Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Lord Hears

This morning's reading in my Experiencing God Day-by-Day, The Devotional and Journal, spoke to me in so many ways.

"God has designed His kingdom so that Christians with kindred spirits join
Matthew 18:20 tells us, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." The devotional goes on to say, "If you are carrying concerns about your family or your church or your friends (I would add 'or your homeschooling'), ask God to bring like-minded believers around you to share the burden with you in conversation and in prayer. Don't attempt to bear your load of cares on your own. You may pray about them, but you will miss the blessing of uniting together with a group of believers who join together to intercede for one another and to enjoy God's presence. Everything God has woven into the fabric of His kingdom promotes interdependence, not individualism. As you face your concerns, deliberately seek out believers with whom you can stand and share your load."

We all have our very own challenges and concerns. Some days I can't bear to list mine, for fear of admitting just how many I have. Lately, I've been battling the old battle of not feeling adequate or able to do the many tasks set before me, not the least of which being the enormous task of homeschooling my 7 children.

I've known for several years about a homeschool co-op in the town we live outside of. We even visited once, the fall after we moved up here, but I was a bit overwhelmed with the structure of it all, and thought it was a bit much effort for us at the time (then we had an 8 yr old- the only one who was schooling at the time, a 2 yr old, and a nursling). It wasn't a good fit at the time. Fast forward 8 yrs, seriously, they went fast, and we now have a just turned 16 yr old, a 10 yr old, 8 yr old, 6 yr old, 4 yr old, 2 yr old, and a just turned 1 yr old. Things are different, times have changed. Their structure still overwhelms me (it's incredibly organized, with 3 different classes for each age group, hired teachers, supervising Moms, snacks, games, crafts, amazing, really) but I definitely see the need for it, considering the size of the group (I can't remember, but I think there are close to 100 children!).

Our children love it, I knew they would! I love it, too. I'm loving meeting new mothers who face many of the same challenges and have the same concerns about educating and discipling their children. I love that there's a Mom's group, where we can sit and talk. I didn't think I was going to like that. Why?! Anyone who knows me knows that I can chat all night with the best of them, but for some reason I wasn't feeling the 'need' to sit and talk with other Moms, who were complete strangers to me. The thing is, after just one week, I realized that this group of women were not strangers, at least I sure didn't want them to be. These were/are new friends, and I count myself so very blessed to have found them and to have finally taken the step to connect with them.

Last week one Mom offered a praise report that was such a blessing to hear- She had been feeling completely overwhelmed with getting it all done, helping with her husband's business and trying to keep up with homeschooling, and she poured out her heart to a friend who didn't just lend an ear, didn't just pat her on the back with an encouraging 'hang in there, you can do it', didn't even offer the often used, yet ever-so-shallow, 'I'll pray for you' only to walk off and forget about it (not intentionally, I know, but we all get right back into being caught up in our own concerns so easily, admit it, we've all done it). Her friend stopped what she was doing and prayed, right then and there. Now that's a friend, and I really think that's what Christian fellowship should look like. This Mom was so encouraged, and she said that her relief was almost instant, the burden lifted, her stressful times were not so overwhelming anymore, that she's able to find and feel the peace she desires and needs so much right now, in the midst of her personal storm.

We prayed as a group, we prayed for our homeschooling, for our children and our Mothering of each one, for our roles as wives and homemakers. It was such a blessing.

I think that, over the past few years, I've gotten so busy with my growing family (and it's a good busy- don't get me wrong!) that I have, for some time, unintentionally withdrawn from some of the fellowshipping that I used to thrive on. My family is my top priority, second only to my walk with God, and I don't intend to start leaving them high and dry to join every fellowship group available to me- that would be the wrong kind of busy, but I am so thankful for this particular group of Mothers, bearing burdens that look very much like mine, to share with and walk together with on this journey of faith as we endeavor to teach our children and work to prepare them to live and walk victoriously in this life.

Whether you are a homeschooling Mom or not, people need people, people need fellowship. As Christians, we will always have the Lord, even in times of utter solitude, but for those of us not in solitary confinement, let's remember the additional blessing of coming together with kindred spirits and thank Him for them!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Bug So Soon

Big J (10), Baby J (just turned 1!) and Little M (2) seem to have picked up a bit of a 'common cold' bug- very runny nose, watery eyes, a bit of a cough, thankfully no fevers, so no, I do not think this is the flu, seasonal or swine, excuse me, H1N1. I know some people with little ones battling some pretty bad ear infections, so I'm on the lookout for signs of such, but other than that, I'm not really worried, not really.

That being said, when Hope (4 yrs) began coughing Saturday morning, my Asthma Mom radar went off. Both she and Grace (6 yrs) have been consistently taking a controller med ever since the last (and worst ever, for us) flare-up, and have had no asthma symptoms since coming home from the Children's Hospital. That cough meant time to move to the 'Yellow Zone' on the asthma action plan- which for them means increasing to using controller meds twice per day and adding in albuterol nebs or inhaler every 4 hrs or as needed.

Grace doesn't have any cold symptoms, but she is the one who has been the sickest the most often, the one who's given us the most sleepless nights and brought out in us the most earnest prayers of parents truly concerned about the health of a child. Having a virus moving through the house, this soon after being in the hospital puts Grace in the Yellow Zone too, asthma symptoms or no asthma symptoms. If you know me at all, you know that I do not like to over medicate, that I do not like to throw a bunch of meds at a body 'just in case', but I am learning to deal with the current fact that our daughters' asthma isn't like my 'touch of asthma' or 'reactive airway disorder', which from what I can gather is like being diagnosed with asthma-light. Theirs is the scary kind.

Watching a child continue to get worse after having IV steroids and antibiotics pumping through her little veins for days, not understanding why all those meds, in addition to all of the rescue inhaled meds, aren't helping her lung function improve faster, is heartbreaking, confusing, and terrifying, all at the same time. I don't want to watch that again, none of us do. I'm pretty sure neither Grace, nor Hope, want to experience that again. Our hope and prayer this week is that we've started the extra meds early enough, and that we won't even hear a wheeze, but that this cold bug would pass through and be gone with no Dr. visits to speak of.

So, with 4 out of 7 coughing and runny-nosed, again, the extra sunshine (when we can get it!), extra fluids, extra vitamins, and on the days I really get my act together, some extra good food, are not really extras, but so very important parts of our attempts at a healthy lifestyle. There will be chicken tonight, and broccoli- have I mentioned how much I love that my kids all eat their broccoli?!

Last October, Hope had a wheezy cough for 3 weeks straight, but never had any issues with her O2 level, never even needed to see a doc, we just monitored her closely and kept giving her meds 'til it passed. I truly didn't worry. She had never (since a baby) really given us a reason to really worry. After last month, this year's coughing has me a bit more concerned. The pulmonologists stressed, before we left the hospital, that after such an extreme flare-up, the lungs will be extra-sensitive for a while, another minor thing could turn major fast- so we watch and pray, and try to do that thing that can be so hard for us as parents- to trust, trust that our daughter's health, more than that, her very life, is in His hands, and His hands are far greater, far more capable, than ours.

Enjoying them,
because of Him-


Monday, October 26, 2009

Sort of Like Musical Chairs

One of our local mailmen, no, really...

His name is Elvis, and he has left the building,
'cuz, you know, he's got mail to deliver...

Notice the curled lip? hehe...

Tonight there was a made-up game- there was singing and dancing, and quick sitting on the scattered blankets on the great room floor. There was a bit of confusion and some consternation, some 'not like that' and some 'no, do it like this!'

I slid onto the bench at the piano and started flipping through the hymnbook, and began playing, stopping randomly at very unexpected points in the music, judging by the laughter that would erupt as 4 little girls would realize they needed to sit fast, faster, and fastest! It was sweet, they went to bed singing, and maybe with a little bit of twirling...

These are the moments that just bless my heart.

Enjoying them,
because of Him-
Yep, I realize the pics have nothing to do with musical whatever we were playing, but, you know, I every post needs a picture, or two, or three... and they cracked me up!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time Is Running Away From Me

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. — Ferris Bueller
Yep, life is always moving fast around here. I'm not really sure what happened to the rest of my summer, and my fall, though I suppose some of it got sucked up into that crazy 2 children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the same time fiasco that threw our lives into a whole new level of chaos a few weeks back... Yeah, that had something to do with it, but hospitals or no hospitals, life moves fast, and babies grow so fast, and my youngest will be 1 entire year old tomorrow, and I can hardly believe it.

Seriously, 1. Not one week, not one month, not even one fiscal quarter, but 1 entire year, gone by like that. Wow.
He's been such an incredible baby, he blesses us with so many huge wide-open-mouth little guy grins each day.
Man, I love this baby. I mean, this big guy.

Enjoying them,
because of Him-

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rank Watermelon Blues

Tonight's PSA: Too many watermelons kept for too long on the counter will eventually lead to one of them leaking- this is not a good thing, that is not a good smell... and the moral of the story is, when one harvests a TON of watermelon at the end of the season, one really should bless friends and family (with several melons each) or sell it at the nearest farmer's market. One's family can only eat so many watermelon in a week...

I turned to my right, and wondered what the liquid was that was dripping off my counter. Who could have spilled their drink all over the overcrowded counter? The one filled to almost overflowing (well, I guess at that point it actually was overflowing, sheesh) with an excessive number of watermelons, and the mail which was soaking in foul smelling juice. Oy.

After scrambling to clean up that, what shall we call it, bump in the road, this evening, things are smelling much better (orange essential oil in my kitchen cleaner!) and we are down to the last 4 good watermelons- one of which is being snacked on right now.

And the knitting? I am currently well into my 2nd skein of a Vine Lace Top-Down Cardigan for my very self. (I really do still enjoy knitting other people's designs!) It's gotten (freezing) cold, and I'm a cardigan kind of gal. I love how quickly bulky knits knit up, and I'm completely in love with top-down construction. I'd love to have this done in a week (I cast on before bed, 10/14). I won't, but I'd love to. A busy mom can still dream.

The designing? I've been working on my transition to self-publishing, but I've been working at a snail's pace, with my family and our homeschooling adventure taking a higher rung on the priority ladder. And that's okay, it's the way it should be for me. I do have several patterns about 95% ready to go, and I'm super excited about that. I just don't know how soon I can wrap up that last 5%, and that's okay too. It will come when it comes, I'm not losing any sleep over it. There are so many other reasons to lose sleep these days...
And the baby? Oh, my, could he be any sweeter? I doubt it, and I can hardly believe he'll be a One Year Old in 5 days!?! Oh, my, he is such a joy & delight, and so very, very, big! As his birthday happens to fall on the same day of my dad's, I have just reminded myself that I only have 5 days to think of something, (or maybe conspire with my sisters, one of whom has a new blog!), to come up with something for him too...
Have a fabulous weekend!
Enjoying them,
because of Him-

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Have Ten Apples Up On Top

Actually, I have many, many, many, more than that. I fear there may be more than we can get through- but we are trying!

We were blessed with a short-notice outing to an orchard owned by a friend of a friend (you see, sometimes it's all about who you know) last weekend. It was cold, freezing actually, with some snow on the ground and more in the forecast. They needed some bodies, and we have several, so off we headed to glean what we could glean. They told us we could take home as many as we wanted, for free, if we would just help in cleaning off a tree or two. What a blessing!

I washed, stemmed, and quartered way more apples than I ever thought it would take to make 6 quarts of applesauce- that was a bit of work. This afternoon's activities involve the dehydrator- I'm super excited about these, though again with the work, work, work. My children can eat through a bag of dried apples faster than you can say something cute and apple related, so if I'm going to want any dried apple snacks in, say, more than a week, I'm going to have to dry a LOT of apples, and I guess that's okay, because that's exactly what we've got left- a LOT.

There will be a pie tonight, and maybe a crisp, and then another pie...

Apple pies make good breakfasts, don't they?

Enjoying them,
because of Him-

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Many Hands Make Light Work

I sent the children off to tidy their rooms late yesterday morning. The timer was set for 15 minutes, one of my favorite new habits from flylady, and they were working hard to see who could get the cleanest room- the winners were promised a Sprite. Our children don't often get pop, so every now and then when a can is offered for a reward, it's actually quite an incentive for our poor, disadvantaged, high-fructose corn syrup deprived (ok, at least limited) offspring.

A few minutes into the cleaning, I began to hear what was, in my opinion, a little too much joy and merriment coming from the room with the 8, 6, & 4 yr old girls. There was some giggling, there was what sounded to me like some dancing and certainly some jumping around, and there was some singing- yes, I definitely heard singing.

I was about to suggest, sweetly & warmly, of course, that perhaps a little less goofing and a little more focus was in order- when I began to discern the words to the singing I was hearing. It was the voice of our 4 yr old, little Hopeful, and she was singing a little improv song about teamwork, about working together to get the job done, working together to clean up the room.
'You can pick up the dirty laundry,
and I can vacuum the floor,
we can work together,
it's called teamwor-or-or-or-ork'
Oh yeah, it was cute, she's a keeper, and the girls won today, in case you were wondering.

Enjoying them,
because of Him-

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Partly Cloudy

I wasn't sure if the camera would be able to capture the awesome sky we had at a recent soccer game. When I probably should have been taking pictures of soccer players, especially the one that's mine, I was extremely distracted by this glorious sight. Years ago, one of my favorite ladies on this earth, once looked up at the sky on a cool fall evening gathering at our church, and said to her husband and children "Look at the beautiful picture the Lord painted for us in the sky?" and I was struck with how immediate and how natural her reaction was. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks- truly. Her heart was so filled with awe of God, the Creator, that her first thought upon looking up at that beautiful sight was a thought about He who created that sight, and about His motive- He did it for us, to remind us of Him, and to simply enjoy. I think I've thought of her, and my awesome God, every time I notice a painting in the sky ever since.
I love how you can see the rays coming out of the clouds. It was amazing. I was transfixed.

I snapped a few pics, and thought this one turned out pretty well, if I may say so myself, and it's my blog, so I can. Ok, it would've been better with a bit more of the treeline, but I was distracted by those beautiful rays.

I spent a few moments playing with the original in Photoshop. I've decided I like playing with color. A lot. Well, I already knew that, now I know it more.

I should probably teach my children how to do this. I can think of several children who abide under my roof who would love to learn this sort of thing. I should probably start soon.

We can call it art. They can all start some lovely little art & photography portfolios. That sounds like fun. I cannot even imagine how much more advanced digital photography and art could even get, but I'm sure such art & photography portfolios would be so sweet to look at years from now, when the pictures are fond memories.

Here's the original again, with the color saturation bumped up. Love it. Can't wait to play again!

Enjoying them-
because of Him,


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Remain Calm, and I'll Try To Too...

No really, don't panic. I lost all of my nice formatting when I moved the blog over to my new domain. I just need to find some time to rework it... that should be easy to find, or not... soon, I hope, soon.
In the meantime, I'm still endeavoring to enjoy them,
each one of my children,
as the gifts from above that they are,
because of Him,

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Hymn, My Savior First of All

Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915

When my life-work is ended and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see,
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.


I shall know Him, I shall know Him,

And redeemed by His side I shall

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,

By the print of the nails in His
Oh, the soul thrilling rapture when I view His blessèd face,
And the luster of His kindly beaming eye;
How my full heart will praise Him for the mercy, love and grace,
That prepare for me a mansion in the sky.

Oh, the dear ones in glory, how they beckon me to come,
And our parting at the river I recall;
To the sweet vales of Eden they will sing my welcome home;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.
Through the gates to the city in a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.
Oh, Lord, I do long to know you, to view your blessed face, to meet you when I reach the other side; but even now, Lord, I want to know you more and more each hour, I need to know you more and more each day. My desire is to put you- first of all. Help me, Lord, to live as though I truly believe that, not as 'a nice thought', but as the passion of my heart that drives my actions, my words, even my thoughts, day by day and hour by hour.
Thank you so very much, Lord, for your everlasting patience with me and your tender mercies given to me.
You are so good, so good to me,


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another Asthma, RSV, Pneumonia Update

I've posted an update, which I'm too lazy to copy over completely, on my knitting blog.

The short story-
  • it was scary
  • 2 girls in PICU
  • both girls finally home
  • 3rd daughter also has pneumonia
  • I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep (in my own bed!)

Enjoying them,
because of Him,

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