Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Right Foot Forward

Today is our third day of sabbatical. Starting it with Christmas was a wonderful way to begin!

We spent our Christmas day as a family, just relaxing, laughing, and having fun. Josh began the day with a devotional on John 16 where Jesus tells us that whatever we ask in Jesus' name will be granted to us. Now there's a whole separate blog post I could do on how that passage has been abused, but suffice it to say that when you are asking for something in Jesus' name, it means that you are seeking it for his glory. It sort of makes that request for a new fancy car or a bigger TV obsolete.

We asked the children to share with us what they would like to ask God for in relation to our sabbatical. Something that they could ask for in Jesus' name and that if answered would bring Him great glory.

Boy, were we floored by their responses! One mentioned that he hasn't been putting as much effort and care into his relationship with God lately and would like to rectify that during our sabbatical. Another asked to know the Scriptures as well as Jesus did while on earth! Wow!! One prayed for Dad to be safe and learn much in Israel. And one asked that we have some wonderful times as a family during this sabbatical.

All excellent requests. And all requests that we were very happy to join them in praying for. Have I mentioned that I think my kids are awesome?!! I'm so humbled and amazed at their maturity and their love for the Lord. It's a beautiful thing to behold.

I think we're starting out on the right foot. I have high expectations of what God is going to do during the next three months. And if the desires of my children's hearts are any indication, I think we're all going to grow a lot.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Boy or Girl? Ultrasound Results are In!

We had our ultrasound today for baby #6. And while I'd love to show you pictures, my scanner isn't cooperating with my computer.

First, let me say that this little one is healthy and growing well. We could see the little fingers and toes, legs and arms. What a wonderful sight!

We brought the kids with us to the ultrasound and showed them their little sibling on the screen. Jesse began to dance when the baby's heartbeat was put on speaker. I can just imagine that these two will be thick as theives and likely get into much trouble together!

We did find out today that my due date is a bit off. By my calculations, I should be 19 weeks along. Apparently getting pregnant while nursing can cause your dates to be a bit off. So, now I'm due May 10th instead of May 1st. Which actually works out much better in my spring schedule. (And yes, I'm being a little silly here. But really it will be much easier to travel halfway across the country in March if the baby is a little smaller.)

And now, I know you're all dying to know if it's a boy or a girl. So many of you have said how you're praying for a girl so that Abby can have a sister. She has also been echoing that same prayer. But Josh and I have always said that we want whatever the Lord feels will fit best in our family. He must want us to have a full boy's basketball team because we're getting our fifth BOY!! There's no doubt about gender after how this little guy was showing off during the ultrasound.

We're so thankful for this little man and are praising God for knittng him together in such a perfect way. Please continue to pray for his health and growth as we continue through the pregnancy.

And for those of you feeling sorry for Abby - it's not all bad. She's the only Brumbaugh kid who will be able to have her own room. Quite a perk in a house with six kids!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Wonder

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for the Five Minute Friday: Wonder.

Each morning I awaken much earlier than desired to the cries of my 15 month old. Lately he has taken to waking up at 4:30am and while the hour is undesireable to me, he is awake and full of excitement.

I quietly bring him downstairs and we slowly adjust our eyes to the light with heavy blinks. And then we do what he's waiting for. We turn on the Christmas tree lights.

Every time his reaction is the same. Ooooh!! Oh!!


My little guy brings such joy to our family as he points and vocalizes at the beauty of the world around him. It may even be something simple, like a shoe he hadn't noticed by the door.

Either way, his sweet little voice accompanied by the chubby arm with extended finger reminds me to stop and look. To enjoy the wonder of God's creation.

The beauty of my children. The bright green of fresh lettuce. The sound of a parakeet singing. The softness of a stuffed animal. The giggles aroused by a good old fashioned tickling. The smell of cinnamon as cookies bake. The bite of the cold winter wind.

When looking at the world through a baby's eyes you see so much more. Everything is new, everything is fresh. The world holds it's allure once again.

Stop and see. Let the wonder begin.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Teen Expectations

Linking up with the MOB (Mothers of Boys) Society today.

Earlier today I posted the following article onto my facebook page. It was mainly in response to a couple of friends who were struggling with their teens and some rebellion issues. However, if you've been on facebook for long, you've likely seen this floating around. Take a moment and read it.

I wasn't expecting to receive any responses from it - let alone the passionate remarks it stirred. And given that I have some strong thoughts on teens in our society, I figured I'd write my response here instead of in several long comments on my facebook status.

I may have young children, but I also have two boys on the cusp of being teens. In fact, I do consider my 12 and a half year old a teen because of his maturity level. Because of this, I've been giving much thought over the last year to how I should approach the teen years with my children. I don't want to settle for the status quo of backtalk, rebellion, and stupid decisions. I'm not naive - I do know some of that will occur, but I certainly hope it will not be the norm for my children.

To that end, I've had my oldest read a book entitled "Do Hard Things" by Brett and Alex Harris. It's an excellent call for teens to go beyond the low expectations of society and meet their potential. I blogged a bit about it here if you are interested. The basic premise is that around the world and throughout history, teens have been expected to do ... something. They aren't just children still living at home. They aren't yet adults. But they are adults in training who no longer want to be considered children. And their capabilities are amazing!

As parents it's our responsibility to give our children wings as they approach adulthood. You give them the opportunity to make choices, to fail or soar, to feel the consequences of their actions (good or bad) within the safety of your home and care. You guide with tough love, much grace, and unending forgiveness. And most importantly, you must model with your own life the type of adult you hope your child will become.

In almost all other societies, teens are considered productive members of society. They are expected to contribute, to add to the community and to the family. They are not permitted to live in fantasy or seek out "fun" unless the work is done. And work isn't just homework. It may be chores at home or on the farm, it may be a steady job. It may be hard and it may be inconvenient and it may be dirty. But teens are capable, strong, and smart. They can do much more than we in America give them credit for!

My problem with our society is that I see so many young twenty somethings living in their parents' basement, playing video games, and avoiding the job market. I'm not talking about honest, hardworking young adults who just need a boost to get on their feet. I'm talking about the MANY who are avoiding adulthood in favor of continuing a childhood that has stretched much too far. This isn't some nebulus group of people "out there". I've met them. They're in our town, they are people I care for.

So what to do? Is it right to just yell at kids and say "Do more. Get a job. Do chores. Read books." No, that won't do it. It falls to the parents. WE are the ones who must teach responsibility to our children. WE are the ones who must push our children to their potential while also providing a safe place to fail. WE must encourage, cheer, and reward successes.

Before writing this, I shared the article with my two oldest boys at the dinner table. I told them nothing of what I was about to read except that I wanted their opinions. I stressed that I'd be fine with them having differing opinions of each other and of the article. I read it, and I waited.

Both said they thought the article was right on. One said he felt it was a little harsh in the wording but that he agreed with the premise. I asked them to explain their thought process in agreeing - still not having voiced my opinion - and they shared that they know they are capable of much more than what is typically required of kids. They feel they can be important and productive. They want to have responsibility.

I didn't have to ask my next question, because I already knew the answer. They also want to be kids. And therein is the conundrum of teens. Part kid, part adult. They need time to play, to be silly, to hang out with friends, to get some extra sleep as they grow. But when we let that be the entirety of teen life, we're actually doing our children harm, not good. How is that preparing them for adulthood? How does silliness ready them for a job or marriage? How does expecting them to cop an attitude contribute to their well-being?

We tell our kids when they talk back to us that it's unacceptable. And we tell them why. Not only are they to respect their parents under God's laws, but under man's laws, they can be fired from a job for sassing their boss. If you are rude to those you meet, you'll soon be a lonely human being. You'll quickly burn bridges and you'll lose the respect of those around you.

It's the same when we give our children chores and responsibilities. My children have school year round. They also have chores year round. They are required to help in the garden in summer. They vacuum, clean bathrooms, do dishes, wash laundry, and help with their younger siblings. Am I stealing their childhood? I don't believe I am. I do expect a lot from my children, but I don't expect more than they can do. I would never ask a 4 year old to get out the big vacuum and clean the floors. The vacuum is as big as he is! It would be an unrealistic and frustrating expectation. Instead, I ask my 4 year old to make sure he puts two rolls of toilet paper on each toilet in the house so that we don't have issues of running out while someone is on the pot. He has the satisfaction of contributing to the household in an age appropriate way.

It's the same with our teens. I wouldn't normally ask my oldest to simply put toilet paper on the toilets because he is capable of so much more. Instead, he is the one cleaning the toilets. He is the one vacuuming. He's capable, he feels good when he has accomplished the task. And here's the kicker. When he's done with work, he's free to play. It's not an exclusive issue. Teens need the play and the responsibility. But the play should come AFTER the responsibility, not before. And that's where much of our society has it backwards. Many want their kids to have all the fun they can and if there's time left over they can help out. Because of this, we're raising lazy adults who feel entitled to an easy lifestyle and are going into massive amounts of debt to acheive that lifestyle.

All this to say: Love your kids. Love them enough to help them reach their potential - in all areas of life. Take a good look at their capabilities and give them the respect they long for by recognizing how mature they can be if given the chance. And when they fail, which they will, be there to help them back up, encourage them onward, and celebrate when they succeed the next time around.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Boring Past

Today I was washing the dishes. Thankfully that's becoming a less frequent chore for me because of the many little minions I have in the house. Let me tell you, mothers of young children, there really is a time coming where your kids will handle many of the household chores. Oh blessed day! For example, just today my kids cleaned all four bathrooms, vacuumed the main level of the house, folded laundry, and picked up. You'd think I'd be a lady of leisure by now, but alas, there is always still much more to do than I have hours in my day.

Anyway, I was washing the dishes. Honestly, I was a bit grumbly in my heart. I knew that I was just washing the dishes in order to dirty them again by making a delicious dinner for the family. And it was me washing them because I wanted my kids to enjoy the gorgeous weather outside instead of being stuck inside just before winter.

As I washed and grumbled in my heart, my oldest - who was icing a jammed finger - made a comment that stopped me in my tracks. He said, "People sure must have been bored in the olden days."


I asked him to repeat the statement to be sure that I had heard correctly and then asked him to explain his thinking on that ridiculous statement. He simply replied that he figured they just had a lot less to do back then.

Oh, my poor misguided child!

I quickly launched into a long diatribe describing how much more work they had. They didn't have electric or gas stoves. They had to chop their own wood to heat their houses. Showering wasn't done quickly and with ease most nights of the week. There were no dishwashers, no garbage disposals, no plastic diapers. Farming was much more difficult without the modern machinery we now have. Cleaning was a constant job. On and on and on.

Finally he interrupted and said, "Well, at least the kids were probably bored."

Again, what?

As I began on another diatribe about how much was required of children and at such an early age, he quickly stood, stated his finger was better and ran outside to play. I guess I made my point. He probably saw the inevitable direction of my lecture, which would lead to more work for him. He knows me well. Hint at boredom in our house and you are given a chore to fill your time.

At least I set this one child straight. But it sure got me to thinking. So often we complain about the state of things today. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on conveniences and then complain about our lack of time and money. Frankly, in reviewing the difficult life our ancestors had, I really don't long to live in a different time. Politically, yes. Religiously, you bet. But in regards to the advances of science, medicine, and technology I'm quite happy to be living in this era. Aren't you?

And you can bet that the next time I'm complaining in my heart about doing the dishes, I'll remember this little chat with my son and thank God for His goodness in providing running water, a dishwasher, and so many other things. I really do have NOTHING to complain about.

Monday, November 19, 2012


It has been a delightful week with my man home on vacation. And since I've had so much time with him, I'm feeling a little sappy.

I ran across a book full of poems that Josh's grandpa wrote to his grandma as they were dating and married. It gives such a sweet picture into his heart for her. My favorite poem is titled "If". He was in the navy and must have written it just before heading out to sea. Enjoy. And please don't copy it without permission.


If I were a poet or author,
I'd write a poem about you.
But all I am is a sailor,
Hoping and praying you're true.

If I were a singer of lyrics
A composer that writes his mind,
I'd write and sing a song about you
That would leave all others behind.

If I were a statesman in congress
Or boss of a ship on the sea,
I'd speak of the love I want you to have
For a lonely old fellow like me.

If I were a king in Europe,
Or a poor civilian back home
And had you I'd call you and tell you,
Just why I would never more roam.

If I were a man of expression
Or a preacher with every nice thought,
I could only express the half of my love
That being with you has wrought.

Alas, I am only a sailor
But all that I say is still true,
And all of the powers on earth couldn't stop me
From saving all my love just for you.

I know you are only a maiden,
With a heart that is pure and true.
But please believe when I tell you,
That this lonely sailor loves you.

So long, my darling, I'm leaving
But I shall return someday
To be yours and love you and keep you
And make you happy to stay.
Maybe I'm not a poet
Or captain of a ship, that's true.
What I am tho, darling, I'll tell you,
Is very much in love with you.

- Kenny Ray Keller

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Green Eyed Monster is ... Good?

Recently I counseled a friend by saying that it's right to be jealous. It may sound a little strange to offer the advice of "Be jealous!", but I believe the Bible gives us a clear picture that jealousy is a completely valid and warranted emotion.

In fact, God even describes himself as jealous:

ESV Exodus 34:14 for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God

ESV Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

NIV Exodus 20:5-6 I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Given that God describes himself in this manner, there must be another definition for jealousy other than the destructive view we typically take.

Part of the problem may be that we tend to confuse the terms "jealousy" and "envy". Envy is desiring something that doesn't belong to you. A house like the neighbor's. A marriage like the one you read about in a recent romance novel. Your friend's skinny body. A voice like the singer at church. Envy wants what you don't have, but others do. It creates a discontent with what God has given you, and a longing for more than He has blessed you with.

On the other hand, jealousy desires what already is yours. It is a fierce protectiveness and longing for something that belongs to you. A husband. A child. Honesty in a close friendship. Time with God.

For example, in marriage jealousy is essential. When a couple exchanges marriage vows they essentially said to one another, "I will save my affections for you only. I will belong only to you. I will be faithful." When one spouse breaks that promise in word, emotion, or deed there is absolutely good cause for the other to be jealous.

Likewise when we commit to a relationship with God, we are also making a vow. A vow to place Him first in our lives. God is jealous for our affections. He purposely sets out to expose the idols in our lives, those things that compete for the primo spot in life. We are His and He has every right to our affections.

But what strikes me even more than the fact that God is jealous for me is that I should be jealous regarding my relationship with Him. If I truly value my time with God, I should be consistently weeding out those things that prohibit me from investing time and effort into the relationship. Just as I would with a spouse or a child.

I'm thankful that God is not forceful in His regard toward me. He does not slam His way into my life and harshly rip out anything that gets in the way. Instead, He patiently waits for me to fall so deeply in love that I jealously guard my time with Him. Although much too frequently I really could use a swift kick in the pants to get me moving in the right direction!

But that is the incredible complexity and care of our God. He calls Himself a jealous God, but in the same breath reveals that He extends love to a thousand generations of those who love Him. What patience! What forgiveness! Surely He is deserving of the highest priority.

I leave you with a song by Meredith Andrews that puts God's love into beautiful words. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Christmas Memory

A friend who works at our local Christian radio station often stops by to get clips of the kids' voices for the radio. Today she was asking questions about their favorite Christmas memories and had them read a few passages from the Biblical account of Jesus' birth.

Last year, she recorded Josh telling one of his favorite memories. He shared a funny story about the time he had asked for a compound bow for Christmas and how his parents had creatively and surprisingly given it to him.

This time I tried to think of a favorite memory. I have a lot of trouble with this since so many of my favorite memories have to do with the Christmas season. But I chose to share about a moment that happened just a few years ago.

(Disclaimer: If you are local and may hear this on the radio, I aplogize for the spoiler.)

When my little Gabe was just about 2 years old he figured out that Christmas would include opening the fun, shiny packages under our tree. He knew that some of those presents were for him and he was so excited for Christmas morning. He came into the living room that morning full of exuberance, ready to celebrate and indulge.

He just didn't know about one little thing. Our family always begins our Christmas morning celebration by reading the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible. It's our way of focusing our attention on the correct reason for celebrating.

Our poor little Gabe didn't understand the delay. He sat on Daddy's lap and cried his heart out as we listened to the story. Big tears and everything.

The reason why it's a favorite memory is because I use this as a reminder for myself. In just the opposite way of my little Gabe, if I don't have my focus on Christ during the Christmas season, I'll be miserable. If I'm so bound by the busyness of baking, and buying, wrapping and visiting, but forget to spend time dwelling on the gift I have received because of Christ's sacrifice, then I am missing the whole point.

When you come down to it, Chistmas isn't about the giving or receiving. It's about the Son of God who came as a baby, grew to manhood, lived a sinless life, died a horrific death, and rose from the dead. It's about the only One who can save me from myself and my poor choices. It's about something far greater than me ... it's about redemption.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five Minute Fridays: Quiet

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for the Five Minute Friday.


Be still my soul


Be still my soul


Be still my soul


Be still my soul


Be still my soul


My soul is still


My soul is still


The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love" Zephaniah 3:17

Beautiful Hands - a rerun

Recycling an oldie but goodie today as I link up with the MOB society blog:

This morning I watched as you discovered your hands. Your fat little fingers reached out and grasped hold of mine. And as you brought my hand toward your mouth your eyes widened with wonder.

I began to dream of what those hands may someday do.

You may have the hands of a craftsman. A mechanic or woodworker. Rough, calloused hands. Useful hands.
Beautiful hands.

Perhaps your hands will be soft. Hands used to press keys on the computer. Hands used to write. Hands forming words of impact and influence.
Beautiful hands.

Your hands may be dirty from working the soil. They may stroke the fur of a beloved pet or firmly grip the chalk as you mold young minds. They could grasp the ragged rocks as you climb a mountain or gently pick fruit from a tree to share with a friend. Hands that delight in the world around you.
Beautiful hands.

Someday I pray your hands will be wrinkled from soaking in the dish water. Crusted with paint from a child's art project. Recovering from a paper cut after folding yet another paper airplane. Hands used to brush silky hair, change stinky diapers, dress little bodies. Hands that will cause the laughter of ticklish children. Hands that steady your bride on your wedding day. Family hands.
Beautiful hands.

Your hands can be used to bring comfort to the aged. Food to the hungry. Peace to the harassed. Help to the helpless. Hands of compassion.
Beautiful hands.

Of all these things, my greatest desire is for you to have hands of worship. Hands that are raised in adoration of the King. Hands that hold a worn Bible. Hands that frequently fold in prayer.

Because if your hands hold firm to these tasks, your hands will reflect the greatest hands. Hands that are scarred. Hands that stretched out on a cross. Hands strong enough to hold all your dreams, pains, fears, and joys. Christ's hands.
Beautiful hands.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Political Prayer

Whether you are in celebration or mourning today, I hope you will read this and consider what a Christian's response to the elections should be.

Many thanks to my sweet husband for sharing this amidst all the turmoil.

Finally the election is over. But the result is exactly what everyone predicted: half of us are discouraged and half us are happy. Whichever camp you find yourself in this morning, let me exhort you to put aside your feelings
& your opinions and seek the Lord. Be encouraged by two things: the Lord God remains sovereign and the Lord God remains a Redeemer! Let us put our hope & trust not in any human person or institution but in the Lord. As followers of Christ, let us speak the truth in love. Let us set aside any divisiveness and seek to work together rather than against one another. Let us implement the second greatest commandment. Let the republican put the democrat first and the democrat put the republican first. Let the rich man prefer the poor man to himself. Let the poor man prefer the rich man to himself. etc.

However you may feel about the election, remember your Christian duty to pray:

ESV 1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Given the great domestic & international challenges we face, our president & elected officials desperately need prayer. Join me in praying for them.

Heavenly Father,

You are the Creator of all people everywhere. You know each person intimately – even how many hairs are on their head. For those candidates & their supporters who lost yesterday, may they see your face in all this and take your hand. For those candidates who won and are therefore accepting important responsibilities, may they fall to their knees in humble reliance upon you and may they reach for your hand to lead them. Father lead our president. Father lead our congress. Father lead our governor & state reps. Father lead our nation. Father lead your world.

Father, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We wait on you. You alone are the answer. You alone have wisdom. We wait on you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May God bless you this day and may God bless America!

Pastor Josh

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Silence Broken

I have been silent for a long time. In fact my last blog entry was six months ago to the day.

I didn't plan to begin writing again at this exact moment. I have longed to blog many times over the past six months. I have even logged in with fascinating topics swirling in my brain simply to end up staring at the blinking cursor wondering where my words had gone.

Why? I'm not sure if I can explain it. This year has been long and difficult. It has been a year of transitions and a year of hard work. Along with re-learning what it's like to have a baby in the house, we're learning what it's like to parent adolescent boys. I have walked beside my husband as the church transitioned to a healthier, Biblical leadership model. Some of our dreams have changed and others have been re-born. I have transitioned out of pregnancy and back into it. We have changed our homeschooling curriculum and are wading our way through it one day at a time. Transition, change, disappointment, joy, frustration, growth, laughter, tears. My heart is full. Sometimes it feels too full.

That fullness is what has kept me from writing. While many thoughts have swirled in my head and many lessons have been learned, I have not had the ability to write about such things.

Until tonight.

Tonight I was trying to pinpoint the biggest lesson I've learned over the past six months. And here it is: I am weak. Christ is strong.

Profound, right? Absolutely!

No doubt you've offered consolation to a friend with words like these: "Well, God can do anything. Even turn this situation around" or "I'll pray that God gives you the strength you need for ..."

We quote verses to one another.
I Corinthians 1:25 the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

II Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Sometimes though, I wonder if we really think about the power of these truths as we encourage one another. Recently I have begun to grasp the difference between glibly quoting them as truth and actually understanding and believing the meaning.

Oh trust me, I still have a long way to go before I fully grasp the entirety of my weakness and Christ's strength. My default is still to think that my hard work is what will make the day good or bad, that my abilities should be enough, that my weaknesses are shameful.

But here is the crux.
How I respond to what I can and cannot do reflects on what I believe about the character of God.

When facing an illness - either my own or a loved one's - and I pray for healing, do I truly trust God to heal in whatever way is best: physical or spiritual or both? When attempting to trudge through the never-ending list of to-dos, and failing miserably for the fifth day in a row, do I still ask God to put his priorities first in my life - even if that means my "priorities" may be set aside? When unable to shoulder some of the weight of a loved one's burdens, am I really able to place them into the loving hands of my Savior and leave them there?

These are the things I am learning. I am weak. I cannot do it all. And when I look at the enormity of it all, I'm rather glad I can't! But I do have a God who is strong enough. I have a God who is able to accomplish far more than I can imagine. And even in the hard times, I can trust him with all of life.

And I am left with this:
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:12-13, 28-29

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Glory Days

My locker was cleared out, the yearbook signed, and the tassel on my graduation cap had been switched to the left side signifying my new status as a graduate.

Hallelujah! I was out of high school! And not a day too soon.

I'm not one of those that gets sentimental about my high school days. I wouldn't EVER choose to go back and relive them. In fact, I couldn't wait to shake the dust off my feet and move on.

My lack of nostalgia doesn't stem from any obvious reason. I wasn't bullied, I didn't get poor grades or struggle academically. I had great friends and was involved in several activities. Still, I didn't find high school enjoyable. I hated the cliques, the pettiness. I was restless to move on.

I see so many of my contemporaries look back on high school as the good old days. They actively seek out other classmates (even the ones they didn't like), reminisce about the great events of those four years, and long for the days when their bodies were at the peak of fitness.

Now, I could do with a little less baby weight. And I'd be thrilled to get rid of the aches and pains of aging. But I wouldn't go back for anything.


Because I'm in my glory days. I'm living my dream right now. I spend each day with my favorite people. I don't have to worry about the dating game, but can rest in the assurance that a man loves me faithfully and completely.

I'm living life at break-neck speed. Often lamenting the fact that I can't get it all done, longing for more hours of sleep, sometimes covered in baby drool, and frequently laughing at situations I could never have imagined.

I have toys on the floor, laundry that sat in the washer overnight, dirty dishes in the sink, and about a million unfinished projects. And yet, I'm happy.

These are the days I'll look back on with great joy. I'll long to smell a freshly bathed baby, hear the silly words of a toddler, witness the look of understanding dawn on a child's face as they understand a new concept, pray with a little one frightened by the storm, marvel at the maturity of a pre-teen, and feel little arms wrap around my neck in a tight squeeze.

Nomatter how tired I am, nomatter how dirty the house, nomatter how time consuming it is to teach right from wrong ... I will choose to revel in these days. Because they are going fast. Before long, I'll be looking back and saying "Remember when ..."

Today is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Earn your keep and keep what you earn

I read an article in this week's World Magazine that has me thinking. In fact, it's something that Josh and I have been talking about for some time. The basic premise of the article is that the need for college training seems to be waning while the demand for those with technical skills is increasing.

The article cites Mike Rowe's words as he testified before the U.S. Senate in 2011. Rowe states that while there is a high unemployment rate in the U.S., there is actually a tremendous need for people with trade skills. There just aren't enough people skilled in specific trades.

Josh and I have heard this idea mentioned by several people and have read about it in a variety of publications over the last several months. I'm sure it's something we'll continue to discuss as our own children speed toward the time when they will need to make decisions about their future careers.

However, regardless of whether our children decide to head the route of learning a trade or studying in college, there are some things that I'm convinced we need to teach our children if they will succeed in life.

The first thing they must learn is a good work ethic. There's a great little book called The Fred Factor. It's about a postman named Fred. Fred is an excellent worker. He is conscientious, goes above and beyond the call of duty, and cares for those he serves. Fred is a good example of how I want my children to behave in whatever God calls them to do.

Teaching diligence and perseverance starts at home. Teaching my children to tackle even the tough jobs begins with cleaning up toys, washing dishes, and watering the garden. Our oldest recently read the book "Do Hard Things" by Brett and Alex Harris. He loved it! The Harris twins challenge teens to go beyond the expectations of society. It's only in recent times that teens have been given a wild card to act out, be disrespectful, and continue their childhood. Throughout history, teens have held incredible responsiblity - some doing work that we wouldn't even expect a 30 year old to tackle nowadays!

So, in mutual agreement, Josh and I have decided that we will be counter-cultural in raising our children to be productive, respectable, honest members of society. Even as teens. But especially as adults. None of this "28 year old man-child living in the basement playing video games and avoiding the job market" stuff for our kids!

The second thing we have decided is of utmost importance to our children's future success is to teach them how to handle money. How many people do you know with absolutley no debt? Not even a mortgage? I know of maybe a handful. Now, I'm not totally against a mortgage, but I do feel that if it can be avoided, it should be.

When Josh and I first got married, we had the attitude that we were entitled to have everything our parents had. We began our marriage by filling our house with all the "necessary" items of life. Right down to a coat rack. As if a coat closet wasn't enough. If we didn't have it and we "needed" it, we bought it. Hang the cost!

It has taken us over a decade to change those habits - and especially to change our way of thinking. For the Christian, the attitude of instant gratification leaves no room for God to provide. It keeps us from bringing our needs to the One who loves to provide in remarkable ways and to receive the glory for it. It also negates the role of the church in providing for one another. How wonderful when a brother in Christ can fix your lawnmower and later you can serve him by tending his garden. We each have different skills and gifts. But when we rely only on ourselves, we neglect to utilize and recognize the remarkable gifts God has given to others.

In terms of spending, we've had some hard lessons to learn. We've been "in plenty" and "in want" in our almost 13 years of marriage. We had three lean years during seminary when we sometimes wondered how we'd pay for groceries or clothe our children. But God always provided and often in extraordinary ways! Now that we have a regular income we have to carefully keep ourselves from foolish spending. We recently switched to using cash only. If the money isn't there, we can't buy it. Our savings and our tithe come out of the paycheck first and the remainder is for us to wisely use for living. Would you believe, we're saving more now than ever before?! The absence of credit card spending has caused us to more carefully evaluate our purchases and to be sure it's something we need before just rushing out to fulfill our wants.

These are things I want my children to learn. A good worker, diligent and trustworthy will be sought after in the workforce. Someone who is mindful of his spending and who has adopted good money habits will have far fewer worries than his contemporaries.

Regardless of what my children choose to do in life, I hope they will regard their work in this way:

"No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be
undertaken with painstaking excellence.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

And their wealth in this way:

Proverbs 28:6 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
Proverbs 23:4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Few Good Books

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had started reading Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing to See. I have now finished the book and can say that I'd highly recommend it. It's not just a book about grief. It tells Mary Beth's story. The story of how she has repeatedly had to let go of her own agenda to let God do his great work in her life. And what a work it has been!

She writes with wonderful humor. I'm not a person that typically laughs out loud while reading - or even watching movies, for that matter - but Mary Beth shares her stories so descriptively that the giggles just bubbled up out of me. And it left me very thankful that I don't have nearly as many embarassing stories as she does!

Mary Beth also candidly shares about the pain of losing a child. The last several chapters are all blog and journal entries from the year and half following Maria's death. I was surprised at how fresh the grief was even after a year or more. But that's why this book is so important! For someone who has not faced such intense grief, it's so helpful to know that others may still be severely struggling long after their loved one has passed. So as a friend, I need to show compassion, provide a listening ear, and practice patience a I hold someone's hand through their long-term grief.

I have a few favorite quotes from the book, but since I may incorporate them into a talk for our upcoming women's retreat, I'll wait to share them.

What's next on my reading list?

First, a book that has inspired my pre-teen: Do Hard Things by Brett and Alex Harris. These two young men are calling teens to do more than society expects of them and have started a Rebelution. We asked our son to read this recently and then had him write a book report on it. Let me tell you, that was the best book report I've ever read! If you have a teen or work with teens, I'd highly recommend the book.

And next in my que: Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski. Mike and a friend set out to live the life of the homeless in six cities across the U.S. for over five months. I have heard him interviewed and am captivated by his story and what he learned. I can't wait to delve into this one!

Disturbed, Shocked, and Very Sad

One of the most disturbing things I've read: An article advocating after-birth abortion.

Oh, Lord, come quickly and heal this land!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anxiety Cure

My little six year old just loves to get the mail. He plops down in front of the door, tugs his shoes on, jams his arms into his coat and then races down the driveway to retrieve whatever surprise may be lurking in the mailbox that day.

Yesterday was no exception. But as he came in the door, I could tell something was wrong.

"Mom! There's a white truck outside!"

It took me a moment to figure out why that was a significant observation. And then I remembered what had happened just a few weeks back. One street away from our house, the driver of a white truck had approached a couple of young boys and asked them to go see a new baby with him. The boys were smart, declined the offer, and told their parents. With something like that happening so close to our home, we used the opportunity to remind our children of the dangers that await them outside of our home. And since they had been outside playing at the time of this incident, we went ahead and asked if any white truck had slowed or stopped near them.

Apparently my little man latched on to the idea that white trucks are filled with bad guys. Because although the VAN parked across the street was obviously at the neighbor's for a maintenance issue, my son simply saw a white vehicle larger than a car. He told me that as soon as he noticed it, he ran the other direction (as we had instructed our kids to do if someone approaches them) and almost went straight to the backyard before realizing he should come into the house and tell me.

As I attempted to calm him down, I said in a matter-of-fact way, "It's okay. Mom is here and I'll protect you." Without missing a beat, he spouted back, "But what if they came in the house??" I told my little one that I would do anything to keep him from harm. And he said, "Even if they shoot you?"

"Yes, son. Even if it means I have to be shot to protect you."

"Oh. Okay." And off he went to play.

His mind was at rest. His anxiety gone. He had no more need to worry. Mom was willing to give her life to keep him safe. All was well with the world.

Just as my son is now free from care, I also have peace because I know that someone has protected me in just such a way. My Savior laid down his life to protect me from eternal death. Because of Him, I fear no harm.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Entrusted with Pain

I don't often read the dedication page in books. Occasionally I'll skim one as I'm flipping open the book. It rarely happens BEFORE I've started delving into the chapters. But for some reason, today I read a book dedication before starting the book.

I'm just beginning to read Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to See. Mary Beth is the wife of popular singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. This book is about the recent death of their young daugther and the struggle to find hope in the midst of pain. I think it's going to be a good book and I look forward to writing more about it once I've finished it.

However, before even getting to the main text, I've already been given food for thought. On Mary Beth's dedication page, one of the people she dedicates the book to is her son, Will Franklin. Sadly, he was the one driving the car that hit and killed his little sister. I can't imagine the pain and guilt he has had to work through since that tragic event. His mother writes these words in her first sentence of her dedication: "You have been entrusted with incredible pain".

What a strange thought. Entrusted with pain. Usually we see pain as an unwelcome visitor. Something that we avoid at all costs. Unpleasant. Undesireable. Something that often makes us question the goodness and even existence of God.

Yet, Mary Beth says her son has been entrusted with his pain. I looked up the definition of "entrust" in Websters.
entrust: 1. to confer a trust on; to deliver something in trust to. 2. to commit to another with confidence.

If I'm reading this correctly, Mary Beth believes that God has given this pain for her son to bear with confidence that he will bear it for Christ's glory.

Wow. That really puts a new perspective on pain.

Louie Giglio has a talk that he did on Hope and in it he speaks to using our pain as a megaphone. When you are in the midst of the greatest pain, your reaction serves as a megaphone. You can either shout out your depression, your angst, your denial of God, or you can shout out God's goodness and grace, his sustaining power and his providence in all things.

Mary Beth is admonishing her son to be a megaphone that loudly declares the latter.

And I can only pray that as I am entrusted with pain in this life that I will also use it as a megaphone to confidently call others to place their hope in my Rock, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ministry Week

This week has been quite different from our norm. Josh was gone at conferences for most of the week. One for three days in Minneapolis and one all day today in Milwaukee. I'm glad that he can take the time to attend these conferences. They certainly help him to stay fresh. Since he is constantly pouring out into others' lives, he needs to have the opportunity to sit and learn and be encouraged by other believers. These two conferences are ones he looks forward to all year.

With him gone, I knew that we would be hard pressed to get our normal schooling done. We could have done it, but the kids tend to get cranky when Dad is not around. And let's face it, so do I. So instead of our normal school week, we did something I've been dreaming about for quite some time.

We had "ministry week". I've been wanting to make sure that I'm instilling in my children a joy of giving and serving others. I want them to understand that when you help others, you are blessed. And I want to get them outside of themselves. It's so easy for kids to get caught up in the "me, me, me" of everyday life. We do try to teach our kids these things on a regular basis, but sometimes it's good to make some special time to really focus on those character traits you hope to instill in your children.

What does "ministry week" look like? Well it really could be anything. But for us, it was a hodgepodge of activities. We began the week by recognizing that God has given us much more than we need. We took stock of how good He has been to us and talked of how God often blesses people with much so that they can share with others. With that in mind, we went through our toys and books, household items and some clothing and chose things to give to others. And we didn't just give away the things we don't want. We chose a few items that were a little more difficult to part with so that we could really imagine the joy that someone else will have in receiving it.

Another activity was to identify four families who we thought could use a little cheer/encouragement. We all worked together to make some yummy cookies. The kids each chose one family and made a card for them. And when we delivered the cookies and cards, the child who had made the card was the one who went to the door and watched as the recipient had a little joy infused in their day. The kids LOVED doing that!

We also took some time to serve each other. The kids worked hard at helping Mom as I was still recovering from being sick and didn't have Dad around to help. Yesterday, the boys all helped to serve their sister by preparing the house for her special birthday party. As we cleaned we talked about what a gift it was for them to serve their family without complaint.

Lastly, we took time to pray for those we knew were hurting, sick, or discouraged. We thanked God for his goodness to us and asked him to also bless those we love with all they need physically, spiritually and emotionally.

It may not seem like we did a lot in a week. But when you throw in the fact that I had been sick, had no husband around, dealt with a couple of blow out diapers, had a child paint the bathroom in poop, grocery shopped, took children to doctor appointments and several activities, cooked, cleaned, welcomed a few visitors, nursed a baby, planned a party, and thoroughly enjoyed non-stressful FUN with my kids ... it was plenty. Even 5am wake up times can be sweet when you have two footie-pajama clad children to share them with.

And speaking of fun, one of the best moments with my kids was when we went for a walk on a gorgeous winter day and came home soaked. We found some really deep puddles on the way. And really, who can resist jumping in really deep puddles? I was wet up to my waist in the back! And the kids' winter boots will take a week to dry out. Let's just hope it doesn't snow any time soon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Beautiful Hands

This morning I watched as you discovered your hands. Your fat little fingers reached out and grasped hold of mine. And as you brought my hand toward your mouth your eyes widened with wonder.

I began to dream of what those hands may someday do.

You may have the hands of a craftsman. A mechanic or woodworker. Rough, calloused hands. Useful hands.
Beautiful hands.

Perhaps your hands will be soft. Hands used to press keys on the computer. Hands used to write. Hands forming words of impact and influence.
Beautiful hands.

Your hands may be dirty from working the soil. They may stroke the fur of a beloved pet or firmly grip the chalk as you mold young minds. They could grasp the ragged rocks as you climb a mountain or gently pick fruit from a tree to share with a friend. Hands that delight in the world around you.
Beautiful hands.

Someday I pray your hands will be wrinkled from soaking in the dish water. Crusted with paint from a child's art project. Recovering from a paper cut after folding yet another paper airplane. Hands used to brush silky hair, change stinky diapers, dress little bodies. Hands that will cause the laughter of ticklish children. Hands that steady your bride on your wedding day. Family hands.
Beautiful hands.

Your hands can be used to bring comfort to the aged. Food to the hungry. Peace to the harassed. Help to the helpless. Hands of compassion.
Beautiful hands.

Of all these things, my greatest desire is for you to have hands of worship. Hands that are raised in adoration of the King. Hands that hold a worn Bible. Hands that frequently fold in prayer.

Because if your hands hold firm to these tasks, your hands will reflect the greatest hands. Hands that are scarred. Hands that stretched out on a cross. Hands strong enough to hold all your dreams, pains, fears, and joys. Christ's hands.
Beautiful hands.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I heard about Five Minute Fridays from Nancy last week. And man, I wish I had known about it before Friday was over because the word of the week was awesome. Sometime I'll have to do a post about the word "Roar" because I have some great thoughts on it.

Here's the description of what Five Minute Fridays are about:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most important: comment and encourage the person who linked up before you.

This week the word is "Awake". And I figure I've got a few thoughts on that too. So here we go ...

Awake. Remind me of what that means again? Awake is hard to come by when you have five children. But even harder to come by when one of those is an infant. Some mornings I wake feeling that I've only just closed my eyes to sleep. Being physically tired can cause you to walk though life in a haze.

But there are those days when I've had a great night's sleep and I'm fully awake. Physically, that is. But nomatter my physical state, sometimes I notice that I've been walking in a spiritual haze. Asleep. Unaware. Missing out.

At the end of the day, have I noticed the things that really matter? Has my soul found peace through communion with it's Maker? Did I recognize the great calling I have in being a mother and wife? Did I find joy in the simple things?

Things like the privilege of teaching a child to read, sloppy baby kisses, a brother and sister happily dancing together in the living room. Moments of warm sunshine streaming in through the window, the smell of a delicious dinner cooking all day in the crockpot, the sound of my mother's voice on the phone, the touch of a small hand in mine. Wonder at the tiny toes of a little one, the creative imagination of a pre-teen, the incredible fact that I lack nothing I need.

Yes, it's easy to be physically awake even when tired. It's harder to be awake to the world around us, the marvels that greet us each and every moment of the day.

Wake up, O my soul! Stir from your slumber and partake in the beauty that surrounds.


Thursday, January 12, 2012


Our little one is quickly growing. He's not only huge in regards to his weight and height, but he's growing up in regards to what he can do. He's only four months old, but I'm sure he can say "Hi". He often says it first thing when he sees us in the morning and even said it to our doctor at his recent check up. (Which tells me I'm not just projecting genius onto him!) He is desperately trying to sit up and loves stretching his legs by standing and jumping on our laps.

It's that last one that made us think perhaps he might like the Johnny Jump Up that's been in storage since our second child was itty bitty. The only child of ours that loved the jumper was Zack. He would spend HOURS jumping. In fact, since he was an early riser, we would get up, put baby Zack in the jumper and head back to bed. A couple of hours later, he'd still be happily jumping away or sound asleep in the jumper occasionally bouncing in his sleep.

We've tried the jumper with each of our other children, but no one else would spend more than 2 minutes in it before ear-splitting screaming ensued. However, with Jesse we just had an inkling that he might enjoy it.

Unlike our wonderfully old house in CT, our current home has no wide doorways. We don't have moulding, so there's nothing to really attach the jumper to except door frames. So two nights ago I came home from Abby's gymnastics practice and found Josh sequestered away in the garage building something "sturdy".

When it comes to woodworking, my husband doesn't do anything wimpy. And with five children in the house, that's a really good thing! He has built bookcases, a coffee table, shelving ... and check out this chicken coop he recently finished. We call it the chicken palace.

So I knew that whatever he was building for the jumper would be sturdy enough to hold our little one. I had no idea it would be sturdy enough for a grown man to do pull ups on! Here's the ingenious structure that now sits in our house:

Notice the little guy super happy to be jumping. He's just like his big brother and is happy to jump, jump, jump all day long. Hooray for saving Mommy's back and arms from lugging around a 19 pound four month old!

If you're like me, you're wondering how in the world I can allow something so ... sturdy (read: large) into my house. I did say that this invention was ingenious, did I not? The whole structure comes apart in three sections so that it can be moved into any room of the house or stored easily in the garage at a moment's notice. Hallelujah!! My husband's got skills!

I love that he makes sturdy furniture. I love that when the kids are climbing on said furniture, I don't have to worry about it collapsing or breaking. I know that the things he builds will stand up to the abuse my children can dish out.

But you know what I like more than my husband's sturdy furniture? I like that he is sturdy. He's reliable, he's strong. I know that I can lean on him when times are tough and he'll be able to hold me up. I know that I can depend upon him to keep me grounded and to keep our family deeply rooted in God's Word.

How do I know this? Because Christ is sturdy. And my man is fully commited to following Christ. And since his love for Jesus is greater than his love for me or our children, I can count on him to be a strong, sturdy oak.

Not only can I claim to have a man who builds sturdy furniture, but more importantly I can say that he truly is an "oak of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." (Psalm 61:3)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10 on 10: January 2012

ten on ten button

Linking up with Rebekah at A Bit of Sunshine for a little 10 on 10 fun. Thankfully the weather today was GORGEOUS and we were able to spend lots of time outside. Perfect, considering we're supposed to have snow in two days.

Here goes ..