"Be Still and Know..." (Thankful Thursday)

Nine days. It's been nine days since I last posted. On one hand, I can't believe it's been that long; on the other, it seems like it has been years since I posted my last Monday Meanderings and Menu Plan Monday. We got caught up in finishing our science fair projects the first half the week, along with trying to keep up with school and home duties. Then Thursday morning at 5 a.m., I woke up with pain that we first thought might be appendicitis. I'll leave out all the details of the intervening week, and just say that it is *not* appendicitis, it *is* still here a week later, and after an ER visit, a CT scan, and a trip to the GYN, we still don't know what it *is*. Oh...and the prescription pain meds I was so thankful to get...don't touch it. *Sigh*

Even though this is not my first encounter with pain for which the cause is unsure and relief is elusive, I've really battled discouragement in this. It's been a discouraging week otherwise...an extended family situation that has now dragged on for over a year is becoming more and more frustrating. The knowledge that that situation will more than likely interfere with our schedule over the next couple of months, at the same time we are trying to find answers for the medical issues and heading into our busiest time of year outside the holidays, is frankly overwhelming. My children have needs that are demanding extra wisdom and mom-time right now. And for the last couple of days, the fear that this pain is going to be my constant sidekick through it all has threatened to completely unglue me.

This morning, once again, I woke up at 4 a.m., realizing that yes, *it* was still there, ready to accompany me through what promises to be a challenging day. After trying unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, I finally gave up and grabbed a book from the stack that sits waiting for my wee-hour reading marathons. I've been reading a biography of Jane Austen that is somewhat more *academic* than I was in the mood for at 4:30 a.m., so I decided to start a new fiction book by one of my favorite authors. I've been reluctant to start it, because it is the third book in a series in which I haven't read the second yet (Kathy, pretend you didn't read that part...:-D), but I finally succumbed.

It's funny how God can use a Christian fiction series to speak to us...He has used this series over and over to very specifically address issues going on at the time in my life. The circumstances the characters are going through may not be the same...but somehow there will be a verse or a phrase or a lesson that will jump out at me. And this morning was no exception.

The "Whys?" that I've struggled with over and over in recent years had hit with full force again this week. Health "whys?", extended family situation "whys?", parenting "whys?" all pushing to the forefront and clamoring for answers. All craftily working their way deeper and deeper in and creating fissures of doubt.

And then this morning, verses that we say over and over in times of crisis, words that are so familiar we sometimes allow their meaning to dissolve into nothingness:

Psalm 46
"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts His voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations He has brought on the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
He burns the shields with fire.

'Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.'

The Lord Almighty is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress."

In the margin of my Bible, I have a note written beside verse 10, "Be still=cease striving." I don't remember who said that or where I heard it, but I do remember at the time that I wrote it thinking, "that is where God wants me right now. He wants me to realize that there is *nothing* I can do about any of this. He wants me to 'cease striving'."

This morning I realized again that that is the answer to the frustration and discouragement that circumstances...health, extended family, the bigger-than-normal needs of my children, the chock-full calendar, and the ever-pressing needs of taking care of our home...have descended with recently. "Be still, and know that I am God."

He is God, He is sovereign, He created all that is, and He controls it. My job is not to question, my job is to be still, and know that He is God. That is the answer to all of the whys that my heart asks. Then I can trust Him, and be obedient, knowing that He is "our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Then I can rest in the knowledge that no matter what is going on in my life or my family or the world around me, He will be "exalted among the nations....exalted in the earth."

This morning, I am thankful that He is God.
To see what others are thankful for today, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.



This was *supposed* to be my Menu Plan Monday and Monday Meanderings post...but as you may have noticed, it is now *Tuesday*. Monday didn't go *quite* as planned...got a lot done, but the minutes were pretty packed. So...I'm going to try to very quickly get this week's plans down.

Some of this may look rather familiar. Two weeks ago I posted what I now look back on as "best laid plans", which became completely meaningless as illness began to overtake us that afternoon. We were *down* for over ten days and then began to frantically try to catch up. We're still trying!

Plans for the week:

Bible Study

The kids and I are working on their Teamkid verses...not just memorizing them, but studying them in-depth. I have gotten way off track with my quiet time since everyone has been sick, so my goal is to get back on track with that daily.

Home Blessing

I was down to the last corner of the dining room when we got sick...so I am *determined* to finish that this week. Also clean out and reorganize the lower cabinet in the kitchen where we store Rubbermaid-type storage dishes. It needs serious help!

Procrastination Busters

This list is long this week because we are so behind!
1. Snacks prepped for week.
2. Science fair projects completed.
3. Science fair ribbons ordered.
4. Co-op class planned and prepped.
5. Cards mailed.
6. Art Fair details emailed to group.
7. Newsletter article sent by Wednesday.

Creative Pursuits

Due to trying to catch up this week, I'm not planning on much extra in the way of creative pursuits. We will be working on science projects, which will definitely stretch our creativity a bit ;-), as well as working on another bookmaking project for co-op.

This Saturday, for the first time in *years*, we have a scrapbook day planned at church. I'm looking forward to getting some actual scrapbooking done there. So...one of my projects is to have photos and supplies ready to take Saturday.

Menu Plan Monday

*Saloon Beef Sandwiches, Cheesy Cream Cheese Potatoes, Veggies
*Ravioli/Sauce, Cucumber/Tomato Salad, French Bread
*Chicken and Dumplings, Salad, Green Beans
*Bacon Cheeseburgers, Italian Pasta Salad, Raw Veggies
*Lasagna, Bread, Veggies


*Fruit Salad
*Protein Balls
*Reese's Brownie Bites

To see what others are eating this week, visit Laura at Orgjunkie. For more Monday Meanderings, go to Less of Me, More of Him.


Still here, and Small Space Living

We are still alive...although I have to say there have been times this week I have wondered if we still would be by this time. I don't *ever* remember a bug hitting us as hard as this one did. Every time we would think someone was getting better, they would be down again. We have literally worn a dent in the sofa because there has been someone lying on it 24 hours a day for a week and a half.

I have a whole list of blog posts that need to be typed. I was on the verge of Ammah Grace's birthday posts when I got sick. I have a couple of posts still to do there. My dad's birthday was Monday...I had a post all planned for that as well. A post on our Abraham Lincoln studies yesterday. My 888 book list post which I *still* haven't gotten around to. And so on.

Of course, I'm trying so hard to get caught up that I don't have time to stop and *type* all these posts. Hopefully I will, in time, get them out of my head and onto my blog.

In the meantime, I thought I would give you something inspiring to look at. I have seen this before...perhaps even posted a link at some point. But I found it again today and was really inspired. We are in the process of getting serious about working on this house again, with lots of exciting plans on the horizon. Partly as part of that process, and partly because of some *extra* motivation recently, we are doing some intensive decluttering. I have gotten rid of things I never thought I would part with (my stacks of old Creating Keepsakes magazines, for instance...other than the one in which I was published!) When I saw these photos today I was struck, not only by the excellent use of space, and the eye-catching style...but by the lack of *clutter*. It is homey, it is comfortable, and it is obvious that the *stuff* that is there is stuff they *use* and *love*. How refreshing to have *just* what you need and love, and nothing more. I've been trying to re-train my pack-rattish personality in that direction, and these photos really gave me a vision of what the end result of our purging here could be. After all, we have over four times as much space as they have!

Small is the New Big

Enjoy...hope you are inspired as I was.

Hair, Take 2.

After Emlyn fixed my hair this afternoon, Ammah Grace came up and gave me a hug.

"You're cute, Momma."

"Thank you, Gracie."

"Your hair is *soo* pretty. You look like a queen."

High praise from a four year old.


Brush. Clip. Scissors??

Emlyn loves to fix my hair. She climbs up behind me while I am at my desk and brushes and fixes to her heart's content. *Usually* it is relaxing. Today, however, was a bit different:

Emlyn brushes my hair, putting it up into a pony tail with an elastic band. "I need a clip," she says, "hand me a clip, please?"

"I don't have a clip, Em..."

"Okay, just hand me the scissors, then."


"Scissors?" I try to keep my voice even.

"Yeah, if you don't have a clip, I need to cut this hair."

I found her a clip.


Still sick :-(

Peter and I have been seriously down since Monday. I can't remember the last time that I have spent a day in bed...but I did Tuesday, and haven't accomplished much today. Peter has been on the sofa pretty much full-time since Monday afternoon. For an active boy, that is saying something! We are both getting better, but definitely not well yet.

Then this afternoon Ammah Grace came in crying that her head hurt...I took her temp and sure enough it was 102. Ugh. Nothing like spending your 4th birthday sick. I'm praying she'll miraculously be better by then, but I think the chances of that are pretty slim (since it's tomorrow).

Billy has already made arrangements to come home early tomorrow and stay with whoever is too sick to go to co-op. I *have* to be there...so I'm just hoping I'm not contagious by then. Maybe I'll wear a mask? ;-) Also hoping my mind clears enough tonight to get my class prep finished. Bay and I are going to the store as soon as Billy gets home today to get more *sick stuff* (Jello, Sprite, crackers, and chicken noodle soup!) and get stuff for Gracie's birthday, and then I have got to get to work.

Hopefully in the next few days I'll be thinking clearly enough and caught up enough to post my thoughts from earlier in the week, among other things. In the meantime, I think I'll go back to bed....


Four Years Ago This Moment...(or "ThoughtfulThoughts, Postponed")

Four years ago this moment, I had no idea that we were enjoying the last few moments of normalcy that our family would have...well, pretty much for almost four years. I was 30 weeks pregnant, and just before 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 4, I felt an odd sensation and moments later realized that my water had broken. A few short hours later, I was in an ambulance, headed to a hospital 2.5 hours away (well, unless you are travelling by ambulance ;-)) with a NICU. Fear does not even begin to describe the feelings that night.

Neither does peace begin to describe what God gave us in the intervening weeks as I went into labor three days later, followed by Ammah Grace spending a harrowing 6 weeks in the Neonatal ICU.

I had planned to post more thoughts on today's *anniversary* of sorts, and hopefully will be back soon to post some of those and re-tell some of the stories of the miracles God has done in those four years. However, I've been hit by an attack of the achies and a low-grade fever, and I'm headed to bed, in the words of Susan on "Miracle on 34th Street", "un-char-act-er-IST-ic-ly early". So...those thoughts and stories will have to wait. Hopefully tomorrow I will post the words to these verses, but for tonight I will leave you with the reference at least--Psalm 40:1-5. God has shown us over and over in these four years the truth of these verses.

A Thoughtful Monday...

...or maybe "Mind-Scrambled Monday" would be a better title?

My Sunday afternoon planning time was pre-empted this week by the need to cook for a "send-off fellowship" at church for a friend who is being deployed soon, and between that and the fact that my mind is going in a million directions about other things this morning, I'm afraid this week's plans are going to be a bit thrown together. I'm hoping to get my *thoughtful thoughts* together by this evening and have a chance to post some of them tonight, as today is a notable anniversary at our house. You'll have to come back later for more details, but I'll give you a hint...the youngest member of our family has a birthday in three days! ;-)

So...here are the plans for the week, such as they are:

Bible Study/Child Training:

* Continue chronological study and study on suffering.
* Continue reading Part 1 of Parenting of Champions. This is such a great book so far, but it's been slow going so far, and I need to pick up the pace. I hope to post some thoughts about it soon.
* Due to the end of our week going a bit haywire, and having out of town company, I'm still working on having "chunks" of one-on-one just-for-fun time with each child. We'll work on that again this week.
* Work on new TeamKid verses daily with the kids.

Home Blessing

The good news is that we got a good start on having the dining room ready to start priming last week. We cleaned out, reorganized, moved furniture, and pulled remaining wallpaper off about 2/3 of the room before the week went crazy and we never got back to it. Obviously the bad news is, we didn't get it completely ready to prime by the weekend as I had planned. However, we ended up being gone most of the weekend anyway, so it wasn't a huge loss.

So....this week's plan involves *finishing* the last corner of the dining room to be ready to start priming. And deep cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

This is also a bulk cooking week here. I hope to get my plan up in the next day or two...although the plan may not get posted until *after* the cooking is actually done. :)

Must Dos/Procrastination Busters:

1. Email photos to Uncle Ken and Cousin Linda from weekend.
2. Class prep for co-op.
3. Follow-up emails/sign up list for Chick-Fil-A Field trip.
4. Finalize plans for Ammah Grace's birthday. (Yes, I'm running a bit behind here, but since at her age, we mainly celebrate as a family, we're still okay. :))
5. Planning for Valentine's Day and Science Fair projects.

Creative Pursuits

I managed about 50% of what I had planned here for last week. I decided on the projects we are going to do in our co-op bookmaking class, but didn't get the samples finished I wanted to have ready by Thursday. I did get school pictures taken, and our yearbook page and two others done, which has me primed and ready now to get back in the scrapbooking groove. I didn't get any work done on the *stealth projects*, but they are still on the list.

The big news in this area at the moment (big news for *me* at least;-)), is that after a break of several years, it is time to get serious about getting my custom scrapbooking business going again. (More about that later...:))

Here are the creative plans for the week:
1. Re-organize scrapbook supplies (as part of dining room prep work).
2. Finalize plans with friends for a scrapbook day at church later this month.
3. Preliminary planning re business.
4. Keep trying on the *stealth project* list. :)
5. Decorate for Ammah Grace's birthday. (Birthday banner?)

I also have projects in the works for a couple of friends on which I hope to get some work done this week.

Menu Plan Monday:

* Frito Chili Pie and salad.
* Breakfast for supper (french toast and sausage)
* Hamburger Steaks and Cheesy Cream Cheese Potatoes
* Chicken and Dumplings
* Italian Pasta Salad

Check in at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu plan ideas. For more Monday Meanderings, visit Tiany at Less of Me, More of Him.

"School" Pictures

Somehow the past couple of years, we have managed to have someone sick or some other interruption at the scheduled time for "school" pictures to be taken for our homeschool yearbook. So...somehow I always end up waiting until the last minute (surprise, surprise ;-)) and having a frantic picture-taking session followed by a mad dash to get pictures printed and ready just in time for the deadline. (Next year will be different. I promise. Really.)

*Anyway*....Wednesday was "picture day" at the Harris House/School. I was pleased with the results on everyone but Ammah Grace...she was at a grumpy spot and decided she did *not* want to have her picture taken. We spent quite some time, in the chilly wind, trying to get her to flash a smile, only to have her finally give a half-hearted effort when her siblings promised her a Jolly Rancher if she would smile and get it over with! The final result was *not* a great one, but much better than earlier attempts (I'm posting a few of those, too, so you can get an idea of what we had to work with. :))

The New Schedule: An Update

A while back I posted about our new two week schedule. Last week was the first *official* week of the new schedule, and while it wasn't flawless, it is definitely a success so far. Last week was "Week One" of the two week plan. The only thing that did *not* stay pretty much on schedule was the planning day I was *supposed* to have on Wednesday. The plan is for me to get two weeks of menus planned on the first Wednesday, so that I can compile a master list for our *big shopping trip* on the first Friday. However, yearbook picture/page deadline was Thursday, and I ended up spending Wednesday and Thursday frantically taking yearbook photos of the kids, uploading photos to order prints for our family page, and then making yearbook pages (ours and a couple of others). So...I was up quite late Thursday night making menus and grocery lists.

The good news is that if we stay on this schedule, those episodes should be few and far between in the future. If I had had the "second Wednesday" of the previous week (which is project/computer day) to do the photos and yearbook pages, they would have been *ready and waiting* long before the deadline (a completely new concept for me, as those of you who know me well know! ;-)) So...hopefully those things will iron themselves out over time.

We also weren't sure the weather was going to cooperate with our schedule...we had a beautiful snow (of which I got *no* pictures due to a full memory card...*sigh*) on Thursday evening, and predictions of icy roads for Friday morning. I wasn't sure if we were going to get up and take Billy to work due to the forecast, but at the last minute decided the roads were fine. So...our Friday shopping trip got a bit of a late start, and I still have a bit of errand running to do to finish up.

We had an unexpected treat on Friday during our trip...in return for turning in completed coloring sheets to Long John Silver's, the kids received free kid's meals. This was a welcome "frugal lunch" for our late shopping day.

A Special Treat

One of the things that has been the hardest for me to adjust to about getting older has been the *shrinking* of our extended family. My parents each have only one sibling, and I only have four first cousins, but with Granny Kitty being one of 11 siblings, the great-aunts and uncles, second cousins, and their families more than made up for it. Throw in a few of Papaw Brown's cousins, and the Indian relations in Oklahoma, and I grew up with a rich heritage of extended family relationships.

It makes me sad sometimes that my children don't have that same environment and will never know so many of the characters who pepper my childhood and young adult memories except through my stories. So...when an opportunity for my children to have a taste of *distant relations* comes along, it is a special treat.

This weekend was definitely that. While I grew up seeing many of my dad's cousins almost as extra aunts and uncles, I had gone 39 years without meeting either of my mom's two first cousins. Until this weekend! Mother's cousin Linda came to visit this weekend, and it was such a delight to get to meet her. We spent some time out at the nursing home with my grandfather, and then had a big family lunch at Emlyn's favorite eatery: The Chinese Kitchen. :-) (Much to Bay's chagrin..."Chinese AGAIN??")

The best part of the day, though, was discovering that Linda is a pianist. I've been hearing stories about her all my life, but somehow missed that detail. We had a discussion at lunch about those who truly have a gift for playing by ear versus those who work and practice to become proficient musicians, and the fact that when someone truly has that *gift*, you can just tell it. Linda actually is a blend of both...you could tell within seconds of her hands touching the keys that she is one of those who obviously has *the gift*, yet she also studied piano seriously from the time she was 8 through college. It's such a delight to hear someone who can sit and play practically anything you request, from hymns, to patriotic songs, to old showtunes, and make it look completely effortless. (Despite it being a mite depressing to realize now that that gene flows through *both* sides of my family tree, and it not just skipped me, but skidded to a stop and *catapulted* over me!)
Quite a crowd gathered in the dining room to listen and to sing with us. One lady in particular had a beautiful soprano voice and she and I had a wonderful time harmonizing to one hymn after another. The residents ate it up and begged Linda to come back, which she has promised to do sometime this summer. They are not the only ones looking forward to that! The children were really sad to see her go, and looking forward already to her coming back. She has promised to do her best to bring her mother, Aunt Frances, and her brother, Denton (the other cousin I've never met), back with her when she comes. I can't wait!

The only thing that consoled the kids was that Aunt Marlena (who came with Linda this weekend on the Little Rock to Fort Smith leg of the trip) has promised that she and Uncle Ken (and a bevy of little dogs, I'm sure ;-)) will be back for a visit soon. The kids are always excited to see them. :)

The day was made even more exciting by a stray dog, whose story will have to remain untold for the moment. It was quite a visit, and we are definitely looking forward to more!