Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thoughts from Spurgeon on the End

Morning, December 30

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”
— Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; see his beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at his Father’s right hand, expecting until his enemies be made his footstool. “As he is, so are we also in this world.” You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as he is. Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be satisfied when you wake up in his likeness. That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much—much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. “They shall be mine,” saith the Lord, “in the day when I make up my jewels.” “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”

Spurgeon, Charles H., Morning and Evening, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

Back Online

We had our new internet service (satellite) installed on Friday. Saturday, we had a demonstration of the less-stable aspect of a satellite connection, as there were storms most of the day and we had no service. But all in all, we think we'll survive. Which is good, because this is apparently our best option for this location at this time!

I've been waiting to post a blog until I had time to do an extensive one, but I've realized it might never happen that way. So, here I am to say, "I'm baaaack!" I thoroughly enjoyed our two weeks and two days without internet. It was blissful. I'm also thrilled to be back online, and praying for wisdom in the use of my time.

I was planning to "blog" off-line and post this wonderful account of our two weeks when I got back. Alas, I managed to write only one day. I'll try to post our Christmas highlights soon.

In the meantime, here is a little something from Dec. 13th:
Saturday, Dec 13
On Wed 12/10, we broke up with our unsatisfactory ISP. That was quite an experience; one I'll probably never write about because, while I try to be real on this blog, I see no need to belabor the negative. Suffice it to say that we chose to end the service. We have new service lined up, but the first install date was Dec. 24, so we're off-line for two whole weeks!

I actually can think of no better time to go cold turkey than the Christmas season. The last few days have been great. Lots of time hanging out as a family and enjoying each other. I'm looking forward to the remainder of our off-line time.

Wednesday night we enjoyed some fellowship with the Teeters at their house. Both of our families have been pretty crazy lately, and it was a blessing to get to sit and visit together.

The fact that Papa and Mama Byrd arrived at our house on Thursday has certainly contributed to the wonderfulness of our time off-line! Thursday, we mostly hung out, played games, etc. Jonathan had some work to do, but got home around 4pm. After the kids went to bed, the four of us played our Christmas present from the Teeters - a game called Cadoo. It was lots of fun.

Friday, Mama and I took Stephen and finished Papa and Mama's Smith Christmas shopping. We also met up with Auntie Joyce, Sarah, and Asher for lunch, which was fun. Mama and I have always enjoyed shopping together, and we had a great (and successful) excursion. The last stop was Walmart, where we also bought groceries for the rest of their visit, and pizza for supper last night.

Unfortunately, lunch did not sit well with Mama, and they ended up heading back to the Traxler Bed & Breakfast a bit early. While I was sad that Mama felt so wretched, the side benefit to them heading home early was that I got to finish up their Christmas present. Yay!

Today we are looking forward to Beka and The Cousins getting here. They got a late start from KC (where they visited Beka's family), so it will be late afternoon before they get here. And I need to use that time to get some cooking/baking/crafting/cleaning done, so I'd better get on the move!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Off line

It looks like we will soon be off line indefinitely... Our new ISP is charging us twice as much as they said they would for some not-so-hot wireless broadband that does not meet our needs. I'm getting ready to call and cancel the service. We'll be looking at getting satellite isp, but don't know how long it will take to get it set up.

May God Bless you and keep your hearts and minds focused on Him this Christmas season!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

More Imperfection


And isn't it beautiful?!

I made another step of progress in my It-doesn't-have-to-be-perfect-to-be-beautiful journey. And in my the-whole-point-of-Christmas-is-a-Person-not-my-imperfect-decorations journey.

See, despite our good intentions, we didn't buy candles for our Advent wreath before Advent started last Sunday. The only places "locally" (read: 30 minutes away) where we can buy official Advent candles just don't happen to be open when we can get ourselves there. So today, I was out doing Christmas shopping for neat stuff that I really want to tell you about but can't because certain people for whom I was shopping sometimes read this blog. Thank your lucky stars I just took the word "when" out of that last sentence, because it was headed towards being a record-breaking run-on. Anyway, I made an imperfect-but-beautiful decision to buy three blue tapers and one red taper instead of three blues and one rose/pink (as "called for" by tradition).

So tonight, as we began the second week of Advent, when we focus on Peace, we had an Advent Wreath with candles to light. And it was lovely. Even though our Christ candle (the one in the middle) is awfully short. I repeat, it was lovely, and we had a wonderful time reading, talking, and singing about the peace we have through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Joys of Motherhood

~ The adoration in your 18 month old's eyes as he flies across the room to your arms.
~ The hilarity of listening to your 7 year old read knock knock jokes to you that she doesn't understand.
~ Sharing moments of genuine companionship with your 11 year old.
~ Enjoying the affection of your still-huggy 9 year old son.
~ Girl talk with your 10 year old.
~ The beauty of your 5 year old's heart shaped face - and of her lovely heart.
~ Enjoying a good laugh with your 12 year old.

Please note:  Cleaning up vomit is not on the list.  If you have a means of communicating this to my children's digestive systems, please let me know!

Cutest Blog

I've been longing for a Christmas blog look, but dreading the time that it takes for me to transfer all of my gadgets over to one of Lena's beautiful designs.  I noticed that my friend Rachel had a really cute new background, so I sneaked a peek at her source - The Cutest Blog on the Block.   They have lots of free backgrounds, and one thing I love about the backgrounds is that they function as a simple gadget that you add to a "minima" template.  Everything stays the same; just the background changes.  Then you can go in and change your text colors and such as you like.  My kind of simplicity.

P.S.  I'll admit, I changed the placement of the little link box.  It looks so much more at home in the side column.

I believe I've neglected to mention...

... that we have baby chicks in our house!  

No, they didn't come with the property, though a lovely chicken house does, which is what allowed us to bite the bullet and order some chicks.  We've wanted chickens for several years, and were thrilled to be able to order some  It was the very end of the season - the last week they shipped out chicks, actually.  

The chicks were shipped on Wednesday and didn't arrive at the post office till Saturday, which is longer than the hatchery would prefer.  Three of them did not survive shipping.  Here they are arriving home on Nov. 22:
  



They grow amazingly fast. By Nov. 30, a couple hopped/flew out of the baby pool, and they were up to all sorts of crazy antics like hopping on top of the feeder (maybe he was trying to tell us to refill it?):


So we raised the sides of our "brooder" to help contain them:


And they're still growing - here they are today, a humorous mixture of down and feathers:


We don't know yet what kinds of chickens they are. We ordered a batch of Assorted Heavy Breeds, which means they sent us at least 5 different breeds from their list of heavies. We got a straight run, which means they didn't determine sex, they just sent us 25. So we'll see how many roosters and how many layers we have once they get older. The majority (if not all) of the roosters will be butchered eventually, and we're hopeful we can convince the hens to lay during the winter. We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A food post

It's been a couple of months since I posted on my food blog, so I thought I should announce that there's a new post there!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Linkage

The Deeper Halo - worthwhile thoughts on what comes after "the thrill"


Some Advent tools you might find handy...

An older Advent calendar that, though not updated, has some great resources

Information on the Advent season

Following the Star - an online Advent daily devotional

 Eleanor Zweigle's Advent Study - great resource for families

So many blog posts are waiting, but I'm trying to be faithful in my "keeping," and this break is over.  Back to my nest!

Jesse Tree

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11.1&2


The advent season has begun! Christmas music started playing in our home yesterday, we had our first advent devotional last night (sans the advent wreath, which has yet to be put together). And hopefully, I'll manage get to some Christmas decorations in my unpacking and sorting today.

At lunch, the kids and I started our Jesse Tree. This is the second year for us to use this particular focusing tool. Last year, we made a big tree out of corrugated plastic and made our own ornaments. Sounds neat, doesn't it? Except that we only got through about 16 of the 25+ lessons we intended to do!

This year, still being deeply in the work of moving, I am committed to finding simple ways to celebrate Advent/Christmas. I will settle for something that is not so fancy/perfect as I might like - because the point is to focus on our Lord's coming, not to have a perfect method for doing so!

So, in contemplating what to do for our Jesse Tree this year (I don't want to use the huge tree we used last year), the focus was on what will be simple/quick and help us train our thoughts and minds properly. After deliberating for while, I've decided that we won't even have an actual tree to put our Jesse Tree ornaments this year. We're going to use one of our glass back doors, and simply form a tree as we tape the ornaments to the glass.

And the ornaments? Instead of making our own, I printed out the ornaments from Faith Magazine that I found in my googling. I printed them in color, two pages on each sheet of cardstock because I wanted them to be smaller. I started to cut them all out, but realized that it was not truly needed for them all to be cut out today, so I rough cut the others enough that I could number them. I'll cut them out as we go, or sometime when I need to sit down and rest for a while.



Guess what? I don't think the forbidden fruit was an apple! I'm partial to Answers in Genesis' illustration of it that looks more like a luscious purple hand-grenade - so apt. And I don't think the ark was a round little thing that would never float. But the details of the symbols aren't as important to me this year as they used to be.

The process of figuring out what our Jesse Tree plan is this year has been another reminder of the truth that these traditions are tools. They are not our masters, they simply have the potential to aid us as we focus on the true reason for the Christmas season. May you be blessed as you focus on Jesus, Creator of the Universe, born to die that we might live!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We're In!

I am thrilled to be posting from our new house this morning while my man snoozes in bed a few feet away.  Praise the Lord!

The work is not over yet (we have lots of clean up to do at the old house, some finishing to do in our new room, and, of course, the whole unpacking thing), but we are so thankful to be officially moved over (aka - sleeping in our new home).

I haven't been good about posting progress reports, so I'll recap:
On Sunday we painted the new room.  It was thrilling to see paint finally going up on the ceiling and walls.  There were times in the last month that I have wondered if it would ever happen.

Here's Jonathan cutting in on the ceiling:


Me painting the ceiling:


Dad Smith cutting in on the walls:


Mom Smith cutting in:


(a note about pictures:  I've just started a new habit of of shrinking pictures before I upload them to the blog.  So, when you click on the pictures, you'll see a bigger picture, but not as big as you used to see.  If I ever post something you'd like a full-sized copy of, just email me and I'll send it to you.  Not that I'm expecting you to want full-sized copies of our painting pictures.)

Monday we didn't get to work over at the new house because Jonathan's work-for-money day was very long. So yesterday, we brought over three loads. When we brought the first one, we took time to mop the floor in the new room, scrape up drywall mud, sweep, and mop again. The second load was beds and clothes, and the third load was office stuff. Jonathan got the computers up and running last night (or was it technically this morning...).

Today, I hope to get a bit of pre-cooking done and establish as much order as possible in my home. We'll see how it goes; I'm learning to be flexible and let go of my expectations more often. I even bought myself frozen pie crusts last night at the store!

My composition teachers would be appalled at my lack of writing finesse this morning, but I wanted to get an update done. So there you have it - we're in. Wootles!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Anticipating Advent

For the last couple of years, our family has been making use of some of the Advent traditions to help us focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season.  Although I'm generally committed to waiting until after Thanksgiving (which is one of my favorite holidays!) to let my Advent/Christmas juices start flowing, the guys at The Rabbit Room have gotten me off to an early start.  This post about Living Between Two Advents is the kickoff for a "Virtual Advent Wreath" series of weekly posts they're going to be having.  I'm really looking forward to it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Checking In

I realized today that I haven't posted an update on the house for a few days.  It's just that pictures of the various layers of the drywall process aren't distinguishable from one another.  However, though I haven't pictures to post, I can report that we are making progress!

We have a few ceiling joints that need one last layer of mud.  Hopefully, Jonathan will be able to finish up that tonight and we'll get the rest sanded.  Work is running late, so we'll see how much we get done before we crash.  We're planning to paint the ceiling tomorrow, and hope to be able to get both coats done so that we can move over the beds and such on Saturday and start sleeping in our new house!  We'll paint the walls next week probably, but we can scoot furniture away from the walls for that.

No profound thoughts from me today, but this post from Molly shook my boat (she has that way about her, I'm finding). 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Drywall

Last week we started drywalling our new room. Monday night, Jonathan and I worked on it some Monday night, but were only able to get a sheet and a half up on the ceiling. Tuesday, Jonathan and his dad got quite a bit done.

Then Wednesday, Alan and Joe (and their lovely families) came over. The guys worked together and got almost the whole room drywalled!

And no, it didn't take three of them to put up every piece, but they were obliging and posed for me.

Then, while I was gone this weekend for the doula training, Jonathan and Joe finished the drywall and got on a first coat of mud. Yay! Yesterday afternoon we went over and started the 2nd coat. Later in the evening, Dad Smith helped finish up the 2nd coat.



Serious progress!

Barn Dance

Recently our dear friends Alan and Sue hosted their annual fall barn dance. It is always a great time of fellowship and good wholesome fun, and this year was no exception!

Though it was disappointing to not be able to dance (still not quite recovered from surgery at that point), I had a wonderful time and took lots of pictures. Please excuse the spots... our camera doesn't seem to like cooler work conditions.







We stayed late visiting after the dance (of course!) and Stephen and Gracie T. had nice time playing and reading together. Aren't they cute?!

Do you see what they have in common when it comes to reading?

Please pray for Noah!

I have lots of updates, and hope to get to a few of them tomorrow. But for the moment, I'm just logging in to ask you to please pray for little Noah Estes. He's dangerously sick right now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

Thank you to all who have given of themselves for our freedom.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Some friends of ours

... were on the front page of the St. Louis paper today. Here's the article - be sure to watch the video as well as read the article!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

And a Thank You

Inspiring Story

A Marine friend of mine got a link to this story from one of the eyewitnesses. Unfortunately, this is the kind of story you don't hear on the news...

Corpsman saves life of drowning Iraqi boy
By Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis
1st Battalion, 3rd Marines

KARMAH, Iraq (September 28, 2008) – Corpsmen are often considered the medical ray of light for Marines in a combat zone.


Sometimes their light shines bright enough to reach local Iraqis in need, whether it is during a routine combined medical engagement, or for one Iraqi child who almost drowned, on the spot emergency medical attention that saved his life.


Navy Chief Roger Buck, a 34-year-old battalion medical chief from Niceville, Fla., with Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, saw the limp child cradled in his father’s arms during an Iraqi key-leadership, joint-forces dismounted patrol.

Buck ran toward the boy and immediately began administering CPR on the drown victim.


“(Our) interpreter explained I was like a doctor,” said Buck. “They told us they found him face first in a canal. He had a light, faint pulse. I tried to calm the parents down then immediately started applying medical treatment. I cleared his airway and started giving him CPR.”

Within a few minutes the boy regained consciousness, coughed up water and was taken to a local hospital for follow on care.

“He did everything he should have,” said Gunnery Sgt. John Schidlmeier, a platoon leader with Lava Dog Assesment Reaction Team, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines. “His actions were admirable; especially for the situation. He reacted even though he was posting security—made sure a Marine took his position and treated the kid immediately.”

Buck said he was merely in the right place at the right time and just doing his job, and the look of gratitude and appreciation on the terrified parents was all the thanks he needed.

Buck insisted that all corpsmen carry a great load of responsibilities, starting from the first day of corpsman training, to adapt and be versatile with varying situations. To him, it was just another day of life in the operating forces.

“I was just happy I could bring the kid back,” he said.


Days later, the battalion recognized Buck’s heroic actions and awarded him a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his reactive measures and successful treatment.


“There are a thousand things a day that corpsmen do that go unseen,” he said. “It's always good to save a life. You don't always get to save everyone, so when you do it's very rewarding.”

Here's a link to the story with pictures

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Blessings from the Word on Election Day

The boys and I got to work one of the St. Clair polls (for our friend and state Representative Brian Nieves) today for a couple of hours in the midst of our moving busy-ness. Then we all went over to our new house, got some work done, ate our first table meal there, etc. We just got back a bit ago and are settling in after a wonderful day. God gave us beautiful weather today, and we have much for which to be thankful!

Here are some verses that are an encouragement to me this evening. May they be a blessing to you as well...

Matthew 6.25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."


How lovely are Your dwelling places,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
My King and my God.
How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You. Selah.
How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
Behold our shield, O God,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!

Hebrews 11.1-3, 6, 8-10, 13-16
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
For by it the men of old gained approval.
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Phill 3.20-4.1
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

Autumn Beauty



Moving Fun

The kids are so excited to have climbable trees at our new place!  This first shot looks like Josiah is way up high, doesn't it?


Until you see how much higher Ethan T. is!


Supper time:


Monday, November 03, 2008

Saturday Work Progress

I'm a bit belated with my updates. But such is life!

Saturday morning, Jonathan met Cary at the store to get building supplies. As sometimes happens, our perception of the required time for the task didn't match up with the reality of the needed time. Eventually, however, they got over to the house with windows, a door, lumber, sheetrock, and other fun stuff.

Meanwhile, some friends showed up at the house around 10.30 to help load stuff that was ready to go. They made a box brigade out the front door and to the Henkel's van - great idea!




Once that first load was ready, I headed over to the new house to direct deliveries. I've realized that the process of moving is one area in which my "picky" tendencies tend to show themselves. I truly want boxes to be deposited in the rooms in which they belong! Deliveries on Saturday went quite well, and I was a happy girl.

Once things were unloaded, I headed back to our current house to see how things were coming along. While I had been gone, Mama Byrd and Mom Smith had baked cookies and helped organize/pack, and Sue had led a big yard-clean-up effort and sorted out all the children's shoes (wow!!). It was so encouraging to see all they had done in my absence.

Since most of what we had hoped to take over on Saturday had been taken already, we loaded up the chili and the assorted children and headed over to the new house for lunch.

Stephen and I rode with Mama and ended up being quite a bit behind Sue (who took most of her children and mine). A while after we got to the new house (as friends and family wondered at my amazing slowness) I realized that our refrigerator and pantry were full! Our chapel family gave us a truckload of food, and our friends/landlords added a bunch of meat from their favorite butcher. It was such an amazing show of love... I was pretty much speechless.

The construction crew got quite a bit done by the end of the day, especially considering all the delays. Jonathan made a good bit of progress on the electric stuff, but I didn't crawl down into the crawl space to take pictures of him. Here are a couple shots of the garage project progress:


Friday, October 31, 2008

Update

I haven't posted for a couple of days, so I thought I'd take a minute to do that.

Work on the garage has been held up a bit.  The beam in the center of the garage is sagging and other work has been interuppted while they get a support in for that.  We are hoping to have some friends come and help us with construction and moving tomorrow - please be praying if you think of it!

Mama and I (and a couple of friends here and there) have gotten quite a lot packed this week.  There is still plenty to do, but it will all happen in God's timing.

Jonathan is meeting our friend and landlord at the store in the morning to pick up the new door, window, and sheetrock, so tomorrow should be a very productive day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New House Work Day 2

Jonathan and I had to go into St. Louis for an appointment today, so we didn't get a lot done on the house. But Papa and the kids got a lot done!

I forgot to get a picture of the opening for the new door, but here's Papa starting to get the framing in:


And they got out all the drywall that needed to be removed from the walls. And we were pleasantly surprised to find good insulation back there! I guess with the two garage doors, the insulation can't be that effective.  I'm sure it will be much warmer with a real wall.

The garage door on the left will have a large window in it.


Can you carve out 15 minutes in your day today?

If so, then please read this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New House - workday 1

Papa and Mama got into town last night, and today after several hours at other tasks (Jonathan and Papa doing installs, Mama and I packing), we all headed over to the new house to work.

The big project on the new house is that we are finishing the double car garage. It will be a multipurpose space, and will include our bedroom, office, and "den." We are tearing it out to the studs, re-working the wiring, adding insulation, drywalling, painting (including the floor, which is concrete), etc. We are also adding a window or two and a new door to the outside. Lots of work, and we hope to have the bulk of it done this week (probably excluding the mudding of the drywall and the painting of the walls).

I missed getting pictures of the garage before the guys got started. The pegboard walls of the garage were covered in hooks and containers. An amazing assortment of screw, nails, fishing equipment, shelves, etc, etc. Today's work of several hours consisted of stripping the garage walls of all their "stuff."

Here are some of the earliest pictures I took today (they had almost half of the stuff taken care of by this point):




And at the end of the night:





Yay for Jonathan and Papa, and for the Blessings, who helped out quite a lot.
And yay for Mama who helped me get lots of stuff packed and unpacked today!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More pictures of the new house

We had a wonderful time yesterday evening with our friends from whom we will be renting our new house.  I forgot to get a picture of all of them together, so I'll have to do that this next weekend (they're in town for a little while).

Here are some more pictures, mostly of the house.  They have captions, but I don't know if they show up in the slideshow (they do show up on the Picasa page).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blessings

I think y'all must be praying for me!

Last night, while I spent 15 minutes (using the timer!) sitting on my floor sorting through some things, I found some verses and such that I have printed out over the years and have had posted around to remind me of important truths. The funny thing was, they were in a box full of baby books and pictures. What a "co-incidence" that they were in the one box of stuff that I sorted yesterday (one box because I'm being a good girl, you know).

Some highlights:

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
... God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong...
Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.
I Cor. 1.25, 27, 31

The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ) is the best shaped tool in the Father's hand to chisel you for eternity. TRUST HIM, THEN. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.
Mrs. Charles E Cowman, Streams in the Desert

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." ... I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me ... for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor. 12.9,10

Mary was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet.
Martha was distracted with all her preparations.
But the Lord answered and said to her,
"Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary,
really only one,
for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Luke 10.39-42

Friday, October 24, 2008

Be Still

I'm here to come clean and to ask for your prayers.

I am NOT being still. Either figuratively or spiritually. And I must, I really must. But I'm not. I'm twitchy beyond expression.

(Fair Warning: if you're a man, or if you don't want to hear about feminine issues, you might want to stop reading here and and just pray for me. I'm not going to be graphic, but my struggle relates to feminine things, and you might want to skip this blog.)

Here's the deal. Two weeks ago yesterday, I underwent outpatient surgery (general anesthesia) to remove a cervical polyp. It was large, and believed to be rooted at the back of the cervical canal, so the planned procedure was similar to a D&C. Basically, they used rods of graduated size to manually dilate the cervix sufficiently to get to the polyp and remove it at the base. It turns out the that the polyp was rooted just inside in the uterus, not in the cervical canal, so the surgery was a bit more involved than expected, but all went well. Pathology reports were all clear, as well.

After a surgery like this, you're expected to have some bleeding for several days. It can also trigger your cycle to speed up, especially if done close to the expected time for menses. This happened in my case, and I expected to be done with the whole business by about last Thursday.

Well, I'm not done. Still. And it's not because there's anything terribly wrong with me. It's because I just can't be still. I've talked to the dr (via the nurse), and it all comes down to me doing more than I should.

Hello?? We're moving next week! I am so not ready (packing wise) for this move. I have so much to do.

If I could go back and have a "re-do":
~ I would see if waiting a month or so would have been a problem.
~ I would grill the nurse and doctor to get a more clear idea of what recovery would be like. I think they did their best to communicate that to me, but either they weren't emphatic enough, or I wasn't listening. The later is likely.
~ I would humble myself and ask for a week of meals from my church family. Two people brought a meal that first week, but the burden of cooking hasn't helped at all.

So, that covers the "if... then..." statements. Those are mostly for your benefit, dear reader. Remember them if ever you are up for surgery.

"If...Then..." does not, however, help me. I need to find a way to deal with the circumstances in which I am currently being given the opportunity to glorify God.

Last night, as we lay in bed, I appealed to Jonathan for help. I seem to not have the appropriate "gear" for going the right speed at this time. After I'd expressed my frustration with trying to not do too much and consistently failing (and whining about how much I need to do...), my beloved husband informed me that I was missing the point. I guess he was right, because I had to ask him to tell me what the point was!!

The point is (I hear) - I'm supposed to be resting and letting my body heal. I'm supposed to be mostly off my feet. And if I don't give my body the time it needs to heal, not only will this infernal bleeding drag on indefinitely, but I could hurt myself long-term.

Oh.

And here we are, back to faith.
Back to "Be still and know that I am God."

Because, humanly speaking, I cannot sit around and let my body heal like it needs to. I have a family of 9 to pack and move. Starting next weekend. And there is much to do.

But I must Be Still.
My God is big enough to take care of the details of our moving.
He loves me enough to not want this not to be a miserable time for me.
And His grace is sufficient.

Please pray that I will reach up with both hands and accept that grace. That by His divine power, I will Be Still. That I will know, not only in the core of my being, but in all my extremities, that He is God.

Thanks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mis-printed Signage

From our trip to Applebee's for tea and coffee:


And from the container of oats in my kitchen:

Double Date!

We were blessed to go see Fireproof on Oct. 7 with our friends Alan and Sue.  There were plans to meet for supper, which fell through due to a sick babysitter.  Jonathan and I went ahead and went to eat and then to the movie.  And a few minutes before the movie started, in walked Alan and Sue!  Yay!  They had managed to line up another babysitter at the last minute.

After the movie, which was amazing, we headed over to Applebee's for some coffee, tea, and visiting.  Aren't we sweet?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good idea for Christmas...

I'm mulling over this idea from Malia Russell at homemaking911.com

Here's the intro:
Several years ago I heard about an easy way to narrow down Christmas gifts for children. Instead of buying a bunch of toys or other clutter, each child receives the following:
Something to Read
Something to Wear
Something to Play
Something to Share.


She goes on to give some thoughts on how to implement this. Like - if four gifts per child is still too many gifts for your budget, considering asking people you know will be buying gifts for your children to choose a category (or two). And - if they'd like to spend more, ask them to contribute to a savings/investment of some sort for the children.

Any thoughts? I like the idea, but would welcome some more practical implementation ideas.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Set Me Free - woohoo!

One of my favorite Acapella albums has always been Set Me Free.  It is packed full of fabulous songs, and is, in my opinion, some of the best road trip music ever!  Wonderful music for adoration of our great God and Savior, for refocusing our thoughts, and more.  The fact that it was the soundtrack for the Arizona trip when God first started pulling together the hearts of Jonathan and I - icing on the cake!

We lost both our copies of it years ago, and I've longed for it without spending the energy or money to get another copy.  A week or so ago, in a spontanteous moment, I found it used on amazon for $.80 (yes, 80 cents!).  A few bucks for shipping was well worth it, and our "new" cd arrived today.

Love it, love it, love it!!!

I'm considering making a video for one of the songs with some of my favorite "scenery" photos that we've taken over the last few years in various places.  But not till after we've moved, of course.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Moving!

I suppose this post should have come before the "packing" post, shouldn't it?

So, thanking you for your grace extended to my misplaced posting, I'm here to announce that we're moving!

We will be renting the home of some friends of ours who have temporarily moved out of state.  The move will save us over $300/month in housing payments, which is a huge blessing.  The house is beautiful, and sits on a wonderful 10 acres of land (with creek, pond, chicken house, and more).

Though the job of moving a family of 9 is always overwhelming, I am so very much looking forward to being in our new home.  I feel God's blessing and guiding hand over this move, and I am thankful.

How about some pictures??  I hope to get pictures inside the house next weekend, when we will meet with our friends and finalize some details.  But for now, here are a few shots from the outside:


Friday, October 17, 2008

Packing, packing

I've been quite busy with packing the last couple of days.  I'm still not supposed to be lifting things, and I'm so thankful for my helpful boys.  I get a box full and call, "I need some muscles, please!"  And the feet come running.  What a blessing!

I'm working on the office right now, as it's the room that I would least like for someone else to pack and sort through.  I have a list sitting on my keyboard of the order in which I'm wanting to pack the different areas of the house.  The order is determined by what rooms I could stand to let someone else pack.  The ones I feel like I have to pack are first.  It goes:
Office (and school leftovers in the Barn)
J&L's room
Living Room
Dining Room
Kids' rooms
Kitchen
Bathroom

However, if you have a free afternoon, you're welcome to come over and take down all the wall stuff and pack it for me!  ;-)

Anyway, that's what is taking most of my time right now.  Check out my food blog for some Love you can Drink!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Slideshows of Family Camp

For those who might just want a quick peek at our weekend family camp at Dayspring, here are a couple of slideshows:



Monday, October 13, 2008

The "Followers" Gadget

Besides letting the blogger know that you read her blog, the "follow" feature also puts the posts in the "Blogs I'm Following" tab on your Blogspot dashboard. I still use my Google Reader, but this feature might be handy for some folks.

I've noticed how neat this gadget is on Mary's blog, and I know from my sitemeter that I have a few readers. Will any of them admit to it publicly? We'll see!

Operating procedures

As I mentioned, I had some outpatient surgery under general anesthesia last week.  I thought some of you might find it interesting if I posted a bit about the stuff that they did to get me ready for the surgery.  

We got to the hospital at about 7.30 in the morning.  The registration process was held up a bit because I didn't care for the wording on the general sign-away-your-life form, but we eventually came up with something to add to it that made me more comfortable.  Then I needed to go have blood drawn, as there had been a misunderstanding about that the day I had gone up for all my pre-testing.

After those delays, I put on my bright pink hard-hat (there is lots of construction going on at the hospital and patients have to wear hard hats on their way through the construction zone), and we headed back to the pre-surgery room.

Of course, one of the first things I had to do was change into one of those lovely hospital gowns and place all my belongings in a plastic hospital bag.  Then the fun began!

I'm sure I don't remember everything they did before the surgery, but here are some of the "highlights:"

Mixed in with the other preparations were questions from a couple of nurses about various things (Rx, vitamins, allergies, etc) and well as some forms to sign.  It was interesting that they were obviously used to folks signing the form without any questions, because me asking questions surprised them a bit.

They put leg wraps on my legs to prevent blood clots and such.  They were made out of very lightweight material and velcroed around my legs from my ankle to my mid-thigh.  Once we were in the OR, they hooked the wraps up to a pump of some sort to keep the blood moving. 

Another nurse hooked up my IV.  I appreciated that they asked on which side I would prefer to have the IV.  The IV was the entry port for almost every thing with which they injected me.

Everything, that is, except the heparin.  That went into my upper right arm, and good gravy it hurt!  The nurse warned me that it would sting like a bee sting, but wowsers, she was right!  It's not sore any longer, but I still have a bruise there.  The heparin is an anti-coagulant, which was slightly funny to me after all the admonitions to avoid aspirin, garlic, or anything else that might thin my blood.  

Once I was all "suited up," Dr. S came in (and Jonathan came back to the room, so that we could both talk to him).  We addressed our questions and concerns about the surgery, receiving answers that varied in their "satisfactory" level.  Then both Dr. S and Jonathan disappeared and I was wheeled into the actual OR, where I scooted over from the gurney to the operating bed.

The OR was freezing!  I was already cold, so I was very thankful for the warmed blankets that they layered on top of me.  I don't remember much from the OR, as I think they got the put-her-out drugs going pretty soon after we got in.  I remember being bundled up and strapped in (for which I was actually glad - that bed was small, and I didn't want to land on the floor!).  The nurses were chatting with me, helping me to be relaxed as I fell asleep.  They said that if you're relaxed on your way out, you'll wake up relaxed as well (which proved to be true for me).  I remember them asking for my children's names, and I got stuck for a bit after #5.  I think I managed to get out the names of Blessings 6 & 7, but that was about it for me!

When I came to, I was back in the room where they had done all the prep work.  It took me several minutes, I think, to even recognize where I was.  And really, from the time I woke up until after we got home is pretty much a blur.  Dr. S came in and talked to me, the drugged one, but neglected to go out and talk to Jonathan.  I'm not sure how that happened, but by the time I got around to trying to remember what the Dr. had said to me, it was Friday afternoon and I knew both he and his nurse would be out of the office.  So I called today and got the scoop from wonderful nurse Tammy - she's a gem.

So that's my experience with operating procedures.  If you made it through my account, I hope you found it interesting!

New Recipe

Easy Enchiladas here!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Home and Groggy

I'm glad to say that I've been home for a few hours (most of which I've spent sleeping). Things went well with the surgery. I am in too much of a fog to type much, but if you want, you can read Jonathan's update here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wednesday Surgery

Okay, I've been debating about whether or not to post this, but I think I shall...

I'm supposed to be at the hospital tomorrow morning at 7.30 to check in for outpatient surgery.  It's not considered a major deal, but to someone like me, general anesthesia is never going to seem like a minor thing.

Not sure if I'll feel like checking in tomorrow evening or not, but I'd appreciate your prayers - both for peace for Jonathan and I, and guidance, etc. for Dr. S.

Thanks!

BBC Family Camp

Our chapel (Believers Bible Chapel) had our first Family Camp this last weekend; we rented Dayspring Bible Camp.  Though Papa spoke at Dayspring when I was younger, he didn't take Mama, Eric, and I because it was so primitive back then!  So this was the first time there for all of our family.  

It was a special weekend of fellowship for our chapel family.  John Jimo from Emmaus Bible College came and shared with us from God's Word.  He was obviously led by the Lord as his messages were very much what we needed, both as a body of believers and as individuals (at least it was for this individual!).

Jonathan and I both were drawn to Dayspring, and I expect that you'll be hearing more about it from me in the future.  As many of you know, Kansas Bible Camp is home to us, and I don't think that will ever change, no matter where the Lord leads us in the future.  I found myself surprised by the tug on my heart toward the camp itself.  I don't mean the grounds, but the Dayspring staff and the feel that I got about the camp and the way the Lord is at work there.  Hard to describe...

I've posted pictures in a couple of Picasa Albums - One for pictures from the weekend that include People, and one for pictures that are of the beautiful grounds and Scenery.

Here's one of my favorite pictures from the weekend, just for a teaser...


So Much to Blog...

... so little time.

I have multiple blog posts swirling again in my head.  And not much time to blog right now!

I'm going to try to get a few posts up this afternoon.  If I don't manage it, I apologize for the false promise.  If I do manage it, I apologize for the flood!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Walking

The following devotional was written by Richard Burson and was in the KBC Intercom in January 1973.  It was included in this month's KBC Good News, and I thought I'd pass it on.  

A message from God's Word:
There are three expressions in the Bible concerned with our walk that may be helpful to think about.

1. Deuteronomy 13:4, "Ye shall walk after the Lord your God." Walking AFTER God tells us we have a leader; Someone walking ahead of us. In the New Testament we are admonished to become "Followers of God as dear children," He is our example. The expression "walking after the Lord" is found three times in the Old Testament.

2. "Walk BEFORE me and be thou perfect" said God to Abraham. David commented: "I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living." Walking BEFORE the Lord reminds us that God is our interested observer. We are always in His sight and He is interested in what we do. He observes us, not as a critic, but as a loving parent observes his little toddler. Every step is observed with love, pride, and gentle care. Every improvement is noted and encouraged.

3. Noah and Enoch are said to have walked "with God". We can only walk WITH people with whom we agree: Can two walk together except they be agreed? Two can walk together only if they have the same goal, take the same path, progress at the same speed, and adjust to each other.
You and I are also called upon to walk with the Lord. Our lives must conform to His plans for us. Our path must conform to His word. Today, more than ever in the history of the church of God, we need youth who will walk after the Lord. We need youth who will walk before the Lord and youth who will walk with the Lord. How are you walking?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Update on Noah Estes

Please keep praying for Noah and his family.  Here is Kate's latest update:

This morning the head of the pediatric service came in and told us that Noah's newest blood cultures are continuing to grow out this still-unknown bacteria.  This means that the antibiotics are not succeeding at killing the bug.  He said that we should know what the bacteria is within 24 hours, and that he suspects that it is MRSA (antibiotic resistant superbug).  The antibiotics Noah is taking are big guns and *should* be providing coverage for all gram positive bugs, but for some reason they don't appear to be doing the job.

He also said that Noah is in what is called a catabolic state which means that his body is being broken down instead of built up.  This is basically an acceleration of his mitochondrial disease caused by the severe stress of the infection.  Whether this state can be reversed, and how long it takes to reverse, will be determined by the length and severity of the infection.  

The doctors are exploring the idea of removing Noah's central line, which is a catch-22.  It is *possible* that removing the line will make it easier to clear the infection from his blood (if the line is harboring bacteria).  It's also possible that removing the line won't make any difference.  If they do remove it, they won't want to give him a new line until the infection clears, because putting a fresh line into an infected body will just cause the new line to get infected.  Noah can't get his TPN (nutrition) through an IV - it must go through a central line.  Most of us could get by with IV fluids for a few days, but children with mitochiondrial diseases must absolutely be kept from fasting . . . . 

Noah is still spiking high fevers, and when he is feverish he is either sleeping or very, very out of things.  When the fever goes down lower, he perks up enough to take an interest in his surroundings, watch a DVD, get carried to see the fish tank, etc.  He is even walking a little when he really perks up.

It seems hard to believe that things are going this way.  Noah has had sepsis and line infections and other horrible issues, but he has always responded beautifully.  I guess we've always known that there could come a time when he didn't respond as well, but it still seems hard to believe. 

We should know more tomorrow.  They drew another blood culture a few minutes ago and there is still hope that this one will show that Noah is winning and the bug is retreating.  If any other big event or change happens, or if we receive any new news, I'll update - but I don't expect that until tomorrow.  Again, please pass this on to anyone who might be praying for Noah.

I want to get back to him (you could pray that we can get our in-room internet figured out!), but I want to close with a song that has meant so much lately.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Note to Self - Master Bedroom

The $200 Master Bedroom

(because if I don't post it, I'll forget all about it)

In Large, Friendly Letters...

I make no claim to economic brilliance, so this will likely be the only post I make about the current economic panic. This post says it so much better than I ever could.  Please go read.

(My apologies to those unfamiliar with Douglas Adams who will be baffled by the title of this post and by a tiny portion of the referenced article.  Read it anyway.  Please.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Please Pray for Noah Estes!

Sweet little Noah is extremely sick.  From his mom:
We are rushing to the Greenville ER.  Noah is vomiting, shaking uncontrollably, and running a fever of 103.5.  He is extremely sick.  Please ask everyone you know to pray.  I'll update when I can.
Kate
Please keep Noah and his family in your prayers.  To become familiar with him (if you aren't yet), and for updates, see their blog, Our Quiverfull.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thoughts on Friendship

I have been blessed repeatedly by Amy Scott's Humble Musings, so this certainly not the first time I've linked to Humble Amy.  I appreciated her thoughts today on friendship, and wanted to share them with you.

My thoughts have been returning often lately to friendship - specifically to real friendship, as in friends with whom you can be real.  I am troubled by the degree to which we ("we" being specifically Christians in modern day U.S.A.) are generally not genuine with one another.  We put on our happy face and do our best to be seen as "together."  I am becoming increasingly convinced that our lack of "realness" is extremely detrimental to the body of Christ, as well as to the world around us.  How are we to "confess (our) sins to one another and pray for one another, that (we) may be healed" (James 5.16) if we constantly keep on our masks?

The last few years have brought a blessing to my life that is rare treasure.  God has given me a bosom friend (as Anne would say), and a friendship in which there is a deep mutual realness.  It is unspeakably encouraging to me, as I seek to laid hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus, to know that my dear friend is struggling along beside me.  The depth to which we can be spiritually naked with each other helps us both to keep seeking after our Saviour.  We don't have it perfected yet... but that's okay, because we both know that we're still "in process" that that He Who promised is faithful.

I'm so thankful for the friendships the Lord has given me.  I am blessed to have a wonderful circle of friends who love and pray for me.  I am seeking to be more genuine with those in my life.  But I'm going to be genuine with you and say that it is stinking hard sometimes.  How many people really want to hear that I yell at my children, have forgiveness issues, have self-destructive tendencies, struggle with disturbing sin, doubt my Saviour's love, and more?  And I'm not proposing that we blurt out our deepest and darkest struggles to everyone we meet.  But my goal is to wear my "got-it-all-together" mask less often... to be genuine... to be approachable... to be a real friend.   

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Thirteen years ago, on a beautiful sunny day, Jonathan and I began our life together.  I am thankful beyond words for Jonathan and our journey together.  And today, I get to spend the whole day with him!

(I really need to get our wedding pictures scanned):


And a song some friends sang for us at our reception:


Happy Anniversary, Babe!

The BBC Nursery Project

Last fall, my dear friend Sue and I started working on re-doing the chapel nursery. I forgot to take an official "Before" picture, but here is one in the midst of stripping the old wall paper:

The plain white walls looked so much better!

In April, the upper portion of the walls were painted:

On Saturday (a year after we started!) we finished painting, and on Sunday, Jonathan put the trim back up for us. We're not totally done, but close enough to show off some pictures:



We love the feel of the room now.  It is a wonderfully warm, comfortable, relaxing room for mamas and babies.  
There are some lovely faux wood blinds behind the beautiful valance Sue made. One of the things we still need to do is make a curtain for the window, for when privacy is needed (for brides using it as a changing room and such). I'm sure I'll post pictures when we're completely done, but, as you can tell, we're giving ourselves (as mothers of 6 and 7 children) lots of grace on the timing of this project!