Sunday, June 30, 2013

Another Old Picture of Clint

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I found this old Polaroid of my honey when he was a young boy. I can see Bethany here in his eyes.
I still have a big box I need to go through of pictures. I think there are some of me when I was younger in there too. I just don't know when will get to them. Life is busy but very good!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

My "Little" Boys

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Joshua, 13 and Caleb, just turned 12

They found just enough scrap wood to build a box.
They are having a blast with the scrap pile and Clint's tools.
Clint has always included them when he does work at home and instructs them on proper tool use and safety.

This is from the pictures I take with my cellphone during the day to keep Clint up to date while he is at work. Clint says he loves getting the pictures and thanks me regularly for them. When he gets home, he comments on the things he's seen the children doing, and asks questions. Sharing the pictures is a great way to build or strengthen relationships between fathers and their children. It's a little thing I can do that only takes a few seconds and gives both my children and my husband so much.
 I do this for Brandon and Amanda also when they are away from the house a lot.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Chicken Bryan Recipe

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The recipe I tried was this one, and it tasted just like Carrabbas'! The garlic mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts were requested as sides by my food loving children. My family loved the Chicken Bryan! Everyone one of them had seconds and a few had thirds! I used my own sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil. I love cooking with fresh basil. It makes the entire kitchen smell wonderful! I enjoy gourmet cooking when I have the time for it because it makes the family so happy. 

While I cooked and prepared it, I gave cooking lessons to all of my children on how to butterfly chicken breasts and how to not break a sauce. The beauty of homeschooling is that learning is always happening.

Romans 14:2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.  C.S. Lewis 

Faith is not a refuge from reality. It is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications. The true subject matter of religion is not our own little souls, but the Eternal God and His whole mysterious purpose, and our solemn responsibility to Him. Evelyn Underhill

Difficulties show men what they are. In case of any difficulty, God has pitted you against a rough antagonist that you may be a conqueror, and this cannot be without toil. Epictetus

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Swallows' Progression

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perched at night

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grooming on the power line

There are more pictures of the birds here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's Exactly What Happens

American Sign Language for abortion. 

how to induce an herbal abortion, herbs that will abort, abortifacient herbs

Music Video: Mandisa Only the World

If the embedded video doesn't work, click here.

"Only The World"

Been a hard one, Been a bad one
Been a tough one, Been a sad one
It's been one of those days that keeps chipping away at my heart
Nothing new here, It's what I do here
It's a stereotypical day, in the life
I'm surrounded by all of the pain and the strife
But I know it's alright, woah oh

Cause it's only the world I'm living in
It's only today I've been given
There ain't no way I'm giving in
Cause it's only the world (only the world)
I know the best is still yet to come
Cause even when my days in the world are done
There's gonna be so much more than only the world for me
Do do do do do do do do do, yeah it's only the world

Rest of lyrics here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Around Here June/July 2013

Clint had to drive back and forth to our hometown to work on a machine there off and on for three weeks in a row. That made for a long work week, but it is very good money. While he was there, I asked an old friend of ours to "steal" Clint's truck. That made for a fun day! Clint has also spent some time teaching our two youngest boys how to use a scroll saw and band saw. All three are enjoying the woodworking. 

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Clint was hit very hard while at a standstill at a stop light by a distracted driver (hence my post). Clint was driving Amanda's car, formerly his, so Amanda could take the truck to the beach. Amanda has taken it to a shop for an estimate today. We think it will be totaled which is a shame because it has been an excellent car.

I feel like my down time (re: the bed rest earlier this year) shouldn't affect the family any more than necessary. I enjoy giving them a clean, organized, comfortable home which I try hard to manage well. I want to provide a haven where our family and friends can find a peaceful rest from the day to day world. I have been staying extremely busy trying to catch up on the stuff that fell behind while I was off my feet hoping to make the upcoming homeschooling days easier. I usually do a deep clean of every space in the house in the spring and the fall. I try to touch up paint a couple of times a year. Then there are a bunch of other things that happened that need my attention, like the couch has a tear at a seam. I had to admit this weekend that I am just not going to get everything done that I wanted to before we start homeschool in a couple of weeks, but at least I made a good effort. The rest will get caught up here and there eventually. 

Brandon included Clint and me on his filling out paperwork for top secret clearance through the government. He is currently being shopped by four employers, and one has requested he go ahead and do this even though he may not take the job. He is seeking the Lord's leading for which direction he should go. Brandon is still working at his current job and volunteering at the local shelter for abused women and children. He's hoping he can continue with the volunteer work and maybe part time at his current job. Update: Brandon got a full time job with a growing local company. He plans to work there for a while until he is ready to reach the next step in his long term plan.

On Friday, I lamented to Amanda that I knew I couldn't finish everything I had planned to do before school started, but knew I wouldn't be able to make it. I listed a few things I would try very hard to get done in the next two weeks. Later, I walked into the house and wondered why my valances were off the windows. Amanda had painted the den for me knocking that off my list! She continues to have a heart that desires to serve others, just like Jesus exampled for us. Amanda is waiting on her certification to arrive so she can start her career and plans to continue her education. She didn't see any point in getting a part time job working outside of her chosen field for the interim, so she's been dividing her time between home, a part time business she and Brandon in which they have been very successful. 

Joshua and Caleb are very excited because their bearded dragons are laying eggs again. They have researched the requirements and are trying to incubate them. Last year, the eggs were trampled on before they could get them which resulted in infertile eggs. I think it would be a great science lesson for them to see the lizards hatch and successfully raise them to adulthood. I'd like to see a reptile hatch myself!

Bethany is loving her sewing lessons and has made many projects from her sewing books. She is growing to be a lovely and delightful young lady. Even as quiet and gentle as she is, she still can handle her sometimes pesky older brothers. "Yes, Joshua, I can smell you from here, and NO, I do not want to sniff your underarm!" 

Emily and Hannah have declared this the summer of the tadpoles. Emily calls them "tattle-tails," and Hannah calls them "tad-a-poles." They are obsessed with catching them. I've been feeding their catches to my fish and turtles which keeps the little girls happy on bringing them indoors, but still keeps the indoor tadpole count at a manageable level. 

We are really enjoying this very busy season of life.  I hope things are going well with you and yours too. If you haven't contacted us in a while, drop us a line and let us know how you are doing. 

I Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Turtle Sign

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Amanda painted this for me.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cutting Up

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 Brandon, Clint, and Amanda cracking up at something I said.

Due to the cluster of birthdays, we have birthday balloons and other decorations in our dining room from late May to early July. Up next is Miss Em's!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Soaking It In While I Can

About every other day or so, depending on how hard she's been playing, Hannah will seek me out. Usually with a blanket in hand or wrapped around her like a cape, she will crawl into my lap.
I know when she has that wide eyed look, she's going to go out for a little while.
Knowing that she is my last little one, I am soaking it all in while I can.
On the 14th, after she tired herself out catching "tad-a-poles," I held her for two hours while she napped in my arms.
I took pictures one handed with my cell phone:

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Friday, June 21, 2013

If You Drive or Have Children That Do, You Need to Read This

Is that text you are so involved in worth living with the rest of your life knowing you took someone's life, or stole a mother from her children, or a child from her parents, or a breadwinner from their family? Do you want to be the reason someone is in a wheelchair for the rest of their life? I have the utmost respect for people who have told me "About to drive. I'll text again when I stop." I know they value life (which equals my family and yours) more than a text. Come on, people, weigh the consequences of your actions. Put a priority on LIFE.

You nod your head and agree when you see reminders to not text and drive, but you keep doing it anyway! You tsk, tsk, tsk, and condemn someone when you hear about a distracted driving accident, but you think it won't happen to you. You agree something should be done. But, you just keep on answering those texts.

I have NEVER texted while driving. Never. Not even once. I am very strict on my children about this, so I make sure I give a good example. I don't want to live with the lifelong guilt of maiming or killing someone. I don't want to alter other people's lives or have their loved ones blaming me for the pain in their life. I don't want the guilt of knowing I could have avoided all of it by just waiting. Your life, stranger, is more important to me than whatever is going on with my phone. I just wish mine and my family's was important to you. I am asking you to please consider the cost of your actions. Is that text so important it can't wait til your destination or until you can pull over to answer it?

I've heard parents make excuses for their children's texting while driving. "How will I know if they do or not? Well, how can I stop them?" You ask for their phone when they get home, and you look to see if they texted while driving.* Take the cell phone and car away if they break your rules. Period. Stop making excuses and taking the easy way out and parent your children while you still have power to influence them. Teach them there are consequences for their actions by imposing restrictions when they break rules. Having privileges taken away is better than the consequences of causing an accident. Keeping them safe is better than them being temporarily angry with you. Being a responsible parent in this area might save their life or keep them from living with regret. A dead child doesn't come back. Love your child enough to be the parent in their lives. They will thank you for it later, and if they don't, having them alive should be thank you enough. 

Don't commit a serious offense over something senseless! All texting is senseless when you are behind the wheel endangering lives.

*I still do this with my ADULT college-aged children who live under my roof and on my dime. And, they are welcome to check mine at any time...accountability. It's that easy. Asking them to be safe while on the road is not out of line or overly burdensome.

Frog Tales

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Emily (5): "MOM!!! There are lots of tattle-tails in the ditch!!"

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pequeño Corazón

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Chihuahua with a natural heart marking.

This dog has been stolen from us. If you see it, please contact police and give them our email information at the top of this page. We can prove ownership.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Feeling Like God Has Forsaken You?

I shared this with a friend who felt God was not hearing her prayers and had turned His face away from her and her family during their four year long struggle with a constantly attacking enemy that caused them to lose their careers, home, money, future plans, and health:

I have felt that way too. I've learned He's not forsaking us, but He is silent and it is temporary. You will hear from Him again. He will lift you out of this place. He will restore you. Hold on. What you are going through will serve a purpose. Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things He did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in Him.

Psalms 34:17-19 Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to Him for help, and saves him out of all his troubles. The Lord is close to those whose heart is breaking; He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. The good man does not escape all troubles - he has them, too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Clint's Birthday

I was still recovering physically for the first 3/4 of our spring/summer birthday marathon (Brandon's, Clint's, Caleb's, and Emily's on 7/2), so I didn't get the pictures up immediately after. Here's a few from Clint's:

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laughing at a friend's joke

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opening his gift
We pooled our money to get him something really nice!

Romans 12:9-13 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation,be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chosen People, Holy and Dearly Loved

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Colossians 2:12-15 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bowling Links

I was informed I forgot to post the links to the free summer bowling. I apologize to those who were looking for it. Somehow I posted it on Facebook, but forgot to add them in the blog post. I added the links to the bowling post below, but here it is again:

Free bowling for kids all summer long! Kids registered in the Summer Unplugged program can bowl two games per day, every day, all summer long!"

Not into bowling, but interested in more free activities? Try skating: 

To make up for my forgetfulness, here is another low cost summer activity This link features: "a list of participating locations and start dates. Each location will host the Summer Movie Express on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am for nine weeks. Admission is $1 and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute."

Update: Someone said one of the links wasn't working right. I think I fixed it.

Barn Swallows & Symbolism

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We have lived here for 18 years. We use to have about 10-12 nesting pairs of swallows in our "big barn" which burned completely down three years ago. That spring swallows came back, circled over the spot the barn was and then left our place. They're back! This is the first year barn swallows have nested in the awning of our front door. They seem unperturbed by our constant comings and goings. 

In Scripture, the ant is used to illustrate wisdom, preparation, and hard work. The eagle represents strength. The serpent reminds us of craftiness and cunning. The wolf represents deception. A sparrow reminds us of God's attention, care, and provision for His creation. 

While not mentioned in the Bible, swallows have long been considered as a symbol for grieving mothers who have lost a child. And, here they are nesting at my very busy front door. They are also perching within 2-3 feet of me which has impressed me and everyone else who has seen it. When I see them flitting about, I smile and think about how many times God has shown me His love for me since I lost my babies. Difficulties happen to everyone, but intimately knowing the Father makes a tremendous difference in how we cope through them. I am glad I am His child, and I hope you are too.

I have another post showing the progression of the nest coming up soon. 

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believesin him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Northern Diamondback Terrapin

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A friend passed along their Northern Diamondback Terrapin to me.
I put it temporarily in my box turtle area. She promptly laid eggs in front of us!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Storm Line

When we were newly married, Clint said I had an "unusual fascination" with the weather.
Now, he watches it with me!
I love a big storm, but I never want to see life or property harmed.
As a mother, I am always concerned about keeping my children safe, so if it looks like a very bad storm with tornado risk, I make them stay in our designated "safer spots" of our home until the danger has passed.

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The top three were taken of my back yard as the storm approached.
After I snapped those, I walked to the front and snapped this one:

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As fast as I could after that picture, I took this one:

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This line of storms was moving through at 60 mph!
We had a little wind damage, heavy rain, and some lightning strikes that didn't hurt anything on the farm.

Clint took this picture of a swinging stop light near Bland Blvd in Newport News:
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Even in the Midst of the Storm, God's Love is Evident

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Even when God allows us to go through something that hurts, His love is still evident. When I lost Isaac, God blessed me with a long period of time where I could once again enjoy having all seven of my children at home during the day. My aching arms are never empty for long because every where I turn, there is one of my children to fill them. There has been plenty of activity to keep me going even in the moments I wanted to stop. What a blessing at the perfect time! His love is always present.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Alzheimer's & Real Love

♥ "This couple married for 50 years will show you what true love looks like. His love and devotion remains strong even as she battles Alzheimer's." "I count it a great privilege to care for this woman that I have loved all of these years and continue to love." ♥

Check out the bike he made which pushes a wheel chair that allows them to still enjoy a favorite activity together.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Article: Why We Won’t Let a Village Raise Our Kids

"As parents we have a choice.  We have a choice to tune in, to engage, to set limits and pay attention and to take responsibility for our children.  As Christians, this is not really even a choice, it is our calling. ...

How our kids turn out, what they learn, and the people they become is all on us. ...

My issue is not with the teachers, but with this growing societal notion that sending our kids to school or Sunday School or any other number of structured activities somehow lets parents off the hook. " 

read the article here

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Daily Blessings

Caleb's wrote in his homeschool journal:

My Family
by Caleb

My family is made of  Mom, Dad, Amanda, Joshua, Caleb, Bethany, Emily and Hannah. Mom and Dad are the best mom and dad! We are a family of nine. Our ages are 44, 44, 21, 18, 13, 11, 9, 5, and 5. I love all of them.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Organizing Party Supplies

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Holding onto things you know you will reuse is a great way to save money in any family, especially large families. We outgrew the dresser I had our party things stored in, so I found plastic drawer bins from thrift stores for $3-5 each for additional storage. I tell my children:

"Don't keep it unless you keep it organized. It's OK to keep things to reuse if you organize them, but you must organize them. If you can't protect them from damage and find them when you need them, you can't reuse them! Then you've wasted valuable space and money!"

Find party decorations here.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Homeschool: Learning Art with Thomas Kinkade

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One of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to pick the curriculum that best matches your children. I bought the Lifepac Basics of Drawing Set for Brandon and Amanda years ago. They loved learning from a renowned artist! The DVD set is well worth the money and you can buy extra workbooks. I am letting my three middle and two younger children go through the curriculum this month. Emily and Hannah will go through it again when they are older. Homeschooling a large family also lets you get your money's worth!



Author Marshall Shelley, who suffered the deaths of two of his children, writes in Leadership:

"Even as I child, I loved to read, and I quickly learned that I would most likely be confused during the opening chapters of a novel. New characters were introduced. Disparate, seemingly random events took place. Subplots were complicated and didn't seem to make any sense in relation to the main plot. But I learned to keep reading. Why? Because you know that the author, if he or she is good, will weave them all together by the end of the book. Eventually, each element will be meaningful. At times, such faith has to be a conscious choice. Even when I can't explain why a chromosomal abnormality develops in my son, which prevents him from living on earth more than two minutes ... even when I can't fathom why our daughter has to endure two years of severe and profound retardation and continual seizures ... I choose to trust that before the book closes, the author will make things clear."

Thursday, June 06, 2013

This Homeschooled Young Man is Asking For Your Help

Homeschool Math Freebie for 2nd to 4th Grades

Go here for details. Ends 6/10/2013. 

Bowling, Bowling, Bowling, Get Those Balls A'Bowling

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It's bowling time!!

When you have a wide range in ages, it can be hard to find something everyone can enjoy. If you skip concession items, bowling is an inexpensive way to get some fun and exercise as a large family. Many alleys feature coupons which help cut costs further.

"Free bowling for kids all summer long! Kids registered in the Summer Unplugged program can bowl two games per day, every day, all summer long!"

Not into bowling or interested in more free activities? Try skating:

Psalms 103:17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Give a Soldier a Cup of Coffee and an Encouraging Word

Pay $2 to buy a Service Member a cup of coffee and write and encouraging word to them. You will be told where the troop is stationed and most likely will get a thank you through email. Learn more and send your cup of coffee here.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Progress and Peace

I am seeing progress physically. A few weeks ago, I was so worn down from the hyperemesis I could barely walk 15 steps to the bathroom. Today, I biked a little over 8 miles and then walked a mile and a half on the treadmill. 

A little over a week ago, I felt this peace come over me like a comforting blanket. Isaac isn't going to be born. He died. I wanted my son very much and losing him shredded my heart. And, for some unexplainable reason, I am OK with it. That's the peace that goes beyond understanding, my friends. Bad things happen to all of us, but having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ makes it easier. His mercy, grace, and peace are beautiful gifts to His children. I hope with all my heart you know Him. 

Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Light Saber Battle

Joshua came up with the idea of a Mother's Day Light Saber Battle.
I loved it and am eager for my energy to return so I can join in too!

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First there were two challengers.

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Look at Clint's face. :-)

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And then, there were three!

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And a brave Emily makes four challengers!
(At 4, Hannah doesn't like the rough stuff just yet. Brandon and Amanda were on vacation.)

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No, we haven't forgotten about Isaac, or his vanishing twin Mary. We do have living children who need us to lead them though. It would be wrong to turn their life into one of prolonged grief, so we get up and go forward. Our hearts still hurt, and our empty arms ache. There are times we go off to ourselves. But, there is a great comfort in surrounding ourselves with our children.

Ecclesiastes 3:4-5 There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance with joy.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Sweetness in the Home

I found this in a stack of papers I am going through as I try to catch up on things I am behind on. It made me smile to see his heart ready and willing to add another sibling. He adds "I love you, Mom!" to all of his writing assignments. Caleb has such a loving heart. It is a honor to be a mother to this young gentleman.

The Baby
by Caleb
March 2013

I hope the baby is a boy. I will love to have more kids in our home. And, I will be fine if the baby needs to stay in Joshua's and my room. I love my family. I love you, Mom!!

Have Things You Can't Use? Instead of Selling, Try Swapping!

Swapmamas is a one-of-a-kind social community for moms who want to connect, get to know one another, and swap the things they no longer use for things they need.
There's NO SELLING or BUYING on Swapmamas, just swapping and, if the spirit moves you, pure gifting (no swap necessary). We're all about helping one another, Mama to Mama.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

When God Says No...

"Will God show us in Heaven what almost happened to us on Earth? Perhaps. Will I learn, for example, how a delay in the grocery store saved us from a fatal accident? How many times have we whined and groaned about the very circumstances God used to save us? How many times has God heard our cries when we imagined he didn’t? How many times has he said no to our prayers when saying yes would have robbed us of good?" Randy Alcorn

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Music Video: Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)

If the embedded video isn't working, click here.