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Friday, September 23, 2011

a little fun

so today i have no pictures.  sorry.  you'll understand why in a few minutes.  today was wonderful.  it was hilarious.  it was unexpected to say the least.  a little while ago we had an amazing message from one of my favorite people.  in that message she talked about a "normal" day for Jesus and followed Him through the closest chronological day that is presented in the Bible.  it was a day that included healing, deliverance, going to the place of need regardless of the plans, raising people from the dead and providing for the physical needs of the people.  the take home for me was something i still think about often ~ what about my day is like His?  am i listening to the Father and doing what He asks in every minute?  do i believe my day could be like His?  aren't i supposed to be believing that?  doesn't it say so in the Bible?  isn't it Jesus himself right before He ascends into Heaven that we will do all these things and more before??  just thoughts for you.

so today involved going to the place of need.  a place we didn't expect to go or think we would end up.  we had just returned from our field trip to the state park and had our lunch.  the kids were playing on outside and a friend and i were chatting.  in runs eli ... "mom, mom, the turkeys are out!!"

oh my!  so out we went and as we continued to explore there they were.  and it was not just the turkeys that had escaped their coop next door.   oh no, there was a ridiculous number of chickens and several large turkeys running around the yard, roosting in the pine trees and gobbling insanely.  so off we went.  naps were forgotten, homeschool forgotten, shoes forgotten and chasing crazy chickens became the priority.  and if you are not laughing at the thought of this then let me continue to elaborate for you.

i have no idea how to get chickens back into a coop.  no idea how to catch a chicken.  no idea how to pick one of them up or how to get them to move.  so we did what any moms with lots of small children, a plethora of running chickens and several intimidating looking turkeys would do ~ we shooed them. with loud "shooshing" and waving arms {highly scientific right?}. and we grabbed a few pine branches and we herded them the best we could.  and we got them to go ~ a little bit.

and then as we rounded the corner toward the gate with a group of nicely herded chickens and turkeys eli came to help brandishing a large stick overhead like a sword and screaming at the top of his lungs.  and the chickens all scattered.  again.  so we started .. again. 

are you laughing at the thought of this yet?  cuz it gets better.  as we got them started again here came the dog into the mix of chickens.  so now we have chickens running everywhere, the kids running everywhere {shooshing and waving branches and arms}, the dog running a muck, turkeys gobbling all over  and the two of us trying to grab the dog, calm the kids, avoid stepping on the chickens and not fall over from hysterical laughing.

we got the dog chained up.  we developed a system of shooshing and "herding" the chickens ~ which also involved having the kids "sneak attack" the chickens and turkeys. the kids would ensure that the chickens passed them at key points and if the chickens tried to run for it in the wrong direction the kids would yell and whoop and wave their sticks.  they loved it.

this worked most of the time but we had a few chickens that were too stupid stubborn to be herded in our fabulous system here.  so i had to figure out how to pick up a chicken that has absolutely no desire to be picked up.  so we cornered them and then with wings flapping and me turning my head and trying to avoid feathers and flapping wings i would grab one of them and up and over the fence they went.

are you on the floor yet?  so see, going to the place of need can be totally unexpected and totally hilarious.  the neighbors weren't home.  they needed us to round up those crazy chickens and turkeys before they ended up lost, in the street, in the field or some other crazy thing.  and yes, naps were late, schooling ran over and made dinner late.  but the need was met.  we were able to help.  we were able to be His hands and feet to our neighbors.  nope, i don't think Jesus ever chased a chicken.  but i'm pretty sure He took care of His neighbors and that He wants us to do the same.  and we taught our kids to prioritize the needs of others ~ and that helping others can be more fun{ier} then you think.

and you want to know the fun way the night ended?  as i lay cuddling with eli and he was drifting off to sleep he was twiddling with the fingers on my right hand.  and he opens his eyes and asks me "mama, where?  where your ... your..."  and i smile and move his hand to my left hand, "here baby.  my ring from daddy is on this hand." and he wiggles it between his fingers and he closes his eyes. and he runs his fingers along the bands and over the stone and his breathing slows.  and he finds comfort in this ring.  comfort because we talk about what those rings mean ~ that they mean his parents love each other ~ and always will.  that our relationship is stable and he finds comfort in that.  and so he drifts off to sleep playing with the rings that symbolize his parents love and the covenant bond that began our family.

and so God shows us the needs of others don't always have to be serious and somber.  that following Him is wild and unexpected and sometimes just down right hilarious.  that covenant love is comforting and reassuring and a treasure ~ to more then just the people that have made the covenant.  and that is a fun day {and hopefully explains why there are not pictures because i was simply not able to wield a camera at those moments.}

Thursday, September 22, 2011

he changed the world

i have on/off struggled with the question of whether or not our family going to africa to serve and love on precious little ones there will really make a difference.  i mean, yes, it will impact those kids.  no doubt there.  but will we really be doing anything to change the world?  and a friend of mine entered into this discussion as she wondered about short term trips and whether they would really have a real impact.  and as we spoke the words began to flow and i know the Holy Spirit was speaking to both of us through those words.

you see i know a man.  he's been quoted on facebook more times then i think i can count.  his impact reached farther then i think most people, himself included, realize.  but you see he knows how far it goes now.  now he's with God and God is showing him.  showing him he changed the world.

he wasn't a president, an athlete or a rock star with a bleeding heart.  he wasn't a missionary in a far off country or a major prophet. to my knowledge he never wrote a book or published a song or created a product that revolutionized the modern world.

instead he was a husband, father, grandpa, friend.  and one of the most amazing men i have ever known. he was, on the surface, a rather quiet man.  gentle and warm.  the perfect grandpa ~ which is why i think most of us called him "pop" or "papa".  the kind of guy you just wanted to hug.

"love wins"  he said it.  he believed it.  he embodied it like no one else i have every known.  he liked everyone ~ genuinely.  he was the first one to encourage you.  the one to always encourage you in your dreams.  the one to lovingly put his fatherly arm around you and tell you how amazing you looked ~ even at the end stages of pregnancy when everyone else was questioning twins and bringing up the size of houses.  he always had an encouraging word.  always.  he was the personification of love.  he was gentle.  he was kind.  no record of wrongs. quick to forgive.  he could hug you and make the world melt away, your walls come down and overflow you with love ~ all in a matter of seconds, without even trying {even if you were not a "hugging" person}.  he was a papa and a father to everyone.

and this man changed the world.  how?  what did he do?  he simply was who God created him to be.  he knew his identity and shared it with all of us.  he loved every single person he ever came into contact with.  and that loved changed every single person that it touched. he imparted the love he was so freely given into each of us.  and when you are touched by that kind of love you are never the same.  it creates a ripple in you that drives you toward it's origin ~ straight into the heart of the Father.  and i guarantee that each person touched by this man's love was changed by it.  you can't walk away the same after feeling, seeing and receiving that kind of love.  it changes the world.

and so he did it.  he changed the world by loving the people that are in it.  one person at a time.  he changed me.  he changed our family.  he changed our friends.  and the love he deposited in each of us ripples out and touches another and the ripple grows and the world is changed because he was here.  because he walked this planet.  because he chose love.  love wins.

and so i choose love.  i choose my identity in Christ.  i choose who He says i am.  i choose His way even when i don't know the impact or when i don't feel it or when my circumstances are trying to scream the opposite.  i will love.  as He shows me the way, i will love each person.  and the ripple will grow ... and the world will change.

we love you cliff!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

apple craziness

so last week we went apple picking {i know, i know but at least i'm posting it right??}  it was field trip for school.  highly educational let me just tell you.  i had this vision of talking about apples and varieties and looking at the parts of the apple we learned and how to they keep the apples free from bugs & animals and well, you get the idea.  i had visions of us wandering the rows of trees as we had done in years past  talking and looking for the right ones to pick.
it was not to be.  nope.  not even a little bit.  we went with other homeschooling friends and so before i could even get ethan out of the van the big kids were exploring the small country shop.  by the time i caught up with them there they were grabbing bags and literally running with their friends into the orchard.  there was a vague attempt to steer them in the right direction of the apples Daddy had requested and to avoid the ones they refuse to eat {yep, i have kids who are apple snobs}.  there was an attempt.  it was futile.  the ones they like the least were the reddest ones.  then it simply became a free for all grab fest with plastic bags straining under the weight.  i have no idea what kinds we brought home.  not even a clue.  not even sure if all the varieties we got were even ripe yet.  
 but oh they had fun.  the orchard was smaller then others we have been to.  we had the run of the place {literally}.   the couple that ran the place were sweet and kind and had sweet smiles for the kids at every interaction.  they were allowed to pick any thing they wanted ~ hence the option to pick apples that may or may not be ripe yet.
they were out in the sunshine.  they were with friends.  they were happy little kids who had no worries, no cares and no concern about trying to do something right or perfect.  they filled their bags to overflowing with the apples that their little hearts desired.  and overflow they did.  those poor plastic bags never stood a chance against these eager little apple pickers.

so we repacked our apples into a larger bag.  with stronger handles.  and they each got to pick an old fashioned stick candy.  we brought home homemade apple butter. friends bought red and blue popcorn which we promptly tried once we got home {sooo yummy!}
it was not the trip i had planned.  it was not the way i thought things would go.  but sometimes you have to let go of the way you think things should look.  and look at the amazing things that are going on.  and when you see what's going on in front of you, the magic there, the rest of it doesn't really matter.   it's this moment that matters no matter what it looks like.  these little faces.  these little laughs.  this little reminder of the important things and the blessings that abound every day.  every moment.  the blessings that are there just waiting to be found if we look with His eyes instead of ours.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

hello fall

well hello there fall!  how are you?  you certainly got here with a rapid change in weather.  but oh how i welcome you.  you are my favorite.  colored leaves and sweaters.  apples and pumpkins and cider. cuddled in blankets on bleachers, listening to the leaves crunch under foot, running through the crisp air. oh yes, i do enjoy you fall.

we had our first week of fall around here.  or at least it certainly feels very fall.  we went exploring the other day on the way to the mailbox and discovered a fuzzy little friend. he wiggled and crawled.  he inched up arms and along shirt sleeves.  he was picked up, put down and picked up again.  his little legs holding on and then sometimes standing up tall to check out where he was going.  little fingers holding.  little giggles ringing.  little voices discussing whose turn it was.  and a little fuzzy caterpillar just continuing on his way.

then the call went out for pumpkin pie.  not sure where that thought entered but once it was released the desire was relentless.  so bake some pie we did.  no mind that it's technically not fall.  no worries that thanksgiving is far off.  it's fall at our house and that means pumpkin.  so cracking eggs and stirring and pouring and baking.  and the smell of fall baking in the oven filled the house while we read and rested and waited.  and on goes the whipped cream and into fall we go.

ps. new blog design courtesy of mia

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

first day

it was the first day of school today.  
mia is in first grade
asher begins kindergarten
we are staying home this year
we are getting ready for something big
and the need to stay close is present
  there were no buses, no new backpacks or class supply lists.  
no need when the classroom is your kitchen table.
but there were new books, new crayons and new adventures waiting to happen.  
there were conversations laced with anticipation last night, 
wonderings of what we will do this year, 
where we will go,
what we will learn.
and to be honest
i don't know all those answers
but He does
and He gives me the answer for today
how to do today
ideas to make it work
trips that they will love
friends we can connect with 

so we began school today
with barely a plan
but with books and prayers and pledges to the flag
with pencils and new journals
with first day of school pictures

and with His help
His guidance
His plans
His grace
we will have a great year

Sunday, September 4, 2011

climbing higher

we were super blessed while we were at jeff and melanie's because my baby brother eric flew in for a few days too.  how lucky were we??  we didn't tell the kids he was coming.  it was a surprise.  they were all in their jammies.  and up the stairs he crept.  little giggles were heard and tori and mia jumped on him.  he snuggled them both and read them their story.  prayers were said and he tucked them in bed.  then downstairs he went to asher and eli waiting for their "surprise".  and they wrestled and tumbled and did what little boys do.

so the next morning with lunch and kids and gear we headed out for our next adventure.  oh yes, we attempted the impossible ~ we took the kids rock climbing.  and they loved it!!  tori led off showing us how it's done.  then they learned the language of climbers, donned a harness {got double and triple checked} and faced the mountain.  and with aunt mel working the ropes, uncle jeff up top and uncle eric free climbing behind them to assist as necessary up they went.  nervous little faces turned into big grins and confidence.  fear gave way to triumph.

this much baby just looks good on him don't ya think?!
and after all that tough climbing the only logical thing to do was to take a refreshing swim in a mountain stream.  oh it was chilly but it felt so good.  climbing over rocks and playing in the small pools and waterfalls.

the next day we headed to another hike and a free climb to the top of a plateau to overlook the city.  eric had laila and i had ethan strapped in the backpacks so we opted out of the free climb.  so while we enjoyed a few moments to chat and spend time together the others went up to get a great view.  again, triumphant, confident little faces came grinning down the mountain to tell me all that they had done and seen.  and again, little legs climbed and hiked and walked and continued on in the heat.

the rest of our days were filled with playgrounds and hikes and hammocks and giggles.  with dinners and picnics and chatting and chase.  with rope swings and catch and talking and bonding.  with memories and precious moments that were shared together.  as family.

and we are grateful for our vacation.  for our family.  for our time. for the memories and the time away.  for the bonding and laughing and playing and fun.  and most of all for the Lord in all of it and for the love that flowed.

let the cousin time begin

after rushmore we headed to see my brother and his family were we stayed for a week.  it was wonderful and adventurous and fun and busy.  it was giggly and missed bedtimes and new adventures and games of chase.  it was being a family and learning about each other.  it was precious time.

they were super sweet and had picked out the best things for us to do.  so here's how the first two days went.  day one ~ pool.  you can never go wrong here.  never.  their community pool is wonderful.  zero entry for the kids and about 3 1/2 feet deep at it's deepest {there are other pools and a slide but this was were we stayed}.  it was perfect for us.  the kids had a blast.  and with picnic lunch in tow we stayed until we were ready to drop.  lots of jumping, swimming, spinning.  oodles of "watch me, watch me, watch me!" and "are you ready now mom?" and "my turn".  my sister-in-law referred to me as the camp counselor that day.  she and pete had the babies in the shallow water and the four "big" kids and i were in the "deep" end.  there was someone hanging on, someone jumping, someone swimming and someone calling out constantly.  it was full of activity and full of little bodies and full of wiggling and giggling and full of fun.  they were cracking me up and i could not stop laughing.  which of course made them laugh all the more.  it was a perfect pool day.

day two ~ the zoo.  we have been hearing about the zoo since we started talking about coming out last christmas.  it was definitely on tori's list of places to take us {oh, tori is the same age as eli and laila and ethan are 8 days apart}.  so again, with picnic lunch in hand and strollers at the ready we headed for the zoo.  first stop ~ feed the giraffes.  the kids loved it!  they were a little shy at first but not for long. even the babies had fun.

we saw all kinds of animals and even got to ride the carousel.  the zoo is very hands on and the kids got to help feed the tortoises.  they thought that was lots of fun.  eli was very sure that they got all the vitamins they needed when it was his turn to shake them on the food.  gonna have some healthy tortoises let me tell you!

we got to see them feed the bears which was amazing.  we had a little wait and the kids had a great time looking at the fish.  when it was time the kids were right on the other side of the glass and it was pretty fantastic to watch.  the fish were jumping and the bears were splashing and it was amazing to watch them.  and they watched with child wonder for awhile {until the call of the peanut butter sandwich was just too much}

it was a great time at the zoo.  we had a great time exploring all the animals and seeing all the sights.  the zoo was on the side of the mountain so we did a lot of walking and a lot of climbing.  and those little legs did great and kept going and kept running and kept exploring.  and isn't that what we all need?  a little more exploring?  a little more chasing after what we want to see?  a little more childlike focus and wonder?  i am so blessed to have four amazing little people to remind me of this every day.  more vacation to come.