April 30, 2008

A Kiss From Little Barrett

We used to start every single day cuddling together. Barrett would stumble out of his room, flashlight in hand, (to scare away any bad guys) find me, and we'd snuggle together until we both "woke up".
Lately that hasn't happened as often. I guess at 6 years old, he thinks he is getting a little too old to sit in my lap and cuddle. I've missed our mornings together. He is, after all, my last baby!
I was so happy this morning when he did want to snuggle with me. My smallest boy stumbled from his room, the flashlight sending rays bouncing everwhere. He crawled up into my lap and sleepily, but very sweetly, kissed my cheek and sighed.
"Mommy? Isn't it amazing that God taught us how to kiss?"
My heart is still in a puddle somewhere in the recesses of my chest.

April 28, 2008

A Rose is a Rose

I think my blog has the wrong name. I was feeling rather optimistic when I called it "Midsummer Meanderings", so I later added "or: A Mom in Midlife Crisis". That doesn't cut it either. Maybe I should re-name it "A Lady in Waiting"?
I've never heard of women going through a midlife crisis so when I started going through one I was rather dismayed. What is wrong with me? Women don't have these feelings. Why am I the only mom I know who feels this way? Is there something wrong with me?
For as long as I can remember all I've ever wanted in life was to be a wife and a mom. I think it started when I was 3. That's when my heat-up iron, plastic dishes and my little baby dolls came alive to me. I should've seen the writing on the wall at some point. I was always pretending my "babies" had contracted a strange new disease that would render growing up an impossibility. The doctors would sadly tell me that my babies were healthy and happy, but they would never change. They would never grow and talk and walk and learn to ride bikes or leave the world of diapers. I would pretend to be saddened by the news, but inside my heart was thrilled. Babies forever!
Finally the day came when I grew up. I put my baby dolls away, got married and within a short time started having real, honest-to-goodness babies, smelly diapers and all. Surprisingly, I was thrilled when they learned to sit up, say “Da Da”, walk, and started wearing "big boy undies". I was so proud of them as they learned to read, add and subtract numbers, and help with chores around the house. My heart sang as I watched their faith grow and they started to care about the world around them.
However, there did come a day when a huge grey cloud settled over my heart. Our first son grew up. He got his driver's license, a job, and started taking a few classes outside the home. His life changed and so did our family. He was busy and had more responsibilities. I started to feel like I was no longer needed. He was looking "Out". The nest wasn't big enough to hold him anymore.
As we made plans for his graduation and open house the feelings of “uselessness” started to invade my thoughts day and night. His diploma seemed like the beginning-of-the-end for me. Questions like: If I’m not a mom and a teacher, who am I? What is my purpose if it’s not to raise kids and be a wife? What will I do with my time when the boys are all grown? What other reason could there be for my existence? Am I depressed about this because I’ve made an idol out of our family? Our home school? My mothering and being a wife?
Quite frankly, over the last few years I've felt like Scarlett at the end of Gone With the Wind, "Rhett, Rhett! Where will I go? What will I do?!" Those feelings of "uselessness" only increased when our second son graduated.
People I've talked to don't understand these feelings. "You still have a 6 year old at home! It'll be years and years before your nest is empty!" I don't know how to respond to those things. I feel what I feel.
Not very long ago I stumbled onto a book by Gordon MacDonald called: A Resilient Life. I've only read a tiny portion of the book, but what I have read has been soooooo encouraging! On page 4 Gordon says, "Wherever I have gone and talked about the resilient life, I have insisted that one must anticipate that the greatest contributions God has for us to make will happen in the second half of life....you folks under 40? In actuality, most of what you're doing now is simply running the first few laps of the race."
I don't know what the Lord has up His big sleeve for me but it doesn't sound like I'm an old cow ready to be put out to pasture quite yet.

April 22, 2008

He Stirs My Soul

A few months ago, probably back in January, I was looking for a bible reading plan that would be interesting enough for me to stick with throughout this year. I've read the bible through in chronological order several times-I was getting bogged down with that idea and needed something fresh to try.
I ended up at desiringgod.org.-the "John Piper" website. After digging around over there I found a short article written by John's wife, Noel. It was her bible reading plan. She said she reads the bible through every year, but doesn't read it through in sequence. She just reads one book at a time and reads approximately 3 or 4 chapters a day. By reading it that way she reads the entire bible every year. Noel went on to say that she reads with a highlighter in her hand.
She said the first year she did this she highlighted everything the bible says about God: His names, word pictures about Him, what He likes and dislikes, how He reacts to faithfulness and sin...Noel said her bible flyleaves are filled with lists. Lists of God's names, Jesus' names, and the Spirit's names. She also created a list of pictures the bible uses to describe God like: shepherd, potter, nursing mother, etc. One other list she's created is one that lists bible verses so beautiful she knew she'd want to find them again and again. I don't think she works on all these lists every year. I think, if I remember correctly, she focuses on one or two each year.
I loved that idea and jumped right in. I am really enjoying it! I had a blank journal and being the sanguine person that I am, I've started on 3 hunts through the scriptures for this year:

-Lists from the bible (For example: Mark 7:20-23)

-Wonderful promises (Josh. 1:5 Deut. 31:6-8 Heb. 13:5)

-My favorite list is the one I've called: Scriptures That Stir My Soul

Take a minute and read these verses!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.....
Ecc. 3:11-12

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to Him?
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
Ecc. 7:3

But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He promised them.

Those verses really do stir my soul to trust Him. To worship Him. To be amazed by Him. Noel's plan has made the bible come alive for me again! I am really enjoying "the hunt". This idea has made reading the bible fun and deep and enjoyable and refreshing once more.

April 19, 2008

Pride Goes Before A Toe

Way back in the dark ages of my mothering, there came a day when I had to take my second son to the doctor; not for illness-just a "well baby" check and vaccine update. He was two years old.
I was feeling rather nervous about the doctor's appointment. I knew from experience that well-baby checks are thorough. So, that morning I made sure everything about our little guy was perfect. I gave him a bath. I combed every hair on his sweet little head and put him in an adorable outfit. I even clipped his fingernails and made sure his teeth were brushed. Finally I put sandals on his chubby, pink little feet and we were off.
After we'd been in the examining room for a time I started to relax. Everything looked good. Our little son was sturdy and happy and healthy. The nurse gave him the needed shots and as I held him and wiped away his tears I noticed she was watching, a look of tenderness on her face.
Finally it was time to go. I picked up my purse and reached out to grab my son's hand. As I did so the nurse said with a big smile, "Well, Judy, you're doing a great job. Keep up the good work!"
My heart, (and my head) swelled with pride. I marched over to the door, my little son in front of me. As I yanked open the door to leave, James suddenly started screaming. I looked down to see that pride had blinded me. I'd used the examining room door to rip his toenail off.

April 15, 2008

Testing 1 2 3

Right around the middle of March, every year, it hits me. It happens every spring. Weariness. Hope. Guilt. Fear. Joy. Pride. Doubt. Apprehension. A really mixed bag of emotions. As the school year runs down I find myself trotting along, fumes as my fuel. I look at the school year that is winding down and evaluate it. I look ahead to the next year and am excited about starting all over. A whole, fresh, new school year!
For the first several years we home schooled it was very easy for me to spend the spring and summer months either beating myself up over the school year we'd just completed, or surrendering to the feelings of just knowing I was a failure. Those feelings of inadequacy really hit me as testing time drew near. I was convinced that I was the one being tested, not my kids.
I'd think about all the time I'd wasted. All the projects we'd never touched. All the strange interruptions to our school days. All the things the boys didn't learn......

Now I have 2 graduates under my belt. They both hold down full time jobs. One is also a missionary downtown and the other a full time college student. They both love the Lord. They can even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and change the oil on their cars. Knowing that, no, they're not perfect, but they have some intelligence, they can fend for themselves, and they love others and the Lord makes it so much easier to relax and I have more confidence than I used to.
However, along the way the Lord used other things to encourage me and to let me know we were "O.K." and my kids wouldn't end up living in a cardboard box someday.

One thing that really helped me get past those negative feelings was to start each year with 4 goals for each boy. (Jessica Hulcey and Carole Thaxton of KONOS curriculum suggested doing this and it really helped!) During the summer Mike and I would sit down and look at each of our sons and evaluate where his character/relationship with the Lord was at, where he was at academically, then physically, and what work skills needed improvement. As an example, when our oldest son was 7 these were the goals we had for him:

Character: showing respect toward his parents and other adults

Academics: neat handwriting, spelling and better math skills

Physical: morning exercises

Work skills: begin doing his own laundry, clean the bathroom, dusting, and helping with dishes

Then, in the spring I'd look at the goals we'd laid out and see if we'd even come close to hitting the mark. There were some years where we'd see improvement in each area and other times the goals were repeated the following fall.

We'd also remind ourselves of the following:

1. We'd seen academic improvement.

2. The boys had matured over the course of the school year.

3. We knew the boys were safe both emotionally and spiritually.

Those three things happened every year.

If you were here, and weary, and just a tad nervous about how you're doing as a teacher, I'd tell you these things:
- Just because you feel like a failure doesn't mean you failed. Go back to those last 3 things and re-read them.

-Even if your kids come back with a low test score in one subject or more, relax. Chances are, next year they will improve by leaps and bounds in those areas. We saw this happen with the boys more than once.

-No matter what kind of teacher you are and no matter what kind of school year you've had, it's a given that there will be gaps. You need to surrender your concerns and weak spots to the Lord and ask Him to fill in the gaps. He is faithful. He will do it.

-Remember Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

April 10, 2008

A New Elephant

Whew! We just had a minor scare. Alec decided to brave the thunder and lightning after school today and walk to a nearby lake to look for snakes, or turtles or whatever else is out there that might be stinky or slimy. Boys. ( He came home thrilled because he'd found a crawdad claw. Boys.)
Anyway-while he was gone Barrett and I were here alone at the house. I was in the kitchen making some quiche for dinner and the oven was preheating. I heard a funny noise and turned to see a fire in the oven! I grabbed the baking soda and kept dumping more and more on the fire but to no avail. (Don't you love how you can use words in your posts, like "avail", that you wouldn't use in an actual conversation?)
I noticed that it was actually just the heating element that was on fire and it was starting to throw sparks. I called my husband on the phone and he told me to try the breaker switch. So, I went out to the garage and tried throwing all the breakers. I couldn't find the one that connects to the oven. Figures. I was a little nervous by now because the fire was working its way along the element and I had no idea what it would do when it go to the end; however, I knew I was being watched by Barrett and I didn't want him to see me panic. No matter. By the time I came back into the house he was running around sobbing. "Our house is going to burn down. I don't want our house to burn down!" I couldn't comfort him because I was trying to keep the house from burning down.
My husband had told me my other option was to unplug the oven. Do you know where the plug is?! Near the floor behind the oven. Whoever designed this house obviously hadn't had the foresight to see that oven elements might catch on fire and the oven just may need to be unplugged by a wimpy woman. Nope-they had to put the outlet waaaaayyy down near the floor so the whole, hot, sparky oven has to be moved in order to keep the house from burning down.
I finally jerked and walked the thing far enough away from the wall so that it could be unplugged and, voila. The sparks started stopping and the fire stopped starting.
Then it was time to comfort The Bear. We cuddled and talked for a bit. I explained that we wouldn't need to buy a whole new oven, just a new heating element, and then I asked him if he'd like a shower. (He'd followed me out to the breaker box, sobbing, in his bare feet and our garage floor is nothing if it's not dirty.)
While he was in the shower Alec came home. I told him he's never allowed to leave me again and then told him why. I also mentioned that his little brother had been quite upset and nearly hysterical about our oven fire.
Alec went over to the bathroom door and asked, "Barrett, are you OK now?"
"Yes, but there was a fire in the oven and now we'll have to get a new elephant!"

April 9, 2008

Miscellaneous Randomness

Well, now I have SAD in reverse. I want to move and clean and sort and purge and organize and function! It feels so good to feel good! Hooray for spring!

I also wanted to say that if you left a comment on the last post, I left a comment there for you. This might be a good time to add that I do enjoy receiving comments and read every one of them. (Hint hint...)

Mike D. I cannot get emails through to you.

I made a scrapbook calendar for my in-laws for Christmas and thought it might be fun to post some pictures of some of the pages I did. I'm sorry about the glare from the flash, and, I think there's some dust on our scanner because some of the pictures are "spotty". We're in the middle of some deep cleaning around here and I don't want to take the time to re-scan the pictures. (Maybe I should take some time to dust the scanner though...)

For those of you who know our kids I'll tell you who is who in each picture. Above: Barrett, then the 3 in the bottom row are Benjamin, James, and Alec.

From the top left: Alec and Barrett, then Barrett. The bottom left picture is our fat baby Barrett and then there's a picture of James and Mike.

The top two pictures are of our 2 oldest sons, Benjamin and James. Barrett is the stinker in the bottom left picture and then Benjamin and Barrett are in the other corner.

Top left: James. Top right: Barrett. The bottom 2 pictures are both of our son Alec.
So, there you have it. These pages represent my scrapbook style. They're my personal favorites-I started scrapbooking 6 years ago and it's taken me this long to figure out what I like.
Now I want to go back and re-do most of what I've already scrapbooked!

April 7, 2008

17 Things About Me

I've noticed something in the blogging world. There are a lot of people who, upon reaching their 100th post, post a list of "100 Things" about themselves. When my 100th post rolled around I thought that might be something fun to do, but then never did it.
Last week I had about 744 profile views and thought that might be a good reason to post my 100 Things List.

However, I couldn't think of 100 things about me that would be interesting enough to write down in a list. As a matter of fact, it took ALL 6 of us all weekend to come up with the 17 things I am going to write.

I better stop babbling and get to the point. So, here they are:

1. I cannot make Tomato Soup from scratch.

2. I love prunes on pizza.

3. I use baking soda as a facial scrub several times a week.

4. I almost drowned in the Colorado River.

5. I want a game plan for every minute of my life-that includes my funeral plans.
(Do you see why the Lord is still dealing with me on the issue of "control"?)

6. I was 43 years old before I really started to believe the Lord had given me any strengths or gifts.

7. I took a hot air balloon ride when our first son was 1 month old. I never told my husband this, but as the balloon was lifting off, I flippantly gave our baby to my sister-in-law should the balloon crash and I not survive.

8. My kids have to put more layers of clothing on when I'm cold.

9. I had straight hair until I turned 40-it's been getting more and more curly ever since. (I shudder to think what I'll look like when I'm 70. Anybody hear the word "poodle"?)

10. I'm a good shot with a gun.

11. I am really good at putting things away for safe keeping. I'm so good at it that I often never again find what I hid to keep safe.

12. I hate talking on the phone.

13. Last year the youth group leader at our church asked our two oldest sons when the first time was that they ever heard their dad cuss. After thinking that over for a bit they both grinned. One of them had the nerve to actually tell the truth. They couldn't remember their dad having ever cussed; however, they could remember one of their other parents cussing on occasion. (I won't tell you who that was.)

14. Whenever there are tornado watches or warnings I want to deep clean the house. I'm not talking about the need to expend nervous energy during the storm. I mean I want to clean everything days before the storms ever enter the state.

15. My mom died 11 years ago. I don't miss her. I miss the idea of a mom, but I don't miss mine.

16. My brothers were 17, 15, and 12 when I was born. Our 3 older sons were 16, 14, and 10 when we had our last baby.

17. This is our oldest son Benjamin's contribution to this list. He said, (and I'm taking this as a compliment) that if I were to be dropped in the middle of nowhere with a bowie knife and a box of matches, people could come back 6 months later and I'd have a small village built. (I'm assuming that means he thinks I'm somewhat intelligent and resourceful rather than tough and he-manish, but I was afraid to ask.)


Birthdays are over. The spring cold I had is gone. It's going to be 65 degrees and the sun is shining! Time to get back into some real blogging. (Whatever that means.)
The first thing I'd like to do is post 2 awards I received during our birthday blitz when all I could really think about was Who is having a birthday now? and What kind of cake does he want again?
Anyway, the first award is from Wani:

and the other one is from Sniz:

I'd love to post the links to their blogs here but I still haven't figured that out. I will conquer linking someday. I will!
Anyway-their blogs are listed over on the sidebar if you'd like to go check them out. :-) In the meantime, I would like to thank them so very much for the awards!
Thank you you two! :-) Your friendship/s are important to me.

April 3, 2008

Ha Ha. Veerrrry Funny

The other day, after I'd visited Big Doofus's blog, (his post from March 27th where he talks about Todd Wilson and Familyman Ministries), I thought it might be an encouragement to my husband if I put his name on the Familyman Ministries mailing list. After all, we have been doing this home schooling thing for a lot of years and I thought maybe Mike could use a "shot in the arm" now and then.
So, last night after Mike came home from work, I told him about Familyman Ministries and that I'd put his name on their mailing list.
From somewhere in the house our oldest son, (who is a business major) pipes up: "I love it!"
I turned my head to see him grinning at me.
"She's outsourced her nagging now!"

April 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Sweet 16!

If I thought your big brother came into the world in a hurry, you really did! A 6 hour labor from start to finish!

I cannot believe how quickly time has gone by and now you are almost an adult. When I look at your baby pictures however, it all comes back to me-colic, projectile vomiting all over everyone, wherever we were, (even the people who sat behind us in church!) and your little herniated belly button. I remember the doctor coming out of the operating room after he'd repaired that hernia. You were only 3, but my goodness, what a busy little boy you were! The doctor said, "Everything is fine. Just keep him still for 3 or 4 days or the stitches may tear and we'll have to re-do the surgery."

I didn't say anything, but his words sent my mind reeling. Do you have any idea how much this boy moves? He never sits still! He twirls, spins and somersaults to get from point A to point B. I'm not even sure he knows how to walk! He spends more time on his head than his feet!

And sure enough, just a couple hours after we got home from the hospital, there you were, recovered from the anesthesia, doing headstands on the couch because I wouldn't let you get off of it!

We somehow made it through that week and much to my surprise, the hernia stayed repaired.

After that I "simply" had to learn how to teach such an active little person. I can remember reading out-loud to you as you somersaulted in circles around me, thinking, there is no way this kid is listening. He doesn't have a clue what I'm reading! Then later, when I asked you questions about what I'd read you knew exactly what had been said. I was shocked. I was also shocked by the way you learned the multiplication tables. You'd climb up on our mini-tramp and bounce away to your heart's content; as you bounced I'd hold up flash cards with multiplication problems on them. Sure enough, you got it. You were the boy who broke the mold of "they must be sitting at a desk to learn anything" in our little school...

The Lord has blessed you with so many gifts Alec. You can draw warm, lovely pictures, play the flute beautifully, you're extremely creative, and very practical.

I am also amazed at how optimistic you are-even when you're sick or sad you somehow manage to find something to laugh about. Your willingness to drop whatever you're doing to help me when needed is a real blessing. There are times when I don't know what on earth I'd do without you. I think you are a good example to me as far as that goes-I tend to be annoyed by interruptions and want everyone to just leave me alone when I'm working on something. You, on the other hand, simply say, "OK" and do what needs to be done.

You haven't always been like that. One of the other gifts the Lord has given you is your tenacious, strong will. (Go look "tenacious" up in the dictionary-there will be a quiz on it later.)

When you were little you often shocked your dad and I with that Will. We were so surprised when time after time, when we'd ask you to do something, you'd look us right in the eye and say, "No." And your temper! Oh what a temper you had! I can tell you now that there were times over the years when I thought, there is no way this kid is going to make it. He's going to end up in a correctional facility for boys somewhere. I felt totally clueless when it came to your strong will and temper.

The Lord has shown us over and over again in our lives that HE is faithful to take care of things if we surrender them to Him. So, that's what we ended up doing with your little self. We prayed for wisdom. We prayed for strength. We prayed that you would love Him. Finally we dumped you in His lap and told Him He would have to change your heart.

And now we see that He has done just that. We've seen your attitude change toward school. You are willing to buckle down and study to learn what needs to be learned. Alec, you are becoming such a wonderful, funny, sweet, helpful young man. We can see that you love Jesus and you want a friendship with Him. You encourage me when I'm feeling inadequate or sad or insecure or....and you make me laugh nearly every day. I treasure your hugs and every minute we have together. I know it won't be long and you'll be every bit as busy as your 2 big brothers. I'll have to catch you on the run if I want to see you. You are truly becoming one of my best friends-

I said this to each of your brothers on their birthdays, and I'm going to say it to you as well. I'm not just copying and pasting sweetie-I mean every word!

I absolutely can not imagine life without you and your brothers in it. The Lord has used all 4 of you, as well as your dad, to bring joy, healing, and wholeness to a heart that grew up with a shattered family.

I like you.

I love you.

I need you.

I enjoy watching you grow and mature and learn.

I respect you.

I'd like to say that most of all, I'm incredibly thankful for you and your brothers.

Happy Sweet 16 Alecboo.