Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

As 2013 comes to and end, it is natural to reflect on the blessings and hardships of the year. So many of our friends received devastating health news that only the Father's promise of "no more sickness" can make better. Others lost jobs, and others were permanently injured in accidents. Divorces were far too common this year. We suffered in our hearts as our friends suffered.  

For our family, the low light of 2013 was losing two babies, Mary and Isaac. Caleb gave us a big scare when surgeons informed us he needed an emergency appendectomy. Our family did not fall apart through these things, but pulled together to get through them. We didn't lose faith; it grew. We became more determined to use all of our circumstances to bring glory to the Lord and shine His love on others. Our family gave ourselves a new label, "overcomers." We have overcome many things through Christ. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 

The list of God's goodness to us in 2013 is too long to write, but I will touch on a few: We had the opportunity to minister to many people in painful situations. Brandon graduated from college. Amanda graduated from cosmetology school, became a licensed cosmetologist, and started college. Both of them found jobs quickly. We made progress on our remodeling and saw some life desires fulfilled. Our younger children made strides in their education. We received countless compliments on our children's conduct, integrity level, work ethic, and maturity that touched our hearts and renewed our commitment to our parenting. We were able to communicate with people we had not heard from in many years. We made new friends and heard from family members we had not heard from in a long while. We had many memorable moments as we visited new places. We traveled the range of our state and took two week long family vacations. God provided abundantly for all we needed and for some luxuries too. The list goes on and on. We have had much to celebrate! 

The end of the year is a fitting time for reflection on personal sin and how we can make changes for the glory of the Lord. Philippians 3:13-14 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. We should each find things in our own lives to leave behind and race forward to do what is God honoring. I certainly have my list.

Each coming year will bring new challenges, opportunities, and blessings. How we respond to these things is more important than the length of our days. The Apostle Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is how we should approach every new year. We look ahead to 2014 asking and trusting God to lead us every step of the way.

If this is to be a Happy New Year, a year of usefulness, a year in which we shall live to make this earth better, it is because God will direct our pathway. How important then, to feel our dependence upon Him! Matthew Simpson

Don't shine so others will see you. Shine so through you, others will see Him. C.S. Lewis

Monday, December 30, 2013

Good Advice for Homeschooling Mothers

The article I have linked to below touches something we figured out shortly after we started homeschooling 20 years ago. We initially tried having individual activities outside the home for Brandon and Amanda and saw how it was affecting our home life. We prayed about it and felt God was saying, "This isn't My plan for you. It's your plan for yourself, and that is why it isn't working ." So, we re-prioritized. We have never missed the extracurricular classes because there is so much activity right here in our own home. We took them on field trips we could do together as a group, a few of which are shown in the blog.  And guess what?! None of our children have socialization problems! Even better, people are always telling us our family is very, very close and works so well together. There's no team better to build than team family! 

If you want the several times a week obligations, that's OK too. Some people thrive on that activity, but it does make it difficult to get your school work and your house work done. For the super-busy moms who are tired and wanting a less chaotic life, I am telling you, it is OK to say no to the outside activities and create your own at home. Take advantage of family day events. For moms of many like myself, it is nearly impossible to allow everyone to have their own activity and still have strong, peaceful, really-connected-to-each-other family life. It's OK to not keep up with doing what everyone else is doing and forge your own life your own way. 

"Last year, at a workshop, the speaker admonished us that sometimes the one-hour foreign language co-op isn't worth it. That one-hour co-op meant she had to spend two hours getting her other kids ready to travel, 30 minutes each way traveling to the co-op, a stressful hour managing other siblings who weren't in the class, and one hour per day preparing the kid who was getting the enrichment from the coop. It added up to 7-8 hours' work for a single, one-hour-a-week class, covering material she could cover at home in four hours tops, minus the gas, stress, and hassle.
After that workshop, we cut the one-hour-per-week foreign language co-op.....Too many irons in the fire outside the home will get a schooler burned out. This year, we're resting and enjoying the warmth of the fire at the hearth of our home instead.
A simpler schedule, with fewer outside obligations, put the home back in our school."
Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Girls' 18" Dollhouse

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We incorporated a Pinterest idea using shelves and pvc pipe to make a doll house for our girls' dolls. We looked at different 18" doll houses and did not feel the construction matched the price tag. Plus, our littlest girls will be out of the doll stage in a few short years. We can still use the shelves for storage once they are done. The laundry basket on top holds all of the dolls' dresses until we can install a closet rod. The girls love their dollhouse! Their dolls can stand up in every room, and they have more rooms than the other dollhouses provide.

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We opted for a second story stable since the Jeep could roll easier into the garage underneath. From the play action I have observed, the horses enjoy the view. The second horse from the left is Amanda's from her doll days. It's been ridden by all our children and many of their friends.

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The girls and I are looking forward to crafting together to make more furniture and accessories for their dolls. Since this picture was taken, we have already added tile flooring to the rooms using scrap tiles from another project. It's going to be fun to see where the girls' creativity takes us.

Acetone nail polish remover will remove the writing on the PVC pipe.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Shots 3

Fixed the goof! It's been some kind of busy, but it's an AWESOME kind of busy! God is good! He is worthy to be praised!

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He gave Ford and Miracle catnip for Christmas.

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Caleb cleaned the rust off of Clint's hatchet and painted the handle for him.
Gifts from the heart are the best gifts of all!

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Dad carries a knife for those annoying tie wraps.

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Blog Posts

General Disclaimer: No one has said anything, but I noticed a friend's event coincided with something I posted that could have been taken out of context. It concerned me because if he saw it, it could have caused him pain. That's not how I choose to live. So, I figured I'd just put it out there:  

If my blog posts coincide with events in other's lives, it is unintentional. I keep the blog posted over two months in advance of any given date and will be happy to sit down and show proof of that to anyone who requests it. I even have a couple of posts scheduled for 2015. For the last few weeks, posts have generally been three months ahead as I try to clear time for the upcoming planting season. 

Other than updating prayer requests and family news, I have not been on the blog much at all due to our family's holiday break that runs from just before Thanksgiving to right after New Year's. I had posts prescheduled to allow more time for family memory making moments.

When I find something to share, I make the post and then check to see when is the first date available to post it. Yeah, my method is that complicated!

Timing is solely in the Lord's Hands. The exception to this is if I am updating a critical prayer request situation or a big event or holiday. I try to leave a few blank days here and there too for pictures. In case you feel convicted/challenged about a post, ask the Lord about it. I have no idea why He times things the way He does. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Prayer Request

12/27/2013: Step one has happened. Please keep praying.

12/23/2013: Something big on this happens this week. Please keep us in prayer as we go forward with this opportunity. We are asking God to open and close doors according to HIS will in our lives.

12/19/2013: We received more info on this again today. We don't know if God is going to open this door or is preparing our family member for something else. We don't want to step through it unless it is God's will. Please join us in praying. Thank you.

12/18/2013: We received more positive information regarding this today. Please keep praying. 

12/16/2013: They were approached again by a different party who is not aware the first party also has them in mind for the job. That's two people in a managerial position who have our family member in mind. We do not know where God is going with this, but He clearly wants our attention on this matter. Thank you for praying with us.

12/12/2013: Someone in our family was approached about a possible job opportunity that would be a very big step up. There is a small issue to work around. We are asking you to join us in prayer for wisdom and guidance. We are also asking that God will open this door if it is His will for our family member.

Passing the Torch

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Clint has an amazing set of skills. He developed them because he isn't afraid to try anything. He isn't afraid of failure either. Like history's greatest inventors, if he fails, he just reasons that he can learn from it and try again. He keeps a great attitude which is such an encouraging thing to see. It makes him fun to be around too! He has saved our family so much money and hassle over the years. He has also been able to help so many others with what he has learned. 

Young men, he is a great example to follow. 

In these pictures, Clint is cutting out the obstinate and very worn sway bar link on Brandon's car. Brandon and Joshua were on hand to watch and learn as much as they could.

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Yes, he was working in the rain.

More Christmas Shots

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Caleb has an appendix again!

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Caleb made me this nest box.

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Maggie beside the car Caleb made using a skill saw and a hole saw. His skill keeps improving!

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Clint loves Carhartt ducks.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Good Christmas

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our focus

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all seven in one shot

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The children were quick to remind me to not forget about the croissants for the breakfast buffet I serve.

We had a wonderful Christmas and hope you did too!
We enjoyed good food, good fellowship, and good fun!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christ-a-must from our family to yours!

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Pop

Rollis Ivans Bailey

Chesapeake - Rollis Ivans Bailey, 96, formerly of the 4000 block of Woodland Dr. went to be with the Lord on Friday, December 20, 2013, while at Autumn Care Nursing Home in Suffolk. He was born on May 15, 1917 in Southampton County, and was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Lillian Bailey; all eight of his siblings; and three grandchildren. Rollis was a proud U.S. Army veteran, who was a carpenter by trade and worked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Bailey's Flower Market. He loved to fish, hunt, trap, farm and working with wood.

He is survived by his loving wife of 76 years, Elsie "Buttercup" Bailey; two daughters, Vivian Parker and husband Donald and Joyce Whittle and husband Donnie; two sons, Rollis I. Bailey, Jr. and wife Marie and Milton N. Bailey and wife Jannie; twelve grandchildren; and a host of great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, December 23, in Sturtevant Funeral Home, Portsmouth Blvd. Chapel by Pastor Micah Voight. Burial will be private in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Union Mission Ministries.

Condolences may be made to the family online at www.SturtevantFuneralHome.com - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/pilotonline/obituary.aspx?n=rollis-ivans-bailey&pid=168661494&fhid=11903#sthash.bXvEuRdl.dpuf

Free Toys

I have used toys at my mailbox again today... 

a well used play kitchen, well used toy washing machine/ironing board, and a barely used football ride on toy, and a baby doll... 

I might have more later. It depends on how my time is going.

They have all been taken. THANK YOU!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Made a Dress for My Tinkerbell Princess

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no see

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a reminder "don't speak what you see"
She kept laughing so hard it kept coming off. She'd stick it back up there and start laughing again! Emily is so much fun!

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princess skirt

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her smile 
worth every single stitch

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petal skirt

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I had enough leftover to make a dress and wings for Hannah's AG and MA dolls. That was a big hit too!

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Clint's Feathered Friends

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At one point, he had five birds with more trying to find a place to perch on him. They loved him! Clint has always wanted a large parrot, and after seeing this, I think he will do well with one. Those two working together pulled some threads out of his Snap On jacket which is what I call "vendor wear." Clint gets a free something or another from vendors nearly every week: shirts, coats, hats, pens, calendars, tools, knives, stationary, tickets to events, stickers, shoes, etc. I am thankful he wasn't wearing the Carhartt jacket I bought him.

(And thank you to the vendors who have given us all of these things!!!! Happy now? :-) Ha!) 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Grandpa Rollis

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  My grandfather Rollis died today. 

Due to issues with other family members, I had not seen him in almost 10 years, but I loved him very, very much. 

His last words to me were him telling me how proud he was of me for having a large family and for being a good mother. He was quieter than most in our family, so his words of praise have a special place in my heart. 

When I was little, he'd hug me and I'd smell a mix of freshly cut lumber, tobacco, and Juicy Fruit gum. He always had a piece hidden away for me. 

Please pray for comfort for my grandmother Elsie. They were so close. Please also pray for my estranged loved ones who I know are hurting deeply over this. 

I love you, Pop and have missed having you in my life more than words can ever convey. There was so much I wanted to ask you and share with you. I see you in my children constantly. Caleb has your amazing ability to build anything from just looking at a picture of it. I have prayed for you through the years, will continue to pray for Grandma, and will see you both again. Hold my babies, Pop. Love on them for me.

Grace Upon Grace

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John 1:16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's a Sign of Things to Come

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Amanda made the signs for me.
The bottom one is a family joke, and it was made to make me laugh!
It does!

Habukkuk 1:5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homeschool Red Alert for Ohio

If you homeschool in Ohio, you should read and take action on this. 

"Teddy's Law would REQUIRE any parent or guardian wishing to home school their child to go through a home evaluation and interviews from local child protective services. It would also create a data base of previous or outstanding alleged abuse claims. This is in clear violation of our rights as home educators! OEF recommends the following. Call State Senator Capri Cafaro's office and demand her to leave innocent home schoolers out of this and withdraw the bill. Call (614) 466-7182." 

Deal with Your Bitterness

"Bitterness is a continued state of an unforgiving attitude that must be dealt with before it kills you and the others around you." Jon Cash 

John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

How quickly you are able to forgive someone and move forward is a sign of your maturity and humility in Christ. I encourage you to forgive others as quickly as you can for your own health and happiness. It can be a challenge, especially with difficult people who continually take swipes at you, but through Christ, it can be done. 

To read the rest of Jon Cash's devotion, click here.

1 Timothy 4:8 For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Angels We Have Heard on High

Last year, our 25 year old Christmas tree angel stopped working. Clint had repaired her for the second time about 5 years earlier. She was looking dingy from the years of sitting on our tree. We asked the children if they wanted to go to the store and pick out a new one together. "NO!!!! We want to keep OUR angel!!!" was the unanimous answer. We decided then to use her as she was and make the needed repairs for this year.

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Amanda took her apart and cleaned the porcelain. I washed the clothing. The plastic skirt support was yellowed and crumbling with age. So we put our heads together and improvised.

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The children were excited to get a rare bottle of soda!

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Nice Clint! But, where's her arm?!

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The angel had something up her sleeve! Clint had to modify the light support and rewire her with white lights. He was carefully watched by everyone as he worked.

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Thanks to a whole family effort, she's now back where she belongs!

She was just a humble little $5 tree topper bought by a newlywed couple for their first Christmas together. We commented then that we'd get something grander later. Now, she is full of priceless memories, and I can't imagine anything grander than our humble little angel.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Doris and Steve

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Dear Doris and Steve, 

Clint and I can not place your name and do not know how our paths crossed. We do not know what we did to earn this kindness. Thank you for your generosity towards us! I want you to know God timed your gift perfectly on a day when I very much needed my spirits lifted. I am not sure yet if we will use it for a few date nights or if we will splurge and take all nine of us to the movies which is something we have never done before due to the expense. We will put the note that came with the gift card into our family memory box. Thank you for the gift. Thank you even more for touching our hearts! May God pour out blessings upon you.

Wonderful Firsts

One of the things I love so much about homeschooling is BEING THERE. I love being there to catch ALL of those wonderful firsts that not only stick in your memory, but meld themselves to your heart. Look at Emily's face as she reacts to seeing a full grown and shockingly large lizard named "Alex" for the first time and turns to share her discovery with her little sister, Hannah. You'll see the wonderment of a new discovery and the "trickle down learning" in action as she shares her discovery with Hannah.

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Clint did such a great job capturing this moment.

Alex, the lizard, died right after this picture was taken. Life expectancy of Asian water monitors is 8-10 years. He was 14! I am thankful Emily was able to see him, be amazed, and learn!

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Thank you to Animal Jungle for having this beautiful creature on display so we could learn and experience.
Thank you for updating your customers on what happened too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Article: Marriage Isn't For You

I love sharing articles that build people and their relationships. I came across Seth Adams Smith's Marriage Isn't For You in my Facebook newsfeed and thought it was worthy of sharing:
"...marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raisethem? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married."
Go here to read about his marriage and his other words of advice.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Decorating the Tree

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My job is to unwrap the ornaments, hand them out, and take pictures.
Most of our ornaments are ones we have made as a family over the years.
We also have some collectible ornaments that remind us of special life events as well as some antique ornaments from when I was a child. It's not a store tree, but OUR tree which makes it more beautiful than any other tree around!

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Resize a Sewing Pattern

We are busy with Christmas visiting, light-seeing, traditions, and gift making. 

While I was sewing something for my sweet Hannah-Bug, I came across this website that I think will be helpful to many. It's expert advice on how to size up or size down a pattern. With these helpful tips you can make patterns larger or smaller accurately.

Video: Phantom Limb Pain Mirror Therapy

I learned about this through my prayer group for J. They say this can work better than pain killers. It's amazing how the brain God gave us works!

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Parrots Are Fun

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Our children enjoyed their trip to Animal Jungle in VA Beach.