Thursday, March 31, 2016

Happy Birthday, Josiah!!!

That smile is his "handsome face" :)
'Siah is two!!!
Josiah is consistent, perfectionistic (which leads to a bit of bossing ;)...), and very thoughtful. He makes sure everything gets done that needs done -if we call the little ones for lunch, he stands at the bottom of the stairs giving them reminders until they make it down, and he fusses at people for leaving stuff out, haha! A while ago, Tori walked into the living room to tell us that, while some children have to ask that you will watch their stuff so that nobody uses it, Emmi was asking that her stuff be watched because JoJo kept putting it away ;). But he definitely holds himself to the same standards! We've joked that he's either going to become an electrician or a furniture mover, because he is our self-proclaimed cord police ("Oh no! Oh no! Unplugged!!!!"), and he went through a phase where he rearranged the living room and dining room furniture c.o.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y. He has some strong little muscles!!!
He will sit and play for hours by himself with a box of cars, or some of the Melissa and Doug toy sets we have. But the instant that he decides he is done and comes to ask us to take him back downstairs (or up, depending on where he is, of course ;) ), he will pick up all the toys again, hand us the box, and lead us to point to the spot it goes on the shelf, before he grabs our hand and walks down the stairs. It is soooo predictable, that when I walked into Mama's room yesterday and saw the cars on the floor with him nowhere in sight, I said "I am in shock. He actually left his cars out!" To which Mama answered, "Peter had them out this time..." haha!
He was a little stand-off-ish with Noah when he first met him, wanting nothing to do with him -until I said it was nap time, when he HAD to see "Geo" THAT minute, haha! But by the end of the day, he was completely in love with him, and now multiple times a day, he'll come to Tori or I, "Upstairs? Mama's room? See baby?", or run to listen and say "Noah crying!!!" He has a precious little giggle, and he loves to play with his ball outside. And, while it's true that he has a strong personality, he seems to know when and how to help those who may need an extra bit of love, and be dedicated to doing it. And he is very polite :). "Open this pease?! Open this pease?!"
Happy birthday, Josiah! I love you, buddy, and I am so thankful to have such a sweet little guy for my brother!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Baby Noah

 Baby brother is a week old today! It's hard to believe that it's been that long, but at the same time, he fits in like he's always been here :). He's so precious!
Mama mentioned he looked like Emmi when he was born, but later on (especially when he would open his eyes, it becomes very striking!) we thought he looked like Peter. Mama pulled up pictures on FB to decide which he looked more like, and I walked in...
"Awwww, is that Emmi?!"
Mama: "No, actually, that's Peter."
Oh. I guess they both look like Emmi, haha! We did think Peter was a perfect mix of everyone when he was born, so I guess that works :).

He has sooooo much hair. We thought Peter had a lot when he was born, but it was nothing compared to this little guys! Daddy gave Noah a bath this morning, and he actually had to brush his hair afterwards! And he has this little wave in it. His cheeks are so chubby, and his left ear is a little "pinched", it's cute :). He holds his hands like Bethi did as a baby. I had forgotten it til I saw Noah doing it, but it was sweet. Bethi used to hold her thumb down under her first finger when she would make a fist, and he does it too :).

Josiah with Noah

 Peter and Noah
 Emmi and Noah
 Abbi and Noah
 Andrew and Noah
Bethi and Noah

 Tori, Noah and I
Baby toes!!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Thankful Habits

"The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment, it is the fruit of a thousand choices". "Choosing Gratitude, p. 68

As with any habit, one of gratitude will take steady, slow plodding. But, praise the Lord, he has made us strong, and will not stop refining us until that day when we see him face to face!

Some of the reasons Nancy DeMoss shares for cultivating this "habit", or heart, are...
~It is an act of obedience, as commanded in Colossians 3:17. "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
~Because it brings us closer to our Lord. Think of it... we have a continual audience with God, for bringing both our needs AND our praises!
~It brings the Lord's peace ("Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6-7)
~It is the evidence of and a mirror of Christ's spirit in us. We see many instances where Christ "gave thanks", and his spirit enables us to do the same!
~And this was my favorite point she made... it's preparation for heaven!!! Revelation tells us again and again that the angels, saints, and seraphim continually praise him! This is just the start of a glorious eternity!!!!

This thought of habits made me think of something that happened to me awhile ago. Have you ever thought of the fact that the answer you give to the question "how are you doing" can be a form of worship, thanks, and witness for our Savior?

"I've been doing pretty good, how about you?", I answered the older gentleman at church.
"Just good? Not great? How about blessed?!", he enthusiastically quaried.

It was kind of eye opening to me. I can be including a "thank you" to the Lord in polite "how-dee-doos". "The Lord has blessed me!" An acknowledgement to my Savior, and a witness to him to those that I'm talking to. And I can testify that this man does practice what he preaches, because I have heard him respond many times to the question how his week was with "I've been blessed!"

Habits, even small ones like a new phrase to answer a common question with, are not broken or made easily. But I think our habits get to the heart of the matter. If I am truly grateful to my Lord, EVERY act will be an act of worship. Even if it isn't whining, if it's not worship, it's not the best I can give my King!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ice Cream v. Tooth Fairy

We went out to lunch with several members of our church this Sunday. Along with our family, and the visiting Pastor's family, there were about a dozen others there... we made up over half of the business in the three hours we were there, haha :). Daddy at one point asked the waitress, "Is the cook pulling his hair out yet?"
Look of "why would you think that": "Oh, no!"
Continues, very sincerely, "He doesn't have any hair to pull out."

While we were enjoying our lunch, we hear from the other end of the table(s -like, six, haha!) that Bethi had pulled a tooth. After we left, Tori told us that the conversation between them and a couple little boys who were there went something like this after the incident:
Little boy: "You'll have to remember to put that tooth under your pillow."
"We don't do the tooth fairy."
"Oh. Well I know the tooth fairy isn't real. You just loose a tooth and get free money for I don't know what reason-"
Abbi: "We get to stay up when we loose a tooth."
Little boy: "No. Fair."
Abbi hadn't even told them "we get to stay up and watch a movie and eat ice cream", she simply said "stay up," and he was so impressed, heehee :). It was cute!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Thankful: From the Heart

Does gratitude, or whining, dominate our life? Which defines "us"?

I know that for myself, I have a long way to go before gratitude is my INITIAL response, and I could be considered a truly grateful person. One of the things that God has been bringing to my attention this year has been my choice of words, and especially how some of them are the complete opposite of thankful speech.

Sentences like "So annoying..."
"I really don't want to do this"
"I *really* wish..."
And other generally fussing at things that inconvenience me or mess up my plans.

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks". And I have to face the fact that these words do not come from the abundance of a thankful heart. They actually show the opposite -a heart that is discontent with what it finds around it. A heart discontent with the plan that the Lord, who keeps the planets in perfect motion and set our earth the only distance from the sun that would sustain life, has set for me. As if I knew better how to control my life! And that is not the kind of heart that gives glory to it's redeemer. And even if, outwardly, you might not voice your complaints, and you may seem to others to be a terribly grateful person, the Lord sees the heart.

But it's not enough to just "stop complaining". If you don't replace these thoughts with something else, that is all that your heart will dwell on, whether you voice it or not. You cannot create a void in your thoughts. You must either replace them with conscientious prayers of thanks and pleas for help when you are inclined to grumble, or you must accept defeat. Thoughts left unattended will not just do nothing, they will wander. Like sheep if the shepherd were just to hope that the sheep would stand still if he took a nap will go get into some sort of trouble, so will our thoughts. Thankfully, we CAN choose joy! But only through and for the Lord, or we fight a loosing battle!

This is probably the most convicting of these posts I will write, for me personally. I have so far to go in this area, I feel like I shouldn't be writing it! But at the same time, this is what the Lord has been showing me, and I think that admitting that will keep me more accountable, and hopefully encourage some of you, as well! May the Lord receive all glory!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lilies and Quotes

Josiah loves his ball so much :). And he looks so old after his haircut this morning, I don't know what happened! It's sad!
Bethi and I took care of these liles this afternoon! We got them after a convention Daddy worked at last year. The coordinator had gotten these liles to decorate with, and she offered us several plants as we were cleaning up. Come to find out, Easter Lilies only bloom once a year, BUT, they do come back the next year if left alone! I was worried these ones might not, since they got left outside during the winter and got snowed on, but they came up a couple weeks ago, and I was so excited to see the green leaves :)! And that tallest one has it's flower stem :)... Gardening has always been my "happy place", and I miss it here, but it makes the small pot plants we have even more special :). I do believe I look on plants with as much love as I do cats, which is saying something, haha. But it does seriously pain me to so much as thin new sprouts, I've always hated sentencing that beauty to the compost heap :(.

I've been reading "Stepping Heavenward". It's one I've read several times, but each time I find something new from it :). This part really stood out to me this time. It's a section of questions/concerns and replies copied down into the "character's journal"...
"'In my prayers my mind has difficulty in finding anything to say to God. My heart is not in it, or it is inaccessible to my thoughts.'

'It is not necessary to say much to God. Oftentimes one does not speak much to a friend whom one is delighted to see; one looks at him with pleasure; one speaks certain short words to him that are mere expressions of feeling. The mind has no part in them, or next to none; one keeps repeating the same words. It is not so much a variety of thoughts that one seeks in intercourse with a friend as a certain repose and correspondence of the heart. It is thus we are with God, who does not disdain to be our tenderest, most cordial, most familiar, most intimate friend. ...It is necessary to content one's self with giving to Him what He gives it to give , a fervent heart when it is fervent, a heart firm and faithful in its aridity, when he deprives it of sensible fervor.'"

Thankful: To Who?

Any one can be thankful. We would all have to admit that, whether a person is giving thanks to a specific source or not, we have heard pretty much everybody in our lives saying, at some point, "Oh, I'm so thankful that/for...". So what is the difference between a natural and a Christ-centered thankfulness?

True Christ-centered gratitude does not simply say, "Oh, I'm so glad we have food to eat!". It is a gratitude pointed directly at Christ, acknowledging thankfulness to God for providing that food! Thank your Daddy for the hard work that God uses to bring it to the table -but don't forget to tell God thank you for your Daddy and his job, and the means to go get the food, either! But beyond just thanking God for those physical gifts to us, it is a deep thankfulness to God for His gift of spiritual life, that flows over every part of our life, making each act one of grateful service to him.

The root word for "grace", "gift", and "thanks" in the Greek is "charis". Nancy DeMoss points out, "The words are inseparable! And they should be inseparable in our hearts."

We do not just have a list of things that made us happy during the day to write down and then say, 'yep, I'm thankful!". We have something so precious, that even when no "happiness" comes from the day, we can still hold onto deep seated joy through our Savior and salvation. In everything, we have the assurance that "God's way are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts", and that he has plans to "bring us a future and a hope". Even in moments that may not make us "happy", we can be joyful in Christ because he is working out something that we can not see yet.

He has given us eternal life. Do we need anything else from him to be continually thankful? This one thing should fill our hearts to overflowing with joy no matter our circumstances!

These "Thankful" blog posts are inspired by Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book "Choosing Gratitude" :).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Trains and Planes

Sunday evening, Abbi came running to me with the announcement that she had seen a train on the road behind our house.
"Abbi.....", I started, taking Josiah's shoes off. "That's impossible. There are no train tracks anywhere near here."
"No, really", she argued. "It had lots of things attached, and it was really big."
"Maybe a semi-truck?" I suggested. She finally gave up and left.

A few minutes later I walked by Mama, who was calling for Josiah to come and see the big truck. I peeked out the window, and found Abbi's train. It wasn't really a train, but a covered auto-delivery truck that, I admit, would have looked like one to her. I called her to ask if this was what she meant, and she agreed that it was. She got out some paper and a pencil, and worked on drawing it while the guy unloaded the cars (if you'll look at her picture above, she drew all the cars in it with great big smiles, heehee :). I love it :)!). Daddy said that the covered truck probably meant it was a special car being delivered, and Mama said she wouldn't be surprised if it was some new expensive make. Tori said, "Or an antique. You never know." He pulled the car out, and Mama was like, "That is NOT an antique!"

Watching him was so scary, haha... Mama and I both gasped at one point as we were sure he was going to miss his skinny little ramps, haha. But he knew what he was doing, and it came out fine,of course ;). He parked the vehicle, and went to pull out the one behind it, that he was actually delivering... and it *was* an old car, hahaha! Tori and I got a kick out of that, haha :). Daddy explained how the top works like an elevator, and he might have another one to drive out as well, but the old one was the one he ended up delivering. It was interesting :).

A couple weeks ago, we were outside, when a plane flew overhead, and Josiah stopped playing with his ball, all concerned about the big noise. I told him it was a "plane, up in the sky behind the trees!", and he was soooo bothered that he couldn't find it! A couple days ago, we were outside while Daddy was grilling hamburgers, and Josiah was playing with a ball almost as big as he is (it's a lovely shade of green... I've never seen a prettier outside toy, haha!). He stopped all of the sudden, his little face peering over the big ball, and he said "Plane!". I was surprised that he knew. It was far enough away that I hadn't even noticed the noise yet, and he obviously couldn't see it! I was proud of him for remembering and putting the two together, and I asked , "A plane?! Really?". He agreed, and told me, "Trees!". I guess he thought it was his turn to do the educating :).

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Thankful: A Humble Act of Worship

How important is gratitude? And what priority does it have in our lives?
The first chapter opens by telling the story of a little girl who was living in the author's home at the time, and how she is being trained to say "thank you". This story made me chuckle, not because it is funny, but because Josiah is currently learning to say "thank you" and "sorry", and when I sat down to read, it hadn't been that long since he had started crying because he was told to tell Bethi thank you for changing his diaper, haha. I think that acknowledging that we need something from someone else, and that they gave it, goes against our human nature. We want to be able to do it all! But those simple words of thanks are an important- and critical- part of life. It humbles us. It encourages those who have been there for us and helped us through a need, no matter how "insignificant".
Stop and think for a moment... if others only helped you in ways that you thanked them for, would you get much help in your life? This can be a good gauge of our gratitude. Would we still have help in things like carrying food out to the table when it's our night to make supper? Somebody bringing us an item from upstairs when we have to stay downstairs for some reason? Help folding those big bed sheets?
While we might be able to do these things alone sometimes, there are times that we are in a hurry, and the whole family has to pitch in to do anything in time. Have we thought about what a blessing those people are to us in those times? Have we thanked them?
How about God? What if he only gave us what he thanked us for? Have we thanked him recently for air? For keeping our heart beating?
Gratitude is the starting point for true heart-felt service to our Lord. While some may feel like they must work to be saved, or that they don't need to do anything because the Lord has already done it all, a grateful heart will do all he asks simply because they want to give a small gift back to their Savior. Our thanks is an act of worship!
This is definitely something I am working on. The devotional in the back of the book for today was actually on a humble heart fit to give thanks to God (I didn't plan that!). I was reading through it, and I realized that I could think of several instances just in the past 24 hours where my pride had been the cause of ingratitude! The Lord is never done growing us and rooting out weeds until we stand before him at his throne!
Will you join me today in making a point to thank God and others for what they do for you?

 These "Thankful" blog posts are inspired by Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book "Choosing Gratitude" :).

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Coordination and Snowgies

Last Sunday I made Tori and I some coffee drinks. Making coffee for Tori is about as fun as drinking mine, because her eyes get so huge when I hand it to her, haha... she told me once that Starbucks should hire me, which I take as a very deep compliment! I just wanted to enjoy some coffee flavored, iced, whipped cream topped coffee, while I did my bible study before I had to head back out to choir practice. So, I handed Tori her coffee, and we headed upstairs, and I enjoyed going through my HCSB bible notes for Psalm 119, in between threading needles for Abbi. 2:00 came around, and I got up to go get ready to go. I tripped over Abbi's doll crib, and I almost fell over three times. I'm sure the unintentional dance was interesting ;). I finally righted myself, and asked Tori why she was laughing. To which she answered, "That whole time, you kept your cup upright the whole time." It was true. I hadn't lost a drop, haha! It's nice to know that no matter how uncoordinated I am, I've at least got a good handle on my coffee ;).

Mama and I ran to Kohls on Thursday. We were walking through the clothes section, when we found one of the tiny snowmen from "Frozen Fever", totally out of place. Around here, they are known as snotmen... but, I have heard that the official name for the little guys is "snowgie", haha. It had a "press me" button on it, and so, Mama obeyed and pressed it... once... twice... probably five times. Then she decided it was broken, and walked off, leaving me standing by the thing. I realized she was leaving, and started to follow her, when the snowgie toy let out a murderous maniacal laugh. TERRIFIED me. Mama hasn't stopped laughing about it yet...  her only regret is that she was enjoying watching me jump out of my skin so much, she couldn't enjoy the onlookers enjoying it, lol!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Thankful: Choosing Gratitude Brings it's Own Blessings

"Even in the most turbulent waters, choosing gratitude rescues me from myself and my run away emotions." ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss, "Choosing Gratitude"

I've heard so much about this book over the past year! Mama had read it, but, because I thought it was borrowed, I didn't even think of reading it, haha. Then, it suddenly started popping up e..v.e.r.y.where, on blogs and on links that were shared during KBR's November challenge, and the like. I regretted not having read it. Then Mama was going through some books, and I saw her pull this one out, and I was like, "Wait, we OWN that?!". Lol! So she passed it off to me to read, and it was soooo good! I planned on maybe doing a review, maybe sharing a couple of my favorite quotes, or just mentioning having read it and whether it was good, in a blog post afterward.... I sat down one morning with some cocoa and chocolate, started reading the introduction, and found that quote... and I immediately got out a notebook, because I could tell that this was going to give me more to share than a blog post, or even two. So, I just decided to go all out and make it a series, haha!

This book was, I have to say, wonderful. I would suggest reading it ...especially if you have a copy sitting around the house, as I apparently did... ;). The book itself was an easy but, convicting and encouraging, read, and then the month-long study guide at the back gives you a wonderful "continuation" point. I like to read books through in a couple days, but when there are studies to do with each chapter, I either end up not doing the study, or not being able to get all that into the book. It just requires too much of a gear shift for me, somehow. So I liked how this book was set up :).

That sentence, "Even in the most turbulent waters, choosing gratitude rescues me from myself and my run away emotions," really grabbed me, because I had realized much the same thing last August. I had been struggling with a lack of joy, and the Lord used Pinterest (of all the things!), to remind me of the choice I had to make. I never would have recommended Pinterest for a wake up call, but, hey... I guess it can happen ;). I was sitting staring at pins, when one with a bible verse about giving thanks popped up, and I rather absentmindedly clicked on it and looked at the related pins. And with things like "Count your many blessings, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done", "Keep an attitude of gratitude", "Rejoice in the Lord always" and various other phrases popping up, I decided that, as I wrote in my journal later that evening, "...I am going to make that a conscientious part of my day again. ...I miss that part of my day, and I miss being able to look back at those lists every week. I just miss everything about it, and I wish I hadn't let the ball drop. I dropped it without thinking, being busy, then felt like it "wasn't time" to start it back because I was still busy, and since then I told myself it's too much to try for. ...but rejoicing is a command, not an option. And I know I have always received blessings from following that command!"

Because I have found that when I specifically look for, say, three things a day to be thankful for... I end up looking for things all day long, and it comes up to way more than three, often :). And when you notice that you *can* go all day, all week, all the time, and not run out of things to praise the Lord for... it makes you realize how blessed you really are! And that realization breeds joy, and that joy brings more thankfulness, and it becomes a wonderful cycle :)! So, today, whether by paper and pen, or by typing a list up, or by sharing some things with someone else, or just by setting aside a time to dwell on the "benefits" we've been given, join me in counting our blessings :).

Some things I am thankful... 
~That God has forgiven my iniquities.
~Redeemed my life.
~Gives steadfast love and mercy. 
~"Renews our youth like the eagle's."
~For books like "Choosing Gratitude" that encourage us to fight the good fight.
~To be able to share this journey towards a more grateful spirit with you all.
~The grace of God, that molds his children more and more into his image each day, and will continue to do so until we stand  before his throne.

What are you thankful for today?

These "Thankful" blog posts are inspired by Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book "Choosing Gratitude" :).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Homemade "Oven" :)

I walked into our room last night, and this is the sight I saw. Abbi and Andrew had taken a baby doll swing, detached the seat, put a hanger in it's place, and then hung a pail from it for their swinging kettle :D. Mama's been reading the "Little House" books for our read aloud, and we've also been watching the shows, so they decided to make their own "oven" like Ma used :).When Andrew was little, he used to use the treadmill to "cut wood like Pa does" in the Little House show :). Little House definitely gets creative juices flowing in order to play at being the Ingalls :).
Mama also got them some cloves to make one of the clove apples that are mentioned in "Little House in the Big Woods". Unfortunately, Josiah bruised it, but, they had fun working on it, haha :).
 Sweet boys :)...
There have also been lots of log cabins built ;).
Little House has always been a special series for us. I remember my Grandma used to read a chapter or two every time I would visit, and I always looked forward to that. And Tori and I played that we were snowed in more time than I can count when we were little!!! It's been fun to get to see the little ones enjoying it now :).