and I thank Him for her demonstrative affection, her unconditional love, and her selfless approach to life.

Happy Birthday, Tammi!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Evening Post

Tonight, Philip took me shopping and then out to dinner. However, I declined his kind invitation to watch him play in his softball championship.

After watching the kids most of the evening, JW left to go work out. He told me I could email him a grocery list and he would go to the store on his way home. Am I the luckiest girl in town, or what??

After I gave the girls a bath, the boys invited them to watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie in their room. Mari's on her way to sleep, so I'm here.

Earlier today, Ardyn and Ashli were brushing their hair at my sink and humming the theme song from Mulan made popular by Christina Agu-somebody. "Who is that girl I see, [mumble, mumble} -ing BACK At me... [mumble] REFlection [mumble, mumble]" A heated debate surfaced as they discussed what the true lyrics might be.

Ardyn sang through her version.
Ash: That's not how Momma sings it!
Ardyn: Well, it's how Mulan sings it!
Ash: WELL, Mom is a much greater singer than MULAN!!!

That's my girl.
(The other one's mine too, but she fails to be impressed by my meager abilities)

Thank You, Lord, for the time Philip and I got to spend together this evening. I love him so much. Thank You for him. Thank you for our wonderful kids. Help us do a better job of discipling them and preparing them for what they might have to stand up for or against in their lifetime. You Reign! And that gives us all hope.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trying Times

Romans 12:1-2 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

My study Bible says that this "testing" is the Greek word, dokimazo, which often has the sense of finding out the worth of something by putting it to use or testing it in actual practice. (this word is also used in Luke 14:19, 1 Cor 3:13, 2 Cor 8:22, 1 Tim 3:10)

I read this as "after you've offered your whole life to God for His purposes, and renewed your mind, saturated your life with God's word, and prayed for power, give [it] a whole hearted try!"

Have you ever driven loop 430 around Little Rock? I've approached that juncture from a couple directions -at least once a year- the past 20 years of my life. I have looked at maps, asked advice, and had friends helping me in the passenger seat. And I'm chock full of "experience". Even so, I only take the correct exit a strong 65% of the time. The first time I missed it, I didn't even notice until I had gone around the entire city of LR! In subsequent misses, I noticed sooner, even immediately. I still had to go around to the next opportunity to get back on the path. Frustrated insecurities arise because I had all the information available to me and I was paying careful attention to each decision, and I STILL missed the way at times. But each time I just had to try. And KEEP paying attention until it was confirmed that this time I actually did it right! (and don't think I wasn't callin' some folks cheering myself on!)

Just as I get a little nervous each time I approach that loop, there are times in my spiritual life when I get that, "Oh, great, here we go again....I'm not sure, I'm never sure, this stinks!" feeling. Pulling over for a moment to focus (or phone a friend) is not bad, but stalling too long will only prolong the inevitable and insure a 100% failure rate. Pray and Go for it.

Sometimes we picture God's apparent enjoyment of a good mystery as Him sending us on a wild goose chase. We're running around, trying different things, almost attaining stuff, coming so close, and the whole time He's sort of snickering thinking, "So close, and yet so far away!"

We would do well to think of the game as a treasure hunt. We're running from one spot to the next, getting a clue here, a piece of the puzzle there, coming closer and closer. And the whole time God is beaming with delight, "She's so close! and getting closer every moment!"

Thank You God for loving me and saving me from my bondage. Thank You for Your promises. Give me a hunger to know them more. Help us know the paths we should take and when we bobble, post bigger signs! And if we loop around in our confusion, thank You for Your constant Presence, Your comforting patience, and Your promise to finish what You've begun in us.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, October 27, 2008

Outside My Window...cold night winds, muffled roars from diesel trucks on the nearby highway, a few barking dogs, and 6 recently stripped cabinet doors awaiting their radical transformation on the patio.

I am thinking...that I love my children. They are each so unique, but individually and collectively they bring me great joy. I’m also thinking about the upcoming women’s retreat a lot! (borderline overwhelming) I know God has prepared each of us and that He is going to show Himself to be glorious with “True Beauty”.

I am thankful friends. I have some who consistently encourage me, a faithful few who lovingly rebuke me, and many who brighten my days. I am thankful that I can say, “I am a friend of God” even after I’ve been selfish so many times.
Today, Ashlin disobeyed and ate candy after I told her not to. She was sneaking it when I walked in on her. I explained that even if I had never walked in, it is still disobedience, and I asked her who would know.

Ash: “God would.”

We went into my room and she asked, “Can I please spit this candy out?”
Mom: “Yes, I think that would be wise. Do you know that when you sin, you cannot be a friend of God?”
Ash: (beginning to cry, which is uncharacteristic for her usually stoic approach to chastisement) “But He will forgive me, right?”
Mom: (touched by her softened heart) “Yes, Honey, but you must agree with Him that what you’ve done is a sin.”


Ash: “Mom, I’m really sorry for eating the candy.”
Mom: “I forgive you. Is there anyone else you need to talk with?”
Ash: “I need to tell God I’m sorry and ask Him to forgive me too.”


Mom: “Do you believe that God heard your prayer?”
Ash: “Yes Ma’am.”
Mom: “Do you believe that God has forgiven you?”
Ash: “Yes, I do. He loves me and I am His friend again.”
Mom: “Good deal. I love you, too, Ash!”

Hugs and Mercy

From the kitchen... Luke’s plate awaits his completion of math homework. JW has several options of warm-overs waiting for him in the fridge. Landen is waiting on Luke to unload the dish washer, so he can load & run it. Oscar’s never-ending-kibble bowl waits quietly in the corner. For the first Monday in a month, there is no banana bread. Can you believe it? Ironically, Mom asked if I could bring some to Christmas, so I should perhaps begin to bake and freeze some occasionally. Ok, I’ll put yellow fruit back on the grocery list.

I am & gray work out pants, black tee, ponytail, and glasses.

I am creating...calendars and schedules for this next school term. These should get us through Christmas. (Every time I write that word, I can hear my dad saying it with a snooty British accent, “Have you, by any chance, a shed-yule for today?” – random)

I am stay at home and educate my children this week. Last week we were up and at ‘em so much, we’re kinda behind. It’s amazing how much “home”schooling you can accomplish when you are “home”. Go figure.

I am reading...JW’s ESV study Bible. I cannot get enough of it! JW may never get it back. I LOVE connectors, and with this Bible, the bridges, links and cross-referenced connections are enough to make me giddy!

I am keep all my responsibilities with church and home compartmentalized so I can give my all to each aspect at a time. My brain feels a little volatile, and I fear that with one breech of self-control, I could just go into a mental melt-down.

I am hearing...Philip cutting trim on the patio, the boys rough housing with JW and O-dog, Ardyn coaching Mari Alice through the whole “getting’ jammies on by myself” routine, and the low squeak of Ashlin rolling my exercise ball around on the floor.

Around the house... one handsome husband, five beautiful children, one awesome brother, one clean dog, and too many dirty clothes to discuss. (not much has changed since last week)

One of my favorite the forthrightness of children’s speech. Today the kids were making a generous pile of candy for their neighborhood friends. Only two boys were mentioned, so I asked if that whole pile was for just the two of them. In reference to the majority of our neighbors being retired, Landen sprung back, “Tyler and Hunter are the only ones that would be interested. Everyone else on this road already ate too much candy when they were young and now they have diabetes.”. Okie-dokie, then.
I can hear the guy on Seinfeld, “NO CANDY FOR YOU!”

Here is picture thought I am sharing...I'm just cracks me up.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...My lovely red and tan leather calendar is blank except for Wednesday night and Sunday. Focus, focus, focus!

Enjoy other Daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Elmo, Sacajawea, and Life

The other day, Mari and I were starting our morning together. I had put on the coffee, she had done her bathroom biznez, and we were in my room, looking for my black crocs. As I looked under my desk, she began to plead with me about a chocolate Elmo. I stopped and sat down in my desk chair. She repeated herself, "No my chocat elmo." I was so confused. I probed, "What, Honey?"

After a couple more volleys of repetition, I finally understood her. "No Momma checka e-mull. Come! Un bowl o' blue ceral."

I was overcome with guilt and shame as I poured her a bowl of Life and a cup of coffee for myself. How pitiful that she knows what I'm doing, she knows it will rob her of my attention, and that I do it too much. I waited to "choco elmo" until after she had gone down for a nap.

I have to get a grip on this computer stuff. I tell myself it keeps me sane. It gives me a chance to write, to be in contact with friends and have adult conversation on my own time. This may be true, but I've allowed my "own" time to broaden into almost "all" the time. Not good.

If you missed it, here is our weekend in a nutshell:
Friday - Family Photos (YAY)...scroll down the sidebar to catch more of them.

Saturday - went to watch Luke play in his world series, decorated for Fall Fest, napped, went to watch Luke play in another game, bathed, got a tiny bit of sleep.

Sunday - left at "crack o'dawn" to sing in the first of two services. After SS, Philip and the boys went to what would be Luke's final game (but he hit two doubles and his first over the fence home run, so it was a victory), girls and I enjoyed a restful afternoon, then we all met up at the church house for the Fall Festival.

This year's costumes were scaled back from last year. First, the boys wished not to dress for the occasion. (fine by me) Second, we had all the makings in our possession, save one pretend stethoscope. All in all, it took about 15 minutes to do make-up and $0. Ardyn went as Sacajawea (and took great offense to each Pocahontas assumption), Ashli was a lady bug (and took it all in stride when a couple people asked if she was a bumble bee - c'mon folks, look alive! red + black w/ antennae = lady bug; black + yellow w/ antennae = bee), and Mari Alice was a doctor (an obvious, non-misleading, full-out doctor of medicine). The kids had a blast riding hay rides, jumping jumpy things, tossing darts at balloons, fishing for candy, and eating various combinations of chili, cheese, and chips.

Thank You, God for our church family. Thank You for all the visiting folks who came to fellowship tonight. Thank You for the gift of worship. You are GOOD and You Reign! Help me keep my lifestyle in check. Please help me put the needs of those in this precious household ahead of my own. I trust You to meet my needs. Thank You for loving me and "workin' on me"...If I act like I don't want it, you know I'm lying. It's hard, and sometimes painful, but I want to be changed. I want to be holy. You're the Only One who can make it so! You are Good!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

65 Smiles Per Hour

My dearest friend, Kathy, came over last night and took about a kazillion pictures of our big, big family. She did a great job and took so many super shots. This is one of my favorites. Grammy and Nonnie, you may place orders by email or phone :)

Thank You, Father, for my precious baby girl, Mari Alice. Thank you for the heritage of faith that her name represents. Thank You for my family. Thank You for my gifted, generous friend. Thank You for a big back yard with lots of gentle shade. "You make everything glorious!" Thank You for living here among us. It wouldn't be the same without You.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Foto Fun

Saturday, Ashlin invited her little sister to her class Pumpkin Party.
We let the others finish up Landen's tourney and the three of us had a blast.

Sunday, MP3 sang Steve Curtis Chapman's "Facts are Facts".
(talk about a flashback!)
This was taken just before the service began...such calm behavior:)

Tuesday, Mari Alice was so sweet to help Luke get suited up at the Fire Station.
"Hat! Lukie, huh-vee!!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Girl's Best Friend

Mari Alice and Oscar - enjoying a perfect combination of bright, warm sunshine and a cool, crisp breezes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Off Day

We did ZERO school today. I woke up early, had some coffee, fed the kids breakfast, and from there, the day's momentum stalled out. The boys wanted to get out their winter clothes. The girls wanted to go back outside to resume their colossal cardboard creativity. Mari just wanted to watch "Five Little Ladybugs". I simply wandered around the house and allowed them all to have their own way.

Landen came into my room and with grand hand motions, explained, "Mom, WE are gonna put our clothes in piles. WE are gonna figure out what is too small. WE want to put all the summer stuff in bags and then WE want to open our tubs." Impressed by his premeditation, I told him that sounded good, and that after I warmed up my coffee, I'd be right there. He stopped me in my tracks - with more broad gestures. "NO, Mom! You always lose your mind. Every spring and every fall, you come in our room and before we have stuff all the way switched out, you are losin' your freakin' mind."

Alrighty then.

Dazed by his stinging, yet basically accurate depiction of previous wardrobe swaps, I meandered out to the patio to check on the girls. Again with the exaggerated non-verbals - "MOM! Don't come out here! We're not done creating our last dance number. PLEASE go back inside. We'll call you when we're ready."


Dumbfounded by both their independence and rejection, I went to find Mari.

With mercifully subtle movements of her hands across the pillow beside her, she offered, "Seat, Momma. Seat, wash Lady Bugs n'me!"

By lunch the boys had marvelously packed up their summer clothes and neatly folded all the winter clothes and put them away in their drawers. The girls were ready for their debut. And Mari continued to think I was the funnest girl around.

Thank You, God, for days like this.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Day

What a fun-filled day, we're having!

7:30 am "Kids: Come Eat Breakfast!"
8:15 am brush teeth, chores, make lunches
9:00 am work on seatwork pages & finish getting dressed
10:00am drive to meet homeschool friends at Fire Dept.
10:30am tour fire house and police department
12:00pm picnic lunch at the park
2:00 pm arrive home with 3 friends in tow
***afternoon activities from which to choose:
painting on the computer, napping, watching tv, coloring, building a club house out of the bathtub box, snacking, baseball, and dress up

4:45 pm Daddy returns home to work on the bathroom
5:30 pm [with much sadness] friends leave
6:00 pm Fiesta Chicken Nachos served on patio

From here out, we just need to pick up the toys from the backyard, take a round of showers, tidy up the house, then settle in for an episode of Biggest Loser. JW won't be able to join us because he's in Longview for the evening...walking with a friend and playing in a softball game. There will be banana bread on the counter for him when he comes home. (these people are out of control!)

Thank You, God for today. I enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. Thank You for friends, new & old. Thank You for Philip. Thank You for loving all & each of us so completely.

Ardyn's Artwork

Monday, October 20, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, October 20, 2008

Outside My Window...warm rays of sunlight shine brightly off the metal trailers parked just outside my bedroom and patio. One is full of bathroom debris and a big marble tub. The other holds promise and hope with its neatly stacked lumber and sheetrock.

I am thinking...that my husband rocks. He took the day off of his regular work schedule to concentrate on the bathroom remodel. He is so talented and such a hard worker. Though we aren't able to share deep discussions, his periodic walk-throughs with a smile and a grunt speak comfort and security to me. He and Luke look so handsome as they work together to haul and measure, tote and drill.

I am thankful for...fresh starts...on so many levels.

From the kitchen...quiet tidiness because my baby brother, JW is the most awesome 21 year old on the planet! I was at the church house all morning recording a cd for the choir. JW monitored the kids' studies AND facilitated lunch in my absence. I plan to offer a tasty selection of sandwiches and vegetables for the evening meal and possibly make another batch of banana bread. I'm beginning to think that folks are intentionally abstaining from the consumption of fresh bananas to insure their imminent ripening and thus, the baking of still MORE BANANA BREAD!

I am capris, kiwi colored shirt. I'm finally comfortable as far as temperature. I was unaware that today's low temp would be barely 50. I shivered most of the morning, but now I'm fine. I'm turning into a gramma who needs her shawl.

I am creating...the final color scheme for the bathroom. I found several magazine photos that make me happy. Chocolate cabinets, crisp white counter tops, rich blue and white textured fabrics all layered against a smokey blue-gray wall color. Hopefully I'll be able to change out accent colors throughout the year. One photo had all the blue/brown palette, but showed a vase of pink and green tulips - beautiful! Another shared the same palette, but was accented with splashes of green apple and brick red - how very exciting.

I am where else today. By leaving early this morning, I thought about how long it's been since I've had a "morning drive." It did my soul good. I'm thinking of implementing a little item of devotion called, "Mommy's Morning commute" where I go out to the garage and sit in the car and enjoy a ten minute opportunity to get my wits about me and focus for the day.

I am reading...tons of stuff...too much to get my brain around. I hope to weed through the pile soon and narrow down my focus.

I am hoping...that Landen gets to feeling better. He is missing his friend's last volley ball game because he is sick. Sad times.

I am hearing...the closing jingle of the girls' PBS show, (I gotta hurry and post this!) Luke and Philip walking the conversational line between troubleshooting and bickering in the bathroom, and subtle snores from Landen and Mari and Oscar.

Around the house... one handsome husband, five beautiful children, one clean dog, and too many dirty clothes to discuss. (not much has changed since last week)

One of my favorite singing. This morning's musical blitz was straight up fun. My range is not what it was 10 years ago, but my love for musical worship is increasing with each passing moment.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...Ashlin on guitar.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Field Trip to the Fire Department tomorrow, Choir on Wednesday, a 4-H Horse riding class on Thursday, Kathy is coming to take family photos Friday, and Luke's world series is this weekend. Oh, and the Fall Festival! Whew, I better take my vita-meata-veg-imin!

Enjoy other Daybooks at The Simple Woman.