Friday, December 11, 2009

Morning Thoughts...

I have been reading a book that has quickly won it's way into my heart. It's called 'A Bethlehem Christmas' by Charles Swindoll. It's a book divided into three chapters. The first chapter describes the events of Christ's birth through Mary's perspective, the second chapter through Joseph's perspective, and the last chapter through the angel Gabriel's perspective. I was reading it to the boys this morning, and a familiar knot found it's way into my throat. I'd like to share a little bit of what the angel Gabriel had to say...

" I know more than any mortal could, for I stand in the very presence of God and announce His decrees to people on earth. Yet, despite the timeless, heavenly perspective I enjoy as one of His heavenly messengers, one particular mystery is beyond my ability to understand: God's persistent, unrelenting love for people. It began before time and it will never end." ~ Gabriel

Isn't that so true, and simply amazing? The birth of Jesus was a master plan for human kind. The plan was formed because of that relentless love for all of US. Some of us have chosen to look in the direction of this Savior born to us, others haven't YET... but God never gives up. He chooses to remain the same. He chooses to be persistent. He chooses to desire to win the hearts of EVERYBODY. He chooses those that are continually judged by many. He chooses those that are rejected by many. He chooses those that choose Him, but don't live as though they do. He chooses me.

Simply. Beautiful.

I highly recommend this book to anyone desiring to gain more perspective about Christ's birth. I have nativity sets throughout my house, and after reading this book, I will never look at them the same again.

Happy Friday. ~

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SNOW! Beautiful SNOW!









What a beautiful, memorable day we had yesterday. We knew we were supposed to get snow... but we DIDN'T think we would be getting close to TWO FEET of snow! We woke up to beauty that is totally unspeakable. It was one of those moments that you wish you could just freeze time. The boys were shrieking with joy and J and I were snuggling with a cup of coffee just enjoying our togetherness as a family. We played in it ALL DAY. We took our Christmas pictures out in it. We even hiked in it.

That's right... we packed up our backpacks and headed about a mile up the street to have lunch with friends in their cozy house. We ate yummy soup, drank hot chocolate and played some more out in the snow. They have some ROCKIN' steep hills over at their place for all of these EXTREME sport-sters.

It was a beautiful day yesterday. The kind of goodness that only God can bring to a day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

'Tis The Season!


December is upon us.

I'm not even going to mention the fact that just yesterday we were basking in the sun at the pool. Well, not really... BUT it SEEMS like just yesterday. So I've been thinking about all the things I LOVE about this time of year. I've had a little more time to do that this year because for the first time in about 17 years, I'm not making outrageous amounts of peanut brittle and fudge in my kitchen. I will still be making these things to give away, but I'm not selling this year, and I've gotta tell you... it feels good!

As I've mentioned before, I love to bake. Starting about two weeks ago, my house has contained a continuous aroma of pumpkin spice something, gingerbread something, and chocolatey something. Creating yummy and beautiful goodness in my kitchen is something near and dear to my heart. So, for me... the season smells unlike any other.

The lights and colors are festive and make me happy. There's something about driving down any given street around the Christmas season and looking in people's windows. Seeing their cozy homes all lit up from the inside out. Watching the smoke rising out from their chimneys into the crisp air. The sights around me are warm and inviting.

The season of Christmas brings all sorts of emotions. I feel blessed to be a mom all during the year, but for some reason, more so around Christmas. Children bring magic to the season. Their spirits are contagious. Their smiles are genuine and bright. They are full of anticipation over all the traditions of the season and they find it hard to contain their excitement. I am happy to have my daily dose of childhood excitement, because even on the worst day of waiting in some ridiculous line, or fighting terrible traffic... my boys are ready to greet me with a hug and some story that will take every care away.

Some people get tired of Christmas music, and some don't even like it at all. I LOVE CHRISTMAS MUSIC! Isn't it true that you find yourself taken back to the age of your own childhood through the gift of Christmas music? I will be in my car listening to it, and suddenly I'll have a memory of singing this very song in front of a gymnasium full of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles while wearing one of the many Christmas dresses that my mom made just for me. The songs of Jesus' birth always make me tear up because I LOVE to picture myself as one of those being there to witness it all. You know... like maybe one of those angels... or shepherds. The sounds of the season are sweet and full of sentiment.

'Tis the season to be grateful to experience it all. To experience the sights, smells, sounds and feelings that come from knowing that a Savior came to save ME. That a Father sent His son to die for ME. That He came in the same form as you and I... a sweet little baby. Born to a mother who loved Him with all her heart. Born with the greatest purpose... to be our King.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Men of Few Words

Yeah, like any of you actually believe that one... right? My three little men are NOT of few words. They ALWAYS have something to say. I used to keep a little journal to write down some of the funny and heart felt things they would say. Now, I try to jot them down here instead. It seems they have had a lot to say lately.

It must be because of the holidays in the air.

I was away at a meeting when the boys and their dad decided to have a talk about girls. That has become more of an "issue" this year with them being in the co-op. J asked the boys if they had their eyes on any girls, and they all snickered.

Caleb: "Ya... I like Maddie. She's nice and she helps me with my math sometimes."

Colby: "Ummm... I have two." WHAT?????

Lucas: With a big 12 year old smile, "Yes, but I'm not going to share".

So, J takes this opportunity to talk to them about what's important to look for in a girl. He mentions a few things and then Caleb shouts out...

"I know what kind of girl NOT to like! Remember those girls in the parking lot at the park last summer? They were talking really bad and lighting fireworks, remember? Those kinds of girls aren't good ones for me, right?"

Right on, Caleb.

They go on talking about how it's important to know if the one you like loves Jesus and makes church a part of their lives. Then it's Colby's turn to pipe in...

"Dad, what if BOTH girls love Jesus AND go to church?" UGH!

I'm sure there will be more to share on this topic through the years.

We were in San Francisco last week for a field trip. It was a great day. After being educated, we went to a beach to explore. We found this old beach called Old Bathhouse Ruins. It was the site of an old Bathhouse and the building mostly washed away, but there was still the lower portion of the old cement building left for the boys to explore through. They were SOoooo excited to run through the building, jumping over the walls and peeking their heads through the windows. After doing this for awhile, Caleb came to us and said, "Mom, dad, there are girls with beards in one of those rooms." Okay, so we ARE in San Fran where ANYTHING is possible. We gathered the boys and continued our exploring. J said that he saw the "girls with beards" and one of them was actually a guy with long hair, but the other one could not be confirmed. Like I said... anything is possible.

Yesterday the boys were talking about going to see Santa at the mall. Our younger two are still really into this. Surprising, I know. Anyhow, I told them that I had heard a rumor that Santa at the mall was wearing latex gloves this year. Apparently, the cotton ones that he usually wears aren't acceptable because H1N1 germs have been known to stick to cotton gloves and be transfered kid to kid. Ummm, not sure about that one, but who am I to judge.

Whatever.

So, I told them maybe we would go somewhere else to talk to Santa and get pictures. Colby almost hyper-ventilated. He informed us that we simply couldn't do that because if he gave his list to any other Santa but the one at the mall, he would be robbed of everything on his list. He went on to give us examples of when a friend of his saw another santa and he gave him his list, but got totally different stuff than what he asked for.

So, I guess latex it is. Just to play it safe for Colby. :0)

Lots of words. My little men are NOT men of few words. They keep me giggling ALL THE TIME.... and it only gets better each year.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

** PS. The song now playing is the one I referred to a couple of weeks ago. All three of the boys have it memorized now. Hearing them sing it is the equivalent of hearing a two year old sing "Jesus Loves Me". SO SWEET!

Friday, November 13, 2009

True Love


I love these boys! All four of them bring joy to my heart daily, and I'm so grateful to be blessed by their lives continuously...


** Note: The collar around Copper's mouth is NOT a muzzell! It's called a gentle leader, and for anyone out there looking for a FANTASTIC way to train your dog to walk beside you instead of pulling you, it's a great tool! :0)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cleaning House

Do you ever feel like the Lord is just cleaning house inside the depths of your soul? Like He's reaching into ALL the crevices and removing every cob web?

I do.

Lately, I've been feeling that a LOT. I posted here a few weeks ago about how I felt like God was preparing me for some changes. I'm still totally unsure of what those changes are. I still feel COMPLETELY in the dark. I trust Him though. I trust him with my life.

The past couple of weeks, more than anything, I have felt like God was just cleaning house. He's doing the work that needs to be done inside of me before giving me MORE work that needs to be done around me.

Cleaning house is a hard thing though. It's dirty work. Letting go of past hurts and things that have made me down right angry isn't something that comes easy to me. Surrendering those things is what He wants from me, and I know in the end the burdens on my shoulder will be much lighter. It's true what they say you know... "It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile".

So smile... I will. Frown... I won't. Today I'm actually feeling excited about this house cleaning. I'm expecting to hear God's voice whispering in my ear all along... assuring me.

I am His and He is mine.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Four Boys



Isn't this the CUTEST picture you've seen in a while??? They are BOTH cute, but the one I'm referring to is the one including my furry boy. I couldn't resist posting it. I've already made it my screen saver too. This past Friday we packed up "the crew" and headed for Apple Hill. For all of you who aren't locals, Apple Hill is located here in the foothills (but on the OTHER side of the canyon) and it's chock FULL of fun activities. There are apple farms every where and each one has something different to offer. There are crafters, bakers, ponds full of fish, train rides, pony rides... much to spend your money on if you so desire. Personally, we opt for the caramel apples and an occasional apple pie to take home. We don't spend as much money as we do time just walking around, enjoying the sites and mingling with other apple hill fans.

On our way home, we stopped in Coloma (an old gold mining town) and spent some time at the river. The boys made boats out of sticks and leaves and then raced them down the river. They skipped rocks and made bridges out of rocks. J and I took lots of pictures and cozied up on a rock and chatted about the boys and all of our many blessings. Copper hung out with the boys, and did whatever they were doing. The boys had climbed up on this small deck (actually it's part of a replica of an old mill) and they were looking over the edge across the river. At one point, one of them said...

"Wow... Look at that!"

Next thing we know, there's Copper... right up there with them. It seems he doesn't want to miss out on anything! It made for a perfect photo opportunity though. :0)

It's a good thing that we had such a glorious time on Friday. As of yesterday, all three are sick AGAIN! Seriously???? We are in the month of October, right? It's feeling a lot like February to me around here with all the tissues flying through the air and medicine spoons cluttering the dishwasher. UGH.... This too shall pass.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Taking a Break




This week we are on fall break. I LOVE fall break. Well, I guess I LOVE ALL breaks, but especially my fall one. My heart cozies up to my boys for a whole week of just playing and hanging out together. I get to linger over my coffee for a bit longer than usual. We all adore the colors of fall and the crispness in the air, so we get to take a break from the business of life and just savor it.

In some ways, I guess you could say that it sometimes feels like we are preparing for hibernation. Oh, wait... we're not bears, so I guess that's not actually allowed. Well, something similar at least. Our boys don't play any winter sports, so our schedules slow down A LOT and it really does FEEL like we almost hibernate.

Anyhow... I digress...

Back to our break. Today is Wednesday and so far this week we have gone hunting for our Halloween costumes and taken a trip to the pumpkin patch. Every year we shop around at thrift stores and find our costumes. We piece them together. It's more fun that way. It's just NOT fun going and buying the complete costume in a box or on a hanger. The boys and I look forward to this trip every year. I love to see their creativity change. Lucas chose to be a mad scientist, Colby chose to be the mad scientist's "experiment gone wrong", and Caleb chose to be a plumber. I know.. a PLUMBER?????? I'm telling you... my Caleb boy... he's something else! I will be sure to post pictures.

Our trip to the pumpkin patch was fun, as always. This year, for the first time ever.... the boys decided that they were too old for their regular trip to the patch. Apparently, the train is too small and full of "screaming little ones", and overall, they have outgrown it. :0(

HOWEVER... when Grammy Berta invited us to go to a patch with blow up castles and slides and HOMEMADE PUMPKIN MUFFINS... the overwhelming response was.... "Well, DUH, Ya!"

I'm so happy that they haven't truly outgrown the pumpkin patch.

We've been doing lots of other fun things this week, but the general theme has just been togetherness and it just doesn't get any better than that! Lots of hugs being tossed around... and even a few kisses here and there.

I love fall break!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beautiful



Today I am embracing all "things" beautiful in my life. These are just a few...

Listening to my children sing the words "He loves me... Oh, how He loves me" with the David Crowder Band in our car. These kinds of moments are among the MOST beautiful to me! There is absolutely NOTHING sweeter. ~

The glow of our first wood stove fire on a cold,blustery VERY wet fall day. ~

The smell of nut bread and coffee lingering through my house.... YUM! ~

Knowing that my boys are happy. Seeing their joy on their faces, as well as hearing it in their voices. ~

Like I said, these are just a few. There are too many to count. What do YOU find beautiful today?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Love Never Fails


This past weekend my honey and I celebrated 17 years of being married. I have been married to my best friend for SEVENTEEN years... WOW!

Our anniversary was the end of September, but we spent the actual day wiping noses and handing out medications to everyone... including me. God is good though... He knew we needed that special time as a family. A time to slow down and spend time here, in our "cave". He also knew that a week later... we would be celebrating in beautiful SNOW!

That's right... I never thought that we would be spending an anniversary in the snow, but that's just what we did. We spent the weekend together in Tahoe and BIG, gorgeous snow flakes fell all day on Sunday. It was so peaceful... so sweet... so romantic. Mmmmmmm.....

I am so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man. He is a wonderful husband and an exceptional father. My heart still skips a beat when he walks in the door at the end of the day. I realize that not everyone is so lucky to be able to say that. We have our issues, as everyone does. We both never stop trying though. We know that relationships are never just "done". They take work continually. They require 100 percent commitment.

Life brings all sorts of challenges. The storms that come sometimes seem so totally unbearable. One thing that J and I have always kept tucked inside of "us" is this...

Love never fails.

The scripture says it perfectly. It is the anthem of J and I's hearts. It is what has rescued us many times over. God's love for us, individually and as a married couple never fails. God's love for us is what makes our love for each other so strong. So unique. So lovely. This love that we have will never fail... as long as we always have that foundation.

Love is what matters the most.

Love never fails... yesterday.. today and always.




I love you J.

~ me

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Raging Seas

There have been many occasions during the past couple of weeks where I have reflected upon my current emotions, but I haven't had a chance to record them until now. We have had sickness in the house for a couple of weeks. For now, wellness is back. The boys are at school (it STILL feels weird to say/type that) and the little one I watch is taking her nap. The house is quiet on this cool, fall-like Tuesday afternoon.

I think I mentioned here before how I have felt recently that God is stirring things up in the depths of my soul. He is speaking, but my ears are not able to decipher the words yet. Well... maybe I should say I'm not ready to hear what He's saying. I honestly feel like most of the time this is the case. I often say that I need Him to put things in writing for me. You know... like a bill board or something like that. What I often mean by this is that I need (want) to hear Him clearly... making no mistakes about what He's saying.

In truth though, most of the time I already know what He's saying... I'm just not ready for it.

I was talking with a friend yesterday and she shared something that made perfect sense to me. She told me how it's a known fact that often times a mother eagle has to literally make her nest messy in order to get "the kids" to leave when it's time. They would stay FOREVER if the mama bird continued to clean up after them and do everything she could to keep it comfortable. As soon as she begins to make it UNcomfortable though... they take that as their signal to move on. Interesting, huh?

Well, God is starting to make my nest here a little uncomfortable. No, do not take that in a literal way. We are not moving. However, I do believe that God is moving me in different directions. He is making plans for me. New ones.

So, you know how I am about change. I'll fight it every time. UGH... you would think I would have learned by now! Therefore... I am asking a few friends to pray. Please pray that I'll fight the urge to fight. Pray that my heart will be open, my ears will be listening and that every part of me will be willing to follow a God that I trust and adore. Pray that whatever it is He has in store for me next won't present itself as being "too big" for me. Pray that I have confidence in knowing that He won't give me more than I can handle.

I'm so thankful that I have a God who is everything to me. I'm thankful that I can surrender myself to Him and be directed by His desires for my life. I'm thankful for quiet moments to pray and reflect.

I'm thankful for those in my life that I can go to and ask for prayer... knowing that you will do just that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy birthday Colby!


Today my second born is 10... double digits again. UGH! He has to be the proudest 10 year old I've ever seen though. He has waited for this day to come for a long time. You see... for the boys' 10 year birthday, they receive pocket knives... their first. When Luke got his two years ago, Colby cried and said that this day would "NEVER" come.

And yet again... it has.

Colby is the oldest 10 year old I know. This boy holds so much knowledge in his head... it's AMAZING! He can give you stats on pretty much anything at the drop of a hat. He reads a lot and "inputs" a lot. It's fun to watch him talk with his peers, as well as other adults. Colby is not afraid of anything. One of his favorite things to do is go to car shows. He LOVES cars... exotics and classics. The men who own these cars usually see him coming and try to avoid him. It's sad because kids these days have earned bad reputations for every kid. Adults automatically assume that he's just another bratty kid who wants to touch their stuff.

Not Colby.

He will politely walk up to these men and ask them all the questions these guys want to hear. They get into long conversations about the cars and sometimes even a story about their past lives. When Colby is done, he's earned himself a friend and a few compliments always come our way about what a great kid he is. He's good at making us proud parents.

I think if I had to pick one favorite moment with Colby this year it would be his first day of school a couple of weeks ago.

He was SO. STINKIN'. EXCITED!!!!

The precious smile on his face that went ear to ear was priceless and something that I will never forget. He is my social bug, and this decision to send him to school was most definitely the right thing.

As we start another year in the life of Colby, I am praying these things:

1. That Colby will understand the value in being a kid, and let himself be just that. He's my boy who always wants to grow up too fast. I have tried to make him see that you only get to be a kid once... enjoy it while you can!

2. That he will continue to be the light that Jesus has made him to be. Colby is a natural people person. I pray that this gift can be used for God's glory.

3. For his health and well being during this school year. We were recently told that his asthma has developed more into a classic form instead of the mild-ish form that he has previous had problems with. We pray that with medicines and other preventative measures, it doesn't become more of a problem for him.

Happy birthday my sweet 10 year old! You said this day would never come, and guess what?

It did.

I love you...

Mom

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tear Stained T-Shirts

It's finally here...

The much anticipated, a little dreaded (only selfishly on my part) first day of school.

It looks different for us this year. The boys are enrolled in a co-op where they will be attending classes three days a week. They will each have their own teachers. They will take everything from core classes to electives such as art and music. Their days at school will begin in the am and end in the pm. They will load themselves into the car in the morning with their packed lunches and VERY full back packs. This day will be a happy one, but it will bring it's challenges too.

As we said our prayers and "good-nights" tonight there were a little tears shed. I could tell that they were tears of anxiousness over the unknowns, but they were accompanied by the words...

"I'm going to miss you, Mom."

After all, they have started each school day in their home since they each started kindergarten. They have learned to read, spell and the basics of mathematics at our own dining room table. Recess has meant play time on the play structure in our back yard or throwing a baseball back and forth in the front yard. Lunch time has been sandwiches on a plate, not out of a lunch box.

They are ready though. They are eager to start this new journey and learn new things. I am ready and excited for them too. I can see and feel that they have been armored and that they will go out and shine as lights in the darkness. I am a very proud Mama.

Seeing the reflection of tear stains on my shirt in the mirror tonight is something that will always stay with me. It was very symbolic to me. It was confirmation that these years that I've spent following God's leading to do what we knew He wanted us to do at home was the right thing. This new chapter is also God's leading... and what we believe is the right thing now. I'm grateful for a God who makes His presence known in my life and for a family who is always ready and eager to follow.

Good luck tomorrow, boys. Mom will be praying for you All. Day. Long.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Don't Forget The Now


Today I received a reminder... and I was actually the one to remind myself!

A friend of mine is taking some classes. She is also the mom of a "tween" and a toddler too. Oh, and she works outside the home three days a week. She was telling me how intense the classes are and how she doesn't know if she really has time for the stress involved.

I listened to her carefully, then I said something like this:

"My only advice would be to make sure that you're not so involved with all things stressful that you cause yourself to forget about all that is good. It's easy to get yourself into a pattern in life where you're fighting life. You are so wrapped up in everything about life that you DIS-like that you actually forget about everything that you DO like. Then, years down the road... you can't remember many good things about that period in your history."

Sounds like I'm speaking from experience, doesn't it? I went on to share with this friend that there were a couple of years after Caleb was born when I was stressed TO. MY. MAX. I was completely overwhelmed with a very clingy baby, a new house, a toddler and a pre-schooler. I was so entangled in the day to day "yuck" that looking back now, I cry because I don't remember too many happy times.

Don't get me wrong... I know there were happy times. I have photo albums that prove it. I have happy children that are evidence of it. BUT... my memory doesn't serve me right in this area... and that hurts. I was trying too hard to prove myself a good mom, a good wife and a good person. I didn't allow myself the freedom of just having a house that looked like a tornado went through it. I didn't (except on RARE occasion) serve chicken nuggets or mac-n-cheese for dinner instead of meals made from all of the food groups. I took on ALL the stresses as what life was meant to be as a young mom and I just "lived".

After I said these things to my friend, I continued thinking about them as I traveled to Target. I thought about the fact that in some ways, we are continuing this pattern in our living. We are always talking about the "somedays" instead of just living in the now. There's a fine line there. It's perfectly normal to talk about the future, I know. It's when you start planning EVERYTHING around 6-12 years from now that you should start to worry.

It's when you hit the snooze button every morning and recite how many days left 'til retirement.

It's when you start to have crazy conversations about quitting your job so that you can open a business offering custom designed scooters, donuts and coffee, babysitting and shoveling snow (yes... that's just ONE business offering ALL these things, and it's what my crew came up with at the dinner table the other night).

That's a little worrisome, don't you think?

The economy stinks! Every week my hubby comes home with some new "brilliant" idea that the county has come up with to save themselves a buck. He's not alone either. There are so many out there being hit with the same depressing story. Do I want to feel depressed though? Do I WANT to miss out on this part of our lives because of selfish, ridiculous choices that OTHER people have made FOR us?

My answer is NO!

Living this out isn't easy, I know. It has to be an everyday decision to get up and be joyful over the GOOD things we are so blessed by. Shoving the negatives to the side and choosing not to dwell on them, but rather live for today... is something that requires effort. However, because I have experienced a time in my life when I DIDN'T live this way, I am choosing to give it my best.

I have a second chance at this, and I'm going to make it right this time! Years from now I don't want to have crocodile tears pouring down my cheeks....

I want to have smiles, chuckles and stories... many stories.

God put this on my heart today. I know He put it there to share with my friend, but He also put it there as a reminder to me.

Oh, and for the record... if any of you feel as passionate about this as I do, I wouldn't necessarily recommend telling your husband that you want to donate all your personal belongings and become hippies. It didn't work for me... probably wouldn't work for you either. :0)

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Gift

Yes, I know... I go through some really dry spells, then.... WHAMMO! Two in one day!!!

I couldn't resist though, and I felt God tugging on my heart on my way home from a birthday party tonight. I knew that He wanted me to share this with my sister.

T'riss, you know I love you. You know I pray for you consistently... without ceasing. You also know that I've been through my own storms. You have seen me "weather" them. Sometimes you saw something good... sometimes you saw scary things in me. It is now that I'm watching you go through some of your "firsts". I am proud of you and the grace that you have shown. You are confident in the One who loves you most... the One who knows each one of your days and the steps that you will take. The One who carries you everyday.

You also aren't afraid to admit that you're afraid... that you're feeling a bit lost. I love that about you too. It's the people out there who are always pretending that everything's okay that you have to worry about in life. You aren't one of them.

I thought of this song when I was praying for you tonight, and then... it came on the radio. It was a gift. It was a gift to me (I still need these reminders too). It was a gift to you. I know that it will bring peace to your heart, as it does mine.

No. Matter. What. ... He NEVER lets go.

I love you ~

Whidbey Island






It is now time for part two of our road trip vacation. I told you I'd be breaking this trip up... but I didn't know it would take me so long to get it done! Oh, if there were only more hours in the day...

So, after a couple of days at Diamond Lake, we headed up to Whidbey Island. For any of you that don't know, this island exists right off of Seattle. It's a pretty big island, and although you can get there by driving on land, it is a shorter trip (not to mention more fun) to get there by taking one of the several ferrys. We took a ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton. Whidbey was my favorite spot! It. was. GORGEOUS. The house that we stayed in overlooked the Puget Sound and we could actually see the ferry going back and forth during the day, and the city lights over across the water at night. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. We enjoyed time with friends, time at the park (the boys' new favorite park), and hours at the beach. We ate lunch at the cutest and yummiest little Thai cafe. The boys spotted every thrift store on the island and we shopped. Colby found an old (but cherry) bike that had a $15.00 price tag on it. He wanted that bike Soooooo bad, but of course, we had to leave it since we had no room in our little mini van for a bike to go home. They managed to find other treasures though, so all was not lost. We sipped on great coffee and just enjoyed more of being together and exploring new things.

The friends that we stayed with have been friends of mine for a long time. They are actually my parents' age, and our families did Saturday night get togethers on a regular basis. Will has always had this creative flare about him that attracts children, and that has not changed. The boys were by his side most of the time that we were at their house. Will even did an origami lesson at his dining room table. There are now hundreds of origami balloons throughout my house! What a treat that was though... and such a memory for us ALL to tuck away.

Yes, Whidbey holds a special place in my heart. I know it is a place that we will go back to often.... to explore, sip coffee and be together.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Caleb!


It's birthday time again. My "baby" is turning eight years old tomorrow... WOW... can't believe this.

Caleb continues to be one who brings a smile to anyone's face. His smile and laughter have always been quite contagious. Maybe it's that extra cute dimple on the side of one cheek. :0) He LOVES to help anyone who needs help. He isn't one who loves to sit. He's happiest when he's doing something... anything actually.

Caleb has done a lot of growing this year. Everywhere we go people say, "Wow... all of your boys keep growing so fast, but Caleb... he's growing DOUBLE fast." As his mom, I'm not sure that I like to think about this too much since he is my baby and all. What I DO like to think about though, is all of the other ways in which Caleb has grown this year. He accomplished so much as a first grader. He is reading comfortably and confidently. That is HUGE growth. It has given him so many freedoms that he truly enjoys. He can take almost anything (including the ridiculous non-assembled IKEA items) and read the directions himself and put it together. Let me just say, this comes in REALLY handy for a mom.

Caleb also continues to be my snuggler. He LOVES a good snuggle with mom! I think I love it more though. I keep reminding him of how much it means to me that he spends that kind of time with me, and I tell him that he'll NEVER be too old for it... no matter what anyone else tells him. Those snuggles are precious to me.

This year I'm praying these things for Caleb:

1. He starts school at a co-op this year where he'll be in class three days a week. I'm praying that he will be a leader and stand up when it is appropriate to do so, and be still when it is equally appropriate.

2. That he continues to be one who enjoys being so sweet and helpful. This is a character trait that I know God can develop in him and use for His glory.

3. For patience and diligence as he continues to learn his academics. Caleb LOVES to be outside the most. Sitting down while learning isn't something that comes easy for him. It is necessary for him to learn this skill though, and I know that with prayer, it will be something that becomes easier.

God, I am so grateful for the fact that you know this son of mine from the inside out. I thank you for Caleb and all the joy that he brings to my heart and to others around him. I thank you for your protection over his life. I pray that you continue to grow him and use him for your kingdom. I pray that you continue to guide me, as his mother in seeing the areas where he deserves praise, as well as the areas where he needs encouragement. Thank you for blessing our family with this boy for the past eight years. Because of your faithfulness, I know that the next eight years will be just as sweet.

Happy Birthday Caleb!

I love you ~

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation... Part 1






Good Morning!

I've decided that today is the day to get started on journaling our vacation. We've been back for a couple of weeks now, so it's about time, right?

Instead of writing one VERY long entry though... I'm going to tackle our vacation bit by bit. We did a lot of traveling, and there are so many stories to share. So... as the song says... "Let's start at the very beginning... a very good place to start." (You get extra bloggy friend points if you can name that tune).

We left on a Sunday morning. We left VERY early. We made our first stop just 15 miles down the road @ Starbucks for coffee. Our first destination was Diamond Lake, Oregon. We were told (by Mapquest) that we had about an 8 hour trip ahead of us. We were prepared though. J had checked out all sorts of audio books from the library. We had all kinds of snacks in the van. There were pillows strategically placed. Road trip 2009 was going to be good... memorable!

After making very few stops, and getting stuck in a bit of a traffic jam due to a cherry truck over turning, we arrived at the lake late afternoon. It was GORGEOUS!!! Crystal blue waters... tall, snow peaked mountains... cute little cabins... our vacation was off to a perfect start. We quickly changed into our swim gear and headed down to the swimming area for a quick, cool dip. It was so peaceful to sit there, watch the boys and linger over words with my hubby. We talked about the next day and what our plans would be. The boys were determined to catch "the big one" in this lake, so we decided to rent a boat for the following day.

We had an excellent night's sleep in our cozy cabin on the lake and headed for the lodge for breakfast before heading out on the boat. We packed up some food, books (for me, of course), sunscreen and a TON of fishing gear and set sail. It was a perfect day on the lake. We caught a couple, but of course, the big one got away. I will testify to the fact that Colby had that big one on his line. I saw it, and it was HUGE!! So big, that it broke his line completely OFF!! We didn't let it spoil our fun though. We explored every corner of that lake, and I got off the boat feeling like I was still ON the boat. I think I've decided that deep sea fishing is out for me. It's something I've always wanted to do, but after having that feeling for a good few hours, I'm not sure about that anymore.

We had some of Oregon's best pizza at a little pizza shack on the lake that night. It overlooked the water. Again... beautiful! It was breezy that night, which caused the water to have those glistening little caps floating on the surface of the water. It reminded me of scenes straight from a movie. There were bald eagles soaring over the water plucking all those fish that were feeling lucky not to have been caught by a hook and a worm. The pines that lined the shores were swaying in the breezes. All of this speaks volumes to my heart about God's goodness and how He provides for every living thing. I could have stayed at that lake for the rest of our vacation and been perfectly happy...

They were two very short days and nights spent, but two of the best. It was a charming little place. Someplace we'll definitely visit again. We were on the road again... this time our destination being Whidbey Island, Washington.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

For Now...

Hi friends.

I know that most of you expected that my next entry would be all about our vacation. It's coming... I promise. I don't even have the pictures loaded yet, and I want to make sure that I can share our trip complete with lots of photos. It was a great getaway! I really do have LOTS to share. But... for now... can I ask a favor?

Would you please be praying for me? I have had a couple of circumstances occur since coming home that have put me in a place I don't want to be. I'm feeling broken and tired. I know God is giving me new wings here, but right now the growing pains are seeming to paralyze me a bit.

God... show me the light in this darkness. Make your path so clear to these eyes that WANT to follow you and honor you. Give me your words to speak. May everything that is in me bless YOU... in every circumstance. ~

Friday, July 17, 2009

And Now... A Word From Our Sponsor


Oh... Wait.

You say I don't have a sponsor? Oh yeah... you're right!

Well, we're taking a break anyhow.

Yep... our crew leaves for vacation on Sunday. I really shouldn't even be typing right now. I should be packing. Does it count that I can at least hear the dryer going? I have been TOTALLY uninterested in packing. I'm not sure why... I just am.

However... I AM excited about vacationing. We are taking a massive road trip up through the Pacific Northwest. I did a lot of my growing up there, so in many ways whenever we make it up for a visit, I feel a little like I'm going home. We will be staying at a resort for a couple of days... doing some fishing, hiking and relaxing. Then we'll be exploring the Puget Sound and traveling almost up to the Canadian border. WHAT FUN!! We'll be visiting friends and family and just enjoying our "together-ness".

I will have LOTS of pictures to share (the camera will NOT be M.I.A. this trip), so be sure to visit again in a couple of weeks.

Happy summer everyone...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Smilin'...





Catching Up... WITH photos






I have neglected my iphoto lately. No excuses... just that it takes time to load and then edit. I have MADE the time today to do both, and I'm so glad I did.

Lots of life happening around here.

Lots of smiles.

Lots of fun.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Catching Up...

WARNING... This will be a long post. If you're not into that, then skip this one and come back next week. Life has been flying by once again, and I'm finding a little bit of quiet time today to catch my breath and catch up on some thoughts.

First of all, thank you all for praying for this friend who was seriously hurt recently. She wound up having a fractured skull, five broken ribs, two fractures in her spine, a dis-located shoulder, and a broken arm. The bleeding in her brain stopped and she is now home starting what will be a very long recovery process.

Our summer officially started almost two weeks ago. We went on our annual blueberry picking trip. The boys and I look forward to this every year. We have so much fun! It's a very beautiful place and you can't help but feel the presence of God. Each year the boys pick more and more and this year I actually had to stop them. Lucas picked almost FIVE pounds all by himself! We left with close to NINE pounds of blueberries. I am very sad to have to tell you that there are no pictures of our trip this year. The camera was M.I.A. the day of our trip. :0(

A couple of days after our blueberry trip, we took a trip down to the river. We had heard about a great spot to fish from some friends. We packed ourselves up and headed out the door in our trusty ol' mini-van with fishing poles in tow. WOW... were we in for a surprise when we arrived! It wasn't quite a hike down to the river... it was more like rock climbing. I've never done this before, and neither have the boys. We've been on some pretty long and often treacherous hikes, but NEVER anything like this one! There are so many details to share about this trip that my brain STILL feels a traffic jam when even thinking about it. The one thing I remember the most is sitting on a rock down IN the river. My husband and boys were out of sight and they had been for awhile. I had stayed back because we had spotted several snakes, and quite frankly, it had REALLY freaked me out! I sat there for awhile and took pictures. It was a beautiful place. It truly made me wonder if this is what the Garden of Eden had looked like. Anyhow, I sat and after awhile, I began to worry (yes, dad, I know). All kinds of images were going through my head.

What if someone had been bitten by a rattle snake?

What if someone had fallen down one of the many waterfalls?

What if one of the boys went too far ahead of Jason and now he can't find him?

I pulled my cell phone out... no signal... FABULOUS!

I knew then what to do. I started to pray. I prayed out loud. I prayed and prayed that everyone was okay and that they would return soon. I prayed for protection over my family and myself like I had never done before. I knew God heard me, and I knew it pleased Him that I didn't worry too long before deciding to go to Him. It never ceases to amaze me... the clever ways in which He decides to remind me to put my trust in Him.

They returned soon after that, and after climbing back up those rocks and trecking out of the forest, we drove to civilization and got pizza for dinner. Good times... great stories... memories of summer. Ahhhhh...

This weekend my mom surprised me with flying my sister out from Philly. It was a fantastic surprise, Mom. Sis and I had a great day of hanging out with the boys together yesterday. Last night we drove up to my dad's and surprised him. I honestly don't know what is better... being the surprisEE, or the surprisER. It was fun! She will be here for a couple of weeks, so I'm very excited about spending time with each other. I've promised myself not to think about the "good-byes" that will come later this month.

I've really been enjoying my boys. They are growing too fast. I look at them sometimes and just start to cry. I know that every moment we share is one that will soon be behind me and that someday I will look back on these days and long to have them back. I will crave the craziness in the car. I will WANT to be interrupted FIFTY times while trying to get one thought typed out. I will feel the NEED to call them up and ask them to go get ice cream with me on a lazy, hot summer day. These boys are precious to me and I'm so thankful to be sharing life with them.

The theme that has been resonating through my mind and heart lately is just 'Make it last'. Somehow, there's GOT to be a way to just make time slow down, right? Whether it be so that I can enjoy these next couple of weeks with my sister before she heads back East again, or so that my boys and I can sit and lick our ice creams longer... it can happen!

Make it last... enjoy the "right now", whatever it may be. Soak up the beauty of each moment and LET the world surprise YOU!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pray For A Friend

I would like to ask all those who read here to pray for a friend of mine who was seriously injured today. She fell down a long flight of concrete stairs and was helicopter-ed to a hospital. She is suffering from a cracked skull, brain hemoragging, and five broken ribs. She has two young girls and her 9 year old is actually the one who found her at the bottom of the stairs bleeding from both ears.

We know that we serve a God who is a God of miraculous healing and mighty things. Please pray for her healing, as well as comfort for her girls and husband at this time.

God bless you all tonight... Hug your families a little extra.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back On My Soap Box!



Do you remember a few months ago when I wrote about parents and their kids regarding the LACK OF parenting?

Do you remember how angry I was?

Well, maybe you don't remember that part since I did a pretty good job of keeping my cool while writing (I think).

I'm pretty sure that I warned you ahead of time that it wouldn't be the last time I blogged about this topic. It is a topic that weighs heavy on my heart and like it or not... it DOES affect me! Some might think it doesn't. They might say... "Why waste your time and energy on something that is not yours to worry about?" Well... I have some perfect examples of how this IS a worrysome epidemic. Here goes...

Yesterday I took my boys to a splash park. Great fun! Lots of water. Lots of sun. Swarms of kids! Apparently, I wasn't the only one who came up with this idea yesterday. We were just there last week and there was only a handful of others, so we were quite surprised by the many there yesterday. Anyhow, the boys were apprehensive about getting in because of all the other kids. They stood back and watched for awhile. What they observed was a bunch of rude, pushy kids doing nothing but DEMANDING to get their way. They made these demands on other kids AND on their parents! The boys finally got in as nap time quickly made itself known on the clock. Almost robotically, all the moms and dads started TRYING to get their kids out.

It was quite a show.

They would ask nicely, "Johnny, please come out now. It's time to go home."

Nothing. Not even a glance.

"Johnny... Pleeeeeeease."

Still nothing.

The moms would actually head into the water themselves and they actually looked FRIGHTENED to take their child by the hand and pull them out! It wasn't like just one or two did this... they ALL did!! You could almost read their minds. It was like they were saying, "Please, if you come out without throwing a fit and slugging me, you'll get a reward."

Then, it came.

One of the kids DID throw a fit! She started throwing things at others and she literally looked like a little time bomb exploding. When that show was over, the mother of that child made her child apologize to one of the other kids. Then... without skipping a beat, she said... "Okay, let's go get some ice cream before we head home."

WHAT?????

Do you see my pain?



I watched the news before heading to bed last night. I don't usually, but I was feeling restless. Nothing like a little dose of reality to make you feel sleepy, right? Anyhow, there was a story last night about a FOURTEEN year old girl who asked her NINETEEN year old boyfriend to kill her mom. He did. Why? Well, I guess the mother wasn't crazy about her fourteen year old daughter dating a nineteen year old man. Go figure. So... in order to "have her way" the girl decides to just get rid of the problem. Done!

Don't parents see that it DOES matter how we raise our children? It DOES matter when children aren't disciplined fairly. It DOES affect them, and it DOES affect others. We're going to have a HUGE population of crazy teens to twenty somethings walking the planet in a few years that blow things up, murder, steal... WHATEVER... all in the name of getting their way!

Here's the good (extra sweet) part. For Father's Day we took J to lunch at this place called Johnny Garlic's. It's AWESOME and it truly is a man's restaurant. J feasted on his first bison steak. It was delectable! The food was fabulous, and the service was top notch. We had enjoyed our meal completely and were getting ready to pay our bill when our server came to us with this HUGE slab of mud pie. J and I looked at each other with confusion. We hadn't ordered any dessert. Our server must have seen our confusion immediately because he went on to say that dessert was on the house BECAUSE OF OUR KIDS! He was amazed by their behavior and manners. He said that they never see that and what an amazing statement our three boys made to their entire staff that day. WOW... do compliments get any better than that???

So... it DOES affect me. Sometimes it affects me in a positive way....

Like in the form of mint chip mud pie with a big ol' mound of fresh whipped cream on top (shared with my four favorite men, of course).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

This post is for my most loyal reader.

To the one who never tires of saying "I love you".

The man who has reminded me of what forgiveness really means.

He's a person that's respected by those who know him well.

I've seen many changes throughout his life, some harder than others, but God's hand has always been there.

His smile and laughter can capture an entire room FULL of people!

His presence has been missing in my life for a few years now, but he's coming home in just a couple of weeks.

Dad, your love and guidance throughout my life has never gone un-noticed. Although I've missed you in these years that you haven't lived nearby, I know we have BOTH grown up a lot. I am looking forward to spending time together. I'm looking forward to sharing life again. The boys are looking forward to having their "Papa" back. Thank you for all that you have taught me and ways in which you have shown your love for me.

Happy Father's Day!

I love you ~

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

12


That's right... you read it correctly... My oldest is now TWELVE years old! Today is a beautiful day, and today is Luke's birthday. So, as I've made a habit of doing, I will reflect here on this past year of his life.

This year has been a year of growth for Lucas. He has grown in every way possible. Mostly though, his heart has grown. He is becoming such a man... right before my eyes. He's becoming a young man to be proud of and admire. As I watch from afar as he interacts with his friends I notice how these boys look up to him. They love the encouragement that Luke always has to offer. There have even been many occasions when Lucas has offered encouragement to others who haven't been so kind to him. Lucas tries to remain positive in most situations. That's a character trait that I wish I could say came from me, but it didn't.

His favorite position to play in baseball has become catcher. I was surprised by this at first because you have to wear all this gear while playing that position. It doesn't look comfortable and Luke has always been HUGE on comfort! It didn't take me long to figure out that he loves it so much because he gets to direct the team. He loves to go out and give the pitcher that extra pat on the shoulder with a good ol' "You can do this". It actually makes me tear up sometimes. He's a fantastic ball player, but I still think that my favorite thing about watching him play is witnessing where his heart is in the game.

He continues to be a BIG help around here too. He's the ultimate peace maker... and that comes in REALLY handy with a couple of younger brothers who make squabbling a hobby. Luke achieved the goal of getting his own dog this year and with that came a LOT of responsibility. He has taken on this responsibility and done well. With this experience has come a new understanding of "parenting". Between watching him with his brothers and his dog, it's easy for me to see that Luke will make a great dad someday.

My prayer for Lucas this year is this:

God, you know this boy from the inside out. You formed him and you know in what direction his life will go. I thank you for this son of mine. I thank you for his sweet heart and what a privilege it is to witness him grow. I thank you for protecting him both day and night... in all his many activities. As he continues to grow from the inside out, I pray that you continue to be the light that he looks to for direction. I pray that Lucas always knows that You are his ultimate provider, protector and lover of his soul. I pray that he grows closer to you with each new year. I ask that you guide him in handling life's situations. I also ask that you guide ME in mothering him. That I will know when to hold back and let him learn on his own, with your help. This boy is precious to me, but I know he's even MORE precious to You. Amen ~

Happy birthday my sweet 12 year old!

****** Update ******

Although he most likely won't accept this time around, I just received a phone call from our league president informing me that Lucas was voted on to the All-Star team this year. This is his third year in a row being voted on. Congratulations Luke! I'm proud of that accomplishment... even if you decide not to play in the tournament this year. :0)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lullaby

Last night we had the absolute most spectacular lightning storm I have EVER witnessed!! It was stunning... AMAZING!!! It actually didn't look like lightning in the sky... it looked like one gigantic strobe light. It kept coming and coming for over an hour. The storm literally passed right over our roof top. J and I went from watching it on the front deck to watching it from the back deck. As I sat there on the deck, I was completely taken aback by God's works. I was reminded in a very real way of how big and mighty He is.

The boys were wiped out last night. They went to bed (on their own) early and missed out on most of the storm. At one point, Jason and I both felt a little guilty for letting them sleep through it. As a mom, I also felt a little empty. You see, when they were little, a storm like that would have made them sit straight up in their beds and yell for help. They would have been glued to my sides. I would have held them close and sang... and then prayed them back to sleep. Last night I didn't get to do any of that. Last night they slept soundly until almost the very end of the storm when a loud crash finally woke two of them up. They came out and marveled at what they were seeing, then they went back to sleep. They felt safe. They knew it was just a storm, and it would be over soon.

All of this got me thinking...

Isn't this where God wants me to be? He wants to comfort me and bring peace to my heart. He wants to sing me to sleep when I feel a storm brewing in my heart. Ultimately though, He wants me to feel safe. He wants me to just KNOW that it's a storm that will be over soon, so I should just rest through it. He longs to hold me in His arms, yet He feels pleasure when I'm able to have confidence in His abilities. He desires for me to find comfort through Him without even a second thought.

My boys are growing up. It's a bittersweet process. I long to sing them a lullaby while I have them safely snuggled up on my lap.... BUT I find such joy in seeing them become men of God. It brings me such satisfaction when they are in life's storms and they figure things out. They can rest. How awesome is it that I get to witness this in them?

I am riding out life's storms...

Feeling lessons learned from these three precious boys...

Seeing the mightiness in God's most powerful hands...

Hearing the lullabies of a Father who adores me.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Taste of Summer




I know it's not officially summer, but it's sure feeling, looking and sounding like it. As I type tonight, the screen doors are letting in the sounds of crickets and frogs. The air is refreshing after a warm day. My skin is burning (just a tad bit) after getting too much sun at Luke's baseball game today.

Yep... summer is upon us, and I, for one am HAPPY about that! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about summer and all that we enjoy doing. Here we are again... Let me re-cap.

We love to hang out in/by the water (any water... pool, lake, river, ocean).

We ALWAYS look forward to berry picking (blueberries and blackberries). Last year we weren't able to pick blueberries because of the fires. We sure missed those plump, juicy berries in our pancakes. :0(

Camping trips are a must for us. There's nothing like hanging out under a nice shady tree reading a book while observing my three beautiful boys catch fish. Mmmmm... I can smell those s'mores now!

The beginning of summer means the end of the baseball season. Watching Luke play baseball gets better every season. He's amazing out there... He certainly knows how to make a mama proud.

Summer means slow mornings with my cup of coffee out on my patio in my new chaise lounge. It means warm evenings spent with my hubby on the patio ~ or maybe even a walk.

I love to just sit and watch the boys play. They can be climbing a tree, shooting hoops, catching bugs and other critters... it really doesn't matter. I just enjoy watching them because I learn more about who they are through their play and interaction.

Summer means freedom in so many ways. I'm not tied down to schedules, and breathing throughout the day actually feels easier. We make memories through each season, but the summer memories are the ones that stick with me best. Maybe because things slow down. Maybe because I actually see my family in a different light.

Yes... summer is sweet, and I'm looking forward to sharing bits and pieces here once again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Joy

It's early. The house is quiet, and I'm finding that the heaviness that was on my heart when I went to bed last night is trying to prolong it's stay. I thought I'd do some writing... for therapeutic reasons.

Do you ever feel like Satan is working over time to steal your joy? That's where I'm at right now. There are circumstances around me that are giving me overwhelming feelings of wanting to hide myself in a cave somewhere across the Pacific! I have been reading and meditating on God's Word. I have had friends and family members remind me of important truths. I fell asleep last night while talking to God, and at times feeling like I was going to hyperventilate.

There are mean people in this world. They are manipulative and selfish people who don't care that they steal other people's joy. I honestly don't know how THEY go to sleep at night. Do they know that they make people feel the way they do? Maybe they don't. I'll give them the benefit of doubt... that actually makes ME feel better. After all, It's hard to accept that people would actually desire to treat people this way on PURPOSE!

I have choices to make though. I can choose to LET my joy be stolen and be angry, or to stand up for myself and others and proclaim that God's love for me and my family will overcome anything that others choose to say or do against me.

It's so easy to type... much harder to live out.

I can't help but wonder though... Is this just another one of those areas in which my "Potter" is shaping me? Am I needing refining in the area of forgiveness? Am I quick to anger and give up my joy? I believe the answer to all of these questions is "YES"!

I want to be the kind of mother that my children look at and admire for the quality of abounding joy. I want them to see Jesus living in me. I want them to see His hands in my hands... His feet in my feet. I want them to know and understand that there are circumstances handed to us that cause anger and frustration, but ultimately... what we do with that is up to us. I make the choice on how to handle these situations. Honestly, I have been letting others make that choice FOR me by continuing to feel the anger.

So... I hereby declare I'M DONE WITH THAT! I'm asking for the prayers of others, because the situation I'm speaking of is anything BUT over. It's only just begun. I need to be in prayer and feel the prayers of many over how I handle it from here on out. I need to choose my words carefully. I need my words to be His words. I need to keep my emotions as far from this as possible. I desire my heart to be heard, but in a calm and collected way.

One of my step-sisters wrote a post about a song that is played frequently on christian radio. It's got beautiful words that speak so much truth to me. Thanks for the reminder, Alexis! I REALLY needed it this morning.

" I believe always, always... My Savior never fails."

He will not fail me. I will grow through this and be better for it. The persecution seems so intense, but nothing in comparison to what Jesus faced for me. My Savior will not fail me... He will love me forever. He will hold me up when I want to fall. He will show His face and speak His words in EVERY area of my life... as long as I allow Him.

Joy will be mine... it is not for the taking.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength". ~

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

20 Years & Counting...

Today my honey and I celebrate 20 years of "togetherness". On this day twenty years ago, we met from behind the racks of a children's clothing store for the very first time. It was a blind date, arranged by friends. It was a date that neither one of us were crazy about, but we both decided to "get it over with" to satisfy our friends.

I recall peaking through the racks and seeing this very tall (well, everyone is tall next to me, I guess) and handsome young man wearing his high school letterman jacket.

He smiled... I smiled... It was all over after that. We flirted our way through the night and I soon discovered he was the most gentlemanly (is that a word? my computer didn't put that squiggly under it.) guy I had ever been out with. We shared a movie and ice cream. We talked. We stared. You know... we did all that stuff that you do on a first date. I have to say, this was different though. We had never seen each other before. We didn't know anything about each other. We were practically strangers, and yet it felt good. It felt right.

We started our lives together twenty years ago and life has certainly been a ride! I know this man more than I know anyone. He knows me the same. Our life together is perfect. That's not to say that circumstances that surround us are always perfect, but our lives are perfect because we have each other. We have a family. Most importantly, we have Christ. He is our center. He is our rock and fortress. He is the one who formed "us".

Time flies. The sight of that young boy in a letterman jacket and the scent of my pina colada lip gloss seems so fresh in my memory. We are approaching our 40's now, but life has never seemed sweeter. What a blessing!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

For My Mom...

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. When my boys ask me what my favorite holiday is, I always answer with total confidence in my voice...

"Mother's Day, of course!"

It's not just because I get complete princess treatment for the day either. It's because I'm a mom! The fact that I get to celebrate this day is a miracle to me. It took a lot to get these boys of ours here, and there was a day (many, actually) that I wasn't sure that I would ever be a mom. There were many nights when I cried myself to sleep after losing out first two little boys. I spent countless hours literally begging God to grant me the desires of the deepest part of my heart. Today I am mother to three perfect (well, you know what I mean) blessings. Therefore... Mother's Day is and always will be my favorite holiday.

Over the years, I have also grown to have a much deeper sense of gratitude, respect and love for my own mom. This has given me even MORE reason to love celebrating this special day. With each year that passes and milestone that falls behind us, I realize all the sacrifices my mom made for me and my siblings. My mom has always been a person that gives of herself freely. I'm positive that this is a trait that she inherited from her mom, and I pray that it is one that I can carry on myself. As I drive my children to and from their sporting events, church gatherings, and music lessons I understand how hard it was for her. What looked easy and "the norm" to me as a child was SO NOT EASY after all! Even the task of preparing a meal at the end of an already very full day brings me to thoughts of what my mom did for me.

More than that though, my mom was always willing to offer her emotional support... along with a LOT of prayer, even when she knew that what I was about to do might very well be the wrong thing. I grew from those experiences, and I know that's what she was thinking all along. Being the parent in that situation though is SO DIFFICULT! I know that now as I have tried to offer this same kind of support to my own. I'm also aware that it will get a lot harder too... this is only the beginning.

Mom, I love you so much and I'm so grateful for what you've done for me in the past and the ways in which you continue to teach me how to be a good person and a great mom. Our relationship has grown and blossomed into something that I treasure with every part of my being. You have shown me what it means to be a self-less person... to be a person who doesn't just SAY that they love Jesus and wish to follow Him. You exemplify through your actions what it means. There is no greater gift than that.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom ~

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mixing Bowl Monday

Yep... I'm hopping on the trendy blogger bandwagon! I've seen all kinds of ideas for different themes for different days of the week, but me? I'm choosing what I have a passion for... BAKING.

I love to bake. It's a character trait I proudly inherited from my dear grandmother. She's the best baker I've ever known, and I strive to carry on this "legacy" of hers. I bake for therapy sometimes, and sometimes I bake because it's just a "baking day". It's easy for me to spend time with Jesus in the kitchen. I listen to music while I talk to HIm about whatever is on my mind and heart. After my creation is completed, I find total fulfillment in sharing it with others I love and share life with... whether it be my family, a friend or the neighbors.

So... Mondays will become my "Mixing Bowl Days" (although, yes... I DO know that it's Tuesday today... I'm getting a rough start to this new idea). I will share recipes and/or kitchen ideas. It may not always be something technically mixed in the bowl, but it WILL always be something created in the kitchen. :0)


~ Tami Faye Baker's Bundt Cake ~

1 All Butter Golden cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
3 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
8 oz. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat all the ingredients (save the chocolate) until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. Bake in greases bundt pan for 50-55 minutes. Cool in pan for about 20 minutes before removing carefully. Once completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar. You can even use a piece of paper with decorative cut-outs to make a pretty pattern with the sugar.

I've received soooo many compliments on this cake, and it's one of the easiest recipes I know! As a matter of fact, my good friend, Gina gave the cake this name. My actual name is NOT Tami Faye Baker... but she has given me this prestigious nickname based on this cake alone!

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, your kiddos and/or a good friend. ~

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Small Town, America


I've got the writing bug this morning.

All week long there have been thoughts brought to my mind regarding where we live. Living in a small town definitely has it's ups and downs. It's really easy to get caught up in the negative things about it. However, it's important for me not to forget all the things I LOVE about where I live.

For us, the hardest element that we have had to deal with is the small town politics of playing sports. Lucas has played baseball up here for eight years now. He's quite the player too. We knew he would be since he was eighteen months olds, holding that little Fisher Price chunky bat! He has had the unfortunate experience of playing for a coach (who happens to own the town grocery store) for two years that COMPLETELY favors his own twin boys on the team. This might be a little easier to accept if these boys were fabulous out there on the baseball field... but fabulous they ARE NOT! The parents aren't putting up with it this year (as they have in years past). Dads are coming forward and talking to this coach about the error of his ways... BUT... things haven't really changed, and we don't expect they will. Until Lucas goes to High School and starts playing high school ball, we will all be faced with this HUGE and FRUSTRATING small town YUCK!! Who knows... maybe God is even preparing us for the high school yuck to follow.

So, the "downs" of Small Town, America are pretty much seasonal for us. The "ups" are much more prevalent around here. I've mentioned before how beautiful it is. We are surrounded by big and mighty pines and oaks (although for me the oaks could also fall into the "downs" category... I'm miserably allergic). The sky is gorgeous! It can be the bluest of blue on a sunny day, or it can be filled with clouds of many sizes, shapes and colors on a stormy day. At night, the stars are bright and finding the constellations is easy since there are no street lights. I love to have my windows open at night and listen to the frogs and crickets. There is a peaceful stillness that takes place outside each night that lasts until after I wake up each morning.

A couple of days ago, Caleb came running in the house almost completely out of breath. He was so excited because as he was running out front with one of our dogs, our sweet 83 year old neighbor that walks EVERY day (rain, snow or shine) had invited him to go on a walk with her. The boys LOVE this lady. She is full of spirit and spunk! They love to talk to her and hear her stories. Caleb wasn't just full of excitement over going for a walk... He was elated at the fact that he was invited to spend time with her. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that if we lived in the valley... this kind of stuff wouldn't happen. Not only are people too busy, but kids don't find the value in the simple things such as the stories of those who have gone long before us. Kids don't notice, as Luke did the other day, that the trees are extra bright green with their new leaves in the spring. They don't find extreme pleasure in hunting for bugs and looking up what kind they've found like Colby was doing just yesterday.

Small Town, America is where you can almost guarantee that you will be sitting down with another family you know to enjoy a pizza at the local pizza parlor. It's where you gather a dozen boys in your front yard to play baseball and get wet in the sprinklers on a warm April day. It's where we share each other's gardens and enjoy the refreshment of a good old fashioned lemonade stand. It's where it feels good... to the body and soul.

Despite the people who bring out the negatives... Small Town, America is home to these Four Men and a Lady.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Break






WOW... What an amazing spring break we had! There's so much to tell. I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

My grandma's 80th birthday celebration started our break. I picked my sister up from the airport (a surprise for everyone) and took her to my grandparent's house. I had many cousins fly in from all over... Texas, Kansas and Washington. It was a mini-reunion and it was SO FUN! When we all gathered for the the big party on Sunday, there were probably close to 80 people there... ALL family! We hung out, caught up on lives, had cake and viewed the movie that our family had made for Grandma's birthday present. There was a whole room full of people that were laughing and crying at the same time. It was a gorgeous California day, so it became "opening day" for the pool at G-ma's house too.

After the partying, we stuck around home for a couple of days and finished construction on the chicken coop. Actually, the chicken coop soon became the chicken palace. It even has a window!! Someone PLEASE tell me why chickens need a room with a view! The boys enjoyed helping dad on this project and I'm so proud of their workmanship. They all learned a lot and as Luke says... "Now, we're officially chicken herders".

We took off for the ocean on Wednesday. Before we got to our destination spot, we parked it at AT&T Park for awhile. It was an amazingly beautiful day in the city... a great day to hang out at the gates and get players autographs as they came in for their game! The boys were filled with delight as they handed their freshly bought baseballs from the Dug Out store over to the players. What a God thing... we didn't even know there was a game that day... let alone the fact that we would happen to come across the place to stand and get autographs! Manny Parra (pitcher) from the Milwaukie Brewers even paused to play with Copper (our puppy). Of course, who could refuse those sweet eyes.

Our time at the beach was fabulous!! We hiked, we strolled, we ate, we had coffee, we slept in, and we played in the sand. It wasn't our warmest trip, but it was still perfect. I really don't think there is any such thing as a bad day at the beach. One of our favorites of the trip was going to Ano Nuevo. Ano Nuevo is a reserve area for elephant seals. We hiked three miles down to the water to stand within 20 feet of an entire pod of these creatures. It was spectacular! I was amazed as I learned all kinds of new things about these animals. It is an absolute miracle how they survive and how much they are driven by their internal body clocks. If you live anywhere in the area... I HIGHLY recommend going. You will be glad that you did!

Spring break was welcomed this year... a LOT! I was sad to see the week end, but God has blessed me with a very peaceful week this week too. I was anxious about getting back into school and having the baby back here again, but God's hand has been on us and his presence has been felt. We even finished our end of the year assessment testing today... what a load off that is... Can I get an AMEN to that?

I'm thankful for my husband, his job (that allows us such treats as going to the beach) and these three handsome men that I call "sons". They make each day new and exciting!