Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gosh! I didn't realize it had been so long!

One of my daughters was telling me the other day that I "really needed to update my blog." For some reason, I just haven't been in the mood. I think we've been having too much fun this summer, and since it's been rather busy, I haven't had much of a chance to gather my thoughts. Or maybe I've been thinking too much (about several different things)!

One thing that I've been thinking a LOT about is our upcoming school year. With Madison starting 9th grade, I've thought much about her school work for this year, as well as our plans for all of her high school years. I had ordered A Beka for everyone, and she was going to do the on-line video program and let A Beka keep up with her grades. But ever since the day that the THREE boxes of books arrived (and that was just Madison's!), I've been on the edge of a panic attack. We were planning to start on Monday, but yesterday evening, I looked through the books again and tried to decipher how we're supposed to accomplish all of this, and I came to the realization that I just, in my heart, did NOT want to do this.

My sister had mentioned co-ops to me yesterday, and I had considered that option in the past, but the closest one I knew of was really not very close, so I didn't know how we'd made it work. I decided to get on-line last night and do a little investigating and discovered that this particular co-op had actually moved and was now closer to us - actually doable! I emailed the new student coordinator, and within minutes received a reply with a lot of information. I called Madison (she spent the night with my mom and dad last night) and asked her what she thought about it. Without much hesitation at all, she said she really wanted to do it. She will attend school there twice a week, and the other three days, she will do her assignments at home. So, it looks like we'll be packing up the A Beka and sending it back and starting the enrollment process ~ thankfully classes don't begin until the 17th. Another good thing is that it looks like the curriculums she will be using are ones that we're familiar with already, so that should make this transition a little easier. They also have year books, parties, and even a prom among other things, and I'm glad that she'll have the opportunity to participate in these activities. I feel so much better!

In other news, Amelia turned 5 last Friday! I'll try to post some birthday pics soon!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Swimming through a busy summer!

This has got to be our busiest summer on record for the Horton household. There is always something to do or somewhere to go. We haven't had a stay-home-all-day day in quite some time, and this is very unusual for us as our summers are generally pretty lazy. But we're having fun, and that's what counts. My daily cleaning schedule has pretty much been thrown out the window, but I was home Saturday morning while everyone else was away (except for Matthew who was asleep), and I was able to get caught up on everything around here.

This week there are movie plans, swimming plans, doctor's appointment, softball practice, softball tournament, church, gardening (which I am very behind on and haven't been helping very much, and the weeds are going crazy!), sleepover party with church friends for the two older girls, and of course, the 4th of July!

I've also been walking with my friends a couple of nights a week. We're all on a mission to have a more healthy lifestyle. We are meeting at the local school's track, and we walked about 5 miles total last week. It works out well because we're walking during Madison's softball practice, which takes place just across the woods, and our children can play on the field while we're walking (I push Matthew in the stroller). Our goal is to do a 5K and go on from there to who knows what. It's so fun to have friends to do this with - the time just flies!

In the midst of all of this, I've been making plans for our upcoming school year, which will begin in about a month. And I've decided to do something that I never thought I would do - a total 360 turn. I ordered ABeka for everyone. I wanted to do it for Madison since she is starting 9th grade, and I'm feeling less confident about the picking and choosing method as I want her to be well prepared for college if she decides to take that route. I feel like ABeka will do that for her. She is going to do the accredited video program, and they are going to keep up with her grades. Amelia will be starting kindergarten, and Cari will be going into the 6th grade. I'm hoping it will make everything easier with the lesson planning, etc., though I know the program will be more of a challenge than what we're used to. I went to a display meeting last week in Kennesaw after we picked up my father-in-law at the airport (he's visiting for a couple of weeks), and everything is ordered.

I'm so glad that decision is made and out of the way, but for now, we have a few more weeks of summer to enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finding Freedom

Warning: This one is very long.

This past Sunday as I entered the doors of the church at the Sunday School hour, I felt very strongly that I should make an effort to be in class. What do I mean by "make an effort?" Well, normally I'll take Matthew to the nursery, and if he does not want to stay, which is usually the case, I'll stick around for a while and then slip out while he is playing. The lady who stays with the nursery was not there this Sunday morning, and in that case, I would normally just stay in there with him and not take a chance on bringing him to my class and causing an interruption.

This time I decided I needed to go, and I took him on in there with me. Thankfully he was very good and stayed pretty quiet up until the end. In fact, when he reached the point that I had to take him out, the bell rung as I was going out the classroom door.

I am so glad I made the effort. Our ladies class is doing The Peacemaking Church study - Women's Study, Living the Gospel in Relationships - with Tara Barthel.

Tara has a DVD series that goes along with the study, and we are watching these lessons each week also. This week's was awesome, and I know why I felt so led to be in on this class. You see, the study is on being peacemakers, but before getting too in-depth in the study, she is laying a foundation for what is to come. If there is no foundation, it will be hard to get the point across as we go along.

The lesson this week had a lot to say about legalism. This is a subject that I've been struggling with for a few months now, and I've been searching for answers to all my questions in this regard, and I heard some things this Sunday that really brought some freedom to me.

A lot of my "legalism" has been a result of homeschooling. Don't get me wrong - I am not for one second bashing homeschooling. We love it for our family, and I have no regrets about teaching my children at home, and at this point as long as God allows, we are firm in our decision to home school. But being a homeschooling family, it can be easy to get caught up in other movements. This happens when you read home school blogs or magazines or web sites, and as you read about what others are doing, they often make it sound as if their way is the only way, and as a result, there are many "movements" within the homeschooling society.

Unfortunately, I've gotten caught up in some of those myself.

Tara gave a great illustration - she was president of some sort of Christian lawyers group while she was in college, and one of her best friends was the president of a gay/lesbian lawyers group. The lady asked Tara at one point why she would treat her the way she does and show such care for her when other Christians would just want to basically angrily shout the Sodom and Gomorrah verses at her and her group. Tara let her know that she loved her and that she realized she was not without sin herself. I think she knew that Tara did not agree with that lifestyle, but what a wonderful way to share Christ with this lady by developing that friendship.

Who do I think came closer to reaching Tara's friend? Tara or her angry accusers?

During the call to worship Sunday morning during our church service, even more light was brought to my confusion with the whole legalism issue. Galatians 5 was read, and I've come to realize that the whole book of Galatians is relevant and eye-opening when it comes to the difference between legalism and serving Christ the way we should.

Galatians 5:18-26

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

And those [who are] Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
--------
Doesn't legalism bring about some of these things in the first few verses - idolatry, hatred, contentions, jealousies, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy...

I've mentioned this before, but when we have the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit indwelling in our hearts, we are going to have the fruits of the Spirit listed above with LOVE being the #1! Unfortunately, I've seen and tried legalism, and for the most part, I haven't seen a lot of love involved nor joy, peace, kindness, gentleness....

Our pastor's message also gave me further understanding. He's beginning a series of expository preaching through the book of Romans, and he settled on Romans 1:1 Sunday morning. Paul was a "bondservant of Jesus Christ" - not to men. He was fully submitted to Jesus, and this was his priority. He was also separated "to" the gospel of God. On the opposite side of the coin were the Pharisees, which is what Paul used to be. In that time of his life, he was separated "from" things. There were all kinds of rules and laws that as a Pharisee spoke of what they were to be separated from. What did this lead to? Lots of self-righteousness and a negative, critical spirit.

That's exactly what happens to us when we follow a movement that tells us to constantly separate ourselves from things and people of this world. There are rules given that we must follow, and when we are knowingly following these rules, if we're not careful, a spirit of self-righteousness will not be too far behind.

This is an area we found ourselves caught up in. We were separating ourselves from people who were not like minded. I’ve been studying II Corinthians 6:14-17 to make sure that I’m looking at all of this in the right way. These verses do say that we should separate ourselves from unbelievers, but after studying through this, I believe it means that we should separate ourselves from unbelievers when it comes to matters of worship. Here’s what John MacArthur had to say:

“It should be obvious to us that there is no compatibility but in fact it is not. While believers and unbelievers may play together and may work together and study together and plan certain things together and eat together and have certain levels of friendship, as soon as the issue becomes spiritual and religious and engages itself upon worship, ministry, teaching, evangelism, there is no partnership, there is no harmony, there is no common ground and there can be no mutuality.”

That makes sense. Now if we separate ourselves in all areas, how in the world could we as Christians reach the lost. Our main reason for fellowshipping with unbelievers should be evangelism. Here’s another quote by J. MacArthur:

“What I'm concerned about, Paul is, those who are outside...Paul says...are going to fall into the judgment of God and I need to reach them with the gospel. So whatever it means not to be joined together or unequally yoked with unbelievers, it doesn't mean that we are to cut ourselves off from sinful unbelievers. Then we would have to go out of the world and going out of the world would defeat the very purpose for which God has left us in the world and that is to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And what was the highest level of accusation ever rendered against Jesus from the religious establishment? They said he is the friend of...what?...sinners, he hangs around drunkards and wine bibbers and prostitutes and etc., etc. Sure, cause that's why he came. He didn't come for the righteous, but he came for sinners.”

That’s just one example of a pit we fell into, but thankfully God has been faithful to show us the truth in this area.

I think legalism happens when we take God's Word and then add our own rules to it. For instance, the Bible says "Do not steal." So we make a rule that we should never go in a store because there are things in there for sale that we may be tempted to steal. I know that's a bit extreme, but so are some of the other man made rules that I've seen and have been a part of.

Does the Bible say exactly how I should dress, what I should watch, what I should listen to? Not exactly - but it does say that I should glorify God in all that I say and do ~ that should be my determining factor in all things - "Does this glorify God (and draw me closer to Him and draw others to Him)?" If I can keep that in mind, it will be easier to not fall into the pit of legalism or liberty-ism (which is a whole other extreme we as Christians should stay away from, but that’s a whole other discussion.)

I Cor. 6:19-20 - Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Well, if you stuck with me for this discussion I was having with myself, thanks for bearing with me as I work through this issue. It's been on my heart so much lately, and I am so thankful to be finding freedom and that I know God cares so much for me and knew I was searching, and He put me right where I needed to be to get this resolved. What a blessing!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Fun

Brad's aunt lives about 10 minutes away, and she has an awesome saltwater pool in her backyard. We called one day last week to see if she cared if we came swimming for a bit. She said "Not at all! Come every day if you want - if I'm not here, just come on in!" We've been taking her up on that ~~

The lady I work for has been on vacation this week, so I've had tons of transcription to do. It's been very nice to leave all that behind and go play in the sunshine for a few hours *** Water and sunshine together are so therapeutic *** We are very thankful for Aunt Dana!



Friday, June 18, 2010

About Terri

As you can see from the previous post, one of my best friends, Terri, passed away last Wednesday. And remember in the post before that one how I mentioned that she had her milestone days at the hospital when I was there with her? Well, her last day was no exception. I had a message earlier in the day from one my friends checking to see if I could come sit with Terri that afternoon. I worked it out and told her I would be there by 3:00. The nurses were with her doing their normal daily routine when I arrived, so I waited on them to come out before going in - along with one of Terri's friends who had been sitting with her for a few hours. We went in and her friend got her things, held Terri's hand, and prayed with her before leaving. I stood at Terri's bedside, and she just seemed to really be having a hard time with her breathing. I went and found the nurse who thankfully was just outside her room, and she came and checked her oxygen, which was dropping. I called one of my other friends, and thankfully she works nearby and said she was on her way. She came into the room a few minutes later, and we were able to stay for a while longer until they decided they wanted to try a procedure and asked us to wait outside. A few minutes later, a doctor came by and said they were moving her back to ICU. A few minutes later, we heard the "code blue" alarm for Terri's room, and the lights outside her room started flashing and doctors and nurses and techs started "coming out of the woodwork" it seemed. I am so thankful Bonnie arrived when she did and that I didn't have to go through this alone. We waited outside her door, and slowly one by one, everyone started leaving. We noticed no one wanted to look at us, and then someone came and asked us to go to the waiting room. We knew what was coming.

It is still beyond belief.

We waited patiently as we waited for her family to arrive as well as the rest of our close group of friends. No one really knows what happened for sure, but we assume it was probably another blood clot or stroke or her heart just got tired.

We left there and went to her mom's house where we began helping make the arrangements. Her mom wanted us all at the funeral home the next day with her, and we were there. We then spent the rest of the day working out the details. The next day was the funeral home visitation, and then on Saturday, we had her funeral. It feels strange to call a funeral beautiful, but it truly was. It was a wonderful tribute to Terri. She loved the Lord, and as a result of that, she had a great love for others, and I can definitely say that others loved her, too! She had the most amazing personality of anyone I've ever met. Even nurses and doctors at the hospital who never got to hear her speak fell in love with Terri. I've been saying that usually when you meet someone, you can think in your mind or even say out loud, "You remind me of someone else I know." I can't imagine that anyone could have ever said that about Terri.

We girls got together again last night with Terri's mom - because we needed to. We all spoke at Terri's funeral on Saturday, and we gave her mom a binder with all our speeches, pictures of Terri (and us), and all the Facebook messages, condolences, etc. Her mom is so tired and just mentally exhausted - I can't imagine having to endure losing two children within three months of each other as she has. She can definitely use your prayers.

Going through this has reminded me how important it is to care for my friends and make sure they know how important they are. It can be hard sometimes with a family to take care of, and of course they must come first, but I should always have time to speak to my friends and get together with them whenever possible. I also see that as a way to teach my children how to be a true friend - by showing them! I'm trying to not have any regrets with all this, but I had gotten to the point where I was only seeing this close group of friends on the "big" occasions. In fact, the last time I spoke with Terri before this happened was at her brother's funeral, and that makes me very sad. I took it for granted that my friends would always be there, but now I know different.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

In Loving Memory

February 15, 1972 - June 9, 2010
My dear friend, Terri

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Update




Bird's nest in the tree next to our garage. I've enjoyed watching this bird in all her busyness!

We finally got some much needed work done around the outside of our home. A buggy full of flowers from Wal-Mart really did the trick!

I used the same pink and white flowers in all my beds and planters, so in a few weeks hopefully they'll be big and bushy and add more color to the yard. Thankfully the Lord has blessed us with several rain showers recently, so I haven't had to do much watering. This past week reminded me of the summer weather we used to have - humid days followed by an evening thunderstorm. Thunderstorms used to scare me when I was little, but now I find them rather relaxing.

We're almost finished with our spring outside jobs. We recently took down our above-ground pool as back during the winter during the huge rain storms we were having, the dirt washed out from under one side of the pool causing the liner to rip as there was nothing holding it up. We've taken it down, but we still need to cut it up as soon as we locate the tin snips and haul it off. Then we have to tear down the surrounding deck. We debated fixing it or taking it down, and since we're strongly considering putting our house back on the market, we thought not having the pool may be a good selling point - but I guess that all depends on who the buyer is. Oh well, it's gone now.

I always save my hanging pots from year to year. This year I purchased some of those wave petunias for $3 to put in them. Certainly beats $10+ for a new hanging pot of plants!

With a little help from the kiddos, we washed the siding, painted the porch railing and stained the front door.


It's nice to be surrounded by some "beauty" when we're outside now!


Matthew after eating a chocolate muffin while swimming in his little pool. Every time he sees a camera now, he flashes this smile!

Update on Terri: We're all trying to take turns staying at the hospital with Terri so that she has someone there with her most of the time, and the past few times I've stayed were some milestone days. A couple of weeks ago when I was there, she came off the ventilator, went to a bipap machine, and then went straight to oxygen alone all in one day. That was a good day! The next time I stayed, they came in and tried to feed her, and it worked out great, so she was able to start eating. The next time I stayed, we went the other direction, which was on Friday. Her oxygen started dropping, and after trying several different things, they had no choice but to place her back on the bipap machine. They are still not sure if it is pneumonia or another blood clot.

I stayed with her for a few hours yesterday, and she was very alert and able to answer my questions (by nodding her head), and even smiled quite largely when her mom and I came back into the room for the THIRD time after telling her bye! We did try to leave three times, but for various reasons we had to come back into the room. We made it out on the fourth try.

Please continue to pray for her as you're reminded.

Softball update: Madison and her team won their tournament in Palmetto this past weekend!


And lastly, a cute Amelia-ism to share: Last week, I was telling Amelia that she will be in kindergarten when we start back to school. She said, "Well, which garden is Cari going to be in?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reality

I'm still trying to bring myself back to reality after having some time away last week. But lest you think all was perfect, it wasn't. Close - like 95%, but not exactly perfect. But the ocean has a wonderful way of making everything seem like 100%. I'm relaxing just thinking about it...........

Okay, I'm back. We really just had a couple of issues but nothing major. The place where we stay had a full kitchen, which is great as we usually just buy groceries as we normally would and eat all of our meals in the unit. We did eat out one night, but I happen to enjoy eating my meals in my swimsuit or shorts and a t-shirt with no makeup on when I'm on vacation, so I'm glad we didn't go out every night. The only problem was that only two burners on the stove worked. The good thing is we never needed more than two burners at a time, so it was really a non-issue. Not sure why I mentioned it.

The other issue was a little bigger. One night after we had all settled down in our pj's and were resting comfortably in the living room and watching some TV, Brad got up to go to the kitchen. Just as he got near the carpet close to the kitchen, he was about to get on to someone for spilling a drink and not cleaning it up. But before it came out of his mouth, I heard a small splash, and Brad saying, "Oh, no - grab some towels, quick!" I did, but we obviously did not have enough towels for this mess! The washing machine was having some issues, and water was coming out everywhere. It was in the kitchen and running into the bathroom and seeping into the surrounding carpets as well. I called the front desk and told them the situation and within minutes two guys from maintenance arrived with a wet vac and promptly went to work. The fill valve on the washer was broken, and since it was "too old to fix," we had a new washer and dryer the next day. It actually turned out to be a good thing as this was a bigger washer and dryer and the dryer was a higher voltage, so it did its job much quicker than the older on.

At the time, I felt a bit like Brad's 86-year-old Great Aunt Marie. She has lived in a high-rise apartment complex for most of her life in Houston, Texas. She used to say whenever she had any problems in her apartment, she would just pick up the phone and say "hello maintenance!"

Sometimes it would be nice to just pick up the phone and say "hello maintenance!" whenever the ice maker isn't working, the dishwasher springs a leak, a pipe bursts, etc., etc., but that's the nature of being a homeowner. I just pick up the phone (if it's during the day) and say, "Hello, Brad!" LOL Well, sometimes there are things I can fix on my own, but having a wonderful husband around to do what I can't is far greater than having on-site maintenance.

And thankfully those maintenance issues did not come close to ruining our vacation - just little things that added to the memories. :>)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Seasons

I have come to truly appreciate the way that God has created the seasons. Each one serves such a wonderful purpose, and I want to enjoy every facet that each has to offer.

The summer time is a very busy time of working and playing. Working - lawn maintenance, gardening, tending to flowers - and some housework on rainy days :>). Playing - lots of swimming and fun with friends, playing in the dirt/sand, swinging the (little) kiddos until they doze off for an afternoon nap, baseball games, lots of weekend softball tournaments, cookouts, free movies and cheap popcorn, and the list goes on and on. Like I said, very busy.

Then comes fall ~ my favorite time of the year ~ it's time to start winding down but not yet completely. There's canning/freezing of the vegetables and fruits (hopefully! if the garden did well) and time to start back to school, which becomes the priority. Tidying up of the yards and stowing away of the summer toys is on the to-do list. Softball is over, and it's time to start thinking about basketball. It's also time to catch up on the housework that may have gotten neglected during the busy summer. It's time to start thinking about fall parties and looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday. Love it!

And then there's winter, which I look at as a time of rest - (except for basketball season). The other seasons have brought lots of activity, but winter is the time I get to come inside and hibernate with my family for a few months. There's the fun stuff like decorating for Christmas, shopping, and parties to attend. And then the months following are a time to wait quietly for spring to arrive.

And thankfully it always does. We're usually feeling a little stir crazy and at the first sign of warm weather we're out and about at the playground, walking around the neighborhood, headed to softball practice, making plans for a garden, enjoying the beauty of all the greenness of the trees and grass and the budding and blooming of the flowers, and getting ready to plant new flowers. There's the finishing up of school and the heavy duty spring cleaning. Getting ready for vacation as we celebrated the end of our school year was a treat for this spring. And then there's the excitement of the anticipation of all that summer is going to bring ~ and the cycle continues.

As long as God blesses me with good health and the ability, I want to be like the ant in Proverbs 6:6-11:

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, [And] gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep-- So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

There is always something to do, to enjoy, and someone to love while doing it. I want to use my seasons wisely and accomplish all that I can according to God's plan for my life. Speaking of my life....

Not only has God given us seasons in each year, but He's also blessed us with seasons in life. Even more so, I want to use those seasons wisely. Just as the yearly seasons go by so fast, my life seasons are speeding by just as fast. We just returned from vacation, and I carried that thought a lot this week.

It seems like Madison was just turning 1, and it was just me, Brad, and her on vacation. Now all of the sudden there are three more, and she is 14. I realized how the time for my family-of-six vacations is ticking away, and I didn't want to take that for granted. I don't think I did. We had a very relaxing vacation and did not do very much. We spent a lot of time at the beach and by the pools and just enjoyed some much needed down time as a family. Our lives at home are extremely busy - if you could see all that has been accomplished since we arrived home at 4 p.m. yesterday, you would understand - so we didn't want our vacation to be. It was a refreshing time and hopefully I have some new motivation to do what needs to be done around here. I had blogged recently about doing a thorough "cleaning out" of the house, which I did. But I've suffered tremendously from burnout ever since and haven't wanted to do much "cleaning up." I think I've recovered now. :>)

Anyway, I know there are more seasons in life to come - that like the yearly seasons will be needed and will bring their own blessings, etc. - but for now, I am content to enjoy and "remain" in this one.

Here's a few pictures from our trip to Myrtle Beach. It rained on Monday, but the rest of the week was lovely, just lovely.....(Thank you, Heavenly Father, for such a wonderful, safe week - for Your provision and loving kindness that you showered upon us. Amen.)









Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's Saturday!

I have lots of cleaning, packing, etc. to do today as we'll be heading to the beach soon, but I wanted to give an update on Terri. She is doing so much better! I visited with her yesterday evening, and I saw her respond in a typical "Terri" way to one of my other friends when she walked into the room. She opened her eyes wide and gave a great smile. It was awesome to see. Please continue to pray!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Bittersweet Mother's Day

This was a different Mother's Day and different weekend altogether. In my heart, on Sunday I was made well aware once again of my thankfulness and love of being a mother. God has blessed me in a wonderful way with these precious children, each so incredibly unique. Cari - always the thoughtful child - blessed me with a homemade card and fresh flowers she had picked from my garden.



After church, we had lunch at my mom and dad's, and I was very grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate this day once again with my mom. She's a wonderful mother, that's for sure!

But thoughts of my dear friend, Terri, prevented me from enjoying this day as I normally would. If you've read my blog for a while, you've heard about Terri at some point. The "girls" always have Christmas at Terri's house. As Bonnie put in on Saturday evening as we were standing outside the hospital, "She's the glue that holds our friendship together. We need Terri."

On Saturday evening, Terri suffered a large stroke, and she is currently on a ventilator and in critical condition. I saw her last on Sunday, and it is so hard to see her like that. Terri has always been more full of life than any person I've ever met. I didn't get to go see her yesterday, but there have been a few positive changes, and we're just holding on to those right now and praying every time she comes to mind, which is very often. If you're reading this, please pray for her as you're reminded. Pray for her mother, too. Terri's mom is in bad health, and you may also remember me blogging about going to Terri's brother's funeral about two months ago. This family has been through so much in the past year. A miracle would be wonderful right now.


Terri and Anslea, Christmas 2009

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Doing Good

I could say things are slowing down enough to give me some "blogging time" but that really wouldn't be true. I'm giving myself 10 minutes to blog right now, so whatever comes out in that time period will have to suffice. I've had some things on my mind and wanted to get them out before they are "gone with the wind." That happens pretty quickly sometimes, so I have to be careful....

Proverbs 3:27 has been swimming through my brain a LOT here lately.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do [so].

But along with that verse, in order to "do good" in some situations, God has been having to work on me in regards to facing some fears in my life - things that don't generally come easy.

I'll share more next time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Cleaning Fever

Wow! I've had a major case of spring cleaning fever this week! And that's a good thing. It all started last Saturday when the weather was forecast to be pretty yucky ~ thankfully it didn't get too bad. We chose to stay home and not venture out into the possible storms. It felt like a holiday to not have to be anywhere that day. I loved it!

So early Saturday morning I headed up to the attic - well actually I started on the stairs and worked my way up - and the cleaning out and re-organizing began - by the evening time I had an organized attic space. But the cleaning out and re-organizing hasn't stopped yet. I've been doing a little here and there on the main floor of the house for the past few weeks, but I got serious this week. Brad worked on the unfinished side of the basement over the weekend, and I have worked on the finished side for most of the week. That chore is almost complete. I even had the opportunity to go through all of our old storage boxes, and I was amazed at some of the stuff we've chosen to keep over the years! And I found some interesting things to, along with things that we'll probably need sooner or later, and now I know where they are!

We're planning to have a yard sale this Saturday, so my dining room is full of junk. Whatever doesn't sell will be headed to the dumpster or Goodwill.

I've already taken several bags of clothes and toys to a local donation box, took a huge garbage bag of clothes to the consignment shop, and I unloaded a truck full of stuff at the county dump yesterday. I've also put a lot of used home school books that I've come across this week on EBay, and almost everything has bids right now! We're going on vacation soon, so it will be nice to have some extra spending money.

Sometimes I feel like I am always cleaning out, so I tried to do an extra good job this time - you know, the kind of job where people who live in the house actually notice! :>) It's been a lot of work - and I better get busy as I still have a lot to do today, but it's worth it to make my life easier on a daily basis. Less stuff = less stress!

I had prayed to God several days ago to give me some motivation to tackle this chore, and He completely provided. Not only did He give me motivation, but He gave me the strength and health to be able to do it. I am very thankful!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wise Words for Young Girls

The godly young men I've spoken with believe that if young women started keeping their standards high rather than settling for mediocre men, guys would be forced to make serious changes to their masculinity. And even if you are mocked, ridiculed, or ignored because of your stand, you can be sure that God will honor your decision. He paid for the treasure of your heart with His own blood. You disregard His amazing sacrifice for you when you allow your femininity to be trampled in the mud. You are a daughter of the King, so hold out for a man who has royal blood coursing through his veins. (Leslie Ludy)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Boys and Their Toys

Yesterday, I loaded up the kids and headed to the local library for story time. We were running late, and we hurriedly walked - can't run in the library :>) - to the back of the library where story time takes place. I found a seat in the middle of a bunch of people, and Matthew was sitting in my lap. I noticed a couple of ladies staring at Matthew, and when I looked over they were smiling sweetly at him. A few minutes later, I noticed someone else was doing so. I know he's cute and all, but I wasn't sure what was going on. I assumed he must be making cute faces at them or something. Then I looked down. I had forgotten that Amelia had thrown her baby doll at me while we were entering the library. Matthew had found it and was hugging it tightly. Oh, so that's what they were smiling about..... I tried to slowly release it from his grip and place it in the floor, but he wouldn't have it. He immediately started fussing, so I gave the doll back - you shouldn't fuss in the library - and of course this drew even more attention to the fact that my son was hugging a doll. So now these people think that I let my son play with dolls. Oh well, there are definitely worse things!

By the way, I am trying to build up his monster truck collection, which he loves to play with, but with three sisters, it's going to be hard to keep him away from the barbies and babies!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to Cari!

We celebrated Cari's 11th birthday this Saturday with an early lunch at my mom and dad's followed by an afternoon to late evening birthday party with her friends. She says she had a great day, and I certainly enjoyed the fellowship of family and friends on that day as well! Here's a few pics from the day...


She wanted a cake like Bentley's, so I did my best to copy it. With a few helpful hints and tips from my friend, Kim, I think it turned out pretty cute! At least it looks better than my German chocolate cake!! :>)



At Nana and Grandadday's --




And then back home --


Water balloon toss --



Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Hand-Me-Downs and other things

Not only did Brad and Cari bring home the Expedition last weekend, they brought back a trunk full of dishes. My in-laws recently purchased new pots and pans and dishes for their kitchen and asked if we wanted any of their old ones. I didn't want the pots and pans, but I was happy to take the dishes. I've always liked the design and size of their old dishes, and every once in a while, believe it or not, a plate, glass, etc. gets broken around here, so any extras are always welcome.

My father-in-law also asked if I would like to have their china that his aunt gave them when they were married almost 41 years ago. I said, "Certainly!" A few years ago, my answer would have been, "no thanks." But things change. I used to only have an eye for new things - just keep the old stuff in the antique stores and far away from me. But now I've acquired a fondness for old things - especially items that are connected with family.

I had no idea what the dishes looked like and didn't even ask - I knew I'd find a place for them somewhere. They are made by Royal China, Inc, and are called "Dogwood." I like them, and I think they look nice in my breakfast room curio cabinet.


The plant on top looks like it's blowing away, but it's just reaching for the sun that shines through the nearby window.

Getting the new dishes forced me to do some cleaning out in the kitchen this week. Not bad timing after all since it is spring and time for some spring cleaning and preparing for a spring yard sale. I went through all my cabinets and anything I haven't used in the past year went into the yard sale box. I need to do this in every room, so that's what I'll be doing throughout the next few weeks as time allows. My home is so much easier to keep clean when I clear the clutter! And I've been thinking, if I can live without most of this stuff during a week-long vacation in a hotel room, why do I think I need all this stuff around me all the time? Helping my parents move last week gave me a new perspective on what I need to keep and what I don't. If it's in God's plans for us, we would still like to sell our home and move to our own little homestead someday, and if that day of moving should ever arrive, I would like to make it as easy as possible. Not that moving is ever easy, but the less stuff and clutter the better. If that day doesn't come, then I think we're still better off without the stress of too much stuff.

I'm going to change the subject now and tell you how much I love music. If I had to choose between a TV or a radio, I'd definitely choose the radio. On the way home from church last night, the song "More Like Falling in Love" by Jason Gray came on the radio. It has a happy beat to it, which I think made Cari say that it is her new favorite song. I told her that it is a good song and that it has a lot of truth in it, too.

More Like Falling in Love
Give me rules
I will break them
Give me lines
I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet
It ought to be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Give me words
I'll misuse them
Obligations
I'll misplace them
'Cause all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free
It's gotta be

CHORUS

...It's like I'm falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made
Me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me

So what is my overall take on this song? Legalism and just "following the rules" of Christianity gets you nowhere. Where's the joy and peace in that?? Falling in love with Jesus brings about a desire to follow His rules and to live life as His Word says I should live it, to serve Him and please Him as best as I can. "'Cause all religion ever made of me Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet" Isn't that the truth? These things are hard to accomplish in the name of religion. But when you have a real relationship with Jesus, the things that religion tries but fails to accomplish just come about naturally. People that are not Christians should know there is something different about all of us who claim to be Christians. We should live in such a way that they want to ask what that difference is. The only way to truly display that difference is falling in love with Jesus. To go even further, how do you fall in love with Jesus? A great place to start would be by reading His Word - that's the best way to get to know Him! - Because how can you love Someone that you don't know?....

If you haven't heard this song, I'm sure a quick Internet search will lead you to it. If you need something to get you moving today, now might be a good time to go listen to it! Or I can just go ahead and lead you to it: CLICK HERE I just watched and listened and found it impossible to sit still. I have a feeling this is going to be our "get the house clean" song this morning ~ :>)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thankfulness

I heard a story not long ago about a man who was always thankful and didn't complain. I don't remember the whole story, but one day the weather was awful and there were a series of other unfortunate events for this man. His friends thought surely he would complain, and when they went to him they said, "you can't possibly find anything to be thankful for today." He said, "Oh, yes. I am thankful that every day is not like today."

So, that being said, I'm not going to complain about yesterday. I'm just going to say, "Lord, thank you that every day is not like yesterday, and please give me wisdom and strength for today. AMEN"

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Weekend

Cari and Brad had a great time on their father-daughter trip!
Cari on the airplane
At Joe T. Garcia's



A stop in Mississippi on the way home.

And the Mystics played awesome this Saturday. I think they ended up playing eight games that day, and out of 12 teams, here's the results ~

2nd Place!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Challenge

Well, I did okay with the challenge, but I never did take any pictures. The only day I didn't do well was on Tuesday. We had Madison's basketball banquet to go to that evening, and since I didn't have anywhere else to go that day, I wanted to wait until later in the afternoon to do the whole hair and makeup thing.

I feel my biggest accomplishment was on Monday when I didn't have to go anywhere but got dressed anyway. I didn't feel like I needed to hide from my neighbors when the kids and I took a walk around the neighborhood that day, so that was a plus! The only problem was the children asked a few times about where we were going - they just couldn't understand why I had gotten dressed to stay home. Sad, huh?

My only problem is the fact that I feel like I can clean and do chores so much better when I'm wearing my pj's. I guess the best route for me is to get all my chores done and then not be so lazy about getting dressed after that.

That was fun, though. I love a good challenge. Now I should really be doing the "Clear Out the Clutter" challenge over at Money Saving Mom, but I think I'll save that one for next week, or the next.......

Brad and Cari are going on an expedition....

To pick up an Expedition!

I've been up since around 4:00 a.m. I would go take a nap while the others are still sleeping, but I'm sure that as soon as I drifted off to sleep Matthew would wake up, so I think I'll just wait and nap when he does this afternoon.

Why up so early? I had to take Brad and Cari to the Atlanta airport for a 7:30 flight to Ft. Worth.

Here's the story -

We've been looking into, for well over a year, getting a bigger vehicle. We have a Volvo XC90 that seats seven, which I love, but as the children get bigger, the car is getting smaller. We've been looking and pricing for months now trying to decide what we wanted. We had a set budget in mind for what we wanted to spend, and we've just been waiting for that vehicle in that price range to come along. This is so out of character for us. The first few years we were married, Brad jokes that we would go out to eat and end up coming home with a new vehicle. That's really not too far off. I'm embarrassed to tell how much money we've wasted on vehicles over the years. Special thanks to Dave Ramsey for helping us out and showing us how ridiculous that was!

Anyway, we narrowed our vehicles down to: Chevy Suburban or Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Honda Odyssey, or a Toyota Sienna. After checking out all of these, we decided we would be happy with whichever one came along first in our price range. We've mainly been searching on Auto Trader and EBay. A couple of weeks ago, we found an Expedition on EBay that met our needs and was an outstanding deal. But it was in Ft. Worth, TX. That's not too much of a problem as Brad's parents live there, and they were able to go check it out for us, which they thoroughly did. They thought it was well worth the asking price, so we took the plunge. (We actually had an Expedition before we bought the Volvo six years ago, so we kind of know what we're getting.) We did all the paperwork over the Internet, Brad sent the check to his dad via UPS, and he went and picked it up for us. And now Brad and Cari are flying to Texas so they can drive it home.

Cari was so excited to be going alone - just her and Brad. She is going to be getting a lot of attention this weekend, and I think that's great - but I'm already ready for them to get back home! I'm sure they'll have a lot of fun on their "expedition" in the Expedition. The rest of us are a little jealous - I love a good road trip - but softball beckons the rest of us to Duluth this weekend. Go Mystics!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Congratulations Are in Order


~ To Madison ~

.....for winning the MVP Award at her basketball banquet this week!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On Being Encouraging

His mother was not home, but the young boy wanted to draw, so he got out the bottles of ink himself. His sister agreed to pose for him. In his eagerness and excitement, the young artist made an inky mess of his hands, clothes, table, and floor. Just as he was finishing his work, his mother returned, and for a moment, stood in the door and silently took the scene in. Then, instead of scolding him, she picked up the portrait and declared, "What a beautiful picture of your sister!" and kissed him. Later in life, the great artist Benjamin West recounted, "With that kiss I became a painter."

(Excerpt from HOME EDUCATING FAMILY magazine, 2009, Issue 4)


Now I'm not advocating allowing my children to make every mess their individual heart desires, but I also believe, speaking for myself, that there is ALWAYS room for more encouragement - every hour of every day.

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, so that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Amelia-isms



Yesterday, I was pushing Amelia in the swing, and this is what she said. "I love it when you push me high. It makes my breath have fun."

Over the weekend, while at my mom and dad's, she was holding the door for everyone to walk in. When everyone was inside, she shut the door and was standing on the front porch. I asked her, "What are you doing?" She opened the door and giggled and said, "I almost left myself outside!"

Monday, April 5, 2010

The "Get Dressed" Challenge

I'm a little nervous about this, but I think I'm going to participate. This is definitely going to be a challenge.

Easter Weekend

Once again, the weather has continued to be beautiful - perfect Easter weather.

My parents sold their home last week and already had another home picked out that they closed on last week, too. So, we spent the weekend helping them move some things. Brad and I also fit in some yard work around here on Saturday afternoon, and then we enjoyed a Saturday evening at home. I spent most of it cooking for Sunday lunch. I know how crazy things can get around here on Sunday mornings so I knew better than to try to do any cooking on Sunday. I fixed "not your typical" chicken cordon bleu, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, green beans, potato salad, and a fresh loaf of wheat bread. Mr. "Edwards" took care of dessert with his Turtle Pie. Yum!!

I wish I could cook like that every Sunday, but it's rare we're home on Saturday evenings, and I don't think I can get up early enough on Sunday mornings. I told Madison when they're all married, I'll cook Sunday lunch, and they can all come eat after church. That is, if they live nearby. She said she has plans to (live nearby), and I hope she's right. But, if God has other plans for her or any of the others, I would miss them TERRIBLY, but I always want them to know that they have our support to go where God leads. "My" perfect plan would be to have about 100 acres, give each child 20 acres, and let them and their family build on that. We could have our own little compound. I know that is so not reality, but a person can dream can't they? :>) And I do realize of course that no plan is perfect unless God is the architect of those plans.

Oh well, back to the present - maybe I can find time to do that every now and then (in the here and now) and not just on Easter.

Here's our Easter Sunday photo shoot --



Saturday, April 3, 2010

Time for a Lighter Subject

So what else has been going on around here besides reading about Bible versions? Well, mostly we've been enjoying this wonderful spring weather! It has been absolutely gorgeous this week! I'm even excited about seeing some pollen - that is definitely a first.

After hibernating for the past few months with all the rain and cold and snow, I can't get enough of the warm air and sunshine. The girls have had fun playing with the neighbors this week as the local schools are having spring break. We've been able to get some yard work done, and I've also learned that Matthew now loves to swing. He had an indoor baby swing that I put away some time ago because he never liked to swing and would be very unhappy if I tried to put him in it. But now, on the outdoor swing, I can hardly get him out once I put him in!



One time, when I finally got him out, we were walking around the yard, and he fell in a pile of leaves and a stick got him right under the eye. I've said quite a few prayers of thankfulness since then that the stick didn't get him a little higher or it could have really hurt his eye. (Again, thank you, Lord.)

Here's a picture of his "boo-boo" taken at an Easter egg hunt this week. Amelia and her friend, Bentley, are pictured, too. (Bentley no longer minds having her picture taken.)



We met with a local home school group this week for the egg hunt. There were a ton of kids there! We had never met any of them before and only knew the family from our own group, so it was a new experience. Amelia was asking where we were going. I told her I didn't know (we had the address and were depending on the GPS to get us there). She asked whose house it was. I told her I didn't know. Madison asked if it was okay for us to be there. I told her it was fine. And it was.

It worked out well as it was close to the mall, and we headed there afterwards for lunch and to get some new spring dress shoes. I got some good deals at Payless and a coupon I received in the mail made the good deals even better. Lunch was free as I went by the consignment store where I take our clothes, and I had some pretty good sales last month! I love those unexpected blessings!!! It was a lovely day all the way around.

Here's some more pictures from the egg hunt ~





Did you know that Jewish families typically cleaned before Passover? Speaking of which, I should probably get started on that as my family and I anticipate our celebration of our Savior's death, burial, and resurrection! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter weekend!