Friday, December 12, 2014

It really is a wonderful life

Christmas is a magical time of year. The lights, the tree, the carols, the cookies, children's joyous faces as each surprise delights them. There is so much anticipation and expectation of "great joy." We are told to be joyful, for Jesus is the reason for the season. And rightly so!

 But what if your Christmas season feels a little bit more like George Baileys? And it doesn't have to be losing a ton of money and facing ruin and jail time, it can be a small collection of things: a broken washing machine whose parts just keep breaking, the kids all have the croup, you are desperately trying to pay off medical bills and credit card bills, your husband is working three jobs and you just can't seem to get ahead, someone you love is suffering and sick, or worse, has passed away, the car stops working or needs major repair, the list goes on and on...


It would be a wonderful Advent season if it weren't for....

I would be able to make cookies and sing and be happy if only...

You sing "Glory to the newborn King" with an empty heart.

And you see your poor husband, your poor George Bailey and you can't magically fix everything with a fairy godmother's wand. You can pray and pray and pray. And somehow in the back of your mind sits Mary (Donna Reed). Her abilities of beautiful, perfect, happy wife who worries for her husband, but keeps her smile and her cool is unparalleled. George is ready to go crazy over a loose stair railing (or in this case a washing machine that refuses to work) and you as a wife feel more like a shepherd from that first Christmas night. You want refuge and quiet and peace. But even the sheep are too loud.

And the guilt in your heart that wishes you could be more like Mary and the regret for that snarky word you said to your husband when he needed Mary's smile....

And the radio station plays "In the Bleak Midwinter" and the stanza about "what can I bring Him, poor as I am," and you think of the bills...

And all of a sudden you remember.

You remember you gave Him your heart. You remember that this isn't a Hollywood movie script, it's God's. And even though everything doesn't perfectly sum up and be resolved at the end of the movie, that God's orchestration has made it all for this reason: His Salvation. He CAME!



We give our hearts to Him, and He holds us and loves us so much more than we can fathom. Everything washes away as He says triumphantly 


Even though this giant boulder grows bigger on our backs, we look to the cross (that ancient tree of old that carried the most important light) and as Christian's burden was lifted, so is ours. And the roughness of this season is nothing compared to the roughness of the cross. So be joyful, not out of emptiness.

But the fullness of His love,
And come before Him,
Fall on your knees,
O hear the angel voices,
and poor as you are,
give Him your heart,
O come let us adore Him,
Let Joy come to your World,
let your hearts rest in this Silent Night,
rest in His holiness.
Be comforted, my people
Come, All ye faithful!
Joyful, Triumphant!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The dress

We have dear friends here in our community that have a dry cleaning business. One day, while they were over at our house, I casually mentioned that we had never had my wedding dress cleaned. It still had dirt marks all over the edges from my dancing the evening away, joyful at the thought of a new life with my new husband. "I really need to get my act together and get that thing cleaned before Abi gets married," I said. But I didn't take myself seriously and didn't think another thing of it. It hadn't seen the light of day in almost 11 years. My sweet friend texted me not too long after that and offered to get my dress cleaned. What a gracious and thoughtful gift.

 They brought it over in a beautiful box, lovingly tied with a bow, with special gloves to put on in case I wanted to touch the dress. This would preserve it from discoloration and keep it special if one of my daughters ever wanted to wear it in their wedding. As I fondly looked at the dress, the memories came flooding back. Our special day, our special love. How fast had 11 years gone, how busy were these years and days. How exhausted and overwhelmed had we become? Love happens, but also life happens. 

How quickly we let our marriages get dirty.

 I don't mean dirty in a wicked way, but dirty in that we can take it for granted, neglect it a little, care for it less and less, get so preoccupied with some many other stressing things that it can get put on the back burner. It takes a lot of work to maintain and keep up an immaculate marriage garden when you have six very active children with personalities all different from one another. Those sweet faces compete for your attention with every breath you give. 

And yet I've been trying to hone in on my wife skills. Like a slap on the face a couple months ago, the Lord hit me with a simple truth: I had stopped being respectful, I had stopped putting my husbands needs above my own, and wait a minute...I was also putting the Lord on the back burner.  But I'm a busy mom and I don't stop all day. I just go and go and go. I needed to lay other things down and pick up the one tool in my life I needed the most: for everything. I needed the Lord. I had asked a friend to keep me accountable. "Are you respecting your husband?" "Are you in God's Word daily?"

We need those slaps in the face from the Lord. I needed to get my focus back on the Lord, and I needed to get my focus back on my marriage. And here I was reading every book I could get my hands on about marriage, reading every blog I could read, and this dress gets cleaned!

I'm one of those people who gets directions by landmarks. It's how my brain works. "Turn left at the McDonalds, right at the Giant pine tree, our house is the yellow one with the blue truck in the driveway" I love those kind of directions! Well, this was my landmark to get me back on marriage road. Not just my marriage to my husband, but my marriage to Christ. It was a picture of what was happening in my life as a wife and ultimately as a follower of Jesus: A beautiful white, clean dress! The dust was cleared away, the dirt removed. And something more hit me.... how much more glorious and beautiful will my marriage be in heaven? How is our eternal position with Christ right now? It is spotless, it is clean, white, bright, ravishing, untainted. Christ's blood made that happen on the cross. He can perfect my marriage in His own way and His own time.

I guess I'm here to say that everyone needs to work at their marriage. Wives, sometimes this means shutting your mouth and being respectful even when you don't feel like it. This means serving your husband and showing him you'd go the extra mile just so he feels a little more loved. This means strapping joy to your life, adhering that smile and maybe even putting up your dukes at life's punches and fixing our eyes on the prize. On Christ, on the marriage only Christ can give.

Oh and by the way, we celebrate our 11th anniversary on Saturday!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Building Up Our Libraries: James Herriot

Here come another one of my series on Building Up Our Libraries. Meet James Herriot! One of my favorite Authors. Beautiful stories about country life in the Yorkshire Dales of England; which I was fortunate enough to visit once. These stories are about farm and animal life in the sweetest of ways. The artwork is stunningly beautiful and I think your children will find these stories absolutely delightful!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Building up our Libraries:Meet Tasha Tudor

I'd like to start a blog series called: Building up our Library. This topic is very important to me. Yes, it is an investment, but you are investing in your children in an extremely important area of life. Library books are nice, in fact they help us figure out which books are worth purchasing and which are just plain rejects. But whether you find them at the Thrift Store, a special book store or used on Amazon; I can't stress enough the importance of building a quality book library for your children. Make it a lovely place they can go to again and again. We have a rocking chair nearby to enhance the experience!

 Today I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite author's of all time: Meet Tasha Tudor. Her books are not just sweet stories, but works of art and an encouragement for a simpler way of life. We could all use simple. My daughters adore her books, as did I when I was little. I have quite a collection going, not complete, but with each Christmas and birthday, I like to add to that.

(from A is for Annabelle)

(from "Amy's Goose")

(from "the 23rd Psalm")

(from "Five Senses")

(My favorite Tasha Tudor book "A time to Keep".)

(from "A Corgiville Fair")

(our latest to the collection: Pumpkin Moonshine)
(from "The Springs of Joy")

And I just happen to have an autographed copy that my sweet Aunt bought for me for my first birthday. It is still treasured!

Friday, September 6, 2013

My identity

Recently I was tagged on Facebook in this photo taken about 12-13 years ago. Hello young, skinny, carefree girl! Memories came flooding back and it left me with that "what the heck, where did the time go?" feeling. Satan loves to use these times to make us wonder "what have I become? Who am I? How come I don't feel young, skinny and carefree anymore? What is my identity anyway?"

We can quickly spiral downwards while on memory hill. "Those were the days...."

 There is no golden age, no perfect time, no "if only time could have stopped there." 

We have the time that God gives us and we are to make the most of it. If we get stuck in the past, not only are we un-thankful and not content with His current gifts to us, but we forget all the hardships that we were undergoing at the time which we have chosen to forget. We are also blinded to the fact that God has refined our character in vast ways during this time.

What is my identity?

Quite simply, my identity is in Christ. That is who I am, that is who Christ has made me.

 "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness; which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.." (Philippians 3:7-9)

My identity is not in the piles of laundry I constantly wash, not in the dishes that never stop, not in the amount of diapers I change in one day, my identity is not in the meeting I forgot about, the morning I slept in and my poor boy missed his early classes, it's not the state of my children's bathroom, the birthday card I forgot to send, the extra weight I carry on my body or the stretch marks from the six children I've had. It's not in the get-away my husband and I have never gone on, the dream-house,dream-job we might pine for. It's not in the fabulous meal I cooked for dinner, the fact that we home-school, that I am a stay at home Mom. My identity doesn't exist in an organized home, how often or not often I workout or diet, the state of my wardrobe, or my bank account.

It is simply...In Christ. How freeing, how magnificent, how glorious! Everything else is RUBBISH. Do you know what rubbish is?? Go look in your kitchen trash can. That is rubbish. It isn't attractive, it is beguiling, it isn't "if only". It's junk, poo, trash, ick!, blech! It is DEAD," it is FINISHED."

"I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My favorite board books for littles

Here are just some of my favorite board books for little people:

Charley Harper: 123's, ABC's, Colors
Jennifer Adams/Alison Oliver: Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre
Jack and Holman Wang: Cozy Classics Pride and Prejudice
Kate McMullan and David McPhail: If you were my Bunny (I sing this one, finish the book and start all over again, Soeren's favorite!)
Eric Carle: The Greedy Python, Have you seen my cat?

(this is Jane Eyre, I think she looks fabulous!)

In Charley Harper's Colors book, this page gets me every time!

This is Isabella's latest birthday present. Pride and Prejudice in the cutest form possible. I love this book!

A wonderful Caterpillar,who, questions Alice...
Charley Harper's brilliant chickadees and Owls. His artwork is some of the finest and I would love to have framed prints of his artwork in my house someday.

What are some of your favorite board books??

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

PB&B&C Cookies

Made these recently...Peanut Butter Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. Start with your favorite Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Add chopped bacon. Add chocolate chips. So good!

We are enjoying Ballet camp this week. So stinkin' cute!

Other things keeping us busy..
We are potty training..
we are homeschooling and especially working on math skills...
I am getting back into sewing (which was sorely missed!)...
We are missing daddy more than ever...
We are surviving. 
(and yes, cookies are helping with all of that!)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

long time comin!

I realize it's been an obscenely long time since I've posted anything, and maybe no one looks at my posts and maybe I do this more for a journal to myself that for anything else. But I don't want to drop it all together and I apologize for my tardiness. Lets see what happened..oh...

I moved...
to Moscow, ID. And we all love it here.. It's gorgeous!!

and we love the people here.

We've had a tricky go of it for summer work, so Jacob is back down in Phoenix helping out his boss for the summer and I am the single mom to six children. We have been busy, which is good and it keeps our minds off missing the coolest man in the world, but I think I wore them out totally and completely and everyone has had a melt down and gone to bed early. I can't complain though, my thankful list is nice and long.
Thankful for Farmers Markets, bluegrass bands and hot, fresh donuts..

My children got to take part in Music camp, which blessed them and especially me immensely!

Thankful for flowers that seem to pop up everywhere here..
for strong coffee...
for free movies in the park...
pizza and movie nights..
chalk drawings my children drew..
watching my children dance in a ball...
seeing my son get up on stage in a trio and sing his heart out..

I think next week, I shall slow down and try to grab some sense of normalcy. Gennevieve has ballet camp, but the rest of the kiddos will get back to Math, a clean house, a Mama that bakes, and sews, and earlier bed times. (crossing my fingers on that last one!)
Well, I had a start..
I couldn't find my favorite mix, so I made it myself and it saved me many a moola! Just mix: dried lavender flowers, marjoram, savory, basil, sage leaves, thyme, oregano. Equal parts I believe. Put it on chicken, put it on baked bread, put it in butter, put it on everything. I'm in love!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Finally Fall in Phoenix

For some reason our tree in our back yard thinks that Fall comes in January. Phoenix is full of surprises like that. We are making the most of it, loving the gorgeous colors, and raking, raking, raking!!!