Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If You Give a Girl A Camera . . .

. . . then she will need to dress up her dolly. 

If she is going to dress up her dolly, she will need a brush for her hair.  So she will go to her sister's room and ask to borrow the brush.
Her sister will offer to lend her a brush, but first she will want to take a picture or two of herself.  So she will need the brush first. :)

Sister will admire her new glasses as she takes some pictures.  Then she will want to take more pictures because it is hard to stop at just one!

In the living room, she will find some more people for her pictures.  She will do all sorts of silly things to get the people to smile for the camera.  When Mama Rita, in the middle, is holding her "baby" it will remind the girl of her dolly.

Then the girl will want to go back to her room and take more pictures of her dolly, and her other favorite friends like her horse.

So she and her dolly will ride horses together.  She will explore wide valleys and climb steep mountains in search of just the right next outfit for this photo day!

So if you give a girl a camera . . .

you will have lots of pictures of your girl and the many people and things she loves.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up

We are wrapping up the first 12 weeks of school which is our first term!  It is hard to believe that we are 1/3 through this year already!  We are looking forward to a fall break next week while Papa Jim and Mama Rita are here, and of course Memaw will be back.

I am putting away the literature books we finished this term and the girls are already asking what we will be reading next term.  Over our 7 years of homeschooling we have complete five lapbooks.  One was on Little House in the Big Woods and today Lydia found them on the shelf.  She spent hours looking at them.  Then the girls looked at all of them: Dinosaurs, Art Appreciation, George Washington's World History, and a Bible Memory verse one.  Two of these we did before I was a CMer and three we have done after.  It is evident to see which ones were kit directed and which ones were child-directed.  I think they can both be useful, but I especially appreciate a more laid-back approach now.  As the get older I can give them options and let them determine their own preference for how to organize, record, and share the information they are learning.  Mary and Lydia are already looking forward to doing the LHitBW lapbook since Mary will be reading it to Lydia in term 3 this year.  So Mary's narrations will mostly be drawings, comparisons, and written narrations based on each chapter as she completes it.  I imagine it will be very different from the kit lapbook she made 3 years ago.  I am still pondering if I should have Hannah and Sarah chose a literature selection for a lapbook also.

Earlier this month our church band played at Sinkland Farms in Christiansburg.  It was on a Sunday afternoon and it was a beautiful day to sing praises to God and let the girls enjoy some fall fun.  Memaw was so kind and took the girls around to the activities while we played in the barn area.  The girls loved it. 

Here are the girls, plus their friend Cheyenne putting on some cute masks - well except for that silly daughter who picked up the witch mask.  Yuck!  The rest are so cute, I just had to show the picture.

Cheyenne and Mary looking at some vendors wares.

Hannah likes the colorful clown!

Sarah trying her hand at milking the cow.  Not much to show for it. LOL
Isn't she just adorable!  She seems to be taking it so seriously!

Having a great time!

They were actually very tired here.  The long and confusing maze had worn them out!  They were also able to pet some farm animals, watch a pumpkin catapult and ride the hayride around the pumpkin patch. 
Last but not least, we recorded the instructions for growing a GIANT pumpkin.  This is Hannah's goal for next year! :)  We shall see.

Sorry no pictures of the band, but we did have a great time!

On the same day, a dear sweet sister from our former church in FL called to wish DH a Happy Pastor's Appreciation Day and two of our church members here blessed him with a very sweet gift.  We are so thankful for the love of God, our church family (past and present) and our many blessings!

With all my heart ~

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thirteen Years of Blessings Remembered

Cliff note version:  Thank you DH for the best 13 years of my life!  You have given me your heart, your time, four girls, and so much love.  Looking forward to the next 13!

Long version: Mostly written for myself and posterity! LOL  But please keep reading if you'd like.  Please forgive my repeated thankfulness.  I am thankful, really thankful! :)

1998:  Married October 10th at the church where we met when DH came to be the pastor. It was a wonderful year of learning more about him (and myself) as we joined our hearts and homes.  Began to see the tremendous blessings and responsibilities of being a pastor's wife.

1999:  Found out in April we were to be parents.  By July we had the mini-van and by September the baby room was nearly ready.  We enjoyed our last few months (including our 1st Anniversary) savoring the quiet and loving the thoughts of baby noises coming soon.  Hannah joined our little family in December during all the 2K scare.  So thankful that every thing was fine and we had lots of canned food for the rest of the year! LOL  DH was proving to be a wonderful and caring father as well as husband.

2000:  Found out in April that we were to be parents again!  A whirlwind of a year as I learned to be a wife, pastor's wife (because of course I was still learning), mom and pregnant mom! LOL  Our December baby #2, Sarah, was another pink princess blessing!  I realized that each year we were married I felt like time had flown by but also that it should have been longer that we had loved each other.  Doesn't that sound weird, but I just felt like we had loved each other so much longer than two years! :)

2001:  Moved to the home of my dreams in January or February (can't quite remember, blame lost brain cells from 2 pregnancies... babies are worth it!)  It was a large house and still had plenty of room when my parents, sister, BIL, and their dear baby moved in for a few months. Life was blessed with two beautiful girls and a husband who grew to love me more each day.  I didn't believe I could be happier except for one heart was aching to stay home.  I began praying each day for God to speak to DH about me staying home sooner than our plan.  God answered in a month when Alpheus and I took a walk, and he shared that he wanted me to be home full time!  God was preparing us for an even bigger change.  We were moving to Florida!  By October we were 800 miles away from that dream home and our extended family, but we were just as happy!

2002:  By the end of February God had done some miracle work, and we were in our home right across the street from our new church.  The people were wonderful and God was teaching us so much about faith, trust, Providence, and contentment.  In late July we found out we were expecting another baby!  This time by November we knew that God was again blessing us with a girl.  The first two were so excited and thrilled by the changes and preparation for their new baby sister.  DH was continuing to do all he could to bless our family and worked so hard for us and the church.  God was also working in us to draw us to a closer walk with Him and  a clearer understanding of His word.  This time of sanctification was hard at times but so joyous as well! 

2003:  As the birth of our 3rd girl drew near so did plans for DH's mom to move to Florida in the house next door.  What a wonderful blessing we had in living beside her for 5 years!  In March we had the best delivery followed by the worst case of jaundice for our little doll!  The bigger girls had  suffered from it as well, but Mary had the most severe case, staying in the hospital a week.  We felt very blessed when God pulled her through that!  By April we were happily adjusting to being outnumbered and fitting three car seats in our four door truck!  My life was filled with sippy cups and preschool activities and growing as a wife.  God gave me a patient husband who blessed me by making the most of it as I learned to do many new things. 5th year anniversary celebration in Tallahassee, FL.  I coudn't find any pictures though.

2004:  God had blessed our church and the new building was coming along.  DH spent many days in physical and spiritual labor and again our walk with God was challenged and blessed.  We met dear friends from a neighboring county who ended up moving in the lot behind us.  We felt our spirits made kindred by God.  We will always be thankful for God's Providence in bringing them to our lives!  I was beginning to be serious in preparation for homeschooling and God provided all I needed in materials and mentors. 

2005:  Continuing to grow in the Lord and be blessed doing full time ministry and full time homeschooling. Our days were so happy that I have a hard time remembering anything distinctly difficult.  It was a precious time of growing in the Lord and our love for each other.  I remember that this was the year that DH made me the most special meal while I was waiting at his mom's house next door.  I was delighted to see the flowers, balloons, candy, and a delicious meal for our 7th anniversary. 

2006:  This was a hard year for me emotionally.  I wanted more children and felt my lack of trust and faith in God had ruined this for our future.  I begged and pleaded with God to heal me and to give us more children.  DH showed such tender love for me and prayed with me for this miracle.  I was learning more about the great sacrifice it is to be a loving wife and mother.  I was learning that I had to give more of myself than I wanted.  It was hard work to be a good mother 24/7.  I begged God to make me content with His plans.  He blessed me with so much.  On our 8th anniversary DH made me the biggest card he had ever made! (He used all the tape that he could find at the church along with 64 pieces of paper for an 8 by 8 card!) 

 It was such a testimony to how our love had grown for each other.  We had determined at the beginnning of our married life that we would only build each other up with our words and we would forget what had been forgiven.  We were tested many times by each other, but God was honoring our hopes and dreams for our marriage.  We celebrated this year by going to the Melting Pot and then to see Facing the Giants which had just opened that weekend. 

2007:  In March, DH and I both visited a dear friend's daughter who had just given birth to a baby.  We didn't realize how significant this would be later in the year.  It was another blessed year of growth in our house.  We were delighted with how much our three girls were learning and doing.  DH built them a great big fort in the back yard for Christmas and we enjoyed making many delightful memories with picnics, trips to the beach, cookouts and so on.  Our 9th anniversary was another special evening at home reflecting on God's blessings in our family and church. All the year, our dear friend had been bringing her granddaughter to church and then our house each Sunday afternoon she would spend with us until it was time for evening church.  God was blending our hearts because He knew that soon He would blend our families.

2008:  By January I began to see hope for the answer to that prayer in 2006.  Through God directed events that precious baby was being offered to us through adoption.  There was a heart breaking period at one point, where the biological mom changed her mind before she had signed any papers.  We trusted that God does all things well and we waited for His moving.  Ten days later the baby was back with us and the papers had been signed.  God had worked another miracle life into our lives.  Many people asked, "Why didn't you adopt a boy?" but God knew who we needed and who needed us! :)  We began the homestudy process and by November 5th Lydia was officially ours.  In the meantime, God had also called us to another great change.  We were to move back to Virginia.  Trust and obey was our theme song for the next several months!  So our 10th anniversary was spent back in VA at my alma mater's football game and seeing Fire Proof at the theater! My precious DH always goes out of his way to do what I want on our anniversary!

2009:  The time since we had moved back to VA was beginning to take a toll on my DH.  We knew we had obeyed God's direction, but it was hard to leave all our dear friends in FL, a full time minister's job and our home.  But God always provides in the right time and the right way.  By February God had given us a church family and ministry as well as a home.  By the middle of the year, DH was experiencing a serious medical issue with his heart.  Surgery was helpful, but he has still been dealing with the after affects of this condition.  We were so thankful for God's providence again during this time!  This was the first time I had felt like I might have to raise our children without DH and I am thankful that was not God's plan, but I know that He would strengthen me in whatever He asks of me.  We also began to play music with a few people from church which has turned into a great time of fellowship and praise to the Lord, along with an opportunity to spread the gospel.  Our 11th anniversary was a delicious dinner with new friends from our church who also have their anniversary a week after ours. 

2010:  We continued to feel the love of God being poured out on us through our new church family and friends.  We also were experiencing trials as part of our growth.  God is always gracious to see us through.  This was a blessed year for us as parents as we saw God working in the heart of one of our daughters for salvation.  We were also blessed by visits from Florida family and friends.  We are so thankful that our church families continue to love and pray for us even after God calls us away.  We regularly pray for them as well and I can better understand how Paul felt about all the churches that he ministered to.

2011:  This year has been just like the others in so many ways.  God is constantly showing us how to be better for each other and our girls.  He is also teaching us to humble ourselves and trust Him fully.  We have learned that God's work is hard and painful and demolishes our pride, but also tender and joyful and precious.  With several tradgedies in the lives of people we knew, we try each day to better appreciate each other for our strengths and to ignore the little things that really mean nothing in the long run.  On this 13th year I have learned to stop wishing for the future and really enjoy remembering the past and living in the moments here and now.  I guess that is why I have chronicled here these life changing moments.  For me to relive and appreciate.  One day for our girls to read and to try to share the ups and downs.  For our anniversary this year we went to see another Sherwood Pictures movie.  It is convenient how they always release them at the end of September! LOL  Courageous was a wonderful video that reminded me of just the things I have been feeling lately. 

from Hannah

Take the time to do the small things for your husband.  You don't know if you will have tomorrow to do anything for him.

from Sarah

Don't waste time worrying, fretting or fussing over little things that bother you.  You don't know if you will have tomorrow to apologize.

from Mary

Take the time to enjoy the little joys that are so important to your children.  They may seem trivial to you, but the time is more important than the event. You don't know if you will get a second chance to dance with them, or listen to what they want to do during their free time, or wear the flower chains, or listen to the Bob book for the 3rd time!

from Lydia (We are taking an anniversary boat ride.) :)

Most of all, study the word of God.  It is the only source of truth and strength. He gave you your husband and family.  He knows just what you need.

Thank you God for giving me just what I needed 13 years ago!

With all my heart~

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Proverbs 31:15

I loathe to admit this, but I hate to get up early, much less while it is still dark out!  I have often thought of these convicting words in the scriptural prescription of a godly wife and mother. 

Proverbs 31:15

She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.  NASU

I enjoy staying up late.  I relish the quiet time with all the girls in bed and I can catch up on work or reading without interruption.  However, sometimes I am so absorbed in my activity that I stay up too late.  That makes for a grumpy wife, mommy and teacher the next day. 

The other day I was listening to my girls describe being homeschooled to a friend from church.  Basically the only complaint was that sometimes mommy got angry if they didn't get the problem right.  OUCH!  Yes, earlier that day I was very irritable and sinned in my reaction to their work. Yes, I could try to justify myself by mentioning that the problem was one they had done many times before, or that I had just showed her how to do it again, or that their attitude was pouty and disrespectful, but the fact remained of my sin.  I usually do ask for forgiveness fairly quickly because I hate that I do it.  I never yelled at my public school children.  I want to treat my own girls with just as much respect and patience.  So I determined last night to set my alarm for 7 and get up so I won't start the day rushed and feeling behind. 

It was so hard to get out of bed.  The alarm clock is in the school room (to help us keep our lessons 30 min. or shorter per subject) which is next door to our bedroom so I had to get out of bed to turn it off.  Turning back to my bed, I fought the temptation to tip-toe back in and slip between the sheets of peaceful slumber! Then God reminded me about the reason I was getting up early.  I need that time to talk to Him, to read something edifying, and to start the day knowing that I have plenty of time. 

So we had a wonderful school day today!  The girls did their part to have all morning chores and breakfast finished before 8:30AM, too!  Everyone clipped right along through their work and we had some great discussions as well.  By lunch time only one girl had one assignment left to finish. I am so thankful and inspired again to obey and learn from God's Word!  I know that it will not be easy again in the morning, but it will be worth it. 

I pray that one day when my girls describe me and how I led our days, that it will be more like Proverbs 31 and NOT the description I heard in the van this past week!

With All My Heart~