Monday, December 29, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook entry for December 29th

I'm still trying to get the hang of this, but here's my first Simple Woman's Daybook entry:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Outside my window...

It is sunny and although it is cold, it is warmer than it has been.

I am thinking...
There are things I need to gather for my husband for a meeting tomorrow evening, and I should not procrastinate!

I am thankful for...
My husband and his steady, reliable job and my children and their laughter and noise, even when it gets a little "too" loud. And finally for the gift of this pregnancy.

From the learning rooms...
We have a short break for the rest of the week, as the cousins are coming!

From the kitchen...
I made an 8-yolk butter cake with cocoa icing for my father's birthday! We also managed to get some Forgotten Cookies in the oven, but the meringue does not seem to want to set just right.

I am wearing...
Loose and comfortable clothing since I am starting to "feel" pregnant!

I am creating...
A baby blanket on a Knifty Knitter for our expected little one.

I am going...
To stay at home today and just try to relax as I am not feeling too well.

I am reading...
Aside from the Bible, I am also taking a break from "school" and books this week to prepare for our expected company.

I am hoping...
To be able to find all of the paperwork my husband needs tomorrow, as my children constantly relocate things in their efforts to "help" - and somehow do not always put things in the proper designated spot.

I am hearing...
The last of the Christmas music on a local radio station.

Around the house...
I have neatened up a little bit, cleaned up the kitchen and a few areas in the dining room and am generally pleased that I made some progress despite being sick.

One of my favorite things...
Receiving Christmas cards from family and friends.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Tuesday: Finding the rest of that paperwork for my husband!
Wednesday: Three doctor appointments for my high-risk pregnancy, including an ultra sound -- I will get to see the growth of my precious little one!!!

Thursday: Spending time with my husband, who as the day off!!

Friday: Going to the hospital to be supportive as my mother gets back surgery.

Saturday: Visiting with my sister and my nieces! Church tonight!!!

Sunday: Finalizing January homeschool schedules, making sure my three public schooled children have their homework ready for the morning, logging in to my online college to prepare for the week's work.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Thanks for stopping by!!!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A book that touched me deeply...

We try to make the season of Advent special. Last year we wrapped up many Christmas movies and placed them in a basket to be unwrapped each night. The year before that we all found a treasure each morning - usually something small like a pencil or a peppermint. Sometimes there are projects, sometimes interesting poems and songs. There are always devotionals that accompany our special time as a family each evening. This year during Advent each evening a member our family unwrapped a winter/Christmas book to read to the children. The books ranged from childhood favorites to wintry books the children received as gifts in years past, and of course included the story of Jesus' birth as well as the classic "Night Before Christmas", all read while pjs were on and all followed by our customary Advent devotion. There were several evenings where activity kept us late and we skipped the reading, but overall we were able to enjoy many touching, fun and whimsical stories. However, the book my husband chose to read on Christmas day itself touched me very deeply -- so much that I find myself still pondering the message, turning the story over and over again in my mind.

The story is called "The Story of the Other Wise Man" - or sometimes "The Fourth Wise Man" - and was written by Henry van Dyke circa 1896. (For a review, I've included a link to amazon: There are so many lessons in this very short tale, the most important that we should seek Christ constantly, and that we will indeed find Him. I've marveled over the beauty found in this simple story -- how this wise man gave all he owned to bring treasures to the king -- and how he spent those treasures in other ways before finding Jesus at last.

I don't want to give away the entire story before anyone has had a chance to read it. Suffice it to say that it touched me in such a way that made me cry...for my own selfishness, for my own lack of deep faith at times, for my own thoughtlessness at times when dealing with others. I have been really praying in the last few days that this lesson of faith and love will stick with me.

I really hope and pray you will get the opportunity to read this precious story, and that it will touch your heart as thoroughly as it has touched my own. May God richly bless you in 2009!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

creating a haven...

I stumbled upon something interesting at The Homespun Heart which I thought I'd like to attempt, even though I am already two whole days behind. It's a challenge of sorts to make of our homes a haven...And clean. I have been so blessed with the kind of home I've always dreamed of -- a big old rambling house that could be filled with the happy laughter of children. It's in need of a lot of repair though, having been neglected for years before we bought it. I like to be challenged and reminded of the importance of getting things in order, in many different regards. I am hopeful that the effort I put into this will be a blessing to my precious family.

With six children, I can tell you that our home has long seemed too cluttered and unkempt despite my efforts. For a while, I have to admit that I kind of gave up out of sheer frustration -- not because I did not want a clean home and tidy children, but because it just seemed as though everything was going wrong. Our washer has not worked in months, which means my darling husband does laundry once every week at the laundry mat in town. That means that clothes and towels and rags and coats and sheets, etc. just have to wait around, and for some reason those items just do not always stay in their designated laundry baskets! In addition, I had set up a "center" of sorts for school work. I have three children in school and three homeschooled, so we have an abundance of paperwork that cannot be misplaced. I had bins for each child and shelves for books and bookbags...But somehow all of the paperwork and projects and bookbags mysteriously crawl off from their designated spots as well. So...

I will be praying more this week and trying to re-train my six children. I have had some difficulty in this area, as five are adopted and some of their issues make obedience a serious task and a chance for rebellion, hence my frustration. I do not have as short a fuse with them when it comes to patience, thanks to many talks with the Lord, but I admit that there are times when I'd rather walk away than attempt to get to the bottom of the crisis because it seems that so much is tangled up in one simple task. It's not laziness as much as weariness at this point, but as I said -- I've committed much of this to the Lord in prayer and have become more optimistic in the last month that I can certainly make things more peaceful for the family overall. And since that time, I've seen great changes in their beginning stages in the spirits of at least some of the children. That is indeed a blessing!

Aside from that, I am expecting a baby in June and I have the need to get things under control. My first pregnancy - resulting in 4 year old Samuel - had me on bed rest for the last six weeks, and everything downstairs turned more than chaotic, even when my mother and my mother-in-law tried to help. My second pregnancy - resulting in the loss of precious Jordan between 10 and 12 weeks into the pregnancy - had me on bed rest from almost the beginning, and the chaos was worse. I would like to have order throughout the whole thing this time and be prepared for whatever may happen, and I'm depending on much prayer to start to see some of the character traits emerge not only in the children, but that my husband and I will always exhibit deeper patience bourne out of love and try to restore our family to what it should be.

I really look forward to working on this!!!


I would love to ask for extra prayer during this season of my life. You see, I've had a little trouble lately with cramping and bleeding. While this is somewhat normal in a lot of pregnancies, after losing our precious baby last year I am very apprehensive of what that all could mean. I am trusting in Him, but I am afraid my human-ness tends to get in the way and I feel the devil just whispering to me. So any prayer -- especially in these still early weeks -- would be such a blessing to me! Thank you!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Blessing...

It's been a long road that I've walked since last June when we lost our second birth child. But yesterday - miracle of miracles...I'm expecting again. I'm of course very anxious and nervous, but oh so happy.

You see, I've never stopped hoping completely, even though at times the possibility of my conceiving again looked pretty bleak. Last month I had thought that I was possibly pregnant. I was temped to race to the store and purchase a test, but the day when I was holding the test in my hands I started to feel the familiar pain of menstrual cramps. The scarlet reminder that my womb was still empty was, sadly, not terribly far behind.

Funny thing though...since that time I started taking an exercise class - Zumba, which is sort of like a dance class, combining Latin and Caribbean dance music and so forth. I was excited to start and see the pounds start dropping off rapidly. Well, I should have known...Every time I lose weight past a certain poundage I was suddenly "pregnant". Still, after last year the fear mingled with the hope kept me more pessimistic than usual.

So yesterday when I took the test I initially read it wrong. I thought that the one symbol was the control and since the two didn't match assumed it was negative. But thankfully I felt the need to actually check the box. I'm so glad I did! I saw that the "plus" sign in the first window indicated a positive result, and the second window was the control. worries and concerns got the better of me and I doubted it for a while. I needed a little more convincing. I mean, other than wonky blood sugar readings (another "obvious" sign I shouldn't have missed), my breasts do not hurt like during my first pregnancy, I am not constantly vomitting (though I did today a bit more) and I feel, well, pretty much not pregnant. So to convince myself, I took a digital test. The window was clear and unmistakably flashed "pregnant". But not to be fooled by possible error, I took a third test, which also had me reeling with the miracle. Because again the result was positive.

When I took the first test and realized that it was positive, I was overcome with emotion. I fell to my knees, thanking the Lord. You see, I believe that ALL -- yes, ALL -- children are a blessing from the Lord. Does it matter so much that this will be my seventh child (really eighth because of last year's miscarriage, but technically only the third biological child)? I don't think so, yet the reaction I received during my last pregnancy, before we lost the baby, was so negative that this time I am hesitant about how much I want to share this information before I've fully savored it and treasured it and had time to bury those beautiful thoughts in my heart.

I need to begin immediately praying for the perfect health of my child, for the life within me to be strong and healthy -- a child I can train for His good purpose and glory, a child I will treasure, with all of my heart, no matter what. I am still a little anxious, but am trusting that He will protect the life now growing within, knitting my child together with each new development. I feel so tired, but oh so blessed! I am looking forward to this pregnancy journey and to the marvelous treasure that I'll have in the end!!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Preparedness Challenge Week I (for us anyway!)

I came across this on Melonie Kennedy's Preparedness blog: She found the original challenge on another site, but you'll be able to read that if you click on the link.
Ya' know...with the food crisis it kind of makes a lot of sense, especially for my family of eight...So I am going to attempt to work at it. Being realistic, it's probably somewhat late to accomplish everything, but if I go at it a little bit at a time, weekly, well...I'm hoping it will make a huge difference in our pocketbook as well as the cupboard. So this might be a regular feature in the upcoming weeks -- at least through harvest season. Beyond that, well...we'll see how it goes. It does make sense though, so maybe even those of you without a green thumb (and I really don't have one myself) will give it a go...The worst thing that could happen is that you'll be a little more prepared.

Preparedness Challenge: Week 1
1. Plant something: I have to say that I was pretty pleased with our efforts earlier in the season. We basically only planted herbs, garlic, lettuce and two pepper varieties, and all are doing rather nicely - considering that I'm the one doing the gardening (which means minimal effort and no green thumb). But just the other day Les planted two grape tomato plants. So hooray, we accomplished this part of the challenge!

2. Harvest something: I was surprised to find a nice green bell pepper ready to be picked. I also clipped some rosemary to dry, along with mint (for fresh mojitos and iced tea), and some lavender that I want to make into sachets for my drawers.

3. Preserve something: Well, the only thing I did that was close to preserving anything was to start drying my rosemary. Other than that, I bought some ground beef on sale and divided it into freezer bags. So at the moment I have about five 2lb. packets of ground beef in the freezer. Maybe not what I had hoped for -- those strawberries are still calling my name, and hopefully I'm really not too late already!

4. Prep something: I don't know that I accomplished much here, except that I sliced up some red and green bell peppers and stuck them in the freezer so they wouldn't go bad on me before I was ready for them -- I like to cut strips for fajitas and then little diced pieces for various other dishes.

5. Cook something: Well, not knowing what to make because of the heat suffocating me in the kitchen this week, I ended up doing pretty well. Monday I baked one loaf of sourdough bread (the rest of the starter is in the fridge) and made a chicken dish for dinner. Tuesday we had homemade pizze (I cheated with store-bought crust) and Wednesday we had spaghetti with bacon and a creamy cheese sauce of sorts...It ended up not being thin enough and I drained all the spaghetti water before I was finished, silly me. Then Thursday Kayla had her turn to pick a dish to make. She opted for cold noodle salad, which was spaghetti, cabbage and carrots with scallions and an Asian-inspired peanut-butter dressing. We still have three containers of leftovers, so it was a pretty cheap dish overall. We added fortune cookies (store-bought at the bulk store, so pretty cheap) as a dessert for a nice touch. Tonight we were supposed to have a barbeque, but it has rained almost all day. So Les took us out to a pizza buffet. Not too bad, really, for the week. I hope next week turns out just as good.

6. Manage your reserves: Well, this is where we're experiencing a lot of trouble. Since the pigeon company filed for bankruptcy, we're just trying to hold on. We were looking forward to a lot of relief with that monthly income and now there is no monthly pigeon income, but we still have the pigeons (almost 400 of them) and barn rent and feed. Right now the market has been flooded with pigeons, so it really does not pay to start getting rid of all of them, and I'm sorry, but I just can't see destroying the eggs. I think if we shop around maybe we'll be able to find a market for squab. We'll see. Other than that, paid the cell bill, some other small things, made a list of total debt (that almost gave me a heart attack) and tried not to splurge or add any new debt. One credit card is being paid in full and that will help a little. It means we can try to pay off another one next month, and go from there. I am going to take scissors to the majority of them...Monthly payments seem so foolish now, especially when you get interest and such tacked on. I want to try to follow Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Living advice. Seems like a good plan -- I mean, who can't use more of their own money every month?? So that's where we're at for the moment...Trying to stay above water and avoid bankruptcy...which we feel should only be used in the most dire circumstances. And even though financially it seems pretty damn dire, well...We'd rather honor our debts if possible...The bad thing is that not all companies will even work with you. The health care scenario is the WORST for that...I called to make payment arrangements on a hospital bill and told them what we could afford. They were not willing to accept that arrangement -- in fact, they wanted 300% more than what I could pay. I mean, should I just die next time and avoid the trip to the ER or what??? I said, we're working on it...

7. Work on local food systems: Well, as far building up our own pantry...I hit a sale and got a few things. But I've been really trying to shop the perimeter of the store and avoid the isles of processed and unhealthy foods. Sadly, that's more of what we can afford right now. I did use coupons to purchase deli cheese and meat on sale this week -- Usually that is one of the first things we cut out when life gets a little expensive, but everything was on sale, plus the coupons too. I am hoping to work out a menu based on the sale fliers and use coupons where possible to stock up our meager pantry. Aside from that, though, I've found that I've been able to feed our family of eight a lot more healthy produce from spending a mere $20 at the farmers' market every week. There is a huge difference when I go versus when I don't. The kids are even enjoying a variety of fruits and veggies that are fresh and local without too much complaint...I've found that Les and I grumble more about the cookies, chips, ice cream, etc. we miss than the kids do!

8. Learn or work on a new skill: Well, not sure if this counts, but I have been working on my bread-baking a lot more, despite the rising cost of flour. I still find it more satisfactory to eat something on a homemade slice or two of bread than to buy that squishy air-inflated stuff they try to pass off as bread at the supermarket. And quite honestly, we're trying to use other grains in our diet anyway, so it's not like we're constantly going through the bread now. Aside from that, I just found a recipe for ricotta cheese that I want to try out, because I want to do some bulk cooking. I have some recipes for things like lasagna and even stuffed shells that I can freeze ahead of time to save on time during the upcoming busy cheerleading/football season. And...I want to try yogurt again too. So I'm working on "skills". Outside of the kitchen I'm working on two cross-stitch projects, a quilting project and hoping to learn crochet with Sara early next month.

9. Serve someone: I don't know if this counts, but...I gave my parents my first green bell pepper, a packet of homegrown and dried rosemary and a bunch of lavender. We have a whole bag full of clothes to go to Goodwill as well. Sometimes it just is hard to get into a serving mindset when I'm here all day with six kids plus Les, but I'm really trying to be less selfish with the things I do have. I hope that this challenge really keeps me in check as far as serving others.

I didn't do all of this in one fell swoop...It was a little here, a little there. One small thing every day for the week. And I hope to really keep up with it. It's pretty nice to look at your pantry shelves and see a variety of stuff -- that you actually eat or use -- there all ready for you.
Well, I don't know if/how many of you will join me in this challenge, but I think that with the food prices going up and the gas prices going up and all the natural and other disasters world-wide, it's not a crazy or far-fetched idea to be prepared. That can mean just buying an extra can of tunafish or whatever you eat every time you go to the grocery store or see a sale, or making sure your flashlights and smoke detectors have batteries or that you have a whole "kit" ready for any kind of disaster. It doesn't have to be consuming or make you scared or crazy, but you can do it sensibly. FEMA has information online at: and it doesn't hurt to look at it once in a while.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


What happens when things are not going quite the way you wanted and life looks dim? I know that somewhere the sun is shining, just not for me at this particular moment in my life. There are acceptable behaviors in any situation, and things that one just should not do. Yet I find myself...considering. Drawn to those things that I would not otherwise want to do. Being pulled away from the comfort and security and peace that I know are waiting for me in the future, after all the grief and frustration has been sorted through. It's rebellion in a simplistic state. I do not want to fall away from what is acceptable. I do not want to do wrong. Yet I'm pulled toward it as a moth draws closer to the flame, disregarding the singe on its wings as it passes ever so close. I can hear, at times so audible and others so soft, the voice of some demon tempting me to partake.

I could, maybe even somewhat easily, distract myself by drawing closer to the One who will never leave nor forsake me. Except that, while I know it's the right thing to do -- the thing that will yeild the best result, the better course -- I feel some anger. Enough to hold back my natural inclination to fall down in praise and worship or turn the pages of my Bible, untouched these last few months. I reason over and over in my mind that of course I need to pour over Scripture and pray with purpose and offer praise and thanksgiving to the Creator. I know it's what is right and true, and more importantly -- what could help me out of the spiraling depression I've felt since the piercing cry that somehow came from within me as I learned that my child had no heartbeat. Yes, this is rebellion borne of anger. And...something else.

Guilt. I mentioned it to my counselor, who posed that I sound like other women she's counseled who have had abortions. Except that is not what my loss was called. It was a miscarriage, followed by a surgical procedure to remove the remains. Yet in my mind I truly believe that I should have passed on the surgery and let God work His miracle if He would, or experience the natural course of a true miscarriage if He would not. But in the midst of the physical pain of the loss and the mental anguish accompanying it, I was forced to make a decision. And so I opted for the easy way to end my suffering. And feel weak and frustrated at my own inadequacy. I should have endured, and not been so quick to give up -- in faith. And yet I couldn't. Even as I was being wheeled into surgery, starting to grow drowsy with drugs and anesthetics, I could hear my soul screaming to stop it all, because I could have faith that God could restore...if not my baby, then at least me. But I abandoned it for comfort and ease. In my mind a worship song from church reverberated, filling my mind with the lyrics and testing my resolve. "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings. You are my everything and I will adore You." It testified to the awe-inspiring presence and greatness and holiness of God. And yet -- somehow I still could not cling to that faith, because I was already despairing at the loss of my child, already sinking down into the claws of depression -- yes, even while trying to reach to Him who could heal me. The devil, you see, was pulling me down. And I let him win the battle that time. And have felt guilty about it ever since.

Because it opened the doors of doubt and despair and anger and frustration and left little room for much else. Leading to rebellion.

Some day soon I know I will have to cast aside the guilt. The pain. The anger. I, the prodigal, will have to run back toward my Father. I know I can count on His open arms, waiting to pull me in and give me the comfort I know is waiting. But I think that, in some effort to punish myself, I am just not ready to release all this hurt yet. So stubbornly I cling to it, disregarding His promises and chasing after all that is vapid and vanishing in life, even if only in my innermost thoughts, while I should be pursuing Him with gusto, relishing His care of me and His everlasting love and forgiveness and...healing. I know I will find it in Him, when I am ready to grow up and give up my childish rebellion...