Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you and your fam­ily from ours. May this year be filled with great joy, hope, grace, peace, and love. May the Sav­ior of your soul shower you with bless­ings rich in His mercy. May you know His con­stant pres­ence in your days.

Espe­cially in the tri­als. And heartaches. And fears that creep in.

Lean on Him. Rest in Him. Hope in Him. He never dis­ap­points. Never leaves you alone to your own devices and strength. He is Faith­ful and True. Always.

May you rejoice in His goodness.

Oh how great is Your good­ness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have pre­pared for those who trust in You in the pres­ence of the sons of men! Psalm 31:19

This year I hope to blog again. I have taken quite a long break from blog­ging. Mostly, my days have been filled with the busy-ness of life: Home­mak­ing, home­school­ing, run­ning a busi­ness, lov­ing my hus­band and chil­dren… The things this blog is about. And, I found myself liv­ing it more than writ­ing about it, although I did write count­less posts in my head. I also felt the great weight of putting my thoughts out there for pub­lic con­sump­tion. Words mat­ter. And I don’t want to take it lightly, although I also don’t want to take myself too seri­ously at the same time. 😉 It’s a strange mix­ture of thoughts swirling in my head.

But, I miss writ­ing. So, I want to write more. I have much to share, many thoughts to explore. We have embarked on some new adven­tures this past year, and have some more new things com­ing up in the new year. I hope to share those with you.

So, Happy New Year. Embrace it with joy. God is good.

Amo Amas Amat…

Amo Amas Amat…

Well, now that we are well into Octo­ber  Novem­ber, how’s your home­school­ing going?

We’ve been plug­ging along. It’s been a great start to our year. The chil­dren are apply­ing them­selves, not drag­ging their feet too much at the thought of work­ing hard.

I’m teach­ing Latin to the girls together. I had taught my older boys Latin. It sort of dwin­dled over the last sev­eral years, but I picked it up again this year for my girls. Obvi­ously, they are on dif­fer­ent lev­els of grasp­ing it at 7, 10, and 13. But, it’s been so fun hear­ing Faith con­ju­gate her verbs. It amazes me how much young minds grasp and remember.

And it’s been won­der­ful watch­ing the older girls coach Faith and drill her on her vocab­u­lary. Lit­tle do they real­ize, but it helps them remem­ber the words at the same time.

We have been learn­ing “O Come All Ye Faith­ful” in Latin. The girls can sing it now with­out the words in front of them. And they can play it on the harp. I love see­ing them inte­grate their harp into their Latin. {I still have to have the words in front of me!}

We’ve been exper­i­ment­ing with a new sys­tem of record keep­ing. It seems to be work­ing. Keeps us all account­able daily for our work. And I mean us, because I have found that if I don’t have a sys­tem in place, that I get all off track and con­fused about who has done their gram­mar that day and who is hid­ing their sci­ence. They can be sneaky like that, you know, if they really apply them­selves to it. I’ve been try­ing for years to find some­thing that works for me, that is a quick and con­cise sys­tem. And I went back to our very early days of school­ing and pulled out that sys­tem again. Hello? I guess I can be slow some­times. It was right in front of me the whole time.

I was look­ing for some snazzy iPhone app or some­thing more mod­ern. Good old note­book with printed pages for check marks for the win!

I think the babies and the tod­dlers over the years really chal­lenged me. I never knew what the next 10 min­utes were going to hold, and it frus­trated me. Now my baby is 7. I have no more excuses. Mamas of lit­tles, hang in there. It is hard going some days. I know. Just get­ting all those bod­ies fed and clothed with brushed teeth and hair is about all we can man­age on some days. Let alone the laun­dry and vac­u­um­ing, dust­ing, mop­ping, shop­ping, school­ing, and PLAY. Yes, the chil­dren ought to see the sun dur­ing the week. It’s so easy to cram every­one into the base­ment for work, totally for­get­ting their frames and their need for nat­ural Vit­a­min D.

I guess I just want to encour­age you today. I want you to know that you won’t always have dirty dia­pers, runny noses, naps, and nurs­ing babies demand­ing your atten­tion. Say­ing good­bye to those days has been hard for me. I hoped for years that the Lord would give us another. But, after a cou­ple of mis­car­riages and the cal­en­dar flip­ping so rapidly, I have come to accept that we most likely won’t be hav­ing any more babies in our home. So, even­tu­ally they come to an end, and you have more time to focus on spelling.

So, we embrace today. We embrace the grow­ing, learn­ing, con­ju­gat­ing Latin verbs that can now pick up again. And embrace it with JOY.

Wher­ever you are in this jour­ney of your life, embrace where the Lord has you today. Today is your gift. We have no promises of tomorrow.

It gets eas­ier, in some sense of the word. The phys­i­cal sense, I sup­pose. And it gets harder, in that the chil­dren start ask­ing really hard ques­tions and push­ing lim­its and bound­aries (other than how far away from Mommy can I walk and still be safe). They start think­ing log­i­cally, they start ques­tion­ing the why of the rules. They start won­der­ing about doc­trine. They have opin­ions (other than the famous two year old “NO!”) and well thought out ideas. They ask ques­tions that we don’t know the answers to.

Pride has to be set aside if we want to face this stage well. Humil­ity is on the menu daily. Cry­ing out to God for a whole new type of strength is our only hope. I go to bed at night some­times won­der­ing how I did. Did I ade­quately address the heart of my daugh­ters who are strug­gling with con­tent­ment? Did I react with frus­tra­tion at the bick­er­ing? Did I show my chil­dren hope in my inter­ac­tions with them, or was I too busy with the sched­ule that I squashed oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth, and instead chose to bark out orders to pick up toys and set the table? It’s a con­stant bat­tle between get­ting things done in time for the next dead­line and truly liv­ing out the day, accept­ing the inter­rup­tions of life as God’s prov­i­den­tial gifts to us.

Being a mother, a truly Godly mother, is so hard. We can’t just live for us. We must live for God. We must draw our strength from Him alone. May the Lord give us wis­dom as we plot out our days and make room for the inter­rup­tions that always come. One day we’ll get back to the task we thought was so impor­tant before life took over. And hon­estly, I miss those sweet baby days, the foun­da­tional days, which make con­ju­gat­ing Latin pos­si­ble in the later days of our children.

Count it all Joy

Count it all Joy

Mike and I were talk­ing the other night as we drove home from some­where with the kids. We were talk­ing about joy, and how we feel so blessed that we see that joy abound­ing in our home with our chil­dren. We tried to fig­ure out what it is that brings that joy to such a level that we feel it most of the time in our home. It’s not like we have a rule that we have to be joy­ful or any­thing. We just feel it within our­selves, and we see it in our kids.

I mean, we know that Christ is the cen­ter of it all. We know that our joy comes from Him alone. We get that. But, we know other Chris­tians who love the Lord and have a faith­ful walk who seem to strug­gle in this area. We all have strug­gles, to be sure. But the joy seems like it should be cen­tral. We have been saved from death (in the eter­nal sense of the word)! That’s no small thing. How is it that we get bogged down by the insignif­i­cant daily events of life enough for it to steal joy from us? I sup­pose they daily events don’t seem insignif­i­cant at the time. Flood­ing bath­rooms (I should tell you that story some­time…), lay­offs, can­cer, dis­obe­di­ent chil­dren seem pretty insur­mount­able when you’re liv­ing in that moment. But, when we look at the big pic­ture, per­haps we can step back and look at Christ, at His amaz­ing gift to us in His per­fect sac­ri­fice on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins…then just maybe we can look past our fears and pains and headaches and see joy.

One of the things that came out in our con­ver­sa­tion is the con­cept of con­tent­ment. I sug­gested that maybe peo­ple are not con­tent with their lot in life. Moth­ers who stay home with their chil­dren to school them have signed up for a very dif­fi­cult and often thank­less task. We joke that I don’t get “employee of the month” or a spe­cial park­ing spot. I don’t get raises or bonuses or any other acco­lades to put on my resume. I get dirty dishes, piles of laun­dry, squab­bling sib­lings, and no-notice din­ner guests.

But I LOVE what I do. The Lord has been mer­ci­ful to open my eyes to the bless­ing that it is to be able to do what I do. I don’t always do it well. I have days that are real chal­lenges to me. I’ve sure you’ve heard the adage that the dirty dishes mean that you’ve had food to eat, the piles of laun­dry mean you have ample cloth­ing to wear, the squab­bling sib­lings mean that the Lord has seen fit to give you blessed chil­dren, and din­ner guests mean that you get to show the love of Christ to a stranger (and that you have a home to wel­come them into). So, what do we do with that understanding?

I remem­ber years ago when we had babies, I used to men­tally keep score over who changed more dia­pers than the other. I actu­ally said things like, “I changed 5 dia­pers in a row. It is *your* turn.” Or, when my hus­band came home from his very demand­ing job, I would hand him the baby and say that I was tired and tag, you’re it! I shud­der at that today! What was I think­ing? Who would want to come home to that? {He still came home faith­fully every­day and jumped right in to relieve me, in spite of my thank­less atti­tude.} I was not con­tent in my role as wife and mother. Don’t get me wrong. I loved being a wife and mother. But, I wanted the sto­ry­book edi­tion, not the real life, get your hands dirty edi­tion. When Emma was a baby, I decided that I was going to be the dia­per changer. Small thing, really, but to me at the time, it was pretty huge. From then on, I just took her and changed her. You know what? I ended up lov­ing that time with her. It became a very spe­cial time of bond­ing with her. I had joy in that task which I had kept score on  for 4 babies prior to her. I wish I had known this before I had my first child. I was miss­ing the gift! And the joy. I’m so thank­ful that the Lord opened my eyes.

Thank­ful­ness leads to con­tent­ment, which I believe leads to joy. When we strug­gle in this area, we ought to look around and remem­ber that God doesn’t have to give us any­thing. Christ Him­self most likely had way less mate­ri­ally when He walked the earth than most of us have. Yet, we think we need more: More time, more chil­dren, more help around the house, more clothes, more some­thing. We need to look around us at what God has given to us and count our bless­ings. Have you noticed how many stor­age units are out there? Peo­ple have so much junk that they have to pay a monthly fee to house it all some­where other than their house. The junk doesn’t bring con­tent­ment. It doesn’t feed the joy. It feeds more cov­et­ing and greed. It’s bondage.

I had the blessed priv­i­lege to chat with a friend today. We were dis­cussing the feel­ing of los­ing our joy. She is going through some pretty hard things, and she needed a friend to talk and pray with her. I gen­tly reminded her that God is not unaware of her heart’s desire for her future, her strug­gles of today, and her heartaches. God is sov­er­eign over her today and over her tomor­row. He is uniquely prepar­ing her for her future. The things she is bat­tling today are for her sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, to make her ready for what lies ahead. To teach con­tent­ment, to help her remem­ber that joy is from God alone. It’s one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. And I reminded her that she is loved. Not only by me, her fam­ily, and her church, but mostly by God. And so it is with all of us. We will be sifted, put through the Refiner’s fire, and sanc­ti­fied. Those are not easy processes. They hurt. They bring heartache for a time. But they pro­duce beauty. The dross is skimmed out. We are left more puri­fied, able to love more, serve more, radi­ate joy more.

We ought not be afraid of the tri­als that come to us. We need to walk in faith, not by sight. We can embrace what God has for us because He is per­fect, lov­ing, and all wise. He holds us in His gen­tle hand, those who call upon His name for sal­va­tion. Run to Him. Hold onto Him. He doesn’t judge you based on what you can do for Him. It isn’t about that. He judges us based on what His Son already did. We *do*because we love, not because we want to be loved. There is a huge dif­fer­ence in that. We can’t earn that love.

If you are read­ing this, and you have lost your joy, turn to Christ. I want to encour­age you to count your bless­ings, name them one by one, thank God for them (sounds oddly familiar…are you hum­ming along?). Be con­tent in what­ever state you are in. Pray that the Lord will restore your joy. Are you bur­dened by the very demand­ing job of rais­ing chil­dren? Tackle today. Don’t con­cern your­self with tomor­row or next week. Just do today the best you can. Light some sweet smelling can­dles, play some beau­ti­ful or fun music, smile at your chil­dren. And do today. Kiss your hus­band good­bye if he leaves for work, and greet him with another when he returns. Be thank­ful for this man you have covenanted with, even though he most likely isn’t per­fect. And mostly, pray that the Lord will get you through today with joy.

If you are read­ing this and you don’t know Christ, but are look­ing for joy and con­tent­ment and peace. I’d like to intro­duce you to the One who cre­ated all things, includ­ing you. He is the only place you will find peace, joy, con­tent­ment. For eternity.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

Feel free to email me or even leave a com­ment if you are strug­gling with any of this. I don’t believe any­one can force Chris­tian­ity on any­one. It’s a work of the Holy Spirit. But, I am happy to dis­cuss it with you, to show you where to find hope. As they say, “I’m a beg­gar show­ing another beg­gar where to find bread.”

I have a friend who is fight­ing a hor­ri­ble can­cer. The prog­no­sis doesn’t look good. It grieves me so incred­i­bly to watch her, mostly via Face­book, going through her bat­tle. But the thing that is so over­whelm­ing to me is see­ing how her faith has grown to such an incred­i­ble level. Her trust, her faith, her love for the Lord over­flows in her words. We are pray­ing for heal­ing, daily, not know­ing what the Lord is going to do with her life. But, we have com­plete con­fi­dence that her life is in His ever capa­ble hands. He is walk­ing with her in her val­ley. He is bol­ster­ing her faith. She is teach­ing so many impor­tant lessons to her chil­dren about faith and hope and trust. Mostly she’s teach­ing them about the faith­ful­ness of Jesus.

Let us there­fore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

He is giv­ing her mercy and grace in her time of need. I love this verse. We often won­der how we could go through a trial that some­one else is going through so well. “I could never go through that! She is such a great exam­ple! She has such strength!” Yes. Per­haps. But, we don’t need that strength and that par­tic­u­lar faith today to go through her trial. We receive that mercy in our time of need. But, we get our faith bol­stered by watch­ing the Lord work in the lives of those who are hav­ing grace rained down on them. He is real, liv­ing, com­pas­sion­ate, lov­ing. And He is personal.

May your day be filled with joy today. May you be con­tent wher­ever it is that God has you in this sea­son of your life. Let’s all learn to take the gift of today and be thank­ful. We have no promises of tomorrow.

Bless­ings to you!


I am so overwhelmed

I am so overwhelmed

On Tues­day of last week, I had hair and nails appoint­ments at 2. So, I left my house a lit­tle after 1 to be on time to my appoint­ments. Lit­tle did I know, but a fire had started in the Black For­est, where I live, right about the same time.

At the same time, my hus­band left with one of our chil­dren to run some errands in the other direc­tion. He actu­ally drove past the start of the fire and took some pictures.

That left three of our kids at home.

While I was get­ting my nails done, my hair styl­ist had her com­puter out, check­ing on the news. She gasped. And then told me there was a fire in the Black For­est. The loca­tion was quite a bit away from where we live, from what I could tell. I assumed that it would be con­tained and taken care of quickly. I had no idea of the mag­ni­tude of it all. I texted my son, and he said every­thing was fine at home, no need to come home.

So I got my hair done. When I was half way done, my styl­ist stepped out­side, and then she called me to come look. We were about 20 miles from the fire, but it looked so close. It had grown to such great mag­ni­tude already.

Picture outside the hair salon at the start of the fire.

Pic­ture out­side the hair salon at the start of the fire.

I didn’t get home until nearly 7 that evening. As I was dri­ving home, I started to get a bet­ter idea of what I was fail­ing to under­stand. Here is the view of the fire on the road lead­ing to my house:

driving home


The radio sta­tion announcer said that the plume had risen to 30,000 ft and 70 miles long.

I wept on the drive up that road as I saw police offi­cers at all the houses along the road telling peo­ple to get out. The com­ing destruc­tion was so heavy on my heart.

Mike was home and was pack­ing things for an even­tual evac­u­a­tion: guns, clothes, one of his tele­scopes, sem­i­nary books.

Mike had already briefed the chil­dren that the evac­u­a­tion notice was com­ing soon, so they needed to pack up the things they wanted to save from a fire that could pos­si­bly burn down the house. Faith imme­di­ately went for her Bible. “I have my Bible, Daddy, which is the most impor­tant thing of all. Maybe I should take two, just in case.” And then she also picked a flower with a leaf to remem­ber what our prop­erty looks like. She shoved them in her pocket, but pulled them out often to show peo­ple the trea­sure she was car­ry­ing. I had to ask her sis­ters to pack her doll and some of her toys as it didn’t seem to be on her radar at all to do so.

My other daugh­ters packed their clothes for me. And Pey­ton grabbed a needle­work pic­ture her dear friend made for her. She also packed a bin of hang­ers for me. She knows I love iron­ing, but I’m still baf­fled over that one.

I was grab­bing my clothes, toss­ing them into my suit­cases. And the jew­elry that my hus­band had given me over the years. I prayed that the Lord would bring to my mind the things that I would want to have out of the fire. I packed pho­tos. Then I remem­bered Mike’s grandmother’s brooch, which his mother gave me when Nana passed away nearly 25 years ago. And my grandmother’s cro­cheted table­cloth and bed­spread. Pre­cious to my mother, I thought.

Reed, my 17 year old son, grabbed things he thought I would want. I didn’t see him wor­ry­ing about any of his things. He packed my sewing machine, Bosch mixer, grain mill, Vita-mix.

We texted our older sons who aren’t at our home dur­ing the week, or at all.

My old­est son wanted the quilt his wife had made for Mike. And then he remem­bered some old books if we had room for them.

Peter wanted a blan­ket that I had made him.

That was it. Nobody wanted any of the other stuff that fills our house.

My heart was warmed by the real­iza­tion that my chil­dren are not so con­sumed by stuff. They wanted things that have meaning.

The police came by to let us know it was time to go. We went to a friend’s house about a half hour north of here. It was tremen­dous to see the fire at night.

The next day, we headed up to Den­ver, as it was time for our state’s home­school­ing con­fer­ence, which we help run. We kept so very busy with the details we needed to see to. It was a ten­der mercy of the Lord to have our hands and minds so busy serv­ing oth­ers while the for­est was rag­ing with fire within about 2 blocks’ dis­tance from our house.

I was overwhelmed.

With peace.

And the love of friends and fam­ily. That was the part that really got to me.

I wasn’t afraid for our stuff. Faith had com­mented to her brother as we were dri­ving away, “It will all burn up one day any­way.” Have I men­tioned that she just turned 7?

I was so over­whelmed by the love, the offers of help, the out­pour­ing of com­pas­sion and care. So many peo­ple offered us places to stay.

I’m over­whelmed that the God of the uni­verse saw to it to pro­vide us with His peo­ple sur­round­ing us and sup­port­ing us and let­ting us know that we are not alone in this.

I’m over­whelmed that we were informed that we could go home again on Fri­day (or was it Sat­ur­day? I don’t remem­ber as it is mostly a blur to me.). We thought we weren’t going to get to go home until Thurs­day the next week at the ear­li­est. We didn’t go home until Sun­day because the con­fer­ence wasn’t end­ing until Sat­ur­day evening. I wanted to go home in the light of day because I didn’t know what we were going to find.

So, we spent Sat­ur­day night with friends after the con­fer­ence. After church on Sun­day, we went back to their house, packed up our belong­ings, ate lunch, and made that trek home again.

And I was over­whelmed. At our house, you could smell a whiff of wood-burning stove smell in the air out­side. Just a hint. Inside our house, it was per­fect. Not a sin­gle scent out of place. Our prop­erty doesn’t appear to have any ash residue at all. You would never know that there was a fire burn­ing so near to where we were.

I had dri­ven fur­ther down the main road from our house to see if I could see what remained from the fire. Right there, so close, were the National Guard parked in their trucks, block­ing the roads to keep us safe. It was real, all right. It wasn’t some hor­ri­ble dream.

And God was in the midst of it all. On Thurs­day night, I felt a bit weepy. We had heard some news that made us think that out house was prob­a­bly going to burn that night. We were tired, emo­tional, weepy. I cried with my friend.

But on Fri­day morn­ing, I awoke so refreshed, so filled with great peace. It was aston­ish­ing to me. The Lord had renewed my mind, gave me such a light­ness of spirit. I praised His name con­tin­u­ally that day. I was filled with the joy of  the Lord, which was noth­ing short of a mir­a­cle. I read and med­i­tated on Psalm 103 that day.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

And I had such peace. It is hard to com­pre­hend and even harder to describe.

I would never sign up for the tri­als, but I am so thank­ful for what I learn in them. I learn some­thing of God that is dif­fi­cult to grasp on paper. I can nearly touch Him. I can taste His good­ness, and it is so sweet. And nobody can ever take that away from me.

I pray that my chil­dren will be for­ever changed by this expe­ri­ence. I pray that they will always know with­out a doubt that God meets their needs above and beyond any­thing they could even think to ask.

I heard peo­ple talk­ing all week about my chil­dren. They observed a peace about them. Many won­dered if they fully grasped what was hap­pen­ing. They were happy, joy­ful, help­ful, kind. No tears, no bit­ter­ness, no fear.

And yet, I believe they com­pletely under­stood what was going on at home. But they *knew* that God was in it. They know that He is sov­er­eign, and that if He sees fit to allow our house to burn down, then He will see fit to pro­vide some­thing else for us. It’s what we believe, and what we teach them. I love it that they got to expe­ri­ence the rub­ber meet­ing the road. And the pro­vi­sion of peace that doesn’t come from us and our strength, but from God alone.

Every ounce of courage came from God. My prayer is that the hope that we have and the faith that we showed in God will be mul­ti­plied in oth­ers. I hope they know it wasn’t an act. I hope they know that it wasn’t from us. I hope they know that God sup­plies all of our needs, from big to small. And this is not from ourselves.

And I hope that they will lean on Christ for all things.

I pray that this fire isn’t wasted. I pray that for every pine nee­dle that was burned, that a life will be changed. Given new life, hope, joy, peace. That they will see that God is big­ger than a for­est fire, even the biggest one Col­orado has ever seen in its his­tory in regards to damage.

In the after­math of fire, there is regrowth, renewal of the land. That is a beau­ti­ful thing. I pray that while the life returns to the for­est, that Life returns to the peo­ple. That they will repent of their sins and embrace the gift of Life eter­nal, life that will never be burned up, like all the stuff will be.

Don’t waste the fire with more death. Live in the renewal of life eter­nal. Which is found in Christ alone. Run to Him for your shel­ter and pro­tec­tion. Don’t wait for the fire to be lick­ing at your heels. You will find rest and peace with Him. Rest from the daily pains and sorrows.

I pray that you will awake with that same joy that filled me this week. That joy that comes from the well­spring of Christ’s love. For there is no fire hot enough to destroy it.

The lat­est update says that 502 houses burned to the ground, 14,280 acres were burned, which is 24 square miles. Two peo­ple lost their lives. The loss is stag­ger­ing. Please con­tinue to pray for the peo­ple who lost their homes, and the fam­ily of the two who lost their lives. Such heartache. I pray that they all will know the peace of Christ also. And that the fire won’t be wasted in their lives.


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