Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Little Oak Table

I am moving to a new site, doo da, doo da...

Little Oak Table...I hope you'll stop by and join me there.

It is a simple new space where I'll continue writing about all the things I love.

  • Creating a nice home
  • Having a warm atmosphere inside your home
  • Raising those babies
  • Using the space you have and the resources you have to make a home you love
  • Homeschooling
  • Food!  Lots and lots of food talk, I hope!
It has been a fun run here at Bugs & Sunshine and I am looking forward to my new space on the web.  Thank you to my 13 devoted followers for sticking with me to the end, you rock!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It was a great moment of victory...

My friend Amy and her daughter Annabelle are on their way over for lunch and a visit.

As I prepare I am reminded of how I love the perfect.  I've always loved going to Amy's house because it is always orderly and beautiful, down to the colorful blooming flowers that greet you with a cheery smile as you walk toward the front door.

This morning I only allowed myself 20 (OK, 25!) minutes to spruce up our home before her arrival.  As I kicked Nerf gun bullets under armchairs to free the floor of clutter I noticed dusty baseboards and made myself walk away and keep going.

As I took the trash out my heart sank a little when I was reminded again of our tall summer grass.  We decided to visit family over the weekend and had not had the opportunity to mow yet.  Wouldn't you know both neighbors mowed yesterday making my yard look even more shabby.  We gave the wilting sweet potato vine in the planters flanking the front doors a drink of water but they haven't had time to perk up yet.

Here I am, 35 minutes before my dear friend comes, sitting under fans cooling off and being still.

Nerf bullets, stuffed animals and books are still strewn here and there.  The baby is napping and my bed is unmade.

None of this is bad though.  As I sit here trying to not sweat to death I am joyful and praising.


Well!  Because the enemy tried to tell me my perfect friend is on her way over and I should wear myself out before her arrival so that every last nook and cranny is spit-spot.

That is not the reality though and I know it.  We are not Sanford and Son.  We are more of a Martha Ina Duggar mix and I am OK with that.

I am so excited because in 20 minutes my beautiful red-haired friend and her daughter are going to walk through my freshly Windexed front door.  We'll hug each others necks and settle in for a visit.  We'll share Fiesta Stack-up on good Fritos with fresh salsa.  We'll drink from mason jars and have a glass filled plate topped with a serving of banana pudding.

This morning I'm grateful for the opportunity to make decisions that bring life.  Packing up and traveling to see grandparents.  Inviting someone into our world that is loud and messy.  Choosing to smile when I feel tired.  Not having to bend over backwards to be perfect and having the chance to invite a friend into our real world. 

Today I experienced a great moment of victory. 

Leaving some things undone so that I would be settled and unhurried was hard but yielded such great fruit in my heart and in the atmosphere of my home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Best Kind

Mondays like today are the best kind. Nothing but wide open space on the agenda.  We all got good rest last night and are still in our pj's.

We'll have a slow day today.  Finishing up laundry, enjoying the fort built in the bedroom, reading some new library books, reading history lessons together, Dr. Phil.  OK, just kidding about that last one.

Even though I love a sunny house, this summer we've been keeping the blinds closed most of the day to keep it cooler inside.  We are using a couple of floor fans like this one...

I found this Galaxy fan at Wal-Mart for $20 and we loved it so much we got another.  I've turned the thermostat up a few degrees higher and it feels great inside.

The mix of lamps, candles, and fans whirling makes it super nice inside.

Nice enough to grab a blanket and a book and curl up on the couch for a snooze good read.

Normally I do not grocery shop on Sunday but yesterday was an exception.  I did the unthinkable.  I loaded up all four kids and braved Kroger by myself with the rest of the town.  I can assure you that won't be happening ever again.  Even today I am getting twitchy just remembering the horror of it all.  It wasn't so much the having the kids part that caused me such great angst.  It was the sheer volume of other shoppers in the mix that was more than this girl could handle.

We got the goods for burgers, quesadillas, grilled chicken salad, breakfast for dinner, and I can't remember what the other couple of meals are. 





I have started writing down our meals in my planner.  It has been fun to see what we are eating.  I'm hoping my list will jog my memory when I am tempted to go on a cooking hiatus.

Well, I'm off to settle in for some history reading with the little ones.  Hope you have a fantabulous Monday.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sing More

Right now I have a lot of friends going through hard times.

They are waiting on test results and receiving diagnoses that require treatment.

Waiting on adoptions to finalize.

Dealing with chronic pain and loss of loved ones.

Stressful jobs.  Uncertainty on how the next bill is going to be paid.

As I begin to pray I feel overwhelmed.  This morning I sat in front of my big fan that helps my nails to dry and I started to pray.  Where do I even begin?  I sat there at somewhat of a loss for words as my Cajun Shrimp was drying and the baby lay sleeping in her pack n play to my left.

Who do I pray for first and what do I ask on their behalf?

I want to bake every single friend going through hard times a pan of chicken enchiladas or take them to the restaurant down the street and share an order of steak fajitas to try to make it better.

Mexican food is a good beginning at making things better.

Feeble attempts of a mute prayer make things better thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

And singing makes things better.

Scripture is full of exhortations to sing.  When you are happy and when you are sad.

So that's what I'm doing today.  In my heart and out loud.  I am going to sing songs of praise and prayer over my hurting friends.  I've called out their names already, and will continue to do so, and I will sing songs on their behalf today.

Colossians 3:16
James 5:13
Ephesians 5:19

"I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also." I Corinthians 14:15

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I've been misspelling the word homemade. 
Been spelling it like lemonade.  Homeade.  Writing it on the menu dinner plate and displaying it for all the world to see.  Seeing it here, with the wavy red line underneath, I see it clearly. 
We do a lot of living inside our four walls.  I imagine you may have a picture of my home being perfect all the time, but as you see, we do a lot of living in this space.  Most of the time we clear the floors in the evening and start fresh the next day.  And other times, like last night, we leave the fort up and little boys camp out on the living room floor.

I love the word homemade. 

Made at home

Forts, LEGO creations in the midst of the candles and the table runner left over from Sunday evenings sit down dinner, art, music, memories.

We all have our spaces that make us happy in our home.  For the kids it is plenty of space to create and play.  For me it is corners of the house where order, peace and beauty reign.

I have found that it is so important for me to take care of myself every day.  So I do nice things for myself that make me happy.  I make my bed because it makes me happy to see it every time I walk by.  I polish my nails pretty colors.  Every single day I light candles because they make me the happiest.  In the morning I read the Word and get my marching orders for the day ahead.

Do you know what refreshes you?  Every day we are building something.  What kind of things are you making in your home?

Thursday, July 17, 2014


We have had a very full week of early mornings and full days.  Tonight I surveyed the damage on the home front.  Being gone this week had taken a toll on my house.  The piles were getting bigger everywhere I turned.

As I fed the baby I began formulating a plan.  Put the kids to bed, light a candle and spend an hour fluffing the place.  And that is exactly what I did.  I lit my candle and went room to room fluffing and putting things away so that each room made me smile again.

Sometimes I listen to music while I work and sometimes I don't.  Tonight I preferred the quiet.  The dryer and dishwasher were both humming away in the background and it was peaceful to work and get things put away without any extra noise.  After about 45 minutes the order was restored.

The coffee pot is set to go off at 6:30 and I'll be able to wake up to a peaceful home.

Today on Pinterest I pinned something on several of my boards.

Progress, not perfection

I love those words.  They remind me that a little bit of effort can go a long way.

So tonight I spent a little time showing the house a little TLC and it feels good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shut up and...

My motto is, "Shut up and pray!"

I borrowed it from Stormie Omartian.

The other day when I was tempted to nag/complain about something to a certain someone that shares space under the same roof as me, I was reminded of this little motto. 

Shut up and pray.

I can promise you this much-there is a wonderful feeling of joy that comes over you when you see the very thing you prayed for start to change.

To think He hears our prayers and acts on our behalf.  Amazing.  So much nicer than yammering on all the time trying to control this and that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Simple Summer Joy

I love Chick-fil-A for a gazillion reasons and Cow Appreciation Day ranks at the top of the list, arm in arm with my love of Chick-fil-A sauce.

Our newest little nugget has been inaugurated into the wonderful world of riding with the family dressed in cow finery.

As our 6 pack was unloading the bus, there was that moment when I felt a little sheepish about all the business professionals lining the drive-thru.  The stroller did not want to unfasten for me and I could feel them all eyeing me through their aviators. 

Look at that cow and her little heifer.  That is what I know they were thinking. 

Our herd walked in and I was struck with a moment of panic.  Where are all the people dressed in their cow finery?  Ooooh, there they are, way in the back by the play part.  Silly me, I should've known.

Donning cow finery is a perfect way to spend a summer day.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Morning...

This morning started out rough.  There were a lot of things on my get 'r done list today and I was going from grumpy to grumpier in a flash.  So, you know what I did?

I poured another cup of coffee and went into my bedroom and read a Psalm and prayed.

Then I painted my nails a pretty color.

Then I lit a candle and filled my room with the smell of lavender.

It is amazing what an hour of pausing to get back on track can do for your spirits. 

Tonight we had precious people from church gathered around the table for dinner.

I'm thankful that a day that started crummy can get back on the right track and end with a smile.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Annette's Enchiladas

 The Menu
Homemade Salsa & Chips
Annette's Enchiladas
Bean & Beef Enchiladas
Black Beans
Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee & Vanilla Ice Cream
Decaf Coffee

Tonight I made Annette's Enchiladas from the book, Bread & Wine.

When the book said it was serious comfort food, I was in.

This was the easiest pan of enchiladas I've ever made.  It used a can of green enchilada sauce, which I've seen, but never used.

There are many reasons this recipe has found a home in my new dinner line-up.  For starters, it was a zip to whip together.  You layer the ingredients instead of hand rolling each enchilada (think lasagna style here), and maybe the best part is that you can make these earlier in the day and pop them in the oven at dinner time.  This is especially nice if you are serving guests.  Dinner can be baking while you go touch up your make-up.

1 cup sour cream
1 28-ounce can green enchilada sauce (Las Palmas is best)
2 4-ounce small cans green chilies, diced
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
12 corn tortillas
1 cup chicken broth

- Mix green sauce with chilies and sour cream.
- Smooth 1 spoonful of the sauce mixture around the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan.
- Simmer the chicken broth in a skillet, and before placing each tortilla in the 9 by 13 pan, use tongs to pass the tortilla through the broth for just a few seconds. If you leave the tortillas in the broth for too long, they’ll fall apart, so just dip each one in for a few seconds to soften it before putting it in the enchilada pan.
- Layer 4 tortillas over the first layer of sauce.
- After tortillas, add half the chicken, then one-third of the sauce, then one-third of the cheese.
- Repeat so there are 2 full layers.
- Finish with a layer of 4 more tortillas, the remaining third of the sauce, and the remaining third of the cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees until warmed through and the cheese is melted, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Let sit at least 15 minutes before cutting. Top with chopped cilantro.

(I used 6 corn tortillas for each layer, so 18 corn tortillas total)

Friday, June 27, 2014

We said yes

Today is our first morning of using our Charlotte Mason style curriculum.  We are stepping out in faith and saying yes to the direction that the Holy Spirit has been leading us.  Today I'll give you a glimpse of how the day has gone.

For starters, I woke up when the baby woke up, at 9am.  The boys wake up earlier and eat breakfast, get ready, and play.   

I fed the baby, showered, dressed and we were all at the school table by 10am.  We gathered around the kitchen table.   My spot at the table is always the same.  The child I am working with one on one gets to sit in the chair right beside me (to my right).  This leads me to my first point of discussion. 

What to do with the children who are not working one on one with mom?

I let them read, color or do a math lesson.

Since there is only one of me and three of them, having books and art ready is what we are using to fill in the gaps of time so that we don't have wasted time.

My oldest son asked me if he could do his reading in the backyard.  My response was ABSOLUTELY!

I had each of the boys narrate (say back to me in their own words) what they read.  This is a simple exercise that helps them process and grow in communication.

The things that require mom are the reading lessons, handwriting lessons and some of the math lessons.  These are the disciplined studies that we do first thing in the morning.  The boys gave me a good hour of focus and now they are all three standing on the fence visiting with the neighbor (and I am taking a coffee and writing break while the baby finishes her nap and the boys are outside).

Here is what our lesson plans look like for this week.

Week 1
The Children's Bible (daily readings): Creation, Eden, Fall, Cain
Child's History of the World ch 1 Creation
Leif the Lucky by D'Aulaire –Take 2 wks to complete
Aesop: The Wolf and the Kid
Tortoise and the Ducks
Just So Stories: Whale
Child's Garden of Verses: a poem every day
Paddle to the Sea: ch. 1,2
Among the People- rd 2 chapters of your choice
James Herriot's Treasury for Children: Moses the Kitten

I cannot tell you how freeing looking at this list is to me.  There is nothing overwhelming to me as the teacher who also happens to be a mother with a lot of responsibilities to carry out in any given day.  It is simply a list of stories that I am going to read aloud with my children.  From these readings, I will choose a sentence or paragraph to have my children copy.  This is called copywork and it is the model I am using to teach my children the language arts that they need to learn.

From this simple model, they will not only be exposed to good thoughts, but they will be copying some of the best literature available.  No fancy workbooks were required for this.  No fancy lesson plans.  Just reading together with mom on the couch and then narrating back to me what we read and finishing up with copywork.  And we'll add in math...

I will admit...we are saying yes to this direction and leading, but there is a big part of me that is thinking, "If this is all a big flop at least we are working through it during the summer months so nothing will be wasted."  I hate that my faith is that wobbly, but I am just being honest.

The verse that has been in my heart the past couple weeks is one of my favorites. 

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

This is what I have felt from the moment we ordered our books for the upcoming year.


Freedom, joy, peace and excitement!  Which, I might add, has been my response EVERY SINGLE TIME God has led us in a new direction on our journey and we have been willing to follow and say yes! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sick Baby

My red head is under the weather.  Poor little guy.  I've been freshening up his couch bed and keeping his glass filled with crushed ice and a drink.  His little fever keeps spiking pretty high and he looks pitiful.  This is part of my daytime job that I love-taking care of these little guys (and gal!).

When we were growing up my mother always took such good care of us, especially when we were sick.  In high school my sister and I both got our wisdom teeth out on the same day.  She got us little bells to ring when we needed something and made us fun treats like Jell-O pudding in wine glasses topped with Cool Whip.

This morning our sick little fella looked at his daddy and me with big old tears running down those cheeks.  "I've been praying for God to heal me for three whole days and I am still sick...can we gather the family around me to pray for me?" 

What a tender heart.

We laid our hands on that little warm body and prayed over him to feel better.

It has been a sweet day of reading and watching Redbox movies.  His brother went to the store to get his medicine with dad, and they came home with three Redbox movies.  Add that to the two I checked out at the library last night and I have some happy campers.

Monster's Inc. 2
Mary Poppins
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I've got the double batch of strawberry Jell-O setting up in the fridge.  The boys don't know and boy are they going to be excited when they see it.  My favorite thing about making Jell-O is getting a big old spoon and getting a taste of the warm liquid before it sets.  So good.  And good for you?  What, it's strawberry!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Great Fruit!

I've been working on gently putting the baby on a schedule.  We were both ready for the structure and predictability.

I am feeling so excited about it.  We waited until she was about 6 weeks old to start moving this direction.  These last weeks have been filled with lots of longer naps, concentrating on full feedings, and just going with the flow.  That said, it feels so amazing to be on our way toward predictability.

I decided I wanted the first feeding of the day to start at 8am.  Then I penciled down times in two and a half hour increments for the rest of the feedings.  It helps me keep a good eye on her to watch for her sleepy signals.  Newborns sleep a ton, and I always get sad when I see her starting to yawn when it feels like she just woke up.

Part of getting on a schedule is establishing some routines so that she will learn to expect what is coming next.  It has also involved helping her learn to get to sleep in her own bed.  We have really enjoyed her falling asleep in our arms and on our chests.  We'll still do that sometimes (like last night when she fell asleep in my arms and I couldn't put her down because she was so cuddly and sweet!), but for the most part it was important for us that she be able to sleep without us having to hold her the whole time.

I'm going to hop off here and read for a bit before she wakes up...but I just wanted to share how excited I am about our new set of train tracks.  She has been sleeping for 55 minutes and I was able to shower, put on make-up and get dressed with enough time left over to read.

Last night I was even able to cook dinner.  Have you heard of that?  Granted, it wasn't a great dinner because I was out of a key seasoning packet and had to make my own which was a little lack luster, but still, we sat at the table and ate food that didn't require milk and a spoon or two slices of bread.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Testing 101

Today our son took his first standardized test.  He was super nervous and so was I.  I'm really glad our state requires this testing because it gives us a guideline to see how we're doing.   I stayed home with the little kids and Shane took him to the test.
I was dying at the texts that were flying back and forth between us.  A lot of real life denim jumpers were spotted on the runway today.  It made me think I may need to get a shorter one for spring/summer. 

The only one I have is long and that can get a little warm with the humidity.  He was the only Dad at the testing site and I encouraged him to avert the eyes lest he fall into an essential oil conversation and not be able to get his work done. The room was loud with ladies discussing different curriculums.  There was even a knitting table.

Meanwhile I was home and you'll never believe it but the house was quiet for about an hour.  The two middle boys quietly colored at the kitchen table for an hour while I held a sleeping baby and drank coffee.  I was gonna read my Bible during that time but I couldn't quit looking at little squishy cheeks.  I decided a sleeping baby is every bit as worshipful as a sunset on a Florida beach.  It was a sweet time of prayer.

We ordered this book from Amazon.  It was a fantastic resource to get our son familiar with test taking.

Today was a hard one for me.  It is hard to see your child anxious about the unknown.  I wanted to rescue him and just test him at home, but I knew he needed to go to the testing site for this experience.  I'm pretty sure Shane will be giving our kids the test next year.  All the homemade granola recipes overwhelmed him.

On second thought, I may just get a pair of knitting needles and call it a field trip for Mama when I take them next year.

Please don't judge me but we loaded up the bus and celebrated completed testing over a lunch at McDonald's.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Full Swing

It was 1:30 this afternoon when I was finally able to grab a slice of cold pizza and eat. 

Life is in full swing today and I've been running since my feet hit the floor.

We have a puny newborn that has been getting extra TLC.  Saturday she and I went shopping.  We had been in an accessorizing emergency because she did not have any casual wear bows.  We got that huge problem fixed, thank heavens.

When we got home from shopping the pizza was ready and Shane said he wanted to hold her so I could eat a hot dinner.  She was crying, so I went and grabbed a 2oz bottle of formula we had been given at the hospital when she was born and we gave it to her.

A little over an hour later she started getting very sick.  She got sick about 6 times in a row and then got very sleepy.  The next morning she woke up with a fever and dry diaper.  She wasn't eating or using the bathroom so we ended up at the ER.  They concluded she had a bad reaction to the formula.  She is still running a low grade fever so she has been nestled in my arms all day.  The Moby wrap has been the best thing that ever happened to me.  After her bath I put her in a little white onesie and nestled her into the wrap.  She is sleeping so snugly next to me and that fuzzy little head is easily accessible for me to keep kissing.

My oldest son has standardized testing this week so we are doing practice tests to get him familiar with the format.

We've also had some opportunities for heart training today.  I've said it before, but the Child Training Bible is something every parent should have.  It takes time to sit with a child and talk through wrong behavior but it is so worth it.

I looked in the mirror and noticed the huge bags and circles under my eyes.  I am worn out.  My heart is full but my body is tired.  Life is in a transition time right now and it is showing on my face.

My Bible is opened to Isaiah 41 today and every time I get a chance to sit with the baby I am reading truths from the pages. 

Today is definitely one of the full kinds of days.  At the recommendation of a friend I am using my crock-pot as much as possible these days.  Our French dip sandwich fixin's are cooking away and smelling oh so good.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

If you know me...

If you know me then you know how pumped I am about today.

True, it is Thursday and Thursdays are extra exciting because they are like our Fridays at our house.  That was weird, I just used a big amount of are/our combo's in the last sentence.

Today is more exciting than that though.

We have weather heading our way.  I get so giddy on the inside about severe weather.  I am thinking this is not a normal response.  I don't know what it is, but I get excited about big weather events.  They make me wish I had cable so I could get lost in The Weather Channel. 

I like when the meteorologists are getting wound up and taking over the TV stations.  I like texting my sister to joke about how long they've been in the storm shelter.

This is not normal, I know. 

I have been anticipating this weather day all week and looking forward to seeing what is going to happen.

Right now the skies are getting dark.  The air is humid and the wind is blowing.  If feels great outside.  I've been on the patio drinking my coffee and enjoying how the air feels.

Every cotton picking lamp in the house is on {Shane, I hope you are not reading this right now because if you are I just gave you a heart attack}.

My Orange Vanilla Trapp is burning and the skies are starting to rumble.

We are all in pj's.  Technically that is not true.  The boys are playing in the yard while they can.  But I am in my pj's and that is what really matters. 

This morning I've been doing research on curriculum for next year.  That is another thing I love besides severe weather-researching stuff!  We are praying about what to do for school next year.  Right now, Shane's vote is to join a co-op.  My heart is divided on the issue, but I think I love the idea of fellowship with other families!  We have three options.  Join the co-op, My Father's World or Heart of Dakota.  I am very ready and looking forward to a fresh start to a school year.

This year had a lot of twists and turns I had not planned on.  Namely, having a baby!  It has been beyond wonderful and it has also challenged me to unclench my fists and walk with God into the different direction He had planned for us.  Nothing about our days has been predictable.  Earlier this week I was having a very hard time surrendering control.  I am ready to get us on track and have structure to our days so that I can feel productive.  I've surrendered that desire to God and am choosing to walk in the path He has for our days.  He is saying slow down sister!  We're going to keep taking it slower than you'd like and it is going to be OK.  He is saying you are not going to get it all done sister and it's going to be OK.  I am at great peace with this.

I am pretty sure that by the grace of God I will not look back on this slower season with regret.  Letting go has been a battle some days, but for the most part I've been able to embrace this slower season and let go of my expectations.

Yesterday I read something in Colossians 2 about walking with Jesus.  This year I have seen that walking with Jesus has proved to be a slower pace.  We have gone in different directions than I would have planned and the scenery has been absolutely great.  I've resisted some days, but for the most part I've been able to go with the flow and there has been blessing in that place.

My prayer right now is two fold.  One-that we don't get blown away today and Two-that I would increasingly be able to walk in the paths chosen for our days.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Tarred is southern for I can barely keep my eyes open.

All day I have been asking myself the same question. 

"How the heck am I supposed to be getting it all done?!"  Maybe not even getting it "all" done, but just getting anything at all done.

Today has been kicking my tail.  Tale?  Phtail with a silent ph?

I'm tarred.  I feel impatient.  The kids are extra loud.  I've heard my name (Mama) called a gazillion times.  Every time I sit down to attempt a lesson an interruption comes.  I did sign up for this, no?

We've been inching our way through the day, one interruption at a time.  I keep reminding myself to be kind, smile, and respond with a gentle tone, even though on the inside I'd maybe like to be sitting at Panera all by myself with a book and something good to drink.  Since that wasn't really a viable option for today, I did enjoy my bowl of Fruit Loops on the patio this morning by myself.

And we just ate cake together.  And right now I'm taking a blogging break.  And later this afternoon I'm taking a nap.

It's good to be good to yourself, especially on the hard days.

I also just got the most encouraging text from a dear friend.

"Hey girl! Take it easy with school and adjusting to baby.  You don't have to do it all.  XOXOXO"

Ahhhh.  Can I get an Amen for friends with perspective whose words are wrapped in grace?!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Encouraged Me...

Sometimes it is easier to nag, worry, or completely give up hope for change than it is to remember to ask God for help. 

This week I've been meditating on Psalm 107 and it has been so encouraging to me.  For the time being, I've put my reading through the Bible plan on hold, and am choosing short passages to read through and meditate on. 

This Bible reading format works so well, especially in seasons where you want to go deeper but maybe only have shorter spurts to devote to reading.  Camp out in a passage every day for a week.  Every time you read and re-read it, new things will stand out.  Today I wanted to share with you some things that have encouraged my heart this week.

This week I've been thinking about the promises of God and wandering if I know them so that I can believe them and apply them to my life.  What are the promises of God?  There is one phrase that has come to mind as I've asked the question, "What are the promises of God?"   I will never leave you or forsake you and I will not leave you as orphans.

There is a Psalm I've been meditating on this week.  As I've read and re-read, I've been searching for threads of promise.

His lovingkindness is everlasting.  I love the NASB version because it doesn't just says "kindness", it attaches the word "loving" in front.  Lovingkindess. 

This Psalm, Psalm 107, is filled with stories of people in trouble and needing help.  Multiple times the passage says the people cried out to the Lord in their distress, and He delivered them from their trouble.  It was not worrying or nagging that delivered them.  It was crying out to the Lord in their frustration.  Maybe even a half-hearted cry for help because the bigger parts of them did not believe change was possible.

His lovingkindess hears.

His lovingkindess moves Him to action on our behalf.

We can be wandering in a wilderness.  Not even just a wilderness, but a desert wilderness where there is no food or water or life around.  We can be lost and not know the way that will put our feet on the right path toward life.  In our hunger and thirst, we can call out to God and He can deliver us.

His lovingkindness can put our feet on a straight path that will lead us to where we need to go.

His lovingkindness can satisfy the thirsty soul and fill the hungry with what is good.

During the times when we are dwelling in darkness and in the shadow of death.  When the same struggle feels like a prison.  If we will call, He will hear and save.

His lovingkindness brings us out of darkness and brakes the chains.

It does not matter how strong the chains are.  His lovingkindness shatters gates of bronze and cuts bars of iron. 

His lovingkindness can save us out of distress.

He sends His Word and heals us.

His lovingkindness can change a wilderness into a pool of water.  It can change a dry land into a spring of water, and He can put us there to dwell in that place.  It is in that place, that He establishes an inhabited city.  A place filled with life.  Fields, vineyards, fruitful harvests, blessing, growth, newness. 

His lovingkindness sets the needy securely on high away from affliction.

His lovingkindness makes his families like a flock.

Consider the lovingkindness of the Lord.

These have been encouraging truths for me this week.  It does not matter what is going on, His lovingkindness is near and available.  He can brake any chain and deliver us out of any circumstance.  I don't know if you have a problem you've been dealing with.  Maybe something that has been causing you frustration.  An area where you want to see change, but have lost hope over.

These words are an encouragement to keep crying out to God because He hears.  Trade in the worry and striving for some talking to God time.  The worry and strife will only wear you out.  Talking to God about it is what will set our feet on the right path and start producing the change and fruit we are desiring.

God hears us when we cry out to Him, and He saves us out of our troubles and distresses.  I like those promises a lot.

Psalm 107

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week Two

Today I am embarking on week two of trying to figure out our new normal.  Last week I got really sick with some postpartum stuff and was in bed a few days running fever and in bad shape.  After several days on antibiotics, however, I am a NEW woman!  The kind that even remembers how to put on make-up and jewelry!

Let me start by saying oh my heavens!  We are LOVING our newest addition to the family.  She is such a sweetheart and has really completed us.  When she wakes up her hair is all fuzzy and crazy and adorable.  She loves to be held and with five of us passing her around, she gets held a lot.

This morning I have made some plans to start slowly heading toward routine and normal.  That being said, most of my plans the last nine months have been traded for more time on the couch with the hubs and kids.  I think you'd be proud of the fingerprints on the glass and the layer of dust on the picture frames.  God has done a huge thing in my life by letting me be able to tolerate {a little more, anyway} some of the things that drive me that I can just rest or be with my family.

Here's what I started working on this morning {which, so far, has turned out to be a big fat flop}.

Today I've been trying to gently move the baby toward a routine.  The last two weeks my goal has been to get her to eat full feedings.  Newborns are so sleepy and it is hard to keep 'em awake to eat.  Heading into week three with her I'm trying to steer us toward some consistent routine.

We start back with school today which is a great feeling.  I thought I'd be up and running last week, but my sickness took me down to China town.

Since I was up for two straight hours last night with Sleeping Beauty I am hoping my afternoon reward will be a little {or big} nap.

It's Monday so that means the washing machine is whirling away behind me.  It is Living Room week at Flylady, so if I have time later today I may feather dust and run a quick vacuum.  The mission today is to put out a hot spot in the living room.  We have a small table with books piled in a big jumble.  Here's hoping that by the end of the day the books are lined up nice and neat.

I'm off to reheat my cup of coffee for the 5th time and teach an English lesson and add fabric softener to the laundry and try to settle the baby who is crying again.  I love my life!

Monday, March 17, 2014


Today I wanted to introduce you to the sweetest new little addition to our family.  She is almost two weeks old and is such a sweet little doll baby.  We are all five completely head over heels in love with her squishy little self.

Today is my first day of flying solo with all four kiddos, and it has gone great.  This has been the smoothest delivery and recovery, and I have been so thankful.  My body still hurts from time to time, mostly achy flu-like feeling stuff, but that always happens after surgery with me.  She is a dream baby.  She just likes to eat and sleep {like her Mama}.

Our family and friends have been such a huge blessing and support to our family over the last two weeks.  It is amazing when the Body of Christ reaches out to bless with prayers, texts, visits, meals, phone calls, the list could go on...

And my husband has been the greatest.  He is so loving and servant hearted, always making sure our needs are taken care of and never complaining even though I know he is just as tired as I am.

(all photos courtesy of Lulu Photography)
It is crazy how nine months can fly by so quickly.  It feels so good to be home and settling in to a new routine.  The boys are adjusting so fantastic.  They are completely smitten with their new little sis.  Heck, we're all just googly eyed around here.
I just keep thanking God over and over for the blessing of our sweet daughter.  She is the best gift ever!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Date Night

Here's my Friday situation.

I have a serious case of the I don't want to's.

Here is what I want to do that I don't want to do.

What I want to do is spruce up the house and make it all warm and cozy like, just like the picture above.  Get things in order, feather dusted, vacuumed, and smelling fresh.


Because the boys got the invite to Poppy and Nanny-cita's house for the evening.  After today, I will have four more days of being pregnant, thus wrapping up my ten year tour of expanding and deflating.

The last time we attempted a date we ended up at a local pizza joint, drove through Starbucks on the way home, and ended up sitting on the couch doing a whole lot of nothing.  It was very exciting.  Yawn.  (this is probably obvious, but I have turned out to be very boring company lately).

I've got a tentative plan brewing in my mind about how to be a fun person to be around tonight.  First, I am going to wear real clothes and jewelry.  I have a firm resolve that I will not, under any circumstance, allow myself to shop from his side of the closet tonight.  I've already got my hair and make-up done so we are half way there.  I'm thinking after we drop the boys off we can do nothing less than a Mexican fiesta.

You see where I'm going with this?  Steak fajitas, guacamole, pico, chili con queso, imaginary margarita...are you with me?

So the other phase of the date night would include coming home to a tidy house, clean pair of sheets and pj's, vacuum lines in the carpet, orange vanilla Trapp candle, fireplace, and my new book and or a magazine.

Date night could very well turn into Sonic and the couch but I am hopeful that I can press on toward the goal.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

God Spoke An Audible Word To Me

Yesterday morning I got the neatest unexpected gift.

God spoke an audible word to me through my five year old.

Before I tell you what he said, I've got to back up and give you the background.

At some point last year I began thinking about the happy, joyful side of God's heart.  It is not part of His character that I think on often and yet I know it is part of who He is.

The moment I found out we were having another child, I had one simple request.  It wasn't for specifics on looks or health.  It wasn't for any type of perfection.  It was simply that this child would reflect the joy and laughter of the Father.  So for months I've prayed this over our daughter, that her life would reflect the joy and laughter of her Creator.

Yesterday morning I was laying in bed praying before I got up.  As I was praying, I was once again praying for our daughter's life to reflect the joy and laughter of God's heart.  It was as I was praying that the most unusual, amazing thing happened.

My five year old silently crawled up into the bed with me.  He is not a snuggler with me.  Now, him with his Daddy is another story.  That boy will snuggle his Daddy all day long, but he is not typically affectionate with me, so the sheer fact that he was quietly snuggling me was precious.

As we laid in the quiet, I kept praying silently and was enjoying being cheek to baby soft cheek with my littlest fella.  It was in the quiet that my child uttered one word. 


"What did you just say?" I asked.


"Did you just say Laughter?"

"Yes.  What does that mean Mama?"

"Well, laughter is when your heart is filled with joy and you laugh.  It is a happy thing."

That was it.  That was the end of the short conversation.  I had been laying in the quiet of the morning praying about joy and laughter and God sent my five year old son to crawl in bed and speak the word laughter into the quiet morning.  He didn't even know what the word he uttered meant.

Sometimes the way God speaks so personally to us blows me away.  He knows I've been anxious about having a daughter.  He knows that for a decade I have raised boys and that is where my comfort zone lies.  All these months He has heard my request over this new life and yesterday morning He decided to surprise me and speak the word out loud into the quiet.

"As faith continues to speak, God continues to give."

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

"Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

"Have we come to the point where we have met God in His everlasting NOW?"

"True faith relies on God and believes before seeing."

"Faith that believes it will see"

"We will laugh at seemingly impossible situations while we watch with delight to see how God is going to open a path through our Red Sea."

Hebrews 11:1
Mark 11:24
Streams In The Desert, February 17th

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Late Nights and Good Memories

My little crew have all come down with colds. May I just say that having "the common cold" leaves you feeling like death? It seems like a simple enough plague to come down with.  No prescription required and people don't run from you when they hear you've got one.  Well, I think it is sheer torture.  I have officially decided that I absolutely hate the way I feel when I have a cold.  It is a terrible feeling to not be able to breathe through my nose.

As disgusting as I think nose spray is, I had finally had it and broke down and got something to help me breathe.  The boys won't have anything to do with it, but it has helped me a lot.  There is a 3 day limit before you become an addict, so I only have one more night of enjoying the benefits of being able to breathe via this remedy.  We've been making the most of it.  I've come up with a little concoction that helps us feel better.

  • hot shower to breathe in the steam
  • Vapor Rub on neck and chest when you get out
  • nasal spray (gross, I know)
  • Sudaphed to help with congestion
  • Tylenol
  • good Kleenex with lotion
  • lots of ice water
  • sleep as much as you can
  • sleep with a humidifier (we are using the Vapo Steam and it fills the air and makes you feel so much better both while you sleep and when you wake up)
  • lots of extra snuggles  (we made the kids a pallet on our bedroom floor and we are all camping out in our room at night, sharing the humidifier)
Between staying up late watching the Olympics and camping out together in our room, we've been making some good memories.  I am reading the boys Amy Carmichael while we're all piled in our little campout room at night.  There is nothing like going on a journey together as a family to take a peek into the life of a faith filled person.

    As much as I would never wish to have a crew with colds, I will say that we've been having some sweet family time because of it.  There are many things I love about the homeschooling lifestyle and staying up late sharing life as a family is at the top of the list.  We are treasuring these last days before our little baby comes.  I can't sleep a wink at night and it's cool.  I'm so excited about what is around the corner I can't stand it!
    Yesterday we graduated from the high risk doctor.  We don't have any guarantees that our little one will be perfectly healthy, but I have so much peace that she has been formed just as she should.  She weighs 6 pounds and has hair!  This makes me so excited!

    I am having to stay off my feet due to high blood pressure.  It's not bad at all.  We've been doing school from the couch and my bed and my hubby has been all hands on deck. 

    The only other thing I wanted to talk to you about was my favorite costumes and skaters.  I love Gracie Gold and Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

    I adored this performance so much.  She is gorgeous and the song selection from My Fair Lady was perfect.

    When I make my Olympic Ice Skating debut, my dress will be elegant like Meryl's.  Flowy, graceful, sequined, and in an ice blue color since I think that looks best against the backdrop of white ice.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reset Button

This morning I started out with good intentions.

When I woke up, I pulled the covers up and snuggled into the warm sheets for a few minutes longer.  We've been staying up late watching the Olympics and four of us have come down with little colds, so laying in bed felt really good this morning.  As I laid there in the first moments of the day, I prayed that God would help us order our day in a way that would honor Him.

When I got up things started unraveling pretty quickly.  I'll spare you the details, but the day was not getting off to a good start.

I've learned that I can't give out what I don't have.  With that in mind, I made some breakfast and went into my room to read and pray for a little while.  As I was sitting there with my box of Kleenex feeling so crummy, I was mentally going through my list of things that typically help me get back on track.

For my Bible reading I am in Jeremiah, but today I was more in a Psalms mood so I opened up and started reading.  I was so surprised and so blessed by one verse.  This one verse was so encouraging to me and it completely re-routed my focus.

"For I will not trust in my bow, nor will my sword save me."  Ps. 44:6

Those words helped me hit the reset button.  While it is true that there are certain things I can do to intentionally, proactively fill my cup, my real trust and strength do not come from my efforts.  They come from looking to Him for my strength.  It is very easy for me to trust in "my bow and my sword,"  those things I know energize and refresh me.

Today I won't get it all checked off the list.  I can't.  Hitting my reset button helped me remember that God is in control of it all today.  I don't have to trust in my own efforts.  They won't save me.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, His song will be with me.  To God, my exceeding joy, the God of my strength, His grace is poured out upon us.

Monday, February 10, 2014

How I do Flylady

Years ago when I started the Flylady cleaning system, I dove right in.  You can read the Getting Started article and it will set you heading in the right direction.  Just a warning-if you sign up for the email group you'll get a lot of emails!  I liked that in the early days because they kept me motivated.

I've noticed over the years that I use her system in different ways depending on the season of life we are in.  There have been times when I religiously decluttered 15 minutes a day and spent an hour each week "Blessing My House"...aka cleaning it.

This is not that season.  I have always had to modify the system when we were in busier times.  Today I wanted to share with you what I'm doing now.  So, I guess it was about three weeks ago when I got super overwhelmed with how dirty my house felt.  These last 8 months I haven't had the energy to keep my house like I would like to.  You don't understand, for me, dirt on a baseboard drives me crazy!  It has been very, very hard for me to let it go.  My home is my sanctuary.  I am here twenty four seven and I function best when it is in order and sparkling.

Right now I basically have two choices.  Do nothing at all because I can't do it perfectly, or make a game plan and do what I can.  Three weeks ago I decided to go with option what I can.  I went to Flylady's website and checked out her "Zones" for the month.  It is her way of dividing up your home and each week gets a different cleaning focus.

On Living Room week, I spent about 15-20 minutes in that room (and I only worked in that room one day!).  The only things I did that day were: feather dust the blinds, raised them and Windexed the window, Pledged the furniture, Windexed the glass and vacuumed the area.  It was a quick clean in only one area.  Girl.  The entire room smelled so fresh when I finished.  There was still an entire house that needed attention, but just the knowledge that that one room had been tended to made me feel so good.

When I finished, I sat down in my tidy living room and ate some chips and dip and enjoyed!

Last week I was in the kitchen.  I only worked in my kitchen one day last week-for maybe 30 minutes.  I dusted the blinds, Windexed the window, and quickly wiped down the cabinet doors.  That is it.  There was more that could've been done but that was all I had in me last week.  Guess what?  My kitchen has felt so much better this week!

This week is the bathroom and one extra room.  I chose the boys room for my one extra room.  All I have done in their room this week is sort through their clothing drawers to make sure everything is in the appropriate place.  I cleaned out about 5 pairs of too small pj's.  And guess what?  I feel so great about some organized drawers in one room!

Don't be afraid to glance at her system to get a framework to work in, and then modify it if you have to.  Jotting the focus down on my calendar helps me remember where to spend extra time that week.  Even if I only work on the area one day, it still makes a difference.  It adds up.

And try not to be too hard on yourself if you can't get it all done.  For me right now, I'm just in a slower season for awhile.  It truly has been the grace of God that has allowed me to stop and enjoy and be content with the little bit that I am doing.  He is the only one who brings peace within our borders.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Game Plan

The Mr. went on a discipleship retreat with the menfolk from church this weekend.  Between me and you, I was torn about him going.  Sure, I was all smiles and encouraging him to go if it would be life-giving for him, but on the inside I was bummed!  It was all selfishness on my part.  I hate staying by myself, I'm a big ol' baby.  When he said he wanted to go, I was all, GREAT!  But on the inside I was like, "Well Shoot!"  I decided I needed to get a little game plan in order so we'd have some things to look forward to over the weekend.  As things usually do, we veered from the plan a lot, but I've learned (or am learning) to roll with the punches.

The plan for Saturday was to get out on the town.  I didn't know what we were going to do, and I didn't care, we were just going to get dressed and go.  What I didn't plan on was waking up Saturday feeling tired and icky.  We stayed in most of the day.  I did manage to drag us to a rummage sale for a few minutes looking exactly like this...

This would be a good point for me to interject my sincerest apologies for all of you who have to see me in this same sweatshirt for the next month.  I am aware that a small hole is developing on the lower front.  If you're OK with it, so am I.  I do wash it every other day{ish}.

We did go pick up Mamaw and headed to Dairy Queen for lunch to take advantage of the $5 lunch deal.  OK, this is a really great deal.  For $5 you get a combo meal (cheeseburger, chili dog or chicken strips) and a sundae.  For $1 more you can upgrade to a small Blizzard.  AND...if you are full after your meal like we were, they'll give you a Blizzard coupon to come back another time for your ice cream.  It's like two outings in one.  Cha-Ching.

Saturday was so rainy and icky, we went home and stayed under blankets watching movies all afternoon.  The boys went back to play video games and I feel asleep on the couch for a good hour.  Accidentally falling asleep on the couch is the best nap you'll ever get.  It's the kind that leaves you needing a snack of Fritos and a Coke when you wake up just so you can come back to earth.
So, around 5pm our plans changed again.  The Mr. called and said we might have winter weather coming our way.  Dad gum it.  That meant we needed to run to the store, in the rain, to stock up, because Big Mama will not be caught in snow without good vittles.  We threw clothes back on {naturally we were already in pj's}.  We are flying through Kroger and a sweet worker stops us. 
"How cute, your little boy has his pants on inside out AND backwards."
And so it was.

We made it home, all wet and cold, ate pizza, and I threw the dudes in a bath.  They had a great surprise when they got out, Dad was home!
(the bottom pic is blurry, they are never still enough for the camera!)

That's pretty much our weekend in review.  Last night we had a great time "watching" the game with friends from church.  We had some seriously good food.  Buffalo wings, buffalo dip, quesadillas, veggie tray, cheese dip and salsa, 7 layer dip, potato soup, taco soup, cookies, drinks...for a minute I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  The heartburn that kept me up all night reminded me that no.  No, I was still here.

We have had a slow start to our Monday morning.  I'm heading off to fix lunches and give lessons.  And maybe eat another Tums.  Or two.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A few food related things

As you know this is a big food week.  You know, with the Super Bowl and everything.  I was prepared for tomorrow.  Chili with all the fixin's for lunch, naps, and game time.  I'm making Buffalo Ranch Dip with Frito Scoops and quesadillas for our potluck heavy appetizer party.  What I wasn't ready for, however, was the wintry mix on the radar.

I take snow/ice very seriously when it comes to food.  I'm the girl you make fun of and I'm at peace with it.  It's just that you can't be snowed in without some seriously good food to eat.  This is how I keep my figure as you probably already figured out.

I take snow days so seriously that I'd be willing to dawn the drizzling rain on a Saturday night with all my boys with me while wearing not a stitch of make-up and showing all kinds of evidence of spending a lazy Saturday at home.  This would not be a big deal except for the fact that everyone in my town was also at Kroger.

It mattered not.  The fridge had to be stocked with the good stuff.  Here is a short line up of the weeks food offerings.  French dip sandwiches, chicken soft tacos, beef stew, and taco soup.  We also have the fixin's for Rice Krispy Treats and Hershey's Championship Chocolate Chip Bars.

We made a marathon trip through the store, scoring a week's worth of groceries in under 30 minutes AND I didn't run into anybody!  We picked up Pizza Hut on the way home and are ready for the weather.  Bring it!

My teacher friends hate me for wishing it, but I'd be so happy if we got snowed in at least one day.  Last year we totally got the shaft on snow days and this year we have only had one measly ice day.  Psh.  I need real snow! Is that too much to ask?

What are your favorite snow day foods?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Sweetest Season

(all photos taken by Lulu Photography)

This morning I've been thinking about what a sweet season of life this has been for me.  My pregnancy started out really hard, as they always have, but even in the difficulty their was blessing.  Before I found out I was pregnant, I was planning to go to a hermitage with a friend for a prayer retreat.  A hermitage is a little cottage at a Catholic monastery where you can stay for a couple days of quiet and prayer.

I've been running hard for the last ten years.  Babies, diapers, training, working a "part-time" job, homeschooling, keeping the house, the list could go on.  This summer God called me home full time and when I found out I was pregnant, well, I was just plain tired even from the beginning.

My friends told me that when your baby turns five you round a corner, a sort of graduation.  You've made it through the most labor intensive years.  The younger years are fun, they are just very physically demanding.  But when you reach the corner where everyone can bathe themselves, brush their own teeth, go to the bathroom by themselves and get dressed without assistance, well, that is a very big day in the life of a mama.

It is a little humorous to round that corner only to find that you are about to start all over again.  I have been so amazed and excited that we are having a baby.  I've always imagined we'd have four or five kids.  After our third, it seemed like the wisest thing would be to stop where we were.  I'm so thankful God had other plans.  We waited almost 6 years for this fourth little blessing. 

This has been my most unique pregnancy so far.  Since my boys are older, and I am home full time now, I have had the freedom to take the rest my body needs.  I'm a little, ahem, older now than when I started this journey of having kids.  I remember this summer wanting to be done with homeschooling.  I was so tired.  So, so, tired.  My husband felt like we needed to continue this year.  God confirmed the decision with lightening speed.  Within 24 hours, we'd been given all the curriculum we needed for the year.

Having my boys home with me during these slower, quieter days has been the greatest gift to me.  We have slow starts to our day, eat lunch, sit around the kitchen table or pile up on the couch in the afternoon for our lessons, and in the evenings we eat and gather again in the living room to hang out as a family.  I am not up and running around with a million things to do.  I've been able to be present in all that is going on around me.

Although I am so beyond excited to meet our little Annie Gray, I am not in a rush to cross the finish line.  The greatest gift of this season that I've been given is the absence of rushing and the gift of time.  We have more peace in our home than ever.  I am well rested.  My boys hearts are full and content.  They go around the house singing songs and playing and I'm doing the same.  This summer when I obeyed God and came home full time I was terrified of what it would look like.  I knew that the greatest treasure and blessing is only found when we are in the center of His will.  It has blown me away at how much richness and blessing has been found by being completely obedient and saying Yes to Him.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ready For The Weekend!

It's been a full week of school, house, dinners and dishes.  Ready to enjoy this sunshiney weekend with family and friends!