Monday, December 31, 2007

Quote for Today

"I look upon it as a lost day when I have not had a good time over the Word of God...I have always made it a rule never to begin work until I have had a good season with God and His Word. The blessing I have received has been wonderful."

George Muller, pastor and orphanage director in the 1800s
(Taken from Our Daily Bread Devotional)

Friday, December 07, 2007

An Update

Hello Friends -

I thought I'd take a little time and send out an update on our transition from 3 to 4. First of all, thanks for all your comments and well wishes - they have been fun to read.

I can't believe Sean has only been with us one week. It feels longer. He has been a good baby so far. The first few nights at home were a challenge, but the last few have been as good as can be expected. Nights have been much easier with him at this stage than with my other kids. During the day, he rarely cries unless it is feeding time or he is getting tired. I know all this can change, but I am thankful that for now he has been so good! It has made the intial transition to 4 kids less overwhelming!

I am really enjoying having ONE baby! He is so fun to snuggle. The kids are enjoying him too. Mya loves holding him and asks to several times a day.

On the down side, the fact that I am getting less sleep has definately been a challenge. I find myself more irritable at the older kids and quicker to cry myself (that is a combination of horomones and little sleep - a dangerous mix!). It feels so hard to be patient (and it was already hard before Sean arrived) - yikes! I just hope all they remember from this time is how exciting it was to have a new baby and not how grouchy their momma was!

Kory has been a huge help on this end, he has taken (and will be taking) 2 days off each week until Christmas. Just having another adult around (and someone to watch the kids so I can get a nap in) is huge! Our moms have been a big help in this regard as well. The extra help makes the transition easier.

So for now I am taking one day at a time (and taking each day one moment at a time). If I look too far into the future I tend to get overwhelmed which brings on the tears. I am thankful for your prayers - they do make a difference. And I am thankful for my family. I feel very blessed.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Welcome to our World

Sean Gary
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Born November 29, 2007 at 12:31 pm
8 lbs 21 inches

Kory had the rare honor of delivering Sean while the doctor looked on and gave instructions. When the doctor first asked him if he wanted to deliver, Kory was speechless but got in position when he realized the doctor was serious. It made the delivery extra special!

Mya was pretty excited to meet her new brother. At one point she saw her Aunt Leslie walking down the hall to our room and yelled out (for all to hear) "Come meet my brother. He's so cute!"

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The boys were pretty excited to meet Sean - especially Jonah. Whoever was holding Sean had Jonah very close by trying to touch the baby.
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Although Simon was excited to meet his new baby brother. He was happy to let everyone else ooh and aah over the new baby!
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We got home today (in the middle of an ice storm) and are starting the transition into our new normal. Keep us in your prayers and thank you for the ones you have already sent up on our behalf. We can't wait for you to meet our sweet baby boy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

If Ever You Worshiped

I wanted to share the lyrics of a song with you. They are not only encouraging to me, but they remind me that even the day-to-day, mundane things of motherhood can be an act of worship. I hope they encourage you as well!

"If Ever You Worshiped"
Words and music by Danny Oertli

It wasn't that long ago
You were a girl all alone
There was no way to know
How soon you'd have kids of your own

Now you're the first one awake
The last one asleep
Cleaning and making your plans
And there are days when it feels
Like there's no time to pray
You wonder if God understands

But if ever you worshiped it's now
If ever you kept your vow
You may not understand how
But if ever you worshiped it's now

The memory of leaves in the fall
Walking through the canyons so tall
God was so close in it all
Now your chance to worship seems small

You're the first one to taste
But the last one to eat
When everyone goes their own way
And it's your name that's called
In the deep of the night
One more hour of sleep floats away


Every shirt that you fold
Every nose that you blow
Is a gift to the Father above
Every lunch that is made
Every game that is played
Is an offering of love


Monday, November 12, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Interview with a Mom - Brenda

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Brace and I are both 55 years old, and can hardly believe it! We have been married 33 years. We have 3 children, 2 of which are married, and 4 grandchildren.

We are empty nesters and love it, but I am sure this is because our children live near us and drop over quite often.

Why do you love being a mom?

I so agree with Ps127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Our children add such depth to our lives! When they were young, they forced us to give of ourselves for the sake of others – them. As they grew older and started thinking for themselves more, they challenged us. What do we really believe? Do we believe it is important enough to go through the struggle of getting them to obey? I have often thought, no human can change us like our kids.

Now that they are adults, they are wonderful counselors and friends! They know us so well, we trust them, we are secure in their love, they understand us, they are willing to be gut level honest with us. And, of course, now they are providing grandchildren. What beats that?!

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?

Without question, the toughest part for me was dealing with disobedience. I really do not enjoy confronting people, and I am a type A individual. Getting tasks accomplished is a big deal to me. So, when my children didn’t obey, it was a double whammy. It took more time, and I had to confront. Often I resorted to the drill sergeant technique – talk loudly and sternly, and surely they’ll obey. I don’t recommend this approach, by the way. Once I was barking orders at Brett, and Daisha said, “Mom, he has to obey you. Just tell him what to do. You don’t have to yell.” That made sense to me, I tried it, and lo and behold, Brett obeyed.

Share your favorite bible verse and why it means so much to you.

Ps 33 has always been special to me, because it helps me see that my life is in His Hands. That is very comforting to me because I know He loves me with a perfect Love. He knows me totally, and knows absolutely what is best for me and mine. I especially like the last verse: “Let thy mercy , O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.” I interpret that. . . . the more I turn over to Him, the more He’ll do; thus, it inspires me to run to Him with everything. I am so grateful He doesn’t weary of my coming. He actually wants me to.. …..He knows my weakness and knows I desperately need Him, so it delights Him when I come running. Isn’t that so wonderful?!!!

How do you keep your husband first in the midst of mothering?

When our kids were young, we started taking a date night 2 or 3 times a month. It was interesting. When we first started “dating”, we did a lot of arguing. I think there was a lot bottled up inside that we didn’t have time or opportunity to talk about. I’m so glad we didn’t give up on the idea. We kept at it, and soon our dates were very special, peaceful, productive evenings out. By the way, when we started this, we didn’t have much money, so we’d go to Burger King or Wendy’s. It worked.

Share a special holiday tradition that your family keeps.

Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, we go to a Christmas tree farm and cut our trees. Then we all go out to eat. This is getting more difficult as our children’s families are growing, but it lasted a long time and was so fun while it lasted. I love Christmas!

Do you have any parting advice for young moms?

Oh my. . . I will preface this with the fact that I did not do or even understand what I am about to say, when I was a young mother. I made so many mistakes, and guess what. . my kids have made it. I’ll keep this simple. . .

The work is done in prayer. Sometimes that is all that God is asking us to do. Listen to Him, He’ll tell you what to pray.

Enjoy your kids as Jesus enjoys you. It is God’s job to raise them through you. So relax in Him.

I always feel guilty telling this to mothers with children at home, because I am an empty nester with lots of alone time, but here I go. .. . .Nothing can take the place of unhurried time alone with God. Know that I didn’t do this much at all until I got chronic fatigue syndrome 3 years ago and had to sit. I praise God for CFS because I have learned to know my Father like never before. The more I know Him, the more I trust Him, the more He can do. . . not the more I can do , the more He can do. That is the secret. It is like the difference between sprinkling your lawn and a wonderful rain.

One more thing. . . If you want your kids to be open and vulnerable with you, be open and vulnerable with them.

Thanks Brenda for sharing with us!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Quote for Today

"Providing consistent discipline for our children is always time-consuming, sometimes exhausting, and never done from afar. That's right, it's supposed to be difficult. Remember, nothing asks us to grow up like helping our children grow up. And seeking to discipline with ruthless consistency is asking yourself to grow up. It takes more time than you have available, more energy than you think possible, and more strength in the face of constant criticism than you think you can muster. But I know you can do it, and in fact, you already are. Reflect on the times when you have been consistent, when you have followed through. I guarantee you've been able to do it more than you think you have. Keep it going."

Taken from ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel

I've heard it said that parenting is the toughest job you'll ever love. The longer I am a parent (and the more kid's we have) the more this quote rings true. Being a consistent parent is even tougher, but I think the end results, if we are willing to put in the hard work of consistency, will be well worth it!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Captivated by Love

I commented in my previous post that I am learning to be intentional in the small things. Today, I read Proverbs 5. In verses 18 and 19 it advises men to "rejoice in the wife of your youth" and to "be captivated by her love."

I have been married 8 1/2 years and am learning that if I want my husband to rejoice in me and be captivated by my love I need to work at it. I need to be speaking love to him in a language he understands. I need to let him know (and not just assume he knows) how much I love him, need him and respect him. With the busyness of life and kids this takes some intentionality.

What are some ways you intentionally show love to your husband? Here are a few things I came up with that I want to consistently put into practice.

1. Send him to work in the morning with a real kiss (not just the typical quick peck)and stop what I am doing when he gets home and welcome him back the same way!

2. Make a better effort to have the house somewhat picked up when he gets home.

3. E-mail or call him during the day to let him know I am thinking of him.

4. Be available when he is home and not so distracted by my to-do list.

5. Buy his favorite foods at the grocery store (i.e. sauerkraut, guacamole and olives!)

I want to encourage you to be intentional in showing love to your husband this week (and feel free to share some of the ways you do that!). May he always be captivated by your love!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Intentional in the Small Things

Another week has flown by - filled with day-to-day routines, temper tantrums, and laughter - hundreds of moments that fill a day and make it unique. I can't believe it is November already. Time can be a deceptive thing, a moment (or hour) can drag on for an eternity, and then you blink and weeks have disappeared.

As time flies by, the important things of life can sometimes be pushed aside by the hustle and bustle of the everyday. Meaningful conversations and little moments that bind us together can be lost in the urgency of getting the next project done. The more this happens, the more life can lose its joy.

I am learning the importance of being intentional in my relationships. For me, this is learning to be intentional in the little things. Today my perpetual calendar reads, "Kiss you hubby every day--like you did when you were dating!," a "little thing" that brings joy to life.

I am learning the importance of
-turning off the TV to have a real conversation
-turning off the computer to play a game of Candyland
-taking the time (and money) for date nights
-putting my to-do list on hold to read a book to my kids
-stopping what I am doing to look my child in the eye and really listen to what they are saying

I fail at this more than I care to admit. The result is usually a feeling of disconnection from those I love. When I make my agenda more important than the relationships in my life, I usually suffer.

I think we were created to find fulfillment in relationships - first from God and then from those around us. Selfishness tries to rob me of that. It deceives me into thinking I will find more pleasure from putting myself first - in reality my selfishness sucks the joy out of living.

Life goes so fast. I hope in the end I will get it right more times than I fail. That I will have lived a joy-filled, relationship-rich life and that I will have no regrets for what I should have done.

Be intentional in your relationships today and take advantage of the small moments that bring life joy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interview with a Mom - Louanne

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

We are a Christian family of five; Dad works in upper level management, I stay at home and homeschool the three boys (one is already in his teens). I homeschool not because I think I can do a better job than any teacher or that my kids are smarter or better than what they are teaching in school, but because it's condusive to my husband's travel schedule. Plus, we have been blessed with the opportunity for me to stay home with them and the biggest reward is seeing how they are developing into thoughtful, hard working, kind, young men who are not embarassed to pray in the presence of others. The boys enjoy being home and the oldest has said he is ready for high school this next year.

Why do you love being a mom?

Most days I enjoy being a Mom with the emphasis on most. There are a few days, though, that I wish I could walk out the door to leave the responsibility of molding our boys into godly men to someone else. The infant years were sweet and cuddly with many sleepless nights, the toddler years busy with explaining how things work and why as I waded through the toys all over the living room floor, the elementary years were/are spent discovering good friends and being a friend to others as you would have them be to you. Jr. High is highly focused on becoming a godly man while resisting peer pressure as he begins to wade through the swamp of the "me first, sex-crazed culture."

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?

We have found the most challenge in sticking to our family's established godly guidelines, especially when neighbors/friends are doing it, or can say it, or can see it, or can play it, etc. I hear myself many times say, "I don't care what _____ is doing. I am not his/her mother and I care about what you are going to become in life and that will not help you develop godly character traits."

Share your favorite bible verse and why it means so much to you.

My favorite Bible verse is John 3:5&6. "Trust in the Lord with all my heart, leaning not on my own understanding, in all my ways acknowledging Him and He will direct my path." Heartache is going to come in all of our lives. Over and over when I have cried out to God for guidance...He has been faithful in giving it. Even when it seems He doesn't hear... He still cares... I know He does. I haven't always understood why things have happened in my life but I will continue to trust Him who is directing my path. Of that, I do have confidence.

What do you like to listen to in your car (music, talk radio, nothing, etc.)?

I have found that if I listen to Christian radio, a blend of speakers and music, my life is continuously being built on a solid rock. My thoughts are definitely more righteous, my interaction with others is flavored with the salt of God's word, I am more comfortable in sharing what Jesus has done in my life, and can actually say I think nothing of going out of my way for others, even stangers, when I am feeding constantly on God's word.

How has your mom influenced your parenting?

My mother has been a huge influence in my role of being a mother. You know when you are young you might say, "I'll never be that way with my kids." And 20 years later I stop and smile to myself thinking I remember when Mom used to do this. She always put church first over other activites and was involved in church. She always had an open door for others, even if the house was not spotless. She taught me to give of myself, even when you don't feel like it or they don't deserve it. I find it a compliment when people say, "You're just like your mother." Because, you see, I was adopted and all that was learned from seeing not as an inherited characeristic.

Do you have any parting advice for young moms?

If I had one thing to share with young moms.....hmmm, I think it would be: Your children are only this young once. Reinforce to them that God is real through BIble stories and prayer (they will need it when they are older). Enjoy them while they are at every stage. Have patience with them. Take time to hold them and read to them, take family photos, take videos (your kids will truly enjoy watching themselves in later years - plus, you see yourself and your spouse in those home movies and remember when life was simpler and your love more blinded and are reminded of what you have together).

Parting advice: Take time for yourself once in awhile to have lunch with your friends, get your hair cut/trimmed, paint your nails, bask in the pleasure of being a woman and with a thankful heart remember God's blessings in your life. I pray that God will bless you as you try your best to be the mother your children deserve.

Thank you Louanne for sharing with us!

Monday, October 15, 2007

5 - 10 - 20

What were you doing 5, 10 and 20 years ago?

5 Years - We moved home from Chicago, bought our first house and were getting ready to move in. We lived in my parent's barn from around July - October of that year(barn being much nicer than it sounds!). New house, new town (kind of) and getting ready to start a family! Lots of changes.

10 Years - The young group days! I was living in an apartment in Normal with three other girls. It was my first time to live away from home. College Weekends were THE highlight. I was starting my second year at Heartland Community College (before it had a nice campus), taking accounting classes in double wide trailers with my cousin Dave. Old friendships were changing (I was in my first wedding - Jill and Andy's!), new friendships were being formed and very special memories were created!

20 Years - The 4th grade. Not my prettiest year - glasses and braces. AND, I had THE haircut that year. The one that looked like a lion's mane. I remember getting it - I had pointed to a picture of a page boy haircut. The women cutting my hair thought I meant the one on the next page (the one that looked like a lion's mane). I cried when she was done. It was quite traumatic, but I survived (and when it grew out a little was able to get the haircut I really wanted!)

Your turn!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What do You want to Know?

I periodically post mom interviews on my blog. Typically the questions are all the same (although the answers are always different!). Do you have any good mom interview questions that I could add to my list? If you have any ideas, let me know!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

And the winner is...

The winner of Jill Savage's book My Hearts at Home is....


Congrats! I will bring the book to church tomorrow (if I remember). Thanks to everyone who participated, I always enjoy reading your comments.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interview with a Mom - Jill Savage

It is time for another giveaway! This week's mom interview is with Hearts at Home founder, Jill Savage. So, I will be giving away one copy of her newest book, My Hearts at Home! To enter the drawing, leave a comment about a tradition your family practices or the family you grew up in practices. If you live out of town or out of state, no worries, I don't mind using the US postal service. I will be drawing a winner on Saturday, October 6. Thank you for participating and enjoy the interview. (As a side note, if you don't win the book, I would encourage you find a copy. It is full of practical ideas on how to be an intential mom and make your home a haven for your family - a very good read.)

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My husband Mark and I have been married 24 years, however we’re self-described as being married “24 years…14 of them happily.” The first ten years of our marriage were very difficult and at one time we weren’t sure we’d make it. But God tugged at both of our hearts and through counseling and hard work we got back on track. Mark and I have 5 kids: Anne is 22 and is married to Matt McClane. They live in Zion, IL. Evan is 20 and in college. He no longer lives at home but is about 5 miles away living in a house with three other guys. Erica is 16 and a junior in high school. Kolya is 13 and in 7th grade. He’s the newest addition to our family because we adopted him from Russia at the age of 9. Austin is 11 and in the 6th grade.

Tell us about your latest book "My Hearts at Home" and what inspired you to write it?

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to seek some professional counseling to sort out different challenges in my life. Both Mark and I feel this is a very healthy thing to do. When you meet with a counselor, one of the first things he/she says is, “So tell me about the home you grew up in.” Counselors do this because they understand the home and family you grow up in sets the foundation for the rest of your life! As I’ve come to understand this, I’ve realized that at some point my children will be adults who are building their lives upon the foundation my husband and I are laying for them now. If the emotional, spiritual, and relational stability of their life is resting on this foundation, we need to be intentional about how we build that foundation. That’s when I began to think about all the different roles that home plays in our life: Home As A Safe House, Home As A Trauma Unit, Home As A Rest Area, and Home As A Church. Then you add in other roles like Home As a Playground, A Pep Rally, A School, a Hospitality House, and more! Wow! Home plays so many roles in our family’s life. This is why we need to be intentional about what happens at home and having a plan to make home all that it can be. My Heart’s At Home is designed to cast a vision for moms to understand all the roles that home plays in her family’s life. It is also designed to give practical strategies to make home all it can be.

Why do you love being a mom?

I love watching a young life blossom before my very eyes. I love seeing God shape this little person into a young adult with unique talents and gifts and a special personality that is all theirs.

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?

I’m a type A, task driven personality. I like to see things get accomplished. Mothering, especially in the early years, doesn’t often see much measurable accomplishment. However, when I changed my short term goals to one big long term goal of seeing my child grow into a loving, respectful adult, I began to see what I did each day as a step toward that goal. I really explored this perspective in my book “Professionalizing Motherhood” which is still in print.

What advice do you have for moms in the preschool years?

Enjoy these years because they will fly by faster than you think! You can’t go back and do it again.

What book (if any) are you reading right now?

A fiction novel called “All I Ever Need” by Harry Kraus, MD.

How do you keep your husband first in the midst of mothering?

Mark and I have a date day every Friday. His work week is Sunday thru Thursday so we use Friday for just the two of us. We work to intentionally make our family marriage-centered rather than child-centered. This gives our kids stability because they know that when mom and dad are ok, their world is ok!

What is your favorite lunchtime meal?

Believe it or not…peanut butter and jelly. J My kids are at school, I’m home alone during the day and I fix myself a peanut butter sandwich!

Share one good “mom tip” that you have learned over the years.

Elise Arndt, author of A Mother’s Touch, shared about boiling an onion to buy you time to figure out what is for dinner. She talked about how the aroma of something cooking tells your family that all is well, I’m cared for, and mom has dinner cooking. And it buys you time to figure out what to add to that onion for dinner!

If you had an entire day all to yourself, how would you spend it?


Do you have any parting advice for young moms?

Don’t underestimate your role as a wife and mother. It is far more important than you probably realize. Tap into the resources that Hearts at Home offers ( to keep you encouraged and equipped along the journey!

Thanks Jill for sharing your thoughts with us!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quotes for Today

The following quote is talking about writer's block, but it was a good reminder to me to be in the present.

"I remind myself nearly every day of something that a doctor told me six months before my friend Pammy died. This was a doctor who always gave me straight answers. When I called on this one particular night, I was hoping she could put a positive slant on some distressing developments. She couldn't, but she said something that changed my life. 'Watch her carefully right now,' she said, 'because she's teaching you how to live.'

I remind myself of this when I cannot get any work done: to live as if I am dying, because the truth is we are all terminal on this bus. To live as if we are dying gives us a chance to experience some real presence. Time is so full for people who are dying in a conscious way, full in the way that life is for children. They spend big round hours. So instead of staring miserably at the computer screen trying to will my way into having a breakthrough, I say to myself, 'Okay, hmmmm, let's see. Dying tomorrow. What should I do today?' Then I can decide to read Wallace Stevens for the rest of the morning or go to the beach or just really participate in ordinary life. Any of these will begin the process of filling me back up with observations, flavors, ideas, visions, memories. I might want to write on my last day on earth, but I'd also be aware of other options that would feel at least as pressing. I would want to keep whatever I did simple, I think. And I would want to be present."

taken from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

I want to pair that quote with a few verses I read in Colossians yesterday. The verses reminded me of a motto I used to have, "Look up Clear." I used it as a reminder to myself to keep a heavenly perspective.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

I think pairing the two thoughts "Live in the present" and "Set your mind on things above" make a pretty good prescription for life. I may add "live life with gratitude" to that prescription. Now, I just need to follow it!

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's All in the Attitude

In a recent artcle in the Hearts at Home Magazine, Holly Schurter lists some of the attitudes that are prevalent in our kids.

In Infancy: "It's all about me, me, me."
In Toddlerhood: "What's mine is mine. What's yours is mine too."
In Preschool: "What my mom doesn't know won't hurt her."
In Gradeschool: "My teacher knows a lot more than mom does. So do my friends."

Her article is about teenagers and how they can display all of the above attitudes. While I can't speak from personal experience about teenagers or gradeschoolers. The other three are very real to me right now. The Infancy and Toddlerhood attitudes came as no surprise - I knew to expect those and have had a lot of experience dealing with them to date. The preschool attitude she listed finally put words to the attitude I am noticing in my oldest!

Let me give an example:

Last Saturday morning our kids were up earlier than their parents wanted them to be (surprise, surprise). Being the attentive parent I am, I heard them go downstairs and heard them banging around, but didn't actually get up to check on them until I heard the eerie silence. I shuffled downstairs to find half eaten ice cream bars sitting on the table, two boys with chocolate all over their faces playing sweetly with their blocks, and one little girl trying to finish her ice cream in the kitchen.

"What are you doing?" I asked (although I didn't really need to hear an answer to know). My daughter quickly replied "I wanted to finish this before you found me!"

Allow me to share one more example with you. When asking my daughter from another room what she is doing, the answer I am starting to get more frequently is "I don't want to tell you." This is never a good thing to hear, but at least she is being honest!

It will be interesting to see how the "What my mom doesn't know won't hurt her" attitude will continue to manifest itself in the coming months. For now, I am just thankful she still thinks I'm smarter than her!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Quote for Today

Following is a quote from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird on why books are so important. I liked it and thought I'd share it!

"Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don't get in real life--wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I'm grateful for it the way I'm grateful for the ocean."

I gotta say. I LOVE books. I love gaining new perspective on life and seeing life through someone else's eyes. It really is amazing what you can gain from these small parcels of paper bound together, filled with words. So, have you read any good books lately?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Interview with a Mom - Holly

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I've been married to John, my high school sweetheart, for 37 years. He is a second career pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Glasford Illinois. We have eight children, six of whom are married, and nine grandchildren. We're so proud of our kids and grandkids!!! I've mostly been an at-home mom, but I've also worked as a legal secretary, for a small town weekly newspaper as a reporter and columnist, and volunteered at church, at our children's schools, and with Hearts at Home. Now, with our kids grown, I work as a free-lancer.

Why do you love being a mom?
I love being a mom because it feels like partnering with God in very creative work. I love making love practical -- making a home for people I care about. I love being surrounded by family and friends.

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?
The most challenging thing is to set aside other things I might want to do in order to meet the needs of my family. Sometimes those sacrifices are really hard. And sometimes it's hard to discern when something is really a “need of my family” and when it's an excuse for me not to try something new.

What advice do you have for moms in the preschool years?
Have fun, and focus on building a sound foundation for your children's lives. Honor your husband – your kids need to see from your attitude and behavior that he is a man worth loving and honoring – and treat your kids with courtesy. Don't take on so much outside your home and family that you don't have the time and energy to instill good habits in your kids, to read or play silly games together, to learn to know and enjoy each other, or to help your kids learn to know and love God. And cultivate your sense of humor!

As a mom, watching your children become moms – what kind of parenting challenges do you see (maybe some you didn’t have to deal with as a mom) and what advice do you have for them?
There are so many good things for kids/families to do – choosing what to say “yes” to and what to turn down is very difficult, I think. We tend to think the more we do for our kids, the more stuff we give them or the more activities and lessons we arrange, the better parents we are. That's not necessarily true. Allowing time for kids to play on their own, or even just have nothing to do is important for them.

It's also important to remember that the thing our kids want most is us – our time and attention, our interest, our help in learning how to grow up, in figuring out what the world is about, learning how to master necessary skills and how to do fun stuff like roller skate or bake cookies . . .

I also think our culture can be poisonous for kids (and adults) so protecting them from the worst of it, and training them to discern “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious . . . any excellence, anything worthy of praise” - that's a real priority in my opinion.

What is your favorite lunchtime meal?
A grilled cheese sandwich, a crisp apple, a peanut butter cookie and a glass of milk – at least that's one favorite lunch . . . I like to eat!

Share one good “mom tip” that you have learned over the years.
Lean hard on God, and don't be overwhelmed by the big picture – just do the next necessary thing, then the next necessary thing, then the next necesary thing faithfully and you'll get through. And don't forget that "a cheerful heart does good, like medicine" -- so "sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord." Creating a cheerful mood in your home helps everyone!

What book (if any) are you reading right now?
Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson. Peterson talks about why keeping house well matters. She is affirming and encouraging to women who want to make a warm and loving home for their family, writing about how to accomplish this in practical ways.

Do you have any parting advice for young moms?
Don't exchange this time in your family's life for things with less lasting value. Focus on what's right in front of you in all its repetitive, boring, glorious daily-ness. Let it create in you the ability to endure what is routine or difficult. What you are doing – making a home for your family, providing shelter and love for your husband, your children, your friends and extended family – is of great value and importance.

Thanks Holly for sharing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Quote for Today

I've been reading Mary DeMuth's Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture. It is a great book - very relevant to parenting today. Anyway, I thought I'd share a quote with you which was a good reminder for me.

"We must remember that to pour life into the souls of our children, our own souls must be filled up first. You simply can't pour life and encouragement into your children if you are empty.

I'm reminded of the analogy of the starving baker. From morning to night, the baker busied himself with baking bread to feed hungry villagers. He saw only the night sky as he traveled to and from work. But he never took time to eat. So enmeshed in his task of feeding others, he forgot to take care of himself, eventually starving to death.

The American dream lures us to be starving bakers, but our need isn't bread, it's deep connection with Jesus. We run around all our lives, never stopping for refreshment. We wonder why our kids are stressed, why they aren't passionate about Jesus Christ. Perhaps we have lost our connection with God in our busyness, and they are simply mimicking us. Of course, they are responsible for their own relationships with Jesus. Of course, God is sovereign and can fill them despite our weariness. But as parents, we set the tone for our home. Constantly flurrying shows our children that life is more about running, running, running than it is about slowing down enough to hear the still quiet voice of God in the midst of life's chaos."

May you make time today to connect to the vine of Jesus and find refreshment for your soul.

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Loubetine is the Place to Be...

Kory is singing a song he created to entertain our friends at Loubetine (the orphanage) the day we left. The chorus goes something like... "Loubetine is the place to be; come with me to Loubetine" and the verses are comprised of everyone's name he can think of! It was very moving! :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ukraine Part 3 - The Crafts

The American team was in charge of crafts for three days at camp. We brainstormed ideas, provided the supplies and lead the craft. This year we made leather bracelets (with beads to add color), created postcards (decorated with ribbon) and decorated quilt blocks (which we then turned into a quilt in our spare time). The quilt turned out great and was probably one of the best crafts in the history of Camp Loubetine (at least I think so!).

The younger kids (9 and 10 year olds) ended up stringing their beads on leather strips. The older kids made these amazing pieces of leather jewelry (which I didn't goet pictures of). They really amaze me when it comes to art projects. They are so talented. And, the older boys seem to enjoy it almost as much as the girls.

The postcards were a fun project - again the kids' creativity amazed me. The other thing that amazes me is that the kids are so quick to give away their projects to others.

The quilt blocks were my favorite. Kory titled his "White Lightening". His first one was an attempt at an Easter Lily, but everyone thought it was a bull! Joe Gerber's was my personal favorite. He did a two block self-portrait. The glasses were the giveaway. Although by the end of the week, he needed to edit his self-portrait by adding scotch tape. I think on the second day his glasses got busted by a basketball and he had to hold them together with scotch tape the rest of the week (Brett said once he knew Joe was okay, the accident itself was quite funny!).

The finished project!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ukraine Part 2 - The Games

I remember being so impressed by the games the Ukraine team came up with 3 years ago and this year was the same. They are SO creative! We divided into 4 teams and every morning each team would compete at different stations to earn keys. For example one station involved seeing how many eggs we could hit with a bat; another morning we had to see how many ping pong balls we could transfer through tubes held by all the teammates! At the end of the week we went on a treasure hunt, once the treasure was found each team tried their keys and whoever had the "right" key won the treasure (more on that later!)

They also came up with a lot of games for entertainment purposes. I think part of the idea was to laugh at the Americans (Actually the idea was just to laugh which was another way to connect with the kids, some things are funny whether you are in Ukraine or USA!)

Here is Leah (USA) and Leana (UA) trying to feed each other yogurt, blindfolded!

Kory (USA) and Andrei (UA)- They have nylons on their heads with soft rubber balls on the ends. They are trying to knock each other's "hat" off!

The fourth day of camp we had a big scavenger hunt. The Ukraine team was kind enough to warn us in advance, but this was also the day that each team had to find an American tied to a tree! I believe Joe (whose team came last) ended up being tied to that tree for almost 2 hours! The first hour (before any team came to find them), Misha stood guard over our Americans. They were afraid that if someone from the village found our boys tied to trees they may have tried to steal their shoes or their pants!

The last part of the scavenger hunt each team had to cross a bridge to get to the meadow where a picnic was waiting. Before our team got to the bridge, Dima pulled me aside and (through a translator) explained that as the team crossed the bridge someone was going to jump out and scare them. He asked me to stand back and watch because they didn't want to scare my baby! There was one game during the scavenger hunt they were not going to let me play because they were concerned about my being pregnant. I was able to convince them that I could play - they were very sweet!

The last day of camp was the treasure hunt! We all ended up in an orchard looking for where the treasure was buried. Kory was looking for a place with fresh dirt and found a mound with two little sticks in the shape of a cross on top. He thought for sure it was the treasure. Soon a group of kids was gathered around watching him dig. When they found something, another kid reached down to grab the "treasure" and Kory started to get a bad feeling. All of a sudden I heard kids screaming and running away from Kory - his treasure had been something (we think maybe a dead cat) wrapped up in cloth. Vitalic (one of the Ukraine team) was watching the whole time laughing because he knew where the real treasure was!

Once we had found the real treasure every team got to try their keys - my team actually won! I believe the treasure was candy (to share with everyone) and a trip to McDonalds for the winners!

The games were a blast! The Ukraine team really goes all out to provide a fun experience for the kids. It is also a nice way to bond; to be able to cheer on my team (even if I can't speak the language!)