Friday, October 31, 2008

Eleanor Grace

I have never had the perspective that any one form of education is better than another. So far, we have done private school, we are currently homeschooling, and see the prospect of public school to be a good option too. We have always said one year at a time. We prayerfully decide year by year. We try to be careful and prayerful about these decisions. They have not been easy, and no option is perfect this side of heaven.

Ella has missed her friends from school last year, but has also made new friendships that she enjoys. What I love most about this year is the nearness and time I have with Ella. She has grown in affection and gentleness. She has always been very kind hearted, but the time at home this year has certainly brought the two of us closer. We talked yesterday about how she prefers her school but really does like the time at home as a family. She said she would like to be at school, but would miss being here. Very mature. I understand. Change is hard for all of us.

During that conversation, I looked at her and told her my favorite part of teaching her is that I really like her. I do. I really like who she is as a person. I like who she is becoming. I like talking to her. I love hours of reading together. We cry about the same things. We talk about things that I find fascinating. She enjoys helping with her siblings and plays such creative games with them. And laugh, Ella has the BEST laugh. It is loud, high, and terrific. I can be three rooms away and hear it. My favorite is at night when she and her sister are in bed giggling from their room. It's music to my ears.

To sum this year up, it's been hard, it hasn't been all that I've expected it to be. But the time getting to know Ella in a new way has been priceless. She encourages me to want to be a better teacher. Most of all, I really, truly enjoy my daughter. Who knows what next year will hold, but this has been a worthy year learning about my daughter.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Still Crazy

Okay, it's somewhere around 5am. I do not think I slept at all. I snuggled a lot, wanted to sleep, fretted over what a bad day it would be without sleep, then at last got out of bed and came to look up the side-effects of prednisone. I really didn't want to take this medication, and now I'm freaked out that the baby is in danger. All that I've seen says it's okay, but no conclusive tests are known. But I should really be on calcium. I should be anyway.

So, today I am tutoring for Classical Conversations and I have about three things I'm mildly dreading. One, I haven't slept. Two, the tin whistle and four and five year olds. Three about ten color sheets to complete from the My Body series....not to mention reproduction. Boys you color the testicles girls you color the uterus. It doesn't embarrass me, but how will the kids react. I'll let you know. And I just can't come up with something creative to do with the science sentence today.

I just could crawl out of my skin right now. If I could, I think I would slip inside of my second born daughter. She sleeps so sound and peacefully. I would have energy and spunk and be always ready for a snuggle and lots of kisses. Only a bit overly concerned with getting my way, but I'm used to that.

If you could trade skin, who would you be? Actually, I would just take someone asleep with pleasant dreams. Happy day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Drugged Ramblings

Okay, I must confess, I'm totally drugged. I wish you could have seen me Monday morning. I looked like Igor. My eye was completely swollen shut with poison ivy. I am now convinced that I don't have to even touch the stuff to get it.

Well, as you know, I'm pregnant. I did everything in my small, minute power not to have to take steroids. They make me crazy. They make me nutty! Did I say, I'm not at all normal on them. I don't sleep, I talk at a much faster rate than normal(which, I might add is fast), and my already somewhat intense personality gets shoved into overdrive.

You guessed it. I'm on them. Now I'm up, not sleeping, messing with this blog and going absolutely nutty! I want to sleep, I want to solve the many problems that keep repeating themselves through my head.

Here are the things I don't have figured out(sometimes lists help):

What is going to happen after the elections?
Should I be worried?
Why are people I know, respect and admire stockpiling food?
Should I?
Why do things seem so slow and difficult for me lately?
Am I getting older? Is that what this is about?
Is my daughter learning anything?
Is farm life really the Utopia I make it out to be?
Will I ever meet Wendall Berry?
Did I spell Wendell wrong?
What will my kids grow up to be?
Will they love Jesus?
Will they have soft, kind hearts?
Will I live closely to them?
Will I be an involved grandparent?
Will my kids grandparents ever really know my children?
Should I not have eaten that sushi?

Oh, I have so many things floating through this head of mine. And now it's just going at a speed that makes me feel unraveled and unnerved. Thanks steroids.

This is my last thought. All this debt. All this foolish debt. I want to stand up and say... Yes, I too am an idiot that spent more than I should have. That paid for the first year of seminary in a way I still regret and feel as though we will never be out from under. The weight is mine/ours to carry. Lord, I repent. I have been foolish. Help me to stop. Is the government to blame? Why can't we take responsibility? Please don't fix it. I need to fix me. If you can't afford a house. Don't buy it. If you can't afford new books to homeschool...don't justify it. Just work on being nicer to the library people that don't like you, because you actually like to check out books. Stop calling them bad names in your mind.

Oh my, so sorry prized blog reader. It's a drug issue. I wanted you to see inside my head. Pray for Jason!


I'm so very proud of my guy! He came home last night tired and wired. I'm sure as he deflates from the night more and more of the details of the two hour oral exam will come out, but last night was just for a quick process.

It was hard and he was nervous. I asked when he stopped being nervous. He said, "never." I can't even imagine such a test before such godly men. Thankfully, they were a gracious group. Joel Belz, the editor of World Magazine, was on the committee and offered real encouragement to Jason, as did all the men of the committee. Thank you.

When it was finished Jason said he felt like he did terrible. The men on the committee he was talking to said everyone feels like that. I know he did great. I'm so proud of him.
Jason, you wear so many hats, and you are so faithful. I'm so glad I'm on this journey with you. I know how hard you worked for this. The Lord's faithfulness to your call has strengthened my faith. I love you. I'm glad you chose me from "all the women in the world." That's what he tells the kids. hee,hee. Aren't I just the most blessed woman? I told Jason last night my blog is becoming an Ode to Jason. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tonight is the night!

Jason has worked hard at seminary for the past five years. Longer if you think of the time he spent in seminary in Colorado. Tonight he goes for a test before our credentials committee to take the licensure test. He has been studying so hard and working so hard to do well on this test. He decided to sit for the test with only three weeks to prepare, but he has been diligent for the past weeks preparing. That said, it is so much information that will be covered. He is humbled by the amount of material that will be covered. I am very proud of the hard work he has done, and we are both ready to be past tonight. Pass or fail we are ready for the next chapter. If he fails he will continue his studies and take the test again. If he passes he will be able to preach regularly.

His next huge obstacle will be ordination. He will be graduated and sitting for the ordination examination May 2010. Almost seven years in the works. Jason I'm very proud of your hard work. You are a faithful man. You never sacrificed your family with all the responsibilities you carry. No matter the outcome, I'm very thankful for you. I love you!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reality Check Always Needed!

Last week's fears with school proved to be a great reality check for me. This week has proved to be so much better for the entire family. I have been intentional about play, learning, reading, and fun. Yesterday we stayed at CC with other families and played for nearly three hours. I had never thought of putting Lake to bed there and letting the girls play with their friends. I'm a little slow on the uptake.

We also went for a hike, and someone gave me some great ideas as to how to make our history more fun. Ella and I also read an amazing story together....Edward Tulane, oh my, we cried our eyes out. It was really a beautiful story. We were so spent from crying, we decided to call it a day and play. We could hardly even discuss the book we were so broken over the beautiful story.

Friday is always our family day. We work hard, clean a bunch, and have a fun evening of playing as a family. We cook together and plan some activity. I'm not sure what we'll do tonight, but I'm always excited for Friday.

Please pray for Jason. This Monday is his licensure test. It's a killer, and he's been working so hard to prepare. But it covers the entire Bible and the Westminster Confession and theology. His plate is more than full, but I trust he will do well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Home School Fears

I do my very best to be transparent in my life, but when it really is a fear I stay silent. Then, I pray, and then I tell Jason to help me weed through the lies I'm hearing. Well, I've been plagued by my fears since Friday.

Last Friday, I took my girls to the Fall Festival at Ella's old school. We had a ball for $10. They put on a great party, and the girls came away with grins and giggles about the evening. They had a face painting artist. She was amazing. The girls tried to sleep in the stuff. Now we have messy sheet, and I swear it's still in Ella's eyebrows. No less, we had fun.

But the next morning after seeing all her old friends, Ella asked me if she could return to school. Gulp, double GULP. My heart broke, but I also wasn't surprised. I told her that we had decided to take education one year at a time. Then I began my fretting journey. Sunday night I had a text marathon with my friend, saying my fears, out loud....kind of, I suppose.

It really did make me realize that school has been something we get through lately. We cram all the subjects in before I'm so sick I can't function. That's not any fun! When I pictured this year it certainly isn't how it is actually going now. It caused me to really evaluate what I'm doing and how I can improve.

Here's what I came up with just quickly. Have fun, have fun, and take a break to have fun! Now that I'm feeling better, this gut check came at the perfect time. Personally, I have seen Ella blossom here at home, but the sting of old friends is a real one. So I'm on a mission to find a like-minded mommy here in town to play with through the week. Please pray with me to that end. I'm slowing down on the rush of school, and we are going to take our time and enjoy being here.

On the heals of this, yesterday, Jason came home for lunch. We all sat around the table to eat together with not one missing. I felt very thankful. Really, not only to be able to have dinner together but also lunch. It is truly a gift that may not always be here for our family.

So I've said it out loud. I want to do better, and I also understand where Ella is coming from. We love our CC group, but it's 40 minutes away and many of those families are too far for us to participate in the daily lives of one another.

Okay I'll stop my ramblings and fears. Off to ruin my children with school. Not really, but what are your mom fears?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I realize that I haven't written anything lately about parenting. Perhaps I haven't felt up to the task feeling so sick. But in the midst of feeling badly, I have been surprised at the ability of my children to do work well.

Jason has rallied the troops to do things I didn't think they were capable of on a daily basis. I have been impressed and amazed. Jason has taken over the daunting task of laundry. Maybe he just likes clean clothes. Who knew? Everyday he places the clean clothes on the couch and the girls have folded and put away all the clothes. WHAT! REALLY! WOW! Not only that, they have great pride in their contribution. Ella gives Harper the smaller things, and the large sheets they save for Jason.

It's not perfect, but really....does that matter? I have also found that Ella is excellent at putting away silverware while I put the rest in the high cabinets. I love it. I love having her in the kitchen. It's priceless time and it has caused me to think of ways I can include her in the kitchen. She wants to be there, and I love her company.

I have recently taken off their top sheet to help them in making their beds. Every morning they work diligently to get through their morning chores. If only I could be this efficient!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Busy Weekend

Some weekends are mellow, but rarely. This was a particularly busy weekend. With a wedding, 50th wedding anniversary and church, we felt very busy. It is always a joy to celebrate unions, new and old, but this morning Jason and I stayed in bed trying to prolong the weekend....if only for a moment. The kids were ready for breakfast, school was calling me to get started, and the coffee needed to be made, but we stalled. Jason even got up, poured the cereal and jumped back under the covers. Which I'll tell you, never, never happens. He must be tired.

Jason is under a lot of strain the next couple of weeks. He's finishing up a difficult Hebrew 2 class, and he's studying for a licensure test in our Western Carolina Presbytery. He's a bit overwhelmed. I'm not sure how he gets out of bed at all. When my plate feels too full I tend to shut down.

What I love, love, love about this morning, it's finally cold like Fall is supposed to be. Our heat actually kicked on this morning. The leaves are amazing, and the chill finally arrived! I did not like the 80 heat wave that passed through here. This morning I told Harper that she had to put on jeans. She came in with a pair of capri's on that I hadn't ever seen. They were cute on her. Then I realized they are her little brothers 18 month old jeans. Funny thing, they fit. She's so tiny. I'm not willing to fight the battle. Baby jeans it is today.

Enjoy your beautiful day. I hope it's chilly where you live.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Any Answers?

My little guy and I are headed to the speech therapist today to have him evaluated. We now know he can hear. Earlier this week I thought he had another ear infection, which he doesn't. Thankfully! Today we are seeing a therapist, and I'm eager to hear what they have to say.
In the past month, he really has been trying new sounds or parts of sounds to describe things. He is still hesitant to parrot anything. When I think I've heard a new word, I try hard to get excited and encourage him to try it again. At which point, he smiles, shakes his head and says, "no." At least he's cute about it.
I'm so eager to hear him speak. We are a house of talkers, and I think I'm afraid he is overpowered by all the chatter. Like my shy middle child, maybe I have a quiet one. Both hard to relate to personally, but certainly so wonderful to love. I certainly have no allusion or hope even that our kids turn out like me. Heck no. It's always just new muscles to learn to flex. Look at that sweet face....wouldn't you want to hear what he had to say? Sorry this is showing up in one big blog...with the picture it puts all my paragraphs together.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bed Hog

Really, I don't know how he does it. The patience of my husband astounds me every morning. He doesn't get ruffled, he likes his routine, but isn't bound by it, and he makes time for what is important. And to him, a lot is important. So I do not know where his reserves of energy come from, but I would sure like them.

Last night was a rare night of sleep where Lake didn't wake us up feeling badly and I didn't have to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.....major drawback from pregnancy. So, it was our first full night of sleep.

Have you ever had a night where you wake up and feel like you didn't move once through the night? You have a weird soreness from unmoved muscles? Well, this morning I woke up refreshed and a bit sore from realizing I hadn't moved all night. Then I looked around...Jason was already in the shower, but as I surveyed the bed, I was smack dab in the middle. Oops. When Jason came in from the shower I asked him if this is where I was all night. He looked down and said, "yes, that looks about right."

Hmm, I'm a hog, living with a patient turtle. He sleeps comfortably in whatever shell he's provided complaints. Well, none out loud anyway. I don't know his quiet prayers. Then this morning after I realized my hogness, all the kids slowly made their way to my bed. One went to one side and the other went to the other side, as if they knew I was ruler of the middle. Jason then brought me Lake and we all giggled and snuggled and told stories with morning breath and sleepy eyes. With this new baby, we may need a king sized bed....but I'll still be sleeping right next to my man. What would happen with all that wasted space? Maybe not, maybe we should move back to a full. Who needs space when you live in tight quarters with a saint?!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I miss you Grandma and Grandpa Lakes

I had a late night thinking fondly of my childhood with my grandma and grandpa. As children, we were allowed to be selfish and greedy with our love and time with grandma and grandpa as we were their only grandchildren. Though I'm sure I would have loved cousins, I loved not sharing these precious people.

They attended every important event in my life. I do not believe I have a memory that does not include my grandparents. Grandma was always flitting around cooking and cleaning while grandpa sat and tried to catch a child to snuggle and kiss. I remember on my wedding day I refused to wear shoes. When the preacher announced us husband and wife, I jumped up and down. There was grandpa in the front row saying, "Little Bit isn't wearing any shoes." My mom tried to shut him up to not draw attention....priceless.

An end of an era for me is making it's way into my life uninvited. The farm is going to be taken apart, dismantled to make room for renters. I won't have a chance to walk the lane to the pond or snoop through grandmas drawers of old pictures one last time. Last night I wrote a letter trying to think of the things from the farm that would mean the most to me. Oh, what a terrible letter to write. I cried through the entire thing.

Here are the things that remind me most of my grandparents. First, her copper salt shaker. The salt comes out fast and in masses. The way grandma liked it and now the way I like it. We would both take our salt shaker, an entire half of a watermelon and sit in front of the TV and eat until we were waterlogged.

The Styrofoam worm was always the same one. It attended all of our fishing trips where she taught me to pull the worm in two to make them last longer.

The pee pot she always tried to get me to use upstairs, but I never would. The thought of not having the energy to make it down the stairs seemed so silly to me.

Her spatulas that she used for frying bacon and eggs in her red kitchen, wearing her night hat with toilette paper wrapping her hair.

The handsome picture of my grandpa in uniform.

The smell.

Grandma running out the back door to scream her excited greeting as if I'm the only person on earth she wanted to visit.

Grandpa asleep on the recliner acting like he doesn't watch soap operas.

The high stool in the kitchen where I could sit and listen to all the old stories being told. Like the time Aunt Ida saw a ghost in blue and white striped boxer shorts on her daughters wedding day.

Unmatched teacups that came from garage sales...any garage sale will do.

I'm glad you can't pack a memory away in a box....and I know they will always live with me. I know every cherry tree, every crack in the sidewalk, the old fence post where I learned to clean fish, every broken down dog house on that farm. I remember the smell, the color of the clematis, the ageless peony along the drive. It was a life's work and it was beautiful. I was blessed to be a part of it. I want to grow up to be just like her. I want everyone that comes through my doors to feel as loved as she made me feel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hannah Coulter By Wendall Berry

The gentleness I knew in him seemed to be calling out, and it was gentleness in me that answered. That gentleness, calling and answering, giving and taking, brought us together. It brought us into the room of love. It made our place clear around us.

A good book, to me, is like a prized friend coming to stay for a visit. When the book is really great, the visit always seems much too short, as I finish in such a hurry. This book is a friend that I grieve to see leave. Though the entire book felt like a farewell, I hated to see it go. My only solace is the people I can now recommend this book to that love to read. I can revisit my friend through conversations about Hannah. I will miss her gentle, quiet, contemplative nature in my day. I would like to be more like her. This may be wrong to say, but I love that a man wrote this female character so well. I remember reading A Yellow Raft on Blue Water by Michael Dorris and constantly checking the title to see if a man truly wrote those amazing female characters.
Jason came to bed last night and found me weeping. He said, "you have really loved that book." In that moment, I was sad for him that he didn't read fiction. There was no way to explain such a tender book. Tom, this is the book I see you writing. In many ways this book reminded me of you. I highly recommend it, and then I suggest you get started. You have a story to tell old friend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

She Did Great!

The cookies Ella made turned out so lovely. She couldn't believe I even let her lift the pan into the oven and out when they were finished. She really was so proud and was able to share her great cookies with others. I'm very proud of her.. I realize she is far more capable than I give her credit for on a daily basis. I'm not promoting giving her too much responsibility and usurping her childhood, but I'm also not going to allow her to coast without growing and trying new and difficult challenges. As first born, she often tries to be the mommy around here. I remind her that that joy was given to me, and her job is to be a great big sister...which she is. When I saw her pride at a job done well, it made me realize how much I need to let her go and have her own experiences. It's not easy for mama, but seeing her joy and pride was all that I needed.

Yesterday at prayer meeting a saint shared this poem with me. He told me to share it with you. It has no title or author, but it's meaning is clear. So all of us that struggle with worry.and is a poem for you. (and me).

Said the wildflower to the sparrow;
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."
Said the sparrow to the wildflower.
"Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Step of Faith

Okay, it may not seem brave to you, but I'm about to let my daughter make cookies without my assistance. I really want her to know how much I trust her. She will do great. Why does this feel like such a big step?

I'll let you know how they turn out. She's doing Aunt Krista's famous peanut butter cookies. I would share the recipe but I was sworn to secrecy.

Do you let your kids cook?

Monday, October 6, 2008


About a year ago my husband preached one of my favorite sermons on hospitality. He went through the numerous verses that focus on hospitality and shared how it is not a gift but a command to all Christians. I was becoming very frustrated when people told me hospitality was my gift. I thought, really, I thought it was what I was supposed to do. It really has nothing to do with my giftedness only my willingness.

As each Christian embraces hospitality, all types of gifts are used to encourage others. So when someone comes to my home what they would experience is totally different from if they came into yours. But it is work, sometimes inconvenient, and sometimes sad sometimes joyful. In my experience, always a blessing and a worthy endeavour. As I sit here, I cannot think of a time I regret opening my home. Maybe a grumble or two about not getting my Sunday nap. But that's just selfishness....

Hospitality is something near to the heart of our family. I have seen lives changed and ideas challenged around a dinner table more than anywhere else. I love time spent with new people. old friends, encouraged and discouraged alike. New Christians and Old Christians, believers and unbelievers, those in the midst of suffering and those starry eyed with new love. With every meal, our family is made rich.

On a winter day last year, we invited a couple from our church that had just lost their young son in a motorcycle accident. Our children had come to the funeral with us and helped clean their home when they were bringing their son home for burial. We told them who was coming to lunch and said they should expect that all the adults at the table to be crying....including mom and dad. When the lunch came, it didn't take long and we were all crying. My friend looked up at the girls and said, "I'm sorry." Ella said, "we talked to mom and dad, and I would be very sad too, mom said it's good to be sad." I felt very grateful for the compassionate heart the Lord gave to Ella. My friends realized this was a place to be sad without embarrassment. We went on to have a lot of tears, and the girls soon excused themselves to play. Later that evening they prayed for the hurting hearts of our friends.

We have been witness to many hurts and lots of honesty. I want our house to be a place of safety for our guests, family, and close friends. Hospitality for me has nothing to do with a clean house, perfectly appointed dinner, and quiet children. For us, it's a place to bring a heavy heart without fear of judgement. It is the privilege of Jason and I to hear the many stories that come through our door. Sin rarely takes us by surprise, and being among the broken is a source of great joy. We have had moments where we struggled with holding onto the hurts of others too closely, but we are confident in the power of God to heal the hearts. We are diligent at giving the burdens over to the Lord to carry. But this is a place we must constantly grow in as a family.

Tonight we are opening our home again after a long break from my early pregnancy sickness. I'm so looking forward to not be focused on myself. The menu is simple, but the time precious. It is a couple I have loved for a long time, but not had time specifically alone with as long as we've been here. I can hardly wait. It's always exciting to see what the Lord has planned for our family.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Remember when you first became a Christian? How your testimony was so very central to your faith. The constant telling of the pit I was pulled out of and the gratitude of being saved from that life of confusion and despair. When I think on those times, I feel like I was more focused on my past depravity more than my present weakness and sin. It also was a time focused so much on myself. Have I grown? Not too sure.

The older I get, the more I feel that I could tell a testimony today about how the Lord redeemed yesterday. How the process of my sanctification and regeneration has so much more to do with God than me. Though I will not forsake gratitude from what I was brought out of, I recognize today the ways I have been redeemed from myself for Him. How His power in my life can change my grumpy heart from yesterday, a moment ago, to one that is changed by His love for my next moment.
A place to find encouragement to love your little ones, your husbands and those you come in contact with daily. Two does not have to be terrible. These are years to grow not simply get through!