Monday, December 31, 2007

Blog Roll

If you read here regularly you might have noticed that I updated my blog roll. My blog roll is a funny thing, very diverse. Just because someone is on my blog roll isn't necessarily and endorsement. The blogs on my roll are there because I enjoy them. Hope you find some blogs there to enjoy as well!

A Christmas Trend

I've noticed a relatively new trend, especially among young families, that seems to have picked up steam this year. I've talked to many moms, especially those with young children, who opted for a very simple, low-key Christmas celebration that gave them time to enjoy their families and spend time on what's truly important.

I know many people who have come to dread the holidays because of all the chaos, spending, busy-ness, and stress it brings. I've heard some of them say, "I just can't wait for Christmas to be over." This relaxed approach seems to be an answer to that kind of Christmas pressure...The pendulum seems to be swinging the other way. I love Christmas as much as anyone, but it seems the younger generation is seeing that when expectations and traditions stop being fun and become burdensome, it's time to try something new.

What about you? Have you noticed this trend?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Celebration

Growing up, Christmas was a huge deal at our house. We started celebrating at Thanksgiving and didn’t stop till after the New Year.

But when I say Christmas was a huge deal, I’m not talking about gifts. My parents handled gift-giving so wisely, no matter how much or how little we had on any given year. They got us each just three gifts, both on years when my dad was in corporate upper management, and years when we could barely make ends meet. (Grandparents usually gave us one gift each.) One of those gifts was always a book. We were never encouraged to ask for what we wanted, but rather to be happy with whatever we got, knowing it was chosen with a great deal of thoughtfulness and love.

Christmas remembrances are among my sweetest. My parents taught me that Christmas is about more than how much there is under the tree. We focused on the birth of Christ, of course. And we just made memories.

This week I told my kids a story about one Christmas that could have been less joyful than others. I was a teenager. We had just come through a very devastating situation, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and we had a lot of healing to do. My parents bought a small farm in East Texas, with a tiny old house that needed extensive renovation. We had money set aside to fix our new place, but my dad was unable to find work. So in the meantime, we put most of our belongings in storage and rented another tiny old house two miles up the road.

It was a little yellow place, pier and beam. We could see daylight between the floorboards and dirt sifted up through the cracks. The tiny living room had a crooked wallpaper border, and the dining room was covered in a jarring coca-cola pattern, red, black, and white. The boys had to pass through the girls’ room to get to theirs, which was essentially a big closet. That was an exceptionally cold winter, and the house had no insulation. There were a couple of broken windows. We woke up many mornings to icicles hanging on the inside of the window sills. The only heat was provided by a couple of antique porcelain space heaters that would burn you or melt your clothes if you stood too close. The septic system was a mess, and we had to take drastic measures not to overload it. Among other precautions, several of us usually had to share bath water (there was no shower in the only bathroom) to keep the whole thing from backing up into the house.

We thought for sure we’d be out by Christmas and things would be better, but December rolled around and Daddy still hadn’t been able to find work, in spite of his best efforts. (On one hand, he was free to work on the new house when he wasn’t job hunting, but on the other I know this was a really difficult time for him because he has always been such a conscientious, hard-working provider.) The remodel was taking longer than anticipated, as so often happens. We realized that we’d still be in the little yellow house for the holiday.

Looking back, our spirits should have been dampened, but they weren’t. I have to applaud my parents for never allowing self-pity or discouragement to take over and ruin that time. (This applied to other times as well, probably why I have no patience with negativity and complaining.) I’m sure they were stressed and worried, but that didn’t affect the atmosphere at home. After all, we had enough to eat and wear and we were together. It wasn’t perfect, but we could make the best of it. We were thankful for what we did have.

Some of my best Christmas memories are of that Christmas…Singing carols with friends in the small, cold living room, making cookies, my sister and dad working puzzles in the coca-cola dining room. I have no idea what I got that year, although I’m sure it was no more than three gifts. Gifts didn’t matter though. Love made it a great Christmas.

Billy and I don’t have a set number of gifts we give our children, although it’s not extravagant. But quite honestly, regardless of what each Christmas is like, my prayer is that we instill in our kids a spirit of thankfulness and contentment that rises above stuff and draws their focus to what’s really important: love, family, and Christ. With a foundation on immaterial things, I know that no matter whether times are lean or plentiful, they’ll be able to have joy in the midst of it. Their hearts will be focused on what truly matters.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Paul Potts

“Mama, can we listen to some opera?”

That is the last thing I ever expected to hear from my 6-year-old while she was doing her school work. Of course, the last thing I ever expected my husband to buy was an opera CD, and opera was the last thing I expected to play over and over as I prepared Christmas Eve supper. We are pretty ordinary people, not really opera fans. I mean, my kids will sing the first line of “The Barber of Seville” over and over again till I think I’ll lose my mind, but they learned that from Alfalfa on Little Rascals. I enjoy classical music like Mozart, but I don’t listen with any real understanding, I just try to appreciate the sound. My kids enjoy it too. Billy doesn’t so much. None of us have ever liked opera.

Paul Potts changed that. I might be the only person on the internet who hadn’t heard of this unassuming Welsh cell phone salesman, the latest winner of Britain’s Got Talent. The YouTube clip of his first performance on the show made me cry. I think the reason I’ve never liked opera before is that the few opera singers I’ve heard came off as soulless performers. Paul Potts sings with a childlike wonder that lets you know he is in love with what he’s doing. He’s a common, ordinary guy singing opera, and singing it beautifully. Our opera-free home has now been introduced to these lovely classical pieces, because when Paul Potts sings, the music comes to life.

He’s already sold 2 million copies of his debut album. If you aren’t one of the 2 million who have discovered Paul Potts, I encourage you to get a copy. I bet you’ll enjoy it, even if you think you don’t like opera.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Joy

In spite of a really crazy month, we managed to squeeze in a few fun Christmas activities.

Elizabeth's one request was that we make cut-out cookies.

The kids had such fun icing them. I iced a few myself to make sure we had some that were certified slobber-free. Come on, we are all moms here, you know how it goes!!!

The aftermath!


Did You Have a Merry Christmas?

We did! This is the first year in quite some time that we have not been near enough to spend Christmas with family. While we would have loved to spend Christmas Day with our parents, we made the best of having a "just us" Christmas. Actually, after moving and a week of travel, it was wonderful to just have a quiet day where we didn't have to do anything. The kids were able to take their time opening gifts and then playing with them. I made a couple pies and Billy cooked some really yummy spaghetti and meat balls in lieu of a big, labor intensive feast. Quite honestly, I wouldn't mind if that became a yearly tradition. All I had to do were the dishes! We napped and watched new movies and watched the kids play outside. I did not do a stitch of laundry! It was just the refreshment I needed after a very intense month.

But Christmas is not over, you know. The 12 days of Christmas last until Epiphany, January 6th. So look for more Christmas posts this week! And me tree is staying up until the New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

I'm Back!

Finally got everything up and running last night, so I'll be back to blogging. Yay! I hope all 3 of you faithful readers aren't sick of Christmas, because I've had so many Christmas posts trapped in my head all month that haven't been able to get out! They will last at least a week! :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Still Alive!

Hey everybody, I'm still here. Thanks for all the sweet comments. We're slowly settling in, but I still only have internet access for a short time in the evening when the laptop comes home. Hopefully everything will be in working order sometime after Christmas. Till then, I guess this blog will have to be on hiatus.

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Between

I dislike this time of being in between houses, belonging neither to one nor the other. Nerves wear thin about now, when the exchange is almost, but not quite, complete. I've done better this time than last time (just 8 months ago), perhaps because I've always known this place was temporary, perhaps because I've stayed better fortified with the Word, adequate breaks, and decent food. (I lost 10 pounds during our last move and got down to pre-baby sized jeans. I wanted to make absolutely sure that didn't happen this time. Just kidding! I'm pregnant, so it doesn't matter...)

I will miss this charming old house. Our new home is nondescript 1970's style, not my favorite architectural era, but I can look at it as a clean slate just waiting for the addition of our own personality. While we are excited and pleased to be in a place of our own, it is not really what we envisioned. I'm not a fan of neighborhood life. Yet it is so clearly the place God picked out for us. Billy and I were talking the other night about how God often gives us what we need, not exactly what we want. Just following where He leads brings such freedom, because we are not constantly holding out for our own way. I believe with all my heart, like the Bible says, that God chooses the places where we live and I know that He puts us there for a purpose greater than our own. I am excited to see what He has in store for the ministry of our new home.

Here are a few things I really love and appreciate about our new place:

A big laundry room. I prayed for this. It will be a delight to work in!

A small screened in porch. I believe I prayed for this too! I can't wait to find a swing and spend time watching the kids play in the yard or just enjoying the quiet.

A large fenced yard. The kids have a place to run and play for the first time since we've lived here.

A great kitchen with new appliances. I've never had a new refrigerator, and I'm so excited. None of the current appliances worked, so we had to include new ones in our plans. They will be fun to use, I know.

A dining room big enough for our large dining room set. Our big table seats up to 10, so we will be able to have guests easily.

I also really love the layout of our new house, with a fairly open floor plan between kitchen, dining room, and living room. It will easily accommodate many people at one time.

A master bathroom. Haven't had this since our first house, years ago.

Lots of storage. 'Nuff said.

I'm sure I'll discover even more things to love about our new place as we live there for awhile. Right now I just feel thankful.

Now off of my break and on to packing!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas is Coming!

Yesterday was one month till Christmas! Are you ready? I'm not...We are still trying to move into our new house. Maybe the tree will be up by the end of the week?!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grandpa and Grandma's Farm, Part 2

I posted about going to my parents' little farm last spring. We visited again last weekend. The kids had such fun...

Playing with big cats...

And little kittens...

Going to Cowboy Church...

Swinging on the front porch...(OK, we all enjoyed that!)

Napping on the couch with a comfy old quilt...

It was too warm for a fire, but isn't this pretty? One thing that inspires me when I go to my parents' is that my mom always combines function with beauty. There's very little in her home that is purely functional. It's pretty too.

I missed a shot of the new tire swing, where the kids spent most of their time, and lots of other good ones too. Next time!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tools of My Own!

I've wanted a pink tool set with lady-sized tools for a long time, but all the ones I found cost an arm and a leg. I even had plans to collect a small set and paint it pink. But look what Billy got me today! Is it not the cutest thing?!!! Now I will know for sure when someone swipes my hammer and doesn't return it. (Ahem!)

P.S. They have them at Dollar General for $12 if you want one too!

P.P.S. I finally updated my other blog!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I have so much to be thankful for. I planned to post a list, but I've run out of time. I'll be out of pocket for the next week, maybe the next few weeks, as we prepare to move. See you soon! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Strong-Willed Child

Anyone who has a strong-willed child knows just how precious they can be, and just how hard it is to know what to do sometimes. I stumbled across an excellent blog entry called Surviving Strong Willed Children. Great advice, and I needed the reminder!


Fully engaged mothering is exhausting!!!

I keep telling myself, "It's worth it! It's worth it!" :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007


These are two pelicans that landed near out boat when we took the kids fishing Saturday. Elizabeth felt sure (and she was probably right) that since the pelicans were there it must be a good fishing spot. Everyone who fished from the bank caught flounder, but all we caught from the boat (just a few feet away) were small trash fish. It would have been nice to catch some keepers, but we had fun anyway. The water was very clear and teeming with small jellyfish. I had never seen one before. We were careful not to stick our hands over the side into the water this time!


As I've shared before, we're buying a new house and we'll be moving out of the one we're renting. I was psyched up for a January moved, but it turns out that we are closing Wednesday and we could move as early as Thanksgiving weekend. So if I'm not around as much for the next few weeks, that's why. I have a lot to do, as you can imagine! Thanks so much to each of you who reads faithfully. I know I've been out a lot lately, but higher priority tasks have taken precedence. Hopefully once we move I'll get back into my blogging groove. (Or after Christmas? Or after the baby comes? Maybe I'd better not make predictions...)

Friday, November 09, 2007


Every time I get pregnant, I've been prone to shortness of breath. Not the baby's-squishing-my-organs kind, but something food related. With Sarah I cut out sweets (even natural sweeteners), and it helped a lot. With this pregnancy I've fudged on sweets far more than ever before, delighted that there seemed to be no ill effects. Till this week. I'd be almost gasping for breath in the middle of a meal. Billy's been saying, "Are you OK?" almost every time I ate. It's not just sweets this time, but fruit, corn, and any refined carb. And Tuesday it was so severe that I called the doctor. It felt like what I'd imagine asthma feels like. Fighting for air. But it got better. And as long as I stay away from the carbs, it stays better.

Yesterday when I saw the doctor I talked to him about it. He said he'd never heard of anything like it before. But when we went over all the details, he said it sounds like possibly my pregnant body develops a hyper-sensitivity to carbs in much the same way some people are sensitive to peanuts or bee stings. So, it's low-carb for me. I suppose if it continues it might be no carb.

The ironic thing is that a low-carb diet is the one eating pattern I swore (many times, vocally) that I could never do. I love my carbs. I NEED my carbs. ;) Never say never, right?

Any low-carb readers here? What are your favorite dishes?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fully Engaged Mothering

Today you get a re-run that I posted some time back. I've realized this week that my children need a little closer supervision, a little more focused guidance. Mothering isn't a passive activity. It requires strength and stamina to be fully engaged!


I find that my kids get into lots less mischief when I keep them busy. They play outside much of the day, in our big shady back yard where I can watch them from the kitchen or living room. They rarely get into trouble as long as they are running around, swinging, and riding their spring horse or cozy coupe. When they come inside it’s a different story, and their mischief-making is even more pronounced when I’m on the phone or the computer. Kids seem to have “preoccupation radar” and they can tell when my mind is busy with other things. Now my kids are sweethearts, don’t get me wrong, but when they know I’m not looking they will get into fun forbidden items (mom’s moisturizer, furniture polish, and spray starch are a few from this week). One of them will come running, “Silas pushed me!” “Elizabeth hit me!” and I have no idea exactly what happened. Or they disobey and each denies their involvement and blames the other. It’s human nature, and they are as likely to do it as any child.

I’ve found that I can let this happen and deal with it the best I can after the fact…When my moisturizer is all over the outside windows, when the carpet is well-starched, when one of them is crying and hurt and the other denies that they shoved and I have to try to sort it out. And this happens sometimes.

But by far the most peaceful way to mother has been to learn how to be a fully engaged mom. When I get too busy and preoccupied to notice what they are up to, it’s usually because I am selfishly insisting on “me time”. I think that as moms we need to have time to ourselves, but we also need to embrace our mothering role and be “all there” as much as possible when our kids are “all there”! I’m learning—slowly—to find my personal time when they are down for naps or before they get up in the morning. Do I do it perfectly? No way! (In fact, right now they are dancing to the stereo in the living room and I’m hoping everything stays as happy as it is right now.)

The best way I’ve discovered to do this is to keep my kids with me--in the same room--pretty much all the time (except when they are outside). I try to involve them as much as I can in what I’m doing. They help me put laundry in the dryer, empty the dishwasher, make a salad, and vacuum. They are learning vital skills and we enjoy each others’ company. And most importantly I can stop that mischievous behavior before it gets started in many cases. It’s a lot easier to say, “Silas, put the sharpie away,” than to have to discipline later for sharpie on the furniture. It’s more fun for him and me! Sometimes I think we can help our kids not get into bad habits by just dealing with them promptly and never really letting them get started. That’s not to say that their fallen nature won’t rear its ugly head at times, but even when it does, we can handle it before it gets out of control if they are with us. (I have to say that I didn't come up with this on my own. Wise mamas from many different places have shared the same general idea, and I've just benefited from it.)

I’ve been tempted to whine about having three tiny ones and no time for me. Then I have to remember a few things. One is that God says they are blessings. They are not just blessings when it is convenient or when they are big enough not to need me so much. They are blessings, period, human beings made in the image of God, and pretty darn cute too! I wouldn’t trade their smiles and snuggles—as well as their tears and dirty diapers—for anything in the world. I also have to realize that while they are gifts from God, I have chosen to receive those gifts. So in a sense having three small ones is my choice. I can gripe about the blessings I’ve chosen to receive, or I can embrace this role of mothering little ones. Third, I have to realize that we are all benefiting from being together. They are learning, and they are there for me to hug, kiss, pick up, talk to, and serve. We’ll be closer and more connected for chopping the salad or folding laundry together. I'm also more available to sit down and read a book to them, or drink a cup of tea, or play basketball or push them on the swing, when they don't have to hunt me down.

When I do, I have to consciously remind myself to be fully engaged. When they are all three underfoot, this means that I'm both answering questions and chatting with them about the details of their little-kid lives, and giving almost constant instruction. “Sarah, don’t touch, that’s hot. Silas, will you put the spoons on the table for me? Elizabeth, please put the breakable glass down.” On it goes. They are little, after all. I have to use an eagle eye and not let my mind wander to my next craft project or blog entry. At first, it’s mentally and physically exhausting, but that gets better with time. And when I realize how much better I know my little ones and how much happier they are when they feel productive and stay out of trouble, it’s all worth it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Family Update

Well, we are on the mend. Sorry blogging has been so light. This is a tough bug to shake. Elizabeth woke up this morning and said, “I’m better.” There was such relief in her voice! Fortunately the cough and congestion never turned to bronchitis. Just a nasty cough. We’ll keep dosing everyone till we’re well.

I don’t remember if I posted about our new house or not. We’ve sold our old one (in the old location) and we’re buying another! God keeps giving me big houses. I was honestly expecting and looking forward to downsizing, but since God seems to have had other plans, I’m rejoicing and looking forward to filling our new home with guests. Hospitality, what fun! We have had a lot of people over to our (rent) house lately and it’s such a joy. One night we had about 50 20-somethings. That was great.

Elizabeth has grown so tall this summer. Her reading skills have exploded and I am so happy that I now have to pry her away from books at times to do other things. Her comprehension is improving and she is starting to ask questions about what she reads. “Hey, Mama, you know the judgment? That doesn’t sound like much fun.” We have never talked about the judgment that I recall. She just read about it. She is really enjoying cooking. She plans to start a cookie business as soon as I get my act together enough to kick it into high gear. Of course we had to wait till we were well too…Perhaps in the next few weeks. In time for Christmas, maybe? The kids were chopping veggies for soup the other day and Elizabeth told Silas, “By the time you are a teenager you will know all the skills of cooking!” Hey, sounds great to me! As long as he has all the skills of cleaning up his cooking mess as well!

Silas must be on a growth spurt too. He wakes up ravenously hungry in the mornings. He just begs me to fix him some breakfast. He’s always eaten well, but not obsessively. Lately he has been HUNGRY. He’s such a thoughtful little guy and he comes out with questions that blow my mind. He is thinking through the whole salvation issue, and while he is not there yet, he is close to getting a basic understanding. The other day I was having my quiet time and he asked me to read the Bible out loud. I was in Romans 7. As I was reading he kept interrupting with questions (between play) . "Did Lazarus make the law go away?" (He meant Moses.) When I said no, he said, "But Jesus did, right? Why did Moses have to fire [burn] animals? Why did Jesus die on the cross? Jesus was not sin. But we sin." I was amazed that he made the correlation between sacrifices and the law, especially since what I read did not specifically address sacrifice, and that he grasped the fact that someone came to set us free from the law. He also grasped in some fashion that there was relationship to sacrifice, the law, and sin, although I don’t think he quite understands just what yet.

Sarah’s favorite activity is eating. When she sees that it will soon be meal time, she goes to the table and waits as long as half an hour for her food to show up. I am trying to encourage and establish healthy habits, since she loves food so much. She can be quite obsessive in a lot of areas. She will carry around the same small toy or paper for weeks…To church, outside, to bed. She keeps everyone laughing with her funny little antics. Her latest sayings are “I’m happy!” and “That’s punny!” (funny) She really is a happy little girl. It takes a lot to get her bent out of shape for more than a moment. She has an imaginary friend named Bakah (like Baker, but with ah at the end). The other day she “called” Bakah on the phone. “Hey, Bakah? Are you at your preschool? OK. I LOVE YOU!!! Bye.”

I'm feeling lots of little flutters and kicks from Tiny One. Sixteen weeks now (I think ). We'll find out if we have a little boy or a little girl next month.

Now that I’ve written about the family, it’s time to go spend time with them. School, laundry, and dishes call. We’re having steak for supper, thanks to the beef my parents raised us. Doesn’t that sound good?

Yummy New Stuff

I was so excited to see that Cherry Menlove of Tales from a Pixie Wood now has a new web site and a forum! I honestly have had almost no time to peruse it, but everything Cherry does is beautiful and home-centered. Not to mention that you get to "know" all these cute European homemakers. Check it out! (Follow the link to her blog and you'll see the buttons on her sidebar. I'm having a hard time figuring out the proper way to link to the forum.)

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Since we've been sick, hot honey lemonade has been on the menu. It tastes good and for me, works better than any commercial expectorant. Besides, lemons are pretty. (Excuse the glare. No time to crop right now.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Autumn Color

Orange is an autumn color, right? Well, we have autumn orange even in the tropics. (Or sub-tropics, not sure what it is officially.) Satsumas!

Satsumas are a local variety of mandarin orange. They are beginning to turn color, but the inside is ripe and juicy even when the peels are green. They are sold everywhere, by the bag, at little roadside stands. My kids adore them and beg for more. I see a satsuma tree in our future.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Checking In

Sorry for not posting lately. We are still sick. Hopefully a few more days of rest and we'll be able to shake these horrific coughs. Actually we are better, but not well yet. (((Hugs)))

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Anyone But Hillary

Update: T-shirts, yard signs, and buttons now available too.

OK, I never talk about politics here, but this was too funny. Lindsey is selling these bumper stickers. Details here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Last week and this week have been "grace weeks" in school due to travel and sickness. School has gone on, just at a slightly more relaxed pace. One of the great things about homeschooling is that illness doesn't necessarily mean the learning stops. If we have to take a sick day it's because we are really sick!

Today I spent several hours making our first lapbooks with the kids. Elizabeth made one about butterflies and Silas wanted to do ants. Sarah glued miscellaneous pictures and papers to cardstock and she is so pleased with her "lapbook" too. I have no idea if we did it "right" and I'm sure there are as many ways to lapbook as there are people who do it. If you've never heard of it before, here is a YouTube video that shows more. (I just realized that the examples on the video are butterflies and ants. My kids saw the video so I guess that is where they got the ideas. But it didn't sink in till now. Funny!) I know a lot of people invest a lot of money in lapbooking kits, but I honestly don't see why you can't make your own with a bit of creativity.

The kids loved it, but it was actually really stressful for me, I suppose for the same reasons I don't scrapbook (time, mess, perfectionism...). And also I found myself saying about 5 million times, "Sarah, don't touch the scissors. Sarah, don't touch the glue. Sarah, leave the paper alone. Sarah, get off the table." She wasn't really being naughty, just curious and wanting to join in what we were doing. But a 2-year-old with scissors and a glue stick is just scary.

Anyway, Billy has the camera so I'll have to wait to show pictures till tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Recipe, A Remedy, and a Recommendation

The Recipe

We had guests Sunday night and Elizabeth and I whipped up a batch of the world's easiest brownies. They are as easy as a box mix and just as good, probably better. I originally got the recipe from Jane's Apron and she said it came from Martha's Everyday Food. I modified it slightly and here it is. I would post a picture, but they are all gone. Actually they were all gone yesterday morning. They are very good.

Fudgy Brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour

Melt butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for about 2 minutes and stir till smooth. Whisk in sugar and salt, then eggs and flour. Pour into well-greased 9 by 13 pan and bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

The Remedy

We've all had something (allergies? virus?) that comes with a nasty, deep, chesty cough. My mother-in-law said to rub Vicks on the bottoms of our feet and put on some socks and we'd sleep without coughing. Just minutes later I read the same thing online. The kids still coughed a bit while they were going to sleep, but I woke several times in the night to the sound of...Silence. Everyone slept through the night without coughing. It works!

The Recommendation

I just got my latest copy of Critique in the mail. This little publication has probably done more to help me grow spiritually than any other in the past few years, especially in regards to how I view and relate to the world around me. Even when I disagree, Critique never fails to sharpen and encourage. Ransom Fellowship, which publishes Critique, lives up to its motto: Developing Discernment, Deepening Discipleship. You can't subscribe, but they will add you to the mailing list for free--or a donation. You can read some back issues of Critique online, but it doesn't look like the current issue is up yet. Which is unfortunate, because it has a wonderful article I'd love to share with you called A Way of Loving about cooking and hospitality as ways to share the love of Christ with others. LOVE this magazine.

As for other books that have greatly impacted me, Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart tops the list. (I reviewed it here.) In the Bible, the book of Colossians is great for memorization and in-depth study of spiritual formation.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thank You Donetta!

Donetta very kindly gave me the Community Blogger Award. Thank you so much Donetta! It brings me joy to know that people read and like my blog!

Friday, October 19, 2007

God is Good

Last night the flame gas grill kept blowing out. As I was trying to re-light it in a moment of part stupidity, part ignorance, apparently gas in the air ignited. I must have heard it before the actual explosion, because my head was turned away and eyes closed...I never saw flame, but the kids did. Funny what goes through your head in a split second. Oh no, I must be on fire. Stop drop and roll. What if I'm disfigured for life?

Amazingly I didn't actually catch on fire. However, for a moment I couldn't figure out what all the crunchy stuff was on my arms and head and what that weird smell was. The kids said, "Why is your hair so fuzzy, Mama?" Burned hair of course. I have an appointment with the hairdresser this afternoon to see if she can repair the damage. I'm just thankful that's all the damage that was done.

Edgar A. Guest

This is a book my sister gave me of Edgar Guest's collected poems. Guest is far and away my favorite poet. He wrote things like this:

Good Books

Good books are friendly things to own.
If you are busy they will wait.
They will not call you on the phone
Or wake you if the hour is late.
They stand together row by row,
Upon the low shelf or the high.
But if you're lonesome this you know:
You have a friend or two nearby.

The fellowship of books is real.
They're never noisy when you're still.
They won't disturb you at your meal.
They'll comfort you when you are ill.
The lonesome hours they'll always share.
When slighted they will not complain.
And though for them you've ceased to care
Your constant friends they'll still remain.

Good books your faults will never see
Or tell about them round the town.
If you would have their company
You merely have to take them down.
They'll help you pass the time away,
They'll counsel give if that you need.
He has true friends for night and day
Who has a few good books to read.

Show and tell Fridays hosted by Kelli.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hey Everybody

Thanks to everyone who left comments over the last few days. I enabled moderation and I am still trying to figure it out, so that's one reason no one's comments showed up right away.

We've sold our old house (after 6 months) and are in the process of buying a new one! More on that later...We are thankful. We were out of town for a few days to close on our old place, and we also swung by my parents because they again graciously raised a beef for us, and it was time to pick up the meat. We also came back with venison, pecans, and sweet potatoes (everything but the potatoes from my family). So I guess you could say it was a "fruitful" trip!

Trying to catch up from our days away. Hopefully I'll have some more substantial posts soon.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Come Out Come Out

I just noticed that I'm Lindsey's blog pick of the week. Wow! So if you are a new reader--from anywhere--please leave a comment! Or you can email me: simplecraft at hotmail dot com.


When I was little, I desperately wanted a banana tree in the back yard. Funny how God sometimes gives us the desires of our hearts years later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Frugal Clothes Shopping

Sorry I haven't been around much lately. Two months of pregnancy sickness has put me very far behind, and quite honestly, blogging is at the bottom of the priority list right now. Unfortunately. I enjoy it so much. It's really my one indulgence.

Tuesday was errand day and I knew we needed to go clothes shopping for Elizabeth since she has suddenly outgrown pretty much everything she owns. By several sizes. Jeans that fit fine a few weeks ago won't even go on now. I guess our new location agrees with her.

I've honestly never had to shop for clothes for my kids before. It's not that I've been unwilling or unable to, but between gifts and hand-me-downs they have had more than enough. However, Elizabeth is getting to an age where hand-me-downs aren't as readily available, and it's harder to find decent (read, not trampy) little girl clothes anyway.

So we set out for Goodwill. Samantha Blythe once said she has no idea why anyone would sew when there are so many beautiful and economical clothes available at thrift stores. This week I realized what she meant. We came away with a nice selection of new and like-new clothes for $25. The whole lot would have easily cost $100-$150 at a retail store. The little outfit above is one example. The shirt is from Old Navy and the skirt is from Limited Too. I looked up girls' skirts on LT's website, and those of similar style and quality cost $45-$50 new. We got it for $2.50. So, within my budget, I could buy a cheap skirt from Wal-Mart for $12 or $15 or a designer skirt for $2.50...To me, that's a no brainer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Family Movie Reviews

A couple of my favorite sites for movie reviews.

Plugged In Online

Screen It

These two sites will tell you everything that could possibly be objectionable about a movie, which I find helpful when deciding what to watch with the kids. Plugged In doesn't have every movie, but there's no membership involved. Screen It offers reviews of new releases to members only, but within a couple weeks the review is available to everyone. Just go to the main page, scroll to the bottom, and click on "no thanks." Then search for the movie you want to know about.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mini Break

Going offline for a few days. Up against some deadlines. See you later!

Monday, October 01, 2007

"Quiverfull" Photo Album

I'm excited to see that Barbara Curtis has started a Full Quiver Photo Album at her blog. As a mother of 12 (by birth and adoption), and a respected Christian author, Barbara is a powerful voice for families.

The term "quiverfull" refers to Psalm 127:3-5, which says,

" Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate."

As used by those who define themselves as quiverfull, the word typically means the couple has decided between themselves and God to ditch birth control in favor of receiving as many child-blessings as God chooses to send.

God issues no mandate in His Word for Christians to have unlimited numbers of children, and in fact does not address the issue of birth control at all. I don't fall under the quiverfull banner as commonly defined, although a big family has always been in our future, God willing. However, even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals a God Who is unabashedly in favor of the blessing of human life and Who has a great love for children. I believe with all my heart that His people should re-examine the blitheness with which we so often disallow the existence of a human soul made in God's image. I've heard many, many older couples say they wish they had had more children, but I have never heard a parent of many wish for fewer.

Go check out Barbara's album and be encouraged!


Our friend Dr. Collin's Can of Worms post about large families

Al Mohler addresses this topic here and here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Today is my wonderful Grandma's 90th birthday. A little bird tells me she will soon be online. Happy birthday Grandma! I love you!!!

How I Got Engaged Meme

Rebecca tagged me for a "how I got engaged" meme. Apparently you tell your engagement story and then tag three others to tell theirs. Well, here is the short version of mine:

When Billy and I began our long-distance courtship in March of 1999, it was with the express goal of finding out if God wanted us to marry or not. Neither one of us was interested in a casual relationship. To this day I’m not a fan of undefined relationships—It was always good to know where we stood and enabled us to be deep and honest with each other from the beginning.

We were an unlikely couple, coming from diametrically opposite backgrounds and 10 years apart in age, but the encouragement of godly friends and family gave us the courage to step out and begin our journey together.

If one word characterized our relationship, it would be questions. We asked each other hundreds, if not thousands, of questions as our friendship progressed. We wanted to leave no stone unturned. Unbeknown to the other, each of us had a list of “non-negotiables,” issues that would have caused us to break the courtship off immediately if we discovered that we weren’t in agreement. We believed strongly that we should be united in our most important beliefs about God, family, and life.

By October we had reached an impasse. There were no more questions to ask without moving to a more intimate level than we were comfortable with, as a couple not yet engaged. (Except, of course, the things we didn’t know to ask, the things we later actually had conflict about, like the right way to make a peanut butter sandwich!) Yet we knew the time wasn’t right for engagement either. We felt very frustrated. We sort of limped along in a melancholy state for a couple more months, when everything finally began to fall into place. We entered a 2-week period of intensively seeking God to make sure we heard clearly regarding His will. This is the short version, but let’s just say the God made it abundantly clear to both of us (independently of the other) that He wanted us to marry. How that would play out, though, I was not sure.

The day before he was scheduled to move 6 hours away (as opposed to the current 3), Billy came to visit my family. When he asked me if I wanted to go out to eat after church that night, I was immediately suspicious since we’d never been out without a chaperone before. (Yeah, we are old-fashioned.) On the way I kept asking, “What is going on?!” He said, “Well, I’m about to move a long way off. Don’t you think it would be nice to go out one time before I leave?”

There was one problem no one had thought of. Nothing is open late on Sunday evening in a small town. We drove all over the place looking for a decent open restaurant, and when it became clear that we weren’t going to find anything, we had to settle for Jack in the Box! Somehow proposing in Jack in the Box just didn’t seem quite right, so we drove back to the house and talked for a very long time parked in the driveway. Finally Billy proposed, and I (obviously) said yes!

He moved the next day and we only saw each other once after that, before our wedding three months later. One year after we met, we were married, and we’ve lived happily ever after! I have to say that the absolute assurance that God gave us to each other has carried us through some tough times that might have otherwise rocked our marriage. Even when we encounter challenges, we never, ever wonder if we made a mistake, because we know that no matter what, God put us together. We were in love when we got engaged, but that is not why we married. We married because God wanted us to. And that makes our love that much sweeter.

OK, that's it! Now I tag:

My sister Leah (cause she has the most unique story EVER)

Windy (just cause I'm curious)

Lindsey (cause I bet she has a good one)

Hey, ladies, I am really shy about tagging others, so I would love to hear your stories, but if you don't wish to participate that is fine too!

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Tea Party for Felicity

Felicity finally arrived! Elizabeth saved all summer for her American Girl doll. If you've ever looked at these sweet dolls, you know that they are not cheap, but they are also beautiful, high-quality heirlooms that will last for years. I think I was as excited as Elizabeth when the package arrived. We decided to have a tea party with Felicity.

It would have been nice to make tea cookies and sandwiches, but guess what, we settled for peanut butter crackers and raisins.

Sarah and Silas brought teddy bears. They look like they could eat all the food, don't they? My sister made the multicolored bear for Elizabeth years ago. He's has never had a name, although he (she?) has been played with many, many times. Sarah says his name is Big Boy. The other bear is known as Big Bear because he is the biggest bear in the house.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the tea party, and it was just the relaxing break I needed too.

Bargain Tea Cups

A few weeks back, on a whim, the kids and I stopped by an old house turned antique shop. The door was locked and a card instructed "ring bell"...When the proprietess opened, the first words out of her mouth were, "Oh, my, you little ones remind me of my grandchildren!"

A quick peek in the door revealed that this was not a kid-friendly place for browsing--very fragile, high-end antiques, and very crowded--so I said, "We are looking for tea cups!"

When she learned that Elizabeth and I are planning a mother-daughter tea (sometime...), she bent over backward to scour her collection for us. She sold us all these cups for just $20, although the original prices ranged from $6 to $10. She really took a shine to the kids, and they were as good as gold, which didn' t hurt either. Such a nice lady. And such a bargain!

Show and Tell Friday hosted by Kelli.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall Mantel

Here's my fall mantel.
It's the only thing in my house that's decorated for fall, but it makes me happy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Rocking my sweet one to sleep tonight reminded me of this wonderful old lullabye.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

By Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea---
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish---
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam---
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 't was a dream they 'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea---
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
And Nod.


I woke this morning to the news that Jewels is discontinuing her blog, Eyes of Wonder. I must say that Eyes of Wonder is hands down the most beautiful blog I've ever read, so I am a bit disappointed. On the other hand, I totally understand Jewels' concern with sharing pictures of her children online. That's something I've never been personally comfortable with, simply because my kids' pictures would then be accessible to virtually anyone, anywhere in the world. So I completely respect her decision. I will miss her sweet presence in the blogosphere though.

I finished reading the book of Numbers yesterday, so this morning for my Quiet Time I mulled over Psalm 16, one of my favorites. It's a key passage in Patricia St. John's wonderful children's novel Rainbow Garden. It's amazing to me how a story can bring a particular portion of scripture to life and cause you to remember it forever.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy...(v.11)

Psalm 16 brought sweet memories and a fresh appreciation of God's love and care for us.

Today was errand day. It was different from most errand day in that it was mostly fun shopping, compared to the usual necessities-only shopping. I received a generous gift card for my birthday which I spent on desperately-needed maternity clothes. I was down to only 2 items that fit (sort of), so I am so happy to have a working wardrobe again.

I also bought some fall decorations for the mantle. I will try to share pictures tomorrow. It's simple, but considering I've only recently had any success with decorating, I'm pleased.

I stopped at Hobby Lobby because their scrapbook papers (which I use to make cards) are 50% off this week. I picked up a couple dollars worth and mostly just enjoyed browsing, especially their already-huge Christmas section! I hear people complain all the time that stores start selling Christmas items too early, but I adore Christmas and relish every bit of it. As soon as the weather cools the slightest bit, I am ready to start thinking about the holidays. Such fun.

This afternoon the kids and I did school together and I put up my new fall decorations. I spent some time with Billy, warmed up some leftover chili for supper (yay, no cooking!), and got everyone ready for bed. I rocked and sang Sarah to sleep because she seems to have come down with a sinus infection. Poor baby was feeling so poorly tonight. I treasure times like these when I can snuggle her to sleep. I miss those baby days, and I'm thankful that we'll soon have another one to love.

Now I need to finish the dishes and get myself ready for bed. It's been a good day, a fun, peaceful day. I hope each of you has had a wonderful day as well. Sweet dreams!