Thankful Thursday

I've been missing Thankful Thursday lately, but hopefully now that our Thursday afternoon co-op is over until Fall, I can participate a bit more regularly.  As I've pondered this post, I've come up with quite a list of "Thankfuls" this week!

1.  The salvation of my three oldest children....with one baptized two weeks ago and another making a profession of faith this Sunday.   What a blessing to see them growing in Christ, and reaching out to others.  One received $$ today for a lost tooth, and immediately (instead of making a list of things he "wanted to buy" with it) said, "Oh, I can add this to our money for Frank!!"  (Frank is the child we recently began sponsoring through Compassion International.) Earlier this week we were at a local McD's PlayPlace with friends, and the kids came running to get a "Million Dollar Bill" tract out of my purse to share with the little girl they were playing with. I think the whole group got in on answering her questions about it.   I am so thankful for the work God is doing in their lives!

2.  My husband.  I was talking to a friend who lives out of state the other day, who has known Billy and I since before we were married.  I was sharing with her the latest chapter in a difficult situation in our lives, and at the end of our conversation, she said, "I just want you to tell Billy that I said 'Thank You' for always taking such good care of you."  I am more thankful all the time for the way he takes care of us...physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.  

3.  Our church.  I am so thankful to be in a church with leaders who are committed to following the Word, rather than the world.  I am thankful for the expository preaching that we receive every week, for the exceptional music, and for the focus on true worship.  I'm thankful for our church family.  I'm thankful for the evangelism training course we had this past weekend, and for my brother-in-law, who led it.  He is such an encouragement, and I'm thankful for his enthusiasm for sharing his faith.

4.  Friends.   I've been reminded again lately of how very blessed I am in this area.  I have the very best friends *anywhere*.   Talking for hours, laughing till our sides hurt, going through handsful of kleenex with the tears, carrying burdens of all shapes and sizes, sharing books and recipes...whatever...I am so thankful for these girls!

5.  Music.  God's gift of music is so incredibly awesome.  We've been working on music for the Easter season in choir and it has been so wonderful to reflect on the crucifixion and resurrection as we sing.  One of the pieces we've been preparing is "Surely He has Borne our Sorrows" from Handel's Messiah.  As we have gone over, and over, and OVER this challenging music, the words have been seared into my heart and mind...

"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him."

I'm not one to be terribly fond of pieces of the Messiah being incorporated into more modern music...I'd much prefer to just do it on its own. :)  So often the "new" arrangements don't seem to do Handel's work justice.  But...I love the arrangement we are doing.  It segues into Charles Wesley's "And Can It Be?" beautifully...

"Amazing love! How can it be 
That Thou my God shouldst die for me?

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou  my God shouldst die for me?"

6.  The opportunity to homeschool.  I've been completely committed to homeschooling since I was 16 years old.  And 24 years later, God is teaching me more through our homeschooling journey than I could ever teach my children.  I'm thankful for a husband who is totally committed to something I don't think he'd ever heard of before he met me :), close friends who homeschool and share the journey, a great homeschool support group, and children who love learning (most of the time ;-)).  

7.  Books.  Self-explanatory. :)  I was thinking this morning that I am practically drowning in books at the moment...and it's a wonderful thing!  I have stacks and stacks...books for my 999 reading list, library books for various things we're studying in school right now, a pile of books on missions for our missions curriculum, and a short-but-growing stack of books to review here on the blog soon.  I love books!  And I'm thankful to be surrounded by them. :)

8.  Online connections.  I love the ability to keep up with friends online!  I have been so blessed recently...in getting to know some "current, local" friends better, in being able to catch up a bit with various "old friends" I've had little or no contact with in years, and in making a new friend or two (like Joanna, with whom I actually have a sort of an IRL connection, and who has been used to bless me so much in our short, online friendship!  More about that to come...:))...through Facebook and blogs.   

Hmm.  This was going to be a *quick* post...but somehow between a number of "interruptions" :) and my own wordiness, it turned out a bit longer than expected. :)  I'm thankful for the opportunity to stop and think about all the ways God has blessed us and shown His faithfulness...which could never fit in a list of any length!  And I'm thankful  to Lynn for hosting Thankful Thursday this week.  Visit her for more Thankful Thursdays, or to participate yourself! 


Days-Behind-Daybook :)

For Today... March 25, 2009

Outside my window... trees starting to bud, birds chirping, surprising quiet for this time of the morning. 

I am thinking... My mind is flooded with thoughts this week!   

A surprise phone call Monday has a constant "wondering" running continually in the back of my mind, in and amongst all the other thoughts, plans, and activities.  

All weekend God has filled my mind with thoughts of His glory and the ways He has been working in my life and in my family in the past few years...reflecting on His faithfulness and blessings. 
I've been pondering the subject of our resurrection bodies this week, after a comment Bro. Kent made Sunday afternoon.  I started doing some Bible study on the new body vs. the old body earlier this week...more on that later.  

At the moment I'm also thinking about a young friend who is having oral surgery as I type...and praying for a  successful and relatively painless experience for her.  

From the learning rooms... This morning's thoughts have turned also to the way that God has been gradually (and sometimes swiftly!) shifting the direction of our schooling, in ways I
 would *never* have expected.  He is giving us a much more other-centered, mission-minded, global focus, through our geography curriculum, missions study, and our new 
Compassion sponsorship.  Hopefully I'll have time and mental clarity to post a bit more on that later this week...

Work on our new Mega-Memory passage, Ephesians 6:1-9, is going well.  We've opted not to sign this one, and are planning some other  activities with it instead, but so far have just done straight memorization...which everyone seems to be enjoying just fine on its own!  (Which leads me to wonder  if sometimes we  expend a lot of effort to "enhance" things which would be perfectly fine in their simplest form.   Not that there is anything wrong with the enhancements, but there are
 seasons in which the simple is all we can do...and perhaps I need to suspend my "fretting" about that!)

I am thankful for... Emlyn's baptism last week!  I have been postponing the actual post on her baptism due to technical  issues with the video...hopefully that will be worked out soon.  Her excitement and certainty have been such a blessing.  

I'm also thankful for another profession of faith that will be made this Sunday...and for another baptism that should  then occur the following week.  God is blessing immeasurably here!!  And I am thankful. 

From the kitchen... Last night was one of our favorite "fast food" meals these days...chicken salad  sandwiches, chips, and my family's new favorite dip.  The chicken salad isn't my very favorite chicken salad recipe...I like a lot more "stuff" in my  chicken salad :)...but this is the hands-down favorite of the rest of my family. :)  And it's super-easy, so it makes a great (and much cheaper) alternative to grabbing burgers or pizza on busy days.  

Chicken Salad (recipe from, of all places, a demo at Sam's :))

*Chicken (can use canned chicken, leftover chicken, or chicken bulk-cooked and frozen. )  Chop or shred.
*Miracle Whip
*Bacon Bits (we use 
Hormel Real Bacon pieces...I buy a bag from Sam's and they last us forever.)
*Mrs. Dash seasoning
I have no measurements...just mix it up to taste.  

Best Dip Ever (named by my children. :))

 This dip originated from our work to prune our grocery budget.  I had seen a new dip at the store one afternoon that  *really* sounded good..and had even stuck it in the cart.  Then I did an about-face and put it back on the shelf, realizing that at $4 a jar,  I could surely make something similar myself at home for much less.  So...I grabbed a package of green onions and headed home to experiment...  

*Sour cream (again, I have no measurements.  We keep a huge container of sour cream
 from Sam's in the fridge all the time, so I plop out what we need depending on how many people are eating or how long I want it to last before I make more. :))
*Bacon pieces (a handful, depending on how much sour cream you use :))
*Green onion, chopped.
*Seasoning Salt (Like Lawry's, but we use a generic.) Sprinkle to taste.  
Chill and serve with chips, crackers, or veggies.  Yum!

I am reading... a couple of books I received this week to review here...Sticks and Stones, by Ace Collins, and Flickering Pixels, by Shane Hipps.  Both are somewhat out of my normal reading patterns, but I'm really looking forward to both of them.  The first is on the impact of words, and how to use our words to positively impact the world around us.

Also just starting Unveiled at Last, by Bob Sjogren, for our missions curriculum, and reviewing the materials from the One Day Evangelism Crash Course this weekend. 
And...read this interesting article this morning, about the importance of a good geography education in our current culture.  

I am hoping... that the wet weather we are supposed to have the rest of this week is just "rainy" and not "stormy".

I am creating... a dent in Mount Laundry!  

I am hearing... children finishing chores...when I started this, many interruptions ago :), all was quiet.  Now I hear  quiet chatter (as we've been working on "working
 quietly"), and the sounds of busy hands and feet restoring a bit of order to the house for the day. 

Around the house... Trying not to be overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done, the decluttering and organizing and beautifying that I want so badly to do, but which comes *so* slowly in and around and amongst all the other demands of life.   I'm  trying hard to be diligent, to do what I can when I can (and not get discouraged and completely throw in the towel, as I have a tendency to do) and to remember that the little bits, done faithfully and
 consistently, *do* add up eventually.  

One of my favorite things... My children's excitement about sharing Jesus with others.   

A few plans for the rest of the week... Church/choir tonight, a library trip this
 afternoon or tomorrow; otherwise, being busy at home with school and work on the house.   Unlike everyone else we know :), we aren't taking spring break this week, so it's a bit of an odd week with everyone else "on vacation".  We did take a day off Monday and spent the afternoon with friends, which was a much-needed and much-enjoyed break. 

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Emlyn just before her baptism.  I love the joy in her face!  (More pics to come as soon as we get the video to upload. :))

For more Daybook entries, visit Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook site.  


"Have Faith in God"

"Have Faith in God"

Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely,
He sees and knows all the way you have trod;
Never alone are the least of His children;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

Have faith in God, He's on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o'er His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.

Have faith in God when your prayers are unanswered, 
Your earnest plea He will never forget;
Wait on the Lord, trust His Word and be patient;
Have faith in God, He'll answer yet.

Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow,
His heart is touched with your grief and despair;
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him, 
And leave them there, oh, leave them there.

Have faith in God though all else fail about you;
Have faith in God, He provides for His own;
He cannot fail tho' all else kingdoms shall perish, 
He rules, He reigns upon His throne.

Have faith in God, He's on His throne, 
Have faith in God, He watches o'er His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, Have faith in God.

~B. B. McKinney

This hymn has been one of my favorites since childhood.  I think I first loved it because of the cool moving bass part in the chorus. :-D   My dad sang bass (for those who knew Daddy in his later years as a tenor...that's a story for another blog post. :)), and I loved to hear his deep bass voice singing this song.   As I got older, I grew to love the words.   As hard times came through the years, the words became more and more special.  

It's funny how God can give us layers of understanding sometimes.    Six years ago, I would have said I understood this song.  We had been through some very hard and trying days over the years.    The illness and death of my grandfather, financial struggles due to more than one extended period of unemployment for my dad, several major health scares with my dad, a traumatic and painful church split, to name a few.   But as we sang this song in church this morning, I realized that over the past 6 years or so, He has given an even deeper understanding of those words.   I was once again overcome with gratefulness for circumstances for which I would *never* have thought I could be grateful, as I thought about how much He has shown us of Himself and solidified our faith through them.  

What a blessing to know that no matter what we are going through, truly "He rules, He reigns upon His throne."  


Daisy Chain

"I want to be authentic in my relationship with God.
 To be authentic in my relationships with my husband and children. 
To be authentic in my parenting.
 To be authentic in my friendships. 
I want to lead my children to be authentic. I want them to have authentic relationships with God. I want them to make right decisions and do the right thing because they are walking with the Lord and want to please Him...not because of what "people" will see or think.
 I want to make progress in making our home an "authentic haven" both as a refuge for our family, and as an opportunity to practice hospitality to others."

Those words are from my post earlier this year on my 2009 "One Little Word"...Authentic.   For several years, God has been making me more and more aware of the importance of authenticity in every area of our lives...and convicting me of my own need to be totally authentic. 
Authenticity is an important topic for Mary DeMuth as well.   She is the author of Authentic Parenting in a Post-Modern Culture, a book that is currently on my wish list. :)  Her newest book, Daisy Chain, tackles the issue of authenticity in the family and the church from a fictional standpoint.  

13-year-old Daisy Marie Chance has disappeared.  Her best friend, Jed Pepper, harbors a secret...he's convinced he is responsible for her disappearance.  As the search for Daisy goes on, Jed finds himself seeking his own answers...about Daisy's disappearance, about the people around him and the secrets they harbor, and about the mysterious redemptive plan of God.  

 Mary DeMuth knows about secrets.  The inspiration for this book, and the trilogy of which it is a part, came from a friend's difficult story of his life behind the closed doors of an outwardly "picture perfect" family.   And Mary has had her own journey from secrets to authenticity.  She says:

"Learning to be honest with myself and others about my own shortcomings—and, oh, they are aplenty—has made me a better Christ-follower in the long run. It’s not about appearing holy. It’s about being holy from the inside out. The only route to that kind of abundance is honest, excruciating disclosure with trusted friends and the God who sees it all."

God has given me such an urgency for the kind of authenticity Mary describes~in my life and in our family.  We have seen at close range the devastation that can come from "appearing holy" without "honest, excruciating disclosure with trusted friends and the God who sees it all."  As I wrote in that "One Little Word" post...

"We have seen "up close and personal" the dangers of allowing oneself to live behind a mask...looking good to others, and yet allowing evil a stronger and stronger foothold on the inside until it finally explodes into a firestorm that singes everyone in its vicinity. "

Jed sees those dangers and experiences that firestorm in his own family.  He also glimpses God's glory and love in very unexpected places.  DeMuth lists the following themes in Jed's story:

The importance (and elusiveness) of authenticity.
The devastation of maintaining and keeping family secrets.
Redemption comes from surprising people.
Feeling guilty doesn’t always equal reality.
True friendship involves sacrifice.

Daisy Chain is not only an excellent read...with a plot that kept me reading into the night more than once...it is also a poignant reminder of the importance of authenticity in our lives and in our families, and the devastation that can result when we allow secrecy to overcome it. 

I'm already waiting impatiently for the second installment to the Defiance Texas Trilogy. :)


Global Food Crisis Day

My friend Mr. James recently joined Facebook. I'm always excited to connect with old friends via Facebook, and I was especially glad to see the friend request from Mr. James. He and Miss Mary were more than friends or neighbors, they were family. We rarely get back to Conway to visit these days, and this former "letter-writing queen" lost her title many years ago (and has trouble finding a stamp these days.) But somehow keeping up with people online works...probably because I can send a message in the middle of the night when most people are asleep, or type an entire conversation in chat without worrying that they can hear the barking dog in the background. :)

Apparently his entry into the world of "social networking" inspired a new article (which I can't wait to read :)), "Things I Said I'd Never Do...But Did". I had to laugh, because I had also said I would never Facebook...or blog, for that matter!! That prompted me to think about other things I said I'd never do, but have...and in some cases, have made a complete about-face. :)

This morning found me pondering the latest addition to that list. Up until a few days ago, I would never have expected to be sponsoring a child through a hunger-relief organization, for a variety of reasons.

Then one day last week, Bayley came in telling about something she had heard on the radio about children in other parts of the world going hungry...and even dying of hunger. She and Peter were both very burdened about what they had heard. As part of the missions study we are doing during our Bible time, we were beginning a spin-off unit study on "frugality". The more we talked about missions, frugality, and now world hunger, the more we began to feel that God was leading us to sponsor a child through Compassion International.

We've been struggling lately with attitudes of ungratefulness and discontentment, and I had been praying for wisdom in replacing those attitudes with grateful hearts and contented spirits. These were relatively new issues with my once-super-grateful children, and I was stumped.

I was excited about the heart for missions I was beginning to see developing in our children, and had been praying for more hands-on opportunities for us to be involved in missions as a family.

I generally see myself as a pretty frugal person. I grew up with a very frugal mom, and had lots of other examples of creative, frugal women around as well. When I quit working full-time before Peter was born, our income was cut by over half, and I began to get really serious about frugal living. However, I've realized lately that in the past few years I've too often allowed "life" to sabotage my frugal ways. Health issues, busy schedules, intense stress...all have gotten in the way of my being as frugal as I could or should be.

I've been feeling very convicted about that for the past few weeks. I knew change was necessary, but that it wouldn't come easy...for me or the rest of the family. We needed motivation and discipline...and I began to pray for both, as well as for creativity to *sell* an even more frugal lifestyle to the family.

We haven't even completed the process of signing up to sponsor a child yet, and I'm already seeing God work through it in our family. The children are already showing gratefulness for foods that ordinarily would elicit complaints. They are so excited about sponsoring a child and looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in this new adventure. I'm already finding myself *thinking* more frugally, calculating how much things cost in terms of "that is x% of a monthly child sponsorship." And my children are keeping me on my toes...after the discussion we had last week about convenience foods and junk foods and their negative impact on our food budget, Peter asked this morning, "Mom, why did you buy those ready-to-bake cookies last night?" Eek.

Today is Global Food Crisis Day, hosted by Compassion International and radio stations all over the country to raise awareness of hunger issues around the world. According to Compassion International's "Hunger Facts" sheet, 12,000 children around the world will die today from hunger-related causes. That is one every 7 seconds...a sobering statistic that has made an impact on our family. No, eating all the vegetables on our plates won't help the starving children in Africa, but changing our habits so that we can sponsor a child can. I found a new blog recently that I've really enjoyed, and I love her tag line...

"Living Simply to Give Generously."

There are simple changes we can make to make a difference, and we're excited about seeing how those add up! Our Compassion sponsorship will cost what a trip to McDonald's now costs for our family (other than those "we're all drinking water and eating dollar sandwiches" trips we occasionally make on Wednesdays on the way to church, which we're also trying to cut out :)). We're not talking about going off-the-grid, using washable toilet paper, or becoming vegetarians. I'm not even giving up Diet Coke.:) Of course, along with Mr. James, I'm learning to "never say never"...



Simple Woman's Daybook...Two Day Edition :)

For Today...  March 9, 2009 (and March 10...:)I couldn't keep my eyes open and had
 to go to bed in the middle of my Daybook!  Blue entries are from Monday night, brown entries were typed on Tuesday morning. ) 

Outside my window... Darkness!  (It's late. :))    

I am thinking... about the mystifying ways of God.   I've been thinking a lot lately (again:)), for various reasons, about  the incredible awesome-ness (is that a word? ;-)) of God's sovereignty.  He has taught me *so* much in the last few years about this aspect of His character...and yet there is still *so* much about it that I cannot fathom.  I was sitting with Ammah Grace yesterday and marvelling once again at her *super-quick* mind...and thinking that there is no way that someone could have gone through the past 5+ years with her and not *see* God's power and glory.  Only God could take a brain that was supposed to be hopelessly damaged and make it instead not just normal, but extra-sharp. :)  

I was thinking the same thing about our friend Josh this weekend, as I remembered waiting on pins and needles for the call that he had been born, and the incredible rejoicing when we found out that against all earthly "odds", he was not only alive, but healthy (other than the hydrocephalus that would later be corrected surgically.)   I thought about how he keeps everyone around him on their toes...and in stitches!  He is so bright and so quick-witted...and a total walking, talking miracle. 

Jenny has also been on my mind quite a bit this week.  God's plan for Jenny was different.  Jenny was born blind and profoundly retarded.  She never walked, talked,
 fed or dressed herself...and yet God used her for almost 23 years to show His glory in amazing ways, and has continued to use her in  the 13+ years since her death to impact those of us who knew her, and those who have come to know her through her father's writings (beginning with this article and continuing through the articles on his website).  

I remember thinking about Joshua and Jenny both quite a bit as I prayed in the back of the ambulance on the way to Little Rock...and realizing  that no matter what, God had a plan for this baby, and whatever it was, He would bring glory to Himself through it.

I've often questioned since...why did God choose to work a healing miracle in Joshua and Ammah Grace, and choose instead to allow Jenny's brain to be so damaged and healed only in death at the age of 22?   I haven't come up with an answer, except this one:  God is God.  His ways are perfect and higher than ours could ever be.   He is much too big, His sovereignty is much too awesome, for me to *ever* completely understand His ways.  The paradox is...the more I know Him, the more I see of who He is, the more I understand of His ways...the more I realize how vast the gap is between His bigness and my smallness, between His infinite-ness and my finite-ness, between His wisdom and my simple-ness.  And the more I realize  how thankful I am for the mystery...how thankful I am that my God's ways *are* much higher than ours, and that He allows us to see the tastes of His glory in so many *different* ways.   

From the learning  rooms... We finally finished our Mega Memory Month passage for January. :)  Actually, we've been finished with it for a couple of weeks,
 but hadn't had a chance to  present it to dad.  We finally quoted and signed the Beatitudes for him Friday night, and are now starting Eph. 6:1-9.  

We're also doing a bit of a focus right now on "frugality", which fits in nicely with our missions study during Bible time.  Bay had come in last week telling me about something the kids had heard on the radio about a mission trip to meet the physical and spiritual needs of children in Africa.  She was really burdened about these children who don't have enough food to eat.  Part of our focus on frugality right now, among other things, is to enable us to have resources to help feed hungry children.  We're researching possibilities right now, and the children are excited about doing something concrete to help.  More on that soon....

I am thankful for... my husband!  He takes such good care of us in so many ways.  I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with an unbelievably severe headache, and even though his sleep had already been interrupted more than once, he not only brought me medicine, but went out to the deep freeze to get ice for my drink. :)  I am so thankful for the ways that he demonstrates Christ's love to me daily.  

...Emlyn's profession of faith yesterday!   She will be baptized next week or the week after.  I am so thankful for her solid, childlike faith.  What a blessing to see God working in her life already, and giving her courage to do what only weeks ago she was terrified of!    I'm also thankful for Bro. Kent...I appreciate his teaching and counsel so much.

...the heart for missions I'm seeing developing in our children, and opportunities God is giving us to grow that!

...that the Growing Kids Sale is *over*, we survived it, and God provided almost everything the girls will need for spring and summer (and it all fit!!) :)

From the kitchen... I had planned to make banana bread today, but didn't get that far...hopefully tomorrow!  Billy is planning to grill tomorrow night, weather permitting. :)  I need to do some baking this week before it gets much warmer. 

I am wearing... Gray sweats.  Today was a day for comfort over style. :)

I am reading... Just finished Daisy Chain, by Mary DeMuth.  Watch for my review as part of the blog tour this week!  

Last week's busy schedule didn't leave much time for serious reading, so I'm hoping to get back to my stack this week, as well as Real Learning (linked in my sidebar.)  Hopefully I'll get to post a Book Bit or two this week as well. 

I am hoping... that we slow down a bit at losing teeth before we go broke! :)  Bay has lost 3 in just over 24 hours, and Peter and Em both have at least one threatening to pop out any time.  Eek!

I am creating... I have a few projects in the works I hope to complete this week, but most of the creating this week is the children's...it's Art Fair week!!  We are drawing and re-drawing and painting and trying to narrow down entries...creativity is fairly crackling in the air here this week. :)

I am hearing... the fan whirring as it oscillates behind me.  Last week I was freezing, this week we have the fan on!  March in Arkansas is always an adventure. :)

Around the house... Trying to catch up from a hectic week last week, and keep up the momentum of last week's  sorting and organizing and purging.

One of my favorite things... Watching Peter with his younger sisters, especially Gracie.  As I said in my Princess Party post yesterday..."Peter is such a good big brother...I am so proud of the way he is never "too big" or "too macho" to do something fun for his little sisters."   Yesterday, Gracie wanted to have a tea party with the tea set Breilly gave her for her birthday.  Peter got everything fixed just so and then sat and ate cheese puffs with a teeny tiny pink fork and knife with her just as if it was the most fun he had ever had. :)  Watching him indulge her is such a delight! 

A few plans for the rest of the week... Nothing out of the ordinary this week except Co-op Presentation Night and the Art Fair on Thursday.  Otherwise, a normal week at home! (I hope.)  Hopefully a very productive one on the house and school fronts. :)

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... 
Our latest "Not-So-Basic Bookmaking" class project for co-op...matchbox books.  These were really fun!  The kids enjoyed decorating the matchboxes and making the teeny tiny books to go inside them. :)

For more Daybook posts, please visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Belated Birthday Photos :)

The birthday wasn't belated, but the photos certainly are!  For some reason I've had a terrible time getting these posted, but I am *determined* to get them done before I post any other of the several posts on my "to be posted" list. :)

Again, the photos are completely out of order...my brain is too tired and my "to do" list too packed today to worry about getting them in order. :)

First photo of the day... :)

Ammah Grace loves to play with Peter's Lego.  She was so excited to have her own set...and in pink, no less! 

This was actually at her birthday dinner.  We went to Lone Star with Mamoe.  (The complimentary birthday dessert is big enough for the whole family. :))

One of her favorite presents...she *loves* to help in the kitchen (and help Daddy grill)!

Peter made this jewelry set for her.  He's such a good big brother!

Opening the chef set...

I can't believe she is 5! :)

Princess Party!

I can't believe it is March and I am just now posting Gracie's birthday pictures!   I'm dividing them into two posts...these are of her princess party, and I'll post pictures of her actual birthday in the next post.  

This was Ammah Grace's first "friend party", and I'm not sure who was more excited...Gracie or her siblings!   Peter, Bayley, and Emlyn really got into helping plan the party, and I was *so* proud of them.   Of course, Dad did a huge amount of "behind the scenes" work.  The girls (and the big kids) seemed to have a great time, and Ammah Grace announced at the end, "Mommy, I LOVED my princess party!!"  :)

(You may notice these are not in chronological order...I didn't feel like fighting Blogger this morning to achieve that. :))

The little princesses...
Blowing out her candles...with a little help from "Bubby" :)
Dad lighting the candles.  
Silly girls! (And Prissy, Mamoe's party-crashing pomeranian. :))
Balloon Dancing to "princess music"...
Ring Relay...
Ready to hunt for "jewels"...
Peter crowning the princess.  Peter had come up with the idea that he would "crown" Gracie during the party.  He and Emlyn came in with the crown (on a red satin pillow he made himself!), as he played "trumpet music" on his harmonica.  (He practiced and practiced to get it just right. :))  They were all so excited about her "coronation"!   Peter is such a good big brother...I am so proud of the way he is never "too big" or "too macho" to do something fun for his little sisters. (Btw...notice the princess is barefoot. ;-)  She discovered that her "princess slippers" hurt her feet! :))

Big sisters dancing while we were waiting on our guests.   Can you tell they've watched "Pride and Prejudice" a few times?? :)
Daddy-daughter dance...
Gracie's favorite place to be!
Daddy dancing with the little princess...
Birthday girl!

Rice Krispy Treat princess scepters....
The cake...(A side note on the colors...Mrs. Jodie had found the cutest red sequined purses we decided to use as party favors for the girls.  The whole party theme actually evolved from those purses!  Then we found some pink princess things Gracie wanted to use.  So...we ended up doing the party in red *and* pink. :))
The serving table and birthday banner...
Chalk art by big brother...


Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today... March 2, 2009

Outside my window... Sunshine, with promise of warmer temps this afternoon.  Yay!   

I am thinking... about Psalm 119: 89-96.  Bro. Kent read this yesterday morning.  I had hoped to post on it yesterday...maybe later today.   

From the learning rooms... Pretty basic school this week, due a busier than usual schedule.  The kids are working hard on their art fair entries, and I am planning for some very *low key* music and art appreciation to start next week, a la Elizabeth Foss's Real Learning.  (See sidebar for book link.)  Continuing with our new missions curriculum during Bible time...more on that below. :)

I am thankful for... missionaries!  And seeing God continue to develop a heart for missions in our family.   I've posted about our beginning a new mission curriculum during our Bible time in school.   How like God to coincide that with an opportunity for us to pray, up close and personal, for a special mission trip.  Last week, a group from my former church in Conway went on a medical/dental mission trip to Honduras.   I had received emails on the church prayer chain about the trip, including a list of participants.  Several dear friends from years ago were among the group.  

As part of our mission curriculum, we've been putting together a notebook of mission-related prayer needs.  The Honduras mission trip immediately went on the list.   The kids and I studied a bit about Honduras, I shared with them about a Honduran friend I had in grade school, and I told them a little about friends of mine who were on the trip.   

Then we began getting email updates about the trip.  This is from a message I sent to a friend whose husband was on the mission team:

"I've been reading the updates from the email chain to them as well. I was checking my email during their chore time this morning, and Peter and Bayley were near my desk when I opened my inbox. Peter saw the "Honduras Update", and said, "Mom, what happened in Honduras yesterday??" The other kids ran over and began to excitedly ask me to read it "now, Mom, please?" They couldn't *wait* to hear how yesterday had gone. They pray for missionaries all the time related to their GAs/RAs at church, but having the daily updates from the mission team in Honduras (and knowing that Mom actually *knows* some of these people...I've been telling them stories about some of them :)) has made it very real to them. 
I guess not all of God's work in this mission trip is going on in Honduras! Neat how God can use people I haven't seen in years, serving him in another country, to work in my children's lives here and now."

I'm so thankful for God's perfect ways.  I'm thankful for the mission team that went to Honduras, for God's work there, and for the excitement praying for that trip has built in my children.  I'm thankful for missionaries like my friend Carmen's son, Aaron, his wife Joanna, and their four children, serving as Wycliffe missionaries in the Solomon Islands.  I'm thankful for people like my brother-in-law, who has such a heart for everyday evangelism.  I'm thankful for the opportunity we have later this month to attend the "One Day Evangelism Crash Course" he is teaching at our church. 

From the kitchen... Enjoying some chocolate treats from a friend's kitchen today...thank you, J!! :)

On this week's menu:
Monday~ Grilled Chicken (Billy offered to grill again tonight...yay!), twice baked potatoes, salad, and garlic bread.
Tuesday~ Creamy Tacos in the crock pot...super easy supper for a super busy day. :)
Wednesday~ Billy and the kids eat at church while I'm at the GROWING KIDS' WORKER SALE...eek. :)
Thursday~ Pork Roast, salad, veggies, bread.
Friday~ Hamburger Steaks, hash brown casserole, salad

I am wearing... Dark green sweats

I am reading... Still reading Real Learning, by Elizabeth Foss, and Growing Creative Kids, by Wesley Sharpe.

 Also reading Daisy Chain, a brand new fiction book by Mary DeMuth (watch for a review this week!!), and Failure to Connect, by Jane M. Healy.

And just started this morning... Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, by John Piper.  (The entire text is available online.)  Thanks to Ann Voskamp for posting this link!

I am hoping... that this busier-than-usual week will go smoothly, with no major "kinks". :)

I am creating... cleaner, better-organized closets, drawers, and bedrooms as we finish the "Great Spring Clothes Swap" and prepare for the Growing Kids' Sale this week.  

I am hearing... children doing chores, Darcy scampering after a dog toy someone just threw. :)

Around the house... Basic upkeep this week as we continue to work on sorting clothes and organizing storage spots.  

One of my favorite things... Wednesday night choir practice!   After being out for a couple of months due to health issues, I was able to return last Wednesday.   What a blessing to be able to "Make a Joyful Noise" (Psalm 100) again, especially as we are preparing Easter music. 

A few plans for the rest of the week... It's Growing Kids' Sale week.  That means dropping off clothes on Tuesday, shopping the Worker Sale on Wednesday, and working my shift at the sale on Saturday.  Then there are the usual...school, chores, church/choirs on Wednesday night, co-op Thursday.  Oh, and a birthday party to attend Sunday afternoon!  I think I need a nap already...zzzz

For more Daybook entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook