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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hidden Gifts

Today marks a year since I started my current prayer journal.  After chasing loose scraps of paper for awhile I decided I needed a more solid (and less easily lost) way of keeping track of what I need to be praying for.  And so over this last year I have written down my requests, I have prayed over them, and I have noted when God answered.  When you are keeping track that way it is astounding to see how God is working--how often He has answered with "YES!"  Truly those answers outnumber the "no" answers and the requests that yet remain unanswered.  It stills me and humbles me.  Those "yes" answers I write a little "PTL" in the margin (that's Christian-speak for PRAISE THE LORD you know). ;o)  But every time in my journal I get to the spot where I was praying about Josh's job interviews last spring, I feel a bit unsettled.  In the last year, that has been my only hard and solid "no."   I  find myself convicted that I did not bestow upon it a "PTL" . . . do I just praise God in the yes times?  Shouldn't I be PTL-ing those no answers as well?  And so today, I've determined to change that.  Praise the Lord when He says no.

I think back to where my heart was a year ago, still reeling from a move I didn't want.  God has grown a contentment in me that I didn't anticipate.  After the initial move, there were several months of trying a variety of churches . . . I was looking for exactly what we had left.  My heart hurt and there was a bitterness lurking deep down .  I knew it wrong to feel that way and yet I struggled.  Why take my kids from all their friends, from their Sunday School classes and Awana program and our homeschool group?  Why take away the Girls of Grace program from the girls and strip me of the areas I had been serving?  Why take away such good things? It was an ache that didn't lessen.  I felt so lonely and left out.

God hasn't replaced those things in the way I had hoped--frankly, that side of our life doesn't look anything like I would like it to, but what He did do is open up space to breathe--big empty canvases of space. It is strange how I've already forgotten how crazy those years of Josh being back in school were--I was rushed and frazzled and often tucking myself into bed around 9:30 each night.  But out here I'm gifted with space, and time, and margin.  I have so much more free time.  He took away places to go and so for five, sometimes six days a week, I am simply home. And Josh is around too! Evenings, weekends, summers . . . we have time to just be a family. With wrestling season upon us and a change in our schedule I get a small taste again of how things used to be . . . I honestly don't know how we survived his crazy back-in-school schedule! 

In a year's time I've learned that five kids can sit through a sermon--even the two year old!  I've learned to grocery shop an hour away from home and how to efficiently pack coolers.  I've learned to be patient--if I have an idea that needs supplies it will either have to wait for the next trip to Kearney or for free two-day Amazon shipping.  The kids have learned to handle lots of driving.  All of these things were so hard to deal with in the beginning.  They overwhelmed me.  But now, it's all okay--we've learned and have grown and are better for it all.
 
"This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you."
 
I found that quote a few weeks ago and and my eyes filled with tears.  So many times, I have found myself in a situation I did not want and did not choose. Not only that, if given the choice I would never EVER choose it. But God . . .
 
He circled this on a map for me.  I went. (Even though inwardly I had to drag myself along).  I have found my heart blessed.  There are gifts here, a narrowed focus, a removal of busyness, a lack of stress.  I think of my Lincoln life, the things there I love, the things that I still miss.  It was good.  I think of my Arapahoe life and how it is different, how it lacks those things I love and yet find that it too is good.  I find myself blessed to find contentment in a place that isn't my first choice, and I think, isn't that just like God?   

My sweet friend Brooke sent me a devotional a few weeks back, and a few days ago I was wildly encouraged by this:

"When we pray, we must be wary that our misunderstanding of providence does not make us faint.  God cannot answer our prayers if they cross his revealed will or secret providence.  Since God makes all things work for good to those called according to his purpose, that which cannot be for our good shall never be given.  The physician knows better than the patient what is good for him, and so in like manner, many things are denied us that would hurt us.  We see fathers keep knives, burning sticks, and such sharp and dangerous things away from their children because they love them and want to keep them from things that would hurt them.  God answers our prayers in his way though we might desire it in our way, 'O', said Naaman, 'Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.' But the Lord will not be tied to means.  Paul's prayer for the ship was answered; they all came safe to land, but some on broken pieces of the ship, and some swimming.  Let God appoint the means, and your deliverance shall be more speedy and comfortable.  God sometimes gives exactly as we ask, but at other times answers in value, though not in kind.  He did not take away Paul's thorn, but he gave sufficient grace instead.  Paul was answered in value.  So many times our prayers are heard when we least think and perceive it, and the good is done to us, as it were, against our will.  Men cry out to the surgeon to take off the plaster that hurts, but holding it there cures us.  God answers far better things that we desired.  When we labour in prayer and do not receive what we asked for, God makes it up better in another way.  Your prayers are not lost, but paid double." (Richard Sibbes from Voices from the Past)

God IS good, all the time, and I'm so thankful I'm walking through this life with Him.  Deep down I think we all have something be it big or small we are wrestling with, and that thing--whatever it may be--is for our good.  The why's of it aren't always easily apparent, and sometimes it is later on, gifted with the seasoned perspective of the passage of time that the puzzle pieces fit together so much better.  I am starting to think of this time out here as my "quiet season."  The gift that followed a crazy season . . . a good and precious gift.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 18-24

Marissa's latest "novel"--I think she's somewhere around chapter nine.  She's awfully fond of adventure/fantasy and that is what she writes.  I'm really not sure what it is about because it embarrasses her terribly to have somebody read it (which I told her she'll have to get over if she wants to be published). ;o)
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"Mommy, there's a shark in my soup!" says Emmett, and it made me laugh because all I could think of was Grover and the impossible guy he waited on, "Waiter--there's a fly in my soup." You know, from Sesame Street??
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New Christmas CD arrived in the mail--LOVE it.  If you enjoy fiddlin' I think you can't help but like this CD, or if you like the Getty's . . . it is currently the soundtrack of our lives. ;o)
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Forty-eight five four butterhorn rolls all baked and ready for Thanksgiving (what kind of mother would I be if I didn't allow sampling fresh from the oven?). ;o)  While this isn't my Grandma Hansmeyer's actual recipe these are the kind of rolls she made for every holiday, the rolls everyone looked forward to.  Whenever I make them I can't help but have fond memories of meals at their home.
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Thanksgiving dinner at Louie and Becky's farmhouse.  My dad had a hay rack ride ready and waiting.  There used to be a railroad that ran by their home, but all the tracks have since been removed.  Now it makes a nice place for hay rack rides.  The family members you don't see in this picture are attempting to climb a very steep hill (while the saner family members look on).
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A combination Thanksgiving/birthday meal celebration at Josh's parents on Friday evening.  Josh's mom really outdid herself making favorite foods of those who had birthdays as well as some more traditional Thanksgiving fare.  It was yummy!  The main excitement of the night was meeting the newest baby cousin, Taliya.  Isabella had to get her snuggles in, and Owen was utterly fascinated with the "tiny ears, tiny lips, tiny nose . . ."
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My friend Kathy helped me "get my knit on."  I'm hoping to have a new hobby to keep me busy this winter and here is my beginning attempt at what was supposed to be a washcloth, but after the girls oohed and awed and told me it was too beautiful to be a washcloth I decided they could have it for a Barbie afghan.  They were quite delighted. ;o)  Now to figure out how to get it off of the needles . . .
 
 
 
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 11-17

Late Sunday afternoon we saw a raccoon in the field behind us, just kind of sitting there.  Now, that is kind of odd behavior for a coon--they don't usually just sit out there in broad daylight when people are around.  Knowing raccoons can have rabies, and seeing as this one was acting odd, I (being the loving wife that I am) sent Josh out to photograph it while the kids and I all huddled at the back door with baited breath.  Josh got close and the thing really didn't move--we think it was injured in some way.  It lingered there for the rest of the day, but was gone the next morning.
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The haircut.
*Sigh*
After the first initial clipping he performed on himself he went on to cut his hair twice more.  And while if I styled it very carefully and gave him a bit of a comb-over he could still pull off the curly locks, it was taking a lot of effort.  If I didn't do his hair he looked pretty pathetic.  Josh and I came to agreement that it was time.  The girls begged me not to, but it had to be done.  Owen was quite gleeful about the whole process and pretty proud of his new look.  We all spent the next few days confusing him with Emmett, but I think we're getting used to it now.  I'm not going to lie--cutting off those back curlies made my mommy heart SO SAD.
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Marissa quote of the month, "I was getting so stressed out--writing my book, practicing violin, schoolwork . . . and then I just decided to lie in my bed and read!"  I'm glad I have taught her how to properly cope with life . . . *ahem* ;o)
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Jackson and Emmett trash the living room on a daily basis--their days usually involve several board games, Trio blocks, Lego blocks, and some collaborative action-packed artwork. In this picture they are working at getting the living room back in order before Daddy comes home.
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Owen and a potato head beard--almost as funny as the potato head glasses. ;o)
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One of many reasons I never put the vacuum away.  It's possible I run the vacuum about 10 times a day--such a quick and easy fix that automatically makes a room look better (and absolutely necessary after a popcorn snack!).
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Daddy and Isabella duke it out on Wii boxing. 
Now, I'm not a fan of video games.  However, one Saturday a month I've been letting the kids play for the afternoon.  We also have instituted something of a chore list where they get paid in "tokens" (poker chips).  Once they have saved up 30 tokens they can trade them in for $5.  Or they can take 10 tokens and buy an extra hour of Wii time on Saturday. (Token "pay day" is Friday night).  So far it has proved to be a good system.  And I have to admit, they all seem to work up a pretty good sweat with all those Wii Sport games!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Few Favorites--

Oh, Christmas-card-picture-day where I chase the elusive "perfect" shot.
The day Josh utterly despises as I drag him along, directing him willy-nilly down gravel roads, telling him to get the kids to smile, and subsequently getting disgruntled with him when they are "guffawing" in every picture.
Good times, always. ;o)
This year I had to find a new abandoned farm--I discovered a few months ago the one I used last year had been completely bulldozed, flat as a pancake!  (Good thing I have pictures so it will forever live in infamy . . .).  Lucky for me it would seem abandoned farms are easy to come by out here. ;o)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And there you have it.  In the end I used pic #2 as it worked best with the card layout I found on Snapfish (taking advantage of the 60% off card deal they were running last week!).  I've got notice that they shipped already! I'm feeling quite ahead of the game. ;o)  Which is good, because that's the only Christmas-y thing I've managed so far, well, other than spruce up all of our Amazon wish lists.
Does anybody else keep a year-round Amazon list or am I weird that way?
 
 
 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 4-10

Once or twice a year Josh gets the urge to make the kids a deluxe breakfast--we're talking sausage, bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast, eggs (with runny centers to dip the toast).  This Sunday morning was one of those special days.  The "fall back" having left him feeling quite spry (and the fact we were streaming the Hills into our living room for church that morning) left us with a leisurely amount of time to do breakfast right.
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Sunset out the back . . . again, love those colors.
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I was planning on putting my little "I voted" sticker in my Project Life album to document the day, but alas, Arapahoe does not hand out stickers. So, I improvised.  This is my pre-vote-count face, one of hope and giddiness . . .
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After being startled by a mouse running across the kitchen floor, and then the next morning, one running across the bathroom floor (perhaps the same mouse . . . I'm not sure, but yes, I screamed both times) it was time to assemble the essentials.  Blech.  After several nights of trap setting we've only caught one, so hopefully that is all there is.  Last year we didn't have a single one . . . I'm not sure why this year is different.
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Josh home for lunch being serenaded by Owen on kazoo--a catchy medley of "Jingle Bells' interspersed with the chorus of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
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It was Christmas card picture day, and this one of Owen hopping in the air just cracks me up every time I look at it.  Doesn't he look like an impish little firecracker?
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A day of such strange weather.  I looked out the window and was shocked with how monochromatic everything looked, and while it looks like it is a wintry picture it is actually 77 degrees and crazy windy.  I think the sky looks so strange because of all the dust in the air.  Two hours later it was 30 degrees!
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

"Spidey"

Me, and all my super-hero awesomeness. ;o)
I did so enjoy my built in arm muscles and the extra "oomph" in the pectoral area . . .
Not so fun was the lack of peripheral vision the mask afforded me.  Interestingly, it make me kind of tipsy (so yeah, the misstepping "drunk" Spiderman walking around downtown--that was me . . .).  For the most part having only one balance nerve doesn't affect me, but you take away another "sense" and I'm all sorts of a mess! Never-the-less it is fun to come out of one's shell every once and awhile (and don a mask so nobody can recognize you!!). ;o) 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

October 28- November 3

Getting ready for church and the kids are all shouting for me in the living room, "Mommy, you have to come see this!"  A glorious sunrise!
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Chicken Cobbler--the ultimate in comfort food!  I'm not going to lie, this is not a "throw it together and bake it" kind of meal--it starts with a whole chicken.  I begin the process around noon and by the time I am finished I've thoroughly trashed the kitchen.  But it is always worth it!! ;o)
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Words that still your heart, "Mommy I got all the knots out!" and instantly you remember the scissors you left out that morning.  Oh yes. Owen cut his hair.  Of course, I was planning on taking some Christmas pictures soon. I pulled out the clippers to give him a "big boy cut" but the rest of the family {Josh} put up such a fuss about how he wouldn't be Owen anymore I ended up just trimming around a bit in an attempt to hide it.  His hair has looked better . . .
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We rummaged through the costume bin, coming up with a pirate, a southern belle, a mutant turtle, a knight, and Luke Skywalker and then headed downtown to be part of the main street parade followed by trick-or-treating the businesses--nice small-town fun.  I made my debut as Spiderman . . . (we had bought a boy costume in size large off the clearance rack last year thinking it would fit Jackson, but it fit me instead--I can now cross "Walk around downtown as Spiderman" off my bucket list). ;o)
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To be quite honest, I'm not even sure what the boys were doing here. When I went to see what pictures I had taken on Nov. 1st, this is all there was.  Not necessarily the best of photographs, but I love that they are happy even though they are all in each other's personal space.
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Daddy is always much loved once he gets home from school each afternoon.
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Josh in is the midst of some elaborate van sprucing up--nothing is broken, but he is doing (I think) preventative maintenance.  He announced his first successful hose removal.  I watch in the wings rather nervously as boxes of van parts arrive at my door and he begins taking things apart.  It's kind of a sink-or-swim venture.  But I'll say it again, he continues to surprise me in all that he can do (and hopefully whatever he is doing right now will go back together lickety-split!).


Friday, November 2, 2012

Some Fall Spots

picture ledges showing off the fall books
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dining room hutch displaying a few of my favorite things
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"fall-i-fying" the gallery wall
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trifle bowl for hedge apples and mini pumpkins, girls' sunflowers from the wedding lingering on
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nature finds--acorns, egg shells, leaves, heart rock, walnuts, feathers . . .
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"long island cheese" and a "strawberry crown"
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pumpkins EVERYWHERE ;o)