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.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Executive Decision

I saw a friend today that I haven't seen in a while. We visited for just a few minutes, but her words were fresh and truly inspiring. We first met while taking Business classes, where she shined as a gifted, visionary leader. We were going back and forth with updates on the kids' ages. I know that after her first child, she went back to work for a while. I asked, "Well, how are you spending your days?" Through a broad smile, she answered, "I'm at home raising my kids and I've never been happier."

Her words brought me gladness. Philip assured her she was working harder now than she ever has, but that the rewards are eternal. I talked about how some see it as a tough "job" because you can't call in sick, you can't take vacation time, you don't get pay raises, etc. Her happy resolve was unwavering. "I'm a work-aholic, so those issues don't bug me. What thrills me is that when problems arise, there is no red tape. As an executive, I just implement the improvements and move ahead. I love living out my own 'cause & effect'. I CAN make a change and see the benefits. The Bible is my policy guide and I just run with it."

How cool is she? "Her husband has no worries, and her children will rise up and call her blessed."

Thank You, God, for like-minded mommies. Thank You for letting me see an old friend today. Thank You for the encouragement You gave through her. Give me that kind of confidence to live out my calling. May Your joy be our strength!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Flashback Fotos

Yesterday, we had the best treat! My Great Uncle Don, his beautiful wife, Ann, and their precious daughter, Mynde, came by for a visit. They were traveling home to Missouri after spending a couple weeks at M.D. Anderson in Houston.

When the kids overheard my phone conversation with Aunt Ann, they began to console one another: "He's not feeling well, so there will be no 'hokus dee-pokus' today..."
When their car pulled up the drive, the kids surrounded it, pressing in to get dibs at the first hugs. As Uncle Don climbed out of the back seat, he held a white plastic bag in his hand. Next thing I know, he's got all the kids closing their eyes really tight, squirmin' their mouths sideways, and holdin' out their hands. "Hokus Dee-Pokus...Alakazam!" Then he would toss a bag of candy into open palms. This was Mari's first go at it. She approves.

He then turned to give James his fair share. Hard times and bubble gum...without the bubble gum. "Boy, you are eat up with ugly aren't ya? No wonder you ain't got no girl!" The whole time he's ribbin', Uncle Don is chuckling and literally poking fun between JW's ribs. Later, just before they drove away, Uncle rolled down his back window and hollered, "Jesus hadn't come back yet; you still got time!"

My Grandpa, Jimmy, died when I was just a few months old. He had several brothers and sisters who I remember meeting and adoring as a child. I especially loved to watch my dad interact with his Uncle Don. When my dad died before Landen was born, I was needy for a Papa from my Dad's side of the gene pool. Some of my most precious photographs are of each of my babies cradled in the arms of "Unk Don". Philip and I traveled to Don & Ann's house the year we were engaged and have returned almost every year since. Uncle Don always calls me "Sweetie" and he always kisses me on the cheek when we say hello or goodbye. When Mynde hugged me and said, "You look great. I don't think I've ever seen you NOT pregnant", Uncle piped in with "I think it's wonderful that you've got all these pretty babies. You should take that as a compliment. I mean it!"

This picture is from 1998. Luke pukes right as we take the shot. Landen is ready to bolt, huh? Can't you just tell Uncle's a hoot? Plenty good memories from that living room.

This one is from the 70's with my dad on the left, Uncle O.W. in the center, and Uncle Don on the right. You can see by their expressions that Uncle Don is giving his infamous "hard time"...just like he did with James yesterday.

Thank You, Lord, for Uncle Don & Aunt Ann. Thank You for giving them enough love to love us well. Thanks for providing such a sweet visit today. Keep them and shelter them in You arms.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Be Gone!

I've been excused from the hall bathroom. Philip came home from work in order to visit with Uncle Don and Aunt Ann this afternoon. He's been here ever since. His baseball practice was cancelled. His softball game - cancelled. Seven straight hours of domestic deity.

Since about 8pm (when it was no longer an option for him to drive into town to buy bathroom fixtures) he has been tearing stuff apart. It started with the door trim, then the dry wall, then the sink back splash, and as I type, they are hauling out the marble tub. As he demolished the area behind the tub, he uncovered a section of wall paper that was evidently original to the house in 1981.

The darkness that exists under the lid of my scanner does not do justice to its true color. You must impose an imaginary silver sheen to this woven botanical. It's really too much, but I thought you'd enjoy a little looksie.

That's it. The children are not able to go to sleep with all the hallway commotion. So hopefully they'll sleep in a bit before they all have to shower in my bathroom. Happy times.

Thank You, Lord, for Philip and all his many talents.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peace and Quiet

I just wanted to share how wonderful it is to be home alone. It's probably been months since this has been the case. Well, Oscar-dog is here. But he's snoozin' under my chair since the kids ran him crazy this afternoon. Oscar, I'm feelin' ya, dog.

In thirty minutes, I've been able to complete the three projects I have tried to multi-task all day. Thank You, Jesus, for offering an opportunity for concentrated effort!

Real quick, before I go...

Today Ardyn announced that she loved me with 1/3 of her heart, Philip with another 1/3, and God with the other 1/3. I hugged her and advised that Scripture says to love the Lord with ALL or 3/3 of her heart. I assured her,"Then God will give you enough love for the rest of us." She came back a few minutes later and asked, "Does God give me enough love for Oscar, too?" I said He totally does. She smiled, "I was thinking that was like Him, but I wanted to make sure."

Concerning lunch today, Ashlin proclaimed, "Mom, this stuff is GOOD!" Then she explained to her siblings, "Hey, y'all: I LOVE this stuff, and if I love it, you're surely gonna love it too. Try it!!" Everyone should have such an enthusiastic food critic.

Mari can administer her first knock-knock joke. I'm not kidding. Call us, and we'll get her to do it. She took her first land-line run at it today with Philip.
This is how it goes...
MA: Knock knock
anyone available: Who's there?
MA: (with just a tiny bit of reminder) Boo
the other person: Boo Hoo
MA: (tilting her head and trying to remember which part comes first...wait for it...) No kye, iza JOKE!

I offered Landed partial credit for correcting some quizzes today. For the first time EVER, he accepted. I was thrilled. He raised his grade seven points which seemed to raise his confidence exponentially. Praise the Lord.

As Philip left for church without me, I told him my plans were to finish some projects, work out, and shower. I'm a woman of my word, down,(plus a bonus blog) and two to go. See ya.

Thank You, Lord for quiet houses, completed tasks, gentle rain, weights on the covered patio, and Your Awesome Presence. Bless my church family as they gather. Thank You for the sending the refreshment You totally knew that I needed. You rock!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Extra Value Meal

Yesterday afternoon, Luke followed three recipes in order to prepare and serve dinner all by himself. He made Crunchy Cheddar Talapia, long grain rice, tossed raspberry/walnut salad (with feta cheese) and homemade banana bread.

It was an enormous undertaking, but he found the creativity and clarity of thought to rise to the occasion. While the fish was thawing, he started the rice, and mixed up the bread. While the fish was baking, he set the table. While the bread was baking, he tossed the salad.

At 5:15, when Philip and I tag-teamed our entrance/exit at the garage door, the dining room table was fit for a feast. When I returned a few hours later, the table was clear; the kitchen was tidy. Half a loaf of banana bread rested on a pedestal cake stand, but otherwise there were no signs of the meal.

By 10:00 the triumphant 10-year-old was sitting on the couch watching baseball --fulfilled on many levels.

Thank You, Lord, for Luke. You have gifted him in so many ways. What a blessing he was to me offer to cook so I could get ready for my dinner meeting. I thank You for all that You plan to do through him. I pray for his sweet wife. I pray that You would protect her and keep her so that they might be drawn toward each other as You draw them to You so they might know the perfect purity of Your Love. Help Luke as he learns to walk in Your ways. Give him the strength to choose holiness. Thank You for Your good and precious gift!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, October 13, 2008

Outside My Window...sunny mugginess

I am thinking...that I am determined to post this daybook quickly before lunch. I want to do some other stuff, but I'm afraid Monday will soon run away with itself and leave me blogless. So, Landen is slapping some sandwiches together and I have nine minutes to get this posted.

I am thankful for...God's Love. Today, more than usual. For Him to make a Way for me to come back to Him despite my sin and selfishness. I think He is changing my perspective. I've asked Him to, but I didn't know the brokenness that would come when I see my junk the way He sees it. And then to look again, and realize that He sees it covered by the Loving atonement of His own Son....My spirit is overwhelmed. He sees me as beautiful. I AM beautiful - because of Him.

From the kitchen...LP bustin' out lunch. (which I am also REALLY thankful for) During lunch clean-up I'll put together some Chicken Corn Chili in the crock pot for supper.

I am wearing...a green fish camp t-shirt with gray workout shorts. This ensemble definitely makes a statement: "I've been to fish camp, and I really do PLAN to work out today."

I am creating...Fall Festival costumes, but we're going so low maintenance this year, a more accurate term would be "assembling" - not so much "creating".

I am a mentoring meeting this evening. Philip is coming home to watch the kids. YAY! They will have a blast being together.

I am reading...emails, updated blogs, facebook news. I'm also reading through Exodus and LOVING the truths that scream out from the "wilderness".

I am hoping...that my sister's marriage will be healed. (I know I don't have a sister, but I have "sisters" called today and as we prayed, God gave us hope. I'm just gonna claim it. Not a wish. A Hope. A hope placed in the Creator and Sustainer and Lover of our Souls.

I am hearing...children munching in the dining room. (I've gone past the nine minute mark) I am also enjoying my perpetual mental playlist that includes shuffled songs from the children's Christmas musical, "Holy, Holy, Holy" - heavenly chorus arrangement :), "O, Do You Know the Muffin Man?", and excerpts from Kevin James stand-up comedy.

Around the house... five beautiful children, one clean dog, and too many dirty clothes to discuss.

One of my favorite remembering someone's birthday ON TIME. (this is a tragically rare occurrence...sadly). Today is Philip's sister, Samantha's birthday. She is refreshingly honest, stunningly beautiful, and a great big barrel of laughs. I love to sit on the couch with her and quietly discuss life's deeper issues (or how annoying something is) while the rest of the family is busily about tackling the celebration or challenge of that day. I'm pretty sure her first impression of me was both less than accurate and less than admirable. However, she has blessed me with more than a first impression. She has blessed me with more than lawful relationship. She has blessed me with friendship.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...This was taken in Spring 2001. I know - because shortly before giving birth to Ardyn, I LOST MY MIND and chopped my hair off. That's the caption of this photo: Sam: "So, you did that to your hair on purpose?" CDJ: "I know, now that I think about it, I'm wonderin' if Philip can ever forgive me...great, your mom just took a picture of us."
I think this is the ONLY photographic evidence that Samantha and I have EVER been in the same room, though our love for each other would indicate otherwise....we're just not that into having our picture taken. See? We DO have something in common! Happy Birthday, Samantha!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: tonight's dinner meeting, Choir, and ETBU's homecoming is this weekend...not sure if we're ready to scoot that fact over into the "plans" column yet. We may need to have a private "homecoming" celebration called "rip out the bathtub and get the new one in QUICK!". We'll see.

Enjoy other Daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday. I'm sad that we don't live in the same town, so that I could easily take her to lunch and then go shopping.

Days like this cause me to eagerly look forward to Christmastime. She'll have the house warm and scented, the fridge and freezer full of fabulous food, and a well orchestrated plan - albeit less than fully disclosed - for everyone to enjoy proper amounts of both quality time and quantity treats. And don't forget the "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" cake: the five layer homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. (the more layers, the more frosting!) My kids talk about this delightfully commemorative confection year round.

If you've only read Chapman's books on the five love languages, you'll not have heard of Mom's special love language. Though she speaks the languages they mention, her true language of love is food, I believe. She expresses herself. She sacrifices. She premeditates. She provides. She celebrates. She finds joy in the sharing of food.

When she was the pastor's wife to over forty deacons, each of those families received a beautiful platter of homemade candies for Christmas. A few years later, when I made plans to stay out all night after high school graduation (PLEASE don't mention this to my children) she invited my friends over for a formal breakfast the following morning. In hindsight, perhaps it was her way of ensuring that we'd keep our wits about us if we had a 7am roll call. Nonetheless, she spared no effort or thought. Lace table cloth, her wedding china and stemware - complete with butter dish and gravy boat. I remember looking across the table at my severely fatigued classmates - all of us trying our best to sit up straight in our day-old flannel plaid garb - and thinking, "THIS must be what it means to be honored."

Outside the kitchen, the most natural room for my mom to shine is her piano studio. In an instant I can imagine her thumbing through a student's notebook, checking things off, while simultaneously snapping to a 3/4 rhythm and admonishing the pianist to staaaayy with-the beat! All her students love her. Her lessons shower them with gifts of encouragement, discipline, compassion & patience.

I struggled for many years, as you might assume, to see Mom's giftedness for the treasure that it is. I was too busy being annoyed and impatient, disrespectful and tart. Understandably, she secured "other" avenues for me to receive music education. But apparently, during my sweeter, pre-adolescent years, she found the grace to give me a solid foundation. I am still reaping the harvest from those seeds.

My mom was really ahead of her time in terms of home management. Almost every month, I will read about some "fresh, new" approach to parenting, organization, or family fun. After finishing the article, I say out loud, "Whatever. My mom was doing that 30 years ago." I have five, hand upholstered, eyelet trimmed, three-inch binders that chronicle the first eighteen years of my life. Photos, school papers, awards, if it happened, it's in there. Did she have any idea that "scrap-booking" would explode into a kazillion dollar industry? I'm old, people! She TYPED all the captions on a typewriter, then snipped them and matted them on pretty stationery.

And those "Bridge Books" you can buy at books-a-million that provide summer workbooks to transition your child from one grade to the next? Dunnit. My mom would save papers from each six weeks. Then at the end of each term, she would use those worksheets to create a notebook of summer assignments for each of us. As a result, we would retrace our steps from beginning to end of the subjects we had recently mastered. I would think to myself, "These sound like the word problems Mrs. So-in-so gave us last fall....Hey! These are those silly poems we just learned about at Easter." We could play with our friends "only when our daily page was complete." What a wise mom.

Here is the most amazing thing about my mom. Check out her kids. I'm not kidding! This is not some vain attempt to talk about how great we are. You want to know if a mom is great at what she does? Look at the fruit. ALL of her kids are handsome, charming, and love to learn. All of her kids find incredible joy in worshipping the One True God. All of her kids who are married, happily chose spouses who share that same purpose and pleasure. All of her kids who have children of their own, are actively raising them to do the same. (Sorry, JW, but you're not giving me a lot to work with...Jesus loves you, man...hang in there!)

Mother's passion for parenting has blossomed into a bouquet of blessings. No matter what happened on each and every single day. No matter what mistakes she may have made. No matter how things deviated from what she might have planned. The harvest of her mothering efforts is rich and plentiful. Her granddaughters long to be Godly Grammy's. She has gently made her mark on the generations to come. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Outstanding, admirable, and OLD...I think that's the main idea here, today. Ardyn and I found a card for mom this week. It said, "You're HOW old?...well try to have a good day anyway." Obviously we selected a sweeter card to actually put in the mail. I think I actually have more gray hair than she knows I'm just pickin'. She is by all accounts aging beautifully and gracefully.

Thank You, God for giving me my mom. You did Good!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Whom Shall I Send: "Not I" Said The Fly

You may remember the girls and I recently had a conversation about being missionaries to Africa.

On the way to the ballpark today, in the backseat, the topic came up once again ...this time with a little less compassion and slightly more commentary.

AR: You know, I REALLY want to go to Africa.

AG: Why? You KNOW you're gonna burn up.

AR: Really?

AG: Yeah, it's terribly hot there, AND everyone is naked.

AR: (silently stunned)

AG: (in confident continuation)Yeah, they just wear cloths...well, the men don't wear shirts and they just wear cloths instead of underwear.

AR: What about the ladies?

AG: Oh, they wear cloths all over; they are more modest than the men... NOT like here, in our country, where the men are more modest than the women!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Flashback Fotos

This must have been 1999?? Port Caddo couch...wait for it...

My middle brother, Josh, my oldest "little" brother, Tim, and My Man, Philip.
It takes a REALLY tough guy to put up a fight without setting down his Blue Bell.

Josh's wife, Kathy, Me, and Tim's wife, Rebecca.
We're either cold from the ice cream, or collectively embarrassed about our clothing... Why has Kathy not changed one bit? Bec- In my dreams, my "big Texas" bangs were as poofy as yours...truly. Could no one schedule an intervention about my eye glasses??? I look like the bookworm on 'saved by the bell'.

Seriously, I treasure the memories from that season of family fun. Thanks dudes.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Song In My Heart

When I was visiting Josh last spring, he suggested I compile a praise medley with Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus & O Lord, You're Beautiful. He had completely analyzed the lyrics and felt that the phrases of each song could be overlapped to achieve deeper meaning. Though I could not meet the challenge to that extent, I've been humming the two songs together for months. This morning, I extended it to emphasize not only God's Beauty, but His Grace. Then I "brought it all back around" as JW would say. I thought I'd share. It's all in the same key, so just pick a note and go for it. Enjoy! I get a kick out of collaboration, so come on...sing through it and let me know how it can be better.

Beautiful Grace Medley

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Oh Lord, you’re beautiful,
Your face is all I see,
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

Grace, grace, marvelous grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, infinite grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful,
Your grace abounds to me

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Present and Accounted For

The MP3 shirts came in! They look marvy! I'm so relieved.

My meeting for tomorrow night has been cancelled, so it won't be a hair/make-up day after all! I'll be free to exercise and work on the bathroom intermittently throughout the day and perhaps into the evening. Freedom!

Landen cooked dinner tonight - blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs. Thank you, Ninny-Pah!

Luke read his book to me before he went to bed. He went on and on about how much he loved the MP3 shirts. Such a sweet boy.

Ardyn befriended a visitor to AWANA tonight. Her teacher said she was "joyfully flexible". Wow! God's grace can totally override genetic potential, huh?

Ashli is on the couch asleep. She tearfully pleaded for permission to stay up until Daddy gets home. When I told her she could, she fell asleep almost immediately. - just restin' in the knowledge that he'll carry her to bed and sing to her, even if it's MUCH later.

Mari Alice might be rotten. (Note: after reviewing previous posts, I have entertained the foreign notion that she might survive on cereal other than her preference. Working in that direction :)

JW is the best. He saved me a trip to L'view today by swinging by to get the shirts. Hey! The shirts are in, did ya hear? They look gr-gr-great!

Philip is even better than JW! There are no words. He is THE best dad to our kids. And he is an amazing husband. Yesterday, he held out his arm and motioned for me to come sit next to him. I figured he was gonna kiss me - cause I'm a really good kisser - duh!. Nope. He prayed over me. Very loving! Then I DID kiss him. 'Cause -like Rebecca and I have said for years - "Godly IS sexy!"

Thank You, God for overseeing the t-shirt project. You do good work. Bless all the dear children who will wear these shirts. Give them a hunger to worship You for who You are. Thank You for my household. I am a RICH woman. Thank You.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Peace, Love, and Crackers

Thankfully, we enjoyed a [sick]free day. Lots of television and very little food, but zero [sickness].

This evening Ashlin, Mari Alice and I ran to the store together. As we headed into town, Ashli quizzed, "Mom, do you know how many cars there are in the wide world?"
"How many?"
"One hundred and fifty-five."
"Wow, Ash, how did you know that?"
"There's just a lot, that's all."

We returned safely and unloaded the week's worth of groceries.

Now I'm off to rest may way into tomorrow.

Thank You, Jesus, for quiet, peaceful days.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, October 6, 2008

Outside My Window...thunderstorms

I am thinking...that today seemed REALLY lengthy.

I am thankful for...Lysol, Clorox, washing machines, and weekly trash pick-up.

From the kitchen...Greek cucumber & tomato wraps. They were fabulous...also roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes. But the floors & counters are spotless...I did'em myself!

I am wearing...nasty old shorts with a nasty old Washington State tee. (Been working on the bathroom cabinets amid the frequent cries from sick kids.)

I am creating...a really long "to-do" list for the bathroom. Philip got ALL involved this evening, so it looks like we may gut a wall or two and replace the sink, tub, & counter before we're done. So much for "I just want to repaint the walls and cabinets." I can't wait until my "to-do" becomes "ta-dah!".

I am trust my husband about the bathroom. He exhibits far more wisdom and patience for decisions that we'll live with for many years. He selected our refrigerator 14+ years ago...she's still running strong with room to store food for 8+ people. Handsome AND visionary, he is.

I am reading..."Let the Nations Be Glad" by John Piper.

I am hoping...the two kids who were [sick] today will not [be sick] tomorrow. Moreover, I am hoping that none of the others will begin to [be sick] at any point in the near future. (It would really help me fully vent if I could use proper, nauseating vocabulary, but I will refrain in complete deference to you, the reader, who shouldn't be exposed to such [sickness])

I am hearing...the movie that JW & Philip are watching from the living room. My darling is losing his hearing, I believe. Too much 80's rock, and the following years of marksmanship and operating heavy machinery.

Around the house...tidy, while engaging in germ warfare on many fronts.

One of my favorite blogging. Ironically, words cannot express how much of a relaxing release this hobby is. I feel better already.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Choir, Retreat meeting, date night?, baseball, and I get to play the keyboard for "Big Church" Sunday. Woo-hoo! And lest we forget the recuperating and remodeling...

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
See? No trashcans lined with bags and paper towels, no Lysol wipes, no "cold rags"...just five happy, healthy children in color-coordinating winter wardrobe. THIS is what dreams are made of!

Enjoy other Daybooks at The Simple Woman.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Healthy Choice

Landen came into my room this morning with tales of unrest from the breakfast table. From what I can gather, Luke ate the last serving of whole grain & strawberry cereal. Mari had indicated that she desired that specific cereal as well.

Landen reported, "Mari wants it, and I asked Luke to share with her, and now he's being bull-headed and told me, 'No, YOU share with her.'"

As I held the curling iron tight to the crown of my head, encouragement slipped from my mouth with uncharacteristic brevity and emotional control. "You have a choice, Landen. Respond to Luke, or respond to Christ Jesus."

He turned to leave. I slid the iron out from the steamy coil of hair. I looked myself in the mirror.

"I have a choice..."
"Respond to [whatever it is that troubles/annoys/burdens/hurts/disturbs me] or respond to Christ Jesus."

That should do me for a day or two, huh?
Thank You, Holy Spirit!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Up & Away

This morning in my closet, Mari spotted some brand new play dough up on the top shelf. "Pay-do! Pay-do!" She looked at me as if we had just stumbled into riches. When I did not share her delighted surprise, she squinted up at me with disapproval - as though my secret "birthday shelf" was an offensive betrayal. After a moment of non-verbal reprimand, she returned to the issue at hand. "Pay-DO!!"

She immediately toddled through the house to find a ladder. She returned with the chunky pink chair that coordinates with her sister's make-up table. "Huh-vee!" she grunted as she lumbered back into my closet to install her makeshift scaffolding. She triumphantly climbed up onto the seat and reached her arms high into the air, but STILL could not reach the play dough. She had elevated herself by roughly nine or ten inches - believing she would be able to easily grasp the play dough that was inexplicably withheld from her.

She looked at me. I smiled at her, "We'll get it down another time."
Her toddler attention span had been stretched to the limit. She looked at me just a while longer, then slid down and scampered off to her next adventure. No hard feelings. But now she knows there are "treasures" at the top of my closet. How often will she ask me about it?

To God, I must seem, at times, like Mari -wanting to grasp the treasures and blessings of the Kingdom in my own strength. I get a plan and I brave the "heights", to stand surely within reach. He patiently grins because from His perspective, I've only changed my position by inches -even on my tip-toes. He knows without His help, I'll never make it. He knows there is a perfect time to reveal these things to me. It won't be until I humble myself in His sight and allow Him to lift me up.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." [declares the Lord God Almighty] Isaiah 55:9

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Fotos

My friend, Christina, started "retro Wednesday" on her blog. She uses the weekly opportunity to post random pictures. When I see a great idea and a schedule in one fun, package deal, I steal it, honey!

For Mari Alice's second birthday, we simply had some friends over for supper. It was a fun time for sure. This is Abby, Katie Jo, Audra, Nathan, and the birthday girl.

Abby's mommy, Jeannie, is my very comfy friend. It's ok if I post this without her permission, because she NEVER reads my blog. We're good.

With THIS kind of maternal adoration, Abby should never struggle with poor self image.

Nathan joined in the dress-up fun. April seems thrilled.

THIS is what Weaver was taking pictures of when he was SUPPOSED to be snapping photos of the kids. Whatev!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Total Gainer

I'm in total pain. My legs hurt. My arms hurt. My belly hurts.

Yesterday, I worked out and lifted weights. No big deal, except it was the first time I listened to my ZUNE while working out. Did you know, that when there's a really good beat, I can do lunges for DAYS?? It was a total dance craze with 10 pound weights! I listened to all the songs on my "jogging" play list. "Jogging" play list : is that hysterical or what?

This evening I was stripping...

...all the paint off the cabinets in the bathroom. (I don't know why I think that's so funny, I just do.) As I tried to remove all the old paint, I would squat down to scrape the low spots: "OOHH my dear!" Then I would hop back up to get the high spots:"Shhh-Boygin!" If you were here, you would just laugh and laugh, I'm sure. Well, you're not invited. I'm stripping.

Paint, people. Painfully stripping the paint.

Thank You, Lord for knowing all the fibers of my being. Thank You for providing a way to increase strength. "No pain, no gain", did You write that?

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." -Hebrews 12:11

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Trading Places

After church tonight, Philip brought the kids home. I went to visit Wesley & Maria & Tiny Baby Matthew...6 days old. Yummy! We chatted while I cuddled with the newborn. He was so alert! Following my movements with his serious, blue eyes. Grinning at me -I know he just had gas, but a grin is a grin!

Next I was off to W*lM*rt to buy some paint supplies - and milk, and carrots, and peanuts, and (candy corn -to go with the peanuts, oh wow, if you have not had that combo, you need to go TOmorrow and get some. Don't say anything about the c.c. We wouldn't want to start something.) Philip was tired and almost asleep when I returned home.

As I brought the bags in, I literally stumbled across the cutest thing EVER. Two pair of little girls' camo hunting boots, set in a straight row directly in front of the door. Philip has apparently invited Ardyn and Ashli to accompany him on his trek to pick up the bushhog and take it out to the lease. Since the boys get to go out there all day Friday, it only seems right that they go tomorrow afternoon. As I type, there are two fully accessorized "hunting" outfits lying on the floor at the foot of a pink floral bed.

Oh gosh, "bed". I've got to post this and go get some cash out of my purse and see if Ardyn gave the tooth fairy one final chance. Two nights ago I forgot to go swap out the chomper. Since JW is house sitting across town, she slept in his room. The next morning, I was able to convince her that she still had her tooth because she was not in her usual bed.

Last night I forgot AGAIN. She came in this morning, with her eyes barely open and her hair frizzing everywhere. She plopped the plastic treasure chest down on my desk, and gloomily announced, "Luke was right. There IS no tooth fairy." I was so sad and ashamed. I offered, "Do you think it's because the dentist pulled it out?" "No," she documented, "I've had two other teeth pulled by a dentist and I got one and two dollars for them." She turned to go eat a broken-hearted breakfast.

What a terrible mom I've been. I guess the tooth fairy's gonna have to pay some interest on this tooth. It's worth it if I can get that stinky 'treasure' out of my house. We'll see...

Dear Father, thank You for never sleeping, and never forgetting Your promises. Thank You for giving us someone [WAY more important than the T.F] to believe in. Give me childlike faith. Bless the girls as they get quantity & quality time with their daddy. Thank You for loving us so much.

Can I Quote You?

The boys and I are practicing the correct use of quotation marks today. Some examples were so good, I wanted to share...

C. Simmons once said, "It is a great evil, as well as a misfortune, to be unable to utter a prompt and decided 'No.'"

Albert Payson Terhune said, "Win without boasting. Lose without excuse."

"Too much rest," said Sir Walter Scott, "is rust."

Sir William Osler said, "We are here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from life."

"Never say more than is necessary." said Richard Sheridan.
("Wow, I don't think I'm living that wisdom," Cari Johnson shamefully admitted.)

"The highest learning is to be wise," said T.L. Haines,"and the greatest wisdom is to be good."

"He must increase, but I must decrease," said John the Baptist.

A wise man said, "Good temper is like a sunny day; it sheds its brightness on everything."

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."