Showing posts with label Memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memories. Show all posts

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 5


(The Wednesday Five is back!  I started this during my October writing challenge, and I really liked it, so I'm going to try to write one each week.  Feel free to snag the prompts and join if you want!  I originally got the inspiration from a similar series on The Autumn Girl, and then Robin at Grace Enough and Ashley at The Big White Farmhouse have joined in with their own versions too!)

A Quote

"We are all worms.  But I do believe I am a glowworm."-Winston Churchill

Good ole Winston.

A Book

After wanting to read it for years, last night I finally picked up the first in C.S. Lewis's space trilogy, Out Of The Silent Planet.  Have any of you read it?  I've heard it has a lot of the same charm as The Chronicles Of Narnia, and if that's true, I'm here for it!

A Bit Of Nature


This tree produces the prettiest pine cones, and my kids even extracted the seeds from one of them.

A Recommendation

(Referral link below.)

I have mentioned before that I subscribed to Skylar's scent club in the spring.  It's $20 a month, and they send you a roller ball with a seasonal scent (it's also supposed to be "natural" and "clean", if that matters to you).  Basically I am a sucker for anything that smells good, and I've really been enjoying it!

Anyway, I have to say, I love the scents they have sent out this fall.  November's is "By Firelight" and it's a smokey-spiced-honey sort of smell.  It's so good.  I really wish they would let you buy extras of your favorites from the scent club, I'm going to be sad when I run out.

A Moment Of Happiness


After letting my kids watch too much TV last week, I'm re-imposing screen time limits this week.  They played hard yesterday, and I finally let them watch a show last night.  I picked an animated version of Ken Ham's "D Is For Dinosaur" which is one of those shows that has a calming influence on my kids (rather than hyping them up).  I turned the corner, and there they were, my gaggle of children sprawled out in the playroom, watching their movie.  And for a second I just had a flashback to when it was hard to get pregnant and I wished for a handful of pajama-clad kids to be watching a cartoon in the next room while I cooked dinner.  They are often boisterous, and rowdy, and tiring; and also sweet, and precious, and my dream come true.  I don't want to ever forget that.


For Celebrating Reformation Day



This morning I was still laying in bed when I heard my kids shouting from their rooms.

"It's Reformation Day!"

Last year we played up Reformation Day quite a bit, but I wasn't feeling very organized this year, so I didn't plan anything.

"Mom, it's Reformation Day!  Did you make us new shirts?  Can we have chocolate pudding with worms in it again?"

So I guess it's a tradition now.

I'm spending the morning perusing my bookshelves, digging out that video about Martin Luther that we rented from the library, and trying to think of other last-minute things we can do to celebrate.  I'm not mad about this last-minute scramble though.  We don't celebrate Halloween, but last year I decided there is no reason we can't celebrate Reformation Day instead, and I love that my kids have latched onto it.

We dug out our shirts from last year, and they still fit, so we're all good.  Well, except for Georgie, but she doesn't know any different this year.



Protestants are notorious for knowing so little about their own history, and it's a pity because there are so many inspiring men and women who worked to spread God's Word and the truth of the Gospel!  Many gave their lives so others could know that they could be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

I want my kids to know that history, to be inspired by those men and women who were willing to give everything - their reputations, their livelihood, their lives - for their faith.  My tagline for this blog (back when people were really into taglines) used to be about living each day with eternity in mind.  Well, I can't think of any better example of that than these martyrs, and I'm glad that we have this day each year to remember the truth of the Gospel and be strengthened by the faith of those who have come before us.

So, anyway, if you are a Protestant family that would also like your children to have some grounding in church history, I've got a few resources for you.  Some to strengthen you, and some fun ones just for kids.  You don't have to start teaching kids about their Protestant heritage just on Reformation Day, you can start any time!



Also, throwing together some chocolate pudding with gummy worms definitely helps with the retention, in my experience.

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For Kids:

The Life Of Martin Luther - A fun pop-up book about Martin Luther's life!  I wrote about this last year too, you can read more here.

Reformation ABC's - This would honestly be a good resource to learn more about the Reformation for adults as well as kids.  Fun illustrations, and lots of great history.

Church History ABC's - I just ordered this one, and I haven't received it yet, but I think it is similar to the Reformation ABC's.  Basically, I think anything by Stephen J. Nichols is going to be good for church history.

Torchlighters: The Martin Luther Story - I'm not quite sure if my kids are ready for this one yet, so I'm holding off until I can watch it first, but this movie or something similar will definitely be in our Reformation Day celebrations in the future.

Tiny Theologians - If you haven't heard of this website, you need to go check it out!  Lots of colorful and fun tools for teaching kids theology and church history!

Sola Gratia Co - Last year I bought a couple of our Reformation Day shirts from Diet Of Worms Apparel - sadly the business closed, but Sola Gratia Co has some fun shirts that could also do the trick!  I really like the "soli deo gloria" ones.  Or you could make your own like I did, it wasn't that hard.  Maybe I'll do a how-to post one of these days.



For Adults:

The Reformation by Stephen J. Nichols - This is my go-to recommendation for a book to read about the Reformation. It's a short, readable book, with lots of information about the Reformers that I found so fascinating and inspiring!

Why The Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester - If you need some clarification about what the big deal even was about the Reformation, this book goes into the specific doctrines and differences between Protestants and Catholics.  Really informative and helpful.

Wretched Reformation Celebration - You can watch this video on Youtube - I haven't had a chance to sit and watch it yet, but Todd Friel puts out some great resources for Reformation Day each year, sharing stories of martyrs, etc.  There are some short video clips on this channel about the stories of some of the reformers too: here, here, and here, for example.

Five Minutes In Church History - A great podcast about church history!  I was searching through their archives this morning and specifically liked hearing R.C. Sproul talk about the Reformation here.

Foxe's Book Of Martyrs - I have never read this book, because I know it's obviously going to be hard to read.  But I need to just buckle down and start.  I know there are stories of martyrs from the Reformation period in here as well, and I think it's important to remember their stories.

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Even though I dropped the ball on Reformation Day this year, I am going to make sure I put some effort into it next year.  It's obviously become a fun memory for my kids.  Fond memories surrounding learning about church history?  Yes, please.

Have you ever done anything to celebrate or remember Reformation Day?




The Day I Became Pro-Life

(My precious Georgie, inside and outside the womb.)

I don't remember ever not being pro-life, but I do remember the day that term came to mean something to me.

In the early 2000's, the deabte was raging about whether partial birth abortion should be allowed.  For those who do not know, this is a procedure where a baby is partially delivered and the child is brutally killed in the process of birth, right before the baby is fully delivered.  I won't go into any more detail here, you can look it up if you need to know, but the fact that there was even a debate about whether to ban such a barbaric procedure is still shocking to me.

In the early 2000's, I did not know about the debate or the procedure.  I was 12 years old, and I knew about abortion but didn't think about it that much.

Around this time, Focus On The Family bought ad space in a newspaper to run comic strip in an attempt to clarify and impact the debate.  I'm sure it did have an impact too, because I know how it impacted me.

On the bulletin board at our Bible study, someone had pinned that comic strip.  One day, bored as I was waiting for my mom, it caught my eye.

I couldn't find the comic strip online to show you now, but the strip portrayed a baby in his mother's womb, learning new skills, growing and thriving.  Finally the time comes for the baby to be born, but right before he's about to enter the world...it's all over.  Nothing but darkness.

In the moment I really understood what happens in an abortion.  I knew about it before, but I didn't really know.  I thought about that comic all the way home and couldn't shake it the rest of the night.  And as I thought about it that night laying in my bed, tears ran down the sides of my face.

That was the day I truly became pro-life.

---

From that day forward, the abortion issue was something I cared deeply about, but when I finally got pregnant with my first baby, it became all the more poignant.  I read the books about each stage of development, looked up pictures on the internet.  I felt his first little kicks at 16 weeks.  I cried when I thought that other babies the same age as my son, who might have been his friends someday, who were guilty of nothing except existing at the wrong time in the wrong place, who could acceptably be torn apart.

And I know I might be losing some of you with this post.  "It's more complicated than that," you might say.  "What about what the mother is going through?"  And I agree with that, it is rather complicated, but also kind of not.  Because a baby is a baby.  We, especially the church, need to offer more support to empower mothers to choose life for their children.  I love being involved with a pregnancy center that is trying to do just that, while also making sure every woman who comes through their doors hears the Gospel.

Partial birth abortion became illegal nationally in 2003, but Illinois recently re-allowed it in their state.  I live in a state that allows a baby in utero to be killed at any time, up until birth, for any reason.  This just blows my mind.  But I'm encouraged that in other areas of the country, many pro-life laws are being passed.  The current generation is more pro-life than the one before it, and I think that's because we can see inside the womb better now than ever before.  And it's harder to pretend that abortion is something other than what it is.

When it comes down to it, once you know, you can't not know.  That's what happened to me all those years ago.

---

There is a church in our area that fills its lawn with small blue and pink flags every October.  It looks like there are thousands of them out there.

There are signs as you drive past that say: "These flags represent the babies who have been lost to abortion, and the men and women who mourn that decision.  Jesus, Divine Healer."

Jesus, Divine Healer.

I'd just like to finish this post by saying that if any of you have had an abortion that you regret, I'm so sorry.  I am not judging you, my heart is just shattered for you.  Please know that I am praying for any who might be reading this who have gone through an abortion in the past, that you would know the healing and forgiveness that can be found in Christ.

And for anyone in my state, I'm working on a petition to get a measure on the ballot to limit abortions after 22 weeks, so if you are interested in signing and helping to stop late-term abortion in our state, send me an email!

The Happiest Place On Earth



We decide to skip the trolley.  After waiting in line for the ferry to leave Disney World for over an hour, I do not want to wait in another line.  "Let's just walk," I suggest, and I hope the parking lot is as close as I think it is.

We trudge across a nearly empty parking lot to a bridge that crosses over one of the many channels of water in Orlando.  Clouds cover the stars, but we can see the moon peeking out on the edges, a handbreadth up from the horizon.  We cross the bridge and I notice how the moonlight shines across the water through the trees.  The sound of junebugs are everywhere, and birds that are strange to our ears call from these little patches of nature in the middle of all the cement.

"Let's pretend we are explorers, and we just landed in the New World," I say as I push the stroller, trying to distract the big kids from their aching feet.  "See that little water channel, and those trees?  It would be like that everywhere.  And there would be birds calling, and crocodiles in the water, and maybe a panther in the trees!  Can you imagine what it would have been like to be here then?  Would you be scared?"

My oldest son's eyes light up as he considers the possibility, while my daughter looks happy that this is just a pretend game.  Up ahead I hear laughter, and I glance up to see Derek with our preschooler in one arm, and our near-kindergartner in the other.  They grin at me over his shoulders, and I grin back, listening as my oldest two beside me discuss how they would protect themselves in the jungle.  

And that's when I finally feel it.



We've been in the "happiest place on earth" all day, but here in this moment, walking on aching feet through a dark parking lot as if we are conquering explorers, this is when I feel the most magical.

And I realize now that we don't have to travel across the country and have "magic" manufactured for us.  We had tried that all day, and it was a failed attempt.  No, those blessed, happy, magic-filled moments can happen anywhere with a little imagination and gratitude, whenever I open my eyes to them.  They can happen with sore feet and damp hair, they can happen at home or far away, when we are doing something exciting or when we are so tired we are merely longing to be tucked under cool sheets.  

Just being with the people I love most in the world, laughing and walking along together, that is the happiest place on earth.  That is a beautiful blessing given to me by God Himself.



That is magical all by itself.

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I wrote this after our trip to Florida in August, and now seemed like a good time to share it, since my month of memory-keeping is almost over!  You can read all my posts in this series by clicking on the picture below.


Nuts And Bolts Of Memory-Keeping







Now that my month of memory-keeping is nearing an end, let's discuss that actual nuts and bolts of memory-keeping, specifically as moms, shall we?  I am still trying to figure out the best way to keep memories for my kids.  It's hard for me to find something that I can consistently do for each kid individually and our family as a whole, at least without letting it take over my life.

These are a few of the things I've tried so far.  As you'll see, many of my attempts have been less than stellar.  I'd love to hear any tips you all have in any of these sections!

(Note: This post contains an affiliate link.)

Baby Books

I got each of my kids a baby book and was relatively good about filling them out - but to be honest, I totally dropped the ball for my last two kids.  I was not going to be that mom that keeps meticulous records for her first child and then doesn't do anything for subsequent kids.  I made a valiant effort, and yet, here we are.

In my defense, I did keep meticulous records for all of my kids here on this blog, which serves in the function of a baby book as well.  I just need to sit down and transfer the information I typed up here into my kids' actual baby books.  I still have my baby book that my mom filled out for me, and I think there is something special about seeing her words about me as a baby, written in her own handwriting.

Photo Albums

Once upon a time, before my third child, I printed up pictures from the first two years of my first baby's life.

And that's it.

I have alot of guilt related photo albums.  There are just so many pictures, I finally realized I can't possibly print them all.  Not only would it cost a fortune, but I don't have enough room in my house for that many photo albums. In addition, it's a huge chore choosing which pictures to print, and I just haven't made time for it yet.

However, currently the only child who has baby pictures to look through is Wyatt, and this is also unacceptable to me.  I remember loving to look through my baby pictures when I was a kid, and hearing my mom tell me stories about each photo.  So a big priority for the next few months is getting some pictures printed up!

More on my strategy in another post soon maybe, but I'd love to hear if you print pictures, and if so, how you choose and organize them.

This Blog

One reason I'm glad this blog never grew too much and I never tried to go too professional with it is that it not only serves as an outlet for my thoughts, but also as a record of our family's lives.  I recorded the kids' birth stories, month-by-month updates for the first year, yearly birthday letters, and a bunch of other random memories on here.

I would like to get caught up on printing my blog into a book.  There used to be a service for this (a very basic service called Blog2Print) which I used for the first few years, but I discovered a couple years ago that they raised their prices to ridiculous levels.  So I'm on the hunt for a better way to print everything here into a book, but at the very least I can print the posts I wrote for each kid and stick them in their baby books, like I mentioned above.  That gives me alot of comfort when I'm feeling like a memory-keeping failure.  The blog is the one area in which I haven't yet dropped the ball.

(If you've printed up blog posts recently and bound them in any way, I'd love to hear what you did!)

A Memory-Keeper Book





This is my latest endeavor.  Several months ago I realized that I would really like to have a better system for writing down cute things the kids say or do.  I have been recording things in my bullet journal off and on, but I wanted something a little more polished that my kids could also look through when they get older.

I purchased a Happy Memory-Keeper on sale, and I'm giving it a try.  The pages are pretty all by themselves and rather inspiring.  The boxes make me feel organized, and I can also easily add pictures or stickers to dress it up a little.

Most of the sections look like this:








I know myself, and I know I'm not going to write something down every day, so I'm just leaving the pages undated.  I'll fill in a box whenever something cute happens, and just make a note of the date until the whole page is full.  One page might last me a month this way, because I'm not going to slap stickers in all the spaces just to fill them up in a week.

The book also has some pages for special days:




So far I'm liking how it's going!  I make a note when something about our day stands out, and I will probably add pictures in some of the boxes eventually.



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As you can see, I have alot to figure out still when it comes to memory-keeping!  But I think the main thing is that I'm trying.  It may not be pretty or very organized, but I know eventually my kids will see the different way that I have tried to capture their growing-up years, and I hope when they do they can see how much I adored them.

How do you keep memories as a mom?

Stay tuned, I might do a more in-depth post about photo-keeping strategies I have tried! Some have worked, some not, but I'm slowly coming up with a plan.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 4


A Quote

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago,
And people who will see a world,
That I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door.
-Poem from The Fellowship Of The Ring
Maybe you are tired of Lord Of The Rings quotes, but this is the end of a really lovely poem in the Fellowship.  Part 2, Chapter 3, a few pages into the chapter titled "The Ring Goes South".  If you have a copy handy, you should go read the whole poem.  I'm not very good at poetry, but I really liked this one.


A Book

I was working on a new post for Rooted last week, and I raided my shelves for some inspiration.  Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall was the first book I grabbed.  I'm thinking it might be time for a re-read.  I remember how calming this book was for me the first time I read it, leading up to the holiday season.  If I remember right, it has lots of practical tips, but also great encouragement for reflecting on why we celebrate in the first place.


A Bit Of Nature



A photo from the nature hike with my sister last week!  The cousins loved crashing through the woods together.


A Recommendation

While I don't actually think I would do well as a business person, I have a little bit of a fascination regarding how businesses start, grow, or fail, and how that's so often tied in with cultural elements and trends.  Maybe my interest stems from the fact that I like to shop?  Anyway, I came across this channel on Youtube, and his videos are so interesting to me.  I especially like the "Bigger Than You Know" series, and the "Rise And Fall" series.  If you are interested in how and why brands appear on and disappear from the shelves, you might like this channel too.


A Moment Of Happiness

When I took Clarice on a day out with me the other week, I let her pick out a toy.  She picked out this play-cleaning set, with a broom, dustpan, pretend spray bottles, rags, etc.  Ever since she got this set, whenever I start to clean up the house or sweep the floor, she runs to grab her cleaning "supplies" and helps me.  It's so cute to see my little four year old diligently "sweeping" the floor or "wiping" the table.

The other day I was baking, and she ran for her broom, and then all I saw were two blue eyes peering up over the other side of the counter, and a tiny hand with a mini broom carefully sweeping away that flour I had spilled.  I walked into the pantry during nap time, and noticed that she had hung her little broom and dustpan on the spare hook right next to my broom and dustpan.  It melted my heart and brought a grin to my face.  I love this age.

The Memory Thief In My Pocket



I hate this picture.

Okay, hate is a strong word.  I don't hate it.  It's a picture of me and my son while we were fishing last week, so I can't hate that.

What I don't like about it though is that ugly square of a phone sticking out of my back pocket.

Just to clarify, I was NOT poking around on my phone during our fishing day.  The phone is in my pocket because I was using it as my camera.  Photos are a big part of remembering events for me, and  I never feel bad for keeping a camera on me to capture the moments before they slip away (within reason - it is possible to take TOO many pictures).  But looking at this picture yesterday, a thought came to me, and it was this: if there is one thing I won't remember and don't desire to keep memories of in my life, it's the times I am on my phone.  And maybe that should affect my priorities a little bit.



Social media has its place.  I don't think any modern tool like that is all good or bad, so this is not a post about deleting all your social media accounts so you can spend more time making memories.  I'm hoping this might just be a little reminder to you and me to keep some balance.  Because there are some things which are not worth giving up.

It's not worth it to miss real-life interaction in favor of virtual interaction.  Even if the virtual interaction sometimes feels more interesting.

It's not worth it to make your kid call you ten times while you need "just a minute" more to read about some obscure acquaintances' life on Facebook.  Because you probably won't remember or care about that acquaintance in ten years, and it's never "just a minute".

It's not worth it to spend so much time staging perfect photos to grow your Instagram following if it means you are missing real moments with your kids.  Instagram following numbers are sand castles, and your kids should have mostly memories of you without your phone in your face (or theirs).

It's not worth it to get a blog post up every day if you have to stress about cramming writing into a weekend that is going to be full of real-life friendships or put down your sick baby who just wants her mama.

In case it wasn't obvious, that last one was me this weekend.  I'm losing steam on this writing challenge this month, and I think maybe that's appropriate.  Because I'm writing about memory-keeping, which goes hand-in-hand with memory-making.

I had a wonderful Saturday watching my son play his last game of soccer for the year, and driving three hours while we listened to stories to see friends that have stayed some of my dearest friends for the last twenty-two years.  Waking up later than I wanted to the next morning because I was such a good kind of tired, but still making it to church on time, and snuggling my youngest down for her nap before putting together a dessert for a game night with friends who are newer, but still becoming dear too.

And then yesterday, snuggling a sick baby instead of writing up the post I had originally planned for this morning.  I am happy to have this space to record my memories, because I know they would be lost to me if I didn't write them down.  But I won't fondly remember the actual recording of them, and I certainly won't look back nostalgically on time spent poking around on my phone, even if it's for the purpose of recording my memories.

The thing that makes memory-keeping precious is not the keeping part, but the memory itself.  And I think that's just a good thing to keep in mind in our modern age.  Memories aren't worth sacrificing, and it's a noble effort to guard against lesser things that might steal or tarnish memories that could have been made.






A Delightful Eight Years



(Note: I was supposed to post this on Saturday, but oy, it's been a long time since I had such  jam-packed weekend!  My oldest actually turned eight back in February, but I am taking my month of memory-keeping to catch up on birthday letters to my kids.  So here is Wyatt's.)

Wyatt Boy,

I can't believe you are eight years old.  I remember when I first held you in my arms.  I couldn't stop the tears because it was surreal to me that you were here.  I didn't ever want you to grow up then, and I still kind of don't.  But now here we are, eight years later, and what a delightful eight years if has been!

Your eighth year was so fun for me as your mom.  Your reading skills exploded, and I find you with your nose in a book constantly.  I can't tell you how thrilled I am by this.  I love that you want to learn and read!  You are a wealth of information about your favorite topics - animals, and especially birds.  You have really opened up that interest for our whole family, and we've gone on various birding expeditions in the last year because of your inspiration.  It's a joy to me to watch you learn something new or see some animal or bird "in the wild".  Your face lights up, and you talk about it for days afterward. 



Speaking of talking, I love when we get some one on one time together and I can hear all about what fills that smart brain of yours.  Your theories and thought processes are so interesting to me, but you are always willing to learn when I tell you a new bit of information.  I am so honored for the opportunity to be your mom and teach you anything - I get the feeling that I'll learn alot from you my whole life!  I am there for it, my sweet boy.

As of right now, you want to be a scientist when you grow up and discover new species in the Amazon.  Of course, the specifics of what kind of scientist and where you want to go change frequently, but I have no doubt you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  I have never met a little boy before you who was so good at gathering information and remembering it, or who had such a determined interest in something, and I love that about you.

The last year with you was also when I really got to see what a great big brother you are.   You are older now and able to do more on your own, but you take time to slow down to help and explain to your little siblings.  I think you were made to be the oldest in a big family.  Your sense of humor has been developing a lot this year too, and you crack your siblings up frequently!

You have started reading the Bible by yourself, and you persevere even when it's a struggle for you.  You make connections between different information you encounter and how it lines up with what you know to be true from God's word, and I love to see you practicing that skill so young.  Your love for the Lord and for His truth is something that delights me most of all.  I pray for you every day, that you would continue to grow in your love and knowledge of Him.

It is a privilege to be your mom, to watch you grow in knowledge, and to watch your faith grow too.  So often I am afraid I am not up to the task, but one thing you are wonderful at is giving me grace and hug.  You are a blessing to me, my delightful eight-year-old boy!  I don't really want you to grow any more, but if the last eight years are any indication...I think the next eight years are gong to be even more of a delight.  I can't wait to watch you grow up, and I'm glad I get to be the one who is your mama.

I love you always, Wyatt!

-Mama

 (This picture was taken close to his birthday, and I just realized how much more grown up he looks just over the last eight months!)

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 3


A Quote
"'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli. 
'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'
'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli. 
'Or break it,' said Elrond."                                                                         
-Fellowship Of The Ring

You can probably guess which book I'm reading right now!  This exchange stood out to me this time, and I found it interesting.  I tend to side with Gimli, I think, but curious if you all have any thoughts.  I'm mulling it over.


A Book

Alot of the books from Anne Bogel's summer reading guide were duds for me this time around, but I am listening to one of them, Searching For Sylvia Lee by Jean Kwok, on audio now.  I'm halfway through and really enjoying it, especially in audio format!  This is a mystery/thriller book, and a good portion of the story involves Chinese immigrants in the Netherlands.  The way those two cultures come together here is really unexpected and interesting.  I'm not completely vouching for it yet since I haven't finished, but so far it's also been fairly clean.


A Bit Of Nature


Pretty fall view.  My little white church where I grew up is down in that valley.


An Recommendation

This recommendation is a little different - I'm going to recommend you check out the makeup section at TJ Maxx.  I have two lip glosses and a lipstick that I bought from there that are name brand (Anastasia Beverly Hills and Flesh), but they cost less than half the normal price.  Just thought of that because I particularly like the Flesh lipglosses, and I never would have bought them otherwise!  So if you have a TJ Maxx near you, check it out!

A Moment Of Happiness

The kids had been outside for a while, and I didn't hear much except for occasional squeals of delight.  I was getting a little suspicious, and I went over the window to see what was making them so happy, expecting to see some mischief.

What I saw was my four big children gathered around our red wagon, positioned at the top of the hill of our driveway.  Two of the kids started pulling the wagon down the hill while one sat inside, gripping the sides.  The looks of joy on their faces, and the sun backlighting their hair...it was one of those golden moments I don't ever want to forget.

Nutrolls And Gatorade And Hunting



One of the ways I bonded with my dad growing up was through him teaching me how to hunt.

Hunting is something that has been tradition in my family for generations, and it started with necessity.  Hunting is an inexpensive way to put meat in our freezer.  My grandpa started hunting when he was a teenager for that very reason, and he and his brother taught their children how to hunt, and they taught theirs, and I guess that's where it became a tradition.  We still hunt today for mainly of the same reasons - to fill the freezer being high up on the list.

Another reason we value hunting so much, contradictory as it may seem to those who don't understand it, is because of a love for God's creation.  We love getting out in nature, seeing the sunrise, hearing which birds wake up first, finding tracks of animals we aren't even trying to find.  We do it because it's a great way to get out there, and we do it for the sake of conservation.  Many people don't realize how many animals would starve and die over the winter if their populations are too high at the start of it.  It's why there is a Division Of Wildlife - to study these things, and help keep ecosystems in proper balance.

It always irks me to see how hunters are sometimes portrayed by authors or producers who don't have a clue.  I've put books down because of a portrayal of hunters as careless idiots with guns who just want to kill something.  The ignorance is stunning to me.  The hunters I know, who I've grown up with, are some of the most careful and most respectful people you will meet with regards to firearms and nature.

When I was twelve my dad took me hunting for the first time.  I had a cow elk tag, and he woke me up early and we made the trek out into the woods.  Snow crunched under my feet, and my lungs burned with the cold morning air at the exertion.  I hung on to the straps on my dad's backpack so he could help haul me up the hill.

Every now and then he would spot a track, sometimes elk, but I remember specifically seeing mountain lion and bear tracks too.  He would whisper and point them out to me, and I'd whisper how cool it was and grin.



I got an elk on that first day of my first hunt.  It was a very exciting moment, and a particularly large elk, so it was great to contribute to the family's food like that.  But my favorite part was grinning at my dad after a successful hunt and seeing he was grinning back at me, and resting together on the snow as we split a Nutroll candy bar and drank a jug of Gatorade.

You just don't even know how good a Nutroll and Gatorade can taste until you've worked so hard for them.  I went hunting with my dad all through my growing up years, and a Nutroll and Gatorade was always our victory meal.

My dad taught Derek how to hunt, and now Derek provides for our family too through hunting, and he's planning to take our kids when they are big enough.  So the tradition continues.

I haven't been hunting since I've had kids.  It was too hard to go since we'd have to find a babysitter.  But as I watch the leaves turn and the frost returning this year, I'm feeling that itch to get out there again (not to mention the meat would help a lot in feeding five hungry kids).

Today, I don't buy Nutrolls or Gatorade.  I just can't imagine snacking on them in my living room or car.  They will forever be reserved for me as the fuel I'll pull out of my backpack, as I'm sitting on a rock in the brisk fall air after a hard morning of hunting.  That's how they taste best.




Six Years Of Sparkle



My Sparkling Gwen,

Sweetheart, I am sitting down to write this and thinking over the last year with you.  You change so much from year to year, but in some ways you stay the same.  I love watching your personality shine more and more as you grow!

Your favorite thing in the world is to laugh and make other people laugh, and you are such a fun-loving little girl!  Your laugh is perfect and unique - it sounds like a creek gurgling, bells ringing, and birds tweeting all at once.  I can pick it out of a crowd, only because it is such an incredibly adorable little girl laugh!

You are really getting involved in picking your own outfits, and I love to see the combinations you come up with.  Your favorite is to wear your skirt with jeans, and I think this reflects your sweet personality.  You love playing outside, climbing on things, hanging upside down on the monkey bars, but you are not content to just wear pants.  You have to add a little sparkle and girly-ness to everything you do!

You are such a little helper - whenever I ask you kids to do something, you are the first to jump up.  You are always looking for ways to assist me, and to help anyone around you.  I love this about you so much.

I've also seen a lot of deep thinking going on in your little head this year.  You ask me such good questions about Jesus and the Bible, and how exactly everything works.  I try my best to answer all your questions, but it brings me such joy to see you thinking things through and trusting the Lord more and more as you grow.

Lately you've been expressing that you want to be just like me.  You want to grow up to be a mama, just like me.  You are dying to get your ears pierced, just like me (we are doing this for your birthday!).  The thought warms my heart, but in so many ways, I want to be more like you.

I want to have a tender heart like you do.  I want to laugh and enjoy life with the same zest as you.  I want to have a heart to serve others like you do.

I hope you grow up to take the good things you can from my example, but always know too that I think you are completely delightful just for being you.  I'll never stop loving you, my Precious Girl.  I love you more than I could ever say.

Happiest 6th Birthday, My Sweet Darling!

Love Always,

Mama




The Reason I Bought That Sweater



When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a white sweatshirt with blue stripes on it.  I learned the story later, of how she was wearing it when my dad proposed to her.  He had given her the sweatshirt and hidden her ring in the pocket.

I don't know what happened to that sweatshirt.  Eventually I must have outgrown it or ruined it, because I don't have it anymore, and I don't think it's one I would give away.  But in my memory, the light blue stripes on that sweatshirt wherever similar to another shirt.  One my mom was wearing in a faded snapshot from the 80's.

I like to think my dad or someone else in our family grabbed the camera to document how beautiful my mom looked, because she looked so young and glowing.  When I first found that photo in an old album, my mom told me she was actually pregnant with me when it was taken.





I found a sweater with very similar stripes to the ones on the shirts my mom wore when she was close to my age.  I didn't even think about it, I just bought it.

I like this sweater a lot, partly because it's cute, but majorly because it reminds me of her.

There will always be that part of me that dreams of growing up to be just like my mama.




Where I'm From


"I'm from the front pew of a wooden white church..."

I heard those words through the speaker on the way home and immediately turned up the radio, because that first line could have come straight out of my childhood.  I listened as Jason Michael Carroll sang "Where I'm From".  I resonated with almost every line.

A friend asked me last week what the best part was about living where I live, and I thought about that song, and tried to think of how I'd describe where I'm from...

I'm from a wooden white church too, nestled in plains surrounded by mountains, filled with people more like a family than a church.

I'm from a place where the aspens in the autumn take your breath away and fill the air with spice, and people drive hours just to look at them from the highway.

I'm from riding our horses across clear mountain water, the coldest water you ever tasted, because it hasn't traveled that far from the peak of a mountain.

I'm from sweater weather, and wood stoves, and hot chocolate, and golden leaves sharing space with white snowflakes on evergreen branches.

I'm from a place where you can lay in bed at night with the window open and hear owls hooting from the lodgepole pines, and elk bugling from the meadow down the hill.

I'm from a place where fall means the sweet smell of fresh cut hay, tractors hauling bales on the highway and occasionally dropping one, trucks carrying neon orange-clad men and women to the back roads, country music on the radio, and people asking where your dad goes hunting.

I'm from a place where you have your perfectly vague response perfectly rehearsed, because around here we guard our hunting spots like the Mint.

I'm from a place where my grandpa worked as a foreman for the water board, and raised his family in a tiny log house that they heated with a wood stove.

I'm from a boy who got payed a penny a log to chop wood for winter, and decided not to play football because it interfered with hunting season.

I'm from a girl who came here, fell in love with that boy in high school, and never left because she fell in love with the mountains too.

I'm from a mom who taught us how to weave wreaths out of willow branches and baskets out of pine needles, who kept the house smelling like cookies or stew, and feeling like love.

I'm from a dad who came home with cuts on his hands from hard work, whose flannel coat brought the autumn chill in with him, but somehow his hugs were still warm.

I'm from a place where people ask my maiden name and immediately know my people.

I'm from a place that pulls together after tragedy, and the speed limit signs are wrapped in ribbons for miles in remembrance.

I'm from a place where you know the names of the state troopers and which cars they drive, because they taught you driver's ed.  But you didn't have to learn to parallel park to pass, because no one does that here.

I'm from a place where the high schools feud by seeing who can paint the rock in their respective parking lots the coolest color.

I'm from tree forts, and hikes on an old railroad grade, and sleeping bags on the trampoline next to the best little brother and sister in the world, while bats flit across the stars.

I'm from a place where the wilderness is just a couple roads over.

I'm from a place that some people leave, but some people never will because they never would want to.

It's a place that gets in your blood if you stay here for any length of time.  And if you have the right kind of something inside to react to it, then it gets in your blood and stays forever, and you can never quite leave it behind again.  Maybe for a little while, but eventually you return one way or another.  Because there is no other place that feels as much like home.

I'm from a place that got in my husband's blood too, and we built a home and a family and a life up here where wild things grow.





That's where I'm from.  And like any place, some things change, things are always changing.  Some of what I've written is from my childhood and some is from now, and they are all mixed up and inseparable in my mind.  Some things don't change, and those are the pieces that have held me here.  I feel blessed that I get to raise my kids in the same place where our roots have grown so long.

So this can be where they're from too.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 2



A Quote

"Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.  It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there...Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, let the future sanctify the present to it's highest uses...The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength...He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come." -Charles Spurgeon


This is from Morning And Evening by Charles Spurgeon, which I've been loving as an addition to my Bible reading lately.  A little bonus book pick for you!


A Book

Dracula by Bram Stoker.  This book is really not my style at all, but so far I'm kind of enjoying it?  I never read horror, but I am in a classics book club with some friends from my college days, and Dracula is what we picked for this season.  It is a classic, so I figure it's worthwhile to read just for the cultural references, but I'm halfway through and now I'm rather curious to see how it's going to turn out!  The ending in the book is supposed to be good...




Sidenote:  I am reading my leather-bound copy from Barnes And Noble, because it's the prettiest and least creepy cover I could find...also, I know I'm pale.  I promise I'm not a vampire.

A Bit Of Nature


The aspen trees peaked this last week!  But there are still a few areas where they have yet to change color.  I should really record peak week each year so I can plan our fall hikes to coincide.

A Recommendation

I have attended a few of these homeschool summits in the past - this is basically a free online conference with encouragement for Christian homeschool parents!  This year there will be sessions with Ken Ham and Voddie Baucham, so you should obviously sign up just for that.  But there also other speakers I have appreciated in the past, like Hal and Melanie Young, and Todd Wilson.  I expect good things!  It's happening next week, if you are interested.

A Moment Of Happiness

I took Clarice on a "mom day" last weekend.  We went grocery shopping, and I loved the feel of her dainty little hand in mine.  She insisted on riding in the cart until she was practically covered in groceries, and I remember doing the same when I was a kid.  I bought her a toy, a set of cleaning supplies.  "Mama, I can help you clean the house!" she declared excitedly.

We finished at the store, and I got her a happy meal as a special treat for dinner, since we never get happy meals when I have all the kids together.  She sat across the table, deconstructing her hamburger before she ate it, and every now and then she looked at me and gave me one of her dazzling grins.  Then she'd make a face at me to make me laugh.

She bounced along beside me as we left, like a little Tigger.  ON the way home she spotted the moon out the window.  "Mama, the moon is following us home!  He must be hungry!"  Then she laughed at her own joke, and I laughed too.

And I just kind of wish she could stay four years old forever.
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