Friday, May 31, 2013

Life with Sweet Pea

It's very good having a new little Blossom in the house.  I'm forced to slow down and "smell the Blossoms," so to speak.  When you can only do things one-handed or with lots of foresight, it really makes you a lot pickier about what you choose to do.  And, I tend to notice little things when I slow down... I take time to kiss velvety cheeks, to squeeze Blossom shoulders and bend down to catch the ending of a newly-imagined Blossom story.  It's a tenderly sweet time, mixed in with lots of tiredness.  It's in that tired state that I find myself on auto-pilot.  And, I realize something, I better keep doing what I do from deep within my heart, or auto-pilot could be a really ugly thing.  If it's deep in my heart, I can keep doing what I do regardless of how I feel. I don't have to FEEL inspired about motherhood or serving my husband as I live the everyday life; the Word is deep in my heart driving me to love and serve another day, when I'd rather sleep in and eat chocolate.  So, yes I don't always FEEL the inspirations, but I KNOW obedience from a cheerful, willing heart will be blessed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


"Tremble and do not sin.  Meditate on your bed and be still.  Selah."
Psalm 4:4

I was pondering this passage of scripture.  Surprisingly, it reminded me of naptime.  Our naptime rules are "Lay still and be quiet."  I've often thought that a regular naptime led to rest time and then served as the time frame in which to foster a child's devotional time with God.  However, the command to BE STILL was loud and clear as I read this passage of Scripture.  By teaching the Blossoms to "Lay still and be quiet," I'm teaching them a life lesson- a lesson that will serve them well.  Who would have thought that a regular nap and rest time would help children learn the discipline of being still, so they can better hear God's voice later on.  I still use this skill, as I love naptime for the "being still" part... the time for me to quiet down and listen too.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying!) A Family Road Trip ~

#7 - Teach them the lessons of Flexibility.
Their future spouse will thank you for this.  Lots of people are really nice to little children and give them their own way.  As my husband says, "A steady diet of getting your own way does not profit a child."  This trip was one giant lesson in flexibility for our Blossoms.  Whether it was not getting to drink the last orange Gatorade and drinking red Gatorade instead... or eating a granola bar like Mommy told you to because you said you were hungry and we are waiting til we get outside a big city to eat lunch a little later than usual... or sleeping on the cot, when you'd rather sleep elsewhere... or playing with the little animals because Sissy already has the toy you want... it is all a part of life! Our children must learn to be content in what they have or are given.  It's learning to be thankful for Gatorade, no matter the color.  And, as a Mommy, I'm starting to speak out.  "No thank-you.  Please, I'd rather her learn the lesson of flexibility." 

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Bad Attitude Can Make Boredom

Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying!) A Family Road Trip ~

#6 - Deal with Boredom at the Root - the Attitude!
At first, I rapidly handed out cool toys on our cross-country trip.  And, that satisfied the Blossoms, for a few seconds!  I noticed that little girlies were handing those back to me within 30 seconds, wanting a different toy or game to play.  This happened repeatedly.  It was like my miracle travel bag was being emptied rapid-fire.  (GAH!  Picture wide fear-filled Mommy eyes!)  I realized that they were choosing to be bored, even choosing to be discontent with the situation.  Now, I agree, I don't like being strapped in for 13 hours either, but we can make the best of it.  So, I actually had to deal with my children.  "You are choosing to be bored.  You need to slow down and enjoy the toy or game you have.  You must learn to make the best of your current situation."  We worked at it.  We didn't allow whining and they eventually got it.  They figured out the entertaining themselves thing.  By the straight-through trip home, I did WAY LESS entertaining.  They were making up games and playing contentedly so much more than on the way.  Hmmmm, another instance of attitude determining action.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Tribute of Sorts

I recently found out that an old friend has died.  Her name was Kathleen.  Let me give you a painfully honest account of my friendship with Kathleen.  It began when I was only 15 years old and my family visited a new church.  It was the church that was to become our church family.  When we walked into the service that day, Kathleen was the very first person to introduce herself to me.  She was friendly - albeit a tad odd.  That was my first impression.  It was confirmed time and again.  I later learned that through some unforeseen circumstances, Kathleen had part of her brain removed.  So, while we all understood her oddities, we did sometimes shudder when she'd greet the visitors before the "normal" folk got to them.  Amazingly, despite her "handicap" Kathleen still found ways to be used by God in small, sometimes child-like ways.  Once, she found out that I was working hard and believing God to provide money for me to go to a very expensive gymnastics camp.  That was the first big thing I'd believed for in my young teenager life.  She shook my hand one Sunday and gave me some cash toward my goal.  In my mind's eye, I can still see the crayon-shaped piggy bank I dropped that money into as I marveled at how God answered.  I'm pretty sure it came from her meager Social Security living, since she was unable to work, but God used her.  Gymnastics camp wasn't the point or what made an impression on me; it was seeing faith work and seeing God use someone.  Later on, she'd bless me with other things - timely, encouraging words or little gifts of Swedish Fish candy and a note that said, "You're the 'Swedish fish' I know!"  She was always there with a hug and a smile, even though I'm certain life and dreams looked bleak to her almost every day.  At one point in my teenage years, my friends and I were hanging out with another teenager whom I'll call "the Instigator."  He found great pleasure in "egging" Kathleen on, getting her mad and mocking her cat.  So what if she had a cat named, "Joyful" with a middle name of, "Always."  He even made fun of her dreams to have a greeting card line and write a children's book.  I remember laughing along with him.  Looking back, I don't really know what is so strange about a children's book about a pig princess, but it was "raised-in-church-teenager-post-church-service-kind-of-fun."  It all changed one day when I read "Whatever you've done to the least of these, you've done unto me." I knew God was talking to me about Kathleen.  She was the least of these, or at least in my life she was.  I never laughed at her again.  My friendship with Kathleen was good and pleasant until a few years later when our lives parted ways and I no longer got to see her on a regular basis.  I'd think of her sometimes and smile.  Somewhere along the way, I guess I'd grown up and I could call her my friend.  Then one day, I was at a regional women's conference with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law and I saw Kathleen through the crowds.  I knew I had to track her down. For some reason it was really important to me.  I left my group and wandered around the foyer til I found her again.  I said, "Hey Kathleen, do you remember me?"  She smiled that old Kathleen smile, gave me a good hug and we reminisced a little while. It was so good to see her again.  All the little blessings she'd brought to my life came flooding back.  And that one lesson I'd learned about "the least of these" became like a jewel to me.  Now, three and a half years later, I've discovered that Kathleen has crossed into Glory land.  She's happier there.  She doesn't have a handicap slowing her down.  And, all her best and most real dreams have come true now.  You know, I've never liked when people take a heathen and make a saint out of them after they die.  What I say of her is true.  Kathleen really was a saint who lived for Jesus in the best ways she could.  That's what had an impression on me.  If Kathleen can touch people's lives for our Lord, He will use you and me too.  To live truly is Christ, but to die is gain - oh, so much gain. 

By the way, she did publish a children's book before she died.  Not bad for a "handicapped" person just trying to use their gifts for the Lord.

Love this quote!!!!

I've been reading Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan.  What a beautifully written masterpiece!  It's so doctrinally sound and thorough, that J. Hudson Taylor used it as a new converts' class curriculum out on the mission field.  But, don't think that it's a dry read!  It's cleverly written as the story of a man's journey to Heaven.  It's been about ten years since I read it, so the story seems fresh to me and I'm enjoying reading while nursing Sweet Pea.  So check out this quote.  Apollyon is trying to convince Christian to return to Apollyon's service.  This is Christian's inspiring response.

"To speak Truth, I like his Service, his Wages, his Servants, his Government, his Company, and Country, better than thine; and therefore leave off to persuade me further, I am his servant, and I will follow him."

PS - Pilgrim's Progress is a free ebook for Kindles and Kindle reading apps.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Let the Blossoms Do It

Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying!) A Family Road Trip ~

#5 - Let them figure it out. -
That was my motto on our road trip.  If I handed them a snack that was difficult to open, I might normally offer a little more assistance.  We're stuck in the van, for hours.  We're not in a hurry to get anywhere, I gave them a few extra seconds to figure out opening it.  They opened all their own Starbursts.  They laced all their own lacing cards, with only verbal assistance.  I was right there, pointing, offering verbal instructions and encouragement, but they figured things out.  I really think it was good for them.  And, it contributed to less boredom.  I personally like the satisfaction of figuring something out myself.  I'm glad that they could experience that too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What comes out of YOUR mouth?!??!

Skipper (#3) can now get all her clothes out of her drawers herself and dress herself.  This is a good thing.  Some of the drawers are tough to push in or pull out though.  She was having trouble pushing a drawer in this morning.  In frustration and with all her 3 year old strength, she shoved and said,

"Go in, you WILLY (huff), TIGHT (puff) TING (huff, puff)!!!!!!!!!"
(really tight thing)

I helped her calm down and I was concerned at her "huffy" attitude, but I did have to smile that the worst thing she could think of to call it was "REALLY TIGHT THING." 

Thank God, there's a small victory.  Now, to deal with the impatient, frustrated attitude...

Monday, May 20, 2013

And the Rules are...

Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying!) A Family Road Trip ~

#4 - Maintain Discipline
All the normal rules still apply and discipline was carried out when the rules were broken.  It's hard to carry it out on vacation, but I've found that I must.  It might be nice to be off-duty from discipline, but that's reaps a nasty harvest in my experience.  I also added additional incentive for good behavior from stop to stop.  I had three clothespins where all could see.  Each Blossoms' name was on one.  If you were bad, you heard a warning and then I take your clothespin down (in addition to a spanking, if that was in order.)  If your clothespin was up when we got to the potty stop, you got a special treat when we got back in the van and were buckled in.  I used Starbursts because they take so long for little fingers to open!  (That's less time available for boredom!)  This little system worked well for us.  I did use my little spanking spoon at necessary times, but they were the better for it.  Just because you are strapped in for 13 hours doesn't mean you can be a brat.  The funny thing is, it worked.  I figured, I'm doing all I can to make their trip pleasant.  They need to do their part to make it pleasant by behaving as well.  And, I can honestly say that I enjoyed that time with them in the van, getting to read and interact more than usual.  They enjoyed it as well.  What a blessing!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Where to sit

Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying!) A Family Road Trip ~

#3 - Sit in back with them.
I knew if I sat up front, I'd be craning my neck and barking out orders.  Forget it.  Two Blossoms sat in the third row and one Blossom and one Mommy sat in the second row.  That way, Mommy is AVAILABLE.  I was there to entertain, pass out snacks and act totally energetic and thrilled to be in the van with them.  It made such a difference.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Circle of Chores - a part of life

Now that you're probably humming that obnoxious song from your childhood (The Circle of Life), I'll share another observation with you.  Scooter (#2) was normally responsible for putting away the hampers when Skeeter (#1) was finished sorting wash and Mommy was finished doing the wash.  She was also responsible for doing napkins and silverware at every meal.  However, it recently came to my attention that Skipper (#3) needed some more real chores. (Fake chores consist of shadowing Mommy and "helping.")  She needed to do some REAL helping now.  She could see through her fake chores and needed some good old-fashioned industry (which is what most kids need these days.  That, and a good spanking, but that's another post for another day.)  Anyway, Skipper graduated up to doing napkins and silverware and also, putting away the hampers in the mornings.  And, Mommy realized that meant more work for Mommy.  You see, I'd put in MUCH time in training Scooter (#2).  She always put the hampers away just right now.  She laid the napkins down just so and always gave each person the right size fork and the appropriate silverware for the appropriate meal.  Mommy is back to square one.  I'm training again.  I keep forgetting and then I wander through my room and I see the hampers put away in an unacceptable (SLOPPY) fashion.  Or, I sit down to steak and I only have a spoon.  :)  And, Mommy realizes that she has to persevere in training... again.  I know it's worth it.  I remind myself of all the great things that Scooter (#2) and Skeeter (#1) take care of.  Yes, I never sort the wash anymore.  I don't sweep the floor anymore.  I haven't fed a pet in ages.  Training is worth it, but boy, does it take work on my part.  I WILL PERSEVERE.  I hope you will too. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Road Trips

Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying!) A Family Road Trip ~

#2 - Prepare, Prepare, Prepare:
I spent a lot of time scouring Pinterest for great ideas, free printable travel games (bingo, road searches etc), activites, hand play rhymes/songs and such.  Our top favorite thing was an audio book of Anne of Green Gables that we borrowed from the library.  Next, we loved pipe cleaners... yes, pipe cleaners.  Skipper and I played pipe cleaners for 30 minutes at a time!  She'd make a shape, show me and then hand it to me.  I disassembled it, make a shape, show her and then she disassembled mine.  Who knew a pipe cleaner could be so fun?!  I also spent time picking up cheap stuff at the Dollar Store beforehand.  Things like dice, Bible Go Fish, Bible trivia cards, new crayons and coloring books went over very well.  Next time, I'll be taking cookie sheets along for the Blossoms.  Because they have sides, little toys can be played with and dice rolled without losing pieces.  (Thankfully I had cardboard trays along that the lacing cards were stored in that worked just fine.)  Other people have suggested magnetic letters for on the cookie sheets for some more van fun.  I took a special book for read aloud time.  Little green army men came along.  A mini-magnadoodle took the trip.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Observation

Periodically I have those, "OH WOW" moments.  This one happened a few times over the past few months.  In one instance, it was particularly nice outside and there was rain in the forecast for the next few days.  The Blossoms normally help clean up after supper.  I said to my two oldest Blossoms - Scooter (#2) and Skeeter (#1),

"Mommy can handle these few dishes tonight.  You two head outside to play before the rain comes tomorrow." 

"Oh, THANK YOU, Mommy!" 

"Did you hear that Scooter?  Mommy said she can handle the dishes tonight and we can go play right NOW!?!" 

Then, the other instance:
Skeeter (#1) normally sorts all the laundry.  We'd returned from a weekend away and there was way more laundry than usual.  For whatever reason, I turned to Skeeter and said,

"I tell ya what.  Mommy will sort these this morning.  You head to your next chore, ok?"

"Oh, THANKS, Mommy!"  And, she headed over to get started on sweeping the kitchen floor."

My observation was that if you make your children work regularly, they are much more grateful for those times that you do what they are normally expected to do. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

A word

I wrote the current series last summer, but it wasn't completed in time to be of any use to anyone going on a summer road trip.  So, I decided to save it for this spring/summer season. I hope you find the info helpful.  May your summer trip be fun and full of love and lots of good family memories.

How I Survived 13 hours in a Van with My 3 Blossoms

Summer is the time for road trips and I, along with a very brave Grandma and 3 young Blossoms, trekked 13 hours cross country to visit with our extended family.  And, I actually enjoyed it.  And, Grandma actually enjoyed it.  And, we all still really like each other.  I think that's a witness to unsaved folk all around us.  That trip inspired me to share a few tips and pointers with you so that your family road trips are not marred by throttling a child or two.

We had taken a much shorter road trip a few weeks prior to our 13 hour road trip.  It did not go well.  Skipper was wailing out "DONE!!!!  DONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNE!" when we still had more driving to do.  My eyes were wide, as I felt enlightened to what could happen when we were in the van 13 hours together.  Yikes.  Without further ado, tip #1...

#1 - Expectations:
EXPECT to entertain the children, not sit quietly in the front seat enjoying the view or reading your favorite book.  (I think this is what you get to do when you have teenagers.)  Knowing this up front helped me to prepare my attitude (and my arsenal of non-boredom tools).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Do Flaws Disqualify Us? - Naomi Elle

This is a difficult topic, because often instead of dealing with a particular sin or deficiency in ourselves, we fall into condemnation, mediocrity or overemphasis. We are all in a state of being changed by the Lord continually... and becoming more like Him. He is working on our lives, our hearts, our habits and our character. Our flaws do NOT disqualify us for marriage. I am just reminding you that today is always a good deal to be more like Jesus. Singleness is a very particular season in that there is an abundance of distractions from the world, but our purpose is to be undistractedly devoted to the Lord. And in that undistracted devotion, He will change us if we listen to Him. Obedience to God is always very, very practical to your daily life. 

To end this, I will simply repeat:God cares more about your future than you do. Trust in His love for you. 

Thank you, Naomi Elle (beloved sister!) for your excellent thoughts on this subject!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Down Home Excitement

You know you're raising Country Girls when you announce that the local Farmers' Market is resuming for the season this week and you receive enthusiastic shouts of entreaty to please, PLEASE, PLEASE take them there!!!

Be Honest - Naomi Elle

Now is the time to deal with yourself. Be honest. Truthful. 
Are you lacking in spiritual character? In discipline? Have you given up on your personal appearance? Do you tend to be slothful in personal habits? Is there a besetting sin that you haven't mastered yet? Are you addicted to overeating? To gossip magazines? To facebook? To television shows? Do you find it difficult to communicate your personal feelings? (Communication is a big deal in marriage). Are you generally selfish with your time and resources? Do you run away from conflict? There are a million questions that you could ask yourself, and I won't go on, because each person has a different thing that they are dealing with and the Spirit has probably already prodded your heart about it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Plain Jane/Sloppy Susie? - Naomi Elle

Get busy getting better. There is a prevailing opinion that a guy should love you for who you are, and thus you are not motivated to improve yourself. The fact is that we often hold unrealistic expectations for others, while giving ourselves a pass. We expect the Mr.Darcy husband, while settling for plain-Jane-and-unkempt-Susie for ourselves. We give up on improvement. And that is wrong. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Announcing Sweet Pea!

Our Blossom #4 "Sweet Pea" arrived on April 19th.  PRAISE THE LORD for a blessed pregnancy, labor and delivery.  Now, we all our settling into a new routine with "New Baby" or "Tiny Sissy" as Skipper (#3) frequently calls her.  Stay tuned for more comical anecdotes of life with four Blossoms.  As Daddy says, "I guess I oughta change my name to either Philip or Charles."  Mommy gave him a questioning look.  He explained with, "Well, Philip the Evangelist had four daughters and so did Charles Ingalls."  That's why I love the man.  He's got a fantastic sense of humor.  He smiles and counts his blessings.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Not a Carrot - Naomi Elle

Marriage is not a carrot on a stick. God is not waiting to give you marriage as some kind of measure of success. There's immature and mature people that get married all the time. God is not holding out on you "until you're more ready." There is a timing to the will of God, but it's not because you are lacking something important or making an idol out of marriage.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

PLAN - Naomi Elle

PLAN. And then be open to God changing your plan."The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9. Having a career plan, financial goals, etc. is not a bad thing! It doesn't limit your options. Having a plan engages your mind in the present, and thus keeps your heart from being unduly tormented by the fact that you are not married yet, when really, you don't have control over that one anyway. Giving up control to God in this area is difficult, but necessary. The foundation of Christianity is about being mastered by Someone else, and that's hard for us... but we must submit to the Lord in every area, including our present AND our future. Sometimes I believe that we struggle more with allowing God to control our lives than anything else. It takes faith to believe that God will do good to you.
Again, let your planning be governed by the wisdom of Scripture and the voice of the Spirit. I bought a house when I was single. My mind said that I was giving up, that I was becoming content with singleness, that it would be harder to get married and it would scare the single guys away... yet my heart knew that it was God's will. After being married, my husband agreed --- it was a good financial decision and it is good for our marriage.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Well-meaning People - Naomi Elle

Don't listen to the well-meaning people. Just because you respect them, doesn't mean they're giving you good advice. Often, people speak out of their own experience. They have good intentions, but poor execution. So when they tell you that "you're never going to get married" or "you're too picky" or other such nonsense, ignore them. Don't be held hostage by people's opinions. The only right way to get married is to be pure while you do it. There's nothing wrong with online dating, blind dates, being introduced by friends, saying that you are interested in marriage, going to other churches, visiting new places, being outgoing, reconsidering someone that you wrote off five years ago. Just exercise wisdom and be led by the Spirit. Your future will look dramatically different than everyone else's, and that's the way it's supposed to be.