Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Everything Update

First thing first... Baby Jude.  God has been so gracious and has just shown Himself merciful throughout the last week.  So many prayers have been answered.  Praise God!   It is nothing short of miraculous that Jude's pediatrician felt this tumor on a well visit (thinking his liver was enlarged).  The pediatric oncologist has mentioned numerous times how unlikely this was.  I read on the internet that most cases of neuroblastoma have already spread by the time they're detected.  Jude's softball size tumor was removed encapsulated, with no sign of having spread.  Thus far all of his scans have returned normal.  Please keep praying for Snuzi and her family as Jude will be closely monitored for the next three years.  You can read more about Jude and the many ways God has been gracious to them this last week on Snuzi's blog Every Captive Thought.

Next... Today I'll finish my 3rd 90 day Bible Challenge (hosted by Mom's Toolbox).  I like Revelation more each time I read through it.  I'm revelling in the glory of God!  I'm planning on taking April off and then repeating the 90 day Bible challenge again May-July.  Big D says he's doing it with me this time.  Monk (11) has mentioned wanting to do it again this summer, too.  I'm so blessed to have a family that loves God's Word!

And finally, I know you've been wondering how I'm coming on the 40 bag challenge.  Saturday before last I worked in Prince's room and closet.  Prince and I had both gotten so frustrated with his room.  We both felt like he spent most of his time picking up his room.  The main problem areas:  too many toys and too many books.  Also, I noticed that although he had no problem removing his books from his bookshelves, he really struggled to put them away, spine facing out.  I read in an organizational book that younger children are better at keeping books organized when you keep them in a basket or container face forward so that they can flip through to find the book they want and then replace the book easily in the basket.  Most of the books in his room have been reshelved downstairs in our homeschool library.  The books remaining in Prince's room are now easier for him to see, so he knows what he has, and much easier to put away.  I threw away 2 bags of trash and gave away one bag from Prince's room.  And the real test... I cleaned Prince's room for him the other day in about 2 minutes.  That's what I call progress!

Notice Prince's "basket of books."  Everyday he gets them all out and everyday he puts them all back.

It seems like a terrible waste of shelf space, I know, but Prince "reads" these books
lots more now that he can see them and they're so easy to put away.
 Queen's closet and room were my big project last Saturday.  I hadn't gone through her closet thoroughly in about 8 years, though I had reorganized clothing several times in the last few years.  I gave 4 bags of clothing, toys, and baby paraphernalia (her room is our "nursery") and threw away 3 bags of hopelessly stained clothing, broken toys, lonely single shoes, etc.

The top shoe shelf has shoes from our hand-me-down shoe bin that are almost Queen's size (lest I forget about them). 
One basket holds pajamas and the other contains her socks, tights, and panties. 

Can you believe these blankets are the girl blankets I couldn't part with? 
You should have seen how many were in here before!

I think there's almost room for Measle Bug to move in!

There's one basket with three or four dolls in it.  She also has one bookcase with four baskets for toys in her room.  One basket is for dolls, one is for doll accessories, one is for doll clothes, and one is for dishes.  Each basket is only about 1/3 of the way full.  Prince and Queen played in there the other day and were able to easily pick up within a few minutes.

So if I'm counting right, I have 15 bags to go.  No problem considering I'll be working in my big girls' room this weekend.  YIKES!!!

Oh, and Twinkle Toes celebrated her 10th birthday last week.  She had a cupcake decorating party and 8 friends spend the night.

The birthday girl with her sister reaching across her.

I know what you're thinking.  Yes, it was messy. 

I've been missing all of you and plan on getting back to blogging more regularly in April.

Anyone else spring cleaning or organizing??

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Please Pray for Jude!!!

My friend Snuzi took her precious baby Jude to his 6 month well doctor's appointment yesterday and the doctor ordered a sonogram today to see why his liver felt enlarged.  Today Snuzi and her husband learned that Jude has neuroblastoma of the adrenal gland.  He is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, Thursday March 24th at noon.  Please pray that the cancer is encapsulated as they believe it is and that it has not and will not spread.  You can see more pictures of adorable Jude and hopefully get an update soon on Snuzi's blog.

Thank you!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

40 bag challenge- still trying to simplify!

Like many of you, I am resolved to simplify this year.  The kids and I purged and organized toys before Christmas.  And Big D and I cleaned out our closet right after Christmas.  Unfortunately, this is where my simplification efforts stalled out.

While reading Owlhaven the other day I saw that she's participating in a 40 bag challenge in which you purge 40 garbage bags worth of stuff from your home over the 40 day period of Lent.  We don't observe Lent, but I love the idea of the challenge.  I need the accountability!  So, here goes.  (I think I'll count the 10 or so bags from our closet and the 3 from the pre-Christmas toy purge, leaving me 27 bags to go by Easter.)

I decided to tackle our junk drawers first.  When I was growing up my mom had a junk drawer.  Are we the only household that has a plethora of junk drawers?  Well, I began by cleaning out and organizing four of our junk drawers.  Big D and I have often cursed the person who designed our kitchen with a desk right in the middle of it.  We are all so tempted to set down whatever we're carrying on top of it and inevitably the stuff we set on top of the desk ends up in one of the drawers.  I'm not sure how to prevent this from happening in the future (besides the obvious solution of not setting anything on top of the desk in the first place : ), but at least we now have a clean slate.

Sorry, no before pics.  I was just too embarassed.  Yes, they were that bad.

Top left


Top right

Middle left
The bottom left drawer is still a mess.  It's an organized mess, I guess, since it's full of electrical cords and chargers, but I thought I'd let Big D sort through those.  I just didn't want to hog all the fun : ).

As usual, Calvin took it all in stride.

I went into Monk's closet yesterday and noticed for the first time that his shirts are arranged by color. 
Interesting.  He didn't get that from me.  I like alphabetical, but rarely notice colors.

So what's my tally so far?  Ironically, as I was scurrying around trying to fill bags, my mother-in-law brought over a bag full of cat pillows.  I kid you not.  They were very cute and the kids were thrilled, but I felt a little defeated.  However, to show I can give as good as I get, my friend Debbie left my house with a garbage bag filled with Legos (I'm not sure she was as thrilled as her son was : ). 

One bag from the junk drawers, one bag of trash the boys collected from upstairs, Twinkle Toes collected a bag from her stained/worn clothes and top desk drawer, plus the bag of Legos Monk gave to his friend.  (And no I'm not subtracting the bag of cat pillows.  I'm counting gross losses here, not net : ).  So... yesterday we threw away or passed on 4 bags of stuff!!

Including the bags from our closet and toy purge, I have 23 bags to go!

How are you trying to simplify this year?  How often do you go through your kids' closets?  Yikes, that's next.  I don't even want to think about going through my girls' closets!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

We don't believe in luck...

... but we don't believe in getting pinched either!!

Prince worked hard at the ranch for his Nana the other day and she paid him $2. 
He immediately gave one to his little sister best friend.

I can't believe she'll be 10 next week!

This is the first day I missed something I got rid of when I cleaned out my closet.  My one green shirt!  I found one that's chartreuse and I'm daring anyone to challenge me on it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preparing the soil of our children's hearts to recieve God's Word part 2- Watering the seeds

I've been studying the parable of the soils and how it relates to parenting our children in such a way as to prepare their hearts to hear the Word of God.  Part 1 examined tilling the soil, but it's not enough to just soften their hearts. 

"Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture."  Luke 8:6

My husband bought a fancy tiller last year.  He's so proud of that machine and has tilled the heck out of our soil, but it doesn't matter how well-prepared the soil is to receive his vegetable seeds.  If my husband doesn't diligently water his garden, it will all dry up.  (Especially here in West Texas where rain is scarce.)

The same goes with our children.  We can strive to keep their hearts soft and tender to receive God's Word, but then fail to nurture the Word implanted.  We must "water" the seeds of their faith so that their faith will grow into a healthy plant.

The other way I water my children : ).

What is the water and where does it come from?

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not whither; and whatever he does shall prosper.  The ungodly are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."  Psalm 1

According to Psalm 1 in order to be firmly planted by the water, we must delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on God's law day and night.  The key is delighting in God's Word.  The delight leads to the meditation and the meditation leads to being firmly planted.  The water is the Word.  And as we're watered by God's Word we become fruitful plants.

So the second principle is like the first, we must keep our children saturated in the Word of God so that they can become firmly planted and therefore bear spiritual fruit.

Sometimes our children enjoy being watered.
And sometimes they don't!

And sometimes they'd just as soon not get wet : ).

At this point, let me say something that might seem technical or a matter of semantics.  One way of thinking of salvation is in terms of it occurring in stages- past, present, and future.  The terms for these three stages or tenses of salvation are justification, sanctification, and glorification.  The thing is, they all depend upon our immersion in God's Word. 

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."  Romans 10:17

This seems obvious, but the reason I want to separate out these tenses of salvation is because of the erroneous belief prevalent in many churches today that we can sort of set aside the Scriptures after we're justified and rely upon personal experience or extra-biblical communication from God for sanctification.  As if God uses one medium to impart faith and another to impart progressive holiness.  I'm afraid many parents have rejoiced prematurely over their children's faith only to be shocked later when their grown children walk away from church or even the faith completely.  The Bible is clear that all of our salvation, past, present, and future is conveyed to us through God's Word.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord."  Ephesians 5:8-10

How do we find out what is acceptable to the Lord?  He tells us in His Word, of course.

"His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."  2 Peter 1:3-4

Where do we find this knowledge of God and these great and precious promises?  In God's Word, of course.

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overlow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.  But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."  James 1:21-22

Sanctification is nothing more than becoming doers of the Word.  And how do we do that?

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."  Philippians 2:12-13

God supernaturally works in His children to enable them to obey His Word.

And why is obedience important again, seeing as how I'm saved by faith not works (Eph 2:8-9)?

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."  John 15:1-4

This passage brings us full circle back to the importance of watering and roots.  We cannot be obedient to God without abiding in Christ and we find Christ in His Word.  Can I even know Christ apart from God's Word? Is there any experience that can match or supercede the experience of Him in His Word?  For Christ is the Word! (John 1:1-14)

If we want our children to grow up into men and women of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must give them a steady diet of the Word of God.  I'm not talking the average 6 minutes per week common amongst professing evangelicals.  We have to do better than that.  Our faith is nurtured by the Word.  1 Pet 2:2 says we should crave the Word of God like newborns crave milk.  My 5 month old would not be satisfied with 6 minutes per week of nursing and neither should we be satisfied with 6 minutes per week in God's Word.  John Piper has a saying when someone tells him they're just too busy to have a daily time in the Word.  Piper asks them, "Did you eat breakfast today?  Then you're not too busy."

Again, we cannot make our children trust Christ, only God can do that.  We cannot make them bear fruit, only God can do that.  But we can plant the seeds, and we can water them!

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."  1 Corin 3:5-6

We are those ministers to our children.  I have to constantly remind myself that the time my husband and I spend with our kids each day in the Bible is more important than their math lessons, more important than language arts, more important than their reading, and even more important than their chores.  As Christian parents, it could easily be argued that our main purpose in parenting our children is to pass on our faith to them (for what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36).  The primary means we have of doing this is by reading, talking about, and living out the Word in our families each day (Deut 6:6).  We have to stop skimping on the main course!  If anything needs to be cut from our daily menu, it should be one of the sides, but not the main course!

The same Scriptures able to save our souls are able to mature us. 

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16

 God could have chosen any means to work in us, but He has chosen His Word.  His Spirit works in conjunction with, not apart from, His Word.  We cannot neglect to water the immature faith of our children with the Word of God.  There is no other way for their faith to grow!

Next time I'll talk about those pesky birds that try to devour the seeds we so painstakingly plant.    

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preparing the soil of our children's hearts to recieve God's Word part 1- Tilling their hearts

BigD after working in his garden.
Today I read the parable of the soils in Luke 8 (also in Mark 4 and Mathew 13) and thought it a wonderful reminder of what we can do to prepare our children's hearts to receive God's Word. It's true we cannot guarantee our children will place their faith in Christ and be saved, but I think according to this passage, there is much we can do.

"Some fell along the path..." Mark 4:4 "Some fell on rock..." Luke 8:6

The path where everyone walked was trampled often so it became packed down, too hard for seed to take root. The same goes for the rock.

We must try to keep our children's hearts soft and sensitive so that God's Word can take root and grow there.

My husband is gearing up for planting his garden in a few weeks and today he spent a couple of hours tilling up the soil and spreading his carefully conserved compost pile to make the soil loose and rich in minerals. He has to do this because we live in West Texas and NOTHING would grow if he didn't carefully prepare his soil.

How can we till the soil of our children's hearts?

Maybe the easiest way of looking at this is by seeing the contrast to the pharisees who were condemned for having hardened hearts. What made their hearts hard so that they could not recieve the Word? Pride, self-righteousness, legalism? Then we want to cultivate humility, compassion, and mercy in our children. Was their conscience seared? Then we want to help our children to keep a clear conscience. Were they liars, deceiving even themselves? Then we want to help our children establish the habit of honesty.

The blades of my husbands tiller are sharp and it's hard work tilling up the clay in the spot where he wants his vegetables to take root. It takes a lot of sweat and toil. Parenting can't be done in sound bites or status updates. It's laborious and time intensive. The soil of their hearts must be turned over and over and over again.

My husband also spends all year building his nutrient-rich compost pile to help soften and enrich the soil.

How can we soften and enrich our children's hearts?

By preventing bitterness, cultivating loving hearts, helping them to be sensitive to others. By modeling forgiveness for them and helping them to forgive others. By showing them grace as well as discipline.

Have you noticed this almost seems like a conundrum? We can help our children to be receptive to the Word of God if we teach them to obey God's Word. There's a head scratcher! Help them to believe the Word by training them to obey it. For obedience to God's commands cultivates tender hearts, while disobedience leads to hardened hearts.

So the first principle is simply to saturate our children with the Word of God. Read it to them, help them memorize it, explain it to them, and most importantly live it out in front of them. (Sounds a lot like Deuteronomy 6 doesn't it?) And notice also that our time with our children in the Scriptures is both the act of planting and at the same time aids in softening their hearts to receive the Word.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7

But sowing the seeds and preparing the soil isn't enough. In part 2 I'll examine the importance of watering the seeds we plant.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to make an apple pie and NOT see the world

Twinkle Toes and Measle Bug have gone to a mini-camp for the first part of this week so I told Prince today I'd do a special project with him.  Past projects include muffin tin crayons and homemade playdough.  Today Prince decided he wanted us to make an apple pie, since we just read a story about it yesterday that included a recipe at the end.  I've only attempted to make pie crust from scratch once before, and I think my mom had to come over and rescue me in the middle of that one, but I told him I was game. 

Stirring in the sugar and cinnamon.

Before baking.  Notice my pre-schoolers decided they'd make a pie of their own.

The finished product with the book that inspired it all!  Can you tell he's proud? 

Meanwhile, Calvin has learned a new trick.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

90 day Bible and number sense

I guess some people like numbers more than others. I always liked math class because I knew I could get everything right, unlike the other classes where I was forever being docked a point here and a point there never totally understanding why I didn't get full credit. Have you noticed that God likes math, too? I've mused previously about interesting number repititions like 3, 7, 10, and 40. It seems the same numbers keep popping up in the Scriptures time and time again. I had a thought the other day while reading the Bible and want to ponder it aloud.

I've heard many possible explanations of the number of the beast, 666 (Rev 13:18). Some of the more far-fetched are that it could refer to the Roman Catholic church or even the world-wide web. (Would that make Al Gore the anti-Christ?) Others point to 6 being the number of man, since man is created on the sixth day. It's also interesting to think about what the six days of creation minus the rest on the seventh day could signify (7 denoting completion), namely work without rest, or a failure to enter into Sabbath rest. This is all interesting to me and I really don't know what to make of it. The thought I had while reading a prophetic passage in Zechariah the other day is not complex at all, but simple.

"Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My companion," says the Lord of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it shall come to pass in all the land," says the Lord, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The Lord is my God.'" Zecharia 13:7-9

Do you see it? One-third He will refine and they will be His people. Two-thirds will be cut-off forever. Could it be this simple? Two-thirds in decimal form is .666. Some will say this passage is just referring to national Israel and 1/3 of the Jews alive when this prophecy is fulfilled will be 144,000 (Rev 14). But Romans 9 and other New Testament passages refer to a spiritual Israel of which believing Gentiles are a part. Perhaps the "mark" is simply to signify for the cherubim who is to be refined and who is to be cut-off.

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. He will set His sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdome prepared for you from the foundation of the world'...Then He will say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" Mathew 25:31-34 and 41

I'm really not an armchair eschatologist. This stuff makes my brain hurt, but I do always seek the most simple explanation. Oh- and notice the one-third saved will be brought through the fire, not removed from it. Hmmm. Still pondering.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Button woes- please help!

I noticed recenlty that my button was acting up.

I tried clicking on my button on several of your blogs and wasn't getting back to my blog. Maybe it should have been a simple fix, but I ended up starting from scratch.

I think it's working now, but am not sure. If any of you have time to copy my new button to your blog and test it, I'd sure appreciate it.

My grab box is located to the right on the sidebar just below my recent comments gadget.

Thanks so much and have a great weekend!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Taking his new wheels for a spin!

I had decided we were through with saucers and walkers and just got rid of the last of them a few months ago. They just take up so much space and I'm forever dragging them from room to room. But BigD is concerned about Calvin's flat head, the technical term is plagiocephaly, so he told me to go out and get him something to sit in. He didn't tell me to spend this much money, but when I saw it I knew BigD, lover of old cars, would approve.

Really Calvin, you shouldn't look like you're having so much fun.
I think that's more of a flailing arm and less of a wave, but we thought it was cute.
Hey, who's that good lookin' guy in the mirror?
Big Sis showing him the ropes. Honking the horn is one of her favorite tricks.
Finally, a smile. He'll be cruisin' for chicks in no time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Great Wolf Lodge- A fun family adventure story in pictures

You know the ignorant bliss that comes with the beginning of a vacation?

Somebody's getting brave.  Last time at GWL, Prince refused to slide.  Now he loves it!

She's pretty tough when on the offensive.

But not so sure likes being on the receiving end.

The MagiQuest gang.  This picture so perfectly summarizes their personalities: my dad studying the instruction manuel with Monk looking on and Twinkle Toes looking bored and way too cool to be interested in doing anything by the book.

Nana took good care of Queen and Prince while I mainly took care of Calvin.

Proudly wearing his wolf ears.

I don't believe I've ever seen a cuter wolf cub.

Calvin was not feeling well this trip, but such a little trooper.

The bug is so excited to be getting a manicure at Scoops spa.

Twinkle Toes declined the tiara.

Grandparents.  I'm pretty sure I never had anything even remotely resembling that lollipop when I was growing up and certainly not in my parents' car.  Let's just say this was a three packages of wipes trip.  Two days, three packages of wipes.

This was a very disturbing sight as we set off down the road on a 6 hr drive!

Calvin read my mind.

I assured him we would be home soon.  We had lots of fun, but as my dad always says, "Whoever said having fun is easy?" 

Monday, March 7, 2011

90 day Bible excuse- the UFO that's been plagueing me!

I always start the 90 day Bible challenge several days early just in case anything might come up that would preclude me from reading for a few days.  Little did I know that a UFO would prevent me from reading over the last three days!  That's right, a UFO, unidentified foreign object. 

My right eye has been bothering me for almost a week.  At first I thought I just had something in it, then I thought maybe it was just dry.  Then Thursday I realized I had become extremely photo-sensitive.  I kept thinking it would get better, but it kept getting worse to the point that I couldn't drive, read, or get on my computer by Saturday (that's when it became an emergency :).  Sunday I was chauffeured to church wearing my dark glasses and this morning I was basically non-functional.  I had sharp pains going through my eye whether it was open or closed.  So, I figured it was time to get seen by someone.  Actually, my husband laid down the law and said he was taking me to a doctor today.  Long story short- he removed a triangular, transparent plastic shard from my eye.  This was around 2:30 this afternoon and it's already feeling better.  My folks and I have had a road trip planned for in the morning and I've been worried that I wouldn't be able to drive (which means all 9 of us would ride in their car and no it's not a van).  Now I'm thinking I may be able to drive, after all.  We're going to Great Wolf Lodge in Dallas and the kids are super excited (Queen's sleeping in her swimsoup).  (Big D has a pastor's conference.)

So, do I win for having the most outrageous excuse ever for not reading my Bible?  Don't worry, I'm taking my Bible on CD for the trip so I can catch up and get ahead again : ).  Hey, you do what you gotta do, right?  How are you coming along with your reading?


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.