What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ode to Fall

May I give not another thought to the broken airconditioner I have had to endure for the last six months in my car.

May my head forgive me for the tangled masses, pulled out hair and whipping of face that an unruly, wind-filled mane caused every summer day I stepped foot in the car.


May my hair actually look nice in public again .

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Commitments


The alarm clock rang out at 5:15 and I sat up, bleary-eyed. Week Number Two of waking early, of walking with husband, sending him off to work with kisses and conversation. Of....exercising.

The first week of rude awakenings had me bolting upright in alarm as I tried to understand what the obnoxious noise was. Children usually woke me. But this week, my eyes weren't wide at the first sound of it screaming, this week I sat up slowly and begrudgingly. But I got up. Brushed my teeth. Threw on the same clothes I have worn every morning I have woken before dawn and tied up the same sneakers. Then, braced myself for the cold.

Matt and I have walked together, pushing ourselves and each other in midnight morning races down driveways and walks under starry skies before he heads out to work. But then, he hurt his back and now I am flying solo until he feels up to it again.

It is harder to get out of bed and out the door into brisk darkness when you are all alone. But I did it, have done it, will do it~ because that is my commitment to myself.

This morning, the moment I stepped outdoors I was taken aback by the intense stars shining back at me. The sky was utterly filled. Bright, with no moon. My thoughts turned instantly to the Master. His fingerwork of stars. I walked and prayed, only the dog companion and perky deer to hear me, and Master himself. I walked, then jogged, then turned toward home to see the pinkness of a new morning just beginning.

Dippers spilling stars and mountaintops blushing and all these things I saw because of that insistent, insufferable alarm and the commitment I made to myself. I do hope I become more fit, but even if I see no changes in my body, it would still be worthwhile. Sometimes good things do result from unpleasantness.


Reading A Foxfire Christmas, listening to Farmer Boy as soon as the car starts and looking around at all the gorgeousness of this new season upon us has got me to thinkin'. Made me want to challenge myself in a new way. Seems to me people enjoyed things MORE back when they had to work for things, back when there was less. Back when you gathered your own winter berries and found your own greenery instead of pulling them out of dusty cardboard boxes in the attic or cutting tags off of newly bought ones.

Holiday decorating has always been a weakness of mine. Oh my, the glam and glitz of holidays: whether it be glitter pumpkins or glass ornaments, or feather wreaths....my normally frugal nature always turns a blind eye during the holidays. Going to the store and getting a few nice decorations sure can be fun..or my weakness~getting the supplies to make my OWN decorations from super cool ideas on the internet. But I think there *might* be more. Not just more fun, I want more meaning, more appreciation. I want to find contentment in the simple things, I want to the feeling of beauty to linger long~not just be put into a bag.

I have decided to not by a STITCH of holiday items this year. Not a one. Spent not a dime. I will use what we already have or make/find/discover other ways to find beauty and joy in these ever-approaching seasons. Other things. I challenge myself to this course, I commit myself to making the most beautiful of holiday seasons ever. Starting this month. With the pumpkins in my garden.


Speaking of Holidays: Did you know there are only 82 days left until Christmas?! I know this because of ANOTHER commitment I have recently made.

To handmake every gift I give this year.

The gift list is crazy long, the pocketbook short and time is quickly dwindling BUT I have a craft room full of supplies, a door to easily hide the mess, willing hands and a mind up for the challenge. To make something INDIVIDUAL for each individual I love...something that they will love too. I CAN do this...and am finding it is more fun than I had anticipated!

Lots of commitments, all to myself. It's me, making my life harder (again). But I hope, these commitments will make my life more loving, more meaningful.....more intentional. I hope that these things will change me for the better. Because one should NEVER stop trying to be better, in whatever way (and by whatever means) they can.


And since we are talking about commitments here:

Last year, Corynn was reluctant to read books aloud. She LOVED (loves) to be read to and can sit for hours at a time, but when it came to sounding out and struggling through books, she just didn't like it as much (duh!). When schooling started up again this year, I began to brainstorm how I might encourage her in this area: making reading (herself) fun.

I decided a tree on the wall might just do the trick. A big, black, silhouette tree with fun, gnarling fingers to hold leaves reflecting the books that she has read. Every time she reads a book entirely herself she writes the title of that book on a construction paper leaf (that she traced from a cookie cutter and cut) and tapes it on the tree.

She L.O.V.E.S it and begs to read things herself now. She has committed herself to filling that tree right up, so much that she has to tape leaves falling down onto the ground.

I am excited for my girl. She's a good one, she is.

Just so you know...

THIS is what happens when you ask a tired 6 year old to smile:

THIS is what happens when you ask a tired 3 year old to smile:

And THIS is what happens when you ask a tired 10 month old to smile:
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This baby who is supposed to be staying that way (disobedient child!) has begun a new list of firsts.

She's got TWO teeth now on her bottom gums-kissing each other. They are still so small compared to her puffy lips that you can never see them unless you pry those babies back with you fingers and get a good view. I may not see them often but I can feel them.

Oh YES, I can feel them.
She went down her first slide (and liked it).

She has also started pulling herself up on everything she possibly can. Often me.

But the most FABULOUS first lately??!?!

She wore her first ponytail and I am sorry, but she was cute beyond words...even if you aren't into that whole "single spike sticking straight out of ones' brains" thing.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Grape Craze

I bought a bushel of pears last week, already plucked from trees for $11.50 and 56 pounds of concord grapes for .33c a pound, again, already gathered with the extra cents for "gas mileage" and "work" already added in.

Ya know.

For canning.

Company came unexpectedly on Saturday. Sunday was out of the question for a number of reasons. So, three days after getting them, I knew I had to GET to them before it was too late.

Thank goodness for the hard-as-rocks pears because these grapes have been keeping me busy and my fingers (-and countertops and pots and sink) purple. 56 pounds goes pretty far if you ask me and my lonesome two-hands. (BTW-WHEN will my children be old enough to help me can??? I've heard "many hands make light work" but still am not sure if it is true....)

50 quarts of grape juice, canned. A pot of juice to be made into jelly tomorrow. A gallon of grape juice to drink now (we broke the "milk with dinner rule" for fresh, homemade grape juice JUST THIS ONCE) and a heaping fruit bowl of purple orbs stuck to vines sitting on the counter.

I was *THIS* close to tossing the last bit (which looked like not much in the bottom of the box but turned out to be a heaping bowl) in a fit of momentary exhaustion. I believe I said aloud "oh-it's only about $3.00 worth anyway". But the wiser me popped up again (just in time) to say "Well, maybe I will just sort the bad ones out really quick and let them sit until tomorrow when I am in a better frame of mind."

I did. And I am glad I did.

But I do NOT want to see another grape for the rest of the night.

Truth is, though, I fear they (and their purple stains) may haunt me in my dreams.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Foto Friday: Capturing the Wind

How did everyone do on last week's Foto Challenge?!

Last week's challenge was CAPTURING the WIND

I must say, I found last week to be very difficult: the wind was either blowing when I wasn't able to get out with my camera or wasn't blowing when I was. I had several ideas that involved help (Matt)--who very last minute went out of town. Before I knew it: it was Thursday with....a whole lotta nada. Thus, I improvised with breathe and drawings. I did get one or two of REAL wind though. One right before the rain and one right after the fog. :-)

Looking forward to everyone's contributions!

And finally~ I *KNOW* I already had a "blowy" picture but the childer-two wanted to get in on the confetti-blowing action and tell me: who can resist such adorable puckered lips?! Certainly not I! Please pardon the redundancies....

Check out the other participants~

In order to participate in these Foto Friday challenges, you must take a photo pertaining to the challenge and post it to your blog (and when you do, please link back to this blog {you may use the button if you like} so that perhaps we can get lots of participants! Because, you know, the more the merrier!) Then simply link to your post with Mr. McLinky here so that we all can visit you and compare notes...

Most importantly~challenge yourself, but HAVE FUN doing it.

This week's Foto Friday Challenge is: BLACK AND WHITE.

After the challenging subject this past week, the Black and White challenge for this week seems like a welcome reprieve. Let me encourage you, though, to push yourself (and your photos) to be exceptional. You ought to do more than just convert any old photo to black and white. Remember to challenge yourself!

favorite things

Foto Friday will be coming soon (I am waiting for the fog to lift so that I can try *one* more thing).

In the meantime~ can you guess what my most favorite part of these two pictures are? What I love about them so?

Look closely now....

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Child Labor can be good

Spiders weave. Squirrels seek. Ants lug.

All around us there is busyness, all around us there are jobs. But for who?

The Man goes off to work each day, bright and early and comes home when sun is nearing the horizon again. He comes home, bearing the gift of his sweat in paper form and heads to the woods to toil and split ax against wood. These things he does so that we too might become warmed and filled. He can do this each day with confidence because as he leaves, he trusts that those things within house and home will be taken care of without him.

The Woman sets about weaving and washing, seeking truths and pursuing them, lugging from garden to grocer. Her own responsibilities never waver. They are the same each morning. These things have always been, even as animals were named and fruit was plucked from tree.

In some homes, this is enough. God made it so, and so it is perfect.

In other homes, Woman sets about with children about her feet, nipping at her heels and tugging at her sleeves. It is more difficult but God made it so, and so it is perfect.

But what are these little creatures to do? What is THEIR job? Do they have one? Surely NOT, they are SO little!

And yet: aren't they someday Men and someday Women? I sit with them all snuggled in, reading and teaching them the alphabet not just because snuggling feels good (though it does) and not just because it is fun (though it is) but because I want them to have a love for reading and for learning and I want them to have access to them when they are grown. Little ones, they cannot stay.

Just as we teach them reading and writing because it is important to them as adults, we must prepare for their adulthood now in matters of CHARACTER as well. To assume a child's job is to play and enjoy themselves solely is to say that you want them as adults, to play and enjoy themselves solely.

It is vitally important that children learn (and this, by being taught) how to be diligent and hard working in order to ensure the next generation (who will be taking care of us old fogies) will be the same. Their role as children, considering of course their frame and limitations, is to be practicing adults.

Do not misunderstand! Children ought to play! Children ought to explore and imagine and devise and pretend and do all other manner of childish things. But that is not their sole purpose in life. Children need to have responsibilities so that when Manhood and Womanhood comes, they will know what to do with them.

But God fashioned it so perfectly! I find it in the crawling bright eyed baby pulling herself up my leg, in the three year old boy who finds me in the kitchen and leans on counter just to watch me cook. Every. single. meal. I find it in six year old girl, who imitates me in every manner possible: organizing her "kitchen" shelves, toting around sweetlings, pleading to make grilled cheese all by herself. Everywhere I turn, there they are, begging to be included, PLEADING to be involved.

Perhaps God made them so eager to ease us into this thing called life-training. Children are eager to learn and do and imitate when they are small. Every time. It is in their blood. In their being. It is who children are.

If they are no longer interested in being involved, then they have been denied too many times.

Their eagerness is our ticket to an easy(ier) ride. When they are eager, when they start out PLEADING...that is the perfect time to begin. They think they are so big and are so proud~they never realize it IS a job. They think of it more as fun. A priviledge.

Giving children responsibilities of their own gives them ownership, a feeling of importance, and most importantly imbeds in them a desire to please, work hard, and give (time and sweat) for the benefit of others.

Sometimes it is easier (and neater) to put clothes away yourself, or to make beds. But this is NOT easier in the long run, especially when children grow up realizing you've always done it for them so why start now? And when they are older, that earnest desire to be WITH you is not as strong, so your window of opportuntity has already begun to shut. It's going to take a LOT more work to open the window up again.

The Man of the house works hard for the good of the family. The Woman of the house works hard for the good of the family. The Children, also, need to work hard for the good of the family.

How do these things play out? My way is not the only way, only mine. With that in mind, here are some of the things we do.

The Man and the Woman need to work hard as an example. Little ones want to imitate you so let them imitate the good.

  • Little Ones need to be encouraged around, and made to feel welcome with you. If you are working in the kitchen, enjoy them when they come in or ask them to come and sit and chat with you while you work. Let them know you enjoy their presence and they will make it known more. (Even if they aren't working alongside you, you are teaching them to be close. Eventually, the wanting to work alongside you will come.)
  • Try very hard not to say : "GO PLAY!"
  • Start EARLY. No child is TOO young to help out. If you start them young, it will be a way of life for them and not at all burdensome.
  • Give them responsibilities that they can handle.
Little Bitty Adele' (10 months old) has only one job right now. To learn to be obedient.

My three and six year old help to hang clothes and get better every day at folding clothes. They take their clothes to their room and put them away. They both learned VERY early to clean up the toys they were playing with. They help bring in groceries. They set the table (the three year old doesn't get the right placement of the silverwear but, hey, that's ok!) They hang their coats up and put their shoes away. They make their beds. They sweep under the tables. They dust. They help cook. They wipe the sink, hold doors open for people, push in their chairs when they are done eating, wipe down tables, they have even asked to do dishes once or twice! The list is neverending.

  • What is important is that I don't expect perfection (sometimes that is hard!) and that I involve them in what I am doing. They dust when I dust. Not because they are now "officially" in charge of the dusting....rather, to get them working alongside me.
That said:
  • Expect much. We OFTEN shortchange our children, not realizing how capable they really are. We don't ask them to do something because we figure they can't do it. You might be surprised! If you are unsure, ask them to do it, then watch. If they do the job with no problems, CHEER! If they struggle, sit with them and do it with them, explaining as you go. You'll know for next time that it is a wee bit too difficult for them.
  • We don't pay them for the work they do. We work together for the good of the family. They work out of obedience, not for reward. That said, we do occasionally give them money for jobs out of the ordinary or to surprise them. Just because.
  • If they do a job well one time, expect it to be done well EVERY time.
  • Never forget to thank and praise. Thank them for their help and praise them for their abilities and willingness.

Say you dropped the ball and you've got older children who grumble and complain, who haven't been made to do a (stinkin') thing. This is what you need to do.

Apologize to them. Make your (new) expectations known and be consistent. Be firm, but kind. Give them something in return. Don't reward them with money because at this point, they NEED to learn to work hard out of obedience since they never got that lesson before. Instead, reward them with YOU. Take time out of your schedule to do what THEY want to do, go out with just THEM, have intimate conversations. Thank them for their help and praise them for their willingness.

Character building ISN'T like the alphabet~where once you know it, you know it. You will be building character every day of their childhood. You are practicing character building every day of YOUR life, too, come to think of it!) It is interesting, though, because at some point, they start to "get it" and you can see the fruits.

Several months ago, I took a job cleaning a church once a week. I am not above cleaning (ha!) and every little bit of extra money helps. It is fabulous because I can take my children with me to work and not worry about a thing. As we began, I gave the children jobs to do to occupy them while I worked. Since it was a PAYING job, this was one of the times I have chosen to pay THEM for their work. They each get a dollar for completion of their jobs; Andrew must clean the pews of bulletins and paper and straighten the bibles and psaltors, Corynn must wipe down all the chairs and tables in the fellowship area. When they are done their jobs, they can play in the nursery until I am done (as long as they then clean UP the nursery before leaving).

One day a few weeks back I was sweeping under the tables and Corynn was wiping the chairs down, both of us humming along as we worked, when she stopped and said "You know Mama. I think working is fun. But it is SPECIALLY fun when I am working with you."

That was a very big fruit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I did it! (I think)

After countless tries, a picture BIG enough to actually notice?!?

please, please?



Three cheers for me and my non-skills!

A Friendly Reminder:

How is everyone doing on their Foto Challenge of capturing the wind??

Anyone, anyone?

It's proving harder than I thought and my one idea involved my husband who has now gone out of town. Hopefully he will be back before Friday~but just in case, methinks I need a back up plan.

Here's hoping.........

(In the meantime, I am skipping town myself today and playing hookie from AM school to go pumpkin scouting somewhere OTHER than my garden.)

You know what they say: when Papa is away, the kiddies will play!
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Mulititude Monday

Waking up to a window of orange and witnessing this sky. I jumped from bed, ran outside and watched the world wake up. The colors melded, the clouds moved and every moment became different from the last. Isn't that the way life is too? Life is fleeting, as are the moments it is made up with.

But each one is beautiful and each one is a gift.

#119........an awe-inspiring sky
#120.......laying on picnic blanket under a hot, bright sun on a Sunday afternoon
#121....... chocolate milk
#122........people who participate in Foto Friday with me

#123..........a backseat quiet with noses in books
#124..........a dozen eggs scrambled, almost every morning
#125.........a basket of eggs, still full

Watched THIS youtube video and found gratitude anew as I heard the breathing of my sleeping children (#126). Thankfulness that I have been spared the pain of losing a child. (#127) Thankfulness for the strength of those parents who acted in faith and became a testimony to so many(#128). Thankfulness for those moments they got with their dear Thomas. Those moments of stroking his soft, little head. The warmth of his belly on theirs. Each and every cry. That he knew only love. And knows only love now.(#129)

#130..........handwritten letters
#131...........packages of love
#132...........ALASKA socks to warm my toes, when they NEED warming!

Watched THIS movie this weekend. To live in this house.(#133) To live free.(#134) To live without persecution.(#135) To live without fear of death.(#136) To never have had to feel the pain of your child being ripped away from you, to hear their cries of terror as they call your name.(#137) These things I so often take for granted.

The strength of those individuals who endured such turmoil in their lives and yet never wavered in their faith, who proclaimed the omnipotence of God while in the midst of such suffering. (#138)

(#139)........... Legs sprawled over husbands lap
(#140).......... Matt's hands, they are perfect
(#141)...........the crunch of leaves
(#142)........... pencils sharpened
(#143)...........new playdough

(#144).........the puzzle doer of the family
(#145).........candy corn
(#146)..........a garden full of pumpkins

(#147)............bacon cheese fries from the oven.
(#148)............an oven door opened wide to warm the kitchen
(#149)............splitting wood on a Saturday, man and wife~working side by side
(#150)...........red and yellow begonias
(#151)...........eyelashes long and fluttery
(#152) .........caterpillar hunts

Just a few more gifts, #119 to # 152, now noticed. Join us?

holy experience

Friday, September 18, 2009

Foto Friday: Ready or NOT~!!!

Well, it's that time and I don't know about you but I have been SUPER excited to challenge myself for this Foto Friday! In fact, maybe just MAYBE I went a tad bit overboard.

SO I give you THREE, instead of one.

Last week's challenge was: BEGINNINGS

~A Big Job Ahead~

The ever cliche...

~Which came first?~

and speaking of eggs...

Below is my first-ever (!!!!) McLinky and I am very excited to use it. Anyone who wants to participate in these challenges and posts photos to share can leave a link to their SPECIFIC photo challenge blog post on the McLinky so we can all visit you!

Now~let's see if anyone is participating along with me~

For everyone interested, this week's photo challenge is (drum roll please)....


This is going to be a REALLY challenging one~but we are in the perfect season for it! Thanks for the suggestion Paula!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gettin' Strong

The children were outside playing and I went out to enjoy a minute or two of watching them.

I sat on the swing, the girls were busy in the wagon and my boy was doing this:

"Whatcha doin', Panda?" I asked, more to make conversation than anything else.

"Me doin what God asked me to." was his reply.

With a chuckle I replied, "And what is THAT?"

"Me workin' hard.... so dat me can be stwong."

Isn't that what God HAS asked of little boys?

He's one smart little cookie.
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