And Then There was 2020

Is it Tuesday? Or Wednesday? 24th? 26th?
Who would know? The days have all run together in a big, long, heap of a week.
Friday?! Praise Jesus.

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It wasn’t long ago I was wishing for time to slow down.
It wasn’t long ago I was wishing to stay home more.
It wasn’t long ago I bemoaned all the running to and fro.
And lo, it hath happened!

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Yes, we are staying at home, but no I don’t feel like I have any extra time. I am now Mom and school teacher, plus all the usual, and I have been made aware of how very much I love school teachers. God bless you people!

One thing I have figured out though, at the end of a stressful day of teaching, a teacher gets to send the students home to the parents.
What does a home school mom do with them when a stressful day of school is over?
Just switch from Mom-teaching to original “Mooooommm-ing.”

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But we will survive.
And not just survive, but live and thrive and use this time for good.
Who am I if I cannot bring glory to God in everything?

We are prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings on sand.
Charles Spurgeon.

Prior to quarantine, we spent our time…

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Deep in the throes of remodeling.
If you haven’t remodeled any part of your house, just sit still and quietly trust me that it is no picnic. It.never.ends. The end.

We added a room to the back of the house that is now the living room, the old living room was then turned into the dining room and next, we proceeded to rip out the kitchen and move it to the garage while a new kitchen is being installed, all the while, none of these rooms are completely finished, but we live in them all. Wow, that sounds nice and simple written in one long run-on sentence. Divide that into days and weeks and months and it will be about right.

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Oh, and we are also finishing three rooms above the garage.
I thought I would be painting for years. Stiiiiiiiiiiillllllllll not done.

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But once again, there are worse things.
I have all the luxuries, except a dishwasher, and for that inconvenience, I have children. (insert mucho laughter here)
They have always been spoiled with a dishwasher so this is actually very good for all of us. It brings back many memories of washing dishes when I was a kid.
Mom, I’m sorry I made this process so painful for you.

Other things that happened…

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For a boy, having the kitchen in the garage is almost a dream come true. You grab food, back the car out, shoot some hoops, bike a circle around the island for an orange, and then rollerblade right over past the cookie box. Next, you bribe your sister into a round of 4-square, then race her on the scooter, all the while you are still in the garage where Mom liked to send you for her peace of mind, but now she has to be out here with you!

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One little girl turned seven.
Tell me how?
(Here you may insert all the sappy Mom thoughts
about her baby growing up so quickly)
She was almost sick on her birthday and then home from school sick the two days following.

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Madison whipped up some macrons one day.
They had caramel in the middle.
I won’t ever tell how many I ate.

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She made a birthday cake for a fish-loving little boy.
All the fish were chocolate and quite edible.

She has been battling Lyme and a few other autoimmune diseases and hasn’t been baking as much she would like this winter.

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Reagan and her team won 2nd place in their division at Ohio Valley Bible Quizzing.
She worked long and hard for it and now knows 7 chapters in John.

— — — — — —
We took a week and celebrated Spring Break in FL.
Only to come home and be on permanent break from school.

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It was a good week.
The kids love to go feed Aunt Sandy’s neighbor Donkey.

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We played Frisbee at the beach one night, or some of us did and some of us just watched. A lady watching offered to take our photo. Okay, so maybe it was after she watched this mom’s feeble attempts to take a family selfie.

I am enjoying this stage of life. They are all still at home, all able to fend for themselves, and we have so much fun together.

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When you are seven this is called having the world by the tail.

— — — — — —
3-4-20
And in the middle of all of this, Eric and I celebrate 20 years of being married.
The day we got married, 20 years seemed a long, long way off into the future.
I’m not sure how it got here so fast, but it sure didn’t seem like 20 years.

Indeed, I have much to be grateful for.

Octoberish

Are you a procrastinator? Or would it sound better to say you are one who prefers to defer or delay action? That doesn’t sound too bad, really. It is good to think things through before jumping into something, correct?

I am unsure if I fit into the above description or not. Sometimes perhaps, but not always, for sure. If it is something that needs to be done, if it has a deadline of sorts, I will get it done on time. If it is something that I roll around in my mind, that would be good to do, in due time I will accomplish this said thing. If it is a project that I dislike, like painting, I’ll put it off until Jesus comes back to rescue me.

So am I a procrastinator? I don’t know. Why am I asking? Because I’ve been thinking about it and wondering.

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October showed off beautifully here and I do love a good October. If I have to endure the next five dreary months, I need a good and beautiful fall to get me through winter.

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October used to be my favorite time of the year, but less so the last few. I choose to find joy even amid the heaviness that it brings.

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Our church went camping, well we call it church camp, but it is technically not camping but very technically a good time anyway.  They had a big Candyland game for the kids and I got to help! It was fun.

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They played a lot of volleyball. Emphasis on “they” because it sure wasn’t me.

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This is an interesting thing I challenge you to do with your church sometime. Everyone was supposed to bring a photo of themselves from their toddler years. No names attached, they were hung here. It was a lot of fun to look through them and play the guessing game. Mine was no fun, everyone knew who I was because they said it looked just like all three of my girls, none of whom look like each other.

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Do you know your neighbors? We happened to be related to or go to church with a large percentage of ours but there are some we see only once a year at the neighborhood bean supper.  Mr. Gary invites everyone to bring a can of beans to dump in his big black pot, any kind will do, and he’ll grill hotdogs. You gather up whatever else you want to share and we have a picnic of beans, hot dogs and good fellowship.
Try it with the people around you.
Or move to our neighborhood.
Either one will work for a good time.

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We went to IN on the coldest weekend in October and roasted hot dogs with the gang.
Grandpa had the grand idea of everyone roasting their own lunch. It sounded like a good idea. There were a few burnt, a few cold, a few dirty, and a few good ones, but everyone had fun.

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Are you a marshmallow fan? Tell me if you are a mom and I’ll tell you if you are a fan of roasted messes. But they love them, so we let them.

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I was excited to read through this cookbook while I was there. I sent it to Mom when it came out and wanted to see it for myself after hearing her good reviews on it.
My advice, go to Amazon and buy one. It is beautiful and everything in it is worth making.

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If you stop in here, chances are you will get just a bit of drywall dust on you from somewhere in the house. We are under construction.

We added a room to the back of the house which will be the new living room and it will spill into the old dining room and the old living room will be the new dining room. Did ya follow all that?
It’s not a just a Saturday night project, it’s an every night project. One of these days, it will all be done… but will it? I always think if you are a homeowner there is always one more thing waiting to be done.

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We took a cake to the church carry in last week, not this one but another kind, and not one person asked if I made it.  hmmm  Wonder why they always think Madison bakes all the things.  – – Because she does.

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Madison and her friend Emily hosted a girls evening on our front porch. It was beautiful. It made me want to be one of the girls, minus sitting on the floor, of course.
I taught the youth girl’s Sunday school class the last year and enjoyed spending time with them very much. They’ve taught me a lot.

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“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.”
Francis Weller

Drink in the Wonder

The smallest things in life can squeeze your heart the most.

Ordinary things take on a new light when seen through eyes of gratitude.

Observe the little things and watch them turn into something amazing.

Savor the moments. Sit and drink it in. Treasure today.

Sept (2)
See life through the eyes of a child. Drink in the wonder.
Did you know a worm can become a candy cane?
Enjoy the laughter, the chattering long stories, and even the arguing.
They are only this age once, it won’t last forever.

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Take the time to sit with family, listen to them, love them, make the most of the days with them. Overlook their faults and shortcomings, you have some too, by the way. Just love them because they are your people.

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Bless someone.
A man behind me in line paid for my pizza one night. It left me sputtering thank yous and “I’ll pass it on.” He smiled. I smiled. Another man smiled. The clerk was just happy to take his money since I had come up lacking.
Now it’s my turn to be a blessing to someone else and see them smile.

Sept (16)

Take a photo of the morning chaos that is breakfast, packing lunches, pulling on clothes, scrubbing faces and teeth, pushing and willing them out the door in peace.
One day it will be but a memory.

Sept (10)

Breathe in the smell of the flower passed from one woman’s garden to the next, carefully treasured flowers that speak of life and love.
Stop and enjoy the leaves turning a beautiful hue, the green becoming golden, and the whisper of the voice of the wind. It is life.

Sept (15)

Raise your hands to Jesus. Whisper thank you for all your treasures, the people in your life, the moments you’ve been gifted today.

_ _ _ _

Today as we watch and wait with bated breath, a little boy is slipping from his Mama’s arms into the arms of Jesus. Whisper a prayer for their hurting hearts and ask Jesus to hold them close.

Running the Race

You know when you have a friend drop by, invited or not, a good rule of thumb is to never apologize for how the house looks. Don’t mention the toys all over the floor, if you have kids, she knows why they are there. Don’t mention the dirty windows, the spider webs or the overflowing countertop or she might actually notice them.

The same applies to a blog, I should just scribble out a post and not mention how long it’s been or give 1,000 reasons for my 2-month absence. Actually, I can’t really give a reason other then life happens. I think the stage of life I am in is just crazy-never-ending-busy-full of all the things. Everything from school functions, to running kids hither and yon, to family weddings to cooking, baking and cleaning.

Life feels like a rat race. I can’t stop the turning of the wheel,
but I can either be a happy rat or a crabby one about the race.

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What happens when one holds a fizzing birthday bath bomb a little too long?

My life revolves around school right now. Tieing up all the end of the year things, thinking about field trips, honor rolls, and all that good stuff. The kids are getting antsy to be done also, ready to roll into summer.

And then there are thoughts about the summer. Those thoughts frighten me sometimes and then I think, “Nope, not gonna be like other years. We are going to all get up early, schedule things, work without complaining, whip the place into shape, do the laundry, mow the lawn and then sit on the beach and sip…”
Are you laughing?
Well, you should be because I’m sure it won’t fall into place quite like that since it never happened other years when I planned the very same thing.

What are your summer plans?

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When the ice cream shack opens for the summer… we are there!

Do you have memories of doing things like this? When I was a kid we had a little ice cream spot in town we would visit occasionally. We would stand in the parking lot with ice cream cones dripping on the pavement, licking as fast as we could. Sometimes Wednesday nights we would take the long way home from church and stop for some ice cream.

My kids seem to think this should be an every afternoon occasion. I have vetoed them more often than not but secretly would like to eat ice cream every afternoon too.

 

Mr. Inventor has been working hard. He has a slingshot and wanted to make a holster for it. Cardboard and a lot of duck tape later he had built what he needed.
The other night I heard him talking about this fishing pole. He kept collecting things to finish the project and with a little bit of help from his Dad, he finished it and is now ready for a trip to the creek!
I’m thinking of buying him stock in the Duck Tape company for his birthday.

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Once upon a time, we went on a trip for Spring break and a grand time was had by all. We spent a few days in TN with Eric’s family, eating, swimming, playing games, relaxing, driving go-carts, and enjoying life. Time spent together is not something to be taken for granted.

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Rocky, the infamous dog, continues to cause his share of trouble around the place. Contrary to what one may think when viewing this photo, I do not like actually like him so very well. However, I did agree to take him for a “walk” one day by means of me riding and him running as fast as he could.

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I am currently teaching the youth girls Sunday school class. I told them recently that when I was voted in, I wasn’t altogether thrilled to be doing this. I had not been teaching very many Sundays when I remembered a conversation I had had with God a month or so before. It included a few things about wanting to invest more time and effort in His Word. I am not doubting at all that He took that request seriously and handed me a group of girls to teach each Sunday morning.

The girls have been choosing the subjects we study and challenging me greatly in the process. I always hold my breath just a bit when one starts to describe a subject to discuss and more often than not I am wincing before they are done. That cliché saying about getting your toes stepped on, well yeah, it is real and it really hurts.

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One subject we talked about that really hit home with me was kindness. Now I don’t like to think of myself as unkind, but does anyone? While none of us are truly unkind, how much effort do we put forth to practice genuine and true kindness to others? Do we go the second and third mile? Do we bend over backward in an effort to be kind to someone, especially the special ones who are like sandpaper to us?

The Greek root for kindness, as used in the New Testament, means uprightness or benevolence and describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing our patience.

Kindness draws others toward us, changes people’s hearts, heals broken relationships and makes people feel loved and respected.

You are never too important to be kind to people.
There is no excuse for not being kind.

Kindness is a skill. We can all learn to be kind. Kindness needs practice. Just as a tree doesn’t strengthen its roots the night of the storm, you can’t develop kindness overnight; you’ll need to practice it in the smallest experiences. With practice you’ll become instinctively kind; kindness will become effortless and will no longer require active thought.

 Kindness is a choice.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Musings

I stare at this blank page like I stare at the vast empty months that will fill 2019. I know, I know, we have already finished the 987 days of January and are moving along and leaving the words ‘New Year’ behind.
A lot of you love to start a new year, set up goals for the future, and dream of all it will hold. I have realized lately that a new year scares me. I don’t like surprises. at all. The thought alone makes me twitchy. I want to know what is coming, I like to plan, plot and organize things. To look at 12 empty months is too much. I have to do 1 week or 1 month at a time to hold off the panic of the unknown.
I wonder sometimes, was I always this way or have the last few years changed me? Or does this simply come with increasing age? I am not sure. The older I get the more I try to figure myself out and the more I try, the more frustrated I get with the subject I am figuring out!
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Looking back, the holidays were hard months. With God’s grace, we survived. Christmas especially triggers many emotions and we end up enduring December instead of enjoying it.
When Christmas finally arrives, we enjoy time together immensely, but there is always the niggling thought in the back of our minds that he is missing. Along with that thought, we are extremely grateful for every minute we spend together and try not to take it for granted.

Jan (1)

Many December evenings when the dusk started turning dark, I would flip the light switch up and stare at the star hanging on the porch. It was gifted in memory of Tristan and every year I hang it again in his memory. Christmas was his favorite.

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Christmas day was mild and beautiful. We had fun hanging out at the cabin.

Jan (4)

When the sky glows red with the setting sun, you will find us outside watching.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Jan (2)

“Christmas is the best but it’s not because of presents. It’s because of the birth of Jesus. Then see that cross by the star on my tree? That is for Jesus too.”
-Kennedy

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Jan (6)

Philippians 4:14 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
John 15:5 for without me, you can do nothing.
2 Cor. 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you.

  When you face deep waters or deal with a thorn in the flesh, God has two ways to work in the situation. He can either remove the thorn or strengthen your shoulders.

The grace of God is sufficient to help you carry the load he has called you to bear. No matter what you face, no matter what waters God calls you to walk through, you can. Not on your own, sheer willpower will get you nowhere. Recognize your own insufficiency and draw from His. Only He gives the needed strength and sufficient grace.

“Great tribulation brings out the great strength of God. If you never feel inward conflicts and sinking of soul, you do not know much of the upholding power of God; but if you go down, down, into the depths of soul-anguish till the deep threatens to shut her mouth upon you, and then the Lord rides upon a cherub and does fly, yea, rides upon the wings of the wind and delivers your soul, and catches you away to the third heaven of delight, then you perceive the majesty of divine grace. Oh, there must be the weakness of man, felt, recognized, and mourned over, or else the strength of the Son of God will never be perfected in us.” (Spurgeon)

My grace is sufficient for you.
My: Jesus
Grace: God’s favor and love in action
Is: right now. not later. now.
Sufficient: plentiful. more than enough. more than we can imagine.
for you: Not just Paul writing this. but you. me. everyone.