Saturday, March 23, 2013

This....lovely "Easter Garden".......perfect weekend activity

This is our version of this lovely "Easter Garden" that I have been admiring
for the last couple years on the internet.
I love that my children can be involved collecting the items needed for this project,
can help planting the seeds, and the wonderful visual that it is in reminding us
of the great sacrifice that Christ made for us that we remember at this time of year!

For some wonderful tutorials on this project:

For some wonderful add - ons:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Celebrate Spring 2013!!

"It's the most wonderful time of the year......"
Wrong season.
But it really IS the most wonderful time of year.
Last year, I started something that I liked so very much that I decided to revisit it again this year.
And that is to separate out our celebration of the spring season from Resurrection Sunday.
As I've grown older, I've come to more fully appreciate what my Savior did for me and the rest of mankind on the cross of Calvary, and ultimately His display of power over sin and death by His resurrection from the grave!!
I still can't dilute the meaning of that event with chocolate bunnies, duckies, and Easter eggs.
I wrote more about that and described last year's spring celebration here.

This year the first day of spring rolled around on a Wednesday that my husband had off, so that was the perfect opportunity for me to take advantage of his help as well as to make it a "Family Day."
**Warning:  Lots of pictures ahead**

Instructions for the sweet little bird nests above can be found here.

We went to a brand new park this year, but it was so breezy I had to 
change some plans around.  I couldn't set up everything like I had envisioned,
and we ended up doing our crafts back at home.

But we were able to do an egg hunt.....

The children all enjoyed exploring this new pond area,
and we were excited to see many turtles playing hide-and-seek with us!

Once we got back home,
we were able to make some spring art for our fireplace mantle.
More on this later.

For several years, I've been reading about this wonderful "Lenten Garden"
and we finally put one together in preparation for our Resurrection Sunday celebration
in about a week!
More on this later as well!

P.S.  Yes, I'm aware that the stone rolled in front of the grave was not in three parts.
But my children found these and put them this way while we are still looking for one large stone
to replace them!!  Watch the grass grow with us!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Abby's birthday celebration

Hoo boy!!
What craziness has been these last 7 days!!
Last week was spring break for all the schools in our area,
and our two oldest girls had been invited to go on vacation with friends to Hot Springs, AR.
Right smack in the middle of that week, our house got hit with a swift moving stomach virus.
It started Wednesday with our youngest son.
On Thursday evening, I got a call from my friend in Arkansas who had my two girls to let me know that Ashlyn, my Type 1 Diabetic, was throwing up.  She eventually ended up in the ER before it was all over, but that is another story to come.
I ended up staying up till 2 in the morning that Thursday evening to make sure Ashlyn was fine and my friend had all the information she needed to get her discharged.
By the time Friday evening rolled around, I was exhausted because that had been my grocery shopping day, I was planning for Abby's birthday the next day, my two oldest got home that afternoon and I was pretty emotional, and I was already running on limited sleep.
I was so looking forward to a full night's sleep when our oldest son woke me up at 3 am to tell me he was going to throw up.
Which he did.
Twice an hour for the next four hours.
I never was able to go back to sleep, so I just started my day at about 6 am.
Saturday, the 16th, was our 3rd daughter's birthday, and several times she had reminded me that she wanted "donut store donuts" for her breakfast.
So I just made an early run for donuts.
I had so wanted to do some fun things for her on that day, but with a sick child needing my comfort, two exhausted ones recovering from a long trip, and other pre-scheduled activities that day, we just hung around the house.
I wish it could've been a little different day for her, but it was what it was.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

No fruit today

Some days are so long, and so full of up hill battles in my little house full of children.
Some days I really feel like we make no headway at all,
that there is no progress, no growth or positive change in any way.
There are some days when I feel like I am wasting some of the talents the Lord
has given to me, to spend day after day after day training and working with little to no fruit
to show for it.
It can be so discouraging.

So the other day when I came back to these Scripture verses that I hadn't read in a hundred years, it was so refreshing and uplifting:

"Although the fig tree shall not blossom,
neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labor of the olive shall fail,
and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold,
and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds' feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places."

Habakkuk 3: 17-19

On days that are particularly stressful and full of yelling, belligerent children,
schoolwork that is not getting finished,
4000 pounds of laundry,
dishes up to my elbows,
and rain outside that keeps the children trapped indoors,
I always forget that the Lord is still at work.
What I see in my house is like a dormant tree in the winter.
Just because it looks "dead" doesn't mean that there is not life happening
on the inside that needs nourishment to produce the flowers
of spring and fruit of harvest.
The Lord has promised that there will be another season coming.
There will be flowers and a time of enjoying
the fruit of my labor.
In the meantime, I am commanded to.......rejoice.
How hard that is sometimes.

Apparently, my family is an anomaly in our church because of our size.
(I find it especially interesting that this is a fact in a CHURCH no less!!)
When we walk in together people have a comment on the number of children we have,
or how one child in particular is behaving at the moment,
or that they "don't know how we do it,"
or they smile as if offering some source of empathy.

A dear, sweet, precious older lady came up to me a while back,
and mentioned something to me about all our children,
and that she had written a poem
when she was in a season of caring for several young grandchildren.
She wanted to give me a copy of the poem,
and I share it with you here.
It follows up my previous thoughts quite well.

Scattered Toys
by Barbara Harvey

Thank you Lord for scattered toys
around my living room.
They tell of little girls and boys
whose joy dispel the gloom.
I know of other folks my age
whose home are neat and clean?
They'd trade their empty lonely cage
and table tops that gleam,
for just one little dirty face
on one sweet little child,
to scatter toys around their place,
to laugh and cry and smile.
Sometimes I get discouraged, Lord,
with all the work to do.
The jobs that just can't be ignored,
and then I think of you.
Do you get tired of all my mess,
and my complaints and gripes?
Yet you clean me up when I confess
and make my black heart white.
Please give me, Lord, the patience
to face each day with joy,
and clean up all the messes
as I love each girl and boy.

**Reposted from the archives**

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Women's Wellness Wednesday: Making my own coconut oil skincare and spa products

I'm pretty sure I have a new obsession.
It's coconut oil.

Have you heard about all the amazing things this oil is great for?
If not......check these out:

(and not to be out-done!)

I personally have been experimenting with different uses and these are some of my favorite homemade skincare/spa products:

(I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this.  I store it in the frig, and pop it out of this little container as needed)

(Just tried it for the first time today.  More reviews on this later.)

(I gave this as Christmas gifts this last year.  A little goes a long way, so I haven't made another batch since then.  But when I do I plan on putting my organic cane sugar crystals in the food processor to make them a little finer.  What I have now is so coarse it almost hurts.  Makes your skin silky smooth though!!)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Intentionally making time for your marriage

I'm such a slow learner.
My husband and I have been married for nearly 17 years, and it was only recently (last 5 years or so) that it clicked with me that to keep your marriage awesome, you have to nurture it.


An amazing marriage doesn't just "happen."
Just because you got along great while you were dating/courting and the first years of your marriage were seamless and without conflict does not automatically mean that you'll be able to move through the years without a gap beginning to widen between the two of you.
A marriage is a living relationship and if not tended to WILL die.
Or become hollow and unfulfilling.....lonely.
You personally keep whatever direction.
And so does your spouse.
But you won't grow deeper and closer together if you never spend time together.
You'll just grow apart.
I've heard too many stories of couples who work tirelessly in ministry, their careers, raising several children.
And when it's just the two of them left in the house.....they are practically strangers.
They don't know what to talk about anymore and would rather not talk to each other.
My husband and I are determined not to let that happen.
It can be challenging at times, but we try very hard to jump on every opportunity we have to make time for just the two of us!
Last year, we could not make the couples retreat we attended two years ago.
So when we got word that this year's retreat was going to be on Valentine's weekend, we made it a priority to go.
My husband requested time off of work at the beginning of the year, and I made arrangements for the child care.
We had to be creative financially, but we felt it is an investment!
It was hard work to get everything organized.
But so what?
The pay-off was so worth it!

The camp staff where the retreat was held did such a great job of making our meals and accomodations
as lovely as possible.
I thought this was a fun twist on a drinking glass at our first evening meal.

One afternoon, we had hours of free time, so we climbed into the car and took off
on a little day trip to Natchitoches, LA.
Some of you may remember that this is the quaint little river town that the movie
"Steel Magnolias" was filmed in.

"Shelby's house" before she got married.

 This is the river front area where the final scene of the movie, during the Easter egg hunt,
was filmed.

We later learned that these beautiful trees flowering all over Natchitoches are called
"tulip magnolias."

We had such a fun afternoon just wandering around this little town,
and ended our evening with dinner out. 

I highly recommend any kind of getaway with your spouse.
Just the drive alone without kids is wonderful!
If your schedules have been hectic, and you haven't been able to really converse in a while,
it sometimes takes a couple of hours of simple surface conversation to reconnect on a deeper level.
Again, it takes time to nurture that relationship.
We particularly enjoy these casual retreats with a spiritual emphasis because there are sessions with a special speaker on topics important to a healthy marriage.
We always learn something new or are reminded to get back into healthy habits.
We always enjoy the fellowship with other couples we haven't seen since the last retreat!
How do you make time for your marriage?
Do you make it a point to get away together at least once a year?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Been busy......

Oh man.....
I've fallen behind again.
Here it is the middle of March, and I totally have lost track of time here on this little space.
In some ways, many things have happened.
In other ways, I would have to say that things have been rather routine....which often puts me in a stalemate.
Is that the right word?
I get so caught up in the hum-drum of everyday life that I lose my motivation to do much of anything besides what is absolutely necessary to sustain life.
Just after my last post here, on the 11th of February, my husband and I were able to get away on a lovely couples retreat for Valentine's Weekend.
Haven't gotten that posted here yet.
I've scheduled myself for a little minor surgery in April to repair what I like to call "my sports injury."
My sport you ask?  Pregnancy and motherhood
My injury?  An inguinal hernia
More on that later.

Homeschooling has gone pretty well overall this year.
I need to post about my son who struggles with ADHD and attention difficulties and processing difficulties, and some amazing things God has done in his life and mine this year.
I need to update about my Type 1 Diabetic daughter who has been stressing me out with her lack of working together with us to keep her healthy.
Spring is creeping in quietly and beautifully and we are celebrating around here!
New recipes, crafts, spring decor, flower planting and more.
Finally, I want to share about the amazing experiences God has given me through the privilege of volunteering at a local women's homeless shelter over the last several months!
So much going on and so little time left over to journal it.
More coming this week......