Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

It’s hard to believe another Christmas has come and gone. We moved into our new house exactly one year ago, the weekend before Christmas. I have loved living here. I still walk around this house with its large, open rooms, and its beautiful windows, and thank God that He lets me live here.

We have an enormous Christmas tree this year. This is what happens when I let Dave pick the tree. It’s about 6’ in diameter! I tease him, but it has been fun to be able to have a big tree. We’ve never been able to do that before.

This Christmas was a quiet one. It’s the first without FarFar. That was hard. I kept looking over at the recliner he sat in last year and played Dave’s new ukulele and made us all laugh. I know he’s in Heaven laughing with Jesus, but we do miss him; and half of Dave’s side of the family was out of town this year.

We were supposed to have my side of the family over on Christmas Eve, but that didn’t happen. Dave developed a pretty bad cough and I sent him to the Urgent Care place to get some antibiotics. I was pretty sure he had bronchitis. I’d been sick just about the whole month of Nov and it took two rounds of antibiotics for me to kick it, so I figured we’d better get Dave started so he didn’t miss much work after the holiday. 

Well…the Dr at the Urgent Care place said he had pneumonia! Imagine our surprise! The Dr said that’s probably what I had in Nov (not Bronchitis as I was told) and I gave it to him. So we had to cancel Christmas with my family. It was sad, but they all live here. It’s not like they were in from out of town. We can reschedule.

Christmas Eve was a quiet event. Just the 6 of us. I must admit that my attitude got the better of me that day. We’d planed a fun night and had lots of food and then…nothing. The guys sat around and watch motorsports on TV and the girls hung out in their rooms or the game room. It was very anticlimactic. I’d been fighting it all Christmas season, and I finally just gave into it a bit on Christmas Eve; the sadness that my kids are growing up.

It’s silly I know, but I really do miss the fun of Christmas with little ones. There was no one to do Advent with this year. When we pulled the Advent wreath out of the attic, someone had put the candles in on top when they put it away last year and they melted all over the wreath, rendering it useless. I had to throw away the wreath we’d been using since the kids were little. It was a foreshadowing of what was to come. No one was home to do Advent this year. The boys are so busy with work and school and social lives, the girls too with social activities, Dave often works late. There were many nights it was just me home at dinner time with the kids wandering in at different times, eating when they got home. It is a new stage and I’ve got to figure out how to make the best of it. They do grow up. They do move out. It’s how it’s supposed to work. I was a little grumpy when I went to bed that night.

When I got up in the morning, before all the kids (That’s a first! WE had to wake THEM up!), I saw this under the tree.

I’d told Dave I wanted some chairs like this a few months ago, and he remembered and got them for me.  He also got me a few other things that were really nice. Not expensive or fancy, but things that he knew I’d like.

 The kids also all got me things this year that I really love. Some beautiful candle sticks from one of my sons, a gift card to Barnes and Noble (because I have a Nook) from the other, new Tupperware from one daughter because she’d heard me saying how I really need to go through the Tupperware cabinet and get rid of most of it and get new stuff, and my other daughter got me a lovely little teapot to match my collection.

I don’t mean to sound greedy or materialistic, because I’m really not. I love gift giving. I love to get just the right thing for just the right person. It’s not about the money spent; it’s about finding that one thing that you know is going to put a smile on their face. This year, my kids did that for me. Each item I received from them and my husband was something that they knew I’d love because they were paying attention. They know me. It was a reminder to me that having them grow up is not such a bad thing.

 I didn’t have little boys in matching Christmas sweaters or little girls in fancy velvet dresses and stockings at the Christmas Eve service. I didn’t have kids so excited about Advent that they argued over whose turn it was to light the candle that night and listened with rapt attention to the Advent readings. I didn’t have kids up before the sun to see what Santa left in their stockings. Instead I had daughters who worked in the nursery on Christmas Eve so the young mothers could hear the service. I had boys who went and picked up their grandma on Christmas Day so she didn’t have to drive in the bad weather.  I had kids who really thought about what would make their momma happy on Christmas Day.

Even thought Dave was a bit sick, and there were no little ones squealing with delight; even though FarFar is no longer here with us, and half the family was out of town, it was still a special Christmas. Because really, what do you need to make Christmas special? Jesus already did all the work to make it special, we just have to remember and be thankful. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where There Is Evil There Is No Safety.

We've all had a few days to process the evil that happened in Newtown. Maybe process is the wrong word. It is not really possible to process that kind of horror. It just sinks in, and settles around you like a dark, ominous cloud making it hard to see and breathe. But we’ve come to the point in the horror where we’re looking for the ‘why’. We want to know why so we can make sure it never, ever happens again.

I've seen many ideas from many sides of many arguments on how to make sure we stay safe. More guns in the hands of the righteous, fewer guns in the hands of the evil, more homeschooling, prayer back in school, a nice Christian Republican in the White House. That’ll do it. That’ll fix it.

As if there was not evil before guns. What did Kane use to Kill Able? The Ancient Romans used lions and all watched for sport. Have there been no tragedies, no horrors coming out of the homes of homeschoolers? No, evil is there too. Do we think that because we've legislated God out of our public school system that He was sitting on the curb that day in Newton, holding his head in his hands saying, “If they’d just let me in there, I could stop this.”? George W Bush was the closest thing we've had to a Christian Republican in the White House and 9-11 happened on his watch.

The truth is there is no safety for our bodies on this earth. Where there is evil, there is no safety. We are kidding ourselves if we think there is. No place is safe: not churches, not fast food restaurants, not movie theaters, not malls, not even kindergarten classrooms. There is only safety for our souls.

I am not an evangelist. I try to live my life in such a way that when I am looked at, Jesus is seen. I am not perfect, nor is my family, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I love my Lord and I pray people see that when they see me. I don’t shout from the rooftops “REPENT AND BE SAVED!” but I try very hard to always have an answer for the hope that is within me, because as Christians, we don’t mourn as those who have no hope. Despite the evil that is rampant on this earth, we have the hope of eternal life; we have the hope that this life is not the end for those that know the Savior. And we want everyone to know the Savior. That Savior whose birth we are celebrating in a few short days. That Savior who came to earth so that EVERYONE might be saved. This tragedy in Newtown reminds us of how short life can be. How tragic. Knowing the Savior is our only hope.

It is easy for me to say those things, it was not my child slaughtered by a madman on Friday. It was not my mentally ill son who finally went over the edge and did such a heinous thing; the thing I’d lived in fear of his whole life. I simply cannot imagine the pain they feel.

When something like this happens, in some strange way, I begin to understand those reckless Christians a little better, those who daily risk their lives so others can know Him. Those that throughout history put their lives on the line, some losing them, so more people can know the Lord. I think they really understood, better than I, the fragility of life. They understood that there is no safety where there is evil. Our only hope is that more and more know safety for their souls. That more know The Savior 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I remember

I remember.

I remember the strange phone call I got from my sister in law, early that Tuesday morning, simply saying, “Turn on the tv.” She knew I’d be schooling the boys who were 10 and 7 then, and would not have the tv on.

I replied, “What channel?”

“It doesn’t matter.” She said, and hung up.

I remember turning on the tv and seeing the first tower burning; a terrible accident we all though.

I remember as my horrified little boys watched with me as the first building burned.

I remember their faces as the second plane hit the building and we realized that it was not, in fact, an accident.

I remember as 4 year old Evelyn and 2 year old Annika wandered in and looked at me and then the tv. I remember Ev saying, “What’s happening mommy?”

I remember ushering the kids away from the tv. Trying to get them back to school and realizing that was fruitless, and finally turning on a Disney movie in the playroom.

I remember coming back to the living room tv just in time to see the first tower fall.

I remember the horrifying realization that every person working in that building, and every single Firefighter, EMT, Paramedic, and Police Officer I had just seen running into that building, were gone. Just like that. Do you remember hearing even one story of one of those First Responders looking up at those burning buildings and saying, “Yeah, those are probably coming down, and I’m not going in there.”? I don’t. They went. Because that’s what they do.

I remember hearing about all the planes that were still in the sky. How many were there? How many more places would be hit? How many more would die?

I remember the shocked feeling when I realized that America was actually under attack. A feeling I never thought I’d experience in my lifetime.

I remember sitting for hours in front of the tv breathing a sigh of relief as one plane after another landed safely…until there were only two. Then the Pentagon…Then Pennsylvania. We wouldn’t learn for days of the heroics of that Pennsylvania flight. How many lives did they save with their sacrifice? We’ll never know.

I remember the eerie quiet of silent skies for days after as not one plane left the ground.

I remember wondering how this terrible thing would change the world my children knew.

Now I have one son who is fully certified and actively looking for a job as a fireman, and another son who is just about to start his training.

Soon they will be the First Responders.

I pray that all the sacrifices that were made on this day, 11 years ago, and every sacrifice since in this War On Terror, were not in vain. I pray that the world is now, 11 years later, a little bit safer. We are all certainly, a little bit wiser. No one alive that day was left untouched by the events of 9-11.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

From some of the cutest little firecrackers ever. Boy do I miss those days!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant.

Philip Henry S.

January 27, 1939 - May 30, 2012

Far Far fought brain cancer bravely and humbly for over 25 years. He lived to see all his sons happily married, he saw all of his grandchildren, and even got to know one of his great grandchildren. He has left a legacy. He lived his life pointing others to Jesus.

Words from Far Far...

Continue to trust God, He is the best one. John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you , that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulations. But take courage, I have overcome the world." The Lord has given me this promise and I pass it on you you.

You lived well, Far Far. You will be dearly missed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Moving Shadows

"My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to You; human existence is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You." (Psalm 39:5-7 NLT)

I read this verse today on my pastor's blog. What a timely verse. What wise words David wrote all those many years ago. Truth does not change with the ages. Watching my Father in Law wither away shows me the truth in these verses. Human existence really is but a breath. We really are moving shadows, busily rushing about, our work ending in nothing...UNLESS we hope in the Lord. What an amazing thing. I can't help but think, as I have been sitting by Phil's side these last few weeks, that those who are treating him; the nurses, the tech's, the doctors, they see a deterorating, dying body, but God sees his child, his servant. Because Phil put his hope in the Lord so many years ago, giving his life into the Lord's hands to do with as the Lord willed, he is so much more than a dying man. He has created a legacy because of that Hope in the Lord. He has created a heritage of Christ folowers in his own family, children and grandchildren who love the Lord. He has translated Gods word into several languages so that peopel he has never, and will never meet, can know that Hope.

His 'busy rushings' will most definitely not end in nothing. Because his hope was in the Lord, he lived a life that pointed others to Christ with almost everything he did. And very soon, he will be privdliged to hear those words we all so long for..."Well done, good and faithfull servant."

Monday, April 30, 2012

Out in the Country-ish

I wonder if I should change the name of this blog? We no longer live on the Hilltop. We now live in the country...ish. It's a few miles from suburbia, several miles from the city, but not quite the middle of nowhere. We do have neighbors. We're on one street with 1 acre lots, with farm land behind and to the side of us.

 The thing is, there seems to be quite a bit of wildlife here in the Country-ish. We've seen coyotes and foxes, hawks, and many other species of bird, and lots and lots of bunnies. I do believe this morning, Violet finally managed to catch one. She's been in hot pursuit since she we moved in. I have not asked for more details on this event.

These are all things I can live with. Nice, furry, nature. I don't mind nice, furry nature. It's the other kind of nature, the reptilian, creepy-crawly variety I don't like.

 So far, we've either pulled these creatures out of the pool, the house, or off the back porch.

 A giant toad that hopped off before a photo could be snapped.

 A giant rat that turned out to actually be a baby bunny once he dried off.

2 small snakes

1 giant spider. I have been told these like to hang out in the skimmer baskets and eat the bugs the pool pump so conveniently delivers to them. Consequently, I have not cleaned the skimmer baskets since. That job has fallen to braver, less acrophobic souls in the family.

At last count there were 10 gecko's on the roof of the patio.

 This guy who lives in my hose reel box.

But it was this visitor that gave me the most pause. This was the one visitor that made me think we had made a mistake moving out here to the country-ish. This slimy, revolting thing made me call my husband and tell him that we have to move. Now.

Yes, I do realize how much I love this house, and yes, I do remember how much I wanted more space and yes, I do know how much the kids love it out here, but well...THIS LIVES HERE!!

I walked out to the mailbox, presumably stepping right over this guy who was probably curled up taking his afternoon nap on my door mat. When I came back I stepped up to the porch to enter the side door and this is what I saw. I screamed. Loudly. Then I ran around to the front door...


I made my way in the house and watched out the window as this vile, horrid, devil-creature slithered back and forth on my porch from front door to side door, trying to find a way to get inside and kill me. I know, you may think this an overly dramatic exaggeration, but you were not here. This snake had evil in its eyes. 

Dave has convinced me that it is unwise to move at this juncture, but you can be sure, I am very careful outside these days. I don't just wander around the property, frolicking happily. My head is down, watching every step, looking for the creepy-crawly predators. I may be in danger of walking into a tree, but I'm not going to unknowingly step over any more snakes, of that you can be sure!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Darkness In A Can!

My daughter (the blond) and her cousin made this commercial on our last camping trip. Annika had an assignment from her Speech class to simply make a commercial. I think she and her cousin went way above and beyond. It's just the cutest thing! And so creative! Erika is so good at producing movies.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Zombies? Really?

A few months ago Ev read this book. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead. It's a spoof type book that she got from a friend of hers. She would occasionally read me excerpts from the book. Pretty creative and funny, though slightly disturbing. For instance, she piped up once, out of the blue saying "Did you know you can eat Zombie meat and not get infected? But you have to make sure you don't have any cuts in your mouth." Yeah.

Yes we believe in quality literature around here. (I'm sure Charlotte Mason is rolling over in her grave right about now.)

Then I found this shirt at an Etsy Site...And yes. I had to buy it. I almost bought some for her two friends too, who also enjoyed the book, but I thought that might be weird. I can't wait for it to get here. She's gonna freak.

And when I was braiding that cute little toddlers hair and putting pink bows in it and strapping on her shiny little Mary Jane's I never dreamed the day would come when I'd be buying zombie books and t-shirts for her. The things we parents do...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Wondering where I've been? Well, I've been a little preoccoupied lately. A little busy. Dave and I did something. Something some might call insane, stupid, crazy, idiotic. And many days, I might agree with them.

We did this...

We got Pepper. Pepper the Puppy. We were out at a flea market type place wandering around, killing time, having a nice little date, when we came across this litter of puppies. They were Border Collie/Blue Heeler mix. That's waht Violet is, and Violet is the Best Dog! (That's what we call her. Violet the Best Dog!). We'd talked about getting a new puppy when we got a bigger house and a backyard... and they were so cute...

I honestly don't know how it happened. I'm not usually impulsive and Dave is NEVER impulsive, and somehow, Pepper made it home with us.

This is Annika with Pepper...

This is Ev studying with Pepper...

This is Gunnar with Pepper the day after we brought her home...

This is Bryce watching tv with Pepper and rubbing her belly...

She's really a good dog. She's 3 months now and mostly potty trained. Only one accident in the last 3 days. She sits when you tell her to. She's learning stay. She does not bark her head off in her crate all night anymore...

I'm not gonna lie. Having a puppy is a lot of work. A lot like having a baby... except that you can't lock your baby in a crate at night, on the other side of the house so you can't hear it. Psychiatrists say that is bad for babies, but NOT SO for puppies!

I think she's settling in quite nicely, don't you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fleeting Glimpse of Joy

There’s a way to wake up and not to live numb. The way to love life is to imagine losing it.

What an amazing idea. What a terrifying, amazing concept. To open the door, just a crack, just a glimpse, just enough to let in a shaft of light. An idea.

Life alone. Without the ones I love. Without the One I love.

To wake up to silence. Alone-ness. No doors closing. No showers running. No dishes left in the kitchen sink. No iron left on the bathroom counter. No ever dwindling pantry stores. No milk jug with less and less in it every day. No garage door opening at 6 every night. No mud tracked in on dirty boots. No pencils and papers laying around messy living rooms at the end of long days.

No more little things, daily rituals; no more. When I think of these things, when I open up that door of 'what could be' just a crack, I am flooded with gratefulness for what is.

The life I have; the noise, the expense, the hassles, the work, the PEOPLE; it is not just what brings me joy. It IS joy. They all are my joy.

When you wake to losing someone, you win love.

When you realize that what you have, you will lose — you win real eyes. You win grateful joy
~ Ann Voskamp

When I stop to consider this moment, this time in my life, these people that I share it with; it's all temporary. We will all stand before our Creator alone. It is in this realization that true, pure, unadulterated thankfulness lives.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Joy Dare: Days 13-14

Joy Dare by Ann Voskamp

3 sounds you hear
1. My boys and their dad laughing and working together. It makes my heart happy that my husband and 17 and 20 year old boys are friends and that they are strong of mind and body and can work together.

2. My daughter giggling in the back room with her friend that slept over last night. Praise the Lord for good friends for my children.

3. The sound of the coffee pot on a cold morning.

3 ways you glimpsed the startling grace of God

1. I have a pool! I have wanted a pool for such a long time. I can’t wait to jump into it! (when it warms up a bit!)

2. We’re going here this summer. To the white sandy beaches. I can’t wait to see the sunset over the ocean.

3. One of these men is my father in law and the other is my sister-in-law’s father. Both men spent their lives serving the Lord. Both men could have chosen to use their extreme intelligence to increase their own coffers, but instead chose to work for the Lord as Bible Translators, increasing His kingdom. Examples of what it looks like to be a great man of the Lord are all around me and my family. I am blessed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

For These I Am Grateful. Joy Dare: Day 12

A warm, happy place on a cold, winter's night.

Violet, who really is the best dog ever.

And a fireplace...that will eventually be fixed and able to handle real flame.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Joy Dare: Days 9-11

Day 9 - A gift in your hand, A gift you walked by, a gift you sat with.

In my hand? My iPhone. Don’t laugh. It seems somehow irreverent to be so thankful for an iPhone, but seriously, how cool is today’s technology? I read a funny quote yesterday, something like ‘One day, I will tell my grandchildren I am older than the internet and blow their minds’. It’s TRUE! What on earth did we do before there was the Great and Mighty Google?

A gift I walked by? Every day in my new home, I walk by my laundry room. Did you catch that? A laundry ROOM! It’s not a closet off the hallway. It’s its own ROOM! Never in the history of forever has anyone been more grateful for a laundry room, I don’t think. My daughter even made me a sign for my new laundry room and I put a little M&M tin next to it to catch all the loose change.

A gift I sat with? This one is easy. My father in law. Yesterday I took lunch to my in laws. No real reason, just because. My MIL was having a hard day, so I took them some soup and some flowers to brighten up her day. And for a few minutes while my mother in law was out, I chatted with my FIL.

He is quite ill, living with the after-effects of 25 years of brain cancer and the damage the cancer itself and the treatment has caused. He can barely hear you or be heard himself, so those few minutes of quiet I spent with him were sweet. We had a rare moment of communication.

When my first son was born, 20 years ago we gave him the middle name of his grandfather, assuming that this would be the only grandchild he would ever meet. The doctors had not given him long to live. That was 20 years, 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild ago. Every day with my FIL simply being present on this earth, is a gift.

Day 10

A gift that’s sour, A gift that’s sweet, a gift that’s just right.

Sour? Humm. That’s a hard one for me. I don’t like sour. Literally or metaphorically, but I guess without the sour in juxtaposition to the sweet, we would not appreciate how wonderful the sweet really is.

Sweet? Hello? Chocolate! I cannot imagine a life without chocolate.

Just right?
This. This family God gave me. I would have chosen differently, probably. I wanted more children, but God said ‘No. This is just right.' And it is. Just right.

Day 11

Three yellow things that strike you as fresh mercy.

I LOVE yellow!

When we moved into this house I knew I wanted yellow somewhere. Yellow is happy, yellow is bright, yellow is cheery. You can’t be sad in a yellow room. Yellow will not allow sadness. I painted our dining room yellow. It was purple when we bought the house.

This room makes me happy.

We've had a few dreary days here so I picked up some yellow tulips the other day to bring a little cheer to the house. Tulips are my favorite flower and yellow tulips are like sunshine in a vase!

And, of course, the best yellow of all…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Joy Dare; Day 8

A light that caught you, a reflection that surprised you, a shadow that fell lovely.

The sunrise, new every morning. The reflection of the trees in the still, morning, pool. The shadows falling over the sun-golden field. Gods Beauty. It felt like He did it just for me on this morning.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Joy Dare: Day 7

Three Graces From People You Love…

Definition of Grace
A Basic Definition—lexical

The Greek word for grace is caris. Its basic idea is simply “non-meritorious or unearned favor, an unearned gift, a favor or blessings bestowed as a gift, freely and never as merit for work performed.”

Sticking with the traditional definition of ‘Grace’ I’m going to answer today’s Joy Dare with 3 literal gifts I have received from family.

1. After moving into our new and long awaited home, my Sister in Law, Ruthie, gave me this plaque. It sits on my windowsill just above my sink. Every time I see it, I can’t help but hum the old hymn. What a gift. It points me to my Lord with these words…

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

2. Another ‘house warming’ gift I received was the literal gift of warmth. My sister and her family gave us this fire pit when they came over on Christmas Eve, one week exactly after we’d moved in. They even brought firewood so we could light it right up and enjoy the God-given warmth of fire, and the heart-warmth of family gathered around it.

3. The next Grace I received from people I loved is the gift of laughter from my family. We have some strange and silly traditions in this family.

First, my Mother in Law is quite the jokster. She has bought every family member (and then some!) a gnome. Our gnomes are of the roaming variety. She tends to move them around to odd places when she’s here visiting. Other, younger, members of the family have joined in the game and now my gnome ends up in some very odd palces. This is where I found Harold the Roaming Gnome after my twin nephews left the other day.

(The PukPuk is up at the top of the window. Sorry, not the best shot.)

Second, we have the odd tradition of ‘The Golden PukPuk’ . PukPuk is Iatmul for Crocodile. Iatmul is a language group in Papua New Guinea. My In-Law’s translated the Bible into their laughage. When they came home from New Guinea, they brought several artifacts including many PukPuks. This particular PukPuk was painted gold and somehow finds its way into the newest house in the family. I turned around one day after getting something out of my pantry and lo’ and behold, there was the Golden PukPuk. He was last residing in my Brother-in-Law Eric’s house, so I suspect Eric helped it find its way to my window. It makes me smile every time I see it.

And finally, my other Sister-in-Law Rachel gave me this sign. She bought it a while back and held onto it for a long time in faith that one day I’d have an actual laundry ROOM to put it in. Now I do. I love it. Also, I am really hoping NO ONE takes the sign seriously. That could be awkward.

I love my family. My side, my husband’s side, and those we’ve grafted in. My cup overfloweth.

(January's Joy Dare Daily List)